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Some Thoughts On Day 13 Of The 2011 MLB Playoffs

I don't have a whole lot tonight. One reason is that the Rangers/Tigers game was rain delayed for so long that it overlapped a huge chunk of the Cardinals/Brewers game, and I watched the whole Cardinals/Brewers game. A bigger reason is that I'm sick again, or still sick, I don't know, and I don't have a lot of energy, which makes me both less observant, and less enthused to write about my observations. Forgive me. I know you'll forgive me. Off we go!

  • Rick Porcello is not a strikeout pitcher. If you are familiar with Rick Porcello, you know this. There was that whole meme about how the Tigers deliberately turned Porcello into a contact-first pitcher as a prospect, and whether or not that's true, the fact of the matter is that he's been a contact-first pitcher in the bigs. As a rookie, he struck out 4.7 batters per nine. The next year, he struck out 4.6 batters per nine. This year, he struck out 5.1 batters per nine. He's been as much of a strikeout pitcher as Doug Fister used to be.

    Then tonight, oh man, the strikeouts. Facing the Rangers, Porcello started out on fire. Through four innings, he allowed one hit, with six strikeouts. Six strikeouts! His season high was seven strikeouts, in a whole game. He hadn't reached six strikeouts since July. This was Porcello like people hadn't seen him before, and he was borderline electric.

    In the fifth, he recorded zero strikeouts. In the sixth, he recorded zero strikeouts, allowing four hits and three runs. In the seventh, he recorded zero strikeouts, allowing two more hits before being relieved.

    To review Porcello's start tonight:

    Electric ---> not electric ---> pulled

    I don't bring this up to rag on Rick Porcello. All things considered, Rick Porcello threw a good game. This is more about the notion of pitchers having or not having their best stuff. Sometimes people will treat it like a constant, like in a given game, a pitcher will either have his best stuff, or he won't. But it doesn't work like that. It can work like that, but stuff can be found and stuff can be lost on the fly. Pitching is weird. Lots of things about pitching are weird.

  • Joe Buck introducing the Tigers' defense in the first:

    Delmon Young gets the start, but he cannot throw, at all.

    Buck was alluding to Young's recent oblique strain, with which Young finds it most difficult to throw like he normally does. If you were unaware of Young's recent oblique strain, though, you would've come away thinking that Joe Buck is kind of an ass.

  • With one out and nobody on in the bottom of the eighth, Ron Washington had Mike Adams intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera, at that point, represented the go-ahead run, as the score was 3-3. Now, I don't know if that was the right move or not. I'm going to assume that it wasn't, but I'm willing to concede that it might not have been that bad given that the three batters following Cabrera in the lineup were all playing through injury.

    That decision got me curious about other intentional walks with the bases empty. According to Baseball-Reference, there were three of them during the season. The first will probably not be surprising. If any player were going to get intentionally walked with no one on base in 2011, it would be Jose Bautista, right? Right. On August 2nd, the Blue Jays were playing the Rays, and the Blue Jays had a 3-1 lead in the top of the eighth. With two outs and none on, lefty J.P. Howell intentionally walked Bautista to face the lefty Adam Lind. He got him out.

    The next is more surprising. On July 19th, the Phillies were playing the Cubs. It was a 2-2 game in the bottom of the eighth, and there were two outs and none on when Carlos Pena stepped in against Michael Stutes. Stutes fell behind 2-0, and then it was decided that Stutes would just put Pena on and face Geovany Soto instead. Strange, but then Pena is a good power threat, and Pena's left-handed, while Soto - like Stutes - is right-handed.

    The last is my favorite. On May 20th, the Rays were playing the Marlins. It was a 3-3 game in the bottom of the seventh, and there were two outs and none on when Wes Helms stepped in against Cesar Ramos. Ramos fell behind 3-0, and then Joe Maddon decided it would be better to just put Helms on than try to come back. So the fourth ball was intentional, and Ramos went after Chris Coghlan instead.

    I know that three-quarters of Wes Helms' intentional walk were unintentional. I know that Ramos tried to pitch to him before he stopped trying to pitch to him. But it gets counted as an intentional walk. Wes Helms was intentionally walked with no one on base.

    Four players so far this season have been intentionally walked with no one on base. Those players, and their 2011 home run totals:

    Jose Bautista (43)
    Carlos Pena (28)
    Miguel Cabrera (30)
    Wes Helms (0)

    The Marlins cut Helms in August. Over 124 trips to the plate, he batted .191 and slugged .236. In a brief and subsequent stint with triple-A Gwinnett, he went 6-for-34 with six singles.