Baseball Notebook

Daily Baseball Blog

Book Review: Ty Cobb: My 20 Years in Baseball

My Twenty Years in Baseball is a recollection of Ty Cobb's baseball career in his own words.

85 years ago in 1925 Ty Cobb wrote a series of articles for the New York Evening Journal recapping his 20 years in baseball.

I just read those same memoirs in book form published by Dover Press in 2009. Before reading this book I had a mindset that Cobb was a great baseball player but a dirty baseball player who would go to any length to win a baseball game regardless of any injuries he may have to impose on his opponents.

The book is written in his own words telling how he played in an adult baseball league at the age of 12. It tells of how supportive his father was of his efforts to play baseball at a time when baseball players were looked down on and were not yet the role models they would become later.

Popcorn Crackerjack Incident

He tells of a minor league game when he was munching on a popcorn crackerjack in the outfield during the middle of the game. A ball was hit his way and he said he didn’t want to drop the popcorn ball or the ball coming toward him in the air. As fate would have it the popcorn crackerjack and the baseball both fell to the ground as he attempted to multi-task by eating the popcorn crackerjack and catch a baseball at the same time.

Needless to say his manager was not too happy about his outfielder dropping the baseball and he had a talk with his  outfielder that was more interested in keeping his popcorn ball than catching the baseball. George Leidy his manager while Cobb was playing for Augusta in the South Atlantic League taught him a life lesson he would never forget.

He told Cobb that he needed to take baseball seriously because if every player had the attitude of Cobb baseball would die out. He learned a life lesson from his manager that would last the rest of his professional baseball career.

First Major League At Bat

Cobb goes on to tell about his first major league at bat in 1905 against Hall of Famer Jack Chesbro who had posted 41 wins in the 1904 season and no pitcher since then has won more games in a major league season in the last 106 years.

He was only 18 when he faced the 31 year old veteran Chesbro of the Yankees and was shaking when he was at the plate but he conquered his nerves and laced a double that would score two runs.

No More Headfirst Slides

In that same game Cobb learned a lesson from Kid Elberfield the Yankee shortstop. He had always slid headfirst in the minors but when he tried sliding headfirst into second base Elberfield lowered his knee which shoved Cobb’s head into the ground peeling off some skin.

That was the last time he ever slid headfirst into second base. It also taught him how to fight fire with fire as he later slid so hard into Elberfield that he knocked him five feet from the base.

Cobb’s style may not have been popular with the fans of other teams but the players on those teams knew to treat him with respect once he learned how to strike fear into the fielders by sliding with spikes high.

Attacks Heckler in 1912

The story about Cobb attacking the fan in New York on May 15, 1912 has been told many times but this is the first time I have heard it from his perspective.

Cobb had endured the heckling of a fan in New York named Claude Leuker many times in the past but Leuker was particularly abusive on this date using vulgar language with women in the stands. The fan asked Cobb what he was doing on a team with white people which infuriated Cobb.

His teammates told Cobb that if he didn’t attack the heckler he wasn’t much of a man and that they would support him. So Cobb went into the stands and struck the man several times knocking him out.

Later he would find out that the man was a crippled man and American League president Ban Johnson immediately suspended Cobb. This development angered his Tigers teammates who told Johnson in a telegram that if Cobb wasn’t reinstated they would not play in the next game.

Violin Student Pitches For Tigers

Johnson didn’t back off and neither did the players who didn’t play that day. Instead manager Hughie Jennings rounded up a substitute team by getting Allen Travers who wasn’t good enough to make the varsity team for St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia to round up a team.

He found some guys on a street corner and they became Detroit Tigers for that day as Cobbs states in the book.

Athletics Pound Tiger Team Misfits 24-2

Travers who was a violin student took the mound for the Tigers that day and the Athletics pounded the substitute Tigers 24-2. It would be the only game played by the team of misfits and Cobb was reinstated a few days later.

After reading the book I could tell Cobb was repentent for some of his actions on the baseball field and he says he would do some things differently if given the chance. The book may not sway baseball fans to his side but it does give him a chance to defend himself for his actions.

Best Hitter Ever

Cobb was clearly the best hitter in the history of major league baseball hitting .366 but Pete Rose has 67 more hits than Cobb according to Rose hit safely 4,256 times while Cobb garnered 4,189 hits. At one time Cobb had been credited with 4,191 hits.

However, Rose batted 2,619 more times than Cobb which is more than five more 500 at bat seasons than Rose. There is a huge difference in their lifetime batting averages with Cobb hitting .366 while Rose barely hit over .300 with a .303 average with Rose listed 174th among all baseball players.

Won Eleven Batting Titles

Cobb would win eleven AL batting titles and would have won in 1922 when he hit .401 but George Sisler hit .420 that season. Pete Rose only won three batting championships during his career.

He only hit 117 home runs in his career which was mostly during the deadball era but drove in 1.938 runs which is seventh on the alltime list so he was more of a slugger than given credit for. He led the AL in slugging eight times and in OPS ten times.

Cobb won the Triple Crown in 1909 when his nine home runs led the AL and was voted the 1911 AL MVP. His 897 stolen bases is fourth best with only Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock and Billy Hamilton having more in their lifetime.


Alex Rodriguez Nearing 600th Home Run

Alex Rodriguez hit his 598th home run yesterday in a 9-5 win over the Rays in Yankee Stadium as he tries to become the seventh member of the 600 homers club.

Alex Rodriguez needs only two home runs to become the seventh member of the exclusive 600 homers club and hopes to join the even more exclusive 700 homers club in about three years. The 700 homers club only has three members in Babe Ruth with 714, Hank Aaron with 755 and Barry Bonds with 762.

Rodriguez needs 21 runs batted in to become the 20th member of the 1,800 RBI club. He needs only 221 runs batted in to become the fourth member of the 2000 RBI club joining Cap Anson with 2,075, Babe Ruth 2,213 and Hank Aaron 2,297.

Jim Thome with 574 home runs is 26 homers short of joining the 600 home run club and could join the club  in 2011 which should insure him of being admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Players Nearing 3,000 Hits Plateau

Derek Jeter with 2,850 hits needs only 150 hits to join the 3,000 hits club and should reach that plateau in 2011. His teammate Alex Rodriguez with 2,619 hits needs 381 hits for 3,000 and should reach that mark in 2012.

Ex-Yankee Johnny Damon is a little further down the list with 2,510 hits and needs 490 hits for 3,000 should reach the mark by late 2013 or early 2014.

Manny Ramirez has 2,553 hits but after 102 hits in 2009 and 59 so far in 2010 he is not likely to reach 3,000 since he is 38. Even though he is ahead of Damon right now he probably won’t get nearly as many at bats as Damon in the next three years. His 50 game suspension last season may have prevented him from reaching 3,000 hits.

Around the Infield

Only 11 of the 30 major league clubs have seen an increase in attendance in 2010. The Nationals are on the brink of becoming the 20th team to lose attendance compared to this point in the 2009 season. They have only 716 more fans in their 46 home games and they are only averaging 16 more fans a game than in 2009.

Major league attendance is down 421,238 this season but that number would be much worse if not for the Minnesota Twins opening Target Field this season. They are drawing 532,873 more fans after 46 home games than they drew in their first 46 home games in 2009 and are averaging 11,584 more fans per game.

Rookie Travis Wood of the Reds has been on the mound for consecutive 1-0 losses to the Phillies and Rockies leaving him with a 0-1 record with a 2.03 ERA, opponent batting average of .130 and a 0.79 WHIP after four starts.

He has allowed only 12 hits in 26 innings and in his last starts Wood has allowed only one run in 16 innings while allowing only four hits.

The AL has 24 batters hitting .300 this season while the NL has only 14 players hitting over .300. The AL has nine  players hitting .329 or higher while the NL has only two.

Jose Bautista is leading the majors in home runs with 25 which is three more than any other major league player.

He has hit his 25 home runs in 317 at bats after hitting 13 in 336 at bats in 2009. It arouses suspicion when a player that has hit a home run every 24.7 at bats during his career is hitting a home run every 12.7 at bats in 2010.

Brian McCann who hit the game winning double in the All Star game for the NL hit a grand slam against the Brewers in the 11-6 Braves win while driving in five runs….Ex-Brave Yunel Escobar who traded earlier this week to the Blue Jays hit his first home run of the 2010 season and the first grand slam of his career as the Blue Jays pounded the Orioles 10-1. Only 14,032 attended the game which represented 29.1 percent of capacity.

The Red Sox have been 7-8 since losing Dustin Pedroia and have lost eight of their last 11 games. They were one game behind the first place Yankees and Rays in the AL East a month ago today but now are six and half games behind the first place Yankees.

It looked like the White Sox had a 6-3 win locked up over the Twins when closer Bobby Jenks took the mound for the White Sox in the ninth inning but by the time the smoke had cleared Jenks and reliever Sergio Santos had allowed the Twins to post a 7-6 win after neither pitcher could retire a Twin before the game ended. When they relieve the closer it is not a good sign and it wasn’t for the White Sox yesterday.

The crosstown Cubs fared much better as they pounded Roy Halladay and the Phillies 11-6. Tom Gorzelanny won his third consecutive start since replacing Carlos Zambrano in the Cubs starting rotation.

One of the hottest teams in the majors are the Athletics who with the Cardinals have a five game winning streak and have outscored their opponents 40-15 during the streak. They have moved to within two and a half games of the second place Angels in the AL West.

Kurt Suzuki is the only Athletics player to reach double figures in home runs with 10. Their top RBI man Kevin Kouzmanoff has 47 which 32 behind the league leading Miguel Cabrera with 79.

However the team ERA is 3.83 which is second best in the AL and seventh in the majors. They also lead the AL in shutouts with nine. Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Vin Mazzaro are a combined 22-11. The other six Athletics starters who have started at least one game are a combined 13-21.

Better Baseball Player: John Elway or Michael Jordan?

John Elway and Michael Jordan played minor league baseball with Elway playing before his NFL career and Jordan playing in the middle of his NBA career.

It is evident that John Elway made the right choice when he decided to pursue a career in pro football  even though he had played well in his one minor league season. He was good enough in both sports to pursue a career in either sport but he made the right decision to play only one sport since baseball and football seasons were being played at the same time.

Unlike Deion Sanders who did play both sports it would have been next to impossible for Elway the quarterback of the Broncos to miss practice during the week to play football one day a week.

On the other hand Michael Jordan was not much of a hitter or a fielder in his one minor league season in the middle of a highly successful NBA career. He didn’t hit for average or power but did exhibit speed on the basepaths but was caught stealing too often. If he had played another year Jordan may have developed into a better baseball player but instead he returned to the NBA where he could earn much more money and led the Bulls to their second threepeat.

John Elway played professional baseball only one year before signing with the Denver Broncos and leading the Broncos to back to back Super Bowl wins in 1997 and 1998.

Michael Jordan had already played nine NBA seasons with the Chicago Bulls when he announced his retirement after the death of his father in a senseless interstate rest area murder. He then decided to play baseball in memory of his father who had dreamed of his son being a professional baseball player.

The Bulls had already won three consecutive NBA championships with Jordan before he left the team to play baseball in 1994.

The stats of Elway and Jordan in their one minor league season:

Looking at the stats of Elway and Jordan show that Elway was a much better baseball player than Jordan with Elway hitting  .318 in his only minor league season while stealing 13 bases in 16 attempts.

Elway had a .432 on base percentage, slugged .464 and an OPS of .896. Elway never made an error in the outfield in 77 chances and had eight assists in only 42 games.

Jordan on the other hand hit only .202, had an on base percentage of .289 and slugged .266 with a .566 OPS. Jordan stole a lot of bases with 30 but was caught stealing 18 times.

He was not much of a outfielder having made 11 errors in his only minor league season in 230 chances and had two less assists (6) than Elway in 77 more games.

In summation it is easy to understand why Elway chose football over baseball and Jordan returned to the NBA after playing minor league baseball.

Athletes like to excel in one sport rather than excel in one and be average in the other with the exception of Elway who played well in his only season as a professional baseball player but he played A ball while Michael Jordan played AA ball.

Jordan may have done well when considering he probably had not played on any baseball team for years and to be only two steps from majors in his only season may have been too much too soon for him.

Yankees Best Team at All-Star Break

It is a misnomer to say that the season is half over at the All-Star break with the Angels having played 91 games and have only 71 games left when they return after the midsummer classic. That being said it is time to look at the current division leaders and the teams still contending in those divisions.

AL East

The Yankees have the best record in the majors at the break with a 56-32 record and a .636 winning percentage. The Rays also in the AL East have the next best record with a 54-34 mark and a .614 winning percentage.

Both teams lead the majors in run differential with the Yankees scoring 117 more runs than their opponents while the Rays are scoring 105 more. On the other hand the Pirates are the worst team giving up 194 runs more than they have scored in 2010.

AL Central

The White Sox moved into first place yesterday in the AL Central with a half game lead over the Tigers. On June 8 the White Sox were 24-33 and nine games under .500 but have played 25-5 baseball since then. They will enter the second half with a eight game winning streak and a 9-1 record in their last ten games.

Falling back to third place the Twins have played 6-13 baseball since June 20. They need to address their starting pitching problems before the trading deadline with Carl Pavano and Kevin Slowey having the only winning records among their starters.

Joe Mauer who led the majors in batting with a .365 average in 2009 is hitting .293 this season and is hitting .229 in July. Last season he hit a home run every 18.7 at bats but this season he is homering every 72.5 at bats.

AL West

The financially troubled Rangers have not let those problems affect their play on the field with the largest margin in the majors over the second place Angels who were only a half game behind the Rangers on June 12 but now are four and a half games behind the Rangers.

With the addition of Cliff Lee last week the Rangers should be even stronger after the break. No team in the AL West has a current winning record in their last ten games. The Athletics showed they can contend in the AL West by outscoring the Angels 20-3 in their last two games.

NL East

It was almost a foregone conclusion that the Phillies would be leading the NL East at the break but instead they are in third place and four and a half games behind the Braves. The Mets are four back and a half game ahead of the Phillies and with the return of Carlos Beltran after the break their offenses should be even better.

NL Central

On this date a year ago the Reds were in fifth place in the NL Central and trailing the first place Cardinals by five games. A year later the Reds are holding a slim one game lead over the Cardinals but have lost their last four games. The Cardinals are not playing much better as they and the third place Brewers like the Reds are all 4-6 in their last 10 games.

No NL Central team has a winning record in their last 10 games.

NL West

The Padres lead the Dodgers and Rockies who are tied for second place in the NL West with both teams trailing the Padres by two games. The Padres lead the majors in team ERA with a 3.21 mark and also are holding opponents to the lowest batting average at .237.

AL Wild Card Standings

The Rays are currently leading the Red Sox by three games, the Tigers by five games and the Twins by eight games in the AL wild card standings.

NL Wild Card Standings

There is a tie for the lead in the NL wild card standings with the Dodgers and Rockies tied for the lead and holding a one game lead over the Mets, a game and a half lead over the Phillies and a two game lead over the Giants and Cardinals.

Healthy Hamilton Back on Track

Josh Hamilton is hitting .395 in his last ten games and is leading the AL in batting with a .349 average.

Josh Hamilton only played in 89 games last season due to injuries and hit hit 10 home runs while driving in 54 runs and hitting .268 in 336 at bats.

2010 has been a different story as Hamilton has hit 22 home runs which is one behind the major league leader Jose Bautista with 23. He has also driven in 64 runs and is leading the majors with a .349 batting average.

He is hitting .395 in his last ten games and since May 30 has been hitless twice on June 3 and July 1 hitting safely in 33 of 35 games. June was his best month this season when he hit nine home runs and drove in 31 runs while hitting .454. He had an on base percentage of .482 for the month and slugged at a .815 clip.

Hamilton leads the AL in hitting with a .349 average, leads in hits with 117, is third in doubles with 25 and is second in home runs with 22.

He is fourth in runs batted in with 64, leads in total bases with 212, second in slugging with a .633 mark and is third in OPS at 1.026. He also leads in extra base hits with 49.

The 29 year old Hamilton has hit only 10 less homers than he hit in his 2008 breakthrough season when he hit 32 and drove in 130 runs. projects Hamilton will have 42 home runs and 123 runs batted in by the end of the season and shows hit having 224 hits for the 2010 season.

Around the Diamond

Cliff Lee who was reportedly close to signing with the New York Yankees was sent with reliever Mark Lowe to the Texas Rangers while the Seattle Mariners received first baseman Justin Smoak and three minor leaguers in the deal.

Lee who will be 32 next month will be pitching for his fourth team in the last two seasons. After being traded to the Phillies last season Lee posted a 7-4 record during the regular season and a 4-0 record during the postseason.

He didn’t pitch his first game until April 30 for the Mariners in 2010 and posted an 8-3 record with them before being traded to the Rangers yesterday. He has lost only once May 16 and has won seven of his last eight decisions.

His most remarkable stat this season is his 89 to 6 strikeouts to walk ratio with the six walks being issued in 103 innings. Lee leads the AL in complete games with five.

Lee was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos and included in one of the worst trades ever when they traded Lee, Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips and Lee Stevens for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew. Phillips didn’t hit well for the Indians but is an integral part of the Cincinnati Reds who lead the NL Central but Sizemore and Lee both starred for the Indians.

Stephen Strasburg won his first start since June 13 last night and received some run support from his teammates for a change in the 8-1 win. His two losses this season came in games in which the Nationals failed to score a run….Jayson Nix hit his sixth home run for the Indians after being selected off waivers from the White Sox.  Nix only hit one home run in 49 at bats for the White Sox but has hit six in only 51 at bats for the Indians.

Jake Fox who hit only two home runs for the Athletics earlier this season in 98 at bats has hit three already for the Orioles in only 20 at bats and hit a game winning home run last night in the tenth inning in a come from behind 7-6 win over the Rangers.

Albert Pujols is on track to have his tenth straight season with 30 home runs, 100 RBI and a .300 batting average. However his current .305 batting average could be in jeopardy since he is hitting .258 this month….Adam Wainwright who missed winning 20 games last season by one win won his 13th game of the 2010 season last night.

Mark Buehrle who won only three of his first twelve decisions won for the fifth time in his last six decisions as the White Sox defeated the Royals 8-2. A.J. Pierzynski homered twice and he and Andruw Jones were a combined 5 for 7 and drove in six of the eight White Sox runs. Gordon Beckham continues to struggle for the White Sox hitting .176 in July with three hits in 17 at bats.

Mark Teixeira with a .243 batting average isn’t hitting for average but has hit better in July with a .353 average and is slugging .824 for the month.

Ted Lilly who was 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA in June is 0-2 in July with a 12.19 ERA. After giving up two runs in 13 innings to the last place Mariners and Pirates he has allowed the Reds and Dodgers 16 runs in his last 10 innings.

Carlos Silva and Ryan Dempster have a combined 16-9 record while the other four starters have a combined 13-26 record….The Yankees, Rays, White Sox and Rockies are 8-2 in their last ten games.

The Rays are leading the Red Sox by two games in the AL wild card race while the Rockies and Dodgers are tied for the NL wild card lead with a one game lead over the Mets.

White Sox 21-5 In Last Month

Freddy Garcia has been the most consistent White Sox starter in 2010 with a 9-3 record and has only lost once since April 15 and has won nine of his last ten decisions and a big part of the White Sox turning their season around as they moved into second place in AL Central last night.

The Chicago White Sox were 24-33 a month ago today on June 8 but since then have compiled a 21-5 record. On that date they were nine games under .500 and nine and a half games behind the first place Twins in the AL Central and six games behind the Tigers.

Now a month later the White Sox moved ahead of the Twins last night. While the Twins have played 11-15 baseball since this date a month ago the White Sox have played at a amazing 21-5 clip.

Freddy Garcia (9-3) has pitched well consistently after losing his first two starts of the season. Garcia had to battle Dan Hudson for the fifth spot in the starting rotation in spring training but manager Ozzie Guillen made the right choice by using Garcia as the fifth starter.

Garcia has had 12 quality starts among his 16 starts this season and has not walked more than two batters in any of his last 14 starts.

The White Sox were hitting .225 which was the worst batting average in the majors early in the season but since then have raised their average to .254 which is 23rd in the majors.

They went from April 25 to May 22 without winning more than one game in a row. Then the White Sox reached their low point of the season on June 8 with their 24-33 record.

The turning point of the season was when they defeated the Tigers in the last two games of a three game series and then defeated the Cubs in the first two games of that series for a four game winning streak.

From then on the White Sox the lost to the Cubs the next day but then put together an 11 game winning streak sweeping the Pirates, Nationals and Braves before losing the third game of a series against the Cubs.

Even facing the first and second place Rangers and Angels of the AL West has not slowed down the White Sox with them taking two out of three from the Rangers and they need a win today for a four game sweep over the Angels.

When they return from the All-Star break the White Sox hit the road for a four game series with the Twins but then play the Mariners and Athletics in their next 13 games.

From August 3 to August 19 the White Sox play the Twins and Tigers 13 times in a 17 game stretch. By the end of play on August 19 we should have a good indication of how good this White Sox team can be this season.

With Jake Peavy on the 15 day DL and possibly out for the season it is imperative that the White Sox get some wins out of his spot from either a minor league pitcher or trade for a top notch starter. There is a rumor that Cliff Lee could wind up with the White Sox but with so many teams vying for Lee’s services including the Twins the chances of the White Sox actually winding up with him are slim.

Some of the White Sox hitters who struggled earlier in the season are now starting to hit. Carlos Quentin and Alexei Ramirez are two who have hit well recently. Juan Pierre still has not hit like he has in the past but he has shown some improvement lately.

Paul Konerko and Alex Rios have hit well from the start of the season but Gordon Beckham has struggled from early in the season and can’t seem to get past the .210 mark. Brent Lillibridge hitting .429 and Dayan Viciedo hitting .281 have hit well coming off the bench.

One concern is that three everyday players have an on base percentage under .300. Viciedo has a .281 OBP, A.J. Pierzynski has a .278 mark and Beckham has posted a .272 OBP.

The key to the second half is finding a dependable starter for Peavy’s slot in the starting rotation. Beckham needs to at least get his average back to .250 and start hitting with power so he can move up from the ninth spot in the batting order.

A month ago it looked like the White Sox were not going to be a factor in the AL Central but now it looks like they will be a contender in the division all season.

It remains to be seen if general manager Kenny Williams will make any moves to improve the team before the trading deadline. There have been rumors that the White Sox might trade for Adam Dunn of the Nationals. The question is how many prospects the White Sox are willing to give up for Dunn who may turn out to be a three month rental player.

Dunn who hit three home runs last night would be a huge upgrade at designated hitter over Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay. Dunn leads the NL in extra base hits with 47 and is only one behind the major league leader Miguel Cabrera.

It is a good sign the White Sox have played this well for an entire month and shows they are capable of being in the AL playoffs in October.

Omar Infante Not an All-Star

Omar Infante has been added to NL All Star team despite only playing in 59 games this season and having only nine extra base hits and has not been an everyday player.

NL All-Star manager Charlie Manuel said he was told to include a utility player on the NL roster so he has chosen Omar Infante of the Braves. Infante is a very versatile player who can play all the infield and outfield positions but Infante has one home run and 22 runs batted in this season. He is a good player but he is not an All-Star player.

His teammate Troy Glaus who has hit 14 home runs and drove in 56 runs would have been a much better choice not to mention the NL home run leader Joey Votto who has hit 21 home runs.

It had been my understanding that the NL wanted to win the All-Star game this season but now I am doubtful after seeing Votto have to win a final vote to make the team and a pitcher like Carlos Silva has been left off the squad.

Manuel did what most All-Star managers do picking his own player Ryan Howard over Joey Votto even though Votto was among the NL home runs leaders at the time while Howard was 10th.

Adrian Gonzalez was chosen as a reserve first baseman despite Votto having more home runs, runs batted in and a higher batting average. He should have been on the final vote ballot while Votto should have been on the team to start with.

30 Game Winners Thing of the Past?

Ubaldo Jimenez tries to win his 15th game tonight for the Colorado Rockies against Barry Zito and the San Francisco Giants.

Ubaldo Jimenez has a chance to become the first 30 game winner since Denny McLain won 31 games in 1968. McLain had the advantage of making 41 starts that year while Jimenez will probably have about 35 starts at the end of the 2010 season.

Jack Chesbro won 41 games for the New York Highlanders in 1904 to become the first 40 game winner of the modern era while Ed Walsh won 40 in 1908 for the Chicago White Sox. They were the only pitchers in modern era to win 40 games.

Christy Mathewson won 37 games in 1908 for the New York Giants while Walter Johnson won 36 for the Washington Senators in 1913. Iron Joe McGinnity won 35 games for the 1904 New York Giants.

Other pitchers to win 30 or more games were Smoky Joe Wood with 34 in 1912 for the Boston Red Sox, Grover Cleveland Alexander with 33 in 1916 for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Among others to win 33 games in the modern era were Cy Young in 1901 for the Boston Americans, Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants in 1904 and Walter Johnson in 1912 for the Washington Senators. Cy Young won 32 in 1902 for the Boston Americans.

Seven pitchers have won 31 games in the modern era with three pitchers winning 30 games in a season.

Dizzy Dean was the last pitcher to win 30 games in 1934 for the St. Louis Cardinals. The next 30 win season wasn’t until 1968 when Denny McLain would win 31 games 34 years later.

The closest any pitcher has been  to winning 30 games beside McLain when he won 31 in the last 60 years is Robin Roberts when he won 28 games in 1952 for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Jimenez will have to be almost perfect the rest of the season to win 30 games. It is amazing that Jimenez has won 14 of 16 starts this season with his only loss coming in a game in which he gave up one run and two hits to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He has not been nearly effective lately allowing 16 runs in 32 innings in June for a 4.41 ERA after giving up only four runs in 46 innings in May and a 0.78 ERA and three runs in 34 innings during April for a 0.79 ERA.

There was only one home run hit against Jimenez in his first 80 innings but four have been hit in his last 32 innings. He has been fortunate to have only one no-decision start in 16 starts.

Today’s game is crucial for Jimenez to win if he is to win 30 games in 2010. He is scheduled to make his next start next Friday against the Padres. If he wins both games he will have 16 wins before the All Star game in which he will probably be the starting pitcher for the NL.

After giving up 10 runs and 14 hits in his last two starts it will be interesting to see how well he pitches tonight to see if he can return to his form of April and May.

Around the Diamond

The Red Sox moved to within a half game of the Yankees with their 3-2 win yesterday over the Orioles. The Red Sox have been hit hard by injuries with eight players on the disabled list.

They have lost Dustin Pedroia for an extended time and Jacoby Ellsbury has played in only nine games this season. In the last week they lost both catchers Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek.

Their No.1 starter Josh Beckett hasn’t pitched since May 18 but will make a rehab start next week so should be back for the second half.

Despite all these injuries the Red Sox have won 11 of their last 15 games. Their ability to stay close to the Yankees with so many regulars out of action tells me the Red Sox have an excellent bench.

Pitching has been a key to their success with Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and John Lackey combining for a 28-10 record this season while the injured Beckett and Tim Wakefield have a combined 4-7 record but leading the majors in runs scored with 438 hasn’t hurt their chances of being the AL East champion.

Vladimir Guerrero and Josh Hamilton have been on fire during the 2010 season with Guerrero having 70 RBI and Hamilton having 59. Guerrero is leading the majors in runs batted in with Hamilton being third in the AL.

With the season close to halfway over with some teams already having played their 81st game seven pitchers are on a pace to win 20 games:

Ubaldo Jiminez 14-1

David Price 11-4

Adam Wainwright 11-5

Phil Hughes 10-2

Mike Pelfrey 10-2

C.C. Sabathia 10-3

Clay Buchholz 10-4

Alex Rios with 13 home runs and 22 stolen bases is one of  five players with a chance at a 30-30 season with the others being Shane Victorino with 12 home runs and 17 stolen bases, Chris Young with 15 home runs and 14 stolen bases, David Wright with 14 home runs and 13 stolen bases, Hanley Ramirez with 13 home runs and 15 stolen bases.

Nine AL hitters are hitting .320 or higher while Martin Prado hitting .337 is the only NL player hitting higher than .320…. Paul Konerko, Jose Bautista and Miguel Cabrera are the only major leaguers on track for a 40 home run season.

The Reds have rebounded from losing six of seven games to win nine of their last 11 games….Martin Prado of the Braves who until last season had not played in more than 78 games is leading the majors in hits with 114 which is six more than second place Robinson Cano.

Ichiro Suzuki has 107 hits in 79 games placing him on track to have his tenth consecutive 200 hit season with 2,137 lifetime hits in the majors after having 1,278 hits in Japan for a total of 3,415 professional hits….Roger Bernadina wanted to find a place to hide after getting picked off at second base for the last out by Francisco Rodriguez for the final out in the Mets 5-3 win over the Nationals.

The Phillies lost to an 0-6 pitcher last night when they lost to Ross Ohlendorf and the Pirates 2-0. The Phillies were 26-15 on May 21 but have played 15-22 baseball since then and are in third place in the NL East and five games behind the first place Braves.

Jaime Garcia (8-4) of the Cardinals showed he is still in the running for the NL Rookie of the Year pitching seven scoreless innings against the Brewers in the 5-0 shutout win by the Cardinals….Edwin Jackson didn’t pitch his second consecutive no-hitter but still won his third straight start in a 12-4 win over the Dodgers as Kirk Gibson made his managerial debut for the Diamondbacks.

Mat Latos (9-4) also made a bid for the NL Rookie of the Year with a 3-0 win over the Astros. He hurled eight scoreless innings and has allowed only one run combined over his last three starts encompassing 20 innings.

Jackson Posts Fourth No-Hitter in Less Than Three Months

Edwin Jackson of the Diamondbacks pitched the fourth no-hitter of the 2010 season in the Diamondbacks 74th game of the season.

Edwin Jackson pitched the fourth no-hitter of the 2010 season yesterday defeating the Rays 1-0 on a home run by Adam LaRoche. The 26 year old Jackson in his eighth major league season walked eight batters in the contest but was the beneficiary of three double plays.

He made 149 pitches which is almost unheard of in these days of pitch counts. His no-hitter was the 19th since 1999.  Four of those have come in the first half of the 2010 season and a near no-hitter by Armando Galarraga was lost by an umpire’s call.

Seven no-hitters were thrown during 2000-2005 and eight were thrown between 2006-2009.  In the first year of this decade there are already four in half a season.

Three were thrown in 2001 and 2007 but those were in entire seasons. There are only five hitters in the NL hitting higher than .308 during the 2010 season. 12 NL hitters are hitting between .300 and .308.

In contrast the AL has 14 hitters hitting .308 or higher and has only seven hitting between .300 and .308.

Coming into the 2010 season there had been only six perfect games since 1988 and only two since 1999. Then in less than two months of this season Dallas Braden and Roy Halladay pitched perfect games and Armando Galarrago narrowly missed pitching a perfect game on June 2 which would have been less than two months after the season started.

Hitters are not hitting with the power they have in the past like Alex Rodriguez who hit 54 home runs in 2007 probably due to steroids has only 10 this season with the season almost half over. Albert Pujols led the NL in home runs with 47 in 2009 but only has 15 so far in 2010 and on a pace hit less than 35 home runs this season.

Six AL hitters have more than 15 home runs as of today while the NL has five hitters with more than 15 home runs.

Who would have thought that on July 26 that Jose Bautista with 20 home runs and Corey Hart with 18 would be leading the AL and NL in home runs?

It will be interesting to see if any more no-hitters are pitched during the 2010 season in a year in which the pitchers seem to have the advantage.

Eleven pitchers finished the 2009 season with an ERA under 3.00. This season 22 pitchers have ERA’s under 3.00.

The five lowest ERA’s this season have been posted by NL pitchers. The Dodgers had the lowest ERA of the 2009 season with a 3.41 mark but the Padres lead the majors in 2010 with a 3.03 ERA.

We will see as the 2010 season unravels if this is a first half trend or if the pitchers continue to post good numbers at the expense of the batters.

Strasburg, Jimenez Fail to Win

Stephen Strasburg took his first major league loss in a 1-0 Nationals loss to the Royals despite striking out nine batters in six innings.

Stephen Strasburg lost his major league game in Washington last night despite striking out nine batters. He did allow nine hits to the Royals the best hitting team in the majors but only gave up one run.

The Nationals offense scored 14 runs for Strasburg in his first two starts but have scored one run total over his last two starts. He has not walked a batter in three of his starts. His strikeouts to walks ratio in those three games is 31-0.

Despite having pitched well in his four major league games the Nationals have only won one of those games. The Nationals have drawn 112,553 in home games in which Strasburg started.

He will face Tim Hudson and the Braves in his next start on Monday at 7:10 ET on ESPN2.

Jimenez Pitches Worst Game, Rockies Win on Giambi Homer

Ubaldo Jimenez pitched his worst game of the season a day after going home sick before the Tuesday game. The Rockies staked Jimenez to an early 4-0 after three innings. But the Red Sox countered with two runs in the fourth and two in the sixth to give them a 6-5 lead.

Daniel Nava who had hit a grand slam in his first major league at bat earlier this season showed that he can hit well at the major league level with two doubles off the best pitcher in the majors raising his batting average to .382 while driving in three runs. Darnell McDonald drove in two runs with a home run in the sixth inning to give the Red Sox a 6-5 lead. Marco Scutaro drove in the other run in a game in which the 3-4-5 hitters drove in no runs.

Ian Stewart and Jason Giambi hit ninth inning home runs off of Jonathan Paplebon to give the Rockies a 8-6 come from behind win.

Around the Diamond

Kerry Wood blew his third save in eight chances giving up a ninth inning walkoff two run homer to Jimmy Rollins that gave the Phillies a 7-6 victory. Wood finished the game with a 7.98 ERA….The Marlins won their first game since Fredi Gonzalez was fired yesterday with a 7-5 win over the Orioles. The win moved them to six and a half games behind the first place Braves in the NL East.

Adam LaRoche drove in all five runs for the Diamondbacks but the Yankees won the game 6-5 on a tenth inning home run by Curtis Granderson….Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is 6-0 after pitching eight shutout innings for the Mets in their 5-0 win over the Tigers and his sixth consecutive win. He had only one winning season back in 2003 for the Rangers with a 9-8 record in his eight major league seasons but he has finally mastered the knuckleball this season.

Chris Carpenter (9-1) had won 51 games in his first three seasons with the Cardinals but has only posted 26 wins in the last four seasons including the 2010 season. He showed again yesterday he is back after defeating the Blue Jays 1-0….The Rangers won their tenth game in a row with a 13-3 pasting of the Pirates behind a 17 hit attack that moved them three and a half games ahead of the Angels in the AL West.

Carlos Quentin led the White Sox to their eighth consecutive win with two home runs and three runs batted in giving him three home runs and six runs batted in the first two games of the series with the Braves. Mark Buehrle took the 4-2 win while posting his third straight win. The win moved the White Sox to within two games of the Tigers and three and a half games of the first place Twins in the AL Central. They are 13-2 in their last 15 games.

Cliff Lee (6-3) scattered nine hits in a complete game win by the Mariners over the Cubs with a 8-1 victory. Lee continued his pinpoint control with no walks giving him a total of four walks with 76 strikeouts. He has walked a batter in only three of his 11 starts.

The Cubs are now tied for third place with the Brewers  and haven’t had a winning record all season. Randy Wells was 3-0 on April 30 but hasn’t won since then and is now 3-6.

Ichiro Suzuki with 98 hits is on track to have another 200 hit season with ten games remaining to his 81st game of the season. He has been very consistent this season with a .344 average in April, a .336 average in May and a .333 average in June with a .338 average for the season.

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