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April 19, 2012

What You Need to Know

Thursday, April 19

by Daniel Rathman

The Wednesday Takeaway
If you went to bed early last night, you missed a duel for the ages in San Francisco and a remarkable stretch of consistency from a pitcher who, just months ago, was seemingly left for dead.

Given the lack of thump in the Phillies’ and Giants’ lineups, the matchup of Cliff Lee and Matt Cain was likely to produce a low-scoring contest. What no one could have predicted, though, is that they would combine for 19 scoreless innings—10 by Lee, nine by Cain—and work so efficiently that the 11-inning game was over in just two hours and 27 minutes. It’s a shame Cowboy Joe West wasn’t behind the plate last night, because he would have been proud.

Lee became the first pitcher since Mark Mulder in 2005 to throw at least 10 shutout frames, while Cain became the second Giants pitcher ever to deliver consecutive nine-plus inning starts with two or fewer hits allowed (Ed Halicki in 1918 was the other). And, in what might be the most damning evidence against the “win” statistic to date, the winning pitcher in a game in which the starters combined to record 57 outs was a reliever (Clay Hensley) who recorded one.

A few hundred miles south in Anaheim, Bartolo Colon took efficiency to a whole other level between the fifth and eighth innings. Signed for just $700,000 this past offseason, Colon baffled the Angels in a 6-0 Athletics win, throwing an incredible 82 strikes in 108 pitches. As the A’s built up their lead on Ervin Santana and Jordan Walden, Colon threw 38 consecutive strikes—and if you have to see that to believe it, well, here you go.

What to Watch for on Thursday

  • Jeff Samardzija dominated the Nationals in his first big-league start, but the Cardinals knocked him around last Friday. The righty’s 13-to-1 K/BB over 13 2/3 innings remains very promising, and he’ll look to get back on track against the Marlins at 12:40 p.m. ET today.
  • Another day, another home run for… Derek Jeter? Well, the Yankees’ shortstop has gone deep three times in the team’s last four games and has more homers this season (four) than Alex Rodriguez (one), Mark Teixeira (zero), and Robinson Cano (one) combined. Jeter is 3-for-6 lifetime against the Twins’ Thursday (7:05 p.m. ET) starter, Anthony Swarzak.
  • Josh Collmenter makes his third start of the year against the Braves tonight (9:40 p.m. ET), and he’s rapidly approaching make-or-break territory. The tomahawking righty was touched up for 11 runs (10 earned) over seven combined innings in his first two starts, but he held Atlanta to just one run in 13 frames last season. Trevor Bauer’s shaky control (12 walks in 15 2/3 Double-A innings) has bought Collmenter some time, but another short outing could test the confidence manager Kirk Gibson has shown in him to date.
  • Some batter-pitcher matchup data just doesn’t make sense, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to the Indians’ all-pick, no-stick third baseman, Jack Hannahan, facing Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. Hannahan is 7-for-15 with two homers and three walks against King Felix, which amounts to an eye-popping .467/.556/.933 triple slash. Hernandez will try to buck that trend when the Tribe comes to Safeco at 10:10 p.m. ET tonight.

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

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