On Deck: NL East showdown
Posted on: July 8, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 8:49 pm
By Matt Snyder
It's a full slate of games Friday night as we head into the last weekend before the All-Star break. Let's start with an enticing matchup in Philly.
Beasts in the East: The Phillies have the best record in baseball, yet only a 2-1/2 game lead in the NL East, as the Braves will not go away. The Braves actually trail the Red Sox by just two percentage points for the second-best record in all of baseball. The Phillies have been pretty consistently great all season, but the Braves come to town scorching hot. They've won four in a row and 14 of their past 17. You'd have to give the advantage on the hill to the home team Friday night, though, as Roy Halladay (11-3, 2.44) takes the hill. That isn't to say Brandon Beachy (3-1, 3.23) is an unworthy adversary. Quite the contary, Beachy has 72 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings and has shown he can dominate at times. This three-game series should not disappoint. Atlanta at Philadelphia, 7:05 p.m. ET. Watch Live on Gametracker
Off the Schneid? The Twins have beaten the White Sox eight times in a row, including all five meetings this season. They've actually won a whopping 29 of the last 36 games against Chicago's South-Siders. Talk about utter domination. It's probably gotten to the point where it's a mental mountain for the White Sox, but they still have plenty of chances this season to turn things around. Friday night, they'll have a shot. At least in theory, since the two teams play each other. Gavin Floyd (6-8, 4.17) is the starter for the Sox, but he's been awful against the Twins in his career (4-9, 5.20). Nick Blackburn is the Twins' pitcher for the night and he has completely handcuffed the White Sox this season. He's 2-0 with a 0.61 ERA in two starts against them. On paper, it looks like the streak continues, but games aren't played on paper. We'll see. Minnesota at Chicago (AL), 8:10 p.m. ET. Watch Live on Gametracker
Mediocrity Central: The Brewers and Cardinals are tied for first in the NL Central. The Pirates trail by just one game. The Reds -- who are a game under .500 -- are only three out. Hell, the Cubs are only 11 games out and they have the second-worst record in baseball. Who has the worst? The Astros. Of the NL Central. Just to give a good point of reference, the Mets would be 1-1/2 games out in this division. Instead they're 10 out in the East. We'll see how things shake out this weekend for the four teams that matter here, but they could be ordered any which way by the break. Friday, the Brewers and Reds face off in Milwaukee, with Mike Leake (8-4, 4.03) going against the thus-far disappointing Zack Greinke (7-3, 5.66). Meanwhile, the Cardinals will send Kyle Lohse (8-5, 2.97) to the hill and attempt to beat Arizona's near-All-Star Ian Kennedy (8-3, 3.38). And if the Reds and Diamondbacks win, the Pirates can slip into a three-way first place tie with a win over the Cubs. It shouldn't be difficult, as James McDonald (5-4, 4.40) gets the nod for the Bucs, and he's been hot -- 3-1 with a 2.98 ERA in his last nine starts. The Cubs send Rodrigo Lopez (1-2, 3.91) to the mound, after needing an eight-run comeback to avoid a four-game sweep in Washington. Check CBSSports.com Live Scoreboard for all game action
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