Most important news from this weekend is that I beat New Super Mario Brothers on the Wii. What up, Bowser?
Jesus. Will you look at that monster. I'm like some kind of god damn hero.
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Adam Wainwright. It's officially time to start recognizing Adam Wainwright as one of the best pitchers in baseball. I mean, I know people who know ball know how good he is, and he's pretty much universally hailed as having the best curveball in MLB, but you never really hear him mentioned when the best pitchers come up. Wainwright tossed a complete game, 2-hit shutout Friday night, bringing his season numbers to a 2.07 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, to go along with a 16-6 record. He's now second in ERA in the NL (behind Josh Johnson), second in WHIP (behind Mat Latos), second in Wins (behind Ubaldo), and third in strikeouts (behind Lincecum and Halladay). That is a hell of a season.
Maybe the most impressive thing though is in his six seasons so far, Wainwright has a career ERA of just 2.94. Only 6 pitchers since 1980 have made at least 110 starts in their first six years and had an ERA of under 3.00: Dwight Gooden, Orel Hershiser, Fernando Valenzuela, Tim Lincecum, Pedro Martinez, and Wainwright. Not bad at all.
2. Adam Dunn. This is exactly why I was praying the White Sox wouldn't get Dunn - he can destroy a ballgame all by himself. Friday night Dunn hit two 3-run homers off the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, one in the first and one in the third, to drive in all six National runs in a 6-3 win (they walked him in two of last three PAs - I bet you can guess what the outcome was in the other one - a perfect 3-true outcomes nigiht.) Remember in game 163 two years ago, when you just knew Thome was going to be the guy who broke your heart? That's what Dunn would have been on Chicago, they would have been half defeated before the game even started just knowing he was there. Or at least I would have been.
3. J.P. Arencibia. With Matt Wieters currently worse than Drew Butera and Carlos Santana now out of the season I need a new young catcher to fixate on. Oh, hello, Jonathan Paul Arencibia (I have to admit, I thought that J.P. was going to stand for something a lot cooler and ethnic-y. This is just like finding out A.C. stood for Albert Clifford). Hell of a debut for the highly touted rook, going 4-5 with 2 home runs and a double on Saturday. Then, in a totally logical move, they sat him on Sunday for Jose Molina, who is 35 years old and has solidly proven himself to be mediocre in every way. Leave it to the Canadians to eff up a good thing. No wonder Chris Bosh left.
4. Brandon Morrow. I don't think anybody ever doubted Morrow's talent. He was a monster prospect for Seattle a few years ago, but was never able to put it together at the big league level. They tried him as a starter, and he really struggled with his control (66 ks and 50 walks in 63 innings) as a rookie. So they moved him to the pen and tried to make him their closer which went ok, and then moved him back to starter where his control fell apart again (63 k/44 bb in 69 innings), finally giving up and sending him to Toronto for Brandon League and a minor leaguer.
He finally put it all together for the Jays on Sunday, throwing 8 2/3 innings before allowing a hit, finishing with a complete game1-hit shutout while striking out 17. According to Game Score, which I outlined in this post, he scored a 100 for the game, and ties it for the fourth best game in history behind Kerry Wood's 1-hit, 20-k masterpiece, a Nolan Ryan no-hitter with 16ks, and a Sandy Koufax no-no with 14 k's. That is pretty damn good. And since he threw 137 pitches, you can expect him to get shelled his next time out.
5. Jason Repko. Gotta say, I think I'm liking this guy. He only played in one game this weekend and went just 1-4, so perhaps this isn't the ideal weekend to highlight him, but I can't help it - I just recently decided I like him. He's now hitting .314/.386/.608 this season with three home runs in 51 at-bats. That slugging percentage, by the way, is higher every Twin on the roster except for Justin Morneau, and is just .010 behind the guy with the broken head.
Repko has some pedigree, too. He was a first round pick of the Dodgers way back in 1999, but injuries and a pull-dependent swing kept him buried in the minors until 2005. That year he got 301 PAs, but batted just .221/.281/.384, saw his PAs cut in half in 2006, and then missed all of 2007 with a torn hamstring suffered in a spring training collision with Rafael Furcal. In 2008 and 2009 he played again in AAA for the Dodgers, putting up a combined line of .281/.341/.459 with 28 homers in 231 games but never got the call up, and was then outright released by Los Angeles, and signed 6 days later by the Twins. He looks like a very promising fourth outfielder with some upside. Excellent pickup.
1. Francisco Liriano. Double-U. Tee. Eff? This is not what is supposed to happen. Just as we're all happy and giddy and have boners because Baker and Slowey came to play, Franky - our hero, our light, our Obi-Wan, sucks against the triple-A team some call Cleveland. Ok, yes, I'll admit that a good chunk of the hits he allowed could have been outs if they hadn't been precisely placed, but it's still disappointing to watch that kind of outing from our ace. Go ahead and leave out the hits, but six walks in just 4 and 2/3 innings and a 61-48 strike-to-ball ratio isn't going to get it done. It's just one bad outing in what has been a brilliant season thus far, but that looked an awful lot like last year's Liriano. No thanks.
2. Tiger Woods. I know already mentioned his worst-ever round at Firestone on Thursday in an earlier post this week, but it's impossible to ignore that he followed that up with a 72, 75, and 77 over the weekend to finish a combined +18 for the tournament, landing him in 78th place out of 80 finishers. It was the worst tournament he's played in his career outside of the handful where he missed the cut, and the fact that it comes at Firestone, a course he has absolutely dominated in his career, should set off every warning siren that there is for him right now. If I was going to give Tiger advice, and I am, it would be to shut it down for the year. Skip the PGA since your game isn't in shape to contend anyway and go with whoever your current swing coach is and get this figured out, because we could be heading for David Duval or Joe Charboneau territory here.
3. Almost everyone else at the Bridgestone. Lest you think Tiger Woods was the only one who crashed and burned, I must point out that there was an unusually high amount of terrible golf from great players this weekend, especially since the Bridgestone is a World Golf Championship event (second tier to the majors). Woods' 77 wasn't the worst of the day because Phil Mickelson, who started the day in contention and had a chance to move from the #2 rated golfer to the #1 if he finished fourth or better, shot a 78. The #3 golfer in the world, Lee Westwood, who could also have moved to #1 in certain scenarios, shot 71-76 and then withdrew. And finally, the golfer who has overall played the best this year Ernie Els, started the day just two shots back and promptly shot 76 to drop all the way to 22nd. And all this on the same day when 31 golfers managed to shoot par or better. Weird stuff.
4. Chicago White Sox. Not that I don't like it, because I do and hope it continues, but you can't win a division, even a shitty one like the AL Central, if you're going to lose two of three to the Orioles. Their pitching is still retardedly good, with the O's only scoring 8 runs in the three games, but the Sox only scored 8 as well, and are now just a loss tonight away from coming into the big series against the Twins with the teams tied for first. It'll be Edwin Jackson vs. Brian Matusz tonight, so it will probably be a 10-8 game, and then it's showdown time. The pitching breaks out as: Freddy Garcia vs. Scott Baker, John Danks vs. whoever fills in for Kevin Slowey, and Gavin Floyd vs. Liriano. I would give the Twins a slight advantage in two of the three games, so it's very possible they leave Chicago in first place. Or the Sox sweep and we just shut it down.
5. Matt Kemp. I was watching some of the Dodger/Nationals game (I have no idea why) and saw Kemp strike out and heard the L.A. crowd boo. Knowing that in general Los Angeles fans are pretty laid back, I decided to look into why. Turns out that was his fourth strikeout of the game (in four at-bats), which made him 0-10 for the weekend. Truly sucktastic. But beyond that, his stats have completely fallen off quite a bit from last year when he finished 10th in the NL MVP voting. His average is down, his OBP is down, his slugging is down, and his strikeouts are up. His OPS+ has fallen from 125 to 109, which is almost exactly like going from Michael Cuddyer last year to Michael Cuddyer this year, except Kemp can run and can field. So the real lesson here is that we should all be booing Cuddy every time he's up.
By the way, I've officially talked myself into Chip Armelin, the newest Gopher hoopster, coming to a campus near you September 1. I put most of my thoughts in a post over the weekend, which you can either scroll down to read or if that's too much work just click here, but after meditating on this for a while I am getting a good feeling. He's a great athlete who can shoot and handle the ball - what's not to like? There are even explanations for why he wasn't recruited all that heavily (the football thing), and it's not like he was terrible - three time second-team All-State player and a McDonald's All-American Nominee (one of 30 in Louisiana, but still). I'm officially on the Chip Armelin bandwagon. Join me now, before everyone arrives. And let's hope this doesn't turn into Rico Tucker part II.
Stay tuned. I think you're going to get some Gopher stuff this week. No promises of course, but let's say 80% likely.