MLB Week in Review (April 21-27)

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When someone says Philip Humber not a lot of eyebrows are raised and that is mainly because nobody has a clue who he is. Humber is a bit of a journeyman as he has moved from the minors to the majors on a regular pace. With his back and forth pattern Humber became a tweener of sorts as a pitcher who could fill a hole if needed. That all changed this past week as Humber entered the MLB history books becoming the 21st player to pitch a perfect game. That is the 21st player in MLB history, a history that spans beyond 100 years, to reach the goal of all pitchers. Humber was not entirely “perfect” though as he struck out only nine batters and earned his final out on a pitch that went to the backstop and was recovered to throw the runner out. Even though he was not entirely sharp Humber still earned 27 straight outs and became the first pitcher since Roy Halladay, May 29th 2010, to pitch a perfect game. With countless numbers of pitchers making appearances in the NHL only 21 have ever accomplished this feat. It is an extremely difficult thing to do as pitchers can pitch up to 100 pitches a game and only one mistake can cause a run. Not only is it a run that the pitcher needs to worry about but a perfect game also means no person on base ever. That means no walks or errors or even just a base hit. It is such a difficult accomplishment in a game that can change based on the smallest mistake. Humber was dialed in though as he did not make any big mistakes and when he did his defence bailed him out. The perfect game is rare but the MLB is turning more and more towards a pitching focused league. With the steroid era over, for the most part, the bats have been quieter in the last few seasons. There have been the outliers like Jose Bautista, over 90 HRs in the last two seasons, but the majority of the offence has become small ball. With batters having less of an advantage the pitchers have taken over the league. With pitchers like CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, and so many more the pitchers have been the focus of the past season. This year not much seems to be changing as pitchers continue to dominate the batters. Of course offences are still rolling with HRs still alive and small ball playing a larger role but there is no mistaking that pitchers are playing a bigger role. With Philip Humber’s perfect game comes another piece of proof that pitchers may be taking over this season as well. That may have been until his follow-up that saw him lose to the Red Sox and allowed 9 runs over 5 innings. The debate is still going on whether or not the 2012 season will be another year of the pitcher but there is no question that pitchers will have a big impact. Expect to see more no-hitters, probably no more perfect games, as pitchers continue to look better every year and may be able to beat up on some bad offences. The good offences are still there though with the Yankees leading the way and looking to bring back the offence in the game. With one month done it seems that the battle of the offence and defence will last throughout the season to see if the bats are back or the pitchers will dominate again.

Philip Humber made his impact this week but one player has been making his impact for 21 seasons. Ivan Rodriguez has been a premier catcher in the league for 21 years and has made his name in the league. Affectionately referred to as Pudge, a nickname given to him because he was a pudgy child, Ivan Rodriguez was hated by few and loved by many. Since his debut in 1991 as a 19-year-old Rodriguez has been known for his bat and his arm in throwing out base runners. This week Rodriguez decided to put away his mask for good as he signed a 1-day contract with the Texas Rangers, his first team, and officially announced his retirement. Of course with his retirement comes the inevitable debate about whether or not the standout catcher belongs in the Hall of Fame. On one hand Ivan Rodriguez was easily the greatest defensive catcher to play the game. It is all in the accomplishments as Pudge earned a record 13 Gold Glove awards and threw out close to 50% of base stealers in more than one year. He also has an MVP award and a World Series ring for his collection meeting almost all requirements for a Hall of Fame. Of course the baseball Hall of Fame is notoriously stingy in letting anyone in especially catchers. The one thing that will hurt Rodriguez in a Hall of Fame bid will be that he was a good offensive catcher in a time when every team had 5 great offensive players. Averaging 22 HRs a season was essentially nothing for the time that he played and that may hurt him in the eyes of the committee. Whether or not Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez makes the Hall is a debate for a few years from now but as of now Rodriguez will always be one of the best catchers in the league as fans will always remember Pudge.

 

MLB Standings

American League

East:

1. Tampa Bay Rays (.650)

2. Baltimore Orioles (.600)

3. New York Yankees (.579)

4. Toronto Blue Jays (.500)

5. Boston Red Sox (.474)

Central:

1. Cleveland Indians (.556)

2. Chicago White Sox (.500)

3. Detroit Tigers (.500)

4. Kansas City Royals (.300)

5. Minnesota Twins (.250)

West:

1. Texas Rangers (.750)

2. Oakland Athletics (.524)

3. Seattle Mariners (.524)

4. Los Angeles Angels (.300)

 

National League

East:

1. Washington Nationals (.700)

2. Atlanta Braves (.650)

3. New York Mets (.550)

4. Philadelphia Phillies (.450)

5. Miami Marlins (.368)

Central:

1. St. Louis Cardinals (.650)

2. Cincinnati Reds (.450)

3. Milwaukee Brewers (.450)

4. Pittsburgh Pirates (.421)

5. Houston Astros (.400)

6. Chicago Cubs (.350)

West:

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (.700)

2. Colorado Rockies (.526)

3. Arizona Diamondbacks (.500)

4. San Francisco Giants (.500)

5. San Diego Padres (.333)

 

Key Scores:

New York Yankees 15 – 9 Boston Red Sox

– The Boston Red sox were upset in their Fenway anniversary celebration and hoped to get back the win against their rivals in the next game but that was not to be as the Yankees teed off on the Red Sox for 15 runs

 

Texas Rangers 2 – 0 New York Yankees

– Yu Darvish made another start in his rookie campaign as he took on the powerful New York Yankees and showed his stuff going 8.1 innings and not allowing a run with 10 strikeouts as he began to find his way back in his first season

 

Tampa Bay Rays 4 – 3 Los Angeles Angels

– The Los Angeles Angels have been struggling this season and a lot of it has to do with the struggles of Albert Pujols who was a non-factor in this game against a surging Rays team that won thanks to a Ben Zobrist 9th inning HR

 

Arizona Diamondbacks 5 – 0 Miami Marlins

– The Marlins struggles continued as Joe Saunders dominated the batting order shutting down the Miami Marlins offence and pitching a complete game while Aaron Hill went deep to put the D-Backs ahead for good

 

Next Week:

Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees (April 28th; 4:05 pm)

– These two teams could be two of the strongest teams in the American League this year as two powerful offences, one led by Curtis Granderson and the other led by Prince Field, may make the day a tough one for the pitchers

 

Washington Nationals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (April 29th; 4:10 pm)

– The Nationals have been a pleasant surprise this year with a team full of young talent but their experience will be on display against the Dodgers as offseason acquisition Gio Gonzalez will look to continue the great first month

 

Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Yankees (May 1st; 7:05 pm)

– The Orioles have been on fire lately moving up the division to a spot usually reserved for the Yankees but their first true test will be against these Yankees as the Orioles will finally see how they stack up to the mighty Yankees

 

Milwaukee Brewers vs. San Francisco Giants (May 4th; 10:15 pm)

– The San Francisco Giants struggled in the beginning of the year but are now showing signs of a comeback as they look to beat the struggling Brewers to kick off the second month with a bang as they hope to recover from a stumbling start

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