Is the pitching getting better or is it just me?

2010 has already had some extraordinarily special pitching moments and we’re not even in mid June.

Either the steroid era is really over or the pitchers are on something.
And it’s great for baseball in my opinion.

We have had Ubaldo Jimenez throwing a no hitter and putting up numbers that would be eye popping in a pitchers park let alone the zero G of Coors Field.

We have had Dallas Braden throwing a perfect game on Mother’s Day (and seeing his grandmother trash talk A-Rod to boot!)

We had Roy Halladay throwing a perfect game in Miami.

We had the Armando Galarraga spoiled perfect game.

We had Daisuke Matsuzaka nearly throw a no hitter.

We had Stephen Strasburg’s mind boggling debut.

We had ancient Jamie Moyer throwing a shutout.

We’ve seen Tim Lincecum, Jon Lester, Adam Wainwright, Clay Buchholz, Matt Cain and Josh Johnson all throw like aces.

We’ve seen Jaime Garcia, Mike Pelfrey, David Price, Phil Hughes, Mitch Talbot, Mike Leake and Mat Latos all blossom into top starters.

We’ve seen comeback seasons from Tim Hudson, Ervin Santana, Livan Hernandez and Carlos Silva.

There’s a surplus of Cy Young contenders and well pitched games with intriguing match ups are becoming more and more common.

Just today you have Toronto’s Shaun Marcum going up against Tampa Bay’s David Price and St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright is going up against L.A.’s Clayton Kershaw.

Not to mention Dallas Braden, Jonathan Sanchez, CC Sabathia and Clay Buccholz are all taking the hill as well.

Look, I know the home run is sexy and there is a sense that most fans just want to see a slugfest… but I don’t believe that.

I think that if you get a dominating pitcher facing a kick ass hitter, it makes for a confrontation unlike any in sport.

How exciting is a home run into the upper deck when the pitcher is a scrub just up from AAA, or a middle reliever who barely has a job, or Kyle Farnsworth?

Maybe this IS the end of the steroid era for hitters… the slugger happy AL hasn’t seen a 40 home run hitter since A-Rod’s 54 taters in 2007.

And perhaps when someone says “they are a 30 home run hitter” or “they are good for 95-100 RBI” it won’t sound like they are describing a platoon reserve shortstop.

Maybe we can expect some real dominating pitching. Maybe all the nonsense that we’ll never see another 300 game winner can end.

Maybe games will move quicker. Maybe runs will be at a premium and when a team falls behind by a few runs, it will make the game more tense instead of having everyone think “Ah don’t worry… this will be a 9-8 game by the end.”

It’s as if they are playing BASEBALL and not just playing home run derby!

What a novel concept!

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15 to tie… 16 to break the mark for Wakefield

On the same night that Stephen Strasburg got his first ever win and begins his long journey through the record books, Tim Wakefield is chugging along 18 years after he made HIS big splash as a rookie in the 1992 NLCS.

He got the win tonight in Cleveland and it wasn’t cheap. 7 1/3 innings, 1 earned run, no walks and 6 strikeouts.
And with Papelbon gone dealing with family issues, it was up to a shaky Okajima, Ramirez and Bard to get out of jams in the 8th and with the winning run at the plate in the 9th.

It was win 191 of his career and 177 as a member of the Red Sox.

The record for most wins by a Red Sox pitcher is 192 held by two obscure pitchers named Cy Young and Roger Clemens.

Last year I wondered if Wakefield had 20 wins left in him to tie the record. Almost exactly a year later he has added only 5 more wins to his ledger.
But man it would be interesting to see if he can do it.

I know I am rooting for him.
And I also know I need to update the tally.
DODGED A BULLET GAMES – 20

April 4 – 9-7 win against Yankees (On Opening Night, the Red Sox overcome a 5-1 Yankee lead with a game tying HR by Pedroia and a go ahead passed ball.)
April 10 – 8-3 win against Kansas City (Beckett out pitches Zack Greinke and nearly gets decapitated by a line drive.)
April 14 – 6-3 win in Minnesota. (Okajima gets Morneau to pop up with the bases loaded in the 7th and Papelbon wiggled out of a 9th inning jam.)
April 20 – 7-6 win against Texas. (Darnell McDonald introduces himself to Boston with an 8th inning game tying homer and a walk off hit in the 9th.)
April 21 – 8-7 win against Texas. (The Red Sox were down 4-0 early only to win it on Youk’s 2 out 11th inning double.)
April 23 – 4-3 win against Baltimore. (The Sox blow a 3-0 lead but win it on Adrian Beltre’s bases loaded walk.)
April 24 – 7-6 win against Baltimore. (The Red Sox score 6 in the 7th and hold off a late Baltimore comeback attempt.)
April 26 – 13-12 win at Toronto. (The Sox blow an early 5-0 lead but hang on for dear life in a slugfest.)
April 27 – 2-1 win at Toronto. (Buchholz holds the Jays down for 8 but it takes a bases loaded walk in the 8th to go ahead.)
April 28 – 2-0 win at Toronto. (Daniel Bard wiggles out of trouble in the 8th to help Lester shut down the Blue Jays and finish the sweep.)
May 4 – 5-1 win against the Angels. (Juan Rivera misplays Jeremy Hermedia’s 2 out flyball into a 3 run game winning double)
May 5 – 3-1 win against the Angels. (Papi and Beltre homer and the Sox hang on despite squandering many potential rallies.)
May 6 – 11-6 win against the Angels. (Dice-K puts the Red Sox in a 4-0 hole before they even bat. The Sox bats respond.)
May 10 – 7-6 win against the Blue Jays. (Sox blow an early 2-0 lead, take advantage of some errors and hang on.)
May 18 – 7-5 win in New York. (Sox climb back from a 5-1 hole. A day after hitting a walk off homer, Marcus Thames drops a fly ball to start the winning rally for the Sox.)
May 25 – 2-0 win in Tampa. (Big Papi supplies all the offense as Papelbon wiggles out of a 9th inning jam.)
May 29 – 1-0 win against Kansas City. (Zack Greinke holds the Sox to one run, but they make it stick)
June 1 – 9-4 win against Oakland. (Lackey puts the Sox in a 4-0 hole but Victor Martinez goes 5-5 and the Sox score 9 runs late.)
June 2 – 6-4 win against Oakland. (Dice-K puts the Sox in a 3-0 hole before they come to bat, but come back thanks to Papi’s homer.)
June 8 – 3-2 win at Cleveland. (With Papelbon unavailable, Okajima, Ramirez and Bard hang on to make a winner out of Wakefield.)
TEETH GRINDER GAMES – 17

April 6 – 6-4 loss against the Yankees. (Scutaro’s error leads to the winning run.)
April 7 – 3-1 loss against the Yankees. (Sox leave the winning run on in the 9th only to lose on Granderson’s 10th inning homer)
April 9 – 4-3 loss in Kansas City. (Bard coughs up the lead, denying Wakefield a win.)
April 17 – 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay. (The Sox can’t score with the bases loaded and nobody out in the 11th… lost it in the 12th.)
April 17 – 6-5 loss to Tampa Bay. (The Red Sox comeback falls a run short, leaving two on in the 8th)
April 25 – 7-6 loss to Baltimore. (The Sox blow a 4-1 lead, leave the winning run on second in the 9th, let up 3 in the 10th and could only score 2 in the bottom of the 10th)
April 30 – 5-4 loss in Baltimore. (Tejada ties the game with a 2 out 8th inning homer and wins it with a bloop in the 10th)
May 1 – 12-9 loss in Baltimore. (Dice-K and Wakes get pounded, wasting 2 homers from Ortiz and an early 4-1 lead.)
May 2 – 3-2 loss in Baltimore. (Varitek is thrown at home trying to score with 2 outs in the 8th. Sox get swept in the 10th.
May 12 – 3-2 loss against the Blue Jays. (The Sox rally in the 9th comes up a run short and Kevin Gregg gets an ugly save.)
May 15 – 7-6 loss in Detroit. (The Sox blow a 6-1 lead and lose it on a 2 out bases loaded walk in the 12th.)
May 17 – 11-9 loss in New York. (The Sox come all the way back from a 5-0 first inning hole to take a 9-7 lead in the 9th… but Papelbon lets up a 2 run game tying shot to A-Rod and a 2 run walk off shot to Marcus Thames.)
May 21 – 5-1 loss in Philadelphia. (Big Papi’s bid for a game tying 9th inning grand slam is caught at the warning track.)
May 274-3 loss to Kansas City. (Dice-K walks the go ahead run in and lets another score on a wild pitch as the Royals no name bullpen shut down the Hot Sox.)
May 28 – 12-5 loss to Kansas City. (Sox blow a 3-0 first inning lead to be blown out in Fenway.)
June 3 – 9-8 loss to Oakland. (Sox lose a slugfest where two Boston runners are thrown out at home.)

June 6 – 4-3 loss in Baltimore. (Sox rally to tie the game in the 9th only to lose it on a small ball rally in the 11th.)

Up to +3.

I like this whole “Wakefield and Dice-K pitching like aces” thing.
It kind of takes away the sting from the Celtics game

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Hey Media! Stick around Washington… there’s ANOTHER pitcher making debut!

Seriously, as long as you reporters and TV crews and columnists are in Washington covering Strasburg’s jaw dropping debut, why not stick around and see if former Pirates first round pick Brad Lincoln make HIS big league debut!
It’s actually a nice story. The former Conference USA player of the year was drafted #4 overall by the Pirates in 2006… and as I wrote in a previous post, the Pirates recent history with the draft hasn’t been bad, it’s been inexcusable.
Brad Lincoln looked like one of those miserable draft picks after signing for $2.75 million. He was the only player in the top 8 selections to have not made their big league debut up until this point.
Oh yeah, pick #10 who was passed over by Pittsburgh? Tim Lincecum.
Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Daniel Bard, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain were all available.
As was Kyle Drabek, the son of former Pirates star Doug Drabek who started Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS… the last moment the Pirates were a relevant ball club.
(This goes to my theory that the Pirates rebuilding since 1992 is so ineffective that they should have just put their star players out to stud.)
Lincoln joined the Pirates and developed oblique problems, arm problems, had Tommy John surgery, missed the 2007 season and looked like yet another bust.
While Lincecum was winning his first of two Cy Young awards in 2008, Lincoln was putting together a 6-10 season in A Ball.
But things turned around for Lincoln in 2009 when he finally made it to AAA Indianapolis. And this year, with a 6-2 record, he is making it to the show… just a day after Stephen Strasburg did it.
At age 25, he’s not as young as Strasburg and doesn’t have Strasburg’s dynamic stuff. It may have taken him 4 1/2 more years and 50 more minor league starts than Strasburg to make it to the show.
But stick around and watch him. He’s earned his way up and who knows? He might surprise you with HIS debut!

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