Thursday, July 21, 2011
How heat wave may affect some stars
By Jason Starrett
There are 23 games scheduled Thursday and Friday, and 13 are projected to have first-pitch temperatures at 90 degrees or higher. These scorching temperatures surely will affect players as we enter the dog days of summer.
SOME LIKE IT HOT
Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander has pitched well in the heat during his career, winning five straight starts when the first-pitch temperature was at or above 90 degrees. In six such starts in his career, batters have hit a combined .197 against Verlander with only 11 extra-base hits.
His counterpart on Thursday, Carl Pavano, has seen mixed results in 90-degree temperatures but has won his last two decisions in such games. The anticipated temperature for the start of Thursday's game is 90.
Earlier this month, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee and Verlander each struck out nine hitters in games when the first-pitch temperature was at or above 90 degrees.
The nine strikeouts tied the season high for strikeouts in such a game this season, but were well below the single-game record of 16 (set in the wild card era, since 1995) by Roger Clemens in 1997 with the Toronto Blue Jays.
BEATING THE HEAT
New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes has a hit in 28 of his 34 career games when the first-pitch temperature was 90 degrees or warmer. Although it's a small sample, his .302 batting average in those 34 games is 10 points higher than his career average.
Additionally, Reyes has 13 multihit games when temperatures soar above 90. Reyes has reached base safely in 26 consecutive games played in 90-degree temperatures, a streak that dates to July 11, 2004.
He will try to keep this on-base streak going when the St. Louis Cardinals and Mets continue their series Thursday at 12:10 ET. The temperature at Citi Field is expected to reach a high of 91.
IS SOMETHING 'LACK-ING?'
On Friday, John Lackey will try to win a third straight start, but he’ll be facing a bigger opponent than Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners.
Friday's game-time temperature is projected to be in the 90s at Fenway Park. During Lackey's career, his ERA and batting average against have increased dramatically (see chart) when game-time temperatures are at or above 90 degrees.
IN OTHER HEAT-RELATED NOTES:
• In the wild card era (since 1995), Johnny Damon in 2008 and Damion Easley in 2001 share the mark for most hits in a single game when the first-pitch temperature is 90 degrees or higher with six.
This season, Nick Markakis and Brennan Boesch each have had five-hit games when game-time temperature was in the 90s.