These 2 games are a study in contrast. For fans who get excited by match-ups that "mean something," like those in the race for first place in a division, skip the Cubs and Pirates at 2:20, which is for true believers and those who know what they are looking for. Everyone’s eyes will be peeled watching the pitchers’ duel between two high hitting teams in the AL, one of which is the reigning World Champion, the other within reach of a fighting chance for this year.
Innings 1-8–Gorzelanny (W, 2-2, 4.41), Inning 9–Sharpless (0-0, 0.0)
- Pitches-strikes: Gorzelanny 111-68, Sharpless 10-8
- Ground outs-fly outs: Gorzelanny 10-7, Sharpless 1-1
Innings 1-6–Zambrano (L, 12-4, 3.42, 5ER), Innings 7-8–Aardsma (1ER, 5.24), Inning 9–Novoa (4.97)
- Pitches-strikes: Zambrano 117-77, Aardsma 46-30, Novoa 10-7
Ground outs-fly outs: Zambrano 4-8, Aardsma 3-1, Novoa 2-0.
After recent Yankee Shawn Chacon’s win yesterday, Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy commented that he is beginning to see signs that his team understands what it takes to win — not "just" [quotations mine] to play their all — which it sounds like they have worked up to — but to play and win. Let’s see if the Pirates will be joining the Rockies as, to quote Chacon, "up and coming" teams who are hitting a stride. I hope so. Now that former Met Xavier Nady has joined the Pirates as well — mainly as a first baseman rather than as an outfielder — some needed offense may materialize, and they may spend the second half of the season focusing on their up side. The Cubs could use some optimism, too, and MLB.com writer Zachary Levine’s talk of Carlos Zambrano as a Cy Young candidate may fit the bill in a season in which Dusty Baker’s team has endured blow after blow, as has Baker’s job security. I hate to compare the Cubs’ injuries to the Yankees’ because the Win-Loss records could be superficially unflattering to Chicago, but I think that would be an interesting question to explore. In that light, however, could it give Zambrano a leg up in Cy Young voting to have a winning record on a team with a losing record? Surely that is an extraordinary accomplishment. Baker has always spoken highly of Zambrano, and I admit that I have not always been the most receptive. This year, however, my mind is being forced open. That ERA is mighty convincing in combination with his W-L record.
Jon Garland, RHP (11-3, 5.01)
White Sox (63-43)
@ Roy Halladay, RHP (13-2, 3.04)
Blue Jays (57-51)
Blue Jays 4 (57-52) L: R. Halladay (13-3, 3.21)
Game of the Day, Match-up of Aces! A few weeks ago, critics couldn’t stop asking Garland why he was pitching so badly. He said that he wished they would stop, and that his struggles, which were not so bad, by the way, would work themselves out. Sure enough, over his last 8 starts he has won 7 and given up 0 homeruns. Surely there’s a Barbra Streisand song or Rocky soundtrack B side that he could belt out now if he should want to. Something like I told you so and look at me know. I am sure Yankees’ radio voices Suzyn Waldman, who had a Broadway career before going into broadcasting, and John Sterling, who knows his Broadway classics, would be happy to find and sing an appropriate duet. They have been teasing their New York listeners with snippets of duets for some time. Now, back to tonight’s Game of the Night. Against the Yankees on July 20, Halladay earned 3 runs to Mike Mussina’s 4, but the teams’ respective killer closers — BJ Ryan (TOR) and Mariano Rivera (NYY) — both had bad nights, Mussina and Halladay earned "no decisions," and Toronto’s Brian Tallet ended up with the win in 11 innings. Expect a similar face-off tonight. Toronto is better than their numbers, and watch out for that Vernon Wells.