Posts Tagged Chris Capuano

They think they know it all, but they don’t…

Ahhhh, every year these so-called experts in the media make these “intelligent” predictions, thinking they’re right. And more often than not, they turn out to be wrong.

For instance, just last week, certain sports-talk radio hosts on Fox Sports (whom I won’t name because I don’t want to give them any additional publicity) were saying how untouchable the Detroit Tigers were. At that time, the Tigers were in New York for a four-game series against the Yankees, with their trio of Cy Young Award winners going in back-to-back-to-back games in the first three contests from August 4 through August 6. That would be Max Scherzer (2013 Cy Young winner), David Price (2012 winner), and Justin Verlander (2011) going for the Tigers in three straight games.

verlanderThe Yankees opened the series by beating Scherzer behind the pitching of Arizona castoff Brandon McCarthy (4-0), before dropping a 12-inning affair in Price’s Tigers debut. That’s when the sports-talk guys started bashing New York, saying stuff like, “Guess what? You just lost a game started by David Price, and now you’ve got to face Justin Verlander!”

Except that this was the Justin Verlander who’s been struggling in 2014. The Yankees got two runs off of Verlander (10-10) and journeyman Chris Capuano outpitched the 2011 AL Cy Young and MVP, as New York won 5-1. The Yankees then made it three out of four in the series with rookie Shane Greene – in just his sixth career major-league start – beating Rick Porcello (13-6) by a score of 1-0.

So, what happened to those so-called experts proclaiming how great the Tigers starters were, how they were going to dominate New York? Heck, what happened to the Tigers in losing three of four to a supposed inferior team with no pitching? Letting Shane Greene and Chris Capuano and Brandon McCarthy outpitch your aces? Not counting Greene’s 1-0 victory, the Yankees starters gave up just three earned runs in 27.1 innings compared to the Tigers aces’ eight runs in 29.2 innings!

oswaltOnce again, this is what the so-called experts do, proclaiming how great such-and-such a pitching staff is. Weren’t the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies’ starting rotation supposed to be the greatest of all-time with Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, and Joe Blanton? That’s what multiple media outlets were suggesting back then. The 2011 Phillies, as it turned out, didn’t win the World Series, and Oswalt spent several weeks on the DL because of a back injury. Actually, the Phillies didn’t even make it out of the NLDS, with Oswalt getting pounded for five runs against the Cardinals in Game Four in a loss to Edwin Jackson (!) as St. Louis evened the series at 2-2. The Cards then finished off the Phillies 1-0 two nights later.

Anyway, getting back to the 2014 Tigers, they had a chance to bury the Toronto Blue Jays, with Scherzer and Price going back-to-back in the final two games of their series at Rogers Centre on August 9-10. Scherzer did his job, but the offense got only two runs off rookie Marcus Stroman (who got lit up by the Chicago White Sox in his next start on August 15, by the way) and the bullpen blew a 2-1 lead in the ninth and lost, 3-2, in 10 innings. Closer Joe Nathan, by the way, has been brutal all season, and that game marked his seventh blown save of the year as his ERA climbed to 5.36.

But not to worry, right, as David Price would start Sunday in the series finale. The Tigers lit up the overrated Mark Buehrle (whom the Toronto media thought was going to win the Cy Young this year when he raced to a 10-1 start) and jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but the bullpen again coughed up the lead in the ninth. The game didn’t end till the 19th, when the Blue Jays won it 6-5 to take two of three in the series and the Tigers were forced to use starter Rick Porcello for two innings at the end. So much for the Tigers’ vaunted pitching. (As for the Blue Jays, they are dead anyway, getting swept in Seattle immediately following the Tigers series. At least the Mariners’ Cy Young winner did his job, as Felix Hernandez shut down the Blue Jays in the opener of that series with Toronto facing Scherzer, Price, and Hernandez in three straight games.)

Since Price (who gave up four runs) couldn’t get the job done against Toronto, the bullpen had to be taxed and the Tigers – who had placed right-handers Anibal Sanchez and Joakim Soria on the DL before the contest – used everyone except for Scherzer and Verlander.

Obviously, that meant the Tigers needed Verlander to give them a lot of innings the following night in Pittsburgh, but the former AL MVP and Cy Young winner was pounded for five runs in the first inning in the Pirates’ 11-6 victory. To make things worse, Verlander was taken out of the game after pitching just that one inning with right shoulder soreness, and the loss along with Kansas City’s 3-2 win over Oakland moved the Royals into first place ahead of Detroit in the AL Central.

hernandezSo much for the Tigers’ vaunted pitching staff. Verlander has had a bad year. In a tight game in the late innings, you can’t really trust the likes of Joe Nathan and Joba Chamberlain in the Tigers’ bullpen. And now, heading into the highly-anticipated David Price-Felix Hernandez matchup on August 16, the Tigers are trailing the Mariners for the second AL wild-card spot because Seattle spanked them 7-2 in the series opener in Detroit. The Royals, who won their third straight on August 15, now lead the Tigers by 1.5 games for the AL Central.

I’m still not convinced the Royals will hang on, but with the Tigers’ woes….perhaps we can stop thinking about the so-called “SI Jinx” but maybe think about the “Sports-Talk Radio Host Jinx” with these radio guys saying how untouchable the Tigers were and then this happens. Who knows, the 2014 Tigers could be the 2012-2013 Texas Rangers, a heavy favorite to win the division that ended up having to play in a 163rd game in order to advance further. (For the record, the Rangers lost both times, first the Wild Card Game to the Orioles in 2012 and then the wild-card tie-breaker game to the Rays in 2013).

Speaking of Tampa Bay, the Rays got to .500 by beating the Yankees on August 15. The Rays were now 61-61, which is remarkable since they were 18 games under .500 at one point (24-42 on June 10) and were the majors’ worst team. According to the AP, Tampa Bay became the fourth team in major-league history to reach the break-even point after falling 18 games under in the same season, joining the 1899 Louisville Colonels, the 2006 Florida Marlins, and the 2004 Devil Rays.

Tampa Bay is not going to make the postseason, but it should at least finish ahead of the Blue Jays (63-60), who are only 1.5 games better than the Rays right now. Ahhhh, remember way back when – it was in May – when the Toronto media thought the Blue Jays would just bash their way into the postseason and were laughing at the Rays? Well, perhaps those Rays will march into Rogers Centre from August 22 to 24 and spank those Blue Jays. Those media folks were the same people who thought a late-September series between Baltimore and Toronto would have some significant meaning for both clubs. Laughable. Perhaps the significance for Toronto would be to see if the Blue Jays can finish above .500 – or how many games within .500.

In any event, it should be an interesting race for the AL’s second wild-card spot the rest of the season. I don’t think Kansas City can hang on in the AL Central, because the Tigers are a more potent team. But if the Tigers somehow can’t recover and have to battle for the second wild-card spot,….then let’s call it the “Sports-Talk Radio Host Jinx” or something as those radio guys seemed to have an ALCS spot locked up for them weeks earlier.

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Who says the Yankees have given up?

Once again a ridiculous column has surfaced on tsn.ca’s website, and this time it appears they’re taking shots at the New York Yankees.

Of course, the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics made the big headlines by improving their pitching rotations with the additions of David Price (Tigers) and Jon Lester (A’s), respectively, and since the Yankees didn’t do anything significant, it is assumed the New York has given up on the season.

According to former Mets general manager Steve Phillips, who contributes weekly to tsn.ca, “the Yanks and Rays and Red Sox are going to retool for next year” – implying the American League East race is only between Baltimore and Toronto.

Really.

That means it is assumed that the Yankees have given up on the 2014 season, huh? That the club is just going to let Derek Jeter’s final big-league season be a non-playoff year, where the Yankees will simply play out the string and not compete for a shot at the postseason?

C’mon, let’s get serious.

So, was New York supposed to get either Price or Lester? Or maybe the Yankees were supposed to get a broken-down Cliff Lee, right?

First of all, the top pitchers who got moved – Price and Lester – came from the American League East. Did anyone seriously believe the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox would trade their left-handed ace to a division rival? (Obviously, the writers at tsn.ca did so, with a couple of them writing nonsense in recent weeks about how the Blue Jays were seriously involved in talks with the Rays and Red Sox for those two pitchers – with the distinct possibility of landing either one of them. Yeah, as if those two clubs were really going to make that kind of a trade within the division. Again, let’s get serious here.)

cliff leeSecondly, the Yankees didn’t trade for the Phillies’ Lee, which is a good thing because he might be gone for the rest of the season. Lee, who had just came off the disabled list after the All-Star break and would have drawn interest from several clubs in an August waiver deal, might not throw another pitch in 2014. Speaking of Philadelphia, it appeared the Phillies wanted a king’s ransom for outfielder Marlon Byrd, so the Yankees were wise to not pull the trigger on that deal.

Third, the Yankees DID make deals to improve their roster days earlier, when they picked up third baseman Chase Headley from San Diego (July 22) and right-hander Brandon McCarthy (July 6) from Arizona. A week prior to the trading dealine, they also acquired veteran lefty Chris Capuano from Colorado. The point is, New York general manager Brian Cashman is always trying to make his team better. When the Yankees had some pitching holes to fill earlier in the month, they picked up Jeff Francis from Oakland as a stop-gap measure, and when that deal didn’t work out, they shipped the left-hander out of town. Cashman then picked up righty Esmil Rogers off waivers from Toronto, as well as Martin Prado in a separate trade with the Diamondbacks, with the versatile Prado able to play outfield for the Yankees.

So far, McCarthy has pitched well for the Yankees (3-0 with a 2.55 ERA in four starts), and Headley has delivered some big hits since his arrival (.429 in his first four games with New York, helping the Yanks win each contest, and .270 overall). Who knows? Perhaps Stephen Drew (picked up from the Red Sox for second baseman Kelly Johnson) might deliver a key hit down the stretch. Maybe the same thing for Prado.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Yankees – a team that I don’t even like or root for – finished ahead of the Blue Jays in the East. And perhaps they might even pick up a few more pieces in August to bolster the lineup. But to suggest that New York has given up for the season….that’s simply ridiculous. Only according to tsn.ca.

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