Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-7-14

7/14/2006
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

Billy-Ball – From the diamond to your desktop…

Subscribe to Billy-Ball – it’s free – www.billy-ball.com

Fifty years ago today, Mel Parnell of the Boston Red Sox pitched a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox for a 4-0 victory at Fenway Park.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Top of the 1st
STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU
“Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”
Stealers Wheel

I may have never mentioned to you how much I hate my middle name. I hate the sound of it, I hate to say it, I hate to write it, I hate when it’s somebody’s else’s name, I hate when forms ask for it, I hate when anybody refers to me by it, I simply hate it.

It was my mother’s choice. She wanted to honor a deceased aunt. Now that should tell you a lot already. First, if it was to honor an aunt, then why am I getting the name? Secondly, I think the aunt died of embarrassment from her name. Fortunately my mother was talked out of giving it to me for my first name. If she had given it to me as a first name you wouldn’t be reading Billy-Ball, you would be reading Psycho Serial Killer Journal.

I have no idea how any of you feel about your middle names (nor should I care) because we will be belaboring this discussion that I’m already regretting that I started. But just for fun, I will give you the middle names of 10 All-Stars and you have to match them up with the player in what I call the George Herman Ruth Quiz.

The answers can be found in the Top of the 9th

Middle names:
Allen
Americo
Brian
Casillas
Edward
Emmanuel
Ivan
Michael
Patrick
Scott

Players
Alex Rodriguez
Brian McCann
Carlos Beltran
David Ortiz
David Wright
Francisco Liriano
Joe Mauer
Kenny Rogers
Michael Young
Scott Kazmir

Top of the 2nd
ALBERT HITS A BIG PAPI
Jose Albert Pujols’ walk-off home run with one out in the bottom of the 14th inning gave the Cardinals a 3-2 win over the Dodgers. Pujols also homered off the Astros’ Roy Oswalt to end a 10-inning game on Saturday. He has seven career game-winning homers and two this season, amongst his league-leading 30, after hitting a 3-1 pitch from Odalis Amadol Perez (4-4) well over the left-field wall into the visitor’s bullpen to give St. Louis their third straight win in extra innings. Perez said he was trying to walk Pujols on a 3-2 count. Pujols is 10-for-15 against Perez with five homers. “He went out and got it,” Perez said. “It was a changeup away.”

Anthony Nomar Garciaparra of the Dodgers hit a two-run homer in the third to extend his hitting streak to 22 games. Garciaparra is 32-for-89 (.360) during his hitting streak, the Dodgers’ longest since Paul Anthony Lo Duca hit in 25 straight in 2003. It’s the second-longest streak in the majors this year, trailing only Edgar Enrique Renteria’s 23-game run in April.

It’s the fifth time in his career that Pujols has hit a game-ending home run in extra innings. Only three other active players have ever done that at least five times: Jim Howard Thome (6), Barry Lamar B*nds (5) and Tim James Salmon (5). While Pujols has only been in the major leagues since 2001, the other three all debuted in 1992 or earlier.

Top of the 3rd
A KEARNEL OF KNOWLEDGE
The Reds gave up starting right fielder Austin Ryan Kearns and shortstop Felipe Lopez to the Washington Nationals, hoping to bolster one of the majors’ worst bullpens and stay in NL Wild Card race. The Reds acquired two relief pitchers, Gary Wayne Majewski and Bill Alan Bray, in an eight player trade with Washington.

The 26-year-old Majewski was 3-2 with a 3.58 ERA in 46 games. He led the Nationals with 79 appearances last season and had a 2.93 ERA. The 23-year-old Bray was the 13th overall pick in the June 2004 draft and was considered one of the Nationals’ top pitching prospects. He was 1-1 with a 3.91 ERA in 19 relief appearances this season, his first in the majors.
Besides right-handed Majewski and lefty Bray, the Reds acquired shortstop Royce Spencer Clayton, infielder Brendan Michael Harris and pitching prospect Daryl Thompson and gave up also gave up reliever Ryan Scott Wagner, a first-round draft pick in 2003. Nationals general manager Jim Bowden acquired all three players when he ran the Reds. The 36-year-old Clayton, will take over at shortstop for Lopez, who made his first All-Star team last year. The Reds will be Clayton’s sixth major-league team in the last five seasons (since 2002). Only one non-pitcher has played for more teams over that period: Kenny Lofton (seven different teams).

Cincinnati’s bullpen entered Thursday having allowed 44 home runs and a .293 opponents’ batting average this season. Each of those totals was the highest for any relief corps in the National League. Additionally, Reds relievers were averaging 6.03 strikeouts per nine innings, the lowest figure for any bullpen in the National League. Last week, the Reds sent a minor leaguer to Seattle for Everyday Eddie Adrian Guardado, a former All-Star closer who moves back into the role in Cincinnati.

Right fielder Kearns was hitting .274 with 16 homers and 50 RBI and Lopez is hitting .268 with nine homers and 30 RBI, but has occasionally failed to make the routine play. “In order to win, we’ve got to make the routine play every time,” manager Jerry Austin Narron said. The Reds are second-to-last in the NL in fielding.

This trade also sets the stage for the Nats to trade to Alfonso Pacheco Soriano who I think will end up back in a Yankees uniform.

Top of the 4th
JONESING FOR A CENTERFIELDER
The Seattle Mariners called up their top prospect Adam Jones, 20, from Triple-A Tacoma, yesterday looking to add production in center field. Centerfielder Jeremy Reed is out because of a broken thumb and Shin-Soo Choo, who was recalled from the Rainiers on July 3 and went 1-for-11 in four games, was sent back on the choo-choo to Tacoma.

Jones, the Mariners’ top pick in the 2003 draft was batting .277 for Tacoma with 14 homers, 55 RBIs and 13 stolen bases and was the Rainiers’ only representative in Wednesday’s Triple-A All-Star Game. Since June 1, he was batting .336 with six homers and eight doubles in 140 at-bats. The right-handed batter recorded 25 multi-hit games and produced a 20-game hitting streak that ended just before the All-Star break, the longest in the Pacific Coast League this season.

Top of the 5th
DESPERATE PITCHERS
Showing how desperate everyone is for starting pitching, the Yankees are signing Sidney Ponson cut by the St. Louis Cardinals last week. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said yesterday the deal “made sense, compared to everything else that was available to us.” The 29-year-old righty was 4-4 with a 5.24 ERA for St. Louis.

Ponson’s agent, Barry Praver, said other teams showed interest in Ponson. He declined to name them, but Boston was believed to be among them.

The NL Central-leading Cardinals acquired the miserable Jeff Weaver from the Los Angeles Angels two days before cutting Ponson.

Once among baseball’s more promising pitchers, Ponson’s career was derailed by alcohol problems. Baltimore released him last September during a $22.5 million, three-year contract, saying his behavior gave them grounds to terminate his deal. Ponson was convicted last December of driving while impaired and sentenced to five days in jail — his arrest in August marked his third drunk driving offense. The pitcher also spent 11 days in jail in his native Aruba after fighting on a beach.

The Yankees trail the Red Sox by 2