JUICE UP THE ARMS
There are whispers that this year's baseball might be juiced. Blue Jay bench coach Gene Tenace says the ball is smaller and wound tighter than last year's. "It feels like a Titleist," he says. The numbers seem to support his claim: The runs-per-game average as of April 18 (9.17) was higher than in all but two of the last 25 years at the same point in the schedule (chart, right).
But there is no conspiracy between major league owners and Rawlings—the company that produces the baseballs used in the big leagues—to liven up the game. "Why would we want a rabbit ball?" asks one American League owner. "All that would do is jack up the players' stats, which would jack up our losses in salary arbitration."
No, it's not the ball that's causing the big numbers. It's good hitting combined with a lot of bad pitching.
?The Tigers became the first team since the 1950 Red Sox to score 20 runs twice in a season, when they beat the A's 20-4 on April 13 and the Mariners 20-3 four days later. In the first of those games, Oakland reliever Mike Mohler, who was 3-8 last year at Double A Huntsville, was pounded for eight runs in 1? innings and issued three of the 12 walks given up by A's pitchers. In the second game, Seattle rookie Dave Wainhouse gave up seven runs in one inning. Detroit hadn't scored 20 runs in a game in 56 years.
?Eight teams walked 10 or more batters in a game.
?Each of three relievers—Darren Holmes of the Rockies, Chuck McElroy of the Cubs and Edwin Nunez of the A's—faced three batters, walked them all and then was taken out of the game.
?The Brewer bullpen, which had the lowest ERA (2.78) of any relief staff in 1992, was rocked for 25 earned runs in its first 20? innings for a 10.89 ERA.
?The Expos allowed 58 runs—11, 11,9,9,9 and 9—in a six-game stretch between April 8 and 14.
?The Rockies' pitchers were torched for 51 runs in Colorado's first seven games, including a 19-9 loss to the Expos. The altitude at Denver's Mile High Stadium, where the ball really carries, was only partly to blame.