Adrian Gauthier/Icon SMI
Saturday's game was a prime example of why Roy Halladay ends up pitching more complete games than any other pitcher in baseball. Anytime he leaves it up to the bullpen to finish out what he started, the whole stadium suffers a collective heart attack.
Halladay had another terrific day, allowing only one run over seven innings, striking out seven hitters and walking only one. The only blemish was the run that scored when Grady Sizemore managed to smack a double in the fifth inning with a man on. With the score 5-1, manager Cito Gaston, who has pledged to not overwork Halladay this season, turned the game over to Scott Downs in the eighth.
Though he did allow a hit to Shin-Soo Choo, Downs did his job, retiring the side without allowing a run, and passed the ball over to closer B.J. Ryan to start the ninth. That's where the story turns sour. Ryan walked Ryan Garko, but when Kelly Shoppach grounded into a double play, it appeared like no big deal. But then Ben Francisco singled, and Ryan walked Sizemore and walked Asdrubal Cabrera. Then he allowed a bases-clearing double to Mark DeRosa, who was 0-for-4 on the day and 1-21 on the season. That's not "closer" material, B.J.
Jason Frasor came in and struck out Victor Martinez to end the game and earn the Blue Jays' first save of the season and while the likelihood is that the job would go to Downs before Frasor, the fact we're even discussing bullpen issues after the Blue Jays' 5-1 start boggles the mind. It's a testament to just how awful B.J. Ryan has been with one blown save and a 21.60 ERA in only two appearances thus far, and at this rate, there may not be too many more for Ryan; at least not when it counts.
• Jason Motte of the Cardinals also had a rough start to his closer career, but Tony La Russa hasn't ruled out the possibility of him returning to the role at some point this season. However, he's going to have to ease into it. Motte struck out two Astros on Saturday in a scoreless inning of work. Now, that inning was the sixth and not the ninth, but it was a step in the right direction.
• In other closer news, Fernando Rodney certainly has been doing things right since being given the job in Detroit. Rodney earned his first save in his first chance for the Tigers, striking out all three Rangers he faced. With Brandon Lyon struggling early, Rodney is probably more secure than most relievers who have a "second closer" sitting next to them in the bullpen, itching for a chance to take over
• like, say, in Chicago, where Carlos Marmol, the "loser" of the preseason closer competition nonetheless got the call after Kevin Gregg failed to close out Friday's contest. Marmol struck out Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder to close out the Cubs' victory over Milwaukee. However, Lou Piniella was adamant that this changes nothing. "I said when the season started there'd be save situations for both of them,'' Piniella told the Chicago Sun-Times. ''Believe me, the same situation comes up tomorrow, Gregg's in there.''
• Roy Oswalt is 0-2 for the second straight season after the Cardinals tagged him for six runs in six innings on Saturday. Oswalt told the Houston Chronicle that he blames himself for the poor start or does he? You be the judge. "I did the same thing last year, first two games. We didn't do well offensively and I was trying to be too fine and not give up one or two runs instead of just pitch." The Astros do rank last in the National League in runs scored, so maybe Roy has a point.
• Happy Birthday, Mark Teixeira and get well soon, too. Tex celebrated his birthday by sitting on the bench for the Yankees, as his sore left wrist caused him to miss his first game of the year. "I've never had anything like this before in my life," Teixeira told the New York Daily News. "It's just frustrating that something like this is going to keep me out of the starting lineup." Teixeira is listed as day-to-day and Joe Girardi had originally planned to put his first baseman back in the lineup Sunday, but the injury will instead keep him out of today's action.
• Wladimir Balentien left Saturday's game in the sixth inning with a sprained right wrist; he suffered the injury earlier in the game, trying to make a diving catch on a ball hit by Orlando Cabrera that went for a double. With Ichiro Suzuki nearly ready to return, this could make the pending roster decision a lot easier for the Mariners, should Balentien's injury linger.
• Jason Jaramillo was supposed to make his major league debut behind the plate for the Pirates on Saturday but after Friday's rainout, Ryan Doumit didn't want to take the day off. Good thing for Doumit's fantasy owners that manager John Russell relented, as Doumit went 3-for-5 including a grand slam in the Pirates' blowout victory. As for Jaramillo, his debut will come eventually but probably not until Doumit cools off a bit.
• Was that the same pitcher who had a 6.05 ERA last year? Livan Hernandez dazzled in his Mets debut, taking a scoreless effort into the seventh before eventually tiring a bit as his pitch count approached the century mark. Hernandez stopped the Mets' two-game losing streak, allowing only two runs to the previously undefeated Marlins.
• Alex Gordon was hit on the elbow by a CC Sabathia pitch early on, but it was tightness in his hip suffered while running hard to first base in a failed effort to avoid a double play that caused him to be pulled from Saturday's game against the Yankees. "[Manager Trey Hillman] saw me limping and he asked me about it, and I told him it was tight so he decided to shut me down," Gordon said on the team's official Web site. "It just kind of tightened up today." Gordon is listed as day-to-day. Mark Teahen replaced Gordon at third base, giving the second baseman-outfielder even more positional flexibility in leagues with one-game eligibility.
• If you see Jake Peavy on the hill, start Henry Blanco. Peavy's "personal catcher" went 3-for-4 with a pair of solo homers in the Padres' 6-3 win over the Giants on Saturday. More importantly, Peavy feels very comfortable with Blanco as a catcher, which was very apparent from his 10-strikeout performance in the win and he told reporters after the game that Blanco is "as good as anybody I've been with about getting in the game and doing what we talked about." Nick Hundley may continue to split time with Blanco, at least for now, but probably not when Peavy pitches, so be sure to adjust your lineups accordingly.
Albert Pujols, Cardinals
Two home runs and seven RBIs? Yes, it was the kind of Saturday we've come to expect from Albert. Yet, that doesn't make his .429 average to start the season any less impressive. Triple Crown anyone?
Paul Maholm, Pirates
Maholm pitched well on the road like he usually does -- only seven earned runs allowed in his past five road starts -- and finally got enough run support to nab a victory. He retired the first 11 Reds he faced, and finished with seven innings of three-hit ball in Pittsburgh's 10-2 win.
15.5: Even before Saturday's game against the Red Sox, in which Mike Napoli went 3-for-3 with two solo home runs, Napoli's career home runs per at-bat number was 15.5, which would be the best for any catcher in major league history.
• Jose Guillen was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a groin injury, but the team expects him to be able to return on April 25, the first day he is eligible to do so. The move seems to be nothing more than precautionary, especially with all the cold weather games that accompany the April schedule.
• Cleveland Indians' lefty starter Scott Lewis was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left elbow strain. Lewis had given up four runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays on Friday.
• Click here for all the latest MLB transactions.
Brendan Roberts: I have no concern. The type of hitter Alexei is (a la, a free swinger), those guys tend to be streaky hitters, and this is just a bad streak. I'll admit the batting 8th does bother me (especially when I see Chris Getz and Dewayne Wise leading off), but I wouldn't downgrade Ramirez.
-- Full chat transcript
James Quintong: At $1, that's a great buy for Morgan, even if he only holds the job temporarily. He can be a decent player this year, and should be motivated knowing McCutchen is looming.
-- Full chat transcript
Monday's fantasy chat schedule:
Christopher Harris, 11 a.m. ET
Matthew Berry, 3 p.m. ET
• Pitching in a rehab assignment for Class-A Lakeland, Joel Zumaya showed he's going to need a lot more time to work on his control. Zumaya allowed two runs (one earned) in one inning of work, while walking two batters Saturday. That's not the kind of performance that will entice the Tigers to bring him back to the majors.
• Aaron Harang has a better winning percentage (.632) in April than any other month of the season and has had more success against the Pirates (11-5 career) than versus any other opponent.
• Watch out for Xavier Nady on Sunday. The X-Man is a regular wolverine against Gil Meche, with a 1.143 slugging percentage to prove it.