In addition to our usual who’s hot, and who’s not, we have a category to add to our Venezuelan baseball blog: who’s out. This week, it’s Martín Pérez, the Rangers lefty who started the season so promisingly. After going 10-6 in 2013, the man from Guanare opened up at 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA, including 26 consecutive scoreless innings. Then, the wheels fell off. He got bombed in three straight games with an ERA close to 13; it turns out it wasn’t the wheels falling off, but young Martín’s arm. He’s partially torn the elbow muscle in the once-magical south-paw and naturally, will probably undergo Tommy John surgery with Dr. James Andrews and miss at least one season.
Sad to see, for various reasons: I thought Martín would line up alongside King Felix at the All Star Game in Minneapolis this July. Now I just hope his career gets back on track sometime in 2015.
Who’s coming back slightly is another lefty who began the season erratically, to say the least. in San Francisco, caraqueño lefty Luis Avilan pitched an 8-pitch scoreless 7th inning in mop-up work in a blowout loss to the Giants. However, his ERA is still at 5.25; we’ll see how fast he regains the good graces of Atlanta’s management; one thing they know in Atlanta is pitching. Also returning to his manager’s good side is yet another port-sider, Felix “Not the King” Doubront of the Red Sox, who had a strong outing vs. Minnesota this week; he got the win and is now 2-3. In 6.1 innings he struck out 5 and gave up only 1 run; he ERA still hangs at 4.54, though.
Our hottest criollo pitcher crashed back to earth slightly this week: Francisco Rodriguez took his first loss and three earned runs versus the Pirates. He had saved the game the night before for his 16th save, however. Four straight games may have taken their toll on K-Rod; he also got hit hard by the Yankees over the weekend and emerged with one save and one win (actually a blown save wherein Mark Texiera hit a tape-measure home run off Frankie to tie the game).
On a slightly steeper downward trajectory than K-Rod is Cleveland righty Carlos Carrasco, the Barquisimeto native who failed to impress in four starts and was sent to Terry Francona’s bullpen. Carlos last won a start for the Tribe in 2011 and since then is 0-12 in 17 starts with an astounding 8.09 ERA.
Where would our pitchers be without their catchers to guide them? In the nation’s capital, two VZ catchers squared off on Tuesday, Washington’s Jose Lobaton at .241 and Arizona’s Miguel “Microwave” Montero at .286. Lobaton struck out twice; Venezuelan third baseman Martin Prado took the collar for the D-backs. Kansas City All Star catcher Salvador Pérez has his average up to .277 after a slow start to the season.
Montero, I discovered, was one of Yasiel Puig’s more vocal critics last season when the brash Cuban first started making waves. From last season’s MLB website: “If he’s my teammate, I probably try to teach him how to behave in the big leagues,” Montero said. “He’s creating a bad reputation around the league…He’s got so much talent, it’d be really bad if he wasted it doing the stupid things that he’s doing. You have to respect to earn respect. If you don’t respect anybody, you aren’t going to earn respect.”
In the “things returning to normal” category, Felix Hernandez went 6. 1 innings on Monday and won his fourth game after a short drought. However (speaking of respect), totally incensed after blowing his shutout on a two-run double in the seventh, the King turned on the home plate umpire, who was having none of it and gave Felix a first: his first Major League ejection. Seattle had a big lead, however, and Hernandez’ record climbed to 4-1, his ERA to 3.03.
More normalcy: Miguel Cabrera is bashing everything in every direction. Suddenly he’s at .295 with 35 RBI. 22 RBI in less than one month will improve your numbers just a bit. His countryman and teammate Victor Martinez is at .336 but as of Tuesday THAT was not unequivocally leading the league. Who was tied with V-Mart?
The Yankees’ Yangervis Solarte was also at .336! On Tuesday, against the cross-town Mets, he had another great game. 1 for 3, and his fourth home run. This is a guy who NEVER had a major league at bat until this season. Go on, son.
But who’s the hottest Venezuelan in all of baseball? That’s right kids, it’s Minnesota’s Eduardo Escobar, who went 3-for-4 in the Twins’ victory over Boston, with his 11th double. I don’t know if Eduardo is even on the All Star ballot, but at .347, I’m writing him in.
And since I began this blog in part to honor all the great Venezuelan infielders, Escobar is only one of them. In Texas, All Star second baseman Jose Altuve remains at .298, and multi-position player Merwyn Gonzalez at .297. Playing across from Altuve and Gonzalez in an interstate Texas showdown this week, Rangers SS Elvis Andrus continued his climb toward respectability, now at .259, with a 2 for 5 effort.
In Cleveland, a similar upswing in fortune accompanies Azdrubal Cabrera this week. He went 3 for 5 in a drubbing of the Blue Jays to get to .259, also, including his 10th double. In Kansas City, smooth-fielding SS Alcides Escobar has his average up to .285, complimented by 11 steals.