Doc, Tim, a Throwout and Two Walkoffs

1. Oh, Doctor!

Longtime San Diego Padres Hall of Fame announcer Jerry Coleman uses a signature phrase, “Oh, Doctor!” when describing a stellar play in the field or a long home run. Well, I believe that phrase will be used all season long as announcers describe the pitching of the Phils’ Roy “Doc” Halladay. Yesterday, Doc (2-0) scattered seven hits and pitched his 50th career complete game as the Phillies completed a sweep of the winless Houston Astros with a 2-1 victory. Roy Oswalt (0-2) took the loss as Halladay earned his 150th career victory. He has 137 wins since 2001, tying Oswalt and the Yankees’ CC Sabathia for the most in the majors over that time. Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a home run as the Phils moved to 5-1 and the Astros dropped to 0-6 as new Houston manager Brad Mills is still looking for his first win.

2. The Weather was Delay-ful

Just disgraceful.

I’m sorry, fans should not be expected to wait out a rain delay of 4 hours, 9 minutes on April 11. But that’s what happened in San Francisco yesterday. A heavy rain began in the morning and didn’t let up until late afternoon, well past the scheduled 1:05 starting time when a small window of good weather developed. The Giants fans who remained did get to see the great Tim Lincecum (2-0) strike out 10 as the San Francisco Giants beat the Atlanta Braves, 6-3.

Brian McCann hit a two-run homer in the 1st off Lincecum and Jeremy Affeldt allowed Jason Heyward‘s third homer for the Braves runs. Pablo Sandoval went three for four and hit his first homer of the season for the Giants. Kenshin Kawakami (0-1) took the loss despite retiring the first 11 Giants he faced.

A pregame ceremony had been planned for a reunion of the Giants’ 2000 NL West championship team, but the players were long gone by the time the game began. It’s probably just as well because it would delayed the start of the game and the sky burst with rain again as soon as the game ended.

Just disgraceful.

3. A New Vulture in Toronto

Are you familiar with term “vulture win?” It is when a reliever comes in and either blows a lead for the starter and then when his team rallies he picks up the win, or simply when a starter has pitched well, deep into the game, and soon after is relieved and the reliever briefly pitches to earn the “W.”

Well it appears that the Toronto Blue Jays has a vulture by the name of Casey Janssen. Not familiar with him? Well check the leader board and you will see that after three innings of pitching this season he leads the majors with three wins. Yesterday, was the third time this season that Janssen (3-0) has come into a game in the late innings with the Jays either tied or behind and come out with a victory.

Yesterday, he entered in the 7th with the Jays down 2-1 to the Orioles. He took care of the O’s 1-2-3 and then, with two down in the top of the 8th, watched as Miguel Tejada made an error followed by back-to-back homers by Jose Bautista and Alex Gonzalez off Kevin Millwood (0-1) and the first-place Jays won 5-2 and completed a three game sweep in Baltimore.  It was Gonzalez’ second homer of the game and his fourth of the season. The Orioles have allowed runs in the 8th or 9th innings of every game so far.

The Jays now have a five-game winning streak.

4. Our first week Cinderella team is …

The Oakland A’s!

The first place A’s moved to 5-2 on the young season as they defeated the 2-5 Los Angeles Angels yesterday, 9-4. Adam Rosales homered and singled and finished with four RBI to top Joe Saunders (0-2). Dallas Braden (1-0) allowed three runs and five hits over six innings for the win and rookie Tyson Ross pitched three innings for his first major league save.

Bobby Abreu hit a solo homer to end a streak of 25 at-bats without an RBI, the longest of his 15-year career to start a season. Juan Rivera also homered for Los Angeles.

5. Today’s Schedule

AL

Royals (Luke Hochevar) at Tigers (Max Scherzer), 1:05

Rangers (Rich Harden) at Indians (Fausto Carmona), 3:05

Red Sox (Jon Lester) at Twins (Carl Pavano), 4:10 as Target Field opens

A’s (Justin Duchscherer) at Mariners (Ryan Rowland-Smith), 6:40

Rays (Matt Garza) at Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie), 7:05

White Sox (Jake Peavy) at Blue Jays (Brian Tallet), 7:20

NL

Brewers (Doug Davis) at Cubs (Ryan Dempster), 2:20

Nationals (Jason Marquis) at Phillies (Cole Hamels), 3:05

Astros (Wandy Rodriguez) at Cardinals (Adam Wainwright), 4:15

Braves (Jair Jurrjens) at Padres (Kevin Correia), 6:35

Reds (Johnny Cueto) at Marlins (Ricky Nolasco), 7:10

Pirates (Ross Ohlendorf) at Giants (Barry Zito), 10:15

The new edition of Lee Sinin’s Complete Baseball Encyclopedia is now available. Place your order at http://www.baseball-encyclopedia.com.

6. By the numbers

  • Albert Pujols passed Ralph Kiner and tied Gil Hodges for 67th place on the all time HR list, with 370. Next up, Rocky Colavito at 374.
  • Braves catcher Martin Prado leads the majors hitting .542, followed by the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera at .522 and Rangers DH Vladimir Guerrero is now hitting an even .500. They will all probably cool off.
  • David Ortiz struck out four times yesterday giving him nine Ks in 18 at bats on the season to go along with his two hits and .111 batting average. The Red Sox Nation anxiety level is Elevated, or Yellow.

7. I Love Throwouts

You have to admit that the “throwout” is a weird alternative to the walkoff: the play in which the tying run is thrown out at the plate to end the game. In yesterday’s 5-4 White Sox win over the Twins, J.J. Hardy singled with two outs against Bobby Jenks and then pinch-hitter Jim Thome lined a shot that bounced hard off the left-center field wall directly into the hands of Juan Pierre who threw to third baseman Mark Teahen, playing more in the shortstop slot because of a Thome shift, and then Teahen threw a strike to catcher A.J. Pierzynski to get Hardy by about 60 feet.

The White Sox ended a four-game losing streak.

Sox pinch-hitter Andruw Jones picked up his first hit of the year when he singled home the go-ahead run in the 8th. Mark Buehrle (2-0) pitched eight innings and Jenks held on for his first save. Paul Konerko, Mark Kotsay and Gordon Beckham all homered for the White Sox. Losing pitcher Nick Blackburn (1-1) pitched 7.2 innings, allowing five runs, eight hits and one walk.

8. I Love Walkoffs

Ugly. There is no other way to describe the Tigers’ 9-8 walkoff win over the Cleveland Indians yesterday after Detroit tied the game with two down when pinch-hitter Johnny Damon drew a four-pitch bases loaded walk and then won the game on a wild pitch from Chris Perez to complete the three run 9th inning rally. It wasn’t just an ugly ending to the Tigers series sweep, somehow Detroit managed to strand 18 baserunners yesterday enabling them to pick up their first win with that many runners left on base in at least 90 years.

Of concern to the Tigers should be that their ace Justin Verlander allowed five 1st inning runs, in part thanks to Luis Valbuena grand slam, and now has a 9.00 ERA for the first week of the season. Coincidentally, Verlander had a 9.00 ERA last season through his first four starts and in his last 31 starts he went 19-7 with a 2.92 ERA.

9. I Love Walkoffs

I love that the Milwaukee Brewers’ Casey McGehee homered with one down in the bottom of the 9th inning to give the Milwaukee Brewers an 8-7 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, but I’m not at all happy that in the top of the 9th the Cardinals rallied for three runs, with two down, off the great Trevor Hoffman. It’s not a shock that Albert Pujols hit his second two-run homer of the game and Matt Holliday followed with a tying shot. What is of concern is that it was the second straight blown-save outing for Hoffy.

Of concern to the Cardinals should be their ace Chris Carpenter giving up seven runs, five earned, in five innings. Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, and Ryan Braun all homered off Carpenter, who has now allowed five homers in two starts after allowing seven in 192.2 innings last year.

Special thanks to all of you who responded to my plea for assistance on a piece for MLB.com last night. While I can’t get all of you in the article, I’m confident that there will be other opportunities. Once again, thanks for your help.