“Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls, it’s more democratic.” — Crash Davis
Here’s the thing, Crash Davis was wrong. Nuke LaLoosh got called up to the show because he could strike batters out.
That brings us to a real pitcher, Aaron Cook. He was the Thomas Jefferson of democratic ground balls in his first four starts after coming off the disabled list in June, going 2-1 with a 1.67 earned run average.
Now the trend has shifted. Cook couldn’t get out of the fifth inning on Wednesday night as the Tigers beat the Red Sox, 7-5.
Cook is 0-3 in his last three starts, allowing 15 earned runs on 20 hits, six of them home runs, over 15 innings. Those games came against the Blue Jays and Yankees before the Tigers roughed him up.
Cook allowed six runs on nine hits. Five of the runs came in the fifth inning as a close game got away from the Sox and snapped their four-game win streak.
Six of the nine hits came on two-strike pitches. Cook didn’t have a strikeout in the game and has only four over 44.2 innings.
Strikeouts may be fascist. But sometimes you really need them.
“We all wish he had a pitch that, with two strikes, it would be a swing-and-miss pitch,” manager Bobby Valentine said. “That’s what you live with. A contact pitcher, he works quick and doesn’t walk people. But at times those groundballs find holes.”
In a 1-1 game, thee hits came in bunches in the fifth inning. With two runs in and a runner on, Cook tried a 2-and-2 curveball to Miguel Cabrera that stayed up in the strike zone.
Cabrera clobbered it over everything in left field, across Lansdowne Street and onto the roof of the parking garage. It was only a few feet away from the Massachusetts Turnpike.
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia explained that the idea was to get Fielder to chase a pitch in the dirt. But the ball spun up.
“He thought he could bounce a curveball and he didn’t bounce it. The big boy deposited it,” Valentine said. “Looking for that groundball at someone. It didn’t happen that inning.”
Prince Fielder was next and he homered to straightaway center, another curveball gone awry. Valentine finally came and got Cook then.
Cook has allowed two home runs in each of his last three starts. They’ve accounted for 10 runs.
“I can live with the groundballs getting through and scoring runs here and there,” he said. “But when I’m making bad pitches to the best hitters in the game and just leaving them up, they did exactly what they were supposed to do with those pitches.
If Cook were to stay in the rotation, he would face the Texas Rangers at Fenway on Monday. But with Josh Beckett questionable for his next start because of back spasms, the Red Sox may not have the flexibility to replace Cook.
Cook made a case to keep his job.
“I know what happened and why it happened. I still feel strong; I still feel healthy. It’s just a matter of, in those certain situations, not making bad those pitches and just bearing down,” he said. “I feel like I’ve only been making three or four bad pitches a game but they’re been resulting in four or five runs.”
• Adrian Gonzalez is now hitting .300 after going 2 for 3. He is hitting .389 since June 23.
• Carl Crawford is 5 of his last 17 with a triple, 2 homers, and 4 RBIs.
• Will Middlebrooks has hit safely in 9 straight at 13 of 33 with six RBIs. He’s at .300 for the season.
• Two nice defensive plays in the outfield tonight. Jacoby Ellsbury made a tumbling grab of a fly ball to center by Delmon Young in the fourth inning that saved at least one run. He crashed into the bullpen wall.
Ryan Kalish then went a long way to make a sliding grab in right field in the sixth inning to take a double away from Jhonny Peralta, Kalish was 1 for 3 and drew a walk off a lefty, too. Nice night for him.
Finally, thanks to everybody for reading today. Fun to see nearly 1,000 comments on the blog and a good discussion.
Back at it tomorrow.