Sunday, April 13, 2008

Brian Bannister is unbeatable

Synopsis: Brian Bannister gives up just three singles and an unearned run in a complete-game 5-1 victory. Alex Gordon homers, his third of the year; Billy Butler extends hit streak to 12 games.

It occurred to me while watching Bannister set down batter after batter that all this talk about his fastball velocity and low strikeout rate and BABIP -- all those reasons he's supposed to have a bad year -- really doesn't matter when his opponents have no idea what he's throwing. They look fooled half the time -- when the ball goes by them -- and the other half they look merely glad to have made contact, usually resulting in a weak grounder or harmless flyout. Remember all those worries in the spring when he was getting shelled every outing? Apparently he really did know what he was doing all along, which was just "trying things out."

Francisco Liriano, 17 months removed from Tommy John surgery, simply got outpitched. Could there have been a better contrast in styles? Liriano, the wunderkind with electric stuff who wins by overpowering opponents, versus Bannister (still young, granted), the guy who has single-handedly made the word "cerebral" chic in baseball circles. Right now one of them is 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA, and the other just gave up four runs while issuing five walks.

POSTSCRIPT: A few nice words about Trey Hillman from Sporting News.

POSTSCRIPT 2: The Royals have lost four times to the Twins this year. If you think that's bad, the Rockies have lost five times to the D-backs (trying to stave off six as we speak).

POSTSCRIPT 3: I was able to catch a bit of the Cardinals-Giants game on, and every time I watch ballgames in San Francisco I'm struck by how happy everyone looks. Never mind that the Giants will probably lose 100 games and that Matt Cain might go postal on his teammates if they keep losing him games; every person in that ballpark wears the most carefree, bubbly smiles you'll find anywhere. Today, a toddler nearly gets hit with a foul ball, and the Giants immediately send a rep to the family (the dad's bouncing the kid on his knee, smiling; Mom's laughing alongside; sister is next to Mom, smiling) to give them free tickets for a future game. A guy wearing a Cardinals cap catches a foul ball, and he gets playfully booed, then playfully slapped with a glove. Smiles and laughter all around. What is wrong with these people? Don't they know life is supposed to be hard?

Oh yeah, it was bright and sunny, of course.

POSTSCRIPT 4: The Royals had a 26-inning scoreless streak, sure, but the Tigers just got shut out for the
fourth time this year and are 2-10 on the season. I'll let you think about that.


  1. As a die-hard Royals fan living in the SF Bay Area, and having been to several Giants games, I can relate to your comments on the "fans" at AT&T Park. As with many California teams, except maybe the Warriors and Raiders, most people here are fans of the atmosphere of going to a game, and not necessarily the teams themselves. I do have to say, though, that the experience of a game at the Giants' park is pretty cool, especially with the "HD" screen they put in last year. I would imagine the screen at Kaufmann now rivals it, and I hope to make it out there someday soon to see it. Until then, I will enjoy the three games in Oakland this weekend and bring my broom along with my high hopes.

  2. I thought the Tiggers (I guess we can call them Tiggers again)were going to run away with this division but even when they start hitting it may not matter because that pitching staff is not good.

  3. Jim Leyland's losing his cool, too, snapping at hometown reporters. Just a bad, bad atmosphere... at some point, I think it becomes safe to say they're not going to recover. When's that point going to come?

  4. wow, I stand corrected for the moment, big time. It was 9-5 Twins when the previous comment got posted, now it's 11-9 Tigers -- that's 11 runs in 3 innings. For the last 20 minutes I've been watching the Tigers do exactly what everyone said they could: score at will, off even Minnesota's best setup man.

    Let's see if Detroit's bullpen can hold this.