Tag: Jake Peavy

Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado homers in his sixth consecutive game


Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado has opened up September with a power surge. The 24-year-old entered Saturday’s game against the Giants with home runs in five consecutive games. He made it six with a two-run home run off of Jake Peavy in the sixth inning.

Arenado is the only Rockie to homer in six consecutive games. Dante Bichette (1995) and Larry Walker (1999) homered in five consecutive games.

Arenado has turned in a terrific season, batting .288/.324/.581 with 36 home runs and 105 RBI while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense at the hot corner. His 36 homers ties him with Josh Donaldson and teammate Carlos Gonzalez for third-best in baseball. No National Leaguer has homered more than the Rockies’ duo.

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

Justin Verlander

Tigers 5, Angels 0: How Justin Got His Groove Back. Verlander, that is, who took a no-hitter into the ninth inning and ended up with a complete game, one-hit shutout. Back when I profiled Verlander here at HBT he was struggling mightily. In his last four starts he has given up one earned run in 29 innings. In six of his last seven starts he has given up either zero or one earned run. It’s too late to save the Tigers’ season, but there is no real path back to respectability and competitiveness for the Tigers without Justin Verlander pitching like an ace. To see him doing it once again has got to be encouraging.

Astros 6, Yankees 2: Two homers for Gattis as the Astros take the series. They now have one more win than they had all of last year. And, indeed, more wins with a month and change to play in 2015 than they had in any season dating back to 2010.

Mariners 8, Athletics 2: Felix Hernandez has had a pretty miserable August but he won his 15th here after allowing two runs in eight innings. Then again, he always seems to dominate the A’s. Nelson Cruz drove in three. He leads the league in homers is 39 and is only a few points behind Jason Kipnis for the batting title. The RBI title is probably a stretch for him — he can blame teammates for not being on base too much for that — but it’ll be hilarious if he wins 2/3 of the Triple Crown and finishes, like, fifth or sixth in the MVP voting.

Padres 6, Nationals 5: Justin Upton homered twice. He’s on pace for a 28 homer, 90 RBI season with a less-than-amazing average and a lowish OBP for a guy who is the biggest threat in lineup. In other words: the Platonic ideal of a Justin Upton season. The Nats are now 6.5 back of the Mets. It’s getting late boys.

Mets 9, Phillies 4: Seven scoreless innings from Bartolo Colon and a nice night from Michael Cuddyer, including a moon shot homer. The Mets have won eight straight over the Phillies, 11 of their last 12 against them this year and 23 of 28 against them over the past couple of seasons. Time to change the Wikipedia page from “Owner: Phillies limited partnership (John S. Middleton, Jim & Pete Buck,David Montgomery, Pat Gillick)” to “New York Mets.”

Indians 6, Brewers 2: Just glancing at “Indians Brewers” I got a shot of nostalgia for the old American League East. Oh well. Jason Kipnis homered and drove in three. Toby Harrah, Andre Thornton, Ben Oglivie and Don Money were unavailable for comment.

Rockies 6, Braves 3: Braves: you are only four games ahead of the Phillies, who are dead last in Major League Baseball. I would never advocate tanking for a draft pick, but I’m not gonna advocate NOT tanking for a draft pick either. Now, I’m gonna leave these suggested lineups and strategies on the table. Then I’m gonna leave the room. Whatever you do with them is your business and I don’t even want to know. Just know that they’re there and that whatever it is you decide to do, I will still love and respect you. Godspeed.

Dodgers 7, Reds 4: Scott Van Slyke, A.J. Ellis and Yasiel Puig homered during a five-run fourth inning and the Dodgers’ bullpen slipped out of jams. From the game story:

Even though the Dodgers’ bullpen went into the game with the 13th-worst combined ERA in the National League, manager Don Mattingly doesn’t think it’s that bad.

“Things are never as bad as they seem or as good as they seem,” Mattingly said.

That’s pretty zen for a guy from Indiana.

Pirates 7, Marlins 2: Andrew McCutchen homered and drove in four. In April he hit .194 and his OPS was .636. OPS by month since then: .985, .933, .914, 1.088. Bryce Harper has had the better overall year and he has the age advantage, but at the moment McCutchen is the best all-around player in the National League and it ain’t even close, regardless of what he did in April.

Twins 5, Rays 3: Two homers for Eduardo Escobar as the Twins win again. If the season ended today they’d be the second wild card team, which is pretty wild. So much of this is attributable to young guys coming up and playing great right out of the gate, but you have to figure Paul Molitor wins Manager of the Year, right?

Blue Jays 12, Rangers 4: Edwin Encarnacion hit a grand slam. He has a 21-game hitting streak now. David Price allowed two runs over six innings for his 13th win. Price is 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA with a 41/7 K/BB ratio in 36 and a third innings since being traded to Toronto.

Red Sox 3, White Sox 0: Sox win. Rick Porcello returned and tossed seven shutout innings, outdueling Chris Sale. You’ve got serious problems to begin with if you bet on baseball, but if you did bet on baseball last night I imagine taking the White Sox over Boston given that matchup looked pretty enticing. Thoughts, prayers to my degenerate gambler friends.

Orioles 8, Royals 5: Wow, the Orioles scored some runs. I had forgotten they could do that. After scoring 15 runs in their past six games, all losses, they broke out big here with two-run homers from Chris Davis, Manny Machado, and Jonathan Schoop. Schoop’s may still be flying. It was beeping like Sputnik and entered orbit just slightly lower.

Cardinals 3, Diamondbacks 1: John Lackey allowed a run on seven hits and struck out four. His defense turned three double plays behind him, continuing what they did against Arizona on Tuesday night.

Giants 4, Cubs 2: Jake Peavy and the Giants end the Cubs’ six-game winning streak. Nori Aoki hit a homer as the Giants arrest a slide and win for the second time in seven games. The Dodgers can be had. The Giants have blown their chances to get ’em so far. But they could do it.

Let’s all argue about team chemistry again

Giants Celebration

Team chemistry arguments are pretty played out. Yet people still try to turn team chemistry discussions into zero sum arguments and employ caricatures and straw men of their perceived opponents in the debate to make their case. It’s almost always baseball writer driven, of course, and the latest example comes from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

It’s the usual fare. A story of people talking about chemistry after the fact rather than before the fact (please find me an example, anywhere, where “good chemistry” stories appeared in newspapers before the winning, not vice-versa, and no, standard spring training optimism stories don’t count). A story in which the writer has a preconceived notion about team chemistry and finds several players who give him quotes which fit into those preconceived notions. Quotes like this one from John Lackey:

“It’s really undervalued,’’ St. Louis Cardinals veteran starter John Lackey told USA TODAY Sports, “especially in today’s world with all of the numbers guys.”

We can put all kinds of numbers on players’ talent, from RBI to WAR, to ERA to FIP, but when it comes to the heart and soul of a clubhouse, there remains no measuring stick.

“The numbers guys can’t quantify that one,’’ Lackey said, “so they don’t want to believe in it.’’

John Lackey, by the way, was a big part of the “Chicken and Beer” Red Sox of 2011. Back then he said this in response to all of the media people who claimed that team’s collapse was all about bad chemistry:

“Guys having a beer after their start has been going on for the last 100 years,’’ Lackey said. “This is retarded. It’s not like we were sitting up there doing it every night. It’s not even close to what people think.’’

What about reports of players drinking in the dugout? “They [media] just see how far they can go,’’ he said. “That’s just a flat-out lie.’’

Is he willing to acknowledge that mistakes were made? “I guess. Sure. They’re being made in every clubhouse in the big leagues, then. If we’d have made the playoffs, we’d have been a bunch of fun guys.’’

Which is absolutely true. A few better pitching performances a few more wins and the Sox would’ve been in the playoff lottery, the Chicken and Beer Brigade being just as famous as the 2004 Idiots.

Giants pitcher Jake Peavy had this to say:

“We’re in a game today where everybody wants to think they can formulate, or come up with some kind of number,’’ says Giants starter Jake Peavy, who like Lackey, has won World Series titles with two organizations. “You turn on some of these baseball shows, and nobody wants to talk about the San Francisco Giants, because numbers can’t explain how we won last year.

“They don’t want to talk about clubhouse chemistry.”

You can place some numbers on that, Jake. Numbers like 2-0, 1 save, 0.43 ERA, 21 IP, K/BB ratio of 17/1, 9 hits allowed. That’s Madison Bumgarner’s World Series line. Or how about 2.17? That’s your own ERA after coming over to the Giants in a trade, significantly improving a battered pitching staff down the stretch. Or 8? That’s the number of position player starters the Giants had with an OPS+ over 100. Or 1: the number of managers they have who are considered the best in the game today. Or “many” being the number of people who have come to believe that Brian Sabean is among the best at filling holes on seemingly flawed teams and turning them into winners when it matters. Chemistry may be nice, but talent, in all of its forms, matters more.

And the distribution of talent across the season matters. Baseball is not a 25-man vs. 25-man contest in real time. Matchups matter and Bruce Bochy is really good at making sure he matches up better than you most of the time. Timing matters too. People like to talk about how, say, the Dodgers have more talent than the Giants. Maybe so over the course of 162 games last season or this season. But in world where ten teams make the playoffs, the overall talent discussion is irrelevant. Who, among those ten teams, plays better in October is what determines which team wins the World Series and the Giants performance in October has been a function of applied talent over a short period of time in three of the past five seasons, not chemistry. Unless, that is, you think Madison Bumgarner’s heroics last year, Pablo Sandoval’s .500/.529/1.125 line in the 2012 World Series or Edgar Renteria hitting .412 with two homers in 2010 was all a function of good vibes. Good players — of whom have a track record for high-level performance and an extraordinary amount of talent — are why the Giants have a fist full of World Series rings.

But, as is often the case, the pro-chemistry people will likely respond to me with some variation on “you never played the game so you don’t know.” Well, they’re right. So let me defer to my cosmic associate. His name is Jim Leyland, and he knows a thing or two about baseball. Here’s what he said to the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore 2010 when asked about how Pudge Rodriguez was aiding the Washington Nationals’ team chemistry:

“Take all that clubhouse [stuff] and all that, throw it out the window. Every writer in the country has been writing about that [nonsense] for years. Chemistry don’t mean [anything]. He’s up here because he’s good. That don’t mean [a hill of beans]. They got good chemistry because their team is improved, they got a real good team, they got guys knocking in runs, they got a catcher hitting .336, they got a phenom pitcher they just brought up. That’s why they’re happy.”

Those brackets hide a lot of references to horse excrement in case you’re not familiar with Mr. Leyland’s patois.

I’ve said this 100 times before and I’ll say it 100 times again. Working with people you like is way better than working with people you don’t like. Having guys in the clubhouse who make your life and job better is always preferable to having guys who make it work. I’ll even grant, based on the testimony of players I have spoken to, that there is at least some intangible yet real benefit if everyone is happy an gelling. I’d always try to get rid of bad seeds if I ran a team, at least as long as their bad seeding was not outweighed by seriously outstanding on-the-field play.

But good chemistry doesn’t make teams win. Good chemistry is a product of winning. And bad chemistry is, very, very often, a product of guys reacting poorly to losing (just ask Cole Hamels about that). To suggest that the “numbers guys” are mistaken when they say that talent trumps that stuff is just bunk.