It’s SUNDAY. There’s baseball all day!
It’s a good day to choose well without being overwhelmed. Unless you have specific favorites, I recommend the following: (Times are ET)
We’ve got 2 pitchers”battles: 2 extraordinary NL-ers & 2 Yankee-killers (Halladay gave up the Yankees” opener,this year, however.)
1:07 BOS Red Sox (3-3) @ TOR Blue Jays (3-2) BECKETT @ HALLADAY (0-1, 3.86)
Local Media: BOS – TV: NESN, TBS | Radio: WRKO 680, SBN 1150TOR – TV: RSN, TBS | Radio: FAN 590
Local Media: NYM – TV: SNY | Radio: WFAN 660, WADO 1280ATL – TV: SPSO | Radio: WGST 640, 94.9 FM, Viva 105.7
RESULTS: LAD 3 SD 2 Broxton W- Saito SV- Hoffman L-, BS-2, HR: Ethier-1Pitching Summary –LAD – Innings 1-_: Lowe, , 8 – Broxton, ,9 – SaitoSD – Innings 1-)- C. Young, -djal, 0sou, 9 – Hoffman)
4:05LAD Dodgers (3-2) @ SD San Diego (4-2 Lowe (0-0, 3.00)@(C Young 1-0, 1.59)
Local Media: LAD – TV: KCAL | Radio: KABC 790, KHJ 93SDSD – TV: 4SD/704-HD | Radio: XPRS 1090, XEMO 860
Local Media: CWS – TV: ESPN2 | Radio: WSCR 670DET – TV: ESPN2 | Radio: WXYT 1270
Bonderman (RHP–11-5, 3.76), C. Schilling (RHP–14-5, 3.89)
This year’s AL leaders had no trouble taking Fenway apart yesterday. Go, Tigers! Game of the night.
Nearly a rookie, Lance Cormier happens to look a lot like his opponent on paper, but veteran Pedro Astacio has come to Nationals after years of off-and-on right shoulder injuries, including surgery that kept him out of the majors for a couple years. I remember him best from the 2002-03 Mets, where he impressed me by delivering a shocking pitch no one would expect him to attempt when down in the count or pitching in and out of trouble. It was 2003 when he left the Mets for surgery, then devasted the Red Sox minor league opposition in 2004 after recovering. Promoted to Boston, he was unsuccessful, and split 2005 between the Rangers and the Padres, where he finished out the season 4-2 (3.17). The two Nationals games I heard him pitch this season were fun because he still digs deep and pulls those shocking pitches out of his hat, escaping the holes he may have dug, and leaving his team in the game. If anything, he may have acquired more poise, which came across a tad disquieting, to the batter, I assume. Cormier, on the other hand, just debuted in 2004, as opposed to Astacio’s 1992. Yes, both have gone up and down between minors and majors. Cormier seems to have closer abilities as well, judging from his college experience both starting and relieving at the University of Alabama. Lance was born in Louisiana, unlike Rheal Cormier of the Cincinnati Reds, who hails from New Brunswick, who, like Lance, has both started and relieved. For the last several years, Rheal, who debuted in 1991, has been making a name for himself as a quality reliever.
Today is full of big-game pitching match-ups between big-game pitchers leading teams that have something to lose. Of course I will highlight a Chacon game whenever possible, and Pittsburgh is playing a contender. There are one or two smaller games of more specialized interest as well.
Today is mainly about individual pitchers and whether they can come through after some struggles. Otherwise, the Tigers host a big game against the upwardly mobile Twins. Oh, in case you are wondering, the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets are off today.
|Kelvim Escobar, RHP (7-9, 3.77)
|@ 7:05||Mark Buehrle, LHP (9-9, 4.74)
White Sox (65-44)
Poor Mark Buehrle has not been receiving the famed White Sox run support. When I saw him at Yankee Stadium, I was disappointed to see lackluster fielding behind him too. It was just careless enough not to count on, not conspicuous enough to let Buehrle off the hook with errors. What is this about? Is it still going on? Did the silliness between him and manager Ozzie Guillen about wanting to pitch for his childhood favorite Cardinals reflect a deeper tension running through his relationship with the club?
|Jeff Weaver, RHP (4-12, 6.71)
|@ 7:10||Elizardo Ramirez, RHP (4-7, 4.47)
Somebody’s slump has to end tonight. The red birds and red legs are separated by 3.5 games going into the game, and the first place Cardinals have been on a losing streak matching poor Jeff Weaver’s himself.
|Edinson Volquez, RHP (0-0, -.–)
|Esteban Loaiza, RHP (4-7, 6.50)
First place Oakland will lean on Esteban Loaiza to shut down the Texas batting order, which is the kind of threatening that provokes bad dreams. Gary Matthews–.321 Hank Blalock–2.83 Mark Texeira–.281 Mark DeRosa–.322 Michael Young–.303 Ian Kinsler–.303 Carlos Lee .283. Etc. Why they traded pitching to get another hitter in Carlos Lee I do not understand. Anyway, Loaiza has a sizable task without a reassuring record to remind him of his abilities. With an injury early in the season, spurts of strong starts, and periods of alternating wins and losses, Loaiza and the A’s will have the best chance at winning if Manager Ken Macha does not leave him in past the 5th inning, a la Jaret Wright, unless he is pitching "lights out." If he starts letting one or two on base, pull him. Do not wait for him to pitch himself out of trouble from the 6th inning onward in there are adequate bullpen arms available. His last start was successful, but you would never know it. Two earned runs. No decision. At least the organization is being patient with him. Good thing he doesn’t work for the Yankees. Anymore, that is. I do miss him. He was happiest with the White Sox, though. Sigh. No drunk driving citations in Chicago, I would guess.
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.
|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?
Red Sox (61-40)
Could be very tight. These are the Yankees’ biggest threats in recent times. The Angels are tough. For a brief period earlier this season, the Angels had both Jered and his older brother Jeff, my former Yankee Dreamweaver, on the rotation. Unmistakably brothers, both with long blond hair and blue eyes, limbs like weeds, and an easygoing wind-up, leaning together over the dugout fence they looked like two of the heavenly host decided to stay with their friends the Angels in Anaheim for awhile. Since then, Jeff, whose salary still bulges from the days when he was a troublemaking fireballer from Detroit, has moved to St. Louis. I must check to see whether I have already written about the time I kept him in the game in New York — Floraine Kay swears she saw it happen — and he won. People have been talking about Jered for a long time. Phenom. He’s one whom that word really fits. Like Steve Trachsel, he was a Long Beach State Dirtbag, and everyone’s eyes were on him to see where he would sign, and he shot right through their organization. I seem to remember him taking a year outside the system first, but I could be wrong. Clearly, Bud Black’s rather severe coaching style does not put him off. Former Yankee outfielder Juan Rivera is also an Angel, and I was sorry to see him go. He has developed into quite a star. Also, keep an eye on Chone Figgins. He’s a lot like the Angels’ former shortstop David Eckstein, pesky, and a great fielder. OK, this is hard to say but it is important: GO ANGELS.
|Woody Williams, RHP (4-2, 3.15) Padres (54-47)||@||Josh Fogg, RHP (7-5, 4.25)Rockies (47-53)|
POSTGAME NOTES: This turned out interesting, but for reasons different from those that inspired me to select it as a good game to check out. Because Woody Williams has led the 1st place Padres’ excellent young rotation, I knew there was a good shot that one starter would be fun, and there was the chance that fabled closer Trevor Hoffman would be called upon. Rockies’ young starter Josh Fogg has piqued my curiosity for some time. However, Fogg was unable to excel, coming out in the 4th after earning 6 runs, for this was not to be a pitcher’s duel.
From around the 7th inning, you could hear the Rockies’ KOA radio broadcasters try to quiet the excitement building in their voices even as they praised the many and varied qualities of their impressive visitors from Southern California. Ramon Ramirez WAS exciting. He kept the Padres quiet in the 7th and 8th, despite beginning his duty when there seemed little more to lose, the score still reading 8-3 San Diego. Rockies’ hitting and baserunning got sharp. Padres’ defense got weak. Down by 2 at 2 outs against Hoffman in the 9th, Yorvit Torrealba homered, driving-in Todd Helton and tying it up. In the 10th, Jamey Carroll singled-in Choo Freeman, who had just doubled, for the win. For the second time this year, the Rockies took an extra-innings game away from the visiting Padres, whom they had not led all night, beat them 9-8 in 10.
I credit the KOA broadcaster (I wish I knew which one said it!) who spoke for the night, but perhaps also for the rest of the season, saying "they were down, but they were not out."
|Justin Verlander RP 12-4 2.77 Tigers 67-33||@||C.C. Sabathia LHP 7-6, 3.73 Indians 44-55|
This is a tough game for my heart. Of course I am for the Tigers, and Verlander deserves a real shot a joining Halladay and the few others at the Esteemed 13 win mark. On the other hand, it’s CC.
|Jake Peavy, RHP (4-10, 5.15) Padres (53-47)||@||Brad Penny, RHP (10-4, 3.23) Dodgers (47-54)|
|Noah Lowry, LHP (5-6, 4.45) Giants (51-49)||@||Pedro Astacio, RHP (1-1, 5.75) Nationals (44-56)|
Pure nostalgia. I had a soft spot for THIS Pedro when he was a Met. I do believe Lowry has pitched better than his record at times this season. Could be interesting.
|Josh Johnson, RHP (8-5, 2.49) Marlins (46-52)||@||John Smoltz, RHP (7-5, 3.43) Braves (47-52)|
Who is this rookie Johnson? He tore up the minors and is clearly ready to face the Braves. Forget his record. Look at that ERA. Does he have to face Smoltz? On the other hand, what greater thrill?
|Johan Santana, LHP (11-5, 3.00) Twins (57-41)||@||Jose Contreras, RHP (9-2, 3.43) White Sox (59-39)|
HO-HUM. American League Central numbers 2 and 3, rivals of a sort. Oh. Huh? What was that? Last year? Wild Card? Slipping? Streaking? Start again. Game of the Night.
|Aaron Harang, RHP (10-6, 3.72) Reds (52-47)||@||Roger Clemens, RHP (2-3, 2.43) Astros (47-52)|
Maybe this will be as good as it could be. Look at the teams’ records, by the way. Last year at this time, would you have had trouble envisioning the NL Pennant Winners-To-Be on the low end of that flip side?
Update: I do not buy that they do not hit for him because they do not like him. Clemens, I mean. Glad for Harang, though. Have followed him for awhile, through some hard times.
|Mike Mussina, RHP (11-3, 3.39) Yankees (57-40)||@||Adam Eaton, RHP (0-0, -.–) Rangers (51-49)|
Mussina leads us to expect steadiness, and Eaton is making his first start since acquiring that weird injury that only rock climbers get.
Update: Both pitched great, although Mussina did not have his best at hand. Eaton was positively dominating until he seemed to tire in the 4th, letting in 3. He especially impressive for a first time off sick leave, Miguel Cairo did it again. Go, Micky! Aaron the Guiless smacked another one, too.
|Anibal Sanchez, RHP (3-0, 3.41) Marlins (45-52)||@||Chuck James, LHP (4-0, 3.72) Braves (47-51)|
2 newbies, trying to hold onto their records, on teams trying to improve theirs.
|Carlos Zambrano, RHP (10-3, 3.11) Cubs (38-60)||@||Tom Glavine, LHP (11-3, 3.52) Mets (59-40)|