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Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The Closer: Tough luck for Greinke

By ESPN Stats & Info

Tuesday was a great day for pitching. Several hurlers dominated and home runs were more scarce than normal. In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau: the eight homerless games in the majors Tuesday was the most since October 2, 1990 (2nd-to-last day of that season), when eight of 13 games were homerless.

One player who pitched well, but probably wasn't smiling at game's end was Zack Greinke. Greinke threw seven shutout innings only to leave and see the bullpen blow it. Greinke has an excellent 2.56 ERA this season with nearly a 4 to 1 strikeout-walk ratio, but has no wins to show for it. A big reason is the Royals bullpen has blown 3 of his potential wins. Last season Greinke won his first 5 starts with an ERA of 0.50 on his way to the Cy Young Award.




Why Ubaldo Jimenez won:
- Dominant fastball: Jimenez's heater averaged 97.1 MPH, a season-high. He didn't command it particularly well with only 48.9 percent of the pitch in the strike zone (MLB avg 55.6 pct), but hitters helped him out with a 41.7 chase percentage. It was Jimenez's best on his fastball since May 16, 2008. The Diamondbacks were 1-11 against Jimenez's heater with three of his six strikeouts coming on the pitch. Jimenez didn't fall behind to many hitters going to only one 2-0 count and one 3-1 count. Jimenez also retired every leadoff batter (MLB avg 68 pct). With his league-leading fifth victory Tuesday, Ubaldo Jimenez is now 13-3 with a 2.24 ERA since August 1, 2009. No pitcher in baseball has more wins in that span. Jimenez also extended his scoreless streak to 22.1 innings - the second longest streak in baseball this year behind Mike Pelfrey's active streak of 24. Jimenez also pitched at least six innings for the 33rd time in his last 34 starts.


Why Francisco Liriano won:
- His slider is back: Liriano threw his slider 40 times, the most since coming off Tommy John surgery in 2008. Tigers hitters were 1-11 off the pitch and chased it out of the zone 63.2 percent of the time - also a best since coming off surgery. Six of his 10 strikeouts were on sliders.


Can Papi keep going?
David Ortiz (.549 OPS this season) reportedly wants to play "2 or 3" more seasons in the big leagues. While the issue of whether or not he's fit to play in the big leagues RIGHT NOW is a relevant question, it's extremely unlikely he'll be a contributor at age 36 or older. Since 1990, only 4 different 1B/DH that weighed 230 or more pounds at age 36 or older have had a season with a .850+ OPS: Frank Thomas (four times), Andres Galarraga (three times), Jim Thome (three times) and Jason Giambi (once).