RAmazin'Friday, September 28, 2012
Wins have become increasingly secondary when it comes to evaluating pitchers -- see Zack Greinke (2009) and Felix Hernandez (2010) for two prominent recent examples -- but there's still something pretty cool about a 20-win season. Especially when there's an inspirational story behind it.
R.A. Dickey notched his 20th victory of the season Thursday against the Pirates by allowing three runs over 7 2/3 innings while tying a career-high with 13 strikeouts. The Mets fell behind early, but eventually pulled away thanks a four-run fifth inning, the big blow of which was a go-ahead three-run homer by David Wright. Jon Rauch made things interesting in the top of the ninth inning by giving up a two-run homer to Alex Presley, but Bobby Parnell was able to get the final two outs to lock down the 6-5 win and send the fans home happy in the Citi Field finale.
Dickey is the first Mets pitcher to amass 20 wins in a season since Frank Viola in 1990 and the first knuckleballer to do it since Joe Niekro with the Astros in 1980. The unlikely Cy Young candidate fell behind Clayton Kershaw for the NL ERA lead (2.68 to 2.69) with Thursday's outing, but still ranks first in the National League in strikeouts (222), innings pitched (227 2/3), shutouts (three) and complete games (five). Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez survived a shaky first inning Thursday night against the Phillies to get his major-league leading 21st victory of the season, but it's hard to not call Dickey the favorite for the hardware right now.
Scherzer Shut Down
The Tigers currently hold a two-game lead over the White Sox in the American League Central with six games to play, but there's cause for concern for one of their most important arms.
After he had his scheduled start skipped last week due to shoulder fatigue, Max Scherzer returned on Sunday against the Twins and allowed three runs over five innings. However, the Tigers have decided to scratch him from Friday's start against the Twins after he felt some discomfort during a side session Tuesday. The injury is being described as a deltoid strain, but he won't pick up a ball again until he feels completely healthy.
Scherzer has taken a major step forward this season, posting a 3.82 ERA and 228/58 K/BB ratio over 183 2/3 innings, so it would be a tough blow for the Tigers if he can't contribute the rest of the way. Drew Smyly will take his spot in the rotation for now.
We usually don't see a ton of activity on the manager front until at least the day after the regular season, but some teams are working ahead of schedule this year. The Astros hired Nationals third base coach Bo Porter as their new manager on Thursday while the Indians fired Manny Acta as manager after three seasons on the job.
Porter, a Houston resident, is well-regarded around the game and previously interviewed for manager jobs with the Marlins and Pirates. Some have speculated that the Astros may have accelerated the process because they were concerned the Marlins would fire Ozzie Guillen and go after Porter. Either way, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow got his man. Porter figures to have a pretty long leash with a rebuilding club which is making the switch to the American League West next year.
As for Acta, he got the ax after compiling a 214-266 record (.446) over nearly three full seasons as Indians skipper. Sandy Alomar, Jr. will handle the job on an interim basis and is considered a favorite for the full-time gig. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is hearing that former Red Sox manager Terry Francona has already had "preliminary contact" with the club, but he also wonders whether the Indians will be able to offer him enough money to convince him to leave his broadcasting job at ESPN.
NL Quick Hits: Clayton Kershaw (hip) is still scheduled to start Friday against the Rockies … Andrew McCutchen left Thursday's game against the Mets with left knee pain … Giancarlo Stanton (intercostal strain) isn't expected to return until at least Saturday … Michael Bourn remains day-to-day after an MRI revealed a slight sprain of his left thumb … Michael Morse homered twice and drove in four runs Thursday in a win over the Phillies … Dexter Fowler (wrist) will likely miss the rest of the season … Troy Tulowitzki (groin) is scheduled to begin playing in instructional league games on Sunday and could join the Rockies for the final couple games of the regular season … Tommy Hanson got his 13th win Thursday vs. the Marlins, but hasn't completed six innings in a start since August 17 … John Axford blew his first save since August 10 on Thursday in a crushing loss to the Reds … Chris Capuano gave up one run over 5 1/3 innings Thursday against the Padres for his 12th win of the season, despite walking four and striking out just two … Anthony Rizzo went 3-for-3 with his 15th homer Thursday in a loss to the Rockies … Giants manager Bruce Bochy confirmed Thursday that Melky Cabrera will not be on the team's postseason roster … Darin Ruf went 2-for-4 with a three-run double Thursday in a loss to the Nationals … Wily Peralta left Thursday's start against the Reds with right biceps tightness and is questionable to pitch again this year … Adam Greenberg, who was hit in the head during his lone MLB plate appearance back in 2005, signed a one-day contract with the Marlins on Thursday and will get an at-bat next Tuesday against the Mets …
AL Quick Hits: Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Thursday that Albert Pujols is currently dealing with leg issues … Evan Longoria hit a go-ahead solo home run in the ninth inning Thursday against the White Sox to lead the Rays to their eighth straight win … Yu Darvish (neck) felt fine after playing long toss Thursday and is currently lined up to start Sunday against the Angels … Alex Rodriguez (foot) went 0-for-2 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch Thursday in his return to action … Brandon Morrow tossed seven shutout innings Thursday night in a win over the Yankees … Mark Teixeira (calf) took seven at-bats and played one inning in the field Thursday in a simulated game … Mike Napoli homered and drove in three runs Thursday in a win over the Athletics … Josh Reddick snapped an 0-for-28 hitless streak Thursday with a pair of home runs … Doug Fister set an AL record in Thursday's start against the Royals by striking out nine straight batters … Eric Hosmer and Alcides Escobar both left Thursday's game with shoulder strains. While Hosmer may have to rest for a couple days, Escobar expects to play Friday … John Danks (shoulder surgery) should be able to start throwing by November 1 … The Yankees could carry Brett Gardner (elbow) on their postseason roster … Franklin Gutierrez left Thursday's game against the Angels due to dizziness after crashing into the outfield wall while making a catch, but expects to be ready to play Friday … The Red Sox named Jason Varitek as a special assistant to the general manager … Jason Isringhausen is leaning toward retirement …