On Deck: D-Train pulls back into majors
Posted on: July 10, 2011 12:56 pm
By Evan Brunell
BEST MATCHUP: A great matchup is on tap at Yankee Stadium to cap off the first half, with Cy Young Award contenders CC Sabathia and James Shields squaring off in a battle. A victory would push the Rays to within three for second place over the Yanks, and there's no better pitcher this year for the Rays than Shields to get it done. Owner of a consecutive three-complete game streak in the past month, Shields boasts a 2.47 ERA, much to Sabathia's chagrin, who has a 2.90 mark. Not many pitchers can beat that, but Shields can. Sabathia, with 12 wins, can become the first AL pitcher in six years to have 13 prior to the break if he can pull off a win. Rays at Yankees, 1:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)
WELCOME BACK, D-TRAIN: It's been a long road back for Willis who is now 29 years old, with his Rookie of the Year award back in 2003 at age 21 a distant memory after posting a 3.30 ERA in 27 starts and helping the Marlins to a World Series title. Just two years later, he won the Cy Young Award with a 22-10 record and pristine 2.63 ERA in 34 starts, registering seven complete games and five shutouts. Those are numbers that would make Roy Halladay jealous. And yet, starting in 2007 at age 25, Willis ran a streak of pitching for the Marlins, Tigers, Diamondbacks and Giants (only the minors for S.F.), pitching to the tune of a 5.81 ERA in 328 2/3 innings. Career over? Not quite. The lefty makes his 2011 debut for the Reds today after staging a comeback not many thought would happen in Triple-A. Whether you're a Reds fan or not, everyone needs more D-Train in their life, and he's finally back. He's opposing Randy Wolf of the Brewers. Reds vs. Brewers, 2:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)
DIVISION CHASE: The Mariners are slip-sliding their way out of the postseason chase thanks to an anemic offense (what else is new?) but still have an outside shot, just 6 1/2 games behind Texas and 5 1/2 behind Los Angeles. Seattle certainly will go into Sunday's game against the Angels expecting to win with 2010 Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez on the mound (3.22 ERA, 134/42 K/BB, 137 IP). Slight problem, though: The Angels have their own big dog going today in Dan Haren (2.65 ERA, 107/18 K/BB, 125 2/3 IP). It's another pitching duel in a day set up for quite a few low-scoring games. Mariners at Angels, 3:35 p.m. ET (Watch live)
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