June 27, 2010
I thought I'd use the subject line of an email sent to me this afternoon from colleague Scott Pianowski as the title for this CT because, well … I guess it's kind of self-explanatory. Heilman did, in fact, convert a precarious save opportunity in Tampa, closing out a 2-1 lead in the ninth. But despite a pretty tidy stat line, this was a classic Hatchet job – as in Molly Hatchet's "Flirtin' with Disaster."
Carlos Pena(notes) led off the bottom of the ninth by sending a towering fly ball to the opposite field, landing in Gerardo Parra's(notes) glove at the warning track. Next up, Ben Zobrist(notes) was on Heilman's first pitch, smashing a bat-busting line drive foul down the first base line. He wound up hitting a fairly deep line drive to centerfield for out No. 2. Then after Matt Joyce(notes) drew a walk, B.J. Upton(notes) stepped to the plate and launched a fly ball to the deepest part of the park, with centerfielder Chris Young hauling it in with his shoulder pressed up against the wall, more than 400 feet from home plate.
It's really hard to get behind Heilman given his pedestrian arsenal. And this year, he's been an extreme fly ball pitcher. The combination of the two was nearly his undoing against the Rays, but he managed to escape without a run allowed for the first time in his past four outings.
Rookie Sam Demel(notes) gave up two hits in two-thirds of an inning on Saturday, allowing all three of the runners inherited from starter Ian Kennedy(notes) to score. And that effort was, no doubt, a bump in the road on his drive to land the closer role. But the team already is at the point where it has nothing to lose, and Heilman is so clearly not cut from closer's cloth. As Andy Behrens suggested last Thursday, Demel's odds of acquiring ninth inning duties sometime soon still look marvelous.
• Tampa Bay starter Wade Davis(notes) was the loser against Arizona on Sunday, giving him a mark of 0-5 in June. But he pitched pretty well against the Diamondbacks in allowing just two earned runs in 7.1 IP – only the third time this season he's reached the seven-inning mark. For those on the Jeremy Hellickson(notes) watch – 97 K, 2.19 ERA in 94.2 IP for Triple-A Durham – this latest Davis loss isn't much help for Hellickson's cause.
• While it definitely ranked as an undercard confrontation compared to Carlos Zambrano and Derrek Lee, third baseman Evan Longoria(notes) and centerfielder B.J. Upton did get up close and personal in the Rays' dugout after Longoria questioned Upton's positioning and effort in fielding of a fifth-inning a triple in the left-center gap by Arizona's Rusty Ryal(notes). Longoria was not alone in his assessment. Said manager Joe Maddon, "He just did not run as hard as he possibly could have after the ball, that was obvious. That one there just didn't have a good look to it."
• Padres relievers Heath Bell(notes) and Mike Adams(notes) pitched back-to-back games to open the weekend series (sweep) at Florida, which explains why Luke Gregerson(notes) – he of the now 51:4 K-to-BB ratio – picked up his first save of the season on Sunday. Gregerson's slider has been one of the most effective pitches in all of baseball this season, and his fastball has returned very favorable results, as well. It's too close to call between Gregerson and Adams as to who would inherit the closer role if Bell were to be traded. But, with the Padres leading the NL West, they're unlikely to be sellers on the trade market. And among contenders, there's little closer need anyways. In fact, if I was a team looking for extra relief help, I'd probably be asking for Mike Adams, who surely has a cheaper market price than Bell and is also working on a one-year deal.
• A week ago, Will Venable(notes) was probably doing the backstroke in your league's waiver pool – he was in our 14-team Yahoo! Friends and Family League. Seven games, four home runs and 12 RBIs later, he's one of the hottest pickups among outfielders in fantasy. Venable's recent power surge ended a 45-game homerless drought and, while he says he's still a work in progress, it appears that the adjustments Venable has been working on at the plate are starting to pay off. Manager Bud Black backs that up:
"We've talked about some of the adjustments in his stance, where his hands are in the setup. It's a continual adjustment period. You see he's doing some [good] things."
• Tommy Hanson(notes) was shelled for the second straight start, this time serving up batting practice to the Tigers. Hanson has lasted just 3.2 IP each of his past two outings, allowing a combined 14 earned runs, including five on Sunday to Detroit. After starting the season with a 2.30 ERA through his first seven starts, Hanson has allowed five earned runs or more in four of his past nine outings. You start to wonder if there is an underlying health issue when someone with Hanson's skills starts struggling so much. But Sunday seemed to be more about bad luck, bad fielding and an inconsistent breaking ball.
Said manager Bobby Cox, "He left his breaking ball up. He had a great breaking ball at times, and a bad one at times."
Quick hits: Boston's Victor Martinez(notes) (thumb fracture) and Clay Buchholz(notes) (knee) are both hurting at the moment, but it sounds like Buccholz may be able to make his next start while V-Mart, who has taken several foul balls off his thumb this season, is hoping for a day-to-day designation. … Lastings Milledge(notes) hit his first home run of the season off Oakland's Gio Gonzalez(notes), continuing a torrid June in which he's hitting above .350. … Brennan Boesch(notes) hit his eighth home run of June off Atlanta reliever Cristhian Martínez. But Colby Rasmus(notes) has done him one better, smashing his ninth home run of June off K.C. reliever Blake Wood(notes). … Jaime Garcia's(notes) ERA ballooned all the way up to 2.27 after allowing 5 ER in 2.0 IP to the Royals. That he didn't have his best stuff or command was pretty obvious if you happened to be watching. It was the first time he has allowed more than three earned in a start this season. … Despite striking out a career-high 12 hitters in six innings, Colorado's Jhoulys Chacin(notes) took the loss against the Angels, allowing five runs (only two earned). He's struck out eight-plus in three of his past five outings. … Here's your Shin-Soo Choo(notes), Tyler Colvin(notes), Brandon Wood(notes), Ike Davis(notes), Roger Bernadina(notes), Austin Jackson(notes) and Jonathon Niese(notes) mentions, just to eliminate about 80 percent of the "What about (insert player name here)?" exclamations in the comments section … I wonder what goes through a player's head (in this instance, Lyle Overbay(notes)) in those quiet moments alone following a game in which Jamie Moyer(notes) struck you out twice?
Alright, that's about all the lipstick I can put on this pig – you have to admit, Sunday fell short in the drama department. I'll pick up any scraps in my weekly MLB skinny tomorrow. Until then, the floor is all yours …
---Photos via AP