Wednesday's 1st pitch: A-Rod meets Lackey

Today’s Trivia: Happy 92nd birthday to Bobby Doerr, the oldest living player inducted into the Hall of Fame. Who was the only American League player with more hits than Doerr in the 1940s?

Key Matchups -- Miguel Cabrera has hit safely in eight straight at-bats against Luke Hochevar, whom he faces tonight in Kansas City. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is tied for the longest active streak of hits in consecutive at-bats against a pitcher. Also eight for their last eight are: Mark Grudzielanek against Nate Robertson, Andruw Jones against Jason Marquis, and Miguel Olivo against Billy Wagner.

John Lackey gets his introduction to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry Wednesday, and there is one Yankee in particular who probably wishes he’d go back to Anaheim. Alex Rodriguez is a .176 career hitter against Lackey, his worst batting average against anyone he has faced 50 times. He is just one for his last 22 against Lackey, including 11 strikeouts. A-Rod has 1,739 strikeouts in his career, but no pitcher is responsible for more of them than Lackey. The two have faced each other 61 times. Rodriguez has struck out 23 times.


Most pitches per inning among qualifying starters in 2009

Today’s Leaderboards-- Max Scherzer, a Missouri alum, makes his Tigers debut in Kansas City. While his stuff is not in question, it remains to be seen how efficiently Scherzer can pitch. Last season, he averaged 18.0 pitches per inning, most among MLB starters. Clayton Kershaw, who also starts today, was second at 17.7.

Like Scherzer, Rich Harden is debuting for his new AL team and looking to prove that he can go deeper into games. He averaged 17.7 pitches per inning last season, but did not have the innings to qualify in that category. Interestingly, part of the reason for Harden’s inefficiency is the fact that no one can make contact against him. Last season, 33.9 percent of swings against Harden were swings and misses. That ranked him among closers like Jonathan Broxton and Joe Nathan, and was far above any other starter.


Highest swing and miss percentage among starting pitchers in 2009

Trivia Answer: In a decade in which many players, including Doerr, missed significant time while serving in the military, Lou Boudreau played all 10 seasons and finished with an MLB-best 1,578 hits. Boudreau’s arthritic ankles led to him being classified as ineligible for military service.