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Friday, May 04, 2007

DESCENT 

After two fine games in Kansas City, the wheels came off a bit in the last two days. Ervin Santana finally pitched a good game on the road; I was very impressed with his mixture of pitches, both in terms of pitch selection and location. He moved the ball in and out very well and kept out of predictable patterns. Sadly, one fastball too many strayed over the middle of the plate, and he lost the game. It happens.

Most impressive in his outing was that he issued only one walk. He did give up 11 hits, more than you'd like to see, but as we know that's the sort of thing that evens out over time; when you challenge batters to earn their way on base, sometimes they do, but more often they don't. The fact that he was pounding the strike zone was good to see; in his previous losses this year, he had walked 13 batters in 14 innings, which is simply unacceptable.

Jered Weaver still hasn't had an ideal start, by his standards, but let it be known that the first two runs he allowed yesterday were both by baserunners who should never have been on base in the first place. Gary Matthews Jr.'s elliptical paths to flying baseballs sometimes cost us and sometimes don't, and yesterday cost us big when his incompetence led to a Ross Gload triple. Reggie Willits mis-read a ball in the fourth that led to a lead-off double. With a pitcher like Weaver on the mound, the outfield has to be on their game, and they weren't here. Still, his peripheral numbers -- 9 strikeouts against 2 unintentional walks and 7 hits in six innings -- were solid, and in the long run he'll be fine.

The real problem the last two games, as it has been and will be again, was the offense. Players not named Vladimir Guerrero went 3-for-30 yesterday with one walk and no extra-base hits; the day before, they were 6-for-28 with one walk and three doubles. That adds up to a 155/183/207 line for Non-Vlads over the two games, and we're simply not going to win when that happens. And as currently constituted, this is an offense incapable of scoring runs in a hurry; Matthews is the only semi-legitimate power threat in the lineup outside of Vlad (unless you want to count Shea Hillenbrand, who has one extra-base hit in 87 AB this year, or the struggling Mike Napoli), which means the singles have to string together to make the runs happen. Casey Kotchman's season has been fits and starts so far, but hopefully he can step up behind Vlad and make some run production ensue.

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Comments:
May I add that Hillenbrand's only extra base hit was a double off of Jae Seo in the middle of a 5 run first inning and that it was only a few feet fair? Day game to boot!
 
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