When I saw “Leon, S.” in the boxscore for the Washington Nationals, my first thought, as a movie buff, was Sergio Leone, who directed Clint Eastwood’s “spaghetti westerns” in the mid-sixties. Of course, the Leon on the capitol city’s squad is Sandy Leon, a rather solid (5’10”, 220 lbs) switch-hitting catcher from Maracaibo. As we mentioned in April, the Nats have three catchers from Venezuela on their roster; nobody seems to have nailed down the right to start, yet.
Among Sergio Leone’s best films was the classic “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” starring not only Eastwood, but Lee Marvin and Eli Wallach.
And so we proceed with today’s theme:
The Good: Felix Hernandez has given up just one run in his last two starts, including that phenomenal 15-K no decision against Tampa Bay. Another great performance was wasted on Friday the 13th as he gave up one run in 8.1 innings against Texas, and the M’s failed to score. His win-loss record dropped to 8-2; his ERA dropped to 2.29. More good: Anibal Sanchez missed almost a month early in the season, but now stands at 3-2 with a 2.44 ERA. His win on Saturday only looked ugly in the box score because his relievers gave up 6 after Anibal left the game.
Speaking of good: How about Victor Martinez? In that same Detroit Victor-y, V-Mart slammed his 17th home run and went 3-for-5. Miguel Cabrera, hitting in front of his countryman in the third slot, merely went 2-for-5. Also on the plus side Saturday: Alicides Escobar, Salvador Perez and Omar Infante each had 2 hits for the Royals, as they climbed to within a game and a half of the first-place Tigers. How about Escobar? How many teams have a ninth-place hitter batting .290?
Awesome: 40-year-old Bob Kelly “Bobby” Abreu goes 4-for-4 in the Mets’ win over San Diego on Friday. I was there; more on that game in a separate report.
More good: Marwyn Gonzalez gave Jose Altuve a breather on Saturday at 2B for the Astros and went 3-for-4 at the dish in Houston’s win over Tampa Bay. In Los Angeles, “Microwave” Miguel Montero salted away a 6-3 Diamondbacks’ win with a ninth-inning, two-run home run. In Texas, young switch-hitter Luis Sardinas is making the most of his platoon with countryman Rougned Odor at second. He’s hit .323 in his last 10 games for the Rangers and helped turn two double plays in Sunday’s loss to the Mariners. The left-hand hitting Odor has played a bit more than Sardinas and is batting .285.
Speaking of Elvis leaving the building: In a cruel twist of fate for his countryman, speedy shortstop Elvis Andrus of Maracay stole second and third against Felix Hernandez on Friday, and scored the winning run (the game’s only run) on a fielder’s choice. Speed and good baserunning still wins games.
Somewhat good: After an injury scare in his last start, Henderson “Shutout” Alvarez yielded just 2 runs against the Pirates on Sunday, but left after 7 innings. The Marlins won in 10; Alvarez’ ERA went to 2.56. Luis Valbuena of Sucre has the third-base slot for a poor Cubs team, and is doing OK with a .284 average in 60 games. He may be buoyed by the presence of Chicago coach Jose Castro, who’s also coached him in Venezuelan winter ball the past few seasons for the Cardenales of Lara. After bouncing between AAA ball and the majors the past few seasons, perhaps the 28-year-old is here to stay.
Some bad: Young Yangervis Solarte is coming down to earth a bit for the Yankees. In Oakland this weekend, the 26-year-old rookie had two hitless games as his average dropped to .274. And on the Oakland side, Alberto Callaspo’s recent slump had him out of the lineup entirely in those two games.
Just plain ugly: Well, the Indians swept the Red Sox, but Asdrubal Cabrera went 0-for-5 Sunday. Hey, it’s a long season; you get games like that. (He had 2 hits on Saturday). In Colorado, Franklin Morales gave up 3 home runs in two innings, including one to countryman Pablo Sandoval. Franklin’s ERA rose to 5.83. It’s the Mile High City, sure but still….And in Detroit again, young Osvaldo Arcia of the White Sox dropped a Victor Martinez fly ball in the ninth inning. It gave the hometown Tigers an extra out, and the ballgame, as the next batter, JD Martinez, hit a sac fly for the win. (not ugly: Eduardo Escobar went 2-for-4, his average an impressive .314. I think he deserves some write-in votes for AL 3B in the All Star Game, which, p.s. is being played in Minnesota next month.)