OOBA - DOOBA!
[September 6th] -- It's a real shame that less than 16,000 fans watched last night's game. While I understand that crowds shrink when summer ends and school begins (especially when your battling to stay out of last place), you would think that a Dontrelle Willis vs. Shawn Hill matchup would have been a draw.
A real shame.
Again, wins and losses are irrelevant at this point in the season, though I must admit I'm enjoying the current four game winning streak much more than that seven game losing streak. That said, the game was full of interesting story lines:
Shawn Hill: Hill suffered his first poor outing in months last week in Los Angeles. Hits were home runs and outs were fly balls, a deadly combination for a sinkerball pitcher. So it was interesting to see how he'd react tonight, if he'd bounce back or continue to pitch poorly. Hill started last year strong, but faded down the stretch. As he took the mound tonight, he had the opportunity to allay those fears or compound them.
And he did allay them, though he did it in a really backdoor way.
To be sure, it'll go down as a "quality start." Hill allowed three runs in six innings, an effort I'll take every time. He even struck out six without walking a batter.
But eleven hits?
Hill allowed almost two baserunners per inning and allowed only three of them to score. That's pretty amazing. That tells me much more than a quick-n-easy three hitter. When he has his good stuff, he's unhittable. When he doesn't - and he didn't last night - he still is good enough to put the team in a position to win the game.
And win they did.
Jesus Flores: Okay, someone please explain to me how all those 'AAA' guys who came and went this year couldn't make it at the major league level but some 21 year old Rule V draftee who was supposed to hide in the bathroom at game time stepped up and has become a clutch hitter.
I can't figure it out.
In just under 900 minor league at-bats, Flores batted .256-33-139 with a .754 OPS. That works out to roughly .256-16-70 for a full season. Not bad. Not bad. So far this year, Flores is batting .257-4-23 with a .701 OPS. That works out to roughly .257-16-84.
Over a full season, then, Flores' numbers in the major leagues are virtually identical to what he did in the minors.
How's that possible?
If his production hasn't suffered while playing at the major league level, then why return him to the minors to give him more at-bats so he can return and play at the level he's already at? And - and this is really weird - why send down your best hitting catcher? Heading into tonight's game, Flores is outhitting Brian Schneider .257 to .230. Flores is hitting homers at a rate of one every 35 at-bats; Schneider one every 60. And while Schneider is a great defensive catcher, so is Flores.
I'm not suggesting that Jesus Flores should be the team's opening day catcher next year, but I am saying that there is going to come a time next season where their roles will be reversed and Flores becomes top-dog, especially if the team is in contention for the post season.
Wilo Mo Pena did something extraordinary in the 9th inning last night. After a night of swinging and missing (as usual), Pena swung at an outside two-strike pitch and drove it past the second baseman for a single.
What? WMP went the other way?
That hit sent Ryan Langerhans to third and set up Flores winning hit.
If Pena does that more often, if he (God forbid) shortens up with two strikes and just try to put the ball in play, he just might become the outfielder we want and need.
So Ray King is off to Milwaukee. Though big Ray won't bring a prospect of the level of Shairon Martis (obtained before the trading deadline last year for Mike Stanton), it'll probably be someone who is "workable." Maybe he'll make it to 'AAA,' maybe not. The good news is that Ray King told Jimbo that he'd "love" to return to Washington next year.
Gee. Maybe things are really starting to change around here.
There, I said it.
Don't worry about Flores. The only way he returns to the minors next year is if he goes into a prolonged slump.
9 minutes explicit video.