Baseball Notes: Hot/Not Pitchers, a Pair of Rants & DFTU

Hello again everybody!

A happy Wednesday to you all. Today I'm going to talk about some Undefeated and Winless pitchers that hit the bump last night, a milestone for a future Hall of Famer and I've got a couple of short rants on the NL Central. Plus there's the always-popular DFTU. So without further ado...

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There were 4 pitchers headed to the hill with undefeated records last night: Brandon Webb, Livan Hernandez, John Smoltz and Chien-Ming Wang. And there were a couple of notable pitchers trying to dig their way out of 0-3 starts.

Brandon Webb (6IP, 9H, 3ER, 2BB, 7K) not only pitched the Diamondbacks to their 15th win of the season (his 5th), but it was his 4th Inning, 2-run double that gave his team the lead. That's one of the beauties of National League baseball, the pitcher is actually a complete player. And it's a huge advantage to a team when a pitcher isn't an automatic out.

Chien-Ming Wang (6IP, 10H, 3ER, 2BB, 5K) also got his club a win last night. Wang hasn't been spectacular this year, but he's been good enough to get to 4-0. And without him, the Yankees mediocre start would have the Bronx in an even greater state of panic. Has anybody checked to make sure that George Steinbrenner is still actually alive? Seems to me Hank is doing a bang-up job channeling his dad's famous erratic nature.

Livan Hernandez (6IP, 7H, 4ER, 2BB, 3K) pitched well enough for his team to win, but came away with a No-Decision. Hernandez has been an absolute anchor for the Twins pitching staff. Suddenly Twins fans are starting to believe that if Liriano can regain even *some* of his rookie-form, they might actually have a rotation worth talking about.

Finally there was John Smoltz, who was the only one of the 4 to fall from the ranks of the undefeated starters. That circumstance was overshadowed by the future Hall of Famer adding another milestone to his resume by reaching the 3000 career strikeout plateau. That's a mere 1400+ more than the career total for Doyle Alexander, who was the pitcher the Detroit Tigers received in the trade with Atlanta 21 years ago. When you think of the pitchers that Atlanta had in the 90's: Glavine, Smoltz and Maddux, how many teams could say that they had 3 future Hall of Famers pitching for them at the same time? Amazing stuff.

Trying to pitch their way out of rough starts were C.C. Sabathia and Justin Verlander.

There's been a lot of talk this year about whether C.C.'s rough start was a product of his contract situation. This is where the business of baseball gets to be kind of a pain. C.C. wants to stay in Cleveland. And you'd have to think that Cleveland wants to keep him. But for some reason Indian management and Sabathia's agent haven't been able to get together on an extension. And now in the meantime, Cleveland's signed Fausto Carmona to a long-term deal. So you have to think that's been a distraction for C.C. as well. Last night, though, may have been just the thing to get C.C. over the hump. The Tribe took an 8-0 lead over the Royals after 4 Innings and never looked back. Sabathia went 6 shut-out Innings, giving up only 4 hits and striking out 11. That's the C.C. we remember from last year.

Justin Verlander has been struggling just as much as Sabathia, if not for the same reasons. Verlander was supposed to be the rock of the best rotation in the league on paper. I think those expectations weighed especially heavy on him and the rough start the Tigers got off to just made it all the tougher. In much the same fashion as the Indians, the Tigers got off to a 7-0 lead over the Rangers after only 3 Innings which allowed Verlander to relax and concentrate on making pitches. Verlander lasted 6 Innings, scattering 6 hits and surrendering only 1 run. Not a dominant performance like Sabathia's, but it'll be interesting to see if this is the start of the Tigers getting their season turned around.

Next I've got a couple of rants to get off my chest. I'll try to keep them short and sweet.

First of all, I give you the Chicago Cubs. The Fuzzie Cubbies. The Lovable-Losers. Yes, it's been 100 years since they last appeared in the World Series. But if I hear one more set of announcers treat this like the most unbelievable stat in the history of stats, I may have to vomit.

The only difference between last year's "99 Years of Futility" and this year's "100" is the roundness of the number. That's it.

And yet we've already been inundated with video package after video package detailing black cats, Steve Bartmans and all manner of Cub-lore. Please. Stop. It's enough. We get it. The Cubs have been bad for a very long time. Enough. Don't make me start rooting against them just be contrarian. I'm begging you National Media. I'm literally begging you.

Next I have to once again come back to Eric Gagne and the Milwaukee Brewers. It's not that I want to keep beating a dead horse, but Gagne blew yet another save opportunity last night. Heavy-G is now 6 out of 10 in save opportunities on the season.

So that's it. I've had it. I'm sorry Brewers fans, but until somebody finds the courage to admit that dropping $10 million on this clown was a colossal error and either designate this guy for assignment or just flat cut him loose, I have to officially remove the Crew from my list of potential contenders.

That's right Keg-heads. You're officially in "Contender Purgatory". I don't want to do it, but I can't keep watching you give yourselves ulcers every time Gags lumbers out of the bullpen to try and cling to a slim lead. It's tough love folks. Somebody has to be honest with you. And at the risk of having some of you turn and start rooting for the Twins to sign Frank Thomas, I have to do it!

Rants Fin.

Finally it's time for everybody's favorite segment, Dan's Favorite Teams Update!

Minnesota Twins: As mentioned earlier, the Twins won the opener of their road trip in Oakland last night. Hernandez pitched well. The offense came through with Craig Monroe falling a triple short of the cycle and Jason Kuble getting the game-winning RBI in the 8th. And Joe Nathan converted his 7th Save opportunity in 7 attempts. (You see Brewer fans? This is how a closer's supposed to work!)

The Twins have 2 more with Oakland before heading to Texas for the weekend. Tonight it's Boof Bonser (1-3, 4.70) headed to the mound to take on Chad Gaudin (1-1, 4.76) for the A's.

Arizona Diamondbacks: I'm going to try and keep my enthusiasm for the Dbacks start under control. After all, playing the Giants is almost like scrimmaging your AAA team. Brandon Webb moved to 5-0 on the season and beat Barry Zito for the second time this year. Which at this point is kind of like beating your kid brother. There's a certain satisfaction in it, but you know the poor schmuck never really stood a chance. (I'm not talking about *my* little brother of course. Yeah, of course.) Chris Snyder has officially broken out of his season-opening slump and came through with a pair of RBI. But as mentioned earlier, the big blow came from Webb. Not the Pitcher Webb, the Hitter Webb. Brandon smoked a 2-RBI double in the 4th to give his club the lead for good.

The Dbacks head to La-La land tonight to open up 2 against the Dodgers. For you Arizona readers, be sure to check out tonight's match-up. Dan Haren (3-0, 1.80) takes the hill for the Snakes versus Derrick Lowe (1-1, 2.59) for the Dodgers. Then it's off to San Diego for the weekend.

That's all for today folks. I'll be back on Friday with more rants and ravings for your reading pleasure. Until then, chant it with me, "RE-LEASE GAGS! RE-LEASE GAGS! RE-LEASE..." well you get the idea.


  1. So Dan has removed the Brewers from the contenders list and is calling for Gagne's head? Being a Brewers' fan, and given Dan's track record, I couldn't be more pleased - cue the pennant and pencil in Gagne for 40 saves!

  2. That was my old college roommate David...

    All I can say is: I resemble that remark!

  3. Dan:

    I'm not here to simply be in opposition. Rather, I am here to help provide balance and to keep you people honest. And God knows, that is certainly lacking amongst this group of questionable character and reputation. I should know, I would like to think of myself as someone with questionable character and reputation.