06/16/2004: There are records you don't want to break...
And Cardinals pitcher Matt Morris is poised to break one of them. From Brian Gunn at Redbird Nation (apropos of yesterday's 8-4 Cardinals home victory over the Oakland A's):
Of course in retrospect it all seems preordained that the Birds would finish on top, but it was pretty touch 'n go for awhile there. Matt Morris spotted his pitches, had good control, and pitched pretty well, except (and stop me if you've heard this one before) he fell victim to those damn long balls. The ones tonight especially hurt, seeing as the perpetrators were Damian Miller (1 HR every 38 ABs entering tonight's game) and Mark Kotsay (1 HR every 103 ABs). Not exactly heavyweights.
Which raises the question: How likely is Matt Morris to break the single-season record for home runs allowed? He's on pace for 54 and the record is 50, set by Bert Blyleven in 1986. Now, I know these "on paces for"s can get out of hand (Ken Harvey is not going to end the season hitting .361, and I doubt Melvin Mora will finish with 157 runs), but Morris has a really shot at breaking the record.
Matty Mo is actually pretty similar to Blyleven. Blyleven had a decent fastball when he first came up, but by his mid-30's (when he gave up all those gopherballs) his heater was fooling no one and he had to rely more and more on his bread and butter pitch, a big overhand curve. And when those curveballs hang up, so does the old HR rate. Same deal with Morris: he still has enough placement to keep runners off base and maintain a semi-respectable ERA (4.14, about the same as Blyleven's in '86), but he's going to hang a few Charlies every game. Just the way it is.
Len on 06.16.04 @ 11:54 AM CST