Ordinarily, such a proclamation would ensure a orgy of runs and walks, coating the earth in relief pitcher innings and scorn from my prognostication attempts. Not yesterday, nope! The best of the American League stepped up in a serious way, putting on the pitching clinics we all hoped for.
Consider some of the final pitching lines from the elite arms plying their craft yesterday:
- Justin Verlander: 8 IP, 5H, 1R, 9K, 0BB, 14 whiffs, 10 ground balls.
- CC Sabathia: 8 IP, 5H, 2R, 8K, 4BB, 8 whiffs, 9 ground balls.
- James Shields: 7.2 IP, 6H, 1R, 6K, 3BB, 12 whiffs, 9 grounds balls.
- Zack Greinke: 7 IP, 5H, 2R, 7K, 0BB, 11 whiffs, 8 ground balls.
- Ian Kennedy: 7 IP, 4H, 0R, 5K, 2BB, 11 whiffs, 7 ground balls.
- C.J. Wilson: 8 IP, 2H, 1R, 8K, 1BB, 11 whiffs, 12 ground balls.
- Jered Weaver: 7IP, 7H, 0R, 6K, 2BB, 17 whiffs, 6 ground balls.
Ricky Romero was one grooved Casey Janssen fastball from joining this list. His 7.1 inning, 4 run, 9 strikeout performance cannot be overlooked, even if he did beat up on the Mariners. But seriously: look at that list! Watching some of these starts, I was so blown away. James Shields is incredible right now. Just incredible.
He will throw ANY pitch in ANY count to ANY hitter. Professional Hitters like Nick Swisher and Russell Martin shaking their hands and completely guessing at the plate. Shields threw started nearly 50% of hitters with either a curveball or slider, while throwing his curve and change in equal numbers of 1-1 counts. Pitching backwards – the Extra 2%, y’all.
Sabathia, meanwhile, gave up an early home run to Evan Longoria then smoothly negotiated the Rays lineup for the most part. He pitched around Longoria the rest of the night, only surrendering another run to a Legend of Sam Fuld triple.
C.J. Wilson went toe-to-toe with Jered Weaver, giving up just one unearned run on two measly hits. All Jered Weaver did was induce 17 swing-and-misses from the second best offense in baseball. Ho hum.
The pitching slate for tonight isn’t nearly as juicy, with only the Matt Cain/Shaun Marcum match-up in San Fran ranking high on the “sexy” meter, but you never know. Cole Hamels, Jair Jurrjens, Daniel Hudson could all surprise us with terrific outing. Let’s not get greedy, Jo-Jo Reyes is scheduled to be on the bump tonight. Consider his start the Boxing Day trip to the in-laws after your Pitchmas proper.