Sunday, April 25, 2010

Of Chasing Wins & Anemic Offenses

More of the same headlines keep rolling by since 2007 . . . Chad Billingsley finds life in his fastball, but the Los Angeles Dodgers, with their "B" lineup, fail to score a single run . . . Matt Cain pitches well enough to win, but San Francisco Gaints fail to score a single run . . .

Even if Billingsley could have prevented the lone run scored in the game during the bottom of the first inning, notching that elusive win would have been impossible. The Dodgers were not at all interested in scoring any runs, as demonstrated right off the bat in the top of the first when they had the bases loaded with just one out: Casey Blake failed to make contact and struck out swinging, then Ronny Belliard's attempt at a granny fell short.

Despite the obvious blues of lack of run support, it was encouraging to see Billingsley weasel out of the no-out mess he made in the bottom of the first when he gave up a single to Nyjer Morgan then walked Adam Kennedy on four straight pitches. Instead of imploding completely like in Cincinnati, he got three outs without giving up more than a single run, thanks in part to a great play by Belliard, who prevented Adam Dunn's sharp RBI grounder from cruising into the outfield.

In addition, as the game progressed, Billingsley's velocity crept up, the fastball rising from the low-90s to the mid-90s.

Encouraged by the turn-around performance by Billingsley, I went ahead and plugged in Cain, also citing that the St. Louis Cardinals' offense has been scuffling (they made Barry Zito* look like the Barry Zito of early 2000s, after getting shutdown by Tim Lincecum).

I fully expected Albert Pujols to have Cain's number. But I didn't fully expect the Gaints to get shutout by Brad Penny. Penny's been very solid this year as a Cardinal, and clearly Dave Duncan keeps working his magic, but clearly, I was hoping for more than zero runs from the Gaints bats.

Once again, I have to not only tell myself, but also find a way to stop chasing wins. Be ready to eat the sporadic stellar start on the bench and get gunshy about throwing every starter into the pot.

* Yes, but just in case Zito has summoned up his own personal Hot Tub Time Machine, I snagged him up from the free agency lot.

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