Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday Wrap: Rays heating up, closers can't close, and the return of Papa Grande

Quote of the Day:

"I'd like to see you throw a split-finger in that." 

-- Reincarnated Tiger's closer, Jose Valverde when asked why he didn't throw any split-finger fastballs in the sub-35 degree temperature at Comerica Park in last nights win over the Royals.  

Welcome back, Potato.  Please be good.  

Welcome back baseball fans.  Today we've got a quick wrap with links for a few good games last night and what to look for today and this weekend as we wind down the first month of a crazy and entertaining first month of baseball season.  



Joe Maddon has a double life as a zookeeper.  

A six game home stand has the once lifeless Rays on a tear, going 5-1 after last night's win over the Yankees.  Could Maddon's antics be playing a role in the resurgency of the Rays?  It's possible.  What better way to take a mind off a hitting slump than wonder what the hell penguins are doing in your locker.  

Two six-year old penguins were found waddling around in the Rays club house, hours before last nights game.  The Rays then promptly went out and beat the Yanks.  Before Maddon pulled his Mr. Popper impression, he also gave the locker a DJ, a magician and a cockatoo.  It's okay being weird if it works.  



Chad Billingsley out for year with Tommy John

More bad news for the Dodgers as former All-Star pitcher Chad Billingsley underwent Tommy John surgery to fix a torn elbow ligament.  He could have opted for surgery last Fall but choose rehab instead.  Now he'll be out the rest of the 2013 season and a good chunk of 2014 if all goes well.  

The silver lining is that TJ surgery isn't the end of the world.  That's old news.  See this super cool explanation of how exactly the procedure works and how if all things go right (*fingers crossed) that Mr. Billingsley could be back stronger than ever.  

The Dodgers activated veteran lefty Ted Lilly who will immediately enter a rotation that needs him after Greinke and now Billingsley's injury.  Good luck with that.  



Edinson Volquez decides to be good 

A Brewers team on a nine game winning streak?  A Padres team that had lost five straight?  What could possibly go wrong?  Edinson Volquez ended up stymieing Milwaukee, giving up only five hits on seven innings for the Padres and Carlos Quentin hit a home run that's still on its way back down as the Padres won 2-1 against the Brewers last night.  Volquez sported a 8.84 ERA entering last nights.  Baseball is a funny game.

I'd also tell Carlos Quentin to imagine that every single fastball he sees is Zack Greinke's face.  What a moonshot.   




Red Sox update: Victorino hurt, Aceves not good. Both out.  


Shane Victorino left last night's game with stiffness in his back...the same problem that made him miss two games over last weekend.  Fantasy dudes, keep an eye on this because he may need a DL stint.  Also the Red Sox optioned right handed reliever Alfredo Aceves to Triple A Pawtucket.  Aceves sported a 8+ ERA in five appearances and reportedly had behavior issues. 

If you're not going to be good at baseball, at least behave yourself in the clubhouse.  Rumors are the Sox are trying to trade him, but who would take him?  

Also John Lackey may come back soon.  Jon Lester is 4-0.  Jacoby Ellsbury is 10-10 in stolen bases.  Red Sox are 9-0 in games started by Lester or Buchholtz.  The duo are 8-0 with a 1.61 ERA.  Andrew Bailey has five saves.    

David Ortiz has an unusual 16-game hitting streak, his longest as a member of the Red Sox. It started in July, included one game in August, and now has gone four games in April. He is 8 of 16 since coming off the disabled list.

Okay, enough about the Sox.  


WALK OFF GRAND SLAMS ARE THE BEST

Jordany Valdespin (who may be included in our "best names in baseball" coming soon) hit a walk-off grand slam as the Mets beat the Phillies in the 10th.  It saved a sub-par performance by phenom Matt Harvey, who allowed a human-esque three runs in sixth innings.  It was his first mortal performance of the season but the Mets still won anyway with Valdespin's first career grand slam that deserves a video.  




Dang, I love baseball.


Give Yu Darvish eleven runs and he'll win.  

The Angels are slowly but surely becoming my least favorite team so anytime they lose I'm pretty happy.  Also anytime Yu Darvish pitches and pitches well, I'm happy.  We got both last night as the Rangers pushed eleven runs across the plate (nine in the fourth inning alone) which was more than enough for Darvish to pickup his fourth win and clinch the series for the Rangers over their rivals in Anaheim.  Miss Texas yet, Josh Hamilton?  

The Rangers sit in first place and have not lost a series or back-to-back games this season.  That's a recipe for success in any division.  Meanwhile the Angels are back trying to figure things out.  
Closers?  Not so much here, here, and here .

Not a good day for closers as Brandon League and Craig Kimbrel both blew saves, Jim Johnson walked in the go-ahead run.  Here's one guy, though that no one expected to pick up a "S" yesterday...Jose Valverde, aka "Papa Grande" who like a Dominican Napoleon Bonaparte, skipped out of the Tigers' dugout with a goatee dyed blonde on one side, to face the Royals with a two run lead.  

Valverde retired all three batters he faced to pick up his first save of the season, just one day after signing a contract with Detroit.  Expect a few more weeks of intense scrutiny, rollercoaster 9th innings and antacid if you're a Tigers fan.  Reports out of training is that Papa Grande is showing much more command with his fastball and his splitter is biting hard.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that I don't know if I can take much more out of the closer's spot.  

At least it gave us this:  


Dance, potato.  Dance. 

And finally...

LINKS-WRAP-UP-FOR-LAZY-PEOPLE

Who knows when Jeter will be back.   John Axford closer again (Brewers fans: WTF!?).   Yanks top prospect gets DUI.   Putz will be closer for D-Backs.   Aramis don't need no rehab.   Toronto GM: "I DO WHAT I WANT #swag.   Astros hit home runs.   White Sox finally win.   Matt Garza's arm is dead.   D-Bag's Barry Bond's home run plaque missing.   A new Mariners shortstop

Peace out baseball fans.  Until next time.  


Oh and as a bonus for reading this as soon as it was posted, Justin Verlander is taking on James Shield's right now so check it out on mlbtv.com