On Deck: Something's gotta give
Posted on: May 16, 2011 4:13 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 10:12 pm
By Matt Snyder
In a stat that may only interest me, Monday night features six games pitting teams against each other that have either won or lost at least two games, meaning even modest "streaks" are going to be broken. The Padres-Diamondbacks, for example, isn't overly exciting just because both teams have won two straight games. The Phillies-Cardinals game (Phils have dropped two straight, the Cardinals three) is a nice match, but not because of the modest losing streaks. The Yankees (lost five straight) and Rays (lost two straight) is a big series because they're the top two teams in the very tight AL East. There are, however, two pretty extreme "something's gotta give" examples -- one on each end of the spectrum.
STREAK-BREAKERS, WINNING EDITION: The Blue Jays have won five in a row. The only team with a longer current winning streak is the Tigers, their foe Monday night in Detroit. The Tigers bring in a seven-game winning streak that has brought them to within 3 1/2 games of the surprising Indians, who sport the best record in baseball. Taking the hill for the Tigers is Max Scherzer, who is 6-0 with a 3.20 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 50 2/3 innings thus far in 2011. He'll have the task of dealing with the hot-swinging Blue Jays' lineup, specifically Jose Bautista. Bautista is pretty clearly the best hitter in baseball right now, and it's not even close. He leads the majors in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs, walks and home runs. His .368 batting average is tops in the AL and his 284 OPS-plus is insane. His three-homer game Sunday was yet another exclamation point. Toronto at Detroit, WATCH LIVE SCORING.
STREAK-BREAKERS, LOSING EDITION: The Mariners have lost six games in a row. Fortunately for them, they don't have the longest streak of futility in the majors at present, because the Twins have lost eight straight. Late Monday night, the two last-place teams will square off in Safeco Field, and the good news is someone has to win. Surprisingly enough, it's actually a good pitching matchup. Scott Baker (2-2, 3.71) was roughed up last time out, but had a 1.59 ERA in his previous four starts and is striking out batters at a pretty high rate. Michael Pineda (4-2, 2.84) has been much better, though. He's struck out 45 in his 44 1/3 innings as a rookie and looks every bit the future ace he was projected to be. Considering the two offenses are the lowest scoring in the AL, this one could be a quickie. Minnesota at Seattle, WATCH LIVE SCORING.
UNDERRATED PITCHING MATCHUP: At first glance, Carlos Zambrano vs. Homer Bailey isn't an elite duel. Bailey (2-0, 0.69) brings in a hot start and is still young enough to be reaching a ceiling many thought was that of a top-of-the-line ace earlier in his development. Zambrano (4-1, 4.35) is actually 4-0 on the road this season and has a really good track record against the Reds and in Great American Ball Park. He owns Scott Rolen (.229 OBP in 48 plate appearances) and has had good success against Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce. Zambrano's career line at GABP is 9-2 with a 2.90 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 87 innings. Oh, he also has three home runs and an. 804 OPS in 39 career plate appearances at GABP. Chicago (NL) at Cincinnati, WATCH LIVE SCORING.
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