|Paul Byrd, RHP (7-6, 4.71)
|@||David Wells, LHP (0-1, 8.64)
Red Sox (62-40)
Indians 8 Red Sox 9
David Wells typically gave up an early solo homerun — I never worry about those with him — and then had some trouble with his signature curveball, but his team was hitting behind him, and his delivery improved through the 4th, when he looked so good that he came out for the 5th despite his high pitch count. Unfortunately, the optimism cost him a 3-run homerun and the win, which predictably came about by hand of a homerun by David Ortiz at the bottom of the 9th, went to the reliever Kyle Snyder, who completed the remaining 4.1 innings and did not allow the runner he inheirited from Wells to score, nor his own baserunners, for that matter. All 8 runs, sadly, Wells earned, perhaps out of ego, pitching an inning longer than he had simulated in advance (Boston decided to skip a rehab start). For Cleveland, starting the 5th after Paul Byrd was pulled, Jason Davis held Boston scoreless allowing just 2 baserunners over his 2.2 innings. Rafael Betancourt kept them from scoring when he closed out the 7th, and he allowed no runs or hits during the and he pitched a clean 8th. The rookie closer is a converted starter who could probably use another year in the minors to learn the role. I think he may have gotten spooked by the frenzy of the crowd, because he blew the save and lost the game to the now cliched bottom 9th game winning homerun by He’s Not My Papi.
White Sox (61-42)
White Sox 8 Royals 4
Poor Runelvys. He got 2 balk calls in the first inning. It was that kind of night. It’s been that kind of year for him, ever since he started out ill. I hope this year finishes out with promise, and that next year will be a fine one. Contreras, thank goodness he is not a Yankee, and I am glad he helped the White Sox win again.
Much as I like Chris Capuano, I am becoming a Rockies’ fan. Listening to their KOA radio broadcasters and the way they describe the crowd, the way players describe improvements they discern and are encouraged by even in loss, I am heartened. And, I remember that this is where Shawn Chacon came from.
Nationals 10 Giants 7
Go Pedro!! ASTACIO, that is. A renaissance he is having, and it is a good thing for us to witness, especially the skeptics among us. I agree with Fkay (see comment below) about Lowry being under the radar and better than his numbers. Strange it was to root for Stanton against the Nationals yet not for his team and overall be rooting for the Nationals, whom I saw with Marc Marc last season at Shea and celebrated all the former Yankees on both sides, no matter what the crowd said. Loaiza was pitching. You’ve read about that. That opened up some dialogue that in some ways helped October 28 and New Years Day happen the way they did. That’s baseball, right Mark? (Gremse, that is. Gremse whom I met when Marc took me to his baseball shrine of an apartment on East 4th Street to watch a Yankee game.) Now Stanton is playing for Gremse, once the greatest living New York Giants fan, now the platonic form of New York Giants fan. God, I hope he really did see the World Series before he died. Marc, you said you talked with him about it?
- Pregame: LHP Chris Capuano (4-2, 2.63) is holding-on to his miniscule ERA. Chan Ho Park, RHP, has earned little but praise and no-decisions, as you can see from his stats (1-1, 4.12), which are not as exciting. But which one would you rather be? At least Park is a Padre, right? Capuano is a Brewer, after all. Wait a minute. Their teams have identical records (17-16)? Well, not anymore:
- Pregame: Any time Aaron Harang, RHP, pitches, you have a good chance at a real game, especially this year. Against Livan Hernandez, however, he and his Reds could be forgiven for falling to the Nationals, if they needed your pity, that is. Cincinnati’s record is better than it should be, some say, and Washington has been underperforming. Last year, Hernandez was more than an anchor — you might even call him the Nationals’ ace, with a 15-10 record and a 3.98 ERA. Today, however, he started the game with a 1-4 record and a 6.29 ERA. Unlike the Brewers and Padres, the Nationals and Reds’ records so far have been, not identical, but rather, inverse records: Washington: 12-21 21-12, Cincinnati. Harang walked into the game with a 5-1 record and a trim 3.78 ERA, and indeed had a good shot at the win, until David Weathers took it from him after first blowing his second save this season, allowing the score to tie up at 6-6 when he let Brian Schneider to score from 2nd on a Matthew LeCroy single after doubling off Kent Mercker earlier in the 8th. Mike Stanton deserves better than to red-carpet his own loss, inviting-in three runs with 3 walks, 2 of them intentional. Back to Harang and Hernandez, for a minute. I think their respective ERA’s with runners in scoring position summarize the differences between their own performances and their teams’ as well, though I would like to look more deeply into that before asserting it as a flat fact. Coming into the game, Harang had a .227 over 44 at-bats with RISP. Rodriguez: .327 over 49.
- “The Red Sox are down to their last strike.” Mr. Sterling, how nice it is to hear you say so. Indeed,
Yesterday, 7-15-05, was a great day for pitching match-ups. David Wells (video highlight) starting for the Red Sox against the team he loves most still agitates the achiest spot in my breaky baseball heart. I couldn’t bear to write it, and, without that one topping the list, there were no Games To Watch.
Today’s much easier, and hardly less exciting.
Yankees @ Red Sox 1:20
Randy Johnson LHP (9-6, 4.16) @ Matt Clement (10-2, 3.45)
Johnson can handle the hostility at Fenway Park, and I think he can feed off it. Dare I suggest that he’s not afraid to hit a batter? I still hold that the Yankees lost to Boston so often last year in part because they didn’t know how to channel revenge through their inherent good manners.
Watching Clement pitch for the Cubs at Wrigley years ago, I remember picking up a funny feeling from him. He was solid but uneven, and the unevenness has stayed with him. Despite his grand improvements, this all-star can crack.
White Sox @ Indians 1:20
Mark Buehrle, LHP (10-3, 2.58) @ Jake Westbrook RHP (6-11, 4.57)
In a late switch, all-star Mark Buehrle will start for the first place White Sox in place of John Garland. Hard to argue with that.
Even Westbrook’s high-ish ERA shows that he has been better than his Win-Loss record indicates. Lately, he’s allowed an unusual amount of runs to score for this season, which has been a fairly successful one for him.
Astros @Cardinals 4:15
Roy Oswalt, RHP (12-7, 2.39) @ Jason Marquis, RHP (8-6, 3.89)
After a promising few pitches in the All-Star game, Oswalt lost some luck and let go of his cool. His record speaks for itself, however. Marquis may well be up to the challenge. I’ve always liked his chances, though he didn’t look too good in the postseason last year.
Nationals @ Brewers 7:05
Esteban Loaiza RHP (5-5, 3.57) @ Chris Capuano (10-6, 3.63)
Now that the Nationals are hitting behind him, Loaiza — who seemed to rely on his own run-support for awhile — should be able to relax back into the sophisticated and tough pitcher he is. I look forward to seeing his opponent for the first time.
Braves @ Mets 7:10
Tim Hudson, RHP (6-5, 3.78) @ Victor Zambrano, RHP (4-7, 3.58)
Floraine Kay always says to be wary when the Braves are willing to give up on one of their pitchers. A corollary: Note well when Atlanta picks up a pitcher who has been written off as finished. Everyone had something to say when Oakland kept only one of their dominating triumvirate of Hudson-Mulder-Zito. Leo Mazzone, Atlanta’s longtime pitching coach, seems to be having the last word.
When Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson said he needed only a few minutes with Zambrano to “fix” him, I was instinctively skeptical. I still am, but I must cite the complicity of the Mets’ bats in constructing his failing Win-Loss record.
Angels @ Twins 7:10
Bartolo Colon, RHP (11-5, 3.42) @ Johan Santana, LHP (7-5, 3.98)
Colon is another all-star pitcher who started well and ended up unlucky in Tuesday’s game. He deserved better. If you ask the Yankees, Santana is much more dangerous than his record appears. This should be fun to watch.