Monday, May 30, 2011

Joakim Soria out, Aaron Crow in, as Royals closer

Entering the 2011 season, Joakim Soria posted a sub-2.50 ERA in all four of his seasons as a major league reliever. And his career mark going into 2011 was a miniscule 2.01.

Things haven't gone so well for Soria in 2011.

In his 23rd appearance of the season today, Soria blew another save opportunity, his third in a row and fifth on the season, and in the process relinquished his role as the team's closer.

Not only is Soria's fifth blown save the most he's ever had in a season, but his ERA is 6.55 or more than three times what his career ERA was before this season.

I went to his office and told him it’s the right time to do it,” Soria said, per Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. “I don’t want to be (the reason for) this losing streak. The team is playing really well, and they need a man who can go after (the other team). Right now, that’s not (me).”

With Soria out, Aaron Crow will get the majority of save opportunities although he blew a save opportunity in his last appearance as well.

Crow has two blown saves this year but also has an ERA of 1.33, a WHIP of 1.04 and he's holding hitters to a .196 batting average.

Although Crow is only owned in 24 percent of Yahoo! leagues as of tonight, that number will skyrocket soon.

Twins place Francisco Liriano on the 15-day DL

Per Phil Mackey of, the Minnesota Twins have placed starter Francisco Liriano on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation.

After a horrible start to the season (1-4 record and 9.13 ERA in April), Liriano pitched well in three of his four starts in May.

Liriano, who was scratched from his start on Saturday, posted a 2-1 record with an ERA of 2.52 in his four starts in the month of May.

The move is retroactive to May 23rd since Liriano last pitched on the 22nd and the team has recalled righthander Anthony Salama from Triple-A.

Through May 29 games, the Twins have the highest ERA (4.77) while scoring the fewest runs (175) in all of baseball.

Not only do the Twins have the worst record (17-35) in the majors, but every team in the American League has at least six more wins than the Twins.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Adam Dunn now 0-32 vs. LHPs this season

What do Adam Dunn and I have in common?

Neither one of us has a hit against a left-handed pitcher this season. To my credit, Dunn has 14 more strikeouts versus southpaws than I have.

With today's pinch-hit strikeout, Dunn is now 0-for-32 with one run scored, one run batted in, five walks and 14 strikeouts against lefties this season.

On the season, Dunn is hitting only .191 (he's hitting .242 vs. RHPs) with only five home runs in 152 at-bats.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Matt Holliday aggravated quad injury in today's game

Against the Astros on Wednesday, Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday suffered a quad injury that caused him to miss Thursday's game.

Holliday, who was used as the team's designated hitter against the Royals this weekend, aggravated the injury and left today's game in the fifth inning after beating out a potential double-play ball.

Per Matthew Leach of, the Cardinals said the move to take Holliday out of the game was "precautionary."

The Cardinals begin a three-game series in San Diego tomorrow.

On the season, Holliday is hitting .349 with six home runs, 31 runs batted in and 31 runs scored although he is only 3-for-26 (.115) in his past eight games played.

Phillies to activate Chase Utley on Monday

Although the Phillies have the best record in the National League, their offense has struggled recently. Today's shutout loss against the Rangers marked the ninth consecutive game in which the Phillies have scored three runs or less.

But help is on the way.

When the Phillies begin a four-game series against the Reds on Monday, second baseman Chase Utley will be activated from the disabled list and make his season debut.

When it comes to playing time, however, Utley will be eased back into action slowly.

We might do one on, one off for a while, or two on, one off,” [manager Charlie] Manuel said, per Jim McCormick of Philadelphia Sports Daily. “I think that Utley and I will communicate, I think he will let me know.”

To make room for Utley, the Phillies have optioned Pete Orr to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jose Bautista hits two more homers, ahead of last year's pace

Not many, if any, expected Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista to repeat his baseball-leading and breakout performance of 54 home runs in 2010.

In fact, here's what I wrote about Bautista in March in fantasy baseball outfielder rankings: "Although there's virtually no chance that he duplicates his 54-homer performance from 2010, Bautista could hit 35 or so homers with 100 runs batted in. Even better, he also has position eligibility at third base."

Although we are only 45 games into the season, it appears that I could be (very) wrong.

Despite missing eight games this season, Bautista belted his 17th and 18th home runs through 37 games played.

That means, Bautista is on pace for 64.8 home runs if he continues to hit 18 per every 45 games. Of course, it seems highly improbable that he'll maintain anything close to that pace.

But, then again, Bautista has hit 82 home runs since September 2009.

With 18 home runs in 132 at-bats, he's hitting a home run per 7.33 at-bats. Last year, he hit one in every 10.54 at-bats, on average.

Marlins place Josh Johnson on DL, retroactive to May 17th

With the exception of a five-run outing on Cinco de Mayo, Marlins starter Josh Johnson has allowed only one or no runs in six of his last seven starts, the last of which was against the Mets on May 16th.

In that start, Johnson left after the fifth inning due to a forearm bruise caused by a Carlos Beltran groundball, but he had allowed only one run.

Instead of starting tomorrow as scheduled, it's going to be a while before Johnson gets his next start.

Per Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post, the Marlins have placed Johnson on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. Since he hasn't started since the 16th, the move is retroactive to May 17th.

The Marlins called up Jay Buente, who will take Johnson's roster spot and start tomorrow's game against Tampa.

In 60 1/3 innings this season, Johnson has struck out 56 batters while allowing only 39 hits. He has a 3-1 record with an ERA of 1.64, which is tied for the lead in the National League.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Nelson Cruz heads to the 15-day disabled list

Two-thirds of the Texas Rangers' starting outfield is now on the disabled list.

Joining teammate Josh Hamilton, who broke his arm sliding into home earlier in the season, Nelson Cruz was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained quad.

Since Cruz last played on Tuesday, the move is retroactive to Wednesday. Naturally, Cruz was disappointed by the move.

"It's not good, not fun. I want to play,'' Cruz said (via Sports Illustrated). "The safe thing is to rest.''

Cruz, who landed on the DL three times and played only 108 games in 2010, is htting .219 with seven home runs, 18 runs batted in and one stolen base on the season.

Texas has recalled Craig Gentry from Triple-A to take Cruz's roster spot.

Justin Verlander no-hits the Blue Jays

Earlier in the week, Minnesota's Francisco Liriano threw the first no-hitter of the 2011 season.

Today, Detroit's Justin Verlander threw the second no-hitter of the season as well as the second of his career.

It was the seventh no-hitter in franchise history and the last Tiger to throw a no-no before Verlander was Jack Morris in 1984.

Nearly perfect, Verlander allowed only one walk, which came to J.P. Arencibia in the eighth inning. Despite entering today's game with 51 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched, Verlander tied his season low of four strikeouts today.

The low walk and strikeout totals allowed Verlander to complete the game in only 108 pitches.

Verlander improved to 3-3 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.16. In all eight of his starts this season, Verlander has allowed three earned runs or less.

B.J. Upton suspended for two games

Earlier in the week, Tampa Bay outfielder B.J. Upton was ejected for arguing a called strike three on a pitch that looked to be a ball.

"I just kind of lost it a little bit," said Upton after the game, per's Spencer Fordin. "I guess you could say ... I just didn't feel like that pitch in that particular moment was a strike. ... I'm a pretty laid back guy, I think. Obviously, you could tell I didn't like the call. ... It is what it is. It's done with now."

Well, it wasn't exactly over.

Upton was suspended for two games by Major League Baseball. Although he appealed, he will serve the suspension in Cleveland next week.

In his last ten games including today's win over the Orioles, Upton is hitting .244 with three home runs, ten runs batted in and three stolen bases.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nelson Cruz out of Thursday's lineup, too

Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz left Tuesday's game against the Mariners with tightness in his quad.

"I feel good right now," Cruz said Tuesday, per ESPN's Richard Durrett. "We'll wait until tomorrow and see. Hopefully, it should be just one day."

It's not "just one day" as Cruz is out of Thursday's lineup as well.

Cruz, who hit a home run in each of the team's first four games of the year, has struggled since April 10th.

In the first eight games, Cruz hit .360 with five home runs and ten runs batted in. Since then, Cruz is hitting only .175 (14 for 80) with two home runs and eight runs batted in.

Considering he had hoped he would have returned for tonight's game, it doesn't appear that Cruz will be out any or much longer.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Francisco Liriano hurls no-hitter vs. White Sox

There was quite a bit of pressure of Twins starter Francisco Liriano entering last night's start against the White Sox.

Before last night's game, Liriano posted a record of 1-4 with an ERA of 9.13 and 18 walks in 23 2/3 innings pitched and the team had the fewest wins (nine) in all of baseball.

Liriano's spot in the rotation was on the line as manager Ron Gardenhire had said last week, "That's kind of why we're working on [Kevin] Slowey, getting him stretched out, in case we decide after this next start whether we're going to do something or not."

And, boy, did he deliver by throwing the franchise's first no-hitter since 1999 and the fifth in team history.

"I'm pretty excited," Liriano said, per Rhett Bollinger of "I can't explain myself right now. I'm very happy, very excited. I had a rough start to the season, so it's very exciting."

Liriano was helped out by some nice plays in the field and he walked six batters, but his no-no should help restore his confidence, as pitching coach Rick Anderson notes.

"I'm excited as can be about the no-hitter, but I'm even more excited the confidence is there," Anderson said. "I can't wait for the next start. And that's what he needed -- confidence. Hopefully, this is a confidence thing, and it's something we all need to get our strut and our swagger back. I think we all needed that. And that's a big step."