Dodgers @ Astros 1:20 ET MLB TV & Audio
Jeff Weaver — RHP (7-7 4.43) Roy Oswalt — RHP (11-7 2.44)
On the surface, this is a grossly uneven match, and it may turn out to be one. However, I have seen Weaver — as a Yankee — click into his "zone" and become more threatening to batters than he is to himself. That’s the key for him. If he frustrates himself, there goes the game. Let’s hope we see that gold chain fly up and keep his chin from flying out out of control. Oswalt, on the other hand, seems to have a firm grip on himself and the batters. If the Dodgers aren’t hitting prolifically, they won’t be scoring.
Cardinals @ Giants 4:05 ET MLB TV & Audio
Matt Morris — RHP (10-1 3.17) Brad Hennessey — RHP (2-2 6.75)
This game interests me because Matt Morris has clearly found his way back "down Broadway." Toward the end of last year he seemed to be grasping the air after the ball left his hand, as if he wasn’t quite done with it. He also looked miserable. Knowing he is capable of pitching a far finer game, I am delighted at his record thus far this season. Does anyone know what happened, first to hurt his control, and, second, to restore and polish it? I haven’t had a chance to look into this.
Cubs @ Marlins 6:05 ET MLB TV & Audio
Kerry Wood, RHP (1-2, 5.30) Scott Olsen, LHP (1-0, 3.55)
I love this kid. Wood, that is. 20K’s in one game to match his fellow-Texan idol Roger Clemens’ record, and in his rookie year! Against the ASTROS, Clemens’ hometown team, where he is now allegedly closing out his career! Facing Clemens in 2003 in his bid for that 4000th strikeout and elusive 300th win — which only fellow-fellow-Texan Nolan Ryan had achieved — in what everyone thought was his final year of play, at an historic interleague series at Wrigley, against the Yankees, who hadn’t played the Cubs in Chicago since the 1938 World Series. Wearing Ryan’s number 34 because Clemens’ 21 was already taken and on thousands of Sammy Sosa t-shirts. Colliding HARD against his friend and first baseman Hee Sop Choi in a typically strenuous attempt at fielding in the 4th inning, so hard it looked like he killed him, with the ball caught in rigor mortis in Choi’s glove. Hard enough that his 1st base replacement was Eric Karros, who saw to it, with a home run, that Wood won the game, for Hee Sop. Wow. As Mark Gremse says, "that’s baseball."
So, if Wood’s shoulder is still acting up, give him time. He’s still got a lot of history to make.
Nothing against youngster Olsen. Looks like he’ll be worth watching.
Athletics @ White Sox 7:05 ET MLB TV & Audio
Blue Jays @ Rangers 8:05 ET MLB TV & Audio
Scott Downs, LHP (0-0, 5.40) Kenny Rogers, LHP (9-4, 2.45)
I’m always interested when middle and long relievers try their hand at starting. Superficially, it could appear that someone who can’t keep fewer than 5 runs from scoring in less than half a game shouldn’t be trusted to start a game and pitch for even more innings! However, Downs has good numbers in the minors and is new to the majors — we have time to watch him find his spot. I hope he does. Older than I am, Rogers stands with David Wells, Clemens, and a few more holdouts between Mid-Life-Crisis and Myself. When no one older than I is playing, I will act accordingly, whatever that means. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to Rogers. Despite his reputation for creating chaos, he is unflappable on the mound — his ERA suggests he pitches an entire game with a reliever’s concentration. Thus, he may well be able to concentrate for this last performance before his much-decried appearance at the All Star Game.
Reds @ Diamondbacks 9:40 ET MLB TV & Audio
Brandon Claussen, LHP (4-6, 3.64) Brandon Webb, RHP (8-5, 3.36)
Claussen was sacrificed for Aaron Boone. Or, for A-Rod, depending on which binoculars you’re using as you look over at 3rd base. Either way, last year it was hard to feel good about trading away the Yankees’ most promising starter, who was also our only hope of a lefty after David Wells was so rudely turned away. This year, the Yanks would love a starter with this ERA — and earlier this season, he’d have been better compensated for getting the same no-run-support at the Stadium instead of in Cincinnati. Oh, well. We have A-Rod. And Boone almost cost us Friday’s win over Cleveland. Looks like Claussen and Webb are well matched. With Shawn Green and Company, the Diamondbacks obviously earn more runs than their opponents, sometimes at least.