Tag:Giants
Posted on: September 30, 2010 10:27 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2010 10:44 pm
 

3 to watch: The Hoping for 163 edition

The best game of the postseason last year wasn't officially a postseason game.

It was Game 163, Tigers at Twins, and by baseball rules it was a regular-season game.

But it sure did have a playoff feel, and it was great.

In an October/November where none of the seven official postseason series went to a final, winner-take-all final game, Game 163 was as good as it got. And it was plenty good, a 6-5, 12-inning Twins win that even the Tigers acknowledged as maybe the best game they'd ever played in.

We've had a Game 163 each of the last three years, and they've all been great ones. It was Matt Holliday scoring in the 13th inning for the Rockies against the Padres in 2007 (was he really safe?). It was Jim Thome homering off Nick Blackburn for a 1-0 White Sox win over the Twins in 2008.

And it was an Alexei Casilla single off Fernando Rodney (pitching his fourth inning), after home-plate umpire Randy Marsh missed Brandon Inge getting hit by a pitch in the top of the 12th.

So what are the chances we get a Game 163 this year?

Not too good, from the looks of things going into the final weekend. The Giants lead the Padres by three games in the National League West, which means the Padres would need to sweep this weekend's series at AT&T Park to force Game 163.

The Braves lead the Padres by two games in the NL wild-card race, which means the only chance of Game 163 in Atlanta would be if the Padres win two of three and the Braves lose two of three.

Or, if the Braves lose two of three and the Padres sweep, you'd have a three-way tie for the wild card/NL West and a pair of one-game play-in games.

Unlikely possibilities, all of them, and disappointing for neutrals, especially since as recently as Sunday night, the Giants, Braves and Padres were separated by just one game.

So what do we do? We settle for a final weekend with plenty still on the line, and then we hope for a great October (and early November).

A few things to watch for this weekend, besides the Padres, Giants and Braves:

-- The seeding race. The Rays have the tiebreaker against the Yankees (by winning the season series), so they enter the weekend with a magic number of three to clinch the American League East. The winner in the East hosts the Rangers, while the loser in the East is the wild card and goes to Minnesota. The Rays also had a magic number of three to clinch the AL's best record, and home field in a possible second-round matchup with the Twins.

In the NL, the Phillies have already clinched the best record, but this weekend will determine the first-round matchups, and home-field for the other two division winners.

-- The awards race. Buster Posey's big home run Thursday (and his big September overall) had to make an impact with voters in the toughest NL Rookie of the Year race in years, and the toughest of the major award races this year. It might come down to who has the best weekend between Posey and Jason Heyward, although Florida's Gaby Sanchez also deserves consideration.

-- The playoff questions. Yankee fans worried about their rotation will watch closely to see how Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett pitch on Friday and Saturday against the Red Sox. Ranger fans worried about their lineup will watch closely to see how Josh Hamilton looks, assuming he's able to return to the lineup as scheduled on Friday against the Angels. Phillie fans will keep an eye on Jimmy Rollins, who is 1-for-8 in his first three games back from a hamstring injury.

-- The Pirates. Their road record is 16-62, which is historically bad. How bad? Well, in the era of the 162-game schedule, the fewest road wins any team has had are 17, by the 1963 Mets, followed by 18, by the 1962 Mets. The Pirates are in Florida this weekend, with three games to go.

On to 3 to watch:

1. The Giants are one of the hottest teams in baseball, with eight wins in their last 10 games and an 18-8 record in September. The Padres are one of the coldest, with four losses in the last five games and a 12-22 record over the last month-plus. The Giants pitching was amazing in September, with a 1.78 team ERA. The Padres offense has been shaky all year and awful recently, with 81 runs in 28 games in September (28th among the 30 major-league teams). Now the Padres need to sweep this weekend's three games, starting with Padres at Giants, Friday night (10:15 ET) at AT&T Park . Their opponent Friday is Matt Cain, who has given up two runs in his last 22 innings.

2. The Braves chose Saturday to honor Bobby Cox, who is retiring at the end of this season. With a magic number of two, the Braves could clinch Cox's record 16th playoff appearance as soon as Friday night. But it wouldn't be bad if the clinch comes Saturday, when the Braves and Padres will play at the same time. Tommy Hanson, the Braves' best starter of late, will go in Phillies at Braves, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Turner Field .

3. As unlikely as it is, we're still holding out hope for Game 163. So save time on Monday. Just make sure you've got something else to do if it doesn't happen.


Posted on: September 26, 2010 9:35 pm
 

3 to watch: The Fitting three into two edition

As Bruce Bochy walked out to the field for batting practice Sunday, he turned back with a message.

"Kansas City, 1," the Giants manager said. "See, I'm watching the scoreboard."

For four more days, Bochy will keep watching, and not to see if the Royals score another run. For four more days, the Giants and Padres and Braves will eye each other from a distance, knowing that all three teams remain very much alive and that only two playoff spots can be divided among them.

It's really that simple now in the National League. The Phillies are in, and the Reds are basically in, too. The Rockies, it now seems certain, are out.

So among the Giants, Padres and Braves, the teams that end up with the two best records will make it. The team that ends up worst among those three won't.

As the week begins, Bochy's Giants have the advantage, holding a half-game lead over the Padres (and thus holding first place in the NL West) and holding a one-game lead over the Braves (who trail the Padres by half a game in the wild-card race).

The Braves have other advantages, mostly because the Padres and Giants meet at the end of the week (meaning that for the last three days of the season, one or the other them has to lose), but also because their final three games are against the Phillies, who by then will no doubt have officially clinched the NL East crown and will be more focused on preparing for the playoffs than on beating the Braves.

But the Braves have other issues, mainly that they're not playing nearly as well as the Giants or Padres are right now.

In any case, it should be a fun week for everyone, at least until one of the three teams gets knocked out.

"Intense," Giants outfielder Cody Ross said. "This is as much fun as I've ever had playing baseball."

On to 3 to watch:

1. The Braves have their final six games at home, where their 52-23 record is the best in the majors. That much we know. Now, if we only knew who was going to pitch. The Braves told reporters Sunday in Washington that Jair Jurrjens may get a shot in his sore knee Monday, in hopes that the pain will let up enough that he can start a game for the first time since Sept. 14. There's been some thought that Jurrjens could return for Marlins at Braves, Tuesday night (7:10 ET) at Turner Field , but the Braves also said that they've considered bringing Tim Hudson back on three days' rest to make that start. If Jurrjens can't go, and if manager Bobby Cox doesn't want to use both Hudson and Derek Lowe on short rest, the other option would be to use rookie Mike Minor, who seems to have hit a wall and is 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA in four starts this month.

2. The Padres have rotation questions of their own, and the biggest one is how Mat Latos will do. Latos has been San Diego's top starter all year, but in his last three starts he's 0-3 with a 13.94 ERA, and has lasted a total of just 10 1/3 innings. Latos faces Ryan Dempster in Cubs at Padres, Tuesday night (10:05 ET) at Petco Park . The way the Padres' rotation sets up, Latos would also start the final game of the season, Sunday in San Francisco.

3. So how about the Giants? They have Monday off, and that leaves them with the question of whether to pitch Tim Lincecum on his normal day, in Diamondbacks at Giants, Thursday afternoon (3:45 ET) at AT&T Park . The other option would be to pitch Barry Zito Thursday on normal rest, and save Lincecum for the first head-to-head game with the Giants on Friday night. Bochy said Sunday that such a plan hasn't yet been discussed, but he added that they will "talk about the club and any changes" on Monday. As of now, the pitching matchups for the series with the Padres would be Zito vs. Clayton Richard on Friday, Matt Cain vs. Tim Stauffer on Saturday and Jonathan Sanchez vs. Latos on Sunday.
Posted on: September 25, 2010 7:28 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2010 7:38 pm
 

The Giants, Lincecum and the humidor

DENVER -- No matter what happens to the Giants the next two days at Coors Field, it's not the humidor's fault.

Oh, and the humidor was absolutely no factor Friday night, either, no matter what you saw Tim Lincecum say on YouTube .

Lincecum, in the middle of a sixth inning where the Rockies scored their only run, was caught by Giants television tossing a ball back to home-plate umpire Laz Diaz, and mouthing the words "juiced balls," with a couple of expletives added in.

"Obviously, the speculation, I just verbalized it," Lincecum said today. "It's one of those things that's in the back of your mind, whether it has happened or not."

What did the Giants think, or speculate? Well, for the last few years, the Rockies have used a humidor to store baseballs, which keeps them from drying out and takes away some of the Coors Field effect that caused so many crazy games in the park's first few years. The speculation was that the Rockies might have mixed in some non-humidor balls, to use when their batters were at the plate.

This week, after the issue was raised twice in the San Francisco Chronicle , including a Scott Ostler column that flat-out said that "The Giants are about to get cheated in Denver," the Giants talked to MLB about it. Just before Friday's game began, MLB official Mike Port spoke with umpire John Hirschbeck, and asked him to keep a close eye on the balls.

Saturday, Hirschbeck planned to walk to the humidor and oversee the process of bringing the balls to the field. But even on Friday, when Hirschbeck was umpiring at second base, he kept an eye on the ball bag during the game.

"There's nothing going on," Hirschbeck said. "I'll [watch] so MLB has their mind at ease, so the people at [MLB headquarters] can sleep easy."

Lincecum, of course, allowed the Rockies just two hits (and no home runs) in a 2-1 Giants win. The Giants seemed to understand today that raising the humidor issue didn't really suit them in the middle of a pennant race.

"We're not thinking about balls or anything," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're trying to win games."

One side note: Lincecum said he ran into Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in the weight room this afternoon.

"He said, 'Good game, we couldn't even get you with our juiced balls,'" Lincecum said with a smile.


Posted on: September 24, 2010 11:45 am
Edited on: September 24, 2010 12:23 pm
 

3 to watch: The Giant issue edition

Even if you count the Rockies as now basically out of the National League West -- the standings say they're in serious trouble, their recent history says who knows? -- the Giants' three games this weekend at Coors Field are a potentially huge obstacle to San Francisco's chances of winning the division.

Despite what happened Thursday at Wrigley Field (a nine-run inning, a 13-0 win), the Giants' path to first place in the West has been built almost totally on pitching. Including Thursday, they've now gone 17 games since they last allowed four runs, a streak that according to the Elias Sports Bureau is the longest by any team in a single season since the 1917 White Sox went 20 games in a row.

Now they go to Coors Field, where the Rockies have scored four or more in 19 of their last 21 games, and where the home team hits so well that some Giants apparently think the Rockies have been monkeying with the humidor process .

Since Coors Field opened in 1995, only five teams have gone through an entire three-game series without ever allowing four runs. All five of those series have come in the humidor era (which began in 2002), but it still comes down to one series a season -- and it hasn't happened yet this year.

And the Giants, despite all their pitching and despite three trips a year to Colorado, have never done it.

Maybe that's why the Giants haven't won a season series at Coors since 2005. They're 2-4 in the first six games this year, so they'd need a sweep to win this season series.

Given the Rockies' collapse on the road this week -- they couldn't hold a 6-1 lead Sunday in Los Angeles, then got swept in three games in Arizona -- the Giants don't necessarily need a sweep this weekend. Their lead over the Padres is only a half-game, but San Diego also faces a potentially tough series, at home against the Reds.

Besides, the Giants' head-to-head showdown with the Padres next weekend will be at AT&T Park, where the Giants have allowed just 16 runs in their last nine games.

On to 3 to watch:

1. Tim Lincecum hasn't won at Coors Field since May 20, 2008. Then again, Lincecum hadn't won anywhere for a month before his 2-1 win over the Rockies on Sept. 1 in San Francisco. He's been very good the entire month, and maybe that means he'll win at Coors, too, when he opens the series in Giants at Rockies, Friday night (8:10 ET) at Coors Field . While the Giants are 0-4 in Lincecum's last four starts in Colorado, he hasn't been awful, with a 4.32 ERA in that span.

2. The Reds enter the weekend with a magic number of 3, and that means the soonest they could clinch their first division title in 15 years is in Reds at Padres, Saturday afternoon (4:05 ET) at Petco Park . That would take a little cooperation from the second-place Cardinals, but all the Cardinals have been doing recently is cooperating. As Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse pointed out on Twitter, the Cards are 9-17 since Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols attended Glenn Beck's rally in Washington.

3. The biggest advantage the Braves have in the National League wild-card race is that the Giants and Padres play each other next weekend. That means for three of the remaining 10 days on the schedule, either the Giants or the Padres is guaranteed to lose (and that the team that wins could win the division and not affect the Braves' wild-card chances at all). For it to be an advantage, though, the Braves need to win. They need to do to the Nationals this weekend what they did to the Mets last weekend, and that means they need to beat Livan Hernandez in Braves at Nationals, Sunday afternoon (1:35 ET) at Nationals Park . Hernandez threw eight shutout innings in a 6-0 win over the Braves last weekend in Atlanta, and he's 2-1 with a 2.19 ERA in four starts against the Braves this year. The Braves starter Sunday, they hope is Jair Jurrjens, who missed his Monday start in Philadelphia with a knee problem. As manager Bobby Cox said, "He'd better be able to pitch." Sunday is also the Braves' final regular-season road game, which means it's the final time an opposing team will pay tribute to Cox, who is retiring at the end of the season. The best gifts he has received so far: a No. 6 from the scoreboard at Wrigley Field, a set of wine glasses with all the NL team logos from the Reds, and many checks to support his charity helping homeless veterans. Cox entered the weekend with 2,499 wins in 4,499 career games.




Posted on: September 12, 2010 8:51 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2010 9:05 pm
 

3 to watch: The Seeing the seeding edition

The players say it matters. The managers say it matters.

Ask Joe Maddon about the three games his Rays play against the Yankees this week, and the four games they play next week, and he'll tell you how important these games are. He'll tell you how great this is going to be.

"I definitely believe you're going to see playoff-like intensity in every one of those games," Maddon said. "I think you're going to see a very intense seven games. I do."

We don't.

They could be seven great games. They're definitely seven games that we wouldn't mind watching, especially the CC Sabathia-David Price matchup that kicks off the first series on Monday night.

"I want to see that, too," Rays left fielder Carl Crawford said. "When we have matchups like that, I become a fan."

It's a great matchup, between two teams that are separated by half a game now, and have been within 2 1/2 games of each other for 49 straight days. It's potentially a great series.

It's won't be playoff-intense, not the way Giants-Padres was playoff-intense, not the way Braves-Phillies next week may well be playoff-intense.

For playoff intensity, you need playoff pressure. And you only get playoff pressure if the loser goes home.

When the Yankees meet the Rays, the winner may well get to raise an American League East championship flag. The winner may well get home-field advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

The loser won't go home.

Instead, the loser becomes the wild card, with nearly as good a chance to hang the flag that matters on opening day next year. All they're really playing for is playoff seeding.

Baseball has had the wild-card system for 15 years, which means there have been 30 wild cards, and 30 teams that finished in first place in the same division as the wild card.

Twelve times, the division winner advanced further in October than the wild card did. Ten times, the wild card advanced further than the division winner. The other eight times, both the wild card and the division winner were eliminated in the first round.

So is there an advantage to finishing first? Maybe.

Is there a significant advantage? Definitely not.

In fact, with the AL East winner likely to face Texas in the first round, with Cliff Lee potentially going twice in a best-of-5 series, you could even argue that this year, the team that finishes second has the advantage.

In recent weeks, a few people have renewed the push for adding a second wild-card team in each league. The idea is that the two wild cards would have a play-in game (or a play-in series). Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated presented an excellent case last week.

In that system, Yankees-Rays would be huge. It still wouldn't be loser-goes-home, but at least it would be loser-is-at-a-big-disadvantage.

In that system, it might well be "playoff-intense."

In this system, it simply leads off this edition of 3 to watch:

1. No, we're not that excited about Yankees-Rays. But we are excited about Sabathia-Price, the pitching matchup in Yankees at Rays, Monday night (7:10 ET) at Tropicana Field . With Felix Hernandez allowing seven runs and losing to the Angels on Saturday night, we're even tempted to call this a Cy Young showdown. Sabathia would help his credentials with a 20th win. Price would help his with a win over the Yankees (especially since Hernandez has three of them). Sabathia is the seventh pitcher to go for a 20th win against a Tampa Bay team. Five of the first six succeeded. The one who didn’t? Sabathia, when he lost to Price last Oct. 2.

2. Through 143 games last year, the Twins were 5 1/2 games behind the Tigers. Through 143 games this year, the Twins are six games ahead of the White Sox. So are you ready to declare the American League Central race over? Not just yet, but it will be over if Chicago doesn't sweep the three-game series that opens with Twins at White Sox, Tuesday night (8:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field . The last time the Twins were swept in Chicago was in 2008, which is the same year that ended with a Twins-White Sox one-game playoff to decide the AL Central winner. The game-winning home run that night, of course, was hit by Jim Thome, then with the White Sox, now with the Twins.

3. Near the end of the Giants-Padres game Sunday, Giants announcer Mike Krukow asked partner Duane Kuiper who to root for when the Padres play the Rockies this week. Tough question, because the Giants begin the week percentage points behind the Padres, but just 1 1/2 games ahead of the third-place (and hard-charging) Rockies. It another fascinating series in baseball's most interesting division, with the team that just ended a 10-game losing streak meeting the team that now owns a 10-game winning streak. The Padres won't see Ubaldo Jimenez, but they will see Jason Hammel, who starts in Padres at Rockies, Tuesday night (8:40 ET) at Coors Field . Hammel and Jimenez are the only pitchers who own three wins over the Padres this year, and if he wins Tuesday, Hammel could become just the seventh pitcher with at least four wins over a single opponent this season. The other six: Chris Carpenter (five wins vs. the Reds), Sabathia (four vs. the Orioles), Ryan Dempster (four vs. the Brewers), Chris Volstad (four vs. the Nationals), Roy Halladay (four vs. the Mets) and Price (four vs. the Blue Jays). Oh, and Kuiper's answer to Krukow: "I'm rooting for a 25-inning game."

Posted on: September 10, 2010 11:04 am
 

3 to watch: The Remember it's September edition

The big series in the National League West this weekend, as you may have heard, is taking place at Petco Park.

The Rockies are not there.

"That's great for the Rockies," ex-Colorado outfielder Brad Hawpe said this week. "It takes the attention off them. I've been there when we were counted out. And I've got a ring to show for it."

If the Rockies keep stealing home and overcoming 5-0 deficits, they might grab the attention right back. And if they take advantage of this weekend's Giants-Padres series -- every day, one of the teams in front of them will lose every day -- the NL West could become the hottest three-team race in baseball.

"It's kind of crazy over there," Hawpe said.

The Rockies dumped Hawpe late last month, and now he could end up playing in the American League playoffs with the Rays, who signed him and have been giving him something of a tryout for a spot on the postseason roster. Meanwhile, he'll watch from afar as the Rockies try to do what they did in 2007 and 2009, moving from nearly out of the race at the start of September to a spot in the playoffs at the end of the month.

Three years ago, the Rockies went 21-8 in the final month, famously winning 21 out of 22 (including playoffs) in their run to the World Series. Last year, they were 20-11 after Aug. 31.

This year? They're off to a 7-2 start in September. They were seven games out of the division lead and 4 1/2 out of the wild-card lead when the month began; now they're 3 1/2 back in both races.

It's a typical Rockies September, just as it has so far been a typical Phillies September (7-2) and a typical Twins September (7-1).

On to 3 to watch, on a weekend with so many good matchups that we had to leave out the Armando Galarraga-Jim Joyce reunion (Friday night in Detroit), and the Cardinals-Braves series in Atlanta:

1. Hawpe also said he's pulling hard for Carlos Gonzalez to be the National League's Most Valuable Player, and for Ubaldo Jimenez to win the Cy Young Award. Jimenez will need a strong finish to win, but he'll get a chance at becoming the NL's first 19-game winner when he starts in Diamondbacks at Rockies, Saturday night (8:10 ET) at Coors Field . In four meetings with Arizona this year, Jimenez is 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA. In 11 games against the Diamondbacks (who originally signed him), Gonzalez is hitting .444 with five home runs, 14 RBI and a 1.500 OPS.

2. When the Yankees and Rangers met last month, it felt like an American League Championship Series preview. They meet again this weekend, but it feels like just another step for two teams anxious to answer their October question marks. The Yankees will be excited or frustrated after A.J. Burnett's start on Saturday, and the Rangers will be relieved or alarmed after they watch Cliff Lee's expected return to the rotation, in Yankees at Rangers, Sunday afternoon (3:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark . For all the worry about the Yankees rotation behind CC Sabathia, the Rangers don't have much chance if Lee isn't healthy, do they?

3. When Mat Latos had to miss his scheduled start for the Padres last Monday night, because of a stomach flu, it was seen as one more thing going wrong for a team in a tailspin. Instead, the Padres used their bullpen to beat the Dodgers that night (ending a 10-game losing streak), and Latos was able to come back and beat the Dodgers again on Tuesday. It also set up the Padres ace to face Giants ace Tim Lincecum in Giants at Padres, Sunday afternoon (4:05 ET) at Petco Park , in the final game of this weekend's four-game series (but not the final meeting between two teams that will play a three-game series in San Francisco on Oct. 1-3). Latos, who was signed by Giants manager Bruce Bochy's brother (a Padres scout), has allowed just three runs in 28 innings in four starts against the Giants this year (including two 1-0 wins). Lincecum has faced the Padres just once this season, and it didn't go well, as he was knocked out in the fourth inning of an 8-2 loss on Aug. 15. He has only four wins in 12 career starts against the Padres (his fewest against an NL West opponent), although his career ERA against San Diego is 2.16.
Posted on: September 5, 2010 10:31 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2010 9:18 am
 

3 to watch: The Saving the Padres edition

Last Friday, the Padres had a seven-game losing streak, and we told you that it was all right, because five of the last 10 teams to make the World Series had a seven-game losing streak at some point during the season.

Now the Padres have a 10-game losing streak. Any chance history can help?

Not really. Of the 350 teams that have made it to the postseason, only two had a 10-game losing streak. Those two were 1951 Giants (think Bobby Thomson) and the 1982 Braves (think . . . Joe Morgan?).

The Braves were in first place, 6 1/2 games ahead, when they slipped up against the Giants in the middle of August and went on a losing streak that lasted 11 games. They actually lost 15 of 16, going from 6 1/2 up to four games behind, before recovering. They won the division on the final day of the season, when Morgan's seventh-inning home run for the Giants eliminated the second-place Dodgers.

And who managed that Braves team? Joe Torre, whose Dodgers play in San Diego this week. So as the Dodgers try to extend the Padres' misery, Torre can explain to Bud Black that this crazy season can still be rescued.

On to 3 to watch, with a reminder that two of the big series this coming weekend actually begin on Thursday (Giants at Padres, Cardinals at Braves):

1. For all the fuss over Manny Ramirez, the most significant acquisition the White Sox made this summer may have been Edwin Jackson. In five starts for the Sox, Jackson is 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA. Meanwhile, the guy he was traded for, Daniel Hudson, has gone 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA in seven starts for the Diamondbacks. And the guy Jackson was traded for last winter, Max Scherzer, is 8-4 with a 1.90 ERA in his last 16 starts for the Tigers. We bring all this up because Jackson faces Scherzer, in White Sox at Tigers, Monday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Comerica Park . This is a big week for the White Sox, because they need to stay close enough to the Twins to make next week's three-game showdown in Chicago meaningful.

2. It's not that long ago that the Padres' big Mat Latos question was how they would hold their 22-year-old ace within his innings limit. Now, with Latos scheduled to start in Dodgers at Padres, Monday night (10:05 ET) at Petco Park , it's whether Latos can be the guy who stops this losing streak. Latos hasn't gone more than two starts without a win all season, and he's at two now, having taken a no-decision in a 3-2 loss to the Phillies (while allowing just one run in seven innings) and again in a 5-2 loss to the Diamondbacks (while allowing just one run in six innings). Of course, before this losing streak began, the Padres hadn't lost more than three in a row all year.


3. Two Septembers ago, when the Rays went into Fenway Park with a 1 1/2-game lead over the Red Sox, we still weren't sure the Rays were that good. Heck, they still weren't sure they were that good. "If you want to be true with it, you say you want to be who [the Red Sox] are," Rays veteran Cliff Floyd said that week. You can bet no one on the Rays will be saying they want to be what the Red Sox are this week. You can also bet that we'll have some memories of 2008, especially when 2008 playoff hero David Price starts for Tampa Bay in Rays at Red Sox, Tuesday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park .


Posted on: August 29, 2010 9:37 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2010 12:08 pm
 

3 to watch: The Manny magic II? edition

Whether you like Manny Ramirez or not, you've got to admit that he carried the Dodgers into the postseason two years ago (and nearly carried them into the World Series, too).

Any chance he does the same for the White Sox, who he joins this week (possibly tonight in Cleveland)?

Your first instinct is to say no way. Manny was 36 years old then; he's 38 now. He had two months with the Dodgers; he'll have one month in Chicago. The Dodgers were just two games out of first place when he joined them; the White Sox are 4 1/2 games back now. The Dodgers had nine games remaining with the Diamondbacks, the team they were chasing (and went 7-2 in those nine games); the White Sox have only three games remaining with the first-place Twins.

Then again . . .

In Manny's first 32 games with the Dodgers, he hit .407 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs. And after dropping three games behind Arizona when they lost Manny's debut, needed just 39 games to turn that three-game deficit into a 4 1/2-game lead.

They needed help from the Diamondbacks, who went 15-23 over that span.

The White Sox would need help from the Twins (or at least from the teams that are playing the Twins).

Can history repeat? It sure seems unlikely, but it sure will be intriguing to see if it can.

On to 3 to watch:

1. Before Manny plays a home game for the White Sox, he'll visit his first two big-league homes, with series against the Indians and Red Sox. Not surprisingly, he has good career numbers at both Progressive Field and Fenway Park. He has incredible career numbers against the Indians (.352, 16 home runs, 46 RBIs in 51 games). Ramirez could be in the lineup as soon as White Sox at Indians, Monday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field , but in any case he should join the Sox during this series.

2. After A.J. Burnett completed a winless August by allowing nine runs to the Manny-less White Sox last Friday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi waited two days to announce whether Burnett would remain in the rotation. He will, Girardi told reporters Sunday, but the A.J. watch will be on in full force if he doesn't pitch well in A's at Yankees, Wednesday night (7:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium . If there's one thing that is most worrisome for the Yankees heading into September and October, it's the rotation. Andy Pettitte remains on the disabled list, and in five August starts, Burnett had a 7.80 ERA.

3. Speaking of key pitchers who were winless in August, Tim Lincecum's next assignment is a big one, facing Ubaldo Jimenez in Rockies at Giants, Wednesday night (9:15 ET) at AT&T Park . The Giants lead the Rockies by three games entering this week's series, but both teams trail the Padres in the National League West and the Phillies in the NL wild-card race. Lincecum's August ERA, by the way, was nearly the same as Burnett's (7.82). Jimenez went 1-3 in August, losing his last three decisions, but his ERA for the month was 2.83.


 
 
 
 
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