Andrew McCutchen is continuing his pace to stardom and bringing big attention to Pittsburgh.
The Tuesday Takeaway
Remember when Matt Kemp was “the league’s best player, and the most valuable player to his team”—not to mention “the best show in the NL.” Over his first 100 at-bats of the season, Kemp produced 40 hits, including four doubles, a triple, and 12 home runs. The Dodgers were running away with the National League West, and Kemp was running away with the Most Valuable Player race.
No one knows how long a healthy Kemp could have sustained his incredible early-season run, though by the time he landed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury on May 13, his batting average was down to .359, and he had added only one more extra-base hit. Likewise, no one could have predicted that a player would top that run less two months later.
The Pirates' continuing struggles at Miller Park might help make the Brewers' season.
On Sunday, the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates for their 70th win of the season. The game dropped the formerly feisty Pirates to 56-63, thirteen games behind the division-leading Brewers. Charlie Morton, Pittsburgh's biggest success story of the season, started the game on Sunday and seemed to have the win in the bank. After extending his scoreless inning streak to 24 with 7.1 innings of four-hit, no-run ball, Morton left the game with a runner on second, one out, and a one-run lead. After Jose Veras got the second out in the inning, closer Joel Hanrahan came in for the four-out save. Hanrahan struck out Nyjer Morgan to end the eighth, but the ball got away from catcher Michael McKenry, and Morgan streaked to first. Ryan Braun made good on the free opportunity two pitches later, and the game was tied. Milwaukee would go on to win it in the tenth inning on a sacrifice fly from Morgan, wasting the great start from Morton and securing the sweep.
The game also marked Pittsburgh's 34th loss in 36 games at Miller Park, a streak dating back to May 2007. At that time, Jason Bay was hitting cleanup in a lineup that featured Jose Bautista as the starting third baseman and a right-field platoon of Xavier Nady and Ryan Doumit. The Pirates had come into Milwaukee for a four-game series sitting on a 12-14 record. Tom Gorzelanny earned the win in the first game, when Bay, Bautista, and others combined for a four-run seventh-inning en route to a 4-2 victory. The next night, the Brewers pounded Pittsburgh's pitching by scoring one run in four of the first five innings before erupting for six more in the sixth and seventh innings. The 10-0 loss was harsh, but no one knew it meant anything more than that. Milwaukee finished out that early-May series with a convincing 6-3 victory on Saturday and a tight 6-4 victory on Sunday, when Pittsburgh tied it up at four in the seventh before giving it up again in the eighth.
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A look at the conflicting seasons of Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez.
Last night, the Atlanta Braves beat the Florida Marlins 6-2, completing a three-game sweep of the Fish. With both teams in close proximity, the story of two players who once shared a bond in Florida as one of the best offensive double-play combinations in baseball came to mind. One player, former Marlin and current Braves second baseman Dan Uggla, is redeeming himself with a 31-game hitting streak that has brought his season line from “atrocious” to “below average.” The other, Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, missed his sixth straight game with a shoulder injury and has yet to decide whether he is healthy enough to play or should go on the disabled list.
Recent performance plays a strong role in how a player is perceived. The recent 30-game surge by Uggla has brought his season line right in line with Ramirez's.
A string of Yankees losses resets the standings as the Rays' and Red Sox' early-season deficits are erased.
While watching the Yankees slog through a six-game losing streak last week that involved three one-run losses, a shutout, a blowout, and a disgruntled designated hitter, I found myself thinking of the seminal scene in Anchorman in which the news crews from San Diego’s various stations duke it out in an abandoned lot. “Boy, that escalated quickly,” Ron Burgundy says. “I mean that really got out of hand fast.”
A week ago, the Yankees were 20-13, one game up on the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East. Today, after a badly-needed win over those AL East-leading Rays in Tampa Bay, the Yankees are 21-19. They’re a mere half a game ahead of both the Red Sox and Blue Jays and are two back of the Rays. The win last night gave the club a reprieve after a bad week, but their problems aren’t going away.
Prospects not hitting, veterans not earning their pay, the end of a significant hit streak, and Andre Ethier's 30-20 hitting streak.
Andre Ethier saw his 30-game hitting streak come to an end with an 0-for-4 performance against the Mets on May 7 at Citi Field. Ethier's streak gave fans something positive to focus on for a while, providing respite from the ongoing McCourt/Selig saga and the club's 16-19 record.
Can a player's performance one week have any predictive power on how he will perform during the next week?
Full disclosure: I have never really played fantasy baseball, at least in a serious or semi-serious capacity, prior to this season. My lack of participation had nothing to do with ulterior motives like taking a stance against W-L and batting average. I just never got into it. Well, things have changed and, in deciding to try my hand at the massively popular game, I am finding that certain tendencies have awoken that I believed were trained out of my baseball vernacular long ago. For instance, it is becoming increasingly tempting to drop a player after a poor week in exchange for a player in the midst of a hot streak. I mean, I knowJeff Francoeur isn’t going to hit .438/.583/.839, but my goodness, if I had that production or even some semblance of it instead of the .250/.345/.333 from Andrew McCutchen, I might have won both of my matchups so far.
How far can Colorado go in blazing a trail back to competitiveness in the National League?
With nods to Cliff Lee and the never-ending dramas in New York City, the story in baseball on this June 15 is the Colorado Rockies, who two weeks ago were rumored to be firing their manager, and now find themselves on an 11-game winning streak. The streak, tying the franchise record set two seasons ago, is bringing back memories of that late-season run that culminated in the first pennant in Rockies history.
Ryan Zimmerman's recent flurry of safeties leads to a question over what other recent streaks we might have overlooked.
Back in 2007, fans of the Seattle Mariners were given free rides aboard the Wild and Wacky Weaver Wagon. On any given night, they had no idea whether the Jeff Weaver toeing the rubber would resemble the Mr. Hyde who had been victimized by 50 hits and a 14.32 RA in his first 22 innings of work, or the good Dr. Jekyll with the 3.10 RA and 1.26 WHIP over his next nine outings. As Weaver aptly demonstrated throughout that roller-coaster campaign, baseball is a game of streaks, with players fusing together stretches both hot and cold before arriving at their statistical bottom lines. Scan the game logs for any player in any season and you are bound to find spurts in which a Pujols hits like a Theriot, and vice-versa. In spite of their prominence, though, streaks can be very detrimental by distracting fans from actual production levels, and a little annoying as they tend to go unnoticed when not bookending a season.