Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Clearing the bases: Nathan best closer?
By David Schoenfield
First base: Nathan's hot run. Joe Nathan allowed two hits in picking up his 14th save in the Rangers' 2-1 victory over the Padres, but the save was memorable for another reason. Nathan now has a higher career save percentage than Mariano Rivera -- 89.286 percent versus 89.281. OK, you have to go to three decimal points. If you include only years spent as closer (thus eliminating blown saves in middle relief), Nathan's percentage is 90.5 and Rivera's is 89.7. One big difference between the two players, however is Nathan has been one of the most "protected" closers, even for this generation, rarely entering before the ninth inning. Of Rivera's 608 career saves, 116 have been more than three outs (19.1 percent); of Nathan's 275 saves, only 11 have been more than three outs (4 percent). Anyway, Nathan has been terrific this season, with 33 strikeouts and just two walks in 27.2 innings. After picking up losses in two of his first four appearances, he's allowed just one earned in his last 24 games.
Second base: Yankees' hot run. The Yankees won their 10th in a row -- all against the NL East, all against teams above .500. It's their first 10-game winning streak since 2005; the last time they won 11 in a row was 1985. CC Sabathia tossed the complete-game 6-2 victory, striking out 10. All 10 of the strikeouts came on his slider as Sabathia started 25 of the 34 batters he faced with a strike, his second-highest first-strike percentage of the season. Right-handed batters entered hitting .263 off Sabathia but he held them to a 4-for-22 mark on Monday, consistently hitting the lower outside corner. If Sabathia heats up (3.55 ERA) you get the feeling the Yankees may start pulling away in the East. Hiroki Kuroda looks to extend the streak tonight against Tim Hudson.
Third base: Cain enjoys his Melk. Matt Cain was hardly perfect on Monday against the Angels, but survived five shaky innings (six hits, four walks, three runs) to win his eighth straight start. He joined Rick Reuschel, Juan Marichal (twice), Billy Pierce and Gaylord Perry as San Francisco Giants pitchers to win eight straight starts. Melky Cabrera continues to rake, going 3-for-5 to raise his average to .364, second in the majors to Joey Votto's .368 mark. It was Cabrera's ninth game with at least three hits and he's on pace for 233 hits. You saw that coming, right?
Home plate: Tweet of the day. Orioles center fielder Adam Jones could only tip his cap to R.A. Dickey: