well, now i understand why mike o'connor hasn't climbed the nats' organizational ladder despite his good minor-league stats; guy's fastball tops out at 85. but he can change speeds, he knows how to pitch, and he's fearless. how'd you like the way he came after pujols with two on, two out in the 2d? kid's 11 batters into his big-league career and has already been bruised for a homer and and a triple, already trails 3-0, and because he walked the opposing pitcher on 4 pitches he has to face albert. o'connor went right at him -- four of those nothing fastballs in a row. missed with the first high and outside; put the 2d one right on the outside corner at the knees, a perfect pitch; kept the 3d one away but threw it at the nipples (maddux likes to do this) and got albert to chase it, foul it off; then got him to reach on another one low and outside and poke it harmlessly to 2d. away, away, away, away; up, down, up, down. easy.
might've been easier yet if he'd just pitched around albert and faced encarnacion with the bases loaded. sloppy juan was in uniform last night, hacking at ev'ything. in the 1st inning, batting with a man on 1st and two out, he got way out in front of a 1-0 curveball and swung through it; overeager. then he chased a fastball out of the zone and fouled it off, which put him behind 1-2 and left him no choice but to swing at the ensuing curve, which he tapped to 3d base for what should've been an inning-ending out.
next at-bat, leading off the 3d: ahead 1-0 again, he chased a slider at the ankles and missed, then chased the exact same pitch a second time with the same result. on 2-2 o'connor came back with the slider and encarnacion laid off it, his lone display of plate discipline last night; that earned him a hittable 3-2 fastball, which he lifted into short left for what should've been a hit (soriano dashed in and caught it).
encarnacion is now 6 for his last 34, even with the big game against pittsburgh on tuesday; he has drawn only 1 walk all year, in the 2d game of the season. his ops is .531 -- a shade better than the st louis pitchers, who as a group are at .515 this season. they have drawn 7 walks . . . .
need more from ya, j'cion.
re the fire at the stadium -- anybody remember the fire at atlanta-fulton county back in 1993? i'm pretty sure it happened before this game, fred mcgriff's 1st in an atlanta uniform. . . . yep it's true; see the last paragraph of this story.
triple a note: my favorite minor-league pitcher, brad voyles, injured himself while warming up in the bottom of the 1st inning last night in iowa; initial report calls the boo-boo a "sprained muscle below the shoulder." never heard of that one. memphis won the opener of the five-game series (a triple-a version of the cubs-cards rivalry), 3-2; timo perez homered, and brian falkenborg saved another. his line in 11 innings: 4 hits, 1 walk, 15 strikeouts.
at the post-dispatch today, derrick goold wrote a piece about former 1st-rounders colby rasmus and shaun boyd. baseball analysts' bryan smith has a scouting report of rasmus and quad cities teammate mark mccormick. on rasmus: "Rasmus impressed me a great deal, showing a patient approach at the plate . . . . If Rasmus can better stay back on slow stuff, the patient, powerful teenager has a fantastic ceiling." on mccormick: "His fastball was fantastic -- easily above 95 -- but an odd hitch in his delivery seemed to promote a lack of control. . . . his fastball was as good as I've seen in the minors in awhile."
that's enough minor-league input for one day; i'll withhold my q+a with springfield pitcher michael parisi for some other time.
- reverend redbird has moved to a new home at mlb blogs; stop by and say hello
- hardball times wants to know why the astros and reds are winning
- ken rosenthal thinks it would make sense for the marlins to trade dontrelle before the deadline. anyone wanna offer up reyes and wainwright for him? carp, dontrelle, mulder not a bad trio in a playoff series . . . .