Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Day Hath Finally Arrived!!!

Generations from now, people will look back upon this day, September 1, 2011, and remember it as the day that changed the course of history.  The day in which Heaven and Earth were united.  The day when sports, baseball, America, and the universe as a whole was never the same again.

That's right, mere mortals.  The day has finally arrived when The Jesus was called up to the show to begin what will undoubtedly be the greatest career in the history of professional baseball.

P.S.- There is absolutely no reason why Montero shouldn't be in the lineup tonight.  Rubber game of a Fraud Sawx series, A.J. on the mound, there's really nothing to lose by not having him in there and nothing to gain from leaving him on the bench.

** UPDATE- 3:11PM- The lineup has been announced and Jesus is in it, DHing and batting 7th. **

The Frustrating Phil Hughes

It's been a long season for Phil Hughes.  From the early bombings to the long DL stint for his dead arm to the return to the recent uneven pitching performances.  Last night was particularly rough, at least from my perspective, because Hughes had a grand opportunity in front of him and failed to cash in on it.  Because of that, we will now probably have to endure at least another week of rotation melodrama, and it all could have been avoided if not for a few bad pitches last night, something that is becoming all too common for Phil.

Stuff and command are the 2 main ingredients for becoming a successful starting pitcher.  You can get by with just one or the other, but the best guys in the business have both.  For Phil, the stuff was missing early in the season, and now since his return it's been the command that's been the main issue.  Last night, Phil had pretty good stuff.  His fastball sat mid-90s for almost the whole night, touching 94 and 95 MPH with regularity early on, and he threw some decent curveballs.  But his command was never really right all night, and that resulted in Phil's usual problem of not being able to put guys away when he needed to.  He located a fastball poorly to Jed Lowrie in the 3rd and gave up a big hit.  He got away with a poorly-located changeup to Ortiz in the 5th then followed it up with a poorly-located fastball that Ortiz put in the stands.  And after getting ahead of Josh Reddick 0-2 in the 6th, Hughes lost his aggressiveness and command and ended up walking him before the fateful Varitek hit.

I credited Phil early in the season for owning up to how poorly he was pitching and not making excuses and saying he needed to be better.  After last night's start, he was saying the same things, but it's starting to get a little old.  There are only so many times you can acknowledge that you HAVE to pitch well, HAVE to help the team, HAVE to get that guy out, HAVE to hold the lead in that inning and then go out and not do those things before the talk starts to ring hollow.  I get that Phil is aware of what he needs to do and should do, but frankly I'm past the point with Phil where that's enough to make me happy, and everybody should be too.  He needs to go out there and do it.  Throw strikes, be aggressive and stay aggressive, locate your pitches, use the changeup and the cutter consistently.  He has all the tools to go out and succeed, he just isn't putting them all to good use.

There were some positives to take from Phil's start last night, but the positives get lessened a bit because of the negative aspects of Phil's performance, and those negative aspects become more glaring because they're the same negative aspects we always see from Phil.  At the end of the day, I would still rather see Phil on the mound as a member of the starting rotation than A.J.  But it would be nice if that would happen because Phil went out and earned the spot, showed that he was the right man for the job and could be counted on the produce when given the ball, and not just because he was less bad than A.J.