I am now officially the only member of Three Up, Three Down whose team has been no-hit this year, though Brian’s Texas Rangers did their best earlier this week to beat me to it. I figured I should be the one to write this post to not only prove I’m not in a deep depression following yesterday’s game, but to man up and accept defeat.
We got beat. Badly. No-hit, in fact (although it was the second time in recent years we had a chance to beat an AL West team without getting a hit – last time, Jered Weaver and the Angels in 2008). By six different pitchers, no less.
I’m not going to come on here and spew half-truths about the historic moment, and tell you how much harder it is to collect a hit off six different pitchers, as opposed to one who you see with the same repertoire all game. Or try to claim that Dee Gordon was safe at first in the ninth inning (upon further review, I’ve determined the throw beat him…or was at least close enough to not cause a Carlos Beltran-esque uproar). And as much as I’d like to, I won’t take Mapes’ suggestion that it’s all Juan Uribe’s fault (it is…it always is).
Let me instead, first, congratulate the Seattle Mariners. Six pitchers did their jobs in fantastic, hitless fashion, and they deserved it. And it’s a damn shame that starter Kevin Millwood tweaked his groin warming up in the seventh inning, because he was absolutely rolling against the Dodger lineup.
As much as it would have hurt to be no-hit in the traditional sense, Millwood is a good guy and it could have been against a less likable pitcher. Do I believe we would have eventually tagged Millwood for a hit? Yes. But I’m also optimistic. The way he was throwing, who knows?
One thing I do know is this: I wrote a post on LasordasLair.com yesterday detailing the Dodgers’ 29 (now 28) games before the All-Star break. I warned of a letdown against the Mariners and A’s, the two worst teams on a slate that includes the Angels twice, the Giants, the Reds, the Mets, the White Sox…you get the picture; it’s a tough schedule.
Let’s just say things didn’t go as planned to start that schedule off. But the M’s are going to be good. And soon. Maybe not 2012, maybe not even 2013, but in a couple of years this ball club is going to be contending in that division. I said it before the no-hitter, and I’ll say it again. Seattle 2014. Watch out.
We know the young lineup can score runs (remember when they dropped three touchdowns on the Rangers?), and the pitching has been very impressive. And I don’t just mean Felix Hernandez and a bunch of bums. Half of their roster is in their first or second years in the Majors, and they are playing very respectable baseball.
Anyway, back to the point. This young, talented Seattle team will be a force in the coming years. And I’ll always remember being the first team to be no-hit by them.
Yes, I know that’s a rusty, dingy silver lining, but I’m optimistic, remember? Speaking of optimism, one good thing came out of yesterday’s games and trumped being no-hit for Dodgers fans (muahaha!):
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) June 9, 2012
I leave you with some cool, random combined no-hitter facts. One for each pitcher the Mariners used yesterday:
– The first combined no-hitter involved Babe Ruth, who walked the first batter of the game, was ejected for arguing, then sat and watched his teammate Ernie Shore retire 26 in a row to secure a no-no.
– Kevin Millwood became the third pitcher in MLB history (along with Vida Blue and Kent Mercker) to both start a complete game no-hitter and a combined no-hitter.
– In 1997, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon combined to pitch the only extra-inning combined no-hitter in MLB history, a 3-0, 10-inning victory over the Houston Astros.
– These 2012 Mariners aren’t the first to record a six-pitcher no-hitter – the Houston Astros did the same to the New York Yankees in 2003, after Roy Oswalt left the game with an injury after one inning.
– One pitcher in history has both started and finished a no-hitter. Mike Witt threw a perfect game in 1984, and then closed out the last two innings of a no-hitter in 1990 (over the Mariners, ironically enough).
– Rookie reliever Stephen Pryor was the winning pitcher of record for the Mariners yesterday – it was his first career win, despite recording one out and walking two batters, easily the most unproductive of the six Seattle pitchers.
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at @3u3d, Like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/3u3dpodcast and to TUNE IN to Episode 15 next week – I guarantee we’ll be talking about this no-no, and I’ll be getting tons of crap for it!
Well the first “Five Things I Think I Think” went so well (we got a comment!) that I’ve decided to make this a recurring thing. Going to do it Wednesday and Sunday nights. Here’s what’s gone on in this silly, little brain of mine since we last spoke.
1) There will be more closer turnover this year than ever. Here’s the list of closers that have gotten hurt this season Andrew Bailey, Joakim Soria, Kyle Farnsworth, Drew Storen, and Ryan Madson. The closer situations for those teams look pretty fluid right now, especially in Kansas City where current closer Jonathan Broxton became the 1st pitcher in 46 years to end a game with consecutive hit-by-pitches. Everyone thought it would be Joel Peralta in Tampa Bay, not Fernando Rodney who is now 3 for 3. Who saw Hector Santiago getting the first two saves for the White Sox? Don’t lie and say you did. On the north side of Chicago, Carlos Marmol is being Carlos Marmol and blowing leads in spectacular fashion for the Cubs. There will be plenty of pitchers getting saves this season, I’ve got a feeling.
2) I want to see Dee Gordon race Peter Bourjos. Both of these speedsters are burning up the basepaths. Gordon has an MLB leading five stolen bases (tied with Starlin Castro) and seemingly has a green light any time he’s on base. Bourjos on the other hand had the first inside-the-park home run in the season against the Twins, circling the bases in a ridiculous 14 seconds. The link to that is underneath. Both of these players are in the Los Angeles area. Can’t we set this up for a LA charity. Bonus points to Miami Marlins teammates Emilio Bonifacio vs. Jose Reyes in the undercard.
3) The Tampa Bay Rays won’t go away. If getting one-hit over eight innings by Justin Verlander doesn’t bury them, then nothing will. They came back in the 9th against the reigning AL MVP and then continued the onslaught on “Papa Grande” Jose Valverde. Matt Moore was effective in his first start against a lethal Tigers offense, just another weapon in that rotation. I’ll continue to say that Joe Maddon is the best manager in the game.
4) I wish Erik Bedard could stay healthy. When he is, he’s one of the better starting pitchers in the game. I’m currently watching him pitch effectively the Dodgers on the road. If the Pirates get 25 starts out of him, they will be well on their way to .500 for the first time since 1992. Fantasy owners should have him rostered until he gets hurt. He was the Mapes Fantasy Special today. Shameless plug to follow me on Twitter @Mapes4FanCave or just search #MapesFantasySpecial for a starting pitcher to pick up that’s owned in less than 50% of leagues.
5) Bacon Tuesday is the greatest thing ever. It’s bacon. It’s baseball. Leave it to Oakland fans to come up with something so awesome. They have great fans. Just wish more of them would show up at the ballpark. Jeremy will have more on his Bacon Tuesday experience on the blog soon.
As much as I want to, I’ll resist. As badly as my fingers are itching to type “TOLD YA SO,” I won’t do it. Mostly because it’s the first weekend of official play, but also because I tend to only be a douche canoe on Monday mornings.
So I’ll completely avoid saying HAH to all the other fantasy managers who let me take Kendrys Morales (currently hitting .714) at the tail end of drafts. I won’t even mention how many times I stole Andre Ethier (6 RBI through 2 and a half games) in the 20th round or Juan Rivera (hitting .571) in the last round.
Instead, I’ll just get to the meat of my blog. This year seems to be unusually chock full of young talent. Here are my five guys to keep an eye on…and yes, I told ya so:
1. Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds
The 26-year-old shortstop won the Reds’ shortstop duties outright from Spring Training. In the first set of games, he has exceeded expectations, going 5-8 with a home run. This is no fluke – Cozart hit .341 in a 12-game call-up in 2011. Watch for him to be a big contributor for the Reds in their quest to win the Central.
2. Dee Gordon, Los Angeles Dodgers
He has struck out a fair amount of times this year, but hit almost .400 in Spring Training and is the fastest player in the Majors right now. He’s been finding ways on base this weekend, and stealing bases with ease. When Gordon gets on in front of the likes of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, the Dodgers are in business. He’s also turned in a couple web gems so far at shortstop.
3. Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners
The proud owner of baseball’s first 2012 home run is tearing the hide off the ball. He’s been a much-hyped prospect for a while now, and made a good debut in 2011. But he seems to be putting everything together this year, and is hitting near .400 in the first few games of the young season. The second baseman will be a major catalyst in the Mariners’ lineup this year.
4. J.P. Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays
I know, I know. He’s 1-12 this season so far. Well, his one hit was a 3-run homer in extras to give Toronto a big win. He is a good defensive catcher, and if 2011 is any indication, his bat will come around. Arencibia is going to be a big part of the Jays making a run this year, and his chemistry with the young pitching staff is invaluable. I know he’s playing in Canada, but don’t forget about him!
5. Jake Arrieta, Baltimore Orioles
The O’s are really banking on some young pitching to come around and catch up to the offense so they can be competitive again. Things in that aspect are looking good after Arrieta’s Opening Day dominance of the Minnesota Twins. He went 7 innings, allowing just 2 hits, 0 runs and striking out 4. If Arrieta pairs with Brian Matusz and performs well, Baltimore at least won’t be the worst team in the league this season…
There you have it. I chose five of a pool of MANY, but don’t forget these names, and don’t hesitate to give them a look in your fantasy league just because you don’t recognize the name. Comment below and tell me who I missed!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
“I’m going to go 50-50 next year. I’m telling you, y’all created a monster. I’m about to get back in the weight room super tough so I can be as strong as I was last year…I’m going to try for 50-50, which has never been done. I’m serious.” – Matt Kemp on a conference call, just hours after losing out on the 2011 NL MVP Award to Ryan Braun
I may be a Dodger fan, but it still doesn’t explain why this statement didn’t shock me. I mean, Alex Rodriguez, one of the best all-around baseball players the game has ever seen, never even broke 45-45 in the most epic season of his prime years. So where does Matt Kemp get off saying he can pull it off in 2012?
I don’t know. I really don’t. But I’d love to see it. The real question is, CAN he do it? Is it possible, in a day and age when steroids are scarcely part of the game like they were in A-Rod’s 42-46 year in 1998, for a five-tool player to put up those numbers?
We don’t even see 50 home run seasons from guys like Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder anymore. If the guys that live to slug the ball 500 feet can’t hit one every three games, is itreally plausible that Kemp can do it?
Last season, Kemp led the National League with 39 home runs and 126 RBI. He hit for a .324 average, falling eight hits short of the NL’s first Triple Crown season in over 70 years. Kemp also won a Gold Glove in centerfield, and swiped exactly 40 bags. By the way, he did this on one of the most wacky, inconsistent teams in the league.
So, yes. It’s POSSIBLE. I wouldn’t put money on it, but he’s definitely got the skills. This is what I think has to happen for Kemp to reach the unprecedented 50/50 (staying healthy is obvious, so it’s not included):
- Andre Ethier and Juan Rivera must produce – Rivera just ignited the Dodger offense last year after coming over mid-season. He’s always been a home run threat, but the overlooked statistic on Rivera is he’s a career .277 hitter. If he carries over the hot streak from 2011, Kemp is going to have a very scary bat hitting behind him, allowing for more hittable pitches over the course of a season. And with Ethier, it’s more a matter of health than anything. When he’s 100 percent, he is going to rake. Having Ethier and Rivera sandwiching Kemp would force pitchers to throw to Kemp, therefore increasing the home runs he hits, therefore…well, you can do the math.
- Dee Gordon must get on base – The little spark plug of the Dodgers offense in 2012 is going to be none other than Dee Gordon. Skinny Swag came up last season and just went off, getting on base at a ridiculous clip and of course stealing bases with ease. Avoiding a sophomore slump will be key for Gordon getting on base and continuing to produce. The more often Gordon is on base in front of Kemp, the more times Kemp will get a distracted, nervous pitcher on the bump who has to constantly think about the speedster taking off.
- Kemp must have the green light – Kemp’s 40 stolen bases last year is nothing to scoff at. He’s got great speed and a good instinct on the base paths. But if 50/50 is a realistic goal, we’re talking Kemp gets on first, and doesn’t even have to look for a sign. Chances are, he’ll have that green light, but if Don Mattingly is going to play it safe in 2012, Kemp won’t get to 50 steals just based on opportunity alone.
I think Kemp has a better shot at reaching the 50-steal plateau than the 50 homers. But, for a guy who hit 39 last year with limited protection and every opposing pitcher keying on him, you never know.
Surrounded by some big bats, Kemp is going to see more pitches to hit and he’s going to be motivated by the MVP snub. I won’t put it past a player this talented in his prime, but time will tell if he actually reaches the 50/50 mark.
By the way, if he does…is that the greatest statistical individual season in baseball history? Oh, that’s a discussion for another time. I for one can’t wait to watch Kemp’s attempt at history this season.