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A few hours after
Rich Harden gave it all back yesterday, Oklahoma City lefthander Derek Holland fired
six scoreless innings in Salt Lake City (four hits, two walks, three strikeouts).  His day was ended after 95 pitches, despite a
comfortable 4-0 lead.  (He’d thrown 60
and 87 pitches in his two previous starts, upon his return to AAA from his
rehab stint in Arizona.) 


Fellow Oklahoma City
lefthander Michael Kirkman has five straight quality starts (4-0, 1.74, with 25
hits and 10 walks in 31 innings, and 30 strikeouts).  He goes for the RedHawks today.


By virtue of two
Texas off-days in the next five days, Harden’s next scheduled start doesn’t
arrive until Saturday, the middle game of three against Boston in Arlington,
with the Red Sox slated to send Jon Lester to the mound.  Holland and Kirkman are both on the 40-man
roster and would be able to go that night on extra rest (same with Omar Beltre,
but he’s been inconsistent lately at AAA).




Given the division lead,
I get the idea of giving Harden the ball one-fifth of the time to see if he can
get himself straightened out in time for October.  If he’s right, he has playoff stuff (even if
not playoff success: 1-3, 6.35, with more walks [10] than strikeouts [9] in
11.1 innings).  But yesterday . . . .


Well, I’ve got
nothing productive to say.  And I don’t
want to be in a bad baseball mood, not with everything else that’s going
on.  Everything.


So how about something


On April 25, 2007,
the Indians staked C.C. Sabathia to a 6-0 lead, bouncing Rangers starter Vicente
Padilla after four, but Texas clawed back. 
Michael Young doubled Kenny Lofton in with two outs in the ninth to tie
the game, but after an intentional walk to Mark Teixeira, Matt Kata couldn’t
push another across.  In the 11th,
with Willie Eyre on the mound, Jhonny Peralta singled Victor Martinez home, giving
the Indians an 8-7 win.  Cleveland
improved to 11-7.  Texas dropped to 8-12.


The next day, Cleveland
jumped on Kameron Loe for three runs in the first and never trailed.  Texas outhit the Indians, 10-9 (including two
Sammy Sosa home runs), but went 2 for 16 with runners in scoring position and lost
the game, 9-4, getting swept for the second time in Ron Washington’s first
month as Rangers manager.


The day after that, April 27, Cliff Lee, coming off 14-, 18-,
and 14-win campaigns for the Indians – his first three full big league seasons –
made a rehab start for AA Akron, having started the season on the disabled list
with an abdominal strain (an injury that had also cost him the first two months
of his rookie season in 2003 and would cost him the first month of the 2010 season
as well).  He’d made a two-inning, scoreless
start for High A Kinston on April 10. 
And then a four-inning, two-run effort for AAA Buffalo on April 21.


On April 27, 2007, Lee took the hill for Akron against the
hated Reading Phillies.  Working with
catcher Tim Gradoville, who would play for Frisco in 2008, the 28-year-old fired
five scoreless innings, scattering two hits and a walk while punching out
seven.  The Aeros came out on top, 5-1,
as relievers Jake Dittler (who would also play for Frisco in 2008) and Jensen Lewis
closed things out.


Lee returned to Cleveland after that start, and hung in the
rotation through July, but after four bad starts in a row (the third of which
came in Texas, as the Rangers slapped five runs on Lee in the first inning, on
three doubles and three singles), he found himself back in AAA on July 27,
along with outfielder Ben Francisco.  Their
two roster spots were taken by reliever Edward Mujica and Lofton, who was
acquired that day from Texas for catcher Max Ramirez.


Lee pitched reasonably well for Buffalo for a month (1-3,
3.41), striking out at least a batter per inning in each of his seven starts (but
walking multiple hitters each time out). 
He was brought back to Cleveland in September, but he worked strictly
out of the bullpen, and not in key spots. 
His first three appearances were 10 days apart.  All four of his appearances were Indians losses,
with Lee entering at least three runs behind each time.


Cleveland won 96 games, taking the AL Central.  But they didn’t take Lee with them to the
playoffs, leaving him off the post-season roster.  The Indians downed the Yankees, three games
to one, before dropping the dramatic ALCS to Boston, who came back from being
down three games to one to win in seven. 


And then in 2008, one year after having split the season between
High A, AA, AAA, the Cleveland rotation, and the Cleveland bullpen, watching from
home as his teammates battled New York and Boston in the playoffs, Lee went
22-3, 2.54, leading the league in wins and ERA and walks per nine and home run
infrequency, and bagging the Cy Young with 94 percent of the vote.


I don’t really have a point, other than: (1) to point out
that, just three years ago, in what was Lee’s sixth big league season, the man
who reached 100 career wins on Friday in fewer decisions than any active big league
pitcher other than Tim Hudson, Roy Oswalt, Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, and
Andy Pettitte, and who hasn’t walked a left-handed hitter in 2010, and whose
14:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the best in Major League Baseball in its 110
years of modern history, couldn’t make his club’s 11-man playoff staff; and (2)
to avoid talking about Rich Harden’s Saturday effort.


I feel better now.





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(c) Jamey Newberg




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