Clearing the bases: Concerns about Gio

July, 30, 2012
7/30/12
8:00
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First base: Great win, bad start. The Nationals pulled out a wild 11-10 victory over the Brewers in 11 innings, scoring six runs off the Brewers bullpen duo of Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford (how terrible have those two been?). But cause for concern was another mediocre start by Gio Gonzalez, who allowed five runs, five hits and five walks in six innings. Through June, he had 108 strikeouts and 35 walks, but the control problems that plagued him at times with the A's have returned in July: 29 strikeouts and 17 walks. Gonzalez has also pitched seven innings in just one of his past 11 starts. At this point, it's only a blip, but it ties into a larger issue with the Nationals. They've only had three starts all season where the starter has gone at least eight innings (all by Edwin Jackson), and with the bullpen posting a 4.73 ERA in July you wonder if it's getting a little fatigued.

Second base: Hellickson outduels Greinke. Zack Greinke was solid in his debut for the Angels, allowed two runs in seven innings, but Jeremy Hellickson and three relievers combined for a four-hit shutout as the Rays blanked the Angels for the second straight game. Greinke gave up runs in the sixth and seventh, with Carlos Pena scoring the second run on a wild pitch. "I made a lot of good pitches -- but some bad ones, too," Greinke said. "I thought my fastball command could have been a lot better. I was pretty upset with the first-pitch curveball to Pena. The wild pitch was just a bad break. No catcher in the world would have stopped that one. You throw a two-strike slider down and hope that doesn't happen." Still, it's exactly what the Angels were looking for -- a big upgrade over the recent performances of Ervin Santana. Wait ... you say Santana is still in the rotation? Yes, despite his 6.00 ERA Santana will start on Monday in the first of a big four-game showdown against the Rangers. Mike Trout sat out Sunday's game with a bruised knee but is expected to play Monday.

Third base: Goodbye, Cleveland. The Indians suffered a humiliating three-game thrashing in Minnesota, losing by scores of 11-0, 12-5 and 5-1. After beating Justin Verlander on Thursday, Cleveland proved there is no such things as momentum in baseball. Brian Duensing filled in for the traded Francisco Liriano and allowed one run in six innings, which maybe wasn't so surprising considering Jose Lopez was hitting cleanup for Cleveland. At 50-52, the Indians would be foolish to buy in the two days left before the trade deadline. It's a mediocre team with a bad rotation and no depth and while they're only 5.5 games behind the White Sox, it feels like a big 5.5-game gap right now.

Home plate: Tweet of the day. Well, congratulations, Colorado Rockies, you officially hit rock bottom. Reliever Carlos Torres struck out Chris Heisey for the third out of the fifth inning -- except nobody on the Rockies realized it was the third out. Not Torres. Not catcher Ramon Hernandez. Not anybody else apparently. Here's the video.

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