Thoughts and Stats on a Sunday

Dodger right-hander Kenta Maeda showed what pitching is all about at Coors Field on Saturday night. He worked 6 1/3 shutout innings, making an early adjustment after not being comfortable with his slider. Isn’t that what pitching is all about? Adjustments?

I remember talking to Burt Hooton about learning the knuckle curve when he was in college and pitched in the summer for the Boulder Collegians. The late Bus Campbell was a coach for the Collegians and the knuckle curve was his favorite pitch, even though he lived in the Denver area. Hooton said the pitch might not break at a mile high like it does at sea level, but it is still effective. It’s just a matter of adjusting the release point.

“But that’s what pitching is all about, adjustments,” said Hooton.

NOT MUCH

Maeda, a rookie in the big leagues but with impressive credentials from pitching his native Japan, has a 3-0 record and NL-leading 0.36 ERA after making four starts — against the Dodgers four NL West rivals. He has allowed one run in those four starts, the fewest runs allowed by a pitcher who started his first four appearances in the big leagues since at least 1913. Maeda, at age 28, is a bit older than the typical rookie pitcher, but that doesn’t diminish what he has done.

His one run beats out Dave Ferris, Red Sox, 1945, and Wayne Simpson, Reds, 1972, who allowed two each; and Steve Rogers, Expos, 1973, and Stu Miller, Cardinals, 1952, who each allowed three runs. Simpson was 21, Ferris and Rogers 23, and Miller, 24.

EARLIER IN TIME

Hideo Nomo was another pitcher the Dodgers originally signed out of Japan, and he pitched the only no-hitter in Coors Field history. It was, however, on a very rainy night and the game didn’t start until 9 p.m. That doesn’t take away from Nomo’s effort, but it is interesting to note that in nine other starts at Coors Field he was 2-1 with a 9.67 ERA, .356 batting average, 11 home runs and 18 stolen bases allowed in 44 2/3 innings.

ON SECOND THOUGHT

Yes, that was a wonderful throw that Dodger right fielder Yaisel Puig made to throw out Trevor Story at third base on Friday night, but that came underscored the frustrations with Puig and his inconsistency. In the seventh inning he fielded a fly ball to normal depth in right field, and Brandon Barnes was able to tag and scored the game tying run, setting up the Rockies victory, because Puig’s throw was nearly 20 feet off-line. That play underscores why runners will challenge Puig, knowing as strong an arm as he has that he is not consistent with accuracy.

 

Quick Hits: No-No, Yes-Yes

— Cubs pitcher Jake Arietta threw his second no-hitter in 11 starts on Thursday night at Cincinnati. That’s the third quickest a pitcher has pitched two no-hitters. Warren Span had two in seven starts Sept. 16, 1960 and April 28, 1961. Johnny Vander Meer had no-hitters in back-to-back starts June 11-June 15, 1938

–Carlos Gonzalez collected his 1,000th hit in 6th inning Wednesday at Cincinnati. He is 77th active player with 1,000 hits. Among those 77 he is 17th with a .291 average and 7th with a .526 slugging percentage, just ahead of Matt Holiday (eighth, .518), who he was traded for. The top six are Albert Pujols, .578; Miguel Cabrera .560; Alex Rodriguez .553; David Ortiz .548; Ryan Braun .545, and Joey Votto .530.

–The Rockies 2-0 victory against the Cubs at Wrigley Field last Sunday was the team’s first ever in which the Rockies won 2-0 and had two home runs. Nolan Arenado hit both of them.

–Trevor Story has eight home runs with nine games left in April. He has equaled the second highest home run total for a rookie in March/April. Jose Abreu of the White Sox hit 10 in 2014. Three others with eight are Albert Pujols in 2011, Carlos Delgado in 1994 and Kent Hbrek in 1982.

 

Not So Fast: Quick Starts Carry No October Guarantee

The Nationals and Cubs are off to fast starts.

The best record in April, however, carries no guarantees.

 

http://m.nationals.mlb.com/news/article/173480234/cubs-nationals-off-to-super-starts-in-2016

Quick Hits: Rockies Enjoy April – Again (Updated)

The Rockies went into the weekend series against the Dodgers with an 8-7 record, including winning five of nine on the road.

Surprised?

Don’t be.

Since 2011, the Rockies are 79-59 (.572) in April, second among NL teams to the Cardinals, who went into the weekend 82-57 (.590).

It’s the post-April months that have been a challenge for the Rockies. They are 274-415 (.399) in those months.

It shows up in the standings. Since 2011 the Rockies have spent 82 days in first place in the NL West — 59 in April, and 23 in May.

–The Rangers are 41-19 record against the Astros since the Astros moved to the AL in 2013.

–The Twins lost their first seven road games before beating the Brewers in Milwaukee on Thursday. It’s their longest season-opening road losing streak since the franchise moved from Washington, D.C., to Minnesota in 1961.

–The A’s have mastered the Yankees. With a 3sweep at UYankee Stadium this week they are 21-8 since the 2012 All-Star Break. They are 9-6 at Yankee Stadium and 12-2 in Oakland.

 

Baseball: A Kid’s Game

Youth has become a major factor in Major League Baseball.

Eighteen percent of the players on active rosters last week were 25 or younger.

And with players like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Nolan Arenado plus pitchers along the lines of Noah Syndergaard, the young players are making an impact.

http://m.mlb.com/news/article/173006232

Giants Bumgarner a Cowboy at Heart

Madison Bumgarner is a country boy.

Some players spend free time playing golf. Some like to hunt. Some like to fish?

Bumgarner? He has a passion for the rodeo arena. He likes riding and roping.

http://m.giants.mlb.com/news/article/172685136

Rockies Run Up Numbers on a Winning Wednesday

The checklist of Rockies offensive landmarks in Wednesday’s 10-6 victory against the Giants at Coors Field.

–Trevor Story had two of the club-record four triples. They were the first two home runs that were denied by the raised right field fence, or, as Story put it, “The Bridich Barrier,” ion reference to general manager Jeff Bridich. Both times Story scored.

–Story became the fifth Rockies rookie to have two triples in a game. Vinny Castilla did it on April 26, 1993 against the Cubs; Neifie Perez Sept. 25, 1997 against the Dodgers; Dexter Fowler Aug. 22, 2001 against the Giants, and Corey Dickerson, Sept. 19, 2013 against the Cardinals.

–As well as Story, Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez tripled, both in the first inning. Both scored.

–Nolan Arenado became the 17th player in Rockies history with at least seven RBI in a game, the 13th with seven. The club record of eight was set by Andres Galarraga against the Dodgers on June 27, 1996. It was matched by Larry Walker against the Cardinals on April 28, 1999, Rafael Belliard against the Diamondbacks on Sept, 23, 2003, and Matt Holliday against the Padres on Sept. 20, 2005.

–The Rockies 12 extra base hits equaled a club record. The 12 extra base hits were the most given up by the Giants since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958.

–Giants starter Jake Peavy allowed 10 extra-base hits in four innings, the third pitcher to allow 10 in a game in the last 50 years. Curt Schilling allowed 10 against the Royals on Aug. 10, 2006, and Luis Tiant against the Red Sox on April 18, 1969.

Quick Hits

–Cardinal lefty Marco Gonzalez of Fort Collins is going to undergo Tommy John surgery. For more information check out Rick Hummel’s story http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/cardinals-notes-gonzales-will-miss-entire-season/article_359fa9dd-6a9b-5582-aac4-e2e5f816046c.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=user-share

–Korean Dae Ho Lee became the third pinch-hitter in Mariners history to hit a walk-off home run in the Mariners 4-2, 10-inning victory against Texas on Wednesday. The previous two were Kendrys Morales against the A’s on June 23, 2013 and Ken Phelps against the Tigers on Sept. 3, 1986.

–Astros second baseman Jose Altuve has 81 3-hit games, the most in the majors since he debuted in 2011.

Quick hits: Chacin Makes Opening Statement With Braves

Once a rising star in the Rockies rotation, Jhoulys Chacin took a major step in his comeback bid on Tuesday night with the Atlanta Braves.

Chacin came away with a no-decision in the Braves loss at Washington, but in his first appearance with the Braves he pitched six shutout innings, giving up five hits and striking out eight. He did not walk a batter.

Chacin was released by the Rockies in the final days of spring training a year ago. After going 14-9 with a 3.47 ERA in 2013, Chacin was 1-7 with a 5.40 ERA in 2014, and struggled with velocity and control during the spring of 2015.

He initially signed a minor-league contract with the Indians a year ago, but after going 1-3 with a 3.21 ERA in seven starts at Triple-A Columbus he was not called up to the big leagues and exercised an opt-out in his contract on June 18. He signed with the DBacks the next day, and was 6-3 with a 3.22 ERA in 20 starts at Triple-A Reno, earning a call up in late August. He was 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in five games, four starts, for the DBacks but was not re-signed.

Enter the Braves, who were encouraged with Chacin’s effort on Tuesday. He threw 52 strikes out of 69 pitches, and appeared to have adjusted to pitching with less velocity. His fastball was primarily in the 86-to-90 miles per hour range with a slider at 79-to-83 miles per hour, cut fastball that was 85-to-86 and a changeup in the low 80s, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Constitution Journal.

COORS COMFORT

Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija has enjoyed his brief exposure to Coors Field. With eight innings in a 7-2 victory over the Rockies on Tuesday he is now 2-0 with a 2.01 ERA in five appearances, two starts, at Coors Field. That is the third lowest ERA among active pitchers with at least two starts at Coors Field.

Nathan Eovaldi, now with the Yankees is 1-1 with a 1.47 ERA at Coors Filed. Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright is 2-0 with a 1.85 ERA. Pirates right-hander Cory Luebke is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA, and Samardzija’s teammate with the Giants, Johnny Cueto, is 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA.

AROUND THE HORN

–The Braves 0-7 start is their worst since going 0-10 to open 1988, during which they lost 106 games, the franchise’s most since the Boston Braves lost a franchise-record 115 games in 1935.

–Indians right-hander Corey Kluber, the AL Cy Young winner in 2014, is 1-6 in his last nine starts with a 4.31 ERA.

–The Diamondbacks 4-2 victory in the Dodgers home opener Tuesday was only their fifth victory in their last 20 games at Dodger Stadium.

–Giants have 11 players with a home run, most in the majors, and are tied with the Rockies for the major league home run lead with 17.

A Story Worth Remembering

Trevor Story has grabbed national attention four games into his big-league career.

He stepped in at shortstop for the Rockies in the absence of Jose Reyes, and has been a powerful sensation, setting a Major League record with six home runs in his first four games, and tying the record by hitting at least one home run in each of his first four games.

Here’s the link to the latest on Story:  http://m.mlb.com/news/article/171267568/trevor-story-makes-hitting-home-runs-look-easy?tcid=tw_share

A Day for Sad Songs. RIP Tom Singer

Tom Singer was special.

Unfortunately that is in the past tense.

Life seems to come in reverse.

By the time we are able to fully appreciate what goes on around us it’s too late to fully enjoy it.

You know, things like having Tom Singer be a part of your life.

Think about it.

First we get invites to birthday parties with cakes and balloons.

Then we get graduation announcements.

Next are wedding invitations.

Then birth notices.

And then a slap in the face by reality.

Then we get word of the death of someone who has played a role in our life.

The message came on Wednesday afternoon.

Tom Singer had passed away.

I had to read it several times.

It didn’t seem right.

Tom was a good writer, a good reporter, a good worker.

More than that, though, Tom was a good human being.

I got to know him in 1980, the final year I covered the California Angeles and the first year he was on the beat, having replaced Dick Miller as the beat writer for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.

And I got to spend time working alongside him the last couple of years, after I joined MLB.com as a columnist. Tom had been one of the company’s original hires, and the last four years had stepped in to fill a void covering the Pittsburgh Pirates.

We used to have some conversations that went deeper than baseball.

I would marvel at his story of being a youngster when his family fled Hungary and settled in Pittsburgh, and the adjustments he faced in coming to the new home. And he would pick my mind about being a member of a Wyoming pioneer family. I told him my ancestors must have been fleeing, too, because who on earth would actually have chosen to be the original white men to settle in southeastern Wyoming.

Most of all, though, over time we would have fun discussions about the wonderful movie he wrote, Microwave Massacre, starting Jackie Vernon. I always teased him that his movie was the inspiration for Jeffrey Dahmer. Just last summer Tom made mention that he still got royalty checks on occasion, although they were usually a single figure ahead of the decimal point.

When Clint Hurdle took the managerial job in Pittsburgh I told him about Tom and his screen writing abilities. Tom called early that spring, and he was giggling.

“I know you talked to Hurdle,” he said.

“Why would you say that?” I asked Tom.

“Because he was reciting lines from Microwave Massacre,” Singer told me.

Hurdle and Singer bonded. They were a natural fit.

Life isn’t always fair. Tom took over the Pirates beat when mlb.com needed someone to step in. He did it even though in lived in the Phoenix area, and it would mean lengthy separations from his wife.

The past season was his last one on the beat.

He was looking forward to the coming year. He was going to be based out of Phoenix. He was going to get time at home.

The man upstairs better be ready.

I guarantee you he’s going to have to sit through Microwave Massacre and he’s going to hear some of the puniest puns a man has ever spoken.

Damn it.

I will definitely miss Mr. Singer.

More than a good reporter/writer, Tom Singer was damn good people.

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