Welcome back to our weekly review of the news and notes that you might have missed over a long baseball weekend. I watched 12 hours of baseball this weekend, nine of which were played by the same two teams. Do you know how much baseball that means I missed? Let's catch up together.
Please note that this is a completely arbitrary selection of news and notes. I almost certainly missed something to do with your favorite team, but that's only because I hate your favorite team.
Shelby Miller and Adam Wainwright
Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller combined for 18 innings, three hits, one walk, 20 strikeouts, and zero earned runs.
You don't need words about those outings. You need the raw numbers and moving images. here's Miller and here's Wainwright … good gravy. It was the first time the Cards have had back-to-back shutouts since Bob Gibson and Ray Washburn in 1967.
Wainwright you know, even if it's easy to take for granted that last year at this time, the articles about Wainwright were much different. Considering that he used to be a perennial Cy Young frontrunner, though, it's probably not that surprising for him to uncork a brilliant start every couple of starts.
Miller, though, is a rookie. And if you saw the highlights of the one-hitter, you'll know that most of his success came off the fastball -- 93 of his 113 pitches. He was essentially the archetype of an impossibly hard-throwing closer pitching all nine innings. And the best part -- for my money, at least -- is that Miller was just recently a broken prospect. Through last June, his ERA in Triple-A was 5.60, and he had allowed 17 home runs in 72 innings. Less than a year later, it looks like his fastball is on the short list for the best pitch in baseball.
The Yankees are in first place
Oh, come on. This is their lineup from Sunday:
Alex Cole - LF
Garth Iorg - 2B
Dane Iorg - 1B
Kevin McReynolds - CF
Kelly Gruber - 3B
Al Bumbry - RF
Don Slaught - C
Hubie Brooks - SS
Vernon Wells - P
That was literally their lineup. Literally. Lyle Overbay has a .500 slugging percentage for the Yankees this year. Travis Hafner is a surprise, and Vernon Wells is a big surprise, but Overbay doing anything is an indication that the Yankees stole the answer key from the baseball gods, to whom we're apparently giving too much credit these days.
Jose Valverde blew his first save of the year
Right now, there's at least one of you who didn't realize that Valverde was even with a team, much less closing for the same team with which he self-destructed last year. Surprise!
Valverde walked two and gave up a single to blow a one-run lead against the Indians on Sunday. The Tigers eventually fell in extra innings. It should be noted, though, that the RBI single was the first hit Valverde allowed in his first six outings, and that he generally threw strikes until the two walks.
Whatever was wrong with him in the playoffs last year wasn't a velocity problem, as he was throwing as hard as he always was. It wasn't dinger-itis, as he had a career-low HR/9 in 2012. He stopped striking people out, though, and when he got to the playoffs, he stopped getting people out altogether. The Tigers liked what they saw after a minor-league contract, and Valverde's the closer again. On Sunday, they wished he wasn't.
If you're taking bets on the dates when he'll lose his job again, here are three guesses: May 20, July 31, or December 21. The first is if you think Valverde is going to implode right away. The second is if you think he'll leak oil until the trade deadline, at which point he'll be replaced. And the last one is if you don't think Valverde will lose his job during the regular season.
I can't decide between #1 and #3. Which is kind of the perfect way to describe the Valverde experiment. It'll be over soon, unless it lasts all year.
Adrian Beltre did this again
Don't ever change, Adrian Beltre. If there isn't a Hall of Fame exhibit on the art of the fall-down homer, there should be.
Francisco Liriano is alive and well
Over this last offseason, I looked at the history of the Pirates in free agency. Russell Martin is the most expensive free agent in Pirates history, and Jeff Suppan is the most successful free-agent signing in Pirates history. So, yeah.
Hold on, though. Because if Francisco Liriano is anything close to his old self, his one-year, $1 million deal (with a team option), could instantly become the best free-agent signing for the Pirates in the last three decades. And in his first start, he struck out nine and allowed a single run. His slider looked outstanding, and the Mets couldn't figure him out.
Bonus coverage: Justin Turner was called out on strikes against Liriano after Joe West said he failed to check his swing. This led to a pretty fantastic screen capture:
Michael McKenry has a pretty good Salacious Crumb face going on in that one. And the entryway to Joe West's house probably has an arguing hitter frozen in carbonite, so the analogy works all around.