Wednesday, August 11, 2010
In Manny we trust?
By Gordon Edes
TORONTO -- This, that, and another thing while watching injured players Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek and Mike Cameron take some swings in early batting practice:
-- In Manny we trust?: Manny Delcarmen had not pitched in a close game since July 20 in Oakland, when he threw 1 1/3 innings in a tie game that the Sox would eventually lose. He hadn’t pitched in a game the Sox led since July 22 in Seattle, when he was part of a ninth-inning bullpen meltdown in which the Sox blew a five-run lead before winning in extra innings.
But with Daniel Bard unavailable after matching his season high by throwing 29 pitches against the Yankees on Monday, Delcarmen received the eighth-inning call with the Sox holding a 7-5 lead.
He responded beautifully, striking out Lyle Overbay, retiring rookie J.P. Arencibia on a flyball, and inducing John McDonald to ground out to third.
In what has been a disappointing season, Delcarmen may well be winning back manager Terry Francona’s trust. Pitching with the Sox either well ahead or behind until Tuesday night, Delcarmen has not allowed a run in his last seven appearances, two of which involved facing one batter, and has given up just one hit in 5 innings.
Perhaps as significantly, Delcarmen, who is averaging an unacceptable 5.1 walks per nine innings, has not walked a batter in his last five appearances, spanning 3 2/3 innings.
“I feel real good,’’ said Delcarmen, who was on the DL with a strained right forearm in the first two weeks of July. “Tito gave me the ball, and I take them as they come.’’
-- Daisuke Matsuzaka, who struck out the game’s first three batters on a total of 14 pitches, had opened a game in such fashion just once before in the big leagues, on June 27, 2008 against Houston. He finished with seven strikeouts in all, but the three-run home run by Travis Snider after two walks in the third spoiled what otherwise would have been a strong outing.
John McDonald’s bloop single in the sixth was the only hit by a right-handed hitting Blue Jay in 13 at-bats against Matsuzaka, who took a stripped-down approach Tuesday night, according to a breakdown by the scouting service Inside Edge. He threw only fastballs and curves to righties, and fastballs, curves and changeups to lefties.
Matsuzaka threw first strikes to two-thirds of the hitters he faced (18 of 27), above the big-league average of 58 percent. Jays hitters also chased 42 percent of his off-speed pitches, well above the 30 percent MLB average.
-- It’s another beautiful day in Toronto, which means the roof should be open for Wednesday night’s game, which means a greater possibility of more home runs. The Blue Jays, who hit three home runs Tuesday night, have 79 home runs in 30 games with the roof open, compared to 25 in 19 games with the roof closed. It doesn’t seem to have the same effect on opposing hitters: Opponents have 31 in 30 games when it has been opened, including Mike Lowell's game-winner Tuesday night, and 15 in the 19 games when it’s closed.