Author: Matthew Pouliot

Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey overwhelms Padres in season debut


The Mets didn’t want to put extra pressure on Matt Harvey by making him their Opening Day starter this year, but let’s face facts: he’s the club’s best hope for having an ace this year. He showed why on Wednesday night when he limited the Padres to one hit and struck out 10 over seven scoreless innings.

Harvey cruised tonight, throwing 94 pitches in his seven innings. He ended up picking off Everth Cabrera, the only Padre to single off him. He did walk a pair, but thanks to a double play ball, he faced just one batter over the minimum.

The 10-strikeout game was Harvey’s third in 11 major league starts. The only other Mets to have that many so soon were Nolan Ryan (four) and Dwight Gooden (three). Which makes for pretty good company.

Having turned 24 last month, Harvey is older than the typical pitching phenom. Still, that might work in his favor this year, since he shouldn’t have to deal with the typical 160- or 180-innings limit. The Mets won’t want to extend him too far unless they somehow find themselves in contention in September, but he should pitch enough innings to finish in the top 10 in the NL in strikeouts.

Tigers lose because Jim Leyland’s closer-by-committee really wasn’t

Jim Leyland

Jim Leyland said all of the right things this spring after Bruce Rondon failed to step up and win the Tigers’ closing gig. He didn’t seem the least bit disturbed to go with a closer-by-committee situation while waiting for things to shake out.

And then he went and seemingly abandoned the idea in the second game of the season.

Game 1 worked out perfectly for Leyland: the Tigers beat the Twins 4-2, with Joaquin Benoit getting four outs in the eighth and ninth and before stepping aside for Phil Coke with lefty Justin Morneau up. Morneau struck out and Ryan Doumit flied out to end it.

Game 2 didn’t. Leyland went with the same exact arrangement in a 2-1 game, even though this time in meant Benoit would face lefties Joe Mauer and Morneau in the eighth and Coke would get the righties in the ninth. Benoit did his job in the eighth, but he walked Trevor Plouffe to start the ninth before getting pulled. Coke came in and retired the lefty Chris Parmelee, only to give up hits to right-handers Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar and take a 3-2 loss.

In Coke’s defense, Escobar’s double to the warning track in center should have been caught. It appeared that Austin Jackson and Andy Dirks both thought the other would haul it in. Still, even if it had been caught, it would have been a game-tying sac fly and a blown save for Coke. And it was a well hit ball by a pretty terrible hitter.

But the whole idea here is that Leyland has a bunch of similarly talented relievers and needs to play matchups as a result. And he didn’t. Coke was successful in an expanded role in the playoffs last year, but right-handers torched him for a .396 average in the regular season. Lifetime, righties have hit .299 against him, compared to .232 for lefties. He is a matchup guy, not a closer, and the obvious call was to use him in the eighth tonight.

Leyland, though, trusts Coke. More than he does Benoit. Far more than he does Al Alburquerque, even though Alburquerque has a 1.57 ERA and a .143 average against in 57 1/3 innings as a major leaguer. If not Coke, one gets the feeling it would have been Octavio Dotel finishing this game, even though he’s the third or fourth best right-hander in the pen.

Of course, I’m probably overreacting here. It’s the second game of the season, and Leyland deserves a chance to feel things out. At the same time, given that it is early in the season, why not see what Alburquerque and Brayan Villarreal can do in those pressure situations? The Tigers already know exactly what they have in Coke. And trying to make a closer out of him is like shoving a square peg into a round hole.

Rangers strike out 15 Astros in second straight shutout

Alexi Ogando

Alexi Ogando wasn’t quite Yu Darvish today, but he did surrender just four hits and strike out 10 Astros over 6 1/3 innings in the Rangers’ 4-0 win.

Michael Kirkman and Joe Nathan combined to fan five in relief, giving the Rangers their second straight 15-strikeout game. Darvish racked up that many all by himself in his near-perfect game last night.

The Astros became the fourth team since 2000 to strike out 15 times in back-to-back games. The 2002 Brewers did it against the Diamondbacks and the duo of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. It also happened last year to the Mariners (versus the Rays) and the Pirates (versus the Brewers). In all, the Astros fanned 43 times in the three-game series, though they did sneak in a win in Sunday night’s opener.

That made the Rangers the first team in big league history (well, at least since 1916 and probably before) to strike out at least 13 batters in the first three games of the season. The 2001 Diamondbacks, again with Johnson and Schilling, were the only team since 1916 to start off with two such games.

Yu Darvish pitched near-perfect game with a finger blister

Yu Darvish

While Yu Darvish was dispatching of Astros with ease Tuesday night, a blister was popping up on his right ring finger, he Star-Telegram’s Jeff Wilson reports.

Fortunately, it was just a small one, and the Rangers don’t seem concerned about it at all. Darvish played catch in the outfield today and is expected to make his next start against the Angels on Sunday.

Darvish retired the first 26 batters he faced last night before giving up a single to Marwin Gonzalez with two outs in the ninth. He became the 11th pitcher in big-league history to lose a perfect game after 26 outs.

Afterwards, he took to twitter and unleashed what we can only imagine is a string of profanities directed at Gonzalez.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p>あと一人て。。なんでやねん!!</p>&mdash; ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) (@faridyu) <a href=”″>April 3, 2013</a></blockquote>
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