- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Last year, Williams struck out 14 times before he walked once. This year, he walked 11 times before his 14th strikeout. Instead of chasing bad pitches, especially breaking balls down and away, he has been laying off them. If Bonds has been a good influence on Williams, it's because Bonds is one of the game's most selective hitters. From the on-deck circle, Bonds often urges Williams to wait for a good pitch. Williams has listened—and waited.
A NO-HITTER SPOILED
UP, UP AND AWAY
Everyone already knows how well the ball carries in the thin air of Denver's Mile High Stadium, but last weekend's display was ridiculous. The Braves arrived to play the Rockies on Thursday, having scored just 28 runs in their previous 10 games, and proceeded to score 13, 13, eight and 12 runs in sweeping the four-game series against Colorado.
What's more, on Friday night Atlanta's shortstop, Jeff Blauser, who has modest power, and its light-hitting second baseman, Mark Lemke, each hit two home runs in one game. How rare is it for a double-play combination to do that? Consider that Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker played next to each other on the Tigers for 15 seasons and combined for 371 homers but never did they both homer twice in the same game. Through Sunday, Blauser and Lemke together had 66 career home runs.
As part of the attempt to speed up games this year, umpires were instructed by their respective league presidents to call the high strike. But most players and coaches insist that nothing has changed. "If they started calling the strike zone by the book [kneecap to the armpit]," says Pirate pitching coach Ray Miller, "everyone would be hitting .200, players would be getting ejected every night, and Roger Clemens would win 35 games." ...Only seven times since the start of the 1987 season has a pitcher won a game in which he walked nine or more batters: Four pitchers did it once each between 1987 and '90, and Pirate knuckleballer Tim Wakefield did it three times—all last month.
Minor League Note of the Week: The Padres' Class A affiliate in Waterloo, Iowa, was rained out or snowed out in nine of its first 15 home dates. "I'm cursed," says Waterloo general manager Jeff Nelson, whose Opening Night fireworks were postponed twice and who had three consecutive games postponed on two occasions. "Our assistant G.M. [Jon Marigliano] and I made a pact after we were rained out May 7: We're not shaving for home games. We didn't shave on May 8 when it was supposed to rain, and it didn't rain. Now it's beards at home."