Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-8-21

8/21/2008
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, August 21, 2008

Top of the 1st
THE STOPPER
I had the pleasure last evening of meeting a very talented writer and very nice human by the name of Rachel Solar. Rachel has a blogsite, “The Shadow of Manny Ramirez,” in which she describes herself as writer and Sox fan who muses on love, life & longing for Pedro.

I trust this won’t be the only time she allows Billy-Ball to feature her work.

THE STOPPER by Rachel Solar

After last night’s Beckett debacle, here’s what I’m hearing on the radio: Beckett is not the ace. Lester is the ace. Why? Because he’s the stopper. He picks us up. When we’re in the gutter. When we need it most. We define the ace of our staff not by innings pitched or veteran status or swagger or ERA or Cy Youngs or number of wins.

The ace is the one who stops the bleeding. In this season. Right now.

They say that when times are tough, you find out who your friends are. I think that’s true. And I think you also find out who your ace is. Who among all the passing-through suitors, you could really love.

It’s funny, sometimes something bad comes up early in a relationship that can bring you closer than you technically should be given the time that’s passed. Every few months, about six times a year, I have these terrible nightmares. They are horrifying, but I have no idea why. I never remember them; I just wake up with unshakable terrors. The after-effects can last a whole day. I think sometimes that someone who could comfort me after these nightmares, that would be the person for me.

Someone who makes you feel safe. Who makes you feel that there is a way to deal with whatever life has to offer. Who stops those heart-thumping, damp-brow pre-dawn moments. Who comes through, not to celebrate in the winningest hours, but to shoulder the burden in the darkest ones.

You can find more of Rachel’s writings on her blog site “The Shadow of Manny Ramirez” found at http://mannyshadow.blogspot.com/

Top of the 2nd
BASEBALL CENTRAL

M IS FOR MISERABLE
“It’s about time,” Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said in regard to Ken Griffey Jr.’s first home run with the Chicago White Sox. Griffey hit one of Chicago’s four homers to move into a tie with Sammy S*sa for fifth on the career list and the relentless White Sox routed the Seattle Miserables, 15-3. Alexei Ramirez and A.J. Pierzynski each hit a three-run homer for Chicago and Nick Swisher homered for the third straight game. Griffey scored three times after entering the game just 9-for-43 with four RBIs and no extra-base hits for the White Sox. This was the 10th time this season the White Sox have hit four home runs in a game. No other team has hit four or more homers in a game more than six times. The White Sox have won five straight and eight of their last nine games. They’ve also outscored opponents 48-10 during their five-game win streak. The White Sox have scored 13 or more runs in three of their last four games and the 15 runs were one short of their season high. The 15 runs also were the most allowed by the M’s since Kansas City scored 17 on July 3, 2007. Seattle has lost six straight and 11 of 13 overall. Now at 46-80, a .365 pace, the Miserables must go 17-19 or better over their final 36 games to avoid the franchise’s first 100-loss season since 1980. That’s a .472 winning percentage.

A IS FOR AWFUL
Mike Redmond drove in two runs and the Twins beat the A’s 3-1 and send them to an Oakland-record 11th straight series defeat. The A’s were held to one run or less for the 34th time this year, more than a quarter of their games. They are averaging only 2.71 runs per game since the break. The last time the Awfuls lost 11 series in a row was 1960, when they played in Kansas City. The Twins won their 11th consecutive home series, improving to 30-9 at the Metrodome since June 1 in their last home game until Sept. 5. Thanks to the Republicans they play 14 straight on the road, the longest trip the team has had since 1969. Only six of the next 30 games are in Minnesota. The Twins are 26-31 on the road this year.

CUBS LOSE? CUBS LOSE!
Bronson Arroyo and two Cincinnati relievers beat the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley last night, 2-1. Arroyo allowed three hits and a run in seven innings. David Weathers pitched the 8th and Francisco Cordero struck out the side in the 9th for his 24th save in 30 chances. Ted Lilly (12-7) fell to 0-3 against the Reds this season with all three losses at Wrigley Field. The loss was only the fifth in the last 22 games for the NL Central-leading Cubs. They are now 46-18 at Wrigley Field.

BREWS CRUISE
Manny Parra (10-6) earned his first win since July 20, J.J. Hardy hit a two-run homer as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Houston Astros, 5-2. Carlos Villanueva worked two hitless innings, Eric Gagne got out of a jam in the 8th and Salomon Torres pitched the 9th for his 24th save in 29 chances. Rickie Weeks walked three times and scored three runs, and Prince Fielder had two sacrifice flies for Milwaukee, which managed just four hits. Ryan Braun missed his second consecutive game and ninth of the last 11 with tightness in his lower back.

THEY’RE THE PITTS
Todd Wellemeyer beat the Pittsburgh Pirates for the third time this season as the Cards topped the Pitts, 11-2. Rick Ankiel, Ankiel, who has moved from center field to left field the last eight games to protect an abdominal strain, and Jason LaRue hit two-run home runs to pace a 13-hit attack. Skip Schumaker had three hits, an RBI and scored twice from the leadoff slot and is batting 14-for-30 (.467) during a seven-game hitting streak, while Wellemeyer (11-4) won his fourth straight decision and added an RBI single and is 3-0 with a 2.48 ERA in his last six starts and 4-0 in his last eight outings dating to July 19. St. Louis, which won for only the fourth time in its last 12 games at home, are an NL-best 37-29 on the road and 34-29 at home after splitting a two-game series with the Pirates.

Top of the 3rd
EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE, ALL AROUND THE LEAGUES

M IS FOR MANUEL
What a difference Jerry Manuel has made with the New York Mets. He and pitching coach Dan Warthen have turned this team and this division around. The Mets had two complete games last season but now have tossed three complete games in their last 23 games as Mike pitched a three-hitter for his first career complete game and David Wright homered, his 24th, to lead the Mets over the team formerly known as the successful Atlanta Braves, 6-3. Pelfrey walked three and struck out three in his 42nd major league start, improving to 10-2 since May 31. He threw 108 pitches and retired his final 11 batters in a game that lasted just 2 hours, 8 minutes. New York starters are 7-0 with a 1.83 ERA in the past eight games. Pelfrey (12-8) also had an RBI single, Daniel Murphy hit a two-run single and Fernando Tatis also drove in a run to help the Mets, who have won eight of nine and 11 of 14. The Braves have lost nine of 10, falling a season-worst 15 games under .500. The Mets surpassed 3 million in attendance for the fifth time.

THESE SHOULDN’T EVEN COUNT
Brett Myers tossed a nine-hitter for his first shutout in four years and Philadelphia beat Washington, 4-0. Myers (6-10) struck out nine and walked one in his sixth start since being recalled from the minors on July 20. Since being recalled from the minors, Myers is 3-1 with a 1.94 ERA. He earned his first shutout since a 4-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 20, 2004, and his first complete game since he tossed a six-hitter in a 6-2 victory against the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 20, 2006. The game drew a sellout crowd of 45,166, the 16th in a row and the 42nd this season at Citizens Bank Park. The Nationals suffered their 12th straight loss and tied the Kansas City Royals for the longest losing streak in the majors this season. Washington has the worst record in the majors at 44-83 and they have been shut out 19 times this season. The latest embarrassment is the franchise’s longest since the Montreal Expos dropped 12 straight from Aug. 13-27, 1976.

DON’T WORRY BABY
Bengie Molina’s one out walkoff sacrifice fly gave the San Francisco Giants a 6-5 victory over the Florida Marlins. Pinch-hitter John Baker hit a three-run homer in the top of the inning to tie it at 5 for the Fish as Brian Wilson (1-2) suffered his first blown save since May 2 costing Matt Cain a win, “I feel pretty terrible about not being able to hold it for Cainy,” Wilson said. Cain gave up two runs and five hits in 7 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out four. He has a 1.88 ERA over his last eight games.

THE PADRES DON’T HAVE A PRAYER
Jake Peavy (9-9) watched Padres hitters knock around Diamondbacks All-Star Dan Haren (14-6) for four runs in the 1st inning, but by the 3rd inning, the Padres trailed 6-4. The big blow against Peavy being a three-run home run by Adam Dunn, his National League-leading 34th home run and his second in as many games. Dunn also drew his major league-leading 90th and 91st walks. By the time it was over, the Arizona Diamondbacks had beaten the San Diego Padres, 8-6. Over the past two nights in Arizona
Padres pitchers have given up 13 hits and 18 walks. Winning pitcher Dan Haren has allowed four-plus earned runs in three of his last four starts. The D-Backs have now won seven of nine overall.

THE ERROR OF THEIR WAYS
The Los Angeles Dodgers made four errors and the Rockies beat the Dodgers 4-3 for their fifth straight victory. Gold Glove catcher Russell Martin made his eighth start at third base, Danny Ardoin his 12th behind the plate and third baseman Casey Blake his second at first and they were responsible for the four errors the most by the Dodgers since they made four on Aug. 13, 2005, against the New York Mets.

THE BEST OF THE AL?
Garret Anderson extended hitting streak to 23 games with a 9th inning go-ahead hit as the Angels snapped a three-game losing streak, avoided a sweep and ended a five-game losing streak in Tampa Bay by topping the Rays, 5-4. Carlos Pena had tied the game in the 8th and leads the majors with seven game-tying RBIs in the 7th inning or later this season. Francisco Rodriguez picked his career-high 48th save in relief of Jose Arredondo (5-1). Despite the loss, the Rays, have still won nine of 12, but Los Angeles moved back ahead of Tampa Bay for the best record in the American League at 77-48.

FEATS OF CLAY, ARM TOO
The Red Sox finally admitted what so many of us have known for months…Clay Buchholtz is not yet a major league pitcher. Spotted a 4-0 lead against Baltimore by the time Buchholz (2-9) handed the ball to Terry Francona, he had allowed five runs, three hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings, the shortest start of his career. The Orioes eventually won, 11-6. Buchholz (6.75 ERA) is 0-7 in nine starts since May 2 and his next appearance will be for Double-A Portland. His losing skein is the longest Red Sox streak since Frank Castillo lost eight straight in 2002. Since his last victory May 2, which included a two-month stint in Triple A Pawtucket, Buchholz has an ERA of 9.21 in nine starts. He has had leads in the first three innings in six of the nine starts and lost each one.

Top of the 4th
THE WALL ST. JOURNAL REPORTS…
Mike Piazza has listed his condominium in Miami Beach’s South Beach neighborhood for $4.9 million, soon after buying an eight-bedroom house for $10 million in the same city. The three-bedroom condo, with terraces and panoramic views, is in the Murano at Portofino development on South Beach’s southernmost tip.

Mr. Piazza, 39, bought the 3,300-square-foot condo “raw” for $1.75 million when it was built in 2002 and designed it in a contemporary style with limestone floors. The building has a pool, tennis courts, a gym, a concierge and access to a private beach club.

The new house of the 12-time All-Star and his wife, Alicia, a former Playboy Playmate he married in 2005, is 9,600 square feet. The property has 100 feet on the water in the Sunset Islands neighborhood. The couple also owns an apartment in New York.

Top of the 5th
MARK YOUR 2009 CALENDARS
* Next season’s MLB schedule opens April 5 with an ESPN Sunday night broadcast to be determined.
* The regular season is scheduled to end Oct. 4.
* The Mets will play their first game at Citi Field on Tuesday, April 14, against the San Diego Padres.
* The new Yankee Stadium will open April 16 with a game against the Cleveland Indians.
* If the current postseason format remains intact, Game 7 of the World Series would be Nov. 5. A couple of rainouts and we’re looking at Thanksgiving.

Top of the 6th
BILLY-BALL-SITE-OF-THE-DAY
If you are like me and are interested in world of sports media – you’ll find this site invaluable: http://sportsmediawatch.blogspot.com/

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
AL
Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians, 12:05 pm
(R) Zack Greinke (9-8) vs. (L) Cliff Lee (17-2)
New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays, 7:07 pm
(R) Sidney Ponson (7-3) vs. (R) Roy Halladay (14-9)
Minnesota Twins at LA Angels of Anaheim, 10:05 pm
(R) Scott Baker (7-3) vs. (R) John Lackey (10-2)
Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners, 10:10 pm
(L) Greg Smith (5-12) vs. (L) Ryan Rowland-Smith (2-1)

NL
Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs, 2:20 pm
(R) Josh Fogg (2-5) vs. (R) Carlos Zambrano (12-5)
Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers, 3:10 pm
(L) Jorge De La Rosa (6-6) vs. (R) Derek Lowe (9-10)
Florida Marlins at San Francisco Giants, 3:45 pm
(R) Josh Johnson (3-0) vs. (R) Matt Palmer (0-1)
Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies, 7:05 pm
(R) Tim Redding (8-8) vs. (L) Jamie Moyer (11-7)
Atlanta Braves at New York Mets, 7:10 pm
(L) Mike Hampton (2-1) vs. (R) Pedro Martinez (4-3)
San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks, 9:40 pm
(R) Chad Reineke (1-0) vs. (R) Brandon Webb (18-4)

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
AJ Burnett, with two years remaining on the five-year contract he signed before the 2006 season, has the option to void the last two years of his deal with the Jays and become a free agent at the end of this season, leaving $24 million on the table.

Top of the 9th
BOWMAN AND THE WSJ
Bob Bowman, the head honcho of MLB Advanced Media and MLB.com recently had a Q & A with the Wall St. Journal. In the interview he announced that box scores and player stats will be added by Labor Day weekend to their new iPhone application called MLB.com At Bat.

On deck is the BlackBerry and the hope that ultimately could become a video machine and carry MLB video.

Bowman was asked how the introduction of the MLB Network in 2009 will impact MLB.com. Mr. Bowman replied, “I think it’s going to be very positive. The industry hired the best candidate available, bar none, in Tony Petitti [to run the MLB Network.] That means the content, the approach, everything is going to be top-shelf. And that helps baseball. In my view, anything that makes baseball more enjoyable, anything that makes fans more knowledgeable, helps MLB.com.”

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.