Three Up, Three Down: MLB Week Four

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IApril 28, 2008

I figured Saturday night in the middle of a series is not the best time to put out a weekly review of baseball.

So, I've moved Three Up, Three Down to Monday in order to account for the games on Sunday.

The only victim is Chase Utley, who decided to go on a mega hot streak during the time the last edition went up.

Fear not, for Utley will get his due.

First Up: Fightin' Phils

What can you say about the offense the Phillies are rolling out with?

Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino are on the disabled list. Ryan Howard isn't hitting a lick, and I don't even know if Pedro Feliz can be considered a viable third base option.

That hasn't stopped the Phillies from scoring runs.

One man is the guy I talked about in the opening; Chase Utley, who went on an insane streak of hitting a home run in just about every game, and sometimes hitting two.

He leads the entire majors in home runs as of Sunday, and the first to double digits with ten.

But, he isn't the only Phillies’ player getting the job done.

In a contract year, Pat Burrell is swinging that dangerous bat everyone thought he had. Face it, you don't get a nickname like "The Bat" because you have good defense.

Over a span of the last seven days, Burrell is hitting .375 with two home runs and eight runs knocked in. He has been a huge source of power this year for the Phillies in left field, and we might finally see what everyone was talking about for the past few years.

Then again, it might just be the dollar signs in the back of his mind, controlling him to do so well.

Right now though, Philadelphia is banged up, but they are still scoring runs, and Burrell is a big reason.

The other reason is Shane Victorino’s fill in, Jason Werth, and while he doesn't throw coconuts around, he does swing the bat.

He hasn't knocked in as many runs as Burrell has, but Werth has hit four home runs, with seven runs batted in, and nine runs scored. He has a hot .323 average over the last week.

When Victorino comes back, Werth should be a luxury.

Second Up: Miguel Tejada and Lance Berkman

What's his age again? Does it really matter?

Obviously not, and it looks like the talk of him lying about his age has sparked a fuse. Miguel Tejada is on fire, and he is starting to look like that MVP hitter we all know he used to be.

Tejada only has one home run, but he's knocked in seven runs, scored eight runs and stole a base. The biggest thing though is his average; Tejada is hitting .414 over the last seven days.

Helping him out with the Astro's offense is probably the most dangerous hitter the past week.

Lance Berkman has hit four home runs, scored seven runs, and knocked in a weekly high of 12 runs. His average is up to .455 for the week, and all the pitchers are frightened.

Third Up: James Shields and Troy Percival

If I told you one pitcher would hold the Boston Red Sox offense to a measly two hits in one game this year, you'd probably call me crazy. Then, when I tell you it was a pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, you'd probably slug me.

Well, it happened and it wasn't Scott Kazmir.

It was James Shields, who held the Red Sox to two hits in a complete game shut out. He walked only one and struck out seven.

Combine that with the start earlier this week against the Blue Jays, where he went seven innings and gave up only two earned runs. Shields is 2-0, with a 1.12 ERA, 12 punch outs in 16 innings this past week.

He certainly has picked up the slack with Kazmir and new addition Matt Garza both out.  He stands at 3-1 with a 2.54 ERA this season.

On the other side of the game, the new closer in Tampa had an outstanding week.

It wasn't Billy Wagner, no hit for the whole month type dominance, but it was as close as you can get.

Troy Percival saved four ball games this week, and in that span of four innings, gave up one lone hit and struck out four.

Percival has been a shot of energy for the Rays this year, and if he stays healthy could be a presence that strengthens that bullpen all year. He has yet to surrender an earned run on the young season.

First Down: New York

Not just one team either, but probably the four most important players in the state.

Let’s start with the Mets, and their two superstars, Jose Reyes and David Wright.

Jose Reyes, the spark atop the Mets lineup has stolen just two bases this past week and is hitting an even .100. He has scored just one single run, went three for 30 this week and is in a two-for-twenty-six slump.

The Mets need Jose on base wrecking havoc and helping the rest of the lineup, which isn’t hitting either, at least David Wright isn’t.

He too only collected three hits this past week, knocking in a pair of runs, and striking out six times.

On the other side of the league, the Yankees two top dogs are struggling as well.

Let’s start with Alex Rodriguez, who has missed a few games with an injury and the birth of a child.

Rodriguez has gotten only 11 official at bats, and two hits, but he didn’t knock in a run this past week.

Obviously, the injury has a lot to do with his struggles this past week, but the injury is still something to get down about.

However, the Yankee who has played in all the games this past week isn’t getting it done at the top of the Yankees’ lineup. He has scored not a single run, or draw a walk in the last seven days.

He has knocked in a few runs, but Jeter’s job is to score and get on base. He did collect six hits, but things need to get better for the Yankees lineup and Jeter is a big part of it.

Second Down: Francisco Liriano

How about Francisco Liriano?

It looks as if the guy is going to need some more minor league rehab before he is ready to go.

That plan Twins fans thought was there at the beginning of the year isn’t working out so well. Who needs Johan? We got Liriano coming back, all will be fine.

While the Twins needed to make that move, Liriano hasn’t exactly taken that step to replace Santana quite yet, and it was wrong of the fans to expect him to.

Liriano’s most recent start against Oakland saw him not even make it out of the first inning.

He recorded only two outs, while giving up six earned off three walks, and five hits.

His record fell to 0-3, and his ERA continued to drop all the way down to 11.32.

It’s going to take some time for Liriano to get it together and learn how to pitch coming off a surgery that is very hard on a young pitcher’s career.

After that game, the Twins send Liriano back to the minors to work out his issues there.

Third Down: Matt Morris

Let’s all have a moment of silence for the career of Matt Morris.

It probably ended on Sunday when the Pirates finally released him and his ten million plus contract.

Former general manager Dave Littlefield made one last blundering error before getting fired, and that was trading for Morris.

His latest gem of a game was giving up three earned runs, six in total, in only 2.1 innings of work against the Phillies.

Morris was 0-4 with a 9.67 ERA and six home runs given up. He wasn’t going deep into games, and forcing the Pirates to dive into a not so deep bullpen way too early.

While he has been the victim of some shaky defense, his longest outing was a seven inning game where he gave up 7 total, but 4 earned runs. He never gave up less than six hits or not surrender a walk.

The Pirates finally had enough of Morris, and outright let him go. No one would have taken his contract in a trade and he probably won’t get another shot in the majors this year, so this might be the end of the line for Morris.

Safe on Error

Carlos Pena and Jack Cust are really all for nothing so far. Out of the top leaders in strikeouts in the AL, both Cust and Pena either strike out or hit a home run around 40 percent of the time. Players trailing them like Gary Matthews Jr. Travis Hafner only strikeout or hit a home run in the high 20 percent range.

Intentional Walk

Cliff Lee is just not giving up hits. He leads the majors in opponent batting average; where he has held the opposition to a .109 average. The next closest is Ben Sheets, who is holding opposing hitters to a .146 average. As a comparison, Lee’s Cy Young teammate C.C. Sabathia’s opposing hitter average is .305.


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