05/16/2007 1:21 PM ET
Remember the name Gorzelanny
Tom Gorzelanny isn't a household name -- not yet, anyway.
Tom Gorzelanny lowered his season ERA to 2.36 with seven scoreless innings. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)
But if the Pirates left-hander continues to throw like he did on Monday night (and for most of this season), people should start to recognize his name soon.
"You've just got to tip your hat to ... I want to say his name, Gorzelanny?" Florida ace Dontrelle Willis told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after finding himself on the losing end of his counterpart's seven innings of shutout baseball. "He did a great job today. It was his night."
Willis wasn't the only one that wasn't sure who exactly had just shut the Marlins down.
"We're not scoring any runs," added Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez. "We had a chance there, and he ... uh, how do you pronounce his name?"
With an ERA of 2.36 and five wins, Gorzelanny is among the league leaders in multiple categories, and he has gone seven innings in each of his last three starts and allowed a total of three runs over that span.
"Tom Gorzelanny has pitched terrific all year," said Pirates manager Jim Tracy. "He's throwing three pitches for strikes, hitting quality spots ... it's tough to deal with pitchers like that."
His teammates believe he's among the best left-handers in the league right now.
"No doubt," said reliever John Grabow. "He's got a great fastball, a good slider, a curveball and a changeup. He's mixing his pitches, and he's got deception, too. If you've got all that going for you from the left side, you can be pretty dominating."
"The numbers speak for themselves," added first baseman Ryan Doumit. "You look at his track record, and he did that every year in the Minor Leagues. What's to keep him from doing it up here?"
Gorzelanny is pleased with his results thus far, but he isn't going to get ahead of himself.
"I'll say this all year: This is my first full season in the bigs," Gorzelanny said. "I'm doing well, and I'm feeling happy about that. But the main thing is that there's still more work to be done. I've still got a long way to go. I'm far from established."
Furcal's streak is better than PlayStation: For the third straight game, Rafael Furcal posted a four-hit game Tuesday. That leaves him one game shy of tying an 82-year-old record. Former Brooklyn Dodger Milt Stock set the record with four straight four-hit games back in 1925.
Furcal also had two hits in the game before the streak started, giving him 14 hits in his last 16 at-bats.
"I can't do that on PlayStation," teammate Luis Gonzalez told the Los Angeles Times. "He's doing it in real life."
In four days, Furcal has raised his average 79 points to give him a .297 mark for the season.
"I don't worry about the first month of the season," Furcal said. "When you play 162 games, anything can happen. I don't think you can be in a 162-game struggle."
Furcal had three singles and a bases-clearing triple in the game.
"Right now, he's on fire," Dodgers manager Grady Little said. "You don't want to say too much or touch him too much."
A healthy Bonds is a homer-hitting Bonds: With 11 home runs in his first 33 games, Barry Bonds is off to a great start this season. If he keeps up this pace, Bonds could set the all-time home-run record before the All-Star game.
"It's pretty remarkable at 42 that he should be swinging the bat this well, but he's healthy," manager Bruce Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle. "The swing is flawless, which is why he is able to do what he's doing. He's got good genes, but he's worked hard to be able to do what he's doing now."
Opponents are recognizing the folly in pitching to Bonds now. He had two intentional walks through April 26th. Since that time period he has 12 free passes.
"My health is a lot better. My knees are a lot better. I feel a lot better, and obviously it's showing on the field," Bonds said.
The slugger credited stronger legs for his best performance since his MVP season of 2004.
"It's huge in baseball. Having the legs underneath you, that's the whole driving force of your power," Bonds said. "If you want to be consistent, you've got to have your legs under you."
Bonds had three surgeries on his right knee in 2005 and Dr. Arthur Ting, the surgeon who performed the operations, agreed that healthy legs are fueling Bonds' play this season.
"I think he was still recovering last year, and this year you see the results of him being able to train all offseason," Ting said. "The knee (injury) hindered his ability to train. If he couldn't run or jump or take a sustained impact, he couldn't be healthy enough to swing the bat. I've got to give him a lot of credit for his work ethic to come back."
Meanwhile, Dr. Bill Harrison, an optometrist who works with the Braves but who was with the Pirates when Bonds came up, credits the slugger's eyes for his performance.
"It was remarkable. The best eyes I ever saw," Harrison said. "He was so good, I left the area and went and told (general manager) Syd Thrift. I've seen thousands and thousands of players, and he was by far the best. When you have that tremendous vision, the ball slows down, and when the ball looks slow, you get a tremendous amount of confidence.
"With most older players, the ball looks like an aspirin tablet, and that's how they can lose their confidence. Barry's able to quickly recognize pitches and lay off them if he doesn't like them. It's about the ultimate hand-eye coordination. It's amazing he has retained it all these years."
Clemens readies for first Minor League start: Roger Clemens looked good during his first bullpen session Tuesday, throwing 71 pitches. The veteran right-hander is scheduled to make his first Minor League start on Friday for Single-A Tampa, Newsday reported.
During his throwing sessions, Clemens threw his two-seam and four-seam fastballs as well as his slider and split-finger fastball.
"He was on the money," said Yankees minor leaguer James LaSala, who caught Clemens. "Great stuff. Great command."
While in Tampa, Clemens has taken the time to talk about mechanics to several Minor League pitchers, including Phil Hughes, Jeff Karstens and Joba Chamberlain.
Clemens is expected to make two or three starts in the Minor Leagues before joining the Yankees rotation. There is a chance his first start will come on the road against the Boston Red Sox, the first team Clemens pitched for.
Peavy: When Maddux is on, it's 'a joke': It must have been turn-back-the-clock night in San Diego Monday night. In a vintage performance, Greg Maddux needed only 96 pitches to throw a complete game against the Cincinnati Reds in a 7-1 victory.
The win was the 336th for Maddux and it was his 109th complete game.
"When Greg's on, it's a joke," teammate Jake Peavy told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "He missed his location maybe five pitches all night."
Maddux retired the first 16 hitters he faced before losing his no-hit bid in the six inning on a Javier Valentin double.
"I haven't thrown one (a no-hitter) since high school," Maddux said. "I don't think it's going to happen. Sure, it'd be awesome. I'm not complaining. I'm just glad we won."
Maddux finished the game allowing five hits and no walks while striking out five batters. Maddux is now 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA. Aiding his outing was the fact Maddux was staked to a 3-0 lead after the first inning.
"Runs are a beautiful thing," Maddux said. "Every pitch, the game isn't on the line, which is a good thing. When you have a lead like that, you can afford to be more aggressive in the strike zone."
Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky, who was a longtime scout with the Twins, was more than impressed with Maddux Monday night.
"He is the best I've seen at starting balls off the plate that look like balls and end up on the plate. Balls that look like they are on the plate end up off. If you can do that, you have a ride to Cooperstown. I scouted him 11 years when I was with the Twins, and he is the master."
Borowski's routine has kept him healthy: When Joe Borowski was shopping for a new team this offseason, some questioned his health.
Now settled in with the Cleveland Indians, Borowski says those questions didn't bother him, and he was never concerned. He knew his routine would keep him healthy.
"I had no doubts," Borowski told MLB.com. "I said in the wintertime that health is not an issue. People look on paper or whatever, and they believe it to be all-knowing, like the gospel. But a lot of times you have to bring people in and go by other things, other than a picture. It's not indicative of what a guy does to prepare himself to go out there on a daily basis."
A creature of habit, Borowski keeps himself in top physical condition. Part of his motivation comes from a couple of incidents that kept him out for big parts of the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
"When you have a pre-existing injury you have to [maintain your routine]," said. "If you neglect it, you'll be all right for a while, but it's going to start to turn on you after a while. I'd be foolish for something that's worked for me for a year and a half to all of a sudden say, 'I don't need it anymore.'"
Now 36, Borowski says he's never been in better shape.
"The year and a half previous to this year is indicative of me getting myself to a certain level where I can pitch with what I have and can do it effectively," he said. "Some people don't look at it like that, and it's their loss, not mine. I'm probably in the best shape I've been in my career."
Griffey's in a comfort zone: Cincinnati Reds right fielder Ken Griffey Jr. might look comfortable any place in the lineup, but it seems that since moving back to third in the order earlier this month that he's really taken off.
"I think you can hit him ninth and he'll be in his comfort zone," Reds manager Jerry Narron told MLB.com.
Even so, Griffey -- last week's player of the week -- is definitely hitting the ball well.
"It's one of those things that happened," said Griffey. "It wasn't a comfort zone. It was being able to look at some things I was doing wrong and trying to correct them. I'm so technical on certain things that I could give you three different swings and you guys might think they all look the same. I can tell you there are three different setups I have. My dad [Ken Griffey Sr.] could probably pick two out of the three."
Narron has noticed a difference.
"You can tell he's swinging better," Narron said. "The entire season, he's been very selective. He's been as patient at bat as I've ever seen. And that goes back a long ways."
Byrdak relishes new opportunity: Detroit Tigers pitcher Tim Byrdak may be getting used to the regular trips back and forth between Detroit and Triple-A Toledo, but he never has taken an opportunity to pitch in the Major Leagues for granted.
"I told my wife my story's kind of like Rocky Balboa in that last movie," Byrdak told MLB.com. "Every time I get up to the big-league level, I'd have an injury and have to prove myself all over again in Triple-A level to get back up there. [I] came back from Tommy John [elbow reconstruction surgery and] made it back up in Baltimore. [They] found a bone chip in [the elbow], get sent down to Triple-A Toledo again. You've got to keep proving yourself. That's all you can do."
Over time Byrdak has faced being released, Tommy John surgery and multiple trips back and forth from the Majors to the Minor Leagues. And despite nearly cashing it in after being released by the Indians in 2002, he kept his chin up thanks in large part to the support of his wife, Heather.
"We sat down after I got released by Cleveland," Byrdak said, "and she asked me, 'Do you think that you can get back?' And I said, 'You know what? I really do. I want to give it a shot.' She said, 'Well, then, we're in it for the long haul.' The sacrifices that she made, that's the only reason why I'm here."
Now, all this time later, Byrdak knows what a blessing it is to have a chance to pitch in the Majors. "You take this job as a blessing and not as [an entitlement]," Byrdak said. "Any locker up here, I'll take it."
-- Red Line Editorial