MLB Week in Review (June 16-22)

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The theme of dominant pitchers continues to show up this year in the MLB as the constant battle between offence and defence continues. There are always the dominant pitchers every year in the MLB and many times the same names continue to pop up. Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, and many more continue to make headlines about their pitching. These are the elite pitchers in the league that win almost every time the go out on the mound. The rest of the pitchers in the league seem to be grouped into the “others” group as they seem to be good in spurts but will never reach the level of Ace or elite. Of course it is not impossible to move into the elite level of the pitching world but lately it has been ruled by a select few with only a few people being able to transcend into that level. This year could see another pitcher enter into the elite although it make take more than one season to do so. This pitcher is RA Dickey of the New York Mets who has been the best pitcher in baseball so far this year. With an ERA hovering around 2.00 Dickey has been able to shut down most batters he has faced this year as the discussion begins around a potential Cy Young Award. It is too early to tell if Dickey can sustain this pace throughout the year but his last two weeks have only fuelled the fire in the early season. In a his two most recent starts Dickey has been able to do something that has almost never happened in the MLB. Over his last two fights Dickey has only allowed 2 hits overall. That is one hit in each game two starts in a row meaning that Dickey has essentially completely dominated in his last two starts. This season has already seen a number of no-hitters and perfect games but there are countless more one-hitter games from pitchers who almost made it into the record books with a no-hitter. These games are much more common and therefore are not as big an accomplishment but earning a one-hitter two games in a row is something special. To be able to shut down two lineups aside from one hit in each for two nights is an amazing feat. This accomplishment is added to an already great season by Dickey who has been able to become the best pitcher in baseball this year despite his non-traditional style. Many of the top pitchers use a collection of pitches to go through a lineup as they use a combination of all of them to get batters out. Many of them use a version of the fastball as their main pitch along with a few off speed pitches. It is rare to see pitchers who use only off speed pitches or who rely on an off speed pitch to be very successful as many of them reside in the bullpen. RA Dickey represents these pitchers as he uses the most unusual off speed pitch created in the Knuckleball. This pitch is a great but challenging pitch because it has no speed but also has little to no control either. There have been a number of knuckleballers in the past but they have not reached the top of the pitching world as they rely on the pitch that they cannot control. RA Dickey has shown a new way as he has used his knuckleball to rejuvenate a career that seemed to be done before it started. It is rare for a knuckleball pitcher to be one of the best pitchers but he has done it this year. Te biggest question will be if he can keep it up all year or if the batters will begin figuring out his knuckle. It will be interesting to see if a knuckleballer can truly rise above the rest of the pitchers in a great pitching year to be the top pitcher in baseball for 2012.

As pitchers continue to grab headlines the batters seem to be forgotten when they earn their own accomplishments. One of these accomplishments is much like the no-hitter or perfect game for batters and that is hitting for the cycle. The cycle is a difficult milestone to hit as it requires a bit of luck and plenty of skill to accomplish. Hitting for the cycle is a batter hitting every single type of hit in the game. That means hitting a single, double, triple, and a Home Run in the same game. This requires that the batter goes up to bat 4 times which does not happen in every game. It also requires a number of different types of hits and most notably a triple where the ball needs to go to a very specific part of the ballpark. The cycle is a very elusive accomplishment as many batters have come within one hit of the cycle many times. This week fans got to see this accomplishment as Aaron Hill hit for the cycle when the Diamondbacks played the Seattle Mariners. Hill began the night with a single in the 1st inning as the night started like many other games. In the 3rd inning Hill got some luck as he hit a ball to the wall that had a few good bounces allowing him to leg out a triple. Then in the 5th inning he hit a ball down the line and was slid into second to earn his double. This is where it usually goes wrong for most as many batters cannot finish the cycle and come one hit short. For Hill he needed a HR to finish the cycle which could be the hardest way to get the cycle. In the 7th inning Hill did it as he took an off speed pitch into the left field seats as he completed the cycle. It is a great accomplishment for batters and one that has happened twice this year already. With the pitchers getting most of the attention this year the batters are beginning to make a case to stop the year of the pitcher and begin balancing out the offence-defence battle.

 

MLB Standings

American League

East:

1. New York Yankees (.594)

2. Baltimore Orioles (.571)

3. Tampa Bay Rays (.551)

4. Boston Red Sox (.514)

5. Toronto Blue Jays (.514)

Central:

1. Cleveland Indians (.536)

2. Chicago White Sox (.514)

3. Detroit Tigers (.486)

4. Kansas City Royals (.456)

5. Minnesota Twins (.406)

West:

1. Texas Rangers (.620)

2. Los Angeles Angels (.549)

3. Oakland Athletics (.479)

4. Seattle Mariners (.417)

 

National League

East:

1. Washington Nationals (.588)

2. New York Mets (.549)

3. Atlanta Braves (.543)

4. Miami Marlins (.471)

5. Philadelphia Phillies (.465)

Central:

1. Cincinnati Reds (.551)

2. Pittsburgh Pirates (.536)

3. St. Louis Cardinals (.507)

4. Milwaukee Brewers (.471)

5. Houston Astros (.400)

6. Chicago Cubs (.343)

West:

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (.592)

2. San Francisco Giants (.549)

3. Arizona Diamondbacks (.500)

4. Colorado Rockies (.377)

5. San Diego Padres (.352)

 

Key Scores:

Texas Rangers 8 – 3 Houston Astros

– The Lonestar series was at it again as the struggling Astros took on the AL leading Texas Rangers as the Astros got out to an early 3-0 lead but the Rangers scored 8 runs after the 6th inning to get the win

 

New York Mets 5 – 0 Baltimore Orioles

– RA Dickey was at it again for the Mets as he was able to shut down the Orioles who have been a surprising team all year but could not solve the knuckleball of Dickey and could only muster one hit all game giving Dickey his second straight One-Hitter

 

Arizona Diamondbacks 7 – 1 Seattle Mariners

– Aaron Hill was the star against the Mariners as he hit for the cycle and led the Diamondbacks in a great offensive effort that was supported by the pitching staff who only allowed one run throughout the game

 

New York Yankees 8 – 4 New York Mets

– The Yankees continued their dominance in the Subways Series as they were able to beat their cross-town rivals the New York Mets but the Mets did not give up as they made it a game scoring 5 runs in the 1st inning

 

Next Week:

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Los Angeles Angels (June 23rd; 7:15 pm ET)

– The Freeway series continues on as the Dodgers look to remain one of the best teams in the National League while the Angels look to continue their climb up the American League standings and they try to put some pressure on the Rangers

 

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Kansas City Royals (June 24th; 2:10 pm ET)

– The Show-Me Series continues in interleague play as the Defending champion Cardinals look to get back to the top of the standings against their long time rivals the Royals who will be just trying to get back to 500

 

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants (June 27th; 3:45 pm ET)

– This rivalry dates back to when both teams were located in New York and has been one of the most storied rivalries in baseball and this year both teams continue to fight it out for the National League West title

 

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Philadelphia Phillies (June 28th; 1:05 pm ET)

– The battle of Pennsylvania is one of the many rivalries that exist within the same league as the Phillies and Pirates compete in the National League and this rivalry will be between two teams that are struggling this year

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