A second after I glanced at the New Orleans boxscore for last night's home game, I knew the Zephyrs were in trouble. Before the first Zephyr had stepped into the batter's box, the team was already three runs down.
The victim? Starter Adam Bostick.
In the top of the first he faced eight batters. After striking out the leadoff man, he walked the next batter, who then stole second. (Bostick needs to work on keeping runners close.) I don't know if the theft of second also stole Bostick's concentration, but he grooved a pitch to Oklahoma's cleanup hitter who smashed it over the left field fence. The next three batters were also happy to step to the plate, doubling, singling, and singling. Finally, Bostick was able to end the inning by getting the eighth batter to pop out to first.
In the third inning, an Oklahoma batter homered.
In the fourth, an Oklahoma batter homered.
In the fifth, six Oklahoma batters came to the plate, but by then Bostick was gone.
His ERA's now 6.07.
In his four innings, Bostick threw 85 pitches. That's about 21 pitches an inning. Control problems?
For the past few weeks the Zephyr starters have struggled on the mound, something I expound upon this week in my column.
Tonight Philip Humber starts. In his last outing he was also out fast: He lasted just 3.2 innings during which he surrendered four walks and five earned runs.
Thirteen hundred forty miles away, in Flushing Meadows, Queens, John Maine lasted 5.2 innings. He also had control issues. He threw 118 pitches or more than 22 an inning. Forty six of them were outside the strike zone. When he was pulled from the game in the sixth, Mike Cameron had homered, Josh Bard had doubled to deep right, and pinch-hitter Marcus Giles, hitting only .224 this season, had tripled to deep left. Did Willie leave Maine in an inning too long?
Maine's explanation of his outing? The New York Times quoted him as saying "“I felt all right today.” ... “It was just tough in the weather.”
It was a cooler than usual August night in Queens, the temperature sinking into the upper fifties after the game began; however, I suspect Maine's problem are due more to a tired arm if not a tired body.
North of the Big Apple, in Portland, Maine, at least one pitcher in the Mets organization still has his sea legs under him. Though Portland's temperature matched that in Queens, Kevin Mulvey, the Binghamton Mets ace, showed in seven innings what he's capable of: three hits, no runs, six strikeouts. The B-Met notched his 11th win as he lowered his ERA to 3.34.
For Zephyr weather watchers, the temperature hovered around 100 degrees at game time yesterday in the Big Easy.