Week 17: July 23-29, 2007
Record for the Week: 4-3*, 42 RS, 31 RA
(*5-3 if you count the completion of the June 28 game with the O's)
Overall: 56-49, 4 games behind Cleveland for the Wild Card
Once again, we're skipping the Breakdown, just this time it's because I didn't get to watch as much baseball as I would have liked last week.
Player of the Week: In a week where the pitching wasn't terribly exceptional, the prizes go to hitters. Hideki Matsui (.296/.364/.519) and Robinson Cano (.407/.452/.556) have been on fire all month. Jorge Posada (.333/.417/.571) gets extra credit for getting into it with Kyle Farnsworth this week. But the winner is Melky Cabrera (.385/.419/.692), who's doing a lot to justify the considerable faith put in him this season. There have been times when he looked like he needed to go back down, and he's still inconsistent enough that next week could be one of those times. But for right now, he's the player of the week.
Dregs of the Week: As mentioned before, we have Kyle Farnsworth (1 HR, 2 runs, and 1 catcher argument in trying to blow Sunday's game)--you can't live with him, you can't shoot him and bury him in the back yard. But then we also have Scranton-bound Kei Igawa (5 runs in 5 2/3) who's a befuddling mix of strikeout stuff and tateriffic hittableness. And Shelley Duncan (1 for 8 on the week with a walk) went from the highs to the lows, showing that even a three homer weekend doesn't guarantee a rookie playing time in Joe Torre's world. I'm not sure if that's bad or good.
Story of the Week: The chase for Alex Rodriguez's homer number 500 is the sort of thing that's bound to take on a life of its own. A-Rod reached 499 last Wednesday, against the Royals, raised the possibility of his 500th homer being caught in a time warp if he went yard in the Yankees' two-inning mini-game to complete the Yanks/Orioles' June 28th matchup, which was suspended due to rain under the new MLB rules.
By Saturday, however, the story was about how Rodriguez was pressing for #500, conveniently feeding into the "Rodriguez is a sensitive guy who folds under pressure" meme that's been so popular in previous years. People who want to put that one out there can point at Rodriguez's .123 batting average last week. This forgets that the O's steadfastly refused to give him anything in the strike zone--with their own fans sounding disappointed every time Rodriguez didn't hit a homer, the Birds walked Alex five times over the three regular games of the weekend series.
This isn't to say that Alex isn't feeling the pressure. It's hard to try to go out and hit a homer, and I'd bet it's harder still when everyone is expecting you to hit one on...this at bat. But give the guy a break--the O's obviously wanted no part of an A-Rod ESPN highlight this weekend.
(From a more cynical perspective, you could also note that keeping the "will he or won't he" excitement for homer #500 going through the weekend could possibly have helped the O's at the turnstiles. Does Baltimore draw a capacity crowd on Saturday and Sunday if Rodriguez hits #500 on Friday? Maybe, maybe not.)
Back with the Month in Review on Thursday.