As we set down to watch some more games today and enjoy the holiday, here's my thoughts from Saturday's games:
I watched most of the Diamondbacks-Dodgers game yesterday, and there's really no one better at calling the game than Vin Scully. I'm going to miss hearing him when he retires at the end of the season. For the Diamondbacks fans out there, that was probably the high point of the game, as the Dodgers put up 14 runs in the first 7 innings on 6 errors by the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers had their own share of blunders out there, managing to make two running errors that lead to two outs early on. Lost in all of this was Clayton Kershaw's solid performance, striking out 8 and allowing no earned runs. He is looking more and more like a top-20 starter to me from here on out.
I also watched the Stephen Strasburg start yesterday, and he really looked like he was struggling in that first inning. He only ended up going 5 innings as a result of a 30+ pitch first inning, and seemed visibly flustered at times. He's going to have days like this, and while the offense was able to pick him up enough to get him off the hook for the loss, it wasn't a particularly good start. Strasburg also walked 3 batters, 2 of them in the first inning.
More aces struggling all over, as Chris Carpenter gave up 7 earned runs in only 3 innings pitched. He did manage to strike out 5 batters in those 3 innings, but the Brewers really had a field day with him. Also, Ubaldo Jimenez probably lost his grip on the NL Cy Young award yesterday, as he gave up a 7 run 3rd inning to the Giants, and raised his ERA to 2.27 on the season.
In Chicago, Randy Wells took a no-hitter into the 7th inning, and struck out 5 en route to a Cubs victory. Wells has pitched pretty well in his last 2 starts, including yesterday's start against the Reds. He was dropped in a couple of leagues I am in, and I think he's going to be picked up shortly. He showed last year that he can pitch effectively, so the track record really speaks to me on him.
Ricky Romero had a tough day yesterday, allowing 8 earned runs on only 2 2/3 innings against the Yankees. I still think he's a must-start in all starts and won't hesitate to keep him in my lineup regardless of the matchup.
Shin-Soo Choo missed yesterday's game with an injured right thumb, and was to have an MRI as well. He's been extremely hot of late, and this really has me concerned about him going forward. Thumb injuries are not exactly known to be great for a hitter. UPDATE: He was placed on the disabled list. Not good.
Francisco Liriano had another 10 strikeout performance against the Rays yesterday, but his bullpen unfortunately coughed up the victory after he had left. I've been starting to work on my starting pitcher rankings, and Liriano is one player who I continue to have trouble ranking. He really looks like he is back, but I've been burned one too many times by him and need to let that go. He now has a 3.32 ERA with 116 strikeouts and a FIP of 2.72.
A player who I didn't really consider for my All-Star rosters over at my blog was Justin Verlander, and I think I'm going to be wrong about him. He notched his 10th win yesterday, striking out 10 in 7 innings of 1-run ball. He has lowered his ERA to 3.85 on the season, and had a 3.37 FIP coming into yesterday's start.
Ryan Howard went 2 for 5 with 3 runs batted in yesterday in the Phillies' victory. I keep waiting for his batting average to drop like it always has, but I'm not sure it is actually going to happen this time. He is hitting .296 on the season with 15 homeruns and 58 RBI. His HR/FB% is way down (18% vs. 25% last year, 30% career), and I am wondering whether his owners are happy with the extra batting average or unhappy with the fewer homeruns.