Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-9-3

9/3/2008
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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

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The only spin here is on my screwball

RADIO ALERT: Billy-Ball, his ownself will be on the air this morning and every Wednesday morning at 8:50 with Bonnie Grice on WLIUfm/88.3 in Long Island, NY. I will also be on tomorrow afternoon at 4:25 with Justin Hull on AM 1570 The Score – “The Home Stretch” www.am1570thescore.com in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Top of the 1st
THE AUGUST REPORT CARD
Here is a review of the month of August with records and standings as of September 1.

2008 STANDINGS AS OF SEPTEMBER 1, 2008

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
TEAM W L PCT GB
Rays 84 51 .622 –
The Rays went 21-7 in August setting a franchise record for most victories in a single month (prev. 20-6 in June, 2004). Carlos Pena’s nine homers set a club record for August, his 29 RBI in the month (tied for third in the majors) matched his own team mark for most RBI in ANY month (29, Sep 2007). Jason Bartlett hit .389 for the month (28-72), 2nd-best month in club history, (Fred McGriff – .422 in July, 1999). Edwin Jackson went 4-1 in the month, tying a club record for victories in August. Since 1985, only four AL East teams have had a better record after 135 games: 1998 Yankees (98-37/99-37), 1984 Tigers (87-48/87-49), 1980 Yankees (84-51/85-51) and 1997 Orioles (85-50/85-51). The Rays had never been more than 4 games over .500 at any point in their history entering 2008. The Rays 84 wins are 18 more than last year and 14 more than the previous franchise best (70 in 2004). The Rays are 12-0-1 in series play since the break; the streak of 13 consecutive series without a loss is the longest in the majors this season.

Red Sox 79 57 .581 5.5
The Sox finished August 18-9 and almost seem to play better with a number of their stars injured. The Sox finished first last year, with a record of 96-66. Daisuke Matsuzaka has compiled a 3.10 ERA since the All-Star break, compared with the 5.19 mark he had in the second half of his first season.

Yankees 72 64 .529 12.5
The Yanks finished August 13-15, recording a losing record in the month for the first time since 1997. Bad month for Cashman and Girardi. They are just playing out the string at this point after finishing 94-68 last year.

Blue Jays 70 66 .515 14.5
The Jays went 16-12 in August. They’ve gone 35-27 under Cito Gaston which is good, but simply not good enough. They were 83-79 last season and will finish around the same this year, the biggest difference? They’ll finish behind the Rays this year and perhaps ahead of the Yankees this year.

Orioles 63 73 .463 21.5
After going 10-16 in July, the O’s went 11-17 in August. The Orioles should improve on their 69-93 record in 2007.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
TEAM W L PCT GB
White Sox 77 59 .566 –
The ChiSox finished August with a 17-11 record, an improvement of their 13-12 record in July. They’ve already won five more games than last season but they’re not going to get to the 99 wins they had in 2005 when they won it all.

Twins 77 60 .562 0.5
The Twins went 17-12 in August and Gardenhires are hanging very tough with their fourth straight winning month. The Twins scored more runs and recorded more hits in August than any other month this season but more importantly the Twins 3.41 ERA in August was the lowest in the American League (Toronto second with a 3.44).

Tigers 66 70 .485 11
The Tigers were 11-17 in August and they are their fans cannot wait until this horrible season is over. This has been a disaster and they just want to catch the Tribe for third place.

Indians 65 70 .481 11.5
Great month in August going 18-10, but way too little and way too late. One of the top five toughest teams since the break. They can be spoilers.

Royals 57 79 .419 20
The Royals were a pitiful 7-20 in August. Royals fans, what happened to the Rays won’t happen for you anytime in the near future.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
TEAM W L PCT GB
Angels 83 53 .610 –
The Angels’ 17.0 game lead in AL West at the end of August equaled the largest margin this decade entering the final month of play (2001 Mariners and 2002 Braves each entered the month with 17.0-game leads). The team can clinch at any moment and are 28-9-7 through 44 total series played. They are 50-24 vs. opponents above .500 (33-29 vs. teams under .500). Since 2007, Angels have spent 316 of a possible 334 days atop the awful AL West. They have the best road record in majors (40-25). How much more info do you need?

Rangers 67 71 .486 17
Marlon Byrd hit .393 (42-107) in August, the 3rd-highest figure in the AL, but that wasn’t enough to stop the August collapse for the Rangers who went 11-18. Don’t let the second place standing fool you.

A’s 63 74 .460 20.5
We’re all pretty sure that Billy Beane knows what he’s doing, BUT the A’s were 10-20 (.333) in August, the second worst in the American League to Kansas City (7-20). It was the first time the A’s had a losing record in August since 2000 (11-16) and the 20 losses were their most in August since 1993 (9-21). The A’s batted a major league low .220 in August, their lowest average since June, 1982 (.216). They scored 82 runs, which tied for the fewest in the majors and averaged 2.73 runs per game, which was the second lowest run per game figure in a month in Oakland history (2.50 in August, 1968). They struck out 233 times, an Oakland record for a single month, they topped the previous mark of 223 in September, 1999. The pitching staff walked a ML leading 133 batters. Billy Beane does know what he’s doing, right?

Mariners 53 83 .390 30
E-liminated, the M’s can no longer mathematically win the division. How bad are the Mariners? The Mariners were 12-16 in August and those 12 wins represents their second-best month of the year.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
TEAM W L PCT GB
Mets 76 61 .555 –
The Mets went 18-11 in August, their second straight 18 win month. Their 36 wins from July 1 to Sept 1 tied the Brewers for the most in the majors. New York only committed four errors over 35 games from July 22nd-August 27th, the fewest errors over any 35-game stretch by any major league team in major league history.

Phillies 75 62 .547 1
The Phils were 16-13 in August, but all eyes are on September. Over the past 4 seasons (2004-07), the Phillies have gone an NL-best 69-42 (.622) in September. The Phils have hit the most September homers (152) among NL teams in the last 4 seasons. Over the past 3 seasons (2005-07), Ryan Howard leads all major league players in September HR (30) and Jimmy Rollins has the most hits (123), triples (12) and extra-base hits (54). Pat Burrell hit under .200 with only four home runs in August.

Marlins 69 68 .504 7
The Marlins went 11-17 in August, their lowest monthly win total since going 9-19 in August of 2007. John Baker hit .318 (21-66) to lead the offense in average, while Mike Jacobs led all Marlins with five home runs and 16 RBI in 24 games. Ricky Nolasco and Josh Johnson led the pitching staff in wins (3). Closer Kevin Gregg leads the majors with nine blown saves and is tied with Luis Ayala, Aaron Heilman and Chad Qualls for most relief losses (eight); but he doesn’t want to brag. The Marlins didn’t win two in a row all of last month. It’s all about finishing over .500 now.

Braves 59 78 .431 17
The Braves went 9-20 in August; it was the team’s first 20-loss month since July
1988 when they also went 9-20. They had just 14 home runs in August.

Nationals 52 85 .380 24
What an odd month for this team. Washington was 14-15 record in August, a month in which the Nationals won 6 of the month’s first 7 games then lost 12 straight then ending the month winning 8 of 10. During the month, Washington had a miserable 4.80 ERA and hit .270 with 21 home runs. They were 73-89 last season.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
TEAM W L PCT GB
Cubs 85 52 .620 –
The Cubs were 20-8 in August, the team’s most wins in a month since going 20-10 in August of 1984, and solidified their position as the best in the NL. The Cubs boast 15-plus victories in each of the first five months of the season for the first time since the 1969 campaign. The Cubs had the league’s second-best BA at .288. The Cubs have had sole possession of first place in the National League Central every day for the last 98 except when they held a first-place tie with Milwaukee entering play July 27. The Cubs have had sole possession or been in a tie for first place for the last 16-plus weeks starting May 11. Carlos Zambrano’s second-half ERA of 5.25 is the highest in the rotation

Brewers 80 56 .588 4.5
The Brewers were 20-7 in August, the best record in the NL, but picked up a mere half-game on the Cubs. The team had at least 20 wins in a month for the seventh time in franchise history, but the team had not had 20 wins in a month since going 20-7 in September 1992. Mike Cameron (.360, 9hr, 22rbi, 8sb) was named Brewers Player of the Month for August. CC Sabathia (6g, 5-0, 1.12) was named Brewers Pitcher of the Month for August.

Cardinals 74 63 .540 11
The Cards went 13-13 in August despite leading the National League in hitting last month with a.300 batting average. In addition, Albert Pujols had the N.L.’s fourth highest August batting average at .398. Perhaps it all has to do with the fact that the Cardinals are second in the majors in games lost by the bullpen with 27 (San Diego-28) and lead in blown saves (27). In addition, the Cardinals have lost 10 games in extra innings and have lost 11 walk-off games, both tops in the majors.

Astros 71 66 .518 14
Huge month for Ty Wigginton, who hit 12 home runs during the month of August, tying Jeff Bagwell’s 2000 franchise record during the month. Wigginton led the majors in home runs and slugging (.806) while ranking 2nd in the NL in RBI (26; Aramis Ramirez led with 27) and tied for 4th in hits (39) while hitting .379 (39-103) during August.
The Astros finished 21-9 (.700) during August (more than June and July combined: 10-16 in June, 10-14 in July), the 3rd-best record in the NL of the month. The 21 wins are the most in a single month for the Astros since a 22-7 record in July 2005.

Reds 61 76 .445 24
The Reds were 10-18 in August and are re-shaping their team by trading off Junior Griffey and Adam Dunn. They were 72-90 last season, and they will be around the same this season.

Pirates 57 79 .419 27.5
E-liminated, the Buc’s can no longer mathematically win the division. The Buccos were 7-21 in the month. Ugh! Brandon Moss had a team-leading five home runs last month.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
TEAM W L PCT GB
Diamondbacks 69 67 .507 –
The D-backs finished August with a 13-15 record, their third losing month of the season. The last time the D-backs had losing records in at least 3 months was in 2006. The club hit .247 in August (227-for-919) with 133 runs scored as opposed to their .272 average (240-for-881) with 119 runs scored in July when they went 14-11. Arizona had a 4.47 ERA in August (122 ER in 245.2 IP) compared with their 3.82 ERA (97 ER in 228.1 IP) in July. They must get good performances from Brandon Webb and Dan Haren.

Dodgers 67 70 .489 2.5
The Dodgers were a weak 13-16 in August but lost only 0.5 game to first-place Arizona. The Dodgers hit .280 as a team in August to rank third in the National League during the month. Their 34 home runs in August ranked fourth in NL, and was the club’s highest monthly total since hitting 36 in September/October 2006.

Rockies 64 74 .464 6
With a 15-13 (.536) record, the Rockies finished with their 3rd-best winning pct. in August all-time (behind .621, 18-11 in 2000; .586, 17-12 in 1997). The club has posted winning records in August in each of the past 2 years (15-14 in `07), and the Rockies now
have their second straight winning month this season (17-10 in July). Brad Hawpe led the team in average (.327) and RBI (23) while Matt Holliday led the club in total bases (60), runs (30), and slugging pct. (.556) for the month. Holliday hit .306 for the month and has hit above .300 in all five months this season.

Giants 59 77 .434 10
Randy Winn finished August ranking third among NL hitters with a .400batting avg. (46-for-115), trailing ATL’s Martin Prado (.432) and LA’s Manny Ramirez (.415). The Giants had their best month of the year in August going 15-14. The Giants finished 71-91 last season.

Padres 53 83 .390 16
The Padres were 11-16 in August, that’s the second most wins of any month in this awful season. Let’s see, in my hunt for good news I found that Padres are 12-10 on Saturdays. The team was 89-74 last season.

Top of the 2nd
BIG NIGHT FOR BOSTON
Dustin Pedroia continued his Rogers Hornsby imitation once again hitting cleanup and driving home a career high-tying five RBI to lead Boston to a 14-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles who thought the season ended a month ago. Pedroia had a double, a homer and a single, and is batting .600 (18-for-30) over the last seven games to raise his AL-leading average to .330. A year after hitting eight homers and winning the AL Rookie of the Year award, Pedroia has 16 homers for the season. Pedroia hit .374 in August, scoring 33 runs in the month. MVP candidate Pedroia has gone 7-for-12 while providing protection for the number three batter, David Ortiz. Big Papi and Coco Crisp also had three hits and Ortiz added four RBI as the Red Sox won for the 10th time in 14 games. Jon Lester (13-5) allowed one run and six hits, striking out five and walking four in five innings. The Orioles lost for the 10th time in 11 games. Baltimore pitchers have allowed 55 runs and 42 walks in their last five games, all losses. The Red Sox moved to a season-high 24 games over .500 and all three of their AL opponents lost.

THREE TO GO FOR MOOSE
In a season in which the Yankees have had little to celebrate about other than the slow death of their ballpark, Mike Mussina continues to excel. The 39-year-old picked up his 17th win, as the Yankees got home runs from Alex Rodriguez and Xavier Nady in a 7-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. Mussina (17-7) got his 267th career victory, passing Hall of Famers Bob Feller and Eppa Rixey in his quest for his first 20-win season. Mussina allowed two runs and 10 hits in six-plus innings. He matched a season high with eight strikeouts, improving to 3-0 against the Rays. Joba Chamberlain came off the disabled list and pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings. The Rodrgiuez homer was his 30th of the year, giving A-Rod 11 consecutive seasons — and 12 overall — with 30 or more. It was his 548th home run tying Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt for 12th on the career list. The Yankees are 8-5 against Tampa Bay. Cleveland is the other AL team with a winning record (5-2) against the AL East leaders. Tampa Bay’s lead in the AL East was trimmed to four games (five in the loss column) over Boston.

MAYBE PALIN’S DAUGHTER WILL HAVE TWINS
The Toronto Blue Jays came back from four runs down to beat Minnesota 7-5 for their seventh straight victory over the Twins. Jose Bautista and Alex Rios had four hits each, including back-to-back homers. Lyle Overbay also homered for Toronto, which finished with 17 hits in winning its third straight. The Twins are now 5-7 with two games remaining on a Republican convention induced 14-game road trip. Minnesota’s seven losses have been by a combined 11 runs.

VICTOR VICTORIOUS
Minnesota stayed tied with the Chicago White Sox atop the AL Central as Victor Martinez hit his first home run in nearly a year to help the Indians beat the Chicago White Sox, 9-3. Martinez had right elbow surgery in mid-June and hit his first homer in 57 games and 203 at-bats since last Sept. 25. Fausto Carmona (8-5) pitched 5 2/3 innings to win his third straight start for the Indians, winners of 12 of 15. The White Sox lost for the fifth time in six games.

Top of the 3rd
FOUR STRAIGHT FOR L.A.
Just when it looked like the Dodgers would drift into the sinkhole known as the NL West, they have come back alive. Last night they picked up their fourth straight win defeating the Padres, 8-4. Cha Seung Baek was able to get only 11 outs last night at Dodger Stadium, and Baek sent last-place San Diego to its eighth consecutive road defeat. The Dodgers scored seven runs against Baek, whose ERA has climbed from 3.93 on June 14 to 5.34 today. In the 1st, Manny hit his 10th home run in his 109th at-bat since the Dodgers acquired him from the Red Sox.

ANOTHER D-BACKS D-FEAT
Troy Glaus hit one of St. Louis’ three homers Tuesday night in an 8-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Yadier Molina and Felipe Lopez hit back-to-back shots to give Adam Wainwright an early insurmountable 5-0 lead. The Diamondbacks have allowed 28 runs in their last four games, all at home. Arizona has lost seven of nine, dropping its NL West lead to 1