2009 MLB American League East Notebook
Why is Baltimore's pitching so poor?
Well, let's take a look at the numbers. Through this group's first 33 starts, it has only made 11 quality starts (6 innings pitched, 3 or fewer earned runs). And eight of those have come from two pitchers in Koji Uehara and Jeremy Guthrie.
Then, there's a case of the staff not missing many bats. Opponents have 344 hits in 288 1/3 innings. The Oriole pitching staff has given up the majors most home runs at 52 home runs. Do the math and in 33 games, that's 1.6 home runs per game.
Free agent signing Adam Eaton has been a bust. He has a 7.18 ERA in his first six starts and has delivered only one quality start.
However, the team ERA of 5.37 is not the worst in the American League. New York and Cleveland are worse.
But this is no surprise given the fact that the Baltimore pitching staff has fashioned a team ERA of 5.13 or higher in each of the previous seasons. It's not all manager Mike Trembley's fault.
Mark this down as a fact. With all due respect to New York Mets left-hander Johan Santana, Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball.
Halladay is 7-1 this season following his complete game win over the Yankees on May 12. He leads the big leagues in wins and innings pitched (61). He is third in strikeouts with 49.
And for some reason, he absolutely chews up and spits out the Yankees. In 33 lifetime appearances against New York, he is 16-5 and has a 2.77 ERA, which is the best record against any opponent. In fact, the only pitcher who ever dominated the Yankees more than Halladay was Babe Ruth. When Ruth was with Boston, he was 17-5 against the Yankees.
The Red Sox are getting good news about their rotation. Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka (shoulder) will probably be ready to rejoin the team when it comes back from its trip to the West Coast.
Matsuzaka has already looked pretty sharp in one rehab start and will make a second to ensure everything is back on track. Matsuzaka went on the DL in mid-April after two lethargic starts to begin the season. He had given up 12 runs in his only two starts, which amounted to 6 1/3 innings.
On another note, the trials of David Ortiz continue. Going into his Wednesday night game against the Angels, Ortiz has been homerless in his first 119 at-bats, two shy of his personal homerless streak record. If there is any positive sign to this start -- that also carries a .218 batting average -- is that Ortiz does have 10 doubles. It's not a great number but at least it shows he's driving the ball.
Alex Rodriguez's return to the lineup has been welcomed by his teammates. When he homered on the first pitch he saw on May 8 in Baltimore, it seemed to be a hero's welcome, despite the fact he has admitted to taking steroids and is in the middle of fighting a book written by Sports Illustrated Selena Roberts that portrays him in a pretty bad light.
The book's authenticity of facts remains in question. However, Rodriguez's offense is really needed if the Yankees are going to turn around their season. So far, it's been slow. Rodriguez is off to a 3-for-14 (.214) start with four RBIs.
Of course, Rodriguez's return is a week early so extra patience is needed.
Evan Longoria probably needed a baseball history lesson to learn about Hack Wilson. The late Chicago Cubs star set the single-season RBI record of 191 in 1930. Wilson died in 1948, some 37 years before Longoria was born.
But Longoria's hot RBI start has generated talk that the second-year third baseman could make a run at that record. With 45 for the season, Longoria is tracking toward driving in 225 runs for the season.
Now, this projection seems pretty far-fetched. It's unlikely Longoria can sustain this pace but it's at least fun to watch. If anything, Longoria's start is showing that there is no sophomore slump for the 2008 AL Rookie of the Year. Don't be surprised is he is a candidate for the AL MVP.
By Kevin Lonnquist
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