Saturday, April 28, 2007

Can't score, bullpen problems, Part... sept? huit?

Last year, Baseball Prospectus wrote of Rafael Soriano: "He's one of the few players the M's consider close to untouchable, with both the statistical track record and the stuff to back up his rep." Not so untouchable, apparently, if you can get Horacio Ramirez for him straight up.

And this same HoRam (as I've seen him referred), a guy who BP says would be "better off as a LOOGY" (lefty one-out guy) and has the stats to prove it (2005 under Leo Mazzone: 4.63 ERA, 31 HR allowed, only 80 strikeouts in 202.3 innings), kept the Royals to one run on seven hits in 6.1 innings. That run, by the way, snapped KC's 21-inning scoring drought. I'm a bit saddened by our team's offense -- second fewest runs scored in the league -- but not as much as by this pitching line:

Jorge De La Rosa: 6.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 3.82 season ERA

Let me explain. De La Rosa, who may be having a breakthrough season, worked six innings of two-run ball, then got sent out for the 7th because there's no way a tired De La Rosa is worse than any 7th-inning Royals reliever. Problem is, he gave up a homer, then "allowed" Jose Lopez to reach on an "infield hit" (should've been a two-base error charged to Alex Gordon). Then he was told to intentionally walk Ichiro.

This was unnecessary punishment, especially considering the state of the Royals' bullpen. And sure enough, Ryan Braun is summoned and promptly throws a wild pitch and gives up a two-run single. Bad for Braun's IRP, unfair to De La Rosa's ERA.

(According to the fine Seattle blog U.S.S. Mariner, Dan Duquette once called De La Rosa "the Mexican John Rocker." It's funny because I can swear I heard the Mariners' color guy compare Ramirez to Rocker before yesterday's game. And I quoted Rocker two posts ago. Coincidence?)

In the 8th, the Mariners handed the ball to some guy filling Soriano's role, who gave up a three-run homer to mighty Ross Gload. But down 1 in the bottom half of the inning, Bell had to dip into his bullpen again, which I imagine is like sticking your hand in a cauldron of burning sulfur. Here's the first sentence in Bob Dutton's KC Star gamer.

It’s way too easy, as opposing hitters keep proving, to take swings at the punching bag the Royals’ bullpen has become.


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