WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Jason Kubel. He had this spot locked up after hitting for the cycle on Friday, but decided to declare his awesomeness even further by collecting four more hits on Saturday. For the weekend he helped the Twins sweep the stupid Angels and stupid Torii Hunter, going 8-15 with five runs scored and seven driven in, but that two game stretch may have been the most dominant by a Twin since Kirby destroyed Milwaukee. Honestly, despite Kubel being awesome and my boy and all, he's one of the last Twins I'd pick as "cycle possible" due to his being slower than Kent Hrbek - and I mean Kent Hrbek right now. I'm not 100% sure that triple was legit, but what the scorekeeper says goes, so congrats to Kubel on being a total stud, and the clear third-best hitter on the Twins.
2. Zack Greinke. For those of you with long memories, and I'm guessing many of my long time pain-in-the-ass readers remember, I once downplayed Greinke as nothing more than a #3 starter. Well, if nothing else, at least I am willing to admit when I am wrong as I seem to be doing over and over again lately. Greinke won again on Saturday to run his record to 3-0 for the Royals by shutting out Texas, giving up seven hits and striking out 10 while walking nobody. He's been unhittable this year, with 20 scoreless innings to start the season, piggy-backing on his fourteen scoreless innings to end 2008. He's a big reason the Royals are suddenly on top of the AL Central. Did you know the Royals tried to make him a reliever in 2007? Good thing they changed their minds - for them, bad news for the division. He's going to be good for a long time. I definitely whiffed on this one.
3. Derrick Rose. Who holds the record for most points by a rookie in their playoff debut? Yep, Rose, who scored 36 in the Bulls OT upset win over the Celtics, which tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record. Rose was completely unguardable, and abused Rondo like most Big Ten players abused Travis Busch, even passing up open jumpers in order to cross Rondo over like a bitch and get to the rim. Rose didn't just score 36 points, he did it efficiently by shooting 12-19 and contributed eleven assists in one of the more dominating performances I've seen, stealing home court advantage from the favored Celts. A couple of other interesting things from this series are the fact that Ray Allen wears TWO shooting sleeves, and apparently Vinny del Negro is an actual NBA coach. TWO SHOOTING SLEEVES.
4. Jeremy Hermida. The Marlins keep winning, and they keep finding different heroes. Opening week, it was Emilio Bonifacio, with Josh Johnson pitching like a Cy Young candidate. This weekend Johnson again took the hill, but didn't have his A game this time, giving up six earned runs in six innings pitched, and the Marlins headed to the ninth down three to the Nationals. No matter, as Jeremy Hermida decided he'd be the big nuts this time, and took world's shittiest closer Joel Hanrahan deep with two outs and two on to tie the game. A couple of innings later with the score still tied, Hermida came up again with two men on, and again went deep to give the Marlins a 9-6 lead and finishing the day with three hits and three runs to go with his six RBI, raising his season average to .316. Hermida had a very good year in 2007, but dropped off in 08, so far at least he's looked closer to his 2007 form, and has helped the Marlins to the best record in the bigs at 11-1, currently riding a seven game win streak. The best part of this, however, was the Nationals bullpen cleaning following the sweep, with them jettisoning three of their relievers, calling two washed-up retreads from the minors and signing Kip freaking Wells. Ouch.
5. Glen Perkins. Which Twins' pitcher did you really expect to take a big step forward this year? Probably Slowey or Liriano, maybe Baker? A few people I know really like Blackburn, but I don't know anybody who saw this coming from Perkins. I always thought he was more of a place holder for Mulvey or Swarzak or somebody, and was destined for the bullpen but, once again, it's looking like I'm wrong. Perkins has been incredible this year, going eight innings in all three starts so far, and hasn't given up more than two runs in any start, including yesterday when he went eight, giving up just four hits and one run - and actually looked even more impressive. It seems Perkins has learned how to pitch, and is currently leading Twins' starters with a 1.50 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. Little known fact: his middle name is Weston. Littler known fact: I actually know one other person with that middle name.
1. Chien-Ming Wang. Yes, he's here again. I don't mean to keep writing about Wang, and I would be able to ignore it if he was just consistently bad, but he is somehow finding a way to get worse and worse with each time out, this time giving up eight runs and eight hits in just one and a third innings, and inflating his ERA to a stellar 34.50. None of the Yankee relievers who followed him were able to do much better, with Cleveland putting up 22 runs when the slaughter was over, but Wang's season has just been special so far. In his three starts, he's pitched a total of just six innings and has given up nearly five baserunners per inning with opponents hitting .622 against him. That's a .622 batting average, not slugging. This is, without question, one of the most stunning disintegrations I've ever seen. And I can't look away.
2. Jim Furyk. I am stunned that Furyk missed the cut this week at Harbour Town in the Verizon Classic, seriously stunned. Everything was setup for a Furyk win this week. He was coming off a good finish at the Masters, finishing in a tie for tenth, which showed he was playing good golf. He has a good track record at this course, with two runner-ups, a fourth, and a tenth in the last five times he played it. So what happens? He doesn't break 70, finishing at +3 thanks to a 74 on Thursday, and misses the cut. Makes no sense. Brian Gay, whose only career win was at the Mayakoba when all the good golfers are busy at the WGC Match Play, dominated this course with his worst round being a 67 and finishing at -20 for a win by 10 strokes. Washed up Lee Janzen put up a 65 and never-will-be Tim Petrovic managed a 68, but Furyk can't even last to the weekend? I don't get it.
3. B.J. Upton. My big breakout pick this year (I actually picked him as my AL MVP) Upton has, well, not really been around. He started the season on the disabled list recovering from shoulder surgery, and then yesterday he left the Rays' game after the second inning due to tightness in his quadricep. In between, he managed to squeeze in all of 23 at bats, picking up 5 hits (.217 average) and knock in one run. He still manages to tantalize, picking up six walks as well (.379 OBP) and steal three bases without getting caught. Upton is an epic talent, but this is starting to look like a possible modern day Mark Prior situation. I hope not. And yes, this is another player I told Bogart to draft in his fantasy draft. Sorry again good buddy, sorry again.
4. Arizona D-Backs Offense. It really reminds me of the Twins, but the D-Backs played three games against the San Francisco Giants over the weekend, and managed to score 0, 2, and 0 runs in the three games. Yes, a grand total of two runs in three games. They did face Tim Lincecum, maybe the best pitcher in baseball, and that's the game they got two runs (against the Bullpen, of course). Against fifty-year old Randy Johnson and someone named Jonathan Sanchez, they couldn't do anything, with RJ actually taking a no-hitter into the seventh. Details? Ok. Conor Jackson was 1-11. Mark Reynolds was 1-9. Stephen Drew was 2-12. Chris Young was 1-10. It seems losing Orlando Hudson and Adam Dunn has had a minor effect on a team that was already slightly offensively challenged last year. Even at 4-8 I still think they'll win their division, but then again, I'm still waiting for Justin Upton to break out, so what do I know?
5. Orlando Magic. I generally don't like the NBA. I get a little bit excited for the start of the season, but am bored by game #3 and honestly didn't watch a single game this year. But the playoffs are different. I actually like watching the playoffs, because the teams seem semi-interested and the quality of play goes way up. It was interesting watching the Magic blow an 18-point lead, including being up by 14 at the start of the fourth, to the Sixers, who won on an Andre Iguodala jumper with 2.2 remaining. It was just like watching a college team panic with a lead. The Magic saw the game slipping away, and instead of going to what works - getting the ball to Dwight Howard, they started chucking jump shots. Notorious ballhog Rashard Lewis chucked up a bunch of bricks. Hedo Turkoglu was just 2-8, and I think most of those misses were in the fourth. Skip to My Lou and Courtney Lee couldn't hit anything either. Meanwhile Dwight Howard, who was 11-13 on the game, got all of two shot attempts in the fourth, as the lead dwindled and dwindled and was ultimately lost, along with the game and home court advantage. Just like a panicky college team. Not like a college team: Orlando Magic Cheerleaders.