September 09, 2011
Nine innings and nine items to get you going. Ladies and gentleman of the Stew, take a sip of morning Juice.
1. By the ginger beard of Zeus!: Arizona's Ian Kennedy(notes) struck out 11 in a 4-1 victory against San Diego on Thursday night. The win extended the D-backs lead in the NL West to 7 1/2 games with fewer than three weeks to go in the regular season. Kennedy has had a wonderful breakthrough year after coming up as a prospect with the Yankees, with whom expectations easily got ridiculous. But he's flowering out in the desert, to the point that a subtle push is underway to put him in the conversation for NL Cy Young.
Though his 2.90 ERA is higher than some of the other contenders, his teammates certainly think he should be in the discussion when it comes to the NL Cy Young Award.
"He's been great all year," third baseman Ryan Roberts(notes) said. "In my eyes, he's the most underrated. I don't see him talked about a lot. You see the Roy Halladay(notes) and Cliff Lee(notes) stories a lot, but you never hear about him. If you come see the guy pitch ... I don't know why he's not being talked about a lot. The guy's been phenomenal all year."
2. Where's he rank?: Not only does Kennedy rank ninth in the league with that ERA, he ranks fifth in the NL West in ERA. His fielding independent pitching isn't even best on his own team (Daniel Hudson(notes)). If you want to get theoretical, his xFIP (that's his FIP plus his X-Files) is 14th in the NL. His fWAR (and who hasn't said "fWAR" lo these 10 years or so?) is tied for ninth at 4.2 And Halladay has earned the most among pitchers at 7.4. Lee's third at 5.9. That's part of why we only hear about them.
3. No statue for you!: More egregious things have happened come awards time — like when "Driving Miss Daisy" won Best Picture at the Oscars — but Kennedy as Cy Young does not add up. He's got 19 wins to lead the NL, but nobody will ever be able to explain why we assign decisions to pitchers as though the game were played 1 on 9. He's been good — very good — but not worthy of the most prestigious pitching award. He's, like, the 10th best pitcher in the NL.
4. No whomever? No problem!: The Phillies lineup lacked Ryan Howard(notes), Chase Utley(notes) and Jimmy Rollins(notes), yet it still pounded 12 hits in a 7-2 victory at Milwaukee. Cole Hamels(notes) marginalized the Brewers by allowing a pair of solo homers.
5. Also-ran Bowl: The White Sox and Indians were locked in a lovely pitchers duel until the seventh, when Chicago had a seven-run spasm — a three-run homer by Brent Morel(notes), and then a grand slam by Paul Konerko(notes) — to key an 8-1 victory. Winner of this series gets a clear edge on second place in the AL Central.
6. Groundhogs have their day: Didn't the Orioles just beat the Yankees 5-4 in 10 innings the other day, too? Oh, it was 11 innings. Whichever, these teams will play each other every day the rest of the regular season, alternating between Camden Yards and Yankee Stadium, until driven mad.
7. Hope flickers in Boston: The Red Sox fell at Toronto 7-4, and dropped three out of four in Canada. The Yankees are slipping away! What will the Red Sox do? Oh, yes. The wild card.
9. Splitting: The Dodgers beat the Nationals 7-4 in the first game of a doubleheader, but the second game was rained out, which means we all win!