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The Baseball Notebook


May 9, 2010 8:29 PM

Dallas Is Dynamite

It’s understandable, although not entirely fair, that Dallas Braden is known for more for his April 22 confrontation with A-Rod during an A’s-Yankees game than he is for his pitching. Even today, as the Oakland starter throws a perfect game against the Rays, the media reports of it are laced with references to the Yankee third baseman and his reaction. You can read the soap opera parts of it elsewhere. Here, we’ll talk about what Dallas Braden should be known for, and that’s being one of the rising pitching stars in the game. Last season, in his first full year as a starter, he posted a 3.86 ERA in over 170 innings of work. This season, including today, six of his seven outings have been quality starts. He’s beaten New York, Texas and Tampa Bay, three teams would be in the playoffs if the season ended today and are known to be able to hit a little. And to throw a perfecto against a fearsome Rays lineup that had been battering everything in sight is nothing short of amazing. Dallas Braden can pitch, period. The young righthander’s perfect game was the highlight of a good week for his team, as Oakland took 2 of 3 from both Texas and Tampa, and are a game back of the Rangers in the West.

Braden is the star of the week, while the performances of the Brewers and Yankees highlight the team category. Milwaukee was facing a do-or-die trip out west and they met the challenge, winning five of six against Los Angeles and Arizona. The Brewers did it by unleashing their bats, hitting double-digit runs three times and a familiar face leading the way. Ryan Braun dominated all week long, and Rickie Weeks was a sparkplug in getting on base.

New York’s success was led by more unfamiliar faces. As Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano slumped, and Mariano Rivera missed some time with a nagging injury, the lesser known lights from the Bronx stepped up. Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, Randy Winn and Francsico Cervelli all had good weeks, as the Yanks swept the Orioles and are aiming to do the same to the Red Sox as the Sunday night game gets ready to start from Fenway. Joba Chamberlain ably filled in for Rivera, closing two games and throwing 3 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball. There is much ink devoted—including here—to pointing out the advantages of the Yankee payroll and star acquisition, so it’s only fair to note when they have success thanks to low-cost niche players.

Elsewhere…

*Fred Lewis led the way for Toronto this week, banging five doubles and helping the Jays go 5-1 against the Indians and White Sox.

*Cincinnati stayed on the heels of St. Louis, with a big week and taking two of three from both the Mets & Cubs. Chicago continues to underachieve, having also been swept by the Pirates.

*How about those Nats? Washington continues to churn along, going 4-2 in taking series from NL East rivals Atlanta and Florida.

*Boston is nothing if not streaky. In my post on Monday, I said they needed to have a winning week in a key stretch against the Angels and Yanks. A four-game sweep of LAA ensured that, but 4-3 takes on a much more negative note if they are swept tonight by one of the teams they need to catch.

*And the Kansas City watch continues. Five weeks into the year, the Royals are the only team still waiting to win their first series.

See you Monday afternoon to look ahead to Week 6.

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