|Brandon Backe||Runelvys Hernandez|
|6 - 4, 4.88||4 - 7, 4.89|
A favorite trick of us baseball blogger types--of those who write about baseball in general, actually; Rob Neyer does it all the time-- is to play the game with the reader, I'll give you the oddball split, you won't guess the player.
After the readers' assumed pause for unrewarded contemplation, the writer then reveals the player he had masked with the split, then slickly makes whatever point about the player that he had intended to make.
The idea is that this is engaging writing, that it beats saying, "Did you know that player Y is only 3 for 172 in situation X?"
And hey, who I am to mess with convention?
So check out pitcher A and pitcher B:
Obviously pitcher A is a bum and pitcher B's a stud, right? Not so fast. After the long-winded intro, I'm sure you know something's up, and it is.
Getzroktalot and Mozemdown are <gasp!> the same pitcher. They're Brandon Backe. The pitcher with the 6.41 ERA is Backe on the road, and the pitcher with the 2.95 ERA is Backe at M2P.
Before his disastrous start in Baltimore, the Backe home/road split thing was starting to become less of an issue, as he'd won the two previous road starts. But 10 hits and seven runs over three and two-thirds will get people talking again, and I suppose there'll be some speculation about the quality of Brandon's start today.
But I feel good about this one. Aside from my being one of Backe's biggest fans (and yes, one who was shocked by the shellacking at Camden yards), Kansas City has revealed itself as a fairly anemic club, one that you hope Backe can keep down today. I saw that KC had come in with the second highest AL team batting average in June at .306, but whatever was doing that, it's worn off. And I think you can make the argument that more than home vs. road, the underlying factor in Backe's polarized splits is quality of opposition.
Here are Backe's opponents at home and on the road this year, with the context in which Brandon faced them:
- First, at home
- Cincinnati April 9 (the Reds were 11th in the NL in runs scored during the month of April)
- Atlanta (on April 19, when they were struggling offensively about as bad as Houston)
- The Bondsless Giants on May 15 (the Giants were second to last in the NL for runs in the month of May)
- Cincinnati again May 31 (nothing bad to say bout the Reds here; the Reds had found their offensive stride by this point)
- Now, the road:
- at New York April 14 (the Mets were 4th in the NL in runs scored for the month of April)
- St. Louis (no explanation necessary)
- Atlanta May 5 (when they'd fixed whatever offensive affliction had ailed them earlier)
- Florida May 10 (Doesn't help my point--Florida stinks offensively)
- Texas May 20 (AL leaders in SLG for most of the season)
- Chicago May 25 (14th in the NL in hits for the month of May, and who he beat)
- New York June 8 (15th in the NL in slugging for the month of June, and who he beat)
So I guess my point is far from revolutionary: road or home, Backe does better against teams that aren't hitting. And if what Rogér did to 'em Friday and what Roy did to 'em yesterday is any indication, Brandon should have no problems with the Royals today, despite the fact that the game is not being played in Houston.