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Article:Baseball Notebook; Yankees Can't Get Wins From Bottom of Rotation

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Since May 21st, the New York Yankees have only picked up one win from the last two spots in their rotation. Darrell Rasner (4-5) is the only Yankee pitcher from the last two spots in their rotation to win when he defeated Jake Peavy and the San Diego Padres on June 18th. Rasner was 3-0 to start his season, but since then, he has been 1-4. In his last two losses, he has given up 14 runs and 19 hits in 8 2/3 innings. That is tantamount to pitching a 19 hitter in less than 9 innings.

Rasner had allowed only 3 homers in his first eight starts, but allowed 2 homers last night to the Pittsburgh Pirates. In May, Rasner was 3-1 with an ERA of 1.80, but so far in June he is 1-4 with an ERA of 7.00.

Joba Chamberlain (1-2) has moved up to the third spot in the rotation with the loss of Chien-Ming Wang, but has yet to win a game as a starter. However, he has pitched well with an ERA of 2.45 as a starter. Chamberlain has started against three teams who are currently last place and another team that is next to last, so he hasn't had a true test of his abilities as a starter. His start today against the Pirates will make his fifth straight start against a team with a losing record. His most impressive stat to me is that he has only given up 2 homers in 42 innings this season.

Since May 2nd, Wang is the only other starter among the first three in the rotation to win a game that is not named Andy Pettitte or Mike Mussina. Pettitte and Mussina have been carrying the team for the last few weeks.

Below is the record of all Yankee pitchers to start in the fourth or fifth spot in the rotation:

Darrell Rasner: 4-5
Ian Kennedy: 0-3
Philip Hughes: 0-4
Brian Bruney: no decision
Dan Giese: 0-1
Kei Igawa: 0-1
Joba Chamberlain: no decision

These seven pitchers have a combined 4-14 record this season. If the Yankees are to contend for the AL East title, they need to get better pitching from these pitchers or whoever they acquire to replace any of them. In 30 starts by these pitchers, they only have the four wins by Rasner to show for it.

Braves in a Freefall

Even though the Atlanta Braves are my favorite team they are not free from any criticism. On May 22nd they were 26-21, but since then, they have been 12-20 and close to last place in the NL East. The only reason they are only 4 1/2 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies is because the Phillies are 2-8 in their last 10 games, and no team in the NL East has a winning record in their last 10 games. All the NL East teams lost yesterday.

The Braves can't be taken seriously until they start winning on the road. Their 11-27 road record is the worst in the Majors. The Braves have been crippled by injuries this season to the pitching staff. John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Mike Hampton are all on the disabled list. Glavine and Smoltz have a combined 5-5 record this season with Smoltz done for the season. Glavine has 50 less innings pitched than Tim Hudson yet has still allowed 9 homers to 8 by Hudson.

Glavine is 17th among Braves pitchers with a 4.85 ERA. The Braves like the Yankees are not getting many wins from the bottom of the rotation. After Smoltz, Glavine, Jair Jurrjens, and Tim Hudson, the rest of the starters have a combined 8-13 record to give them 8 wins in 30 starts.

Jeff Francoeur has been struggling this season and has only 8 RBI's in June, and only 3 RBI's since June 12th. He has been 2-for-19 with the bases loaded (good for a .105 average) and is hitting .220 with runners in scoring position. He is only 5-for-42 in interleague play with one double. Francoeur is hitting 46 points lower this season than his .293 average of last season with a .247 average this season.

With Chipper Jones missing a lot of games lately except for pinch hitting the Braves need more production from Francoeur. With Jones out and Francoeur not hitting that only leaves Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann to drive in runs. Francoeur is 10th in slugging and 13th in batting average among Braves hitters.

Bronson Arroyo Done For?

Bronson Arroyo (4-7) pitched one of the worst first innings I have ever seen last night. He centered pitch after pitch for the Toronto Blue Jays, and they took advantage by scoring 10 times off of Arroyo and lashing 11 hits in one inning of pitching. He pitched to four batters in the second inning, but didn't retire any of them. He gave up 3 homers and 3 doubles among the the 11 hits. In his last two starts, totaling 7 1/3 innings, he has given up 16 runs and 18 hits.

In May, he gave up one homer in 33 innings but in 22 1/3 innings in June he has given up 9 homers. He is 0-3 for June with a 10.07 ERA. 439 Major League pitchers have a lower ERA than the 6.52 ERA posted by Arroyo. Arroyo effectively quieted any trade talk about him being traded to a contending team before the trading deadline. The market for pitchers giving up 10 runs in an inning is non existent.

Around the Bases

Chad Qualls (1-6) may have insured he won't be pitching in a save situation again this season by blowing his fifth save in six chances by allowing the Boston Red Sox to overcome a 4-1 deficit entering the bottom of the eighth inning and taking a 5-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Jonathan Sanchez (7-4) won his fifth game in his last six starts as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Cleveland Indians 3-2.

Braden Looper (9-5) pitched the St. Louis Cardinals to a 8-4 win over the Detroit Tigers. Gary Sheffield hit his 484th Major League homer in the game.

Zach Greinke is now 7-4 after defeating the Colorado Rockies 7-3. Greinke won his second start in a row after going a month without a win. The last place Kansas City Royals moved to only a half game behind the fourth place Indians in the AL Central.

Joe Blanton (4-10) won his first game since May 25th with the Oakland Athletics defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 5-2. Emil Brown drove in 3 runs and has now driven in 5 runs in his last two games after not driving in a run since May 25th.

The Milwaukee Brewers won their fourth game in a row with their 4-3 defeat of the Atlanta Braves. Dave Bush (4-7) won his third start of his last five starts. The Brewers moved to five games back of the first place Cubs, who lost yesterday. A month ago, the Brewers were only a half game out of last place, but despite going 20-7 since then, they are only a game closer to the Cubs. Mark Teixeira hit his 14th homer and his 4th homer in his last three games. He is hitting .372 during day games and only .227 at night.

Jon Garland (7-4) took the win in the Los Angeles Angels' 8-3 win over the Washington Nationals. Garland has only lost once since April 28th and his next win will be the 100th of his career.

The Seattle Mariners bombed the New York Mets by an 11-0 score. Oliver Perez gave up his 14th and 15th homers of the season in 83 innings after giving up 22 last year in 177 innings. He already has 52 walks this season after having 79 all last season.

J.P. Howell (6-0) won a 6-4 Tampa Bay Rays win over the Florida Marlins, and Evan Longoria drove in two runs to give him 39 RBI's for the season. He is in a second place tie for RBI's on the Rays with B.J. Upton, and is only one RBI behind the team leader, who picked up his 40th RBI in the game.

The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Chicago Cubs 7-4 despite Kosuke Fukudome and Jim Edmonds hitting their sixth homers of the season. After having 1 homer and 3 RBI's in May, Edmonds has 4 homers and 16 RBI's in June and is hitting .346 for the month and slugging .712.

Lance Berkman hit his 21st home run in the Houston Astros' 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers in their intrastate rivalry.

The Minnesota Twins won their seventh game in a row with a 3-1 win against the Padres and their 10th win in their last 12 games.

Mark Buehrle (5-6) pitched eight innings and only allowed one run in the Chicago White Sox' 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. White Sox have been 5-5 in their last 10 games, while the Twins have been 9-1 in their last 10 games. So this win was very important since the White Sox are only a game and a half over the Twins. Buehrle won his third game in his last five starts and received no decision in the other two starts when he pitched 6 innings and allowed 3 runs and allowed one run in 8 innings in the other start. He has pitched 8 innings in his last four starts and has a 1.89 ERA in June.

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