Tag:Cory Luebke
Posted on: March 8, 2012 11:27 pm
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Spring primer: San Diego Padres

Bud Black

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Padres' offseason was dominated by their trade with the Reds -- sending starter Mat Latos to Cincinnati for four players, including projected starting first baseman Yonder Alonso and former All-Star Edinson Volquez. In an attempt to find more offense, the Padres also added Carlos Quentin in a deal with the White Sox. The Padres know their problem is scoring runs, and now it's just trying to figure out how to get it.

Major additions: OF Carlos Quentin, 1B Yonder Alonso, RHP Edinson Volquez
Major departures: CL Heath Bell, RHP Mat Latos, 1B Anthony Rizzo, LHP Wade LeBlanc, RHP Aaron Harang

Probable lineup
1. Will Venable RF
2. Chase Headley 3B
3. Cameron Maybin CF
4. Carlos Quentin LF
5. Yonder Alonso 1B
6. Nick Hundley C
7. Orlando Hudson 2B
8. Jason Bartlett SS

Probable rotation
1. Tim Stauffer
2. Clayton Richard
3. Edinson Volquez
4. Cory Luebke
5. Dustin Moseley

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Huston Street
Set-up: Luke Gregerson, Andrew Cashner, Joe Thatcher

Important bench players
OF Chris Denorfia, 1B Jesus Guzman, C John Baker, RP/PH Micah Owings

Prospects to watch
While the Latos trade is one that will be referenced throughout the season, the team could ultimately benefit more from last season's traded that sent reliever Mike Adams to Texas in return for right-hander Joe Wieland and left-hander Robbie Erlin. Both Wieland and Erlin are control pitchers with flyball tendencies that will benefit from the trade. Both starters project to benefit from pitching half their games at spacious Petco Park rather than at the bandbox in Texas. Wieland went 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA in five starts at Double-A San Antonio after the trade, while Erlin was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in six starts for the Padres' Texas League affiliate. Both could find themselves in the big leagues later this year.

Fantasy sleeper: Edinson Volquez
"Volquez struck out 19 in 23 2/3 innings and held the opposition to a .250 batting average in four September starts. Another reason to be encouraged is that Volquez has a strong history at his new home ballpark, going 1-1 with a 2.33 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings. PETCO Park can also help Volquez as he looks to cut down on his home runs allowed. Volquez was plagued by the long ball in 2011, yielding 1.6 homers per nine innings." -- Michael Hurcomb [Full Padres fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Yonder Alonso
"There are a few issues heading into 2012 we need to highlight before Fantasy owners reach for Alonso on Draft Day. The first being that he is moving to pitcher-friendly PETCO Park. Alonso is more of a line-drive hitter, which won't help his power numbers in San Diego. Second, Alonso is just 69 games into his MLB career. Once opposing teams get a better scouting report, the road will almost certainly get tougher for Alonso." -- Michael Hurcomb [Full Padres fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
The offensive additions bring a jolt to the Padres, with Quentin leading the way. While Petco does play big, it's not as extreme against right-handed pull hitters and he has one of the best offensive seasons we've seen in Petco. Speaking of offense, Alonso's left-handed but his natural stroke leads to a ton of doubles and with Maybin on base more often, he scores easily on so many of Alonso's two-baggers. The pitching staff benefits from the park more than the offense hurts and once again an unheralded pitching staff dominates -- led by a finally healthy Volquez -- and leads San Diego to a surprising run at the National League West title.

Pessimistic outlook
It's the same old, same old -- decent pitching at home, but not enough runs. Without scoring runs, the team slogs through another season, losing more than 90 games again. But hey, they're still in San Diego, so it's not all that bad.

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Posted on: November 24, 2011 2:15 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2011 1:38 pm
 

Homegrown Team: San Diego Padres



By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no waivers, no minor- or major-league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. 

On one end of this spectrum is the team with baseball's highest payroll, the Yankees, and now we'll look at the other end, the San Diego Padres. The Padres have just $16.9 allocated toward its 2012 payroll at the end of the 2011 season, versus the Yankees' $171.5 million. The Padres weren't just at the opposite end of the payroll spectrum as the Yankees, they're also in the other league, the opposite coast and on the other end of the standings, finsihing last in the NL West with a 71-91 record.

Lineup

1. Chase Headley, LF
2. Jason Bartlett, SS
3. David Freese, 3B
4. Derrek Lee, 1B
5. Kyle Blanks, RF
6. Will Venable, CF
7. Nick Hundley, C
8. Logan Forsyth, 2B

Starting Rotation

1. Jake Peavy
2. Mat Latos
3. Tim Stauffer
4. Wade LeBlanc
5. Cory Luebke

Bullpen

Closer - Shawn Camp
Set up - Brandon Gomes, Cesar Ramos, Ryan Webb, Josh Spence, Ernesto Frieri
Long - David Pauley, Anthony Bass

Notable Bench Players

Xavier Nady, George Kottaras

What's Good?

The bullpen may not have a guy that comes in and records a ton of saves, but there are some decent arms to get between the starters to the closer. The rotation isn't terrible -- it's not great, but it's not terrible, and pitching at Petco just about any rotation is going to be at least OK.

What's Not?

Like the real Padres, that lineup isn't going to put up a whole lot of runs. The Padres haven't had an easy time figuring out how to score runs at Petco, no matter where the players come from. Lee would have helped much more in the past than in 2011, and playing at Petco wouldn't have helped him, either. While Bartlett and Lee are good defenders, the rest of this group could struggle, especially with Headley back in the outfield and Veneble in center.  

Comparison to real 2011

Finishing 71-91, the Padres weren't great, but they were probably better than this product. The rotation would hinge on Peavy's health. Peavy managed 18 starts for the White Sox, going 7-7 with a 4.92 ERA. There's no telling what his record would be with the Padres, considering the team's offensive woes, but his ERA would have been lower. Overall, this team isn't scaring anyone and while the record may be different with this team, its place in the standings would likely be the same.

Up next: Minnesota Twins

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Posted on: August 28, 2011 10:56 am
 

On Deck: Weaver goes after Rangers

OD

By Matt Snyder

Follow all the live action on CBSSports.com's scoreboard. Also, keep up with the standings, which update at the conclusion of each game.

Halos in the heat: An Angels victory in Texas Sunday would trim the Rangers' AL West lead to one game -- and knot the two at 60 in the loss column. The Angels want this series bad enough that Jered Weaver, like Ervin Santana did Saturday night, is going to work on three days' rest for the first time this season. Assuming he's feeling strong, Weaver should prove a tough opponent for the Rangers. In four starts against Texas this season, Weaver has a 1.86 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 25 strikeouts. The Rangers have hit Weaver well at home in the past, so the offense will look to turn back the clock Sunday in the triple-digit heat. Colby Lewis (11-9, 4.07) gets the ball for the home team. Angels at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET.

Snakes on a run: It appears those waiting on the upstart Diamonbacks to come back to Earth are going to be waiting for quite a while. The D-Backs have now won five in a row and hold a three-game lead in the NL West over the defending champion Giants. Sunday looks like one the D-Backs should get, too, on paper. Potential NL Cy Young candidate Ian Kennedy (16-4, 3.09) will face off against one of the league's more anemic offenses in the Padres. Cory Luebke (5-6, 2.91) will go for the Padres and he's having a sneaky-good season, so this could be a low-scoring affair. Padres at Diamondbacks, 4:05 p.m. ET.

Swan song: Jordan Zimmermann is overshadowed in terms of hype because he's pitching in the same organization as Stephan Strasburg -- who was light's out Saturday night in a rehab start -- but Zimmermann deserves plenty of attention himself. In his first season back since having Tommy John surgery, like Strasburg, Zimmermann has a 3.10 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 157 innings. He's on an innings limit, as the Nats look to protect his arm, so Sunday will mark his final outing of the season. Strasburg will take his rotation spot eventually, so we'll have to wait until 2012 to see them in the rotation together. They're likely a very formidable 1-2 punch in the future. Sunday, Zimmermann (8-11, 3.10) will look to break a five-game losing streak for the Nats. They'll face Johnny Cueto (9-5, 2.43) and the Reds. Reds at Nationals, 1:10 p.m. ET.

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Posted on: July 22, 2011 5:19 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 6:15 pm
 

On Deck: Big series for Twins

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Chance to gain ground: The Twins are apparently "going for it" -- or at least that's what the latest trade rumors say. We'll see after this weekend, when the Twins host the Tigers, the current leaders in the AL Central. Minnesota has not played particularly well this season and are still six games under .500, but just six games behind Detroit in the mediocre division. With Chicago and Cleveland -- the two teams ahead between Minnesota and Detroit -- playing this weekend, the Twins have a chance to make up some ground in the standings. Lefty Brian Duensing (7-7, 4.14 ERA) gets the call for Minnesota, with Detroit sending out right-hander Max Scherzer (10-6, 4.53 ERA). Tigers at Twins, 8:10 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Felix HernandezJohn LackeyStreak buster? The Mariners have now lost 12 in a row, but they've got perhaps the best possible matchup they could hope for in Boston -- Felix Hernandez against John Lackey. This is bizzaro world, though and Hernandez is coming off a "bad" outing and Lackey a "good" one -- so you just never know. But of course, that's why we watch, isn't it? That said, Hernandez's "bad" outing was nine hits and four runs in 7 2/3 innings with six strikeouts and a walk, while Lackey's "good" outing was 10 hits and four runs (three earned) with seven strikeouts and a walk in 5 2/3 innings -- but that's what we get when we use relative terms like good and bad. Mariners at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Look good, play good: I know I'm a little bit weird about these kind of things, but I'm looking forward to tonight's Phillies-Padres game, not because of the matchup of Cole Hamels and Cory Luebke, but because of the uniforms. It's another throwback night, and this one is in my wheelhouse -- 1984. Not only do we get the Padres' so-called Taco Bell hats and brown and yellow pullovers, while the Phillies will wear their pinstripes (although with buttons instead of a zipper, which would make them 1987 uniforms). Anyway, according to UniWatch, this is a good sign for the Padres, because the Phillies are 1-6 at home in throwback uniforms. Padres at Philies, 7:05 p.m. ET (Follow live)

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 4:35 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 4:52 pm
 

Naming the middle reliever All-Stars

Romo

By Evan Brunell

The All-Star rosters will be announced Sunday and while there will be no shortage of superstars, there will be plenty of shortages of one of the most valuable commodities in the game: middle relievers.

Middle relievers get shafted, both in dollars and fame, from acknowledgment. All the glory rests with the closer in an ill-conceived role whereupon a three-run lead in the ninth is deemed more important than a one-run lead in the eighth. It's hard to blame anything for the middle reliever's small stature in the game, however -- the two prized pitching positions one can play is as a starting pitcher or closer. If you can't hack it in the rotation, your only shot is to make a career of it in the bullpen. So already, relief pitchers are known as failed starters, even as specialization increases to the point where some top prospects are exclusively relievers when drafted. Middle relievers have it worse -- they're not good enough to close, either, so are marginalized to the middle innings.

So yeah, it makes sense for middle relievers to be leftover scraps.

But middle relievers are important in the game, with virtually every manager speaking to how crucial it is for a middle reliever to be able to carry the baton from the starter to closer. Oftentimes these days, it's not enough to simply get the starter to give way to the setupman who then steps aside for the closer. You need that guy for the sixth or seventh inning.

So let's take a minute and acknowledge some of the best middle relievers in the game. To qualify, a middle reliever must have no more than five saves on the season, nor be considered a setupman. A setupman is considered to be the first reliever listed after the closer in the CBSSports.com MLB depth charts. Injuries will be factored in provided the injured reliever has not been out an extended period of time. David Robertson is considered a setupman because Rafael Soriano has only pitched 15 innings. We want to focus on those sixth or seventh inning guys that have gotten the job done.

Here are your AL and NL All-Stars, with six representatives per league.

American League All-Star middle relievers

AlburquerqueAl Alburquerque, Tigers -- Alberquerque was placed on the disabled list Friday, but that only serves to underscore how valuable he was to the team. Manager Jim Leyland said the right-hander has been a "godsend" and Detroit would be six or seven games worse without the rookie. Alburquerque was inked to a split contract that paid him a certain amount of money if he was in the majors or minors. Many were surprised, as Alburquerque wasn't thought to be much entering the year. That's changed, as his strikeout rate per nine innings (14.59) trails only one other reliever, who happens to be on this list. Alburquerque also boasts a 2.79 ERA in 29 innings.

JohnsonJim Johnson, Orioles
-- Johnson has been huge for Baltimore after seeing his luster dim somewhat over the last couple years. Johnson has shaken off injury to post a 2.28 ERA, coughing up just eight walks in 47 1/3 innings and punching out 33. It's extremely rare for a non-closer to post a Wins Above Replacement 1.0 or higher, with only two middle relievers quaifying, both whom are on this list. But a hair under 1.0 is Johnson at 0.9, along with Alburquerque.

PauleyDavid Pauley, Mariners -- Pauley has been around, being sent from the Padres to Red Sox in a minor deal and making a few spot starts for the Red Sox over 2006 and 2008. He got razed, but boasted a promising curveball and solid control numbers. An excursion in Baltimore later, Pauley ended up with Seattle and made 15 starts last season plus four bullpen appearances, registering a 4.07 ERA. He earned a job in the bullpen to start 2011 and hasn't looked back, throwing up 43 2/3 innings of 1.40-ERA ball. He still doesn't throw gas, but limits his walks and -- it must be said -- has received very good luck on batted balls dropping in for hits. He has the fifth-most innings pitched of any reliever in baseball.

PauleyGlen Perkins, Twins -- Perkins has been the object of ridicule for quite some time in Minnesota, but rubs shoulders with Alburquerque and Johnson with 0.9 WAR. The lefty has posted up a 1.98 ERA on the year and has yet to allow a home run. While his walks per nine innings is up to 3.5 from a career mark of 2.4, not many will complain about his 9.3 K/9, way over his career mark of 5.1. He's doing his job against left-handed batters too, limiting them to nine hits in 41 at-bats (.200 batting average).

PestanoVinnie Pestano, Indians
-- Behind Alburquerque and Robertson, Pestano has the highest rate of strikeouts per nine inning. Unlike the two relievers that precede him, Pestano does so with a modicum of control, walking 11 in 29 2/3 innings. There's a healthy dose of luck involved, as he's allowed 22 percent of balls to drop in for hits compared to a league average of 30 percent, plus has stranded an eye-popping 90.9 percent of baserunners. Even Mariano Rivera can't sustain such a high figure. But isn't that what you want from a reliever? To strand baserunners and strike out batters? Well, can't do much better than Pestano there.

ZieglerBrad Ziegler, Athletics -- The submariner grabbed people's attention back in 2008 thanks to his unorthodox delivery, 11 saves and 1.06 ERA. Since then, he's been a solid middle reliever. This season, though, he's something else entirely: an elite reliever. He's doing it without the benefit of luck, too. While Ziegler is struggling against left-handers much as he has throughout his career thanks to his arm angle and has been limited to just six innings worth (most submariners and low 3/4 throwers have difficulties against opposite-handed batters) -- but he's baffled righties completely and will be the perfect complement to Perkins on the squad. Overall, Ziegler has a 1.93 ERA in 28 innings.



National League All-Star middle relievers

BastardoAntonio Bastardo, Phillies -- Bastardo is currently the Phillies' closer, but we'll cut him some slack since he only just stepped into the role with Ryan Madson's injury. At the start of the season, Bastardo worked as a middle reliever and remained there for much of the year despite turning in a great performance one after the other. Bastardo racked up 33 strikeouts in 29 innings prior to Friday's games and has taken over the vital left-handed role that J.C. Romero filled for years. The way Bastardo has been going, he'll have no trouble hanging onto a setupman role once Madson returns along with Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras.

BrayBill Bray, Reds
-- Before 2011, Bray's claim to fame was being part of the contested deal that sent Austin Kearns to Washington in 2006 and separating him from close friend Adam Dunn. Dunn would later become Kearns' teammate in Washington in 2009. Gary Majewski was part of that deal headed back to Cincinnati but injuries derailed his Reds career before it even started, and a complaint was later filed by MLB that Nats GM Jim Bowden had hid Majewski's injury. But back to Bray: the lefty has quietly been a solid middle reliever the last two years but broke through this year with a 1.65 ERA. Again, as much of these relievers are, Bray is lucky that some things beyond his control have gone his way, such as batted balls in play. But there's no denying that the lefty is on his way up after struggling with injuries and looking like he was going to wash out of the game.

BrayTyler Clippard, Nationals
-- Clippard is so dominating, only one other person ranks higher in Win Probability Added. WPA measures how a player affects win expectancy during parts of the game they are directly responsible for. Clippard has had the fortune of pitching in high-leverage situations, but he's also come through at an extraordinary rate to register a 3.03 WPA, second only to Joel Hanrahan's 3.18, and Hanrahan is a closer. Put middle relievers aside for a moment. As far as WPA is concerned, Clippard is the second best reliever in the game. He's earned that distinction with a 2.00 ERA and a crazy 99.3 percent of baserunners stranded. This doesn't count inherited runs, which Clippard does tend to allow in, but still, if a player gets on base via Clippard, he's not scoring.

LuebkeCory Luebke, Padres
-- Luebke recently earned a promotion to the rotation off the strength of his bullpen work, making four starts. Coming up as a starter, Luebke was tossed in the bullpen as a left-hander and is now the third NL lefty on this All-Star team. He became a long reliever of sorts, posting a 3.23 ERA in 39 innings. Unlike most pitchers, Luebke's luck actually worked against him, as he let in baserunners over and beyond what is normally expected, and his 2.83 xFIP reflects far better what he contributed out of the bullpen.

ReynoldsMatt Reynolds, Rockies
-- Like many names on this list, Reynolds is yet another 20-something who has excelled out of the bullpen. He now makes four lefties in the bullpen, but his year can't be denied. His 3.46 ERA is the highest of any middle reliever All-Star, but much like Luebke, he's been unlucky. Serving as Colorado's primary left-handed specialist, he'll serve the same role in this bullpen after punching out 20 lefties in just 14 2/3 innings.  Reynolds can hold his own against righties but is really best avoided against them. With his ability to completely shut down the best lefty hitter in the game, both Colorado and this All-Star team don't mind that he's less than optimal against right-handers. (If Sean Marshall hadn't counted as a setupman, he would have been here in place of Reynolds.)

RomoSergio Romo, Giants
(pictured) -- Romo boasts the best xFIP of any reliever in the game -- closer, setupman or middle reliever. That xFIP is at 1.61, which is also the only xFIP under 2.00 for any reliever. (Think of xFIP as ERA minus all the aspects of ERA a pitcher is not responsible for.) Romo blends strikeout ability (38 in 25 2/3 innings) and control (four walks). It may be hard to believe, but Romo is actually outperforming his numbers from last season, in which he finished with a 2.18 ERA. (In 2011, Romo is currently at 2.45.) With a fastball that doesn't even average out to 90 mph, you wouldn't necessarily think Romo would be so dominant. But he doesn't rely on his fastball; he instead dares batters to hit his slider. And they can't. Maybe it's the beard?

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Posted on: June 21, 2011 7:03 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 7:41 pm
 

In flurry of moves, Padres put Luebke in rotation

By Evan Brunell

LuebkeThe Padres optioned Wade LeBlanc to the minor leagues on Tuesday in a series of roster moves, clearing the way for rookie reliever Cory Luebke to join the starting rotation, MLB.com reports.

Luebke tossed 50 pitches in relief of LeBlanc on Monday, quieting the Red Sox for two runs over 3 1/3 innings. The lefty has posted a strong 3.23 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 39 2/3 innings, striking out 43 and walking 15, so he deserves an extended look in the rotation. Assuming he fills LeBlanc's spot, he will oppose Tim Hudson on Sunday in Atlanta. Luebke had four starts down the stretch last season with a 4.08 ERA and also boasts a career minor-league ERA of 3.49, so he's a promising player.

In other moves, first baseman turned right fielder Brad Hawpe was placed on the disabled list, with outfielder Luis Durango designated for assignment. With two open spots, the team added rookie reliever Josh Spence and catcher Kyle Phillips, giving San Diego three catchers. The team also officially released Jorge Cantu.

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Posted on: June 21, 2011 1:28 am
Edited on: June 21, 2011 1:31 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Hudson pitches, hits way to victory

Hudson

By Evan Brunell

3 UpTim Hudson, Braves -- Tim Hudson was brilliant Monday in his second-best outing of the season, blanking the Blue Jays for eight innings and allowing just three baserunners on two hits and a walk. He punched out eight. Two of those baserunners came in the ninth inning, but closer Craig Kimbrel whiffed the heart of the Jays' order to finish the game off. But Hudson wasn't done. He also provided the margin of victory, taking Ricky Romero deep in the seventh inning for a two-run home run, which was the final score of the game. "It's hard to say there's anything better," Hudson told the Associated Press. "Obviously, you [nearly] throw a shutout and hit a homer, you win the game. It was fun, man, It was a lot of fun."

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers -- Kershaw did what Hudson couldn't, slamming the door for nine innings against the Tigers, punching out 11 and walking just one, allowing two hits. Kershaw tossed 112 pitches, 73 for strikes in utterly baffling the Tigers, who appeared to have no idea what to do. The strong lefty is one of the few pitchers in the game classified as a True Ace. Kershaw now boasts of a 3.01 ERA on the season in 107 2/3 innings, but can be even better. His ERAs in the two seasons previous were 2.91 and 2.79. Oh, and Kershaw also stroked a two-run single in the eighth.

Starlin Castro, Cubs -- The Cubs finally got on the board in the third inning after the White Sox staked a 3-0 lead on a two-run single by Starlin Castro, plating Geovany Soto and Kosuke Fukudome. Castro came up in the sixth and ripped a 392-footer to left field to tie the game at three-all. Carlos Pena would follow later in the sixth with a three-run shot. That's a 2-for-4 night for Castro with a run scored, a home run and three RBI. He also swiped base, his ninth of the season. It's becoming increasingly obvious that the 21-year-old is going to be a superstar.


3 DownPadres bullpen -- Wade LeBlanc lasted just three innings, giving up three runs. But Cory Luebke, going into the seventh, had tossed three shutout innings to keep things honest in a game that had just been tied up in the top of the sixth inning. But in the bottom seventh, Luebke, Ernesto Frieri and Evan Scribner all imploded in a meltdown of the best bullpen in baseball. Luebke started the inning by walking Jacoby Ellsbury and seeing him erased at second base on a fielder's choice. Adrian Gonzalez tormented his former team by doubling in Dustin Pedroia, and that was it for Luebke. But Frieri would come in to get just one out, allow no hits and give up four runs. He did so by immediately inducing Kevin Youkilis into a flyout, then intentionally walking David Ortiz. J.D. Drew then walked to the load the bases, and then promptly hit two straight batters. Evan Scribner came in to continue the hilarity, giving up a pinch-hit, 2-run RBI single by Josh Reddick, with another single by Ellsbury loading the bases again. A walk, two-run single and bases-clearing double finished up the 10-run inning for the Red Sox, who were retired when Pat Neshek got Big Papi swinging.

Charlie Morton, Pirates -- That's the sound of regression. Morton is backsliding, giving up six earned runs in his third straight poor start to spike his ERA to 3.77, still a quality mark and more in line with what Morton has done this season. Imitating Roy Halladay's windup has allowed Morton to induce a ton of groundballs but at the expense of striking anyone out, and not being stingy enough with walks. Morton is still a far better pitcher than he was, especially the debacle he resembled last season, but this loss dropped him to 7-4 and the Pirates to two games under .500.

Jeff Mathis, Angels -- And the worst hitting performance goes to Jeff Mathis, who punched out three times in four hitless at-bats against the Marlins. Jered Weaver and Anibal Sanchez had a great duel, with the Angels winning the battle of the bullpens for a 2-1 final. Jack McKeon's triumphant return, replete with smoking a cigar on the bench, had a rain delay precede the loss. Mathis, meanwhile, sinks to .191/.229/.282 on the year. When does his failings at the plate outweigh his defense, skipper Mike Scioscia?

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: April 13, 2011 1:48 am
Edited on: April 13, 2011 2:21 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 4/12: Alexei's missiles

By Matt Snyder

3UP

Alexei Ramirez, White Sox. The Cuban Missile launched a few bombs of his own Tuesday night, the latter of which emphatically ended an extra-innings victory for the White Sox. All told, he scored three of the White Sox's six runs and drove home four of them.

Tommy Hanson, Braves. The Braves entered the game having lost of five of six games while Hanson was 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA after two starts. With the offense entering the game reeling, a big pitching performance was needed to ease some of the pressure, and Hanson came through. The 24 year old worked seven shutout innings against the Marlins, only allowing four hits and two walks while striking out five. The outing -- along with the five runs the offense scored -- should be enough to get the team back on track.

Michael Pineda, Mariners. The burly right-hander is a specimin, I tell you. He stands at 6-foot-7 and hits up to 99 on the radar gun. Through seven shutout innings, he was absolutely dealing for the Mariners. They tried to get one more out of him and he didn't have enough steam left to finish the eighth. Still, he ended with 7 1/3 innings, five hits, two earned runs and seven strikeouts against a pretty potent offense in the Blue Jays. He picked up his first career win in his first career start at Safeco Field. 

3DOWN

The Cubs. What a disaster. Poor planning left this one an obvious loss for the Cubs. The players sure played like they expected to lose, too. Let's see ... three errors, Tyler Colvin loses a fly ball, back-to-back Astros bunt singles began the start for relief pitcher James Russell -- who was on a 55-pitch count by the way -- and you have the recipe for an 11-2 loss. To be fair to Russell, his final line shouldn't have looked near as bad. Nearly every batted ball found a hole and the defense was atrocious behind him. Plus, he's a reliever that was trying to get through three innings before the Cubs emptied the rest of the bullpen (is it spring training?). One Chicago outlet said Jeff Samardzija was a "bright spot." Really? He allowed three hits, a walk and two earned runs to the Astros in three innings. I'll grant it was probably the best he's ever looked, but that's not saying much at all. Just erase this one from memory and move on.

Cardinals pitching staff. Not to be outdone by their rivals, the Cardinals coughed up 13 runs to the Diamondbacks. Considering Chris Carpenter was taking the hill, this one has to be considered worse. He was lit up for eight runs on eight hits and three walks in just four innings. He gave up a reported 478-foot bomb to Justin Upton. What's worse for the Cards, the offense actually crawled back into the game -- cutting it to 9-8 at one point -- but then the middle relief melted down. The final tally: 13-8 D-Backs.

Cory Luebke, Padres. Well, he got two outs in the top of the 11th, but then everything unraveled. The blow-by-blow for the rest of the inning reads as follows: single, double, walk, single single, homer to dead center, groundout. That's six runs on five hits, including a mammoth exclamation point by Drew Stubbs to make it 8-2 -- the eventual final. Have fun trying to chip away at that ERA now an inning at a time, Cory. That's quite the unappealing uphill battle.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com