Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Clearing the bases: Red-hot Wieters
By David Schoenfield
First base: Matt the bat. Yes, that's right, the Baltimore Orioles are back in first place and Matt Wieters is a big reason why. The Orioles scored once in the eighth against the White Sox (Wieters homered), twice in the ninth (Nolan Reimold homered after he could have been rung up on strikes and then Adam Jones also homered off Hector Santiago) and then six times in the 10th (Wieters with the final blow, a grand slam off Zach Stewart, Baltimore's first extra-inning grand slam since Harold Baines in 1999). The two-homer, five-RBI game increased Wieters' numbers to .344/.462/.750. Look, it's a small sample size, but Wieters improved with the bat in 2011 and maybe he's taking another step forward. He has seven walks and just four strikeouts and if he continues controlling the strike zone like that you may see him improve on the 22 home runs he hit last year. Tough loss for the White Sox, one strike away from winning.
Second base: Lincecum roughed up again. I watched the first inning of the Phillies-Giants game as Tim Lincecum struggled again, allowing four runs. After Placido Polanco doubled and Jimmy Rollins walked, Hunter Pence lined a hanging slider into center for an RBI single. Shane Victorino than flared a ball into center that Angel Pagan had no chance on since he started the play from the Golden Gate Bridge. He was playing so deep it prompted the Phillies' announcers to comment on it and wonder if he played that deep with the Mets. It's worth nothing that Pagan graded out as minus-8 runs below average in Defensive Runs Saved in 2011 (after grading plus-16 and plus-21 in 2009 and 2010). Something for Giants fans to keep an eye on. Anyway, Laynce Nix then lined a curveball down the right-field for a two-run double. Lincecum has now allowed nine first-inning runs in three starts, after allowing just eight all last season. He did settle down after the first and went six innings with five runs ... lowering his season ERA to 10.54.
Third base: Morales of the story. Kendrys Morales hit his first home run since May of 2010, a three-run shot in the first inning off Brandon McCarthy. Congrats to him as he continues his comeback from two years of injuries. Albert Pujols went 2-for-4 and scored two runs in the Angels' 6-0 victory but remained homerless. The A's were shut out for the third time in six games. In other good news for the Angels, Vernon Wells drew his first walk of the season! (Although Morales has yet to draw a freebie.)
Home plate: Tweet of the day.
From Orioles outfielder Adam Jones: