Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson pitched his second career complete game Sunday, out dueling the Mets’ Johan Santana who had 13 strikeouts in a loss.
Johnson (Jenks) is 2-0 so far with a 0.57 ERA and 15 strikeouts. For stat geeks, his WHIP is an other worldly 0.83.
The Baseball Tonight crew broke down Johnson’s big game Sunday night. John Kruk said the secret to his success is his ability to get the ball down low in the strike zone, something tall pitchers (Johnson is 6-foot-6) sometimes struggle with. Peter Gammons predicted he’ll win the NL Cy Young before the season and he’s not backing off.
But another interesting aspect of his performance on Sunday was his 113 pitch count. For a guy who is not all that far removed from a 2007 Tommy John surgery, it shows the Marlins have plenty of confidence in his arm to stretch him out like that so early in the year.
“I said before the game I was going to go eight or nine innings,” Johnson told the AP. “I finished what I started out to do. That’s huge for me.”
Koyie Hill has been filling in for Geovany Soto while the All-Star rests his sore throwing arm but the Lawton native is making news for something besides his skills as a catcher.
In Chicago’s loss to the Brewers Friday night, Hill spiked the ball NFL style after Rickie Weeks scored the winning run. Saturday, he apologized to umpire Jim Reynolds for doing his best Terrell Owens impression after a close play at the plate that decided the game.
“The tape shows they made the right call, and they usually do,” Hill said. “A lot of times guys get caught up in the heat of the moment and they come back and watch it on video and it’s a different story.
“On my behalf, that’s no way to respond to that, and I apologize for that. Like I said, it’s a competitive game and juices get flowing sometimes, and things happen. Sometimes they’re things you’re not proud of.”
Hill, who has been a career minor leaguer, hit a two-run homer earlier in the game. His stint behind the plate will be coming to an end shortly with Soto’s expected return next week.
Highly touted pitching prospect Neftali Feliz made his debut in Oklahoma City’s win Friday night at AutoZone Park in Memphis. The results were mixed.
Feliz’ fastball was dynamite, touching 97 mph repeatedly on the scoreboard. He scattered four hits (all singles) over four innings of work with four strikeouts in a no decision. And he showed poise, as Memphis loaded the bases early in the game before Feliz struck out Allen Craig to get out of the inning.
But his control was spotty at times with six walks. Of his 85 pitches, 47 were strikes. His worst innings were the third and fourth when he tossed a combined 36 pitches.
Lefty Derek Holland will pitch for OKC on Sunday to close out the series so it’ll be interesting to compare the results.
But maybe the better story of the night was the debut of Thomas Diamond who was once the Rangers’ top pitching prospect and but has been trying to come back from Tommy John surgery for two years. Diamond was strong in 2 2/3 innings of relief with three strikeouts. He gave up a solo homer, but it didn’t have any impact on the outcome.
Small ball was on display for OKC as the RedHawks pounded away at Memphis’ pitching with singles and doubles (10 hits in all). It’s not as dramatic as Nelson Cruz ripping one off the parking garage in left field at the Brick, but it got the job done.
The Oklahoma City RedHawks will honor Oklahoma City native and former New York Yankees star Bobby Murcer by retiring his number at Friday’s home opener.
Murcer grew up in Oklahoma City and played high school baseball at Southeast High School before beginning a 17-year run in the majors from 1965-83. He stayed around the game as a longtime TV and radio broadcaster for the Yankees.
Murcer died July 12 of complications from brain cancer in Oklahoma City. The RedHawks will hold a press conference with Murcer’s wife Kay on Tuesday to discuss the tribute.
The RedHawks have finished their season opener with a 4-3 loss in 10 innings at Memphis with shades of the Twilight Zone. Memphis lost by the same score at The Brick in last year’s opener.
Here’s a few thoughts on this year’s first game.
Bullpen falls apart
New closer Pedro Strop looked shaky, pitching one inning and allowing the tying run in the ninth. Derrick Turnbow was even more erratic, throwing 23 pitches with seven strikes. The 31-year-0ld walked in the winning run and also had a wild pitch.
Turnbow has been battling location problems for several seasons since saving 63 games between 2005 and 2006 for the Brewers. He spent most of last year with Triple-A Nashville before being called up to Milwaukee for eight games where he also struggled. Texas hopes he can add to their bullpen eventually, but the wait might be longer than they expected. Turnbow looked anything but confident in his first outing.
Small ball debuts
At the plate, the ‘Hawks matched Memphis’ seven hits and ironically, it was outfielder Ben Harrison who snagged the first stolen base of the year. Harrison isn’t much of a base runner with just single digit steals last year.
With little power in his lineup, Bobby Jones is hoping he can compensate with speed but Joaquin Arias (27 stolen bases last season) was caught early in the game. Outfielder Julio Borbon had more than 50 steals last season but didn’t get one Thursday night.
RHP Neftali Feliz starts for Oklahoma City Friday night in his Triple-A debut. Feliz,20, is a top 10 minor league prospect who figures to be Texas’ ace of the future if he can develop more pitches to go along with his 95 mph plus fastball.
By Matt Patterson
Former Stillwater high school and current Oakland A’s pitcher Brett Anderson was slated to make his big league debut tonight against the Angels, but that game has been postponed after the death of Angels rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart Wednesday night.
Adenhart,22, was killed in a hit and run car wreck not far from the Angels’ stadium. The rookie was the third starter in the Angels rotation.
Anderson won the No. 4 job in Oakland’s rotation after a strong spring. No word on whether or not Anderson will be skipped or if he will pitch in the Oakland’s next scheduled game.
By Matt Patterson
The RedHawks have finalized their pitching rotation and top prospect Neftali Feliz will start the second game of the series with Memphis Friday night.
The current RedHawks rotation is: Doug Mathis (tonight), Feliz (Friday), Elizardo Ramirez (Saturday), Derek Holland (Sunday) and Luis Mendoza (Monday).
Feliz is ranked No. 1 in the Rangers organization by Baseball America and has a fastball in the mid 90s, or higher. Lefty Derek Holland is the No. 2 ranked prospect in Texas’ system. Both spent time in Frisco last season with Feliz going 4-3 with a 2.98 ERA. Holland went 3-0 with a 0.69 ERA and 29 strikeouts.
Holland will face righty Blake Hawksworth in his debut. Feliz gets Mitchell Boggs. While both pitchers are highly rated prospects, don’t expect them to walk in and dominate Triple-A.
“This is probably the toughest Triple-A league in all of baseball,” OKC pitching coach Terry Clark said. “The ball flies and there are a lot of veteran hitters who are trying to get back to the big leagues.”
In other moves, the RedHawks added infielder Esteban German to its roster to fill the spot designated for Travis Metcalf who was claimed by Kansas City yesterday. German last played for the RedHawks in 2005. He’s also spent time in the Cubs and Royals organizations this spring. The move gives Oklahoma City a little more depth in their infield which as of yesterday featured only five players. German projects as a second baseman for OKC.
By Matt Patterson
Kansas City claimed former RedHawk third baseman Travis Metcalf off waivers Wednesday. Metcalf was put on waivers by the Rangers last week. He was assigned to Triple-A Omaha.
Metcalf played in 71 games for the RedHawks last season and the team expected him to be back . He was assigned a locker in the clubhouse.
Metcalf will still make at least one appearance at The Brick when Omaha visits Apr. 21-24.
With Metcalf now out of the picture, German Duran is the lone third baseman on the RedHawks roster.
By Matt Patterson
Lawton native Koyie Hill could be the starting catcher for the Chicago Cubs, at least until All-Star Geovany Soto’s throwing shoulder feels better. Hill replaced Soto in the sixth inning of Chicago’s 10 inning loss to Houston Tuesday night. Hill went hitless in two at bats.
The 30-year-old Hill hit .274 with 17 home runs for Triple-A Iowa in 2008. He was originally a fourth round pick of the Dodgers in 2000. He played in 10 games for Chicago last season.
His presence on a major league roster is a minor upset on at least one count. In 2007, he severed his thumb and nearly cut off four more fingers while using a table saw. His thumb was re-attached and he regained full use of his fingers. He beat out Paul Bako in spring training for the Cubs’ back-up catcher spot.
By Matt Patterson
Any lingering effects former Jenks High School pitcher Josh Johnson might have been feeling after his 2007 Tommy John surgery appear to be behind him.
The 6-foot-7 Johnson took the hill for the first time Tuesday night in a win over the Nationals. Johnson went 6 2/3 allowing seven hits and no walks with eight strikeouts.
He faced 27 batters, throwing 106 pitches with 76 strikes. Johnson’s strikeout total is worth noting. In an interview earlier this month, he told me the biggest part of his recovery was regaining his command.
“The other pitches come back pretty easily,” he said. “But the last for me was my 0-2 slider. Just getting the arm motion right and feeling comfortable with it took a lot longer than any of my other pitches. People think with the surgery I went through it’s the velocity with your fastball, but getting back the pitches that require more control takes the longest. ”
Johnson said his fastball topped out at 99 mph during spring training. He signed a one-year $1.4 million deal with Florida but isn’t eligible for arbitration for two more seasons. All things considered, he’d prefer to stay in Florida for the long term.
“This is a great place to live and to play,” he said. “But it’s a business. I’ll just have to see how things work out.”
And he’s also excited about Florida’s new park scheduled to open in 2012 at the previous site of the Orange Bowl. It will have retractable roof, which is a perk for fans and players considering south Florida’s rainy weather.
“We get a lot of rain here so you’re constantly calling your family and updating them on the weather so they can decide if they’re going to come out or not,” he said. “When you have kids that can be tough coordinating everything.”