Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Braves feast on El Duque's servings

In last night's New York Mets game, starter Orlando Hernandez's numbers were horrendous. In three plus innings, against 19 batters, he gave up eight runs on six hits and four walks. He averaged almost 25 pitches an inning.

El Duque attributed his poor performance to a lack of control rather than to the foot problem that sidelined him for 12 days. It appears that the Mets coaches prematurely returned him to the battle zone. Unfortunately, all the Mets' minor league teams' regular seasons have ended, so he couldn't get sent down for a rehab start. Instead, for his rehab start he faced the Braves. They did more than help him to return to pitching form; they sent notice that the Mets will pay when they put a not-ready-for-prime-time pitcher on the mound against them.

With both Pelfrey and Humber on the roster, there was no need for the Mets to rush El Duque back into service.

Humber did make it into the game, eight innings too late. In the ninth he faced Johnson, Escobar, and Prado. Ten pitches later he'd retired the side on two groundouts and a lineout.

In the Pacific Coast League playoffs, Adam Bostick pitched much better than did El Duque, but New Orleans also lost, 5-3, though Bostick wasn't the losing pitcher. In six innings, he gave up just two hits and two runs. He walked three while striking out nine.

Six innings seems to be his limit. Since June 12, in his last 10 starts he was able to reach the sixth inning only three times and complete it only twice. Only 20% of those starts were quality starts.

Unfortunately for the Zephyrs, with star reliever Willie Collazo promoted to the New York Mets, their available relievers couldn't prevent Sacramento from scoring. The last run was given up in the ninth by ex-Met Joe Smith. Unlike Humber, who pitched a scoreless ninth yesterday, Smith gave up two hits, a walk, and one run. Didn't matter though. The Zephyrs would have lost anyway.

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