Some big-time performances Monday. Here are reasons why some pitchers won and lost as well as our Hitter of the Day:
Why Rays Starter Matt Garza won:
-Commanded his fastball: threw 69.2 percent of his fastballs for strikes, his fifth highest mark since last April. That number shot up to an incredible 84.8 against right-handed batters, a higher percentage than that of any of Garza's starts last season.
-Used slider as his out pitch: Garza threw his slider 14 times, nine of which came with two strikes. Four of his five strikeouts were on sliders with all of them swinging. Orioles hitters were 0-5 against the pitch.
-Dominated righties (again): Right-handed batters chased 43.5 percent of Garza's pitches out of the strike zone (24.8 percent in 2009). Through two games, righties are hitting just .185 against Garza (.271 in 2009).
Why Athletics Starter Justin Duchscherer won:
-Polished off Mariners hitters with two strikes. Twelve Seattle hitters went to two-strike counts against Duchscherer, and he retired ten (H, BB the exceptions). Duchscherer had similar success in his last start on April 7 against these same Mariners, holding Seattle hitters to 2-11 in two-strike plate appearances (3-23 with a BB on the season).
-Stayed in command of the count. Duchscherer went to 3-0 only once all game (to Jose Lopez), and the strike he threw on the next pitch gave him his only 3-1 count of the day as well. Lopez grounded out softly to second base on the fifth pitch.
-Runners on base stayed on base. Duchscherer retired nine out of ten hitters he faced with men on base, walking one. Seattle hitters went 0-5 with RISP (4 groundouts, 1 strikeout).
Why Cardinals Starter Adam Wainwright won:
-Never reached a 3-0 count. Went to a 2-0 count on just one of 29 hitters.
-The Astros were 1-17 against Wainwright's slider and curveball. All seven of his strikeouts came on those pitches.
Why Braves Starter Jair Jurrjens lost:
-Didn't finish off Padres hitters. Went to a two-strike count 11 times, with six reaching base (1 BB). In Jurrjens' last start against the Cubs, he went to a two-strike count 15 times, with only 4 reaching base (2 BB).
-His changeup didn't fool anyone. Jurrjens threw 16 changeups in the strike zone and Padres hitters only missed once. They slugged .875 against his changeup in the strike zone. In 2009, hitters slugged only .340 against Jurrjens' changeup in the strike zone, the lowest of his four pitches.
Hitter of the Night:
Scott Rolen, CIN: 3-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R
Rolen's 2010 batting average (.318) looks similar to the .305 clip he put up in 2009, but the rest of his numbers show a marked, albeit early, improvement in both approach and result. Rolen's power in particular has improved this year with three home runs by April 12; a total he didn't reach in 2009 until May 5. Rolen is slugging .727 this season (.455 last season). Rolen has struck out just 4.0 percent of the time this season (11.6 percent last season).