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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Games, Games, Games

Nothing To See Here, Move On: Rays 2, Angels 0

Hard to blame Joe Saunders for his first loss of the season when he pitched six frames of one-run ball. He walked more than you'd like to see (or than he struck out: 4 walks, 3 strikeouts), but he did a fine job. The real villains were the absence of Chone Figgins and Howie Kendrick, a slumping Vlad, and a manager who assumes that Gary Matthews, Jr. should be playing ahead of Reggie Willits, especially at leadoff. Willits, in 518 plate appearances last year, had an outstanding .293/.391/.344 line, and that was playing with a busted gallbladder half the year. Conversely, GMJ, whatever his other virtues may be, has had an OBP over .370 only twice, one of those in the career season he had just before the Angels picked him up — and much of that could be chalked up to his unnaturally high batting average.

All of which is to say, in general, I'm not too worried about the Angels' offense, at least not yet anyway. The Halos are visiting a team with pretty good pitching (Kazmir in particular being one of the biggest trade ripoffs I can recall of any team visiting upon any other in recent years) while substantial portions of their attack are either on the DL (Kendrick, edit: and now Figgins) or effectively so (Figgins, Vlad, and Wood, the latter too inexperienced to contribute much). That reminds me — it was pretty comical to see Dan Wheeler intentionally walk Vlad in the eighth. A guy gets into that big of a slump, you go right after him, even if you're not Dennis Eckersley.

At last, recognition for Troy Percival's save against his old team. Why couldn't he just have stuck around UC Riverside?

ESPN BoxRecap

Dodgers No Delilah For This Sampson: Astros 5, Dodgers 0

Another night of ho-hummery, this time against Houston starter Chris Sampson, but here's my question: why, when Rafael Furcal was out (arguably the Dodgers' best player at the moment), did Joe Torre not add Andre Ethier to the outfield mix? Can you really afford to have two non-hitters like Jones and Pierre starting in the same outfield? Discerning the team's commitment to winning by way of fielding optimal lineups continues to stymie me.

I wrote the following in the DT thread tonight, but it bears repeating here:

It's weird that my great fear when I discovered Frank McCourt was trying to "buy" the Dodgers was that the team would be underfunded and debt service would hamstring the team and prevent them from buying premium free agent talent. Ironically enough, the converse has been true: the Dodgers spend lavishly on free agents, who only serve as superfluous obstructions to getting the best possible team that was already being built by Logan White.
Well, aside from that, Captain Obvious, how was the game? Well: Bad Billingsley showed up again, got knocked around, and I can't tell you how many balls seemed to go by the pasta-diving Loney. Everything Houston hit went for extras, it seemed, or knocked in a run or found a hole, and everything the Dodgers hit found a glove or bats just missed the balls. Simple as that.

Oh, yeah, third straight loss.

Update: How amazing is Lance Berkman's hot start? He hit 19 for his last 25 with his double in tonight's game, one of only two players in the last 50 years to accomplish that feat; the other was Albert Pujols from May 30 to June 7, 2003. (The link above only covers the days he hit, but he hit an astounding .655/.676/1.103 over that time.)

ESPN BoxRecap

The Maddux 350: Padres 3, Rockies 2

Congratulations to Greg Maddux, who picked up his 350th career victory after four consecutive failed attempts. You may now retire. Oh, and pick up the courtesy phone on the way out, the Hall of Fame is holding on line one.


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