Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-7-10

7/10/2008
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

Billy-Ball – From the diamond to your desktop…
By Baseball Newstalgist, Bill Chuck

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

The only spin here is on my screwball

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Top of the 1st
WHICH IS WORSE?
Which is worse, the state of the American economy or the stae of the Cleveland Indians? Since the only thing I understand about the economy is that it is ding lousy, I’m going to go with the Indians who are doing even lousier.

Yesterday, Cleveland was leading Detroit 6-0 in the 6th inning and even that didn’t avert an 8-6 loss on a Miguel Cabrera walkoff homer. The Indians just completed an ohfer eight-game road trip in which they were swept by the Tigers, Twins, and White Sox and that extended their losing streak to 10 straight.

“I have never in my career been through this before,” said Indians manager Eric Wedge. “Not as a player or a manager. I’m meeting with the team tomorrow to discuss the situation.”

What can Wedge say to his team? Tell them that they are two away from matching the franchise record of 12 straight losses set in 1931.

Does he point out that during the streak the Tribe have been outscored, 74-42? Who does that make feel worse the pitchers or the hitters? Let’s agree that it’s the hitters because then Wedge could tell his pitchers that during the streak the starters are 0-6 with a 6.86 ERA and the bullpen is 0-4 with three blown saves and 9.35 ERA.

Oh lets go back to the hitters for a moment, because the pitchers are feeling to much of the blame. Yesterday, the Tribe has a 5-1 lead in the 5th and Ben Francisco leads off with a walk, then Jhonny Peralta doubles and Casey Blake is intentionally walked. What happens next? Shin-Soo Choo, Ryan Garko and Andy Marte all strike out against Casey Fossum. Casey Fossum!!!

“We had no outs and struck out three straight times,” said Wedge. “That can’t happen. It just can’t happen.” Oh, but it did Eric and this is why your team is on their longest losing streak since 1979, the year Coco Crisp was born.

The one thing this team can do is field. They’ve committed only 41 errors, the best in the league. Then it goes downhill very fast.

The Indians are last in the AL with a .245 batting average and last in the AL with only 745 hits, 80 less than the league average and 165 less than the Texas Rangers, the league leaders. With runners in scoring position, they are hitting .261. With runners in scoring position and two outs, they are hitting .229. From the 7th inning on, they are hitting a league worst .221. They only stolen 46 bases this season (Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury has 35 by himself) and Grady Sizemore has 21 of them.

Casey Blake is hitting .280, that’s 39th in the league and first on the Tribe.

The Indians have scored 3 runs over less in 44 of 90 games this year .

As for the pitching…

The starters have a 4.01 ERA (this includes the now departed CC Sabathia); the relievers a 5.35 ERA, the worst in the AL. Can you imagine what this staff would be like if Cliff Lee wasn’t 11-2 with a 2.43 ERA?

The bullpen has 14 saves and 14 blown saves this season. Relievers have given up 37 home runs so far this season.

The staff has allowed eight grand slams this year, the most in the majors and no team has allowed nine since 1963.

The team ERA since June 1 is 5.61 (296.2IP, 341H, 185ER)

Now you understand why the Indians are 37-53.

To put that in perspective –
* To win 100 games, the Indians must go 63-9.
* To equal last year’s 96 wins which put them in the post-season, the Tribe would have to go 59-14.
* To finish the season at .500, the Indians must go 44-28.

In addition –
* The Indians are 15-31 on the road and 22-22 at home. They are 7-24 on the road since May 8
* They are 7-6 against the East, 11-11 against the West, but were 6-12 in Interleague play and 13-24 in their own Central Division.
* They are 3-7 in extra inning games and 6-11 in one-run games.
* They are 28-38 against righties and 9-15 against lefties.
* They are 22-35 against teams .500 and better and 15-18 against teams under .500.
* They are 4-16 in their last 20 and 10-20 in their last 30.
* They are 7-18 in day games and 30-35 at night.
* They are 1-5 on turf and 36-48 on grass.

If Eric Wedge’s talk does work, and the Tribe has a huge turn-around, I don’t want you guys voting for him to be Manager of the Year, I want this guy to be Secretary of the Treasury and working on turning around the economy, because right now I still don’t which is worse the economy or the Tribe.

Top of the 2nd
SWEEPS
The Red Sox scored a season-high 18 runs and had 23 hits (10 for extra bases), which tied for the second-most hits in a home game in the last 50 years as they completed a three-game sweep of the Twins, 18-5. Jacoby Ellsbury had a career-high four hits and Manny Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis and Sean Casey had three apiece to help Boston set season highs for hits (23) and runs. The Twins loaded the bases in the 7th and failed to score, but they trailed just 7-5 in the bottom half when they appeared to escape a jam on what was initially ruled a triple play, but after the call was correctly reversed, the Sox scored two billion more runs and that was that. The Twins had come to Fenway having won 18 of their last 21.

The Yankees won their second straight game against the Rays, defeating them 2-1 in 10 innings to complete a mini-sweep. The Yanks have won four in a row and five of their last seven games. On Mustache Give Away Day Jason Giambi ended an 0-for-12 slump with an RBI single, while Bobby Abreu, who has no `stache, had a walkoff double to score Derek Jeter. It was his first walkoff as a Yankee and the sixth of his career. Tampa Bay went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, dropping to 2-for-28 (.071) during the three straight losses. The 49-42 Yankees matched their high-water mark at seven games above .500.

Top of the 3rd
WALKOFF HOMERS
Bobby Abreu didn’t have the only walkoff yesterday as the great Josh Hamilton story continued with a two out walkoff homer off the great Francisco Rodriguez. “I always see guys on TV tossing their helmet and jumping into the crowd,” Hamilton said after his homer gave the Texas Rangers a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. “Seeing all those guys at the plate, that’s an awesome feeling.” It was his first homer in 70 at-bats over 19 games since June 17. Hamilton lined a 3-1 pitch into the right-field seats for what he said was his first walk-off homer ever — as an amateur or a pro. The Rangers (48-44) moved four games over .500 for the first time since 2006, and got within 61/2 games of the AL West-leading Angels. Ian Kinsler extended his hitting streak to 21 games.

Miguel Cabrera hit a walkoff giving Detroit an 8-6 win over Cleveland,

Top of the 4th
BEING LEFTY IS THE RIGHT THING
David Peters, an engineering professor at Washington University in St. Louis, has recently completed a study indicating that lefties have a decided advantage in baseball.

“Ninety per cent of the human population is right-handed, but in baseball 25 per cent of the players, both pitchers and hitters, are left-handed,” Peters said.

Peters’ observations were for an article on the university website and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., who at the request of The Associated Press, crunched the numbers of lefties and righties in the Hall, the first time they had done so.

Of the 61 enshrined pitchers, 13 are left-handed, according to John Odell, curator of history and research at the Hall of Fame. At 21 per cent, that’s more than twice the percentage of lefties in the general population. Odell added 71 Hall of Fame position players batted right-handed, 59 left-handed, and eight were switch-hitters.

“Almost parity there,” Odell said. “That’s way up over what you’d expect to see if people were playing the way their handedness would suggest.”

Peters said left-handed hitters are simply taking advantage of a game set up to favor them, starting with the direction the hitter runs to first base. As a right-handed hitter swings, his momentum carries him the wrong way — toward third base. A lefty, already standing roughly five feet closer to first base, swings and naturally spins in the correct direction.

“And that means the lefty travels the 90 feet to first roughly one-sixth of a second faster than the righty,” Peters said. That translates to more hits and a higher batting average.

Because most pitchers are right-handed, the left-handed hitter also tends to have a matchup advantage.

“You see the ball better” as a left-handed hitter facing a right-handed pitcher, Peters said. “You get depth perception. A right-handed batter facing a right-handed pitcher actually has to pick up the ball visually as it comes from behind (the batter’s) left shoulder. You’ve lost a lot of that split-second timing to pick up the ball.”

According to the website retrosheet.org, left-handers hit .272 against right-handed pitchers last season. Righties vs. righties hit .261. Against left-handed pitching, righties hit .281, lefties just .251. But there were 122,053 at-bats against right-handed pitchers last season, nearly three times as many as the 45,730 against lefties.

Not all advantages go to lefties. Catchers are nearly all right-handed — a lefty trying to cut down a base stealer would have to throw over or around the right-handed hitter. Infielders except for first basemen are virtually all right-handed because a left-hander would have to make an awkward turn to get into throwing position.

Odell notes that it’s not being left-handed, but rather hitting left-handed, that appears to be the advantage, at least among Hall of Famers. Just 22 of the 138 position players were pure left-handers — batting and throwing left. But 37 right-handed throwers hit left-handed. Among left-handed throwers, none hit right-handed.

Top of the 5th
DONNIE BASEBALL IS BACK
Don Mattingly will return as the Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach after the All-Star break. Mattingly, hired as part of new manager Joe Torre’s staff during the offseason, asked to be switched from hitting coach to major league special assignment coach, citing family reasons. Mike Easler, who has filled in as hitting coach, will remain with the Dodgers organization in another capacity. Torre said he’s kept in close touch with Mattingly and left the decision up to him when to resume the hitting coach role. Mattingly was named hitting coach on Nov. 16, 2007, and replaced by Easler on an interim basis in January.

The Dodgers are hitting .256 and are next-to-last in the NL in home runs (62), slugging percentage (.377) and total bases (1143).

They beat the Braves last night 2-1, banging out five hits.

Top of the 6th
BILLY-BALL-SITE-OF-THE-DAY
Oh how I wish I were in New York tonight.

For the first time since it happened, New Yorkers will have a chance to see the perfect game Don Larsen pitched for the Yankees in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. It will be screened tomorrow night at the BB King Blues Club and Grill, in the heart of Times Square. Broadcaster Bob Wolff, who called the play-by-play on radio, will be in attendance. The screening will view the only known copy of Larsen’s no-hitter. TV networks failed to archive most film from that era, but this singular taping stretches from the top of the 2nd inning through Dale Mitchell’s final out.

To preview a video sample from the game click here to go to www.ReelSportsFan.com and view a 3-minute clip that shows the 4th inning at bat and see Duke Snider’s near homer for Brooklyn.

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
AL
Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers, 1:05 pm
(R) Kevin Slowey (6-6) vs. (L) Kenny Rogers (6-6)
Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics, 3:35 pm
(R) R.A. Dickey (2-4) vs. (L) Greg Smith (5-7)
Tampa Bay Rays at Cleveland Indians, 7:05 pm
(R) Andy Sonnanstine (10-3) vs. (L) Aaron Laffey (4-5)
Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays, 7:07 pm
(R) Jeremy Guthrie (5-7) vs. (L) John Parrish (1-0)
LA Angels of Anaheim at Texas Rangers, 8:05 pm
(R) John Lackey (6-2) vs. (R) Scott Feldman (3-3)
Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals, 8:10 pm
(L) Mark Buehrle (6-7) vs. (R) Zack Greinke (7-5)

IL
New York Yankees at Pittsburgh Pirates, 7:05 pm – Make up for a rainout. Yes, just another reason to hate interleague play
(R) Mike Mussina (11-6) vs. (L) Paul Maholm (5-5)

NL
St. Louis Cardinals at Philadelphia Phillies, 1:05 pm
(R) Braden Looper (9-6) vs. (L) Jamie Moyer (7-6)
San Francisco Giants at New York Mets, 1:10 pm
(L) Barry Zito (4-12) vs. (R) John Maine (8-6)
Colorado Rockies at Milwaukee Brewers, 2:05 pm
(L) Jorge De La Rosa (3-4) vs. (R) Dave Bush (4-8)
Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs, 2:20 pm
(R) Bronson Arroyo (6-7) vs. (L) Ted Lilly (9-5)
Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals, 7:10 pm
(R) Dan Haren (8-5) vs. (R) Jason Bergmann (1-6)
Florida Marlins at Los Angeles Dodgers, 10:10 pm
(R) Josh Johnson (0-0) vs. (R) Chan Ho Park (4-2)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
When Boston scored18 runs yesterday it was eighth time this season an MLB team scored 18-plus runs in a game, matching the total times a team scored 18 runs in each of last three seasons.

Top of the 9th
NOBODY’S WATCHING
Tom Boswell (who simply refuses to return anybody’s emails) writes in the Washington Post, “Of all the stunning and unexpected sports statistics that we will ever see, few take the breath away more quickly than the assertion on Monday, in Nielsen Media Research data published by SportsBusiness Journal, that only 9,000 household TV sets, out of a metropolitan area of 5.5 million people, are tuned to the average Nationals game.”

In light of the fact that nobody is watching, the Nats have decided to be less circumspect as to where and when they scratch.

Bottom of the 9th
BUY THE BOOK
Bill Chuck is the creator of Billy-Ball.com and, with Jim Kaplan, is the author of the book, “Walk-Offs, Last Licks, and Final Outs – Baseball’s Grand (and not so Grand) Finales,” with a Foreword by Jon Miller available now from ACTA Sports.

Autographed first editions are available by contacting, Bill@billy-ball.com or order directly from Acta Sports, http://www.actasports.com/detail.html?&id=3427 or from your favorite bookstore worldwide.

* Support Billy-Ball via PayPal (WWW.BILLY-BALL.COM) or Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/paypage/PBANN9XCMMFSH.

Do you want to snail mail?
Billy-Ball
258 Harvard Street, #145
Brookline, MA 02446

Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports, espn.com, sportsline.com, mlb.com and numerous other e-sources. Opinions expressed in Billy-Ball are obviously solely the opinions of the author of Billy-Ball and do not reflect those of source material no matter how off the wall they may be.