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The Good Doctor teased the fans a little yesterday, but just as we were starting to consider the possibilities... there weren't any.

As we all remember, on the final day of the 1998 season Halladay came within one out of a no-hitter. This was the Bobby Higginson game. It was Halladay's second major-league start, and it turned out to be Dave Stieb's last day in a major league uniform. Stieb was in the bullpen, possibly expecting to make a cameo appearance. Doc had other plans, as it turned out.

As great as Halladay is, he doesn't actually seem like the type of pitcher who is likely to throw a no-hitter, especially This Year's Model. He's been pitching to contact, letting the hitters put the ball in play, and sooner or later balls get hit where there fielders... ain't. But in the immortal word (words?) of Joaquin Andujar, youneverknow. After all, Roger Clemens has never thrown a no-hitter. Meanwhile, Kenny Rogers has a perfect game on his resume.

With the Jays game well in hand, Liam (who is also a Braves fan) and I turned our attention to South Florida, where Atlanta was trying to complete a sweep of the Marlins. The Braves went into the ninth inning trailing by a single run. Joe Borowski was in to close it out for the Marlins. Jeff Francouer, who had supplied pretty well all the Atlanta offense on this day, led off with a double for his third hit of the game. Borowski then hit Matt Diaz.

With no one out, and runners on first and second, Adam LaRoche was the next batter, to be followed by backup catcher Todd Pratt and the pitcher. Brian McCann and .343 average was already standing in the on-deck circle as LaRoche stepped in against Borowski. In four career at bats against the Florida closer, LaRoche had three hits, including a home run. He's also been on fire since the All-Star Break (.333 with 12 HRs in 99 at bats.) Was it time to break out the Chop?

Not so much. LaRoche dropped down a bunt. A bad bunt. Catcher Miguel Olivo pounced on it and fired to third to erase Francouer. Cabrera then relayed the ball to Dan Uggla covering first to complete the double play. Ouch.

With first base open, the Marlins walked McCann intentionally. They were putting the go-ahead run on base, which is rightly regarded as reckless, but Borowski got Ryan Langerhans on the first pitch to end the game.

Liam and I immediately wondered if Bobby Cox had lost his mind. Why on earth was LaRoche bunting? As it turned out, Bobby Cox was wondering the exact same thing:

           "I don't know what he was doing... Even if you're successful, they're still going to walk [McCann]."

Surely, surely, surely the Braves are toast. Surely. Granted, they're 5.5 games out of the NL Wild Card. This is further evidence, as if more was needed, that the National League sucks.

Now  The Onion is not where I normally go for sports news, but I did see a fitting piece there the other day:

Cincinnati Reds Volunteer To Win NL Central

I did laugh. I also strongly recommend heading over to the Onion just to see the Todd Helton picture and caption. I will say no more.

OK, moving right along. Bauxite js_magloire posed an interesting question the other day:

Thank God we're not ever facing Daniel Cabrera and Kris Benson ever again (this season). Are there any two pitchers that have been this dominating against the Jays the whole season?

I don't think so.

No pitcher has ever won five games against Toronto in a season. Benson is the thirteenth man to beat the Jays four times. This means, of course, that the record for two teammates must be... seven.

As far as I can tell, this is just the third time that two pitchers from the same team have combined to win seven games against Toronto in a single season, and the combined performance of Benson (4-1, 3.03) and Cabrera (3-1, 1.33) is arguably the most impressive of the three, even though each pitcher has actually been beaten by the Jays this season.

The last time this happened was at the hands of the 2001 Yankees, courtesy of Roger Clemens (4-0, 3.90 in five starts) and Mike Mussina (3-0, 1.17). While Mussina was brilliant each time out, Clemens didn't pitch well at all in his first two starts against Toronto. He actually gave up five runs both times, but escaped with a 16-5 win and a no-decision. He was pretty sharp in beating the Jays three more times before the year was out.

The first pair of teammates who combined to beat the Jays seven times was the unlikely duo of Darren Oliver (4-0, 1.24) and Bobby Witt (3-0, 5.30) of the 1996 Texas Rangers. Witt only pitched one decent game against the Jays, but Oliver more than made up for it.

As noted, Benson is the thirteenth pitcher to beat the Blue Jays four times in a single season. This used to happen a lot more often than it does now, back when the team was losing 100 games a season regularly.

In 1978, Dennis Eckerlsey of the Red Sox, Dave Goltz of the Twins, and Rick Waits of the Indians each went 4-0 against Toronto. Eckersley was the only one who had a teammate contribute in a similar fashion - Luis Tiant won both his starts against Toronto.

In 1979, El Tiante was a Yankee and he beat the Jays four times while wearing pinstripes. Reliever Ron Davis had two wins and two saves against the Jays in four appearances. Also in 1979, a Boston rookie named Chuck Rainey went 8-5 in 16 starts - but four of them were against the Jays, and Rainey won each time out.

In 1980, Steve Stone's 4-0 0.82 mark against Toronto padded his statistics and helped him to a Cy Young Award that still surpasses all human understanding. Scott McGregor and Jim Palmer each beat the Jays twice that year. Strangely, Mike Flanagan who made a career out of beating Toronto (17-7, 2.68 lifetime) could only manage a 2-1 mark against the Jays that season.

In 1982, Britt Burns of the White Sox beat the Jays four times. Burns was a very talented young LH who broke in as a teenager and by age 26 was winning 18 games for the 1985 White Sox. Sadly, after that outstanding season, he never pitched again in the major leagues. A hip condition ended his career. This would have been very bad luck for the White Sox - but as it happened, they had traded Burns to the Yankees during the off-season. Hmmm. All this sounds somehow familiar...

Dave Stewart beat the Jays four times in 1987, the first of his four straight 20 wins seasons for Oakland; Mike Moore also beat Toronto four times for the 1991 A's. Neither pitcher's teammates did anything of note.

The last pitcher prior to Benson to beat the Jays four times was Tim Wakefield of the 2004 Red Sox. Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez combined to go 3-4 against the Jays that year, but they couldn't figure out the knuckler...

As for this season - four AL pitchers have rung up four victories against a single team this year. Benson, of course, is one of them. Here's the list:

Opponent          ERA    W  L   G  GS  CG   IP    H   R  ER  HR  BB  SO   AVG
Blanton vs Sea 1.55 4 0 4 4 0 29.0 24 5 5 0 2 13 .231
Bonderman vs KC 2.63 4 0 4 4 0 27.1 24 8 8 3 7 28 .238
Halladay vs TB 2.48 4 1 5 5 1 40.0 29 11 11 4 4 18 .212
Benson vs Tor 3.03 4 1 5 5 0 33.2 25 11 11 4 10 20 .210

Should we put asterisks beside some of these? Sure, Jeremy Bonderman has dominated the Royals, but the Royals are just crying out to be dominated. ("Dominate me, you big brute of a pitcher! Give me that high hard one." )


The most impressive performance is Joe Blanton's mastery of the Mariners. However, this must also be taken with a grain of salt. Pretty well any pitcher who wanders out to the mound wearing green and gold can beat the Mariners. Danny Haren is 3-0, 1.35 and Barry Zito is 3-0, 1.80 against Seattle. Since Gil Ga Meche defeated the A's back on April 6 (Lord Voldemort took the loss), Oakland has beaten Seattle 15 times in a row.

Other pitchers with three victories against an opponent include Curt Schilling (Baltimore and Tampa), Erik Bedard (Tampa), Jose Contreras (Detroit), Ted Lilly (Baltimore), Roy Halladay (Baltimore), Daniel Cabrera (Toronto), Jake Westbrook (Minnesota). I may have missed someone else.

Five starts against a single team is pretty close to the maximum these days. Back in the olden times, of course, pitchers could face the same teams much more often. Which brings us, by a commodious vicus of recirculation, to 1932. Connie Mack's second great Philadelphia dynasty had overthrown the Ruth-Gehrig Yankees in 1929. They would win three straight pennants before the Yankees crawled back to the top of the heap in 1932. That season, Lefty Gomez went 7-0 in eight starts against the A's. It would be nice to say that Gomez made the difference all by himself. However, the Yankees did finish 13 games ahead of the second place A's, so Gomez would have needed to go 0-7 against Philadelphia to change the outcome of that race.

In a close pennant race, an overwhelming performance by a single starting pitcher can clearly have a major impact. You can't have a closer pennant race than one that ends in a playoff. In 1978, Ron Guidry was 3-0, 1.78 in four starts against the Red Sox. This of course includes his victory in the playoff, thanks to Bucky Dent's dramatic three-run homer.

In 1951, Sal ("The Barber") Maglie of the Giants started eight times against Brooklyn. Maglie himself won five of those games. In his other three starts, the Giants lost twice in extra innings. However, they famously came from behind to win Maglie's final start against the Dodgers, thanks to Bobby Thomson's dramatic three-run homer. (Dramatic? Losing 4-2, bottom of the ninth, winner goes to the World Series, loser goes home? I'd say so.) It was the sixth time the Giants hung a loss on Ralph Branca that season. If you're wondering why number 13 is regarded as unlucky...

Meet Ralph Branca.

TDIB Monday | 29 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
HoJu - Monday, August 21 2006 @ 09:59 AM EDT (#153681) #
Kazmir is 3-1 vs Boston this year.
Maldoff - Monday, August 21 2006 @ 10:07 AM EDT (#153682) #
All in all, I think we have to say that this was a relatively successful road trip.  Before heading out, if someone would have told me we would have gone 6-4 on this 10-gamer, I probably would have been quite pleased (assuming 2 losses in MN, and 1 in BAL and TB). While the Baltimore series was ugly, we have to remember to look at the big picture.
chips - Monday, August 21 2006 @ 10:26 AM EDT (#153683) #
I know Alex Rios was on the DL for a period of time, but I watch his body language and it indicates that he is back to lacking confidence. He is back to warning track power and striking out on sliders to the outside of the plate and fastballs. His confidense level appears to be fragile and he is nowhere near the player he was in the first half.
SK in NJ - Monday, August 21 2006 @ 10:49 AM EDT (#153685) #

Well, if the Jays don't have a shot at the playoffs (and they don't), then here's one significant race we can keep an eye on:

2. Boston: 69-54 (---)
3. Toronto: 66-58 (3.5)

Hey, beating one of the two monsters can be considered an accomplishment, right?

js_magloire - Monday, August 21 2006 @ 10:58 AM EDT (#153686) #
Cy young race is neck and neck now with Halladay and the Johan. It's close, Halladay has to stay at where he's at to win it because Santana has the strikeouts in his favour, the ERA just slightly in his favour, and his team in a wild card race. The Twins have to fall our of the wild card race, and Halladay has to stay on top in wins to win it.

If the rotation stays at this 5-man clip, Halladay will be set to face these opponents the rest of the season:
Kansas City, Boston, Cleveland, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Boston and Detroit.

Johan will face:
CWS, NYY, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Clevland, Boston, KC and CWS.

And also, what a good game last with the Red Sox and Yankees. For some reason I want the Yankees to win and take all 5 games - what drama! Let's catch the Red Sox now. But seriously, you'll see me moving to Nunavut before you ever see me cheering for the Yankees in the playoffs.

Chuck - Monday, August 21 2006 @ 11:11 AM EDT (#153687) #
An unsettling story involving Jesse Barfield.
Pistol - Monday, August 21 2006 @ 11:16 AM EDT (#153688) #

Right now the AL Cy Young has turned into a two horse race between Santana and Halladay.  Of course, there's a handful of pitchers that could join the list with a really strong final 6 weeks.

I'd say that Santana is a little bit ahead of Halladay right now - lower ERA, less baserunners, and better DIPS numbers.  In reality it's probably closer because of that 'W' column.

Pepper Moffatt - Monday, August 21 2006 @ 11:39 AM EDT (#153689) #
I'd put Santana in the lead, due to way more strikeouts and the fact the Twins are the better team.  If Minny makes the playoffs, I think the Cy will go to Johan.  Though there is a possibility that Halladay will wind up the only 20 game winner in the AL.  That would likely sway some votes his way.

I can't see anyone other than those two winning it, though Verlander does have a great ERA and plays for a division winning club.

#2JBrumfield - Monday, August 21 2006 @ 01:03 PM EDT (#153694) #

All in all, I think we have to say that this was a relatively successful road trip. 

It looks absolutely stellar compared to the Mariners 0-11 road trip from hell.  That was a lot of wasted time and plane fuel.  Now it's back to Safeco where they face the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels at Safeco - welcome home!  I wonder if their losing streak has a shot at 20!

Had a quick road trip of my own on the week-end by heading to Philadelphia to check out the Fighting Phils and the Washington Nationals Saturday night.  Citizens Bank Park is very much worth the trip.  The only downer was walking into the park and seeing the right field scoreboard indicate the Jays losing to Baltimore 6-0 in the 1st.  I had to do a doubletake and thought maybe I was misreading the scoreboard.  I tried really hard not to pay attention to that scoreboard the rest of the night but that 15-0 score was an eyesore.   Anyways, the missus and I witnessed a blowout of our own as the Phils crushed the Nats 11-2 thanks to an 8 run 2nd inning. 

I was impressed with Phils starter Cole Hamels.  He seemed to throw a fair number of changeups and curves to throw the Nats off in the early going and then throw his fastball around 93-94.  If he avoids the bar scene, he could be a special pitcher. 

Ryan Howard hit a monstrous shot to the Nats bullpen in center field for the only homer of the game to light up the Liberty Bell.  The fans love Howard and Chase Utley and hate Pat Burrell.  Even with the huge lead they enjoyed, Burrell still got more boos than cheers every time he came to the plate.  The missus hit the nail on the head when she said he was basically the Eric Hinske of the team as far as fan reaction went.

There's a lot of neat things about Citizens Bank Park like the Phillies starting 9 on the day of the game is featured on Topps baseball cards inside the entrance leading to Ashburn Alley in center field, which opens 2 and a half hours before game time to allow fans to see the Phillies batting practice. 

Ashburn Alley also features a Phillies Wall of Fame and lots of pictures.  The ones that caught my eye was one of Curt Schilling during the '93 World Series (how did that one turn out?) and one of Kent Tekulve, who I remember more from Pittsburgh.

For those who like to score games, the scoreboard flashes all the official scoring plays like 6-4-3 DP, F8, etc.  They also updated all the scores of their minor league affiliates as well.

Also, the music folks played a lot of Canadian music during the game.  I almost thought it was Canada Day at the park.  Maybe it's a tribute to the Philadelphia Blue Jays of the 40's.  I was especially bowled over when I heard the Guess Who's "Bus Rider" during their SEPTA race (their transit system) on the big scoreboard.  They also played Loverboy, BTO, and Tom Cochrane.  You'd never hear stuff like that at the Rogers Centre unless it's Canada Day.

To be honest, I didn't expect to love this park the way I do and it's neck and neck with PNC Park in Pittsburgh as far as my favourite park goes.   I highly recommend visiting this park.


groove - Monday, August 21 2006 @ 01:13 PM EDT (#153695) #
I don't think that the team's record has much of an effect on the Cy Young rate - except for how that translates into the player's Win count.  All you have to look at is how many Cy's the blue guys have won in the last 10 years, and how many times they've finished above 3rd.

I think that a difference in 2 wins would be enough to sway most voters in Halladay's favour.

jjdynomite - Monday, August 21 2006 @ 01:50 PM EDT (#153696) #
Funny Magpie, your description of the Braves game harkens back to... this morning at around 1:00 AM as I watched Youkilis drop down a weak bunt in the 9th that caught Papi at 3rd, following by the Dude's strikeout of Casey-esque proportions.  The 'Sox are now officially a snake-bitten team (Snakes = Samuel L. Jackson = New York Yankees) and the Jays administration should partner with them in the offseason to lobby for expanded playoffs.  If the 'Sox didn't win it all in 2004 I'd point to their $50 million-dollar-more-than-the-Jays payroll and say, see, Selig, if the frickin' Redsox can't even beat the Yankees, how do the Jays, Os and Rays fans feel each season, especially around the trade deadline?

As js_magloire mentioned, Doc will face the 'Rays one more time so at the RC so there is a strong possibility of him going 5-1 against them, the sole loss being the first one of the season.  Here is another cool stats page from ESPN about the 2006 Cy predictions, it's amazing how similar Doc and Johan's stats are except for the K rate, even down to the difference of 0.1 inning pitched.  Does K rate influence Cy voters much, look at last year's Colon vs. Santana?  Of course, Colon got the VB (victory bonus) for helping his team to the divisional champtionship.  I don't care that Papelbon's currently placed in first; both him and Verlander are rooks and they'll be competing for their own award (which should go to Verlander because the Tigers are VB-ed to the max).
Magpie - Monday, August 21 2006 @ 02:10 PM EDT (#153698) #
Kazmir is 3-1 vs Boston this year.

Good work, HoJu. (The dog ate my homework.)

 OK, OK, I lost my notes and tried to reassemble the list from memory.
Mike D - Monday, August 21 2006 @ 04:46 PM EDT (#153710) #

Incredible but true:

After dropping all five games to the Yankees, the mighty Boston Red Sox are a rousing .500 against the American League.  Not the AL East; the whole freakin' AL

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