MLB Game Notes – AL East
The title bearers of this entry is the red hot Baltimore Orioles offense. They have been strokin’ it up and down the lineup this month.
*Nick Markakis now ranks second among all AL hitters with a .329 road batting average. He has a hit in 19 of his last 22 game, going 33-for-91 (.363) with 11 doubles, a triple, two homers, 20 runs scored and 22 RBI. Many fantasy owners were upset with Markakis when he was hitting .247 on May 25th and since that point has just exploded (.340; 57 runs, 34 doubles and 9 jacks). Another reason for his success and this was mentioned in an earlier version of the Notes, his ability to hit left-handed pitching this year has been huge to his success. He is hitting over .320 against southpaws (compared to .286 and .274 the past couple of seasons).
*Those waiting for the fruits of holding on to Aubrey Huff are realizing it more than ever today. He has now hit in 23 of his last 25 games. He has seven doubles, seven homers, 18 runs scored and 23 RBI during this stretch. He has homered 12 times in the last 40 games and is hitting at a .368 clip. Many have hoped for this type of output from Huff, who broke out in ’03 and ’04 with the Rays, compiling 34 and 29 homers with 100+ RBI each season. He was traded to Houston and struggled before signing on with the O’s.
*Probably the hottest of the hot O’s bats is Melvin Mora who is hitting a Major League best .432 (51-for-118) since the All-Star break, including a 5-for-6, two homer, six RBI performance yesterday in the 16-run Baltimore output against the Tigers. To go along with the average, he is hitting for pop (nine homers and 43 RBI) since the break. His six RBI yesterday give him 21 batted in the past nine games!
*Second baseman Brian Roberts is helping the argument that good offense is contagious and he doesn’t want to miss out on the hit-parade. He has collected a hit in 18 of his last 19, going 28-for-79 (.354) with seven doubles, four triples, four homers and eight RBI out of the leadoff spot. He now has 30 stolen bases which marks the sixth straight season with 20 or more and third straight with 30-plus thefts. That is consistency from an inconsistent position.
*Catcher Ramon Herndandez makes his way back into the notes after first appearing a couple weeks ago as a nearly unowned catcher is most leagues. Now, he is hitting well, collecting at least one in 15 of his last 16 games, going 20-for-62 (.323) with six doubles, a homer, six runs and five RBI. He also showed a bit of power homering in three straight games July 19-21.
New York Yankees
*Here is a nice “Did You Know” provided (again) by the Elias Sports Bureau surrounding rookie center fielder Brett Gardner and his second game-winning hit in just his 19th career game. After his walk-off hit in Saturday’s 13-inning affair he became the first Major Leaguer to record two game-winners in their first 20 games (also July 6th against Boston) since Ted Simmons did it with the Cardinals in 1968-69.
*After a rough first inning yesterday against the Royals, Mike Mussina settled in and won his 16th game of the season. He has tied Bob Feller and Eppa Rixey for 34th place on the all-time wins list and his now 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA against the AL Central this year. He is also 7-1 with a 2.86 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in day games. That might be a rare split worth noting.
*Robinson Cano has been HOT following the All-Star break and that is to be expected, considering he is tied for third all-time in post-All-Star break batting average (.333), trailing just Albert Pujols (.339) and Placido Polanco (.337). After hitting just .242 in the first three months, he has hit .311 since July 1. Go-Go-Cano!
*Those wondering about the injury status of a player who could turn out to be a big-time addition for fantasy playoff time Hideki Matsui. He is 2-for-8 with a homer in Single-A Tampa over three games. He is working hard to get back, so hold on to him and reap the benefits when he is healthy enough to rejoin the Yankees lineup.
Boston Red Sox
*2B Dustin Pedroia turned 25 yesterday and is now 12-for-25 with four doubles, two homers and five RBI in his last 5 games and has a hit in 42 of the last 46 games. In 53 games since June 14th, he his batting .393 (92-for-234) to raise his average from .260 to .322, which is the best in the American League. DYK: He has reached a career-high in doubles with 39. One more would put him in some rare company as only six times has a Boston second baseman produced 40+ doubles – the last to do so was Jody Reed with 42 in 1991.
*The trade for Jason Bay and more importantly the trading of Manny Ramirez has mixed reviews in Boston. However, Bay’s fantasy status has been improved with the move. Before yesterday’s 0-for-3, he had hit safely in his last six games and 13 of 14 since joining the BoSox. His 87 runs scored is tied-for sixth in all of MLB.
*Jed Lowrie is quickly making a name for himself and giving fantasy owners less time to pick him up if in need of shortstop help. He is now 11-for-21 with six doubles and eight RBI in his last six games (including a 3-for-3 yesterday).
*Coco Crisp has officially fallen out of favor in Boston. Despite his little playing time, he isn’t doing much with what he is given. He is now hitting just .162 (11-for-68) in his last 23 games and watched his average drop from .276 to .247.
*In holds leagues, take a look at Javier Lopez who has a 2.03 ERA (six earned in 26.2 innings) in his last 28 games and has become the go-to guy against lefties, holding them to a .071 average (1-for-14) in his last eight games. Another good sign, he has not walked or hit a batter in that span.
Toronto Blue Jays
*Roy Halladay is back as a fantasy ace this year as he tossed his league-leading eighth complete game of the season on Saturday. It helped that the rain out on Friday essentially gave him an extra bit of rest, but once again he dominated, this time the Red Sox were the victim. He has now tossed 12 games of eight or more inning and is tied with CC Sabathia for the most in the majors. His 7.55 inning average per start in 2008 is the best in baseball.
*Alex Rios hadn’t delivered a long fly in 73 at-bats before finally breaking through on Saturday with his ninth homer off Paul Byrd. He also had a triple in the other game of the twin billing and that is his sixth of the season, ranking him fifth in the AL. Yesterday, he continued his great series with a five-hit performance with three runs and two RBI in the Jays’ 15-run output.
*Another middle reliever making waves is Brandon League, who you might remember as a great holds candidate coming into last year before injury struck (again). In his last nine appearances, he hasn’t allowed a run in 11.2 innings and collected a save on 8/13 in Detroit. It was his first save of the season and second of his career (8/7/06 vs. Baltimore). He has great stuff and if he finds some health, could be a candidate to close somewhere other than Toronto.
*David Eckstein continues to find a way to get it done in the big leagues. After a stint on the DL, he has come back to hit .367 (11-for-30) in his last eight games. He also leads the team in batting with RISP (.306, 22-for-72). That’ll keep him in the favor of manager Cito Gaston and in the lineup.
*The other former Cardinal now in Toronto, 3B Scott Rolen isn’t faring so well. He is hitting just .172 (17-for-99) in his last 28 games since returning from the DL with a shoulder ailment. He didn’t participate in the hit parade yesterday in Boston.
*Adam Lind ended up ranked fourth in the American League with a .379 July batting average. He is hitting .283 with three homers and 12 RBI so far in August. He is a starter in deeper leagues and could be found on the waiver wire in some others.
Tampa Bay Rays
*What a great story Rocco Baldelli’s comeback is, regardless of how well he plays. Injuries have appeared to of ended his once promising career in Tampa many times and to see him playing again is great. The Rays aren’t in a position to play him just for the storyline and the fact that he has played in five of seven games shows that they feel he can help this team. The injury to Carl Crawford adds a need in the outfield. He is 4-for-16 with an RBI since his recall.
*Eric Hinske was a non-roster invitee to Spring Training this year and it turns out he has started 89 games and has moved over to left field with Crawford’s absence. In his last six games, he is eight-for-20 with a double, two homers and three RBI. DYK: The Rays are 14-4 when he homers.
*On May 2nd, Akinori Iwamura was hitting a putrid .202 at the top of the order. In his last 90 games, he is hitting .302 (113-for-374) and has a hit in 14 of his last 16, including seven straight. Who would’ve though he would lead the Rays in hits (135), at-bats (489) and games played (117)? He did get a day off last night.
*You B.J. Upton owners are now seeing why he’ll drive you nuts with the inconsistency. Through June 10th he was hitting an even .300 with 18 doubles, five homer and 38 RBI. Since then, he is at just .222 with nine doubles, two homers and 16 RBI. This was before last night’s performance of 3-for-5 with a bomb and three RBI. Hopefully, this is the sign of a break-out.