Thursday, April 26, 2012
Clearing the Bases: 400 HRs, 85 SBs, 1 save
By Christina Kahrl
First base: If you’re in Chicago, it’s hard to think of first base and not think of Paul Konerko, so let’s give the White Sox slugger his due for his 400th career home run. That game-tying shot off Oakland’s Grant Balfour may not have delivered a win, but it also wasn’t his 400th career home run for the White Sox. Lest we forget, the Hammer of the South Side was a highly touted Dodgers prospect back in the day, only to get swapped (or more properly stolen) in a deal that sent Jeff Shaw to Los Angeles and briefly put Konerko in a Reds uni. Just four months later, Paulie was traded again, this time to the White Sox for Mike Cameron, which was more of a straightforward win-win deal. (We can keep all that went wrong later, when Cameron was dealt in the package for Ken Griffey Jr., aside as a pretty major unusual circumstance, including how unanticipated Griffey’s injuries were.) As a Dodger and Red, Konerko hit seven homers, so he'll get a second pass at this particular mark -- just as a White Sock.
Second base: While all of the focus is on Matt Kemp hitting his 10th home run on Wednesday night for Don Mattingly’s Dodgers, and the 85-tater pace it puts him on, it’s worth a brief mention that teammate Dee Gordon stole his 10th base as well, putting him on a pace for, well, 85 steals. In this bit of ham-fisted fun with early-season stats, that would be the highest single-season steals total since Rickey Henderson swiped 93 bags back in 1988. Those 10 steals -- and his four times caught -- have all been from his going after second base. Keeping in mind he’s only been on first base 22 times (14 singles, five walks, and three times reached on error), he’s running two-thirds of the time, a clip even Rickey -- Mattingly’s former Yankee teammate -- might respect. Now, imagine how many bases Gordon might steal if his OBP was above .300.
Third base: Who went for three and got his just reward? Not a baserunner. No, Wednesday it was none other than Gorzo the Magnificent for the Nationals. That’s lefty long man Tom Gorzelanny, a utility pitcher who has to live with a lot that involves soaking up innings to give bombed starters or tired pen men a break. But Davey Johnson let Gorzelanny go three innings to notch the save in Washington’s 7-2 win. He entered with a one-run lead in the top of the seventh -- a save situation -- and the Nats tore up the Pad 'pen, so Johnson elected to leave his man out there and give the rest of the relief crew the night off. No need to delay, pursue the situational advantage, or anything, just let it ride, call it a ballgame ... and assign the glory stat to the guy who helped make a 2:39 game time possible.
Home plate: In the world of impassioned Rangers fans, few are more deeply committed than Jamey Newberg -- or his supporters.