AP Photo/Elise Amendola
That's why a 12-0 blowout, like we saw in Boston on Wednesday night, is not nearly as impressive as it probably should be. There's no doubt that Roy Halladay is capable of such a dominant performance -- a three-hit, complete-game shutout with six strikeouts on only 100 pitches. In fact, in Halladay's first career victory, way back in 1998, he pitched a complete-game one-hit shutout with eight strikeouts on only 94 pitches against the Detroit Tigers on Sept. 27.
Last night, however, the Boston Red Sox certainly made it easy for him to shine in what could be his last game as a Toronto Blue Jay, with their lineup consisting of names like Joey Gathright, Josh Reddick, George Kottaras and Chris Woodward instead of Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jason Varitek. But that's what you get the night after a team locks down a playoff berth.
So, with the Phillies locking up the National League's Eastern Division crown on Wednesday, don't be surprised to see a lineup that includes Ben Francisco, John Mayberry, Eric Bruntlett and Greg Dobbs instead of the usual powerhouse lineup that hung 10 runs on the Houston Astros. And as such, we probably wouldn't be all that surprised to see Felipe Paulino (2-11) look like Mike Scott circa 1986.
We were a bit more surprised by San Diego Padres pitcher Clayton Richard's seven innings of one-hit ball against the Los Angeles Dodgers. After all, the Dodgers still haven't officially clinched anything, though their magic number remains at 1. Still, after a Matt Kemp single in the first inning, they were unable to do anything against Richard and two relievers, losing their fourth straight game, 4-0.
And that wasn't even the only one-hit pitching performance of the night. The Seattle Mariners' Brandon Morrow struck out a career-high nine, allowing just a Rajai Davis infield single in the fourth inning, as he beat the Oakland A's, 7-0. Ken Griffey Jr. had a three-run shot in the first inning and the Mariners never looked back.
Clearly, the last week of the season is simply brimming with potential for solid fantasy pitching options, even from the most unexpected places. You simply never know who might be the next Devern Hansack, and throw a no-hitter in complete obscurity in October -- a five-inning, rain-shortened no-no for Boston against the Orioles in 2006 -- never to be heard from again.
• In games that still matter to non-fantasy players, Eddie Bonine chose a good moment for his first win of the season, surviving a seven-hit, two-walk, five-inning performance to beat the Minnesota Twins, 7-2. Magglio Ordonez drove in three runs for the Tigers, who pounded Twins' starter Carl Pavano for seven runs in 4 2/3 innings. Entering the game, Pavano had been 4-0 against Detroit with a 1.69 ERA this season.
• Jason Hammel struck out eight Milwaukee Brewers, but was otherwise ineffective, allowing four runs in only five innings. Luckily for the Colorado Rockies, their lineup came through again, with eight runs in six innings against Jeff Suppan. Troy Tulowitzki was 2-for-3 with a two-run homer -- his 31st of the year -- in the 10-6 win.
• Too little, too late? Brad Penny improved to 4-1 for San Francisco, with a complete-game six-hitter, allowing only an unearned run against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Catcher Eli Whiteside went 3-for-3 with a three-run home run.
• Cleveland's Justin Masterson was a hard-luck loser, striking out 12 Chicago White Sox, yet falling to 4-10 on the season with a 1-0 defeat, as Mark Buehrle and two relievers combined on a four-hit shutout in the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader. The Indians took the first game, 5-1, on the strength of a Travis Hafner home run.
• Bronson Arroyo made his 13th consecutive quality start, with 8 1/3 innings of one-run ball in a 6-1 win over St. Louis. The Reds' pitcher is only 5-3 during that stretch, though, as the Reds are not exactly lighting up the scoreboard for Arroyo, who finishes the season at 15-13 with a 3.84 ERA. John Smoltz took the loss for the Cardinals, allowing six runs in four innings, and may have worked his way out of St. Louis' playoff rotation.
• Charlie Morton is the subject of this sentence. The Pirates pitcher shone in the opener of a twinbill on Wednesday, shutting out the Chicago Cubs on only four hits, the same number of hits Ryan Doumit had in the nightcap. With a home run, a double and four RBIs, Doumit led the Pirates to a sweep, 8-2.
• Joba Chamberlain didn't look great against the Kansas City Royals, allowing seven hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings. That doesn't bode well for inclusion in the rotation come playoff time. And let's face it, a successful postseason performance out of the bullpen will likely cause more "controversy" for the Yankees pitcher over what role he should have next year. Thanks a lot, Joba!
Justin Maxwell, Nationals
It's not often this spot goes to a guy who entered the game as a pinch-runner, but we'll make an exception for Maxwell, who stayed in the game after running for Josh Willingham in the eighth, and then ended the contest in the ninth with a walk-off grand slam off Francisco Rodriguez. The 103-loss Washington Nationals swept the New York Mets in their final series at home.
Ricky Nolasco, Marlins
Bait and switch! This was the Ricky Nolasco we thought we were going to see all season, but instead got a 9.07 ERA for the first two months of the year. Wednesday night, Nolasco struck out a career-high 16 batters against the Atlanta Braves, the single-game high in the majors this season. At one point, Nolasco went through the entire lineup, striking out nine straight hitters, one shy of Tom Seaver's major-league record.
Even though the Twins lost, shortstop Orlando Cabrera scored for the 11th straight game. This is only the second double-digit run-scoring streak in the past 30 years for a player who was acquired via a midseason trade. Carlos Beltran had a 15-game streak for the Houston Astros in 2004.
• At this time of the season, teams don't bother to put players on the disabled list, but if they did, Freddy Sanchez would be there. The San Francisco Giants' second baseman underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He is expected to be ready to go when spring training rolls around, though it's unlikely the Giants pick up his $8.1 million option.
• Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer won't be making the postseason roster. Moyer needs surgery after tearing three muscles in his groin and lower abdomen on Tuesday. We'll have to see how well the 46-year-old's body recovers from this surgery, but he is under contract for 2010.
• With two fractured fingers, we've probably seen the last of Corey Hart for 2009. The Milwaukee Brewers outfielder has had an awful season, with only 12 home runs and 48 RBIs, and a missed month due to an appendectomy, so he's probably ready to start putting the whole year behind him as soon as possible.
Steve Phillips: I think in the first round, they'll use him out of the bullpen, as I suspect they'll choose the series with the extra off day. If they advance, I think they'll go with him in the rotation and not in the bullpen. I think Joba will rise to the occasion and perform at a better level than we've seen over the past two months of the season. When emotion comes into play, he tends to perform better, and clearly the playoffs are an emotional time. It wouldn't be the worst thing if they went with Chad Gaudin, as I believe they're undefeated in his seven starts.
-- Full chat transcript
Thursday's fantasy chat schedule:
AJ Mass, 11 a.m. ET
Jason Grey, 3 p.m. ET
• Matt Garza of the Tampa Bay Rays has been a sub-.500 pitcher this season, but has done well against the Baltimore Orioles: 6-0 lifetime and 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 2009.
• Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm is 4-1 for his career against the Chicago Cubs, and 3-1 at Wrigley, but it's never been pretty. His 8.13 ERA in Chicago isn't anything to write home about.
• For more on Thursday's games, check Daily Notes.