Back on the Train

Saturday, May 09 2009 @ 12:25 PM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

A circumstance beyond our control
The phone, the TV, the News of the World

A good night for Alex Rodriguez and Kobe Bryant? That's how I spell frustrating.

The fighting Blue Jays lost consecutive games for just the second time this season. After a long and enjoyable top half to the second inning, Scott Richmond couldn't get anything to work in the bottom half. Oakland roughed him up for five runs, and that was the game. Richmond said afterwards that he'd lost command of his breaking ball, and couldn't get his fastball down in the strike zone. He righted the ship before matters got completely out of hand, and ended up giving the team its first complete game of the young season. Rance Mulliniks was questioning the pitch calling during that fateful second inning - he thought Richmond and Barajas had fallen into a pattern of starting off the LH bats with a first pitch fastball - that they were sitting on it, and whaling away. Seconds later Jack Hannahan made Rance look like a genius by belting a two run double to tie the game on a first pitch fastball.

Jason Bay continues to give the Red Sox a lite version of what they had with Manny Ramirez - a dangerous right handed bat in the centre of the lineup, and an adventure every night in the outfield. His three run homer in the sixth off James "Big-Game" Shields tied the game, and two batters later J.D. Drew hit a two run shot to put the Sox ahead for the night. Brad Penny was the beneficiary of the long balls, and improved his ERA to 6.90 while picking up the win. The David Ortiz watch continues. Terry Francona doubtless remembers that Ortiz hit .198 in April of 2008, and Lives In Hope.

There were four shutouts in the AL last night. The Great Big Guy in pinstripes threw a four hitter at the Orioles, and Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup in style. The Show Pony came up in the first inning with two runners aboard and sent Jeremy Guthrie's first pitch over the wall in left field. What a putz. As for Sabathia, he gave up base hits to the first two hitters he saw. Alas, the Orioles frittered away the opportunity with a  failed double steal. Sabathia didn't give up another hit until the ninth inning, when again the first two hitters led off with singles. This time he responded by striking out the side to wrap up by far his most impressive outing as a Yankee.

Even better than Sabathia's game was Justin Verlander's two hitter against the Indians. Verlander struck out 11, walked just two, and he needed to be that good because the reigning Cy Young winner was dealing for the Indians. The Tigers finally got to Cliff Lee in the eighth inning, scratching out a single run on a walk, a stolen base, a groundout, and an infield single. Verlander allowed just the two singles, and both runners obligingly got themselves thrown out on the basepaths. First Asdrubal Cabrera was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double in the second inning. In the bottom of the eighth inning, trailing 1-0, Victor Martinez was doubled off second base when Shin Soo Choo lined out to the short stop.

Elsewhere in the AL, Matt Harrison pitched a four-hitter to shut out the White Sox at US Cellular, for his third straight win. Harrison went 9-3 after joining the Rangers last July - his other numbers certainly don't look very impressive, but on the other hand he is pitching in Texas. How you going to look good pitching there? And Scott Baker of the Twins, who had been roughed up in all four of his early starts, tossed seven shutout innings as the Twins cruised to an 11-0 win over the Mariners.

In the other league, Cole Hamels finally won his first game since the World Series, pitching six strong inning against the Braves. Atlanta roughed up Brad Lidge in the ninth inning to make things semi-respectable. The Phillies remain a half-game ahead of the Mets, who received a quality start from Jonathan Niese in his 2009 debut and a whole lot of offense from Carlos Delgado - a two run single in the first inning and a three run homer in the eighth to break up a close game.

And the Dodgers continue winless in the Missing Manny portion of their schedule, dropping their second straight game at home. Chad Billingsley pitched quite well, but took his first loss of the season anyway. He was outpitched by none other than Barry Zito, who finally got his first win of 2009. Zito has actually been pitching very well lately - twice lately he had pitched seven shutout innings only to come away with a no decision. In his last four starts, he's 1-0, 1.37 in 26.1 IP. So there's probably hope for Dontrelle Willis, as well. Juan Pierre played LF for the Dodgers and batted ninth - he went 1-2 with a walk.

The Jays get Sean Gallagher this afternoon. Expect Snider and Overbay to be back in the lineup against the RH, expect Barajas and Rolen to rest the day after a night game. First pitch is at 4:05. Afterwards, I plan to check out the new Star Trek movie...

My inner geek! It lives!