Archive for July 29th, 2009

Now Pitching For The Baltimore Orioles…

As a Red Sox fan, last year’s version of the Tampa Bay Rays scared me from the start. Young and talented in all aspects of the game, they had the look of a team that could expect to contend in the division for years to come.

I hate to say it, but the Orioles are starting to engender some of the same feelings. They already have an offense filled with up-and-coming stars (Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold, Matt Weiters) and the pitching staff is also young, with more help on the way.

The team’s top pitching prospect, Chris Tillman, arrived on Wednesday, making his major league debut against Zack Greinke and the Kansas City Royals. The 21-year-old Tillman, Baseball America’s 22nd ranked prospect, arrived from Seattle with Jones and George Sherrill in the Erik Bedard trade in February 2008 and has torn up Baltimore’s farm system ever since: 11-4, 3.18, 154 strikeouts for AA Bowie last year, 8-6 with a 2.70 ERA and 99 strikeouts for AAA Norfolk in 2009.

Tillman didn’t pitch great in his debut, but he kept it close, allowing three runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings.  Matt Albers held it there and the offense scored five runs in the seventh and eighth to win 7-3.

If Felix Cespedes Didn’t Have Bad Luck, He’d Have No Luck At All

Driving home from work this afternoon, I caught the tail end of Mark Buehrle’s interview on Jim Rome’s radio show. Rome mentioned that following Buehrle’s 2007 no-hitter, the pitcher had given his teammates watches as a reward for their part in the career highlighting event. The next question, of course, dealt with DeWayne Wise, maker of the history-saving ninth inning catch, and what Buehrle could possibly do to show his gratitude (Rome suggested a new house).

Felix Cespedes should seriously consider buying his teammates…nothing.

The eighteen-year-old Dominican righthander pitched the game of his life for the DSL Phillies on Tuesday. Twenty-seven times members of the rival DSL Mariners came to the plate against him, and twenty-seven times they went back to the dugout without reaching base. Fourteen of those went down on strikes, raising Cespedes league-leading total to 73 on the year, as he attained one of the most astonishing heights a pitcher can reach.

Problem was, Cespedes’ Phillies teammates didn’t do so good with the scoring of the runs, pushing across a grand total of zero in the first nine innings. They certainly had their opportunities: four times, including the top of the ninth, a runner was thrown out attempting to score. He ended up coming out after nine and eventually saw things fall apart: the perfecto went buh-bye in the tenth, the first batter of the twelfth finished the no-hitter, and the fourth batter of the twelfth ended the shutout and lost the game for the visitors.

And so goes the young career of Felix Cespedes, who despite pitching a fourteen strikeout perfect game still holds a season record of 0-4.

Rymer Liriano Cannot Be Contained!

Usually, if something happens on a Sunday afternoon and I don’t get around to writing about it until the wee hours of Wednesday morning, it’s not worth mentioning at all.  In the case of the wonderfully named Rymer Liriano, however, it’s more than worth it; the delay is my fault.

Liriano, an eighteen-year-old outfielder for the Padres’ Rookie level affiliate in Arizona, played one of the best minor league baseball games of the season on Sunday, finishing 4-4 with three homeruns, six RBI, and six runs scored in a 19-8 win over the AZL Royals.  His at-bats went as follows:

1. (1st inning): Three-run homerun
2. (2nd inning): Two-run homerun
3. (4th inning): Single
4. (6th inning): Solo homerun
5. (8th inning): Hit by pitch
6. (9th inning): Walk

The key plate appearance was the final one, in the ninth inning. You’ll notice that Liriano had already hit a solo, two-run, and three-run homerun, leaving him a grand slam short of the cycle. As luck would have it, he came to bat for the final time with the bases full of Padres. That’s as far as luck went, however – the equally awesomely named Starling de la Rosa threw a wild pitch, allowing the runner on third to score and freeing up first base. (It doesn’t say that Liriano was walked intentionally, but come on – would YOU pitch to a guy who had already hit three homers?)

Still, it doesn’t get much better than the day Liriano had. He didn’t leave anybody on base and he scored every time he got on base himself. That’s a good day, folks.

(It must be noted that on Tuesday, the Royals exacted their revenge, coaxing an 0-4 and three strikeouts out of Liriano.)