1. If you thought Mark Redman wasn’t an All Star…: Jose Canseco’s All Star appearance was 1 for 2. While he did win the home run derby in the Golden Baseball League All Star extravaganza, his pitching was awful even by independent league standards. He allowed 4 runs while recording just one out; his knuckleball evidently not working. Canseco had pitched in the majors before in a blowout situation. In that appearance he allowed 3 runs while throwing almost double the amount of balls than strikes. He also tore a ligament in his elbow, ending his season. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to let a power hitter like Canseco pitch.
2. Young pitchers rule, Part 1: Where would the Red Sox be without their rookie pitchers? We’re talking about Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon, who have both been lights-out in their action so far this year. They were showcased more than ever yesterday, when they combined to one-hit the Kansas City Royals. Lester pitched 8 near-perfect innings for the victory, while Papelbon cleaned up with his 28th save. Combine those saves with Lester’s 5-0 record and Papelbon’s 2-1 record, and that means that these two pitchers have been a part of a combined 35 Red Sox victories. They are both a part of one of the most intriguing stories in baseball this year–the AL’s rookie pitchers.
3. Young pitchers rule, Part II: Many have already conceded the AL rookie of the year award to Papelbon. While he is very deserving, you cannot have that discussion without mentioning Francisco Liriano. Liriano bounced back from his worst start of the season last week with a shutdown of the Devil Rays yesterday. He was one out short of a complete game and allowed no runs and 3 hits. Liriano outdeuled another young stud, Scott Kazmir, who allowed 4 runs in 6 innings. Now Liriano is first in the majors in both ERA (1.94) and WHIP (.95) among starters. He has held opponents to just a .196 batting average and has more strikeouts (115) than innings pitched (102.0). How could you not give this guy some love for ROTY? With him and Johan Santana, the Twins will have two excellent starters for a long time.
4. Belting Beltran: Carlos Beltran accomplished a very special feat yesterday. For the second game in a row, Beltran hit a grand slam, becoming only the 23rd player ever to do that and the first since 2002. Even more interestingly, prior to the slams he was 0-11 with the bases loaded in the last 2 seasons. Beltran, who was considered a bust last year with a mere 16 homers and 78 RBIs, is on pace for 50 and 144 this year. His OPS has increased from .744 to 1.002, and he is slugging 200 points higher. This is the player the Mets expected when they signed him to a $13 million/season contract two years ago, and that contact is now worth every penny. If it wasn’t for Albert Pujols, Beltran would be considered an MVP favorite.
5. White Sox would have an even record against each other this year since they are the top two teams in baseball. But so far, the #2 White Sox have dominated their Detroit rivals. Last night was no different, as Chicago won 7-1 to improve to 6-1 on the year against the Tigers. Jon Garland, who has been one of the most inconsistent pitchers in the majors this year, had one of his better games. Garland allowed one run over 7, and his offense gave him plenty of support. Paul Konerko homered twice and drove in 4 runs, and Joe Crede hit another homer, his 18th. For the losing Tigers, Nate Robinson had one of his worst games, allowing 6 earned runs. These two teams will become very familiar with each other over the next few months. They play 12 more times, including games today and tomorrow that will both be on ESPN.