Thursday, May 2, 2013
Thoughts: Mike Napoli is a strong dude
By David Schoenfield
Thoughts on Wednesday's games ...
- Have a night, Mike Napoli. First, he did this to Mark Buehrle. And then he did this to Esmil Rogers. Distances: 472 and 467 feet, making them the third- and fifth-longest home runs of the season, according to the ESPN Home Run Tracker. Fun facts: Napoli leads the majors with 21 extra-base hits and the Red Sox have hit 16 home runs in five games in Toronto, one more than they've hit their other 22 games. Oh, the Red Sox won 10-1 as Clay Buchholz improved to 6-0, 1.01 with seven scoreless innings. While the ball flies out in Toronto, Buchholz once again kept the ball down in the zone and has allowed just one home run in 44.2 innings.
- Here's what Ryan Raburn has done his past 14 plate appearances for the Indians, starting with his final at-bat Sunday: single, single, single, three-run home run, home run, line out, single, two-run homer, home run, single, infield RBI single, RBI double, single, strikeout. That's 12-for-14 with four home runs. Whew. The Indians beat Philadelphia and Cliff Lee, 6-0, and have won four in a row, outscoring the enemy 39-5. It's Ryan Raburn's world right now. I watched the early innings of this game and while Trevor Bauer, making his first start since April 6, only gave up one hit and no runs in five innings, it was hardly a pretty outing, as he walked six and threw just 50 of 93 pitches for strikes. He escaped but that's now 13 walks in his two starts. Command, command, command. (He walked six in his three Triple-A starts.)
- The Diamondbacks' bullpen was supposed to be a strength but has now coughed up 10 blown saves/leads in 28 games. Brandon Belt delivered the big hit, a three-run homer off David Hernandez in the eighth -- off an 0-2 fastball with two outs. In the video, you can see catcher Miguel Montero wanting the pitch up, but Hernandez left it over the middle of the plate, about belt-high. (Sorry.) Hernandez has already equaled the four home runs he gave up last year, when batters hit .046 against him when the count reached 0-2 -- with 55 strikeouts and one walk.
- Speaking of bullpens, Tampa's pen was outstanding last year, led by Fernando Rodney. But Jake McGee was dominant in middle relief, allowing 13 runs in 55.1 innings and holding batters to a .168 average and .213 on-base percentage. Proving the often-volatile nature of bullpen, McGree has already allowed 11 runs this season, including five in Wednesday's 9-8 loss to Kansas City, as the Royals overcame a five-run deficit. Jeremy Hellickson couldn't hold the lead. "The defense and offense came to play tonight and I didn't," he said. "It's as simple as that." I do wonder if those of us who picked the Rays to win the American League East didn't factor in enough bullpen regression, however. Meanwhile, after some early-season jitters, Greg Holland has now reeled off eight consecutive scoreless appearances for the Royals and recorded his seventh save.