Tag:Dallas Braden
Posted on: August 20, 2010 1:57 am
Edited on: August 20, 2010 9:09 pm

3 to watch: The Legends of the dugout edition

Between them, they've managed nearly 8,000 major-league games. But do you want to guess how many games Bobby Cox and Lou Piniella have managed against each other?

It's not as many as you think. Only 81, with three more coming this weekend in Chicago -- presumably the final three, with both Cox and Piniella saying they'll retire at the end of the season.

The tally so far, according to research through baseball-reference.com , has Cox with 41 wins and Piniella with 40. They've never met in the playoffs, even though Cox went to the postseason 15 times with the Blue Jays and Braves, and Piniella made it to October seven times with the Reds, Mariners and Cubs.

Cox, whose Braves lead the Phillies by 2 1/2 games in the National League East, has another chance at the postseason this year. Piniella, whose Cubs are 22 games under .500, has a chance to go home when the regular season ends on Oct. 3.

And that, of course, is why Derrek Lee agreed to leave Piniella and join Cox, approving the trade that gave the Braves their new first baseman. The trade was finalized while Lee was sitting in the Cubs dugout during their Wednesday loss to the Padres, and Lee's first game for the Braves will be Friday afternoon against the Cubs.

"I told him to go get his uniform off, he wasn't on our team anymore and I didn't want him stealing our signs," Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster joked with reporters after the game. Dempster will be the first Cubs pitcher to face Lee, as he's the starter Friday. "He started trying to bribe me and asked me how I was going to pitch certain hitters. Sneaky dog."

On to 3 to watch:

1. According to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News , the Giants sent playoff ticket invoices to their season ticket holders this week. As Baggarly said, incredibly bad timing, with the Giants falling six games behind the Padres in the National League West, and dropping out of the wild-card lead, as well. It doesn't help that ace Tim Lincecum has been pitching poorly, and it may not help Lincecum that his next start comes against Chris Carpenter, in Giants at Cardinals, Saturday night (7:15 ET) at Busch Stadium . A year ago, Lincecum against Carpenter would have been a Cy Young elimination battle. Now, with the Cards falling 3 1/2 games behind the Reds in the NL Central, it looks more like a wild-card elimination battle.

2. The Braves have the worst road record (27-33) of any team that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. With the Phillies getting healthy and hot, that may need to change if Cox is going to get that going-away postseason gift. This weekend against the struggling Cubs would be a good place to start. We'll know by the time Mike Minor faces Randy Wells, in Braves at Cubs, Sunday afternoon (2:20 ET) at Wrigley Field .

3. No matter how good or bad the teams out West are, East Coast teams always seem to fear West Coast trips, especially late in the season. Sure enough, the Rays lost the first game of their current seven-game trip to the coast, falling to the A's, 4-3, on Thursday night. The Rays are actually 6-4 on the Coast this season, but they're 16-19 since the start of 2008 (basically, since they've been good). The big game this weekend is the matchup of Dallas Braden and Matt Garza, in Rays at A's, Sunday afternoon (4:07 ET) at the Coliseum , in a matchup of two of the five pitchers who have thrown no-hitters this season.

Posted on: July 4, 2010 4:54 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2010 5:15 pm

3 to watch: The Scene of the crime edition

The last time the Giants were in Milwaukee, Prince Fielder hit a walkoff home run, his teammates fell down like bowling pins, and the Giants got so upset they still haven't forgotten it.

The last time the Yankees were in Oakland, Alex Rodriguez ran across Dallas Braden's mound, Braden got upset, and a week later Braden's grandmother told A-Rod to "stick it."

So now it's July, and the Giants are back in Milwaukee, and the Yankees are back in Oakland.

Which no doubt means that Prince and A-Rod will be back in the news this week. But for what?

With Prince, the questions will be whether the Brewers should trade him right now, and how interested the Giants should be in trying to trade for him (or, perhaps, for Brewers outfielder Corey Hart).

The teams have talked in the past, but the Giants' reluctance to part with any of their big-time pitchers was always a big sticking point. Of course, that's the same sticking point that has kept the Giants from acquiring any significant hitter these last few years, which in turn has kept them from first place in the National League West.

In any case, the Giants could sure use Fielder, so much so that they'd have no problem overlooking the celebration they hated so much last September. When Andy Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News asked Barry Zito about Fielder , Zito answered, "There's a ton of guys in the league we hate to play against, but we'd love to play with."

Remember, Zito is the guy who threw at Fielder this spring in Arizona, a payback for the bowling-pin display last September.

There's no chance of A-Rod getting traded to the A's -- his $32 million salary would cover more than half the Oakland payroll. And there's no chance he'll run across Braden's mound -- the A's lefty is on the disabled list.

So if we're talking A-Rod this week, we're more likely talking the run to 600 home runs. Rodriguez is at 595 right now, which means it's unlikely but not impossible that he'll get to 600 in Oakland.

For the record, Rodriguez has hit 19 career home runs in 86 games at the Coliseum. He hasn't hit more than one home run in a series in Oakland since 2004, and hasn't ever hit more than three in any series at the Coliseum.

On to 3 to watch:

1. If the Phillies are going to survive all their injuries, you'd think they would need to win every game that Roy Halladay starts. Instead, they've struggled to score runs for Halladay, and thus they're 3-7 in his last 10 starts. They get another chance, in Braves at Phillies, Monday night (7:05 EDT) at Citizens Bank Park .

2. No one remembers it now, but the A-Rod/Braden game back in April was a Yankee loss, and a CC Sabathia loss. And while Braden won't pitch in this week's series, Sabathia will, in Yankees at A's, Tuesday night (10:05 EDT) at the Coliseum . He pitched well in that April start, allowing just four hits in an eight-inning complete game (a 4-2 A's win), but for his career, Sabathia is 2-5 with a 5.95 ERA in 10 starts in what is basically his hometown ballpark.

3. Zito has just one win in his last nine starts (and a 5.30 ERA in that span), so he'll have more on his mind than just Fielder, in Giants at Brewers, Thursday afternoon (2:10 EDT) at Miller Park . For the record, Fielder is just 2 for 12 against Zito in his career, although one of the two hits was a home run.

Posted on: June 4, 2010 10:28 am
Edited on: June 4, 2010 10:30 am

3 to watch: The Nationals league edition

Next week we'll ask whether Stephen Strasburg can transform the Nationals.

Today we're asking whether Strasburg can help change the image of the National League. Because right now, when a guy is struggling (or just plain lousy) in the American League, the common thought is that he might be better in the NL.

Or didn't you read about this week's Dontrelle Willis trade?

Willis has a career National League ERA of 3.78. He has a career American League ERA of 6.86. And instead of saying that his career went downhill after the 2007 trade that sent him from the Marlins to the Tigers -- and, in reality, had started to go downhill in his last two seasons in Florida -- the story when he was traded to the Diamondbacks this week was that maybe a change back to the NL would help.

Nice thought, except the National League scouts we talked to wanted nothing to do with Willis, not at the major-league minimum (which is all the Diamondbacks will be paying).

"I was really surprised that Detroit was fortunate enough to trade him," said one scout who watched Willis this season. "That's a great deal for Detroit, because they get a player [Billy Buckner] back.

"We'd take a chance on a pitcher, but not him. If my general manager would have called, I'd have said no. If he can get you five innings, then he's had a heck of a night. His command and control are just not very good."

In 22 career starts for the Tigers -- that's all they got for their $29 million -- Willis had just two games where he got an out in the seventh inning, and none where he finished seven innings. He averaged 5 1/3 innings a start this season.

Sounds perfect for a team with the worst bullpen in the majors (7.51 ERA).

"Is he going to start for them?" the scout asked. "Well, good for him. Whatever."

With that kind of report, how can we do anything but feature Willis' Diamondback debut in this weekend's 3 to watch:

1. Roy Halladay ended May with a perfect game. But if you take the whole month, Halladay's May ERA of 2.15 ranked just fourth among National League starters, behind Ubaldo Jimenez (0.78), Mat Latos (1.54) and Matt Cain (1.81). And in his first start since the perfect game, Halladay goes up against Latos, in Padres at Phillies, Friday night (7:05 EDT) at Citizens Bank Park . This is probably as good a time as any to remind you that since his perfect game, Mark Buehrle has won just five of his 24 starts. And since his perfect game, Dallas Braden is 0-3 in four starts, with a 4.13 ERA. If Halladay starts slipping, then maybe Armando Galarraga should thank Jim Joyce, after all.

2. The Diamondbacks sent out a mass e-mail on Thursday, filled with positive notes about how well their team is doing. That's a team that just finished an 0-9 road trip, a team that has lost 10 in a row, a team that got walked-off each of the last four games, a team that hasn't scored a run in 31 innings. Sounds like the kind of team that can turn Willis into a winner -- or at least pretend that he's winning. We'll see, when he faces Jhoulys Chacin, in Rockies at Diamondbacks, Saturday night (8:10 ET) at Chase Field .

3. It really is too bad that the Nationals didn't have Strasburg debut this weekend, perhaps on Saturday night against fellow San Diego native Mike Leake (who already has four major-league wins and has helped his team into first place). Instead, they chose to hold him back for Tuesday, against a Pirates offense that might more closely resemble the International League lineups he has been carving up in Syracuse. Oh well. We'll make do with Luis Atilano on Saturday, and Craig Stammen, in Reds at Nationals, Sunday afternoon (1:35 EDT) at Nationals Park . Remember, it's the last game the Nationals will ever play (at least for now) without Strasburg on their roster.

Posted on: May 14, 2010 10:05 am
Edited on: May 14, 2010 10:09 am

3 to watch: The this isn't perfect edition

In the 1044 days since July 4, 2007, the Twins have won a division title and gone to a 163rd game before losing another. They've had a player win an MVP, and they've moved outdoors.

And they've won exactly zero games in New York City.

Not in the old Yankee Stadium. Not in the new Yankee Stadium.

Not in the regular season. Not in the postseason.

You might say they've been perfect -- or perfectly frustrated, given the way their two visits went last year.

In May: A 5-4 loss in which the Yankees scored three times off Joe Nathan in the ninth, a 6-4 loss in which Alex Rodriguez homered off Craig Breslow in the 11th, a 3-2 loss in which Johnny Damon homered off Jesse Crain in the 10th and a 7-6 loss in which the Yankees scored six times in the first.

In October: A 7-2 loss in Game 1, and then an excruciating 4-3, 11-inning loss in a Game 2 that included A-Rod's ninth-inning homer off Nathan, Mark Teixeira's game-winning home run in the 11th off Jose Mijares, and also Phil Cuzzi's mistaken call taking a double away from Joe Mauer.

Perfect, huh?

Speaking of which, Dallas Braden and Mark Buehrle both take to the mound tonight, leading off this edition of 3 to watch:

1. It's been 295 days since Buehrle's perfecto against the Rays, and while he hasn't been winless in that time, he hasn't been anywhere near perfect, either. He's 4-11 in 20 starts, with a 4.85 ERA. The White Sox have lost the last five times he's gone to the mound. They'll try again, in White Sox at Royals, Friday night (8:10 EDT) at Kauffman Stadium , a game which will also be Ned Yost's debut as Royals manager. Good news for the Sox: They've won six of Buehrle's last seven starts against the Royals.

2. As colleague Scott Miller detailed yesterday, Braden seems to have enjoyed the four days since he made history against the Rays. (He's certainly enjoyed it more than Buehrle has enjoyed the last 295 days.) He'll make his first start as a major celebrity tonight in Anaheim, against an Angels team he beat in April, but lost to in all three starts last year. It's A's at Angels, Friday night (10:05 EDT) at Angels Stadium .

3. Andy Pettitte hasn't thrown a perfect game in any of his 464 career starts. But he was perfect enough for the Yankees last October and November, winning the clinching game in all three postseason series. The Twins will remember the first of those, a 4-1 win that closed out the Metrodome in Game 3. Pettitte hasn't even lost a regular season game to the Twins since April 30, 2001, when he threw an eight-inning complete game at the Metrodome, and lost 2-1 to Brad Radke. Pettitte will be the focus again, in Twins at Yankees, Saturday afternoon (1:05 EDT) at Yankee Stadium , because he hasn't pitched since leaving his April 5 start (and win) against the Orioles because of inflammation in his left elbow.

Posted on: May 10, 2010 12:37 pm
Edited on: May 10, 2010 1:00 pm

Perfect oddities

Maybe it's just coincidence. Or maybe not.

Not only have the Rays been the victim in the last two perfect games thrown in the major leagues -- last year by Mark Buehrle, Sunday by Dallas Braden -- but both came in afternoon games on getaway day.

In fact, St. Petersburg Times beat writer Marc Topkin suggested something less than coincidence when he speculated in his game story that Sunday's performance might have had something to do with "having Saturday night off in San Francisco."

So you wonder, is that why five of the last nine perfect games thrown in the major leagues were on Sundays (in Oakland, New York (twice), Los Angeles and Texas) -- and that six of the last nine were in day games?

And you wonder, what is it about lefties? Five of the last six perfect games have been thrown by left-handers: Braden, Buehrle, Randy Johnson, David Wells and Kenny Rogers (with David Cone the lone righty in the group).

Maybe it's just coincidence. Or maybe not.

Two more thoughts on the perfect game:

Not surprisingly, the Rays had the best record (22-8) of any team to have a perfect game thrown against them. Only two teams that were victims of perfect games have gone made it to the postseason in the same year (excluding the 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers, who had a perfect game thrown against them in the World Series). The two? The 2004 Braves (Randy Johnson), who lost in the first round of the playoffs, and the 1988 Dodgers (Tom Browning), who won the World Series.

And to echo what colleague Scott Miller wrote Sunday, what a great job by Comcast Sports Net California, and especially by announcers Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse. Instead of adhering to the silly notion that they might jinx history by doing their job and mentioning it, Kuiper and Fosse set the scene perfectly -- and in doing so, proved once again that announcers don't jinx no-hitters (or perfect games).

(And, on A's radio, Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo also told listeners that Braden was working on a perfect game.)

In fact, in the most famous perfect game call of all, Vin Scully began the ninth inning by saying right away that Sandy Koufax was pitching a perfect game. When Koufax got it by striking out Harvey Kuenn, Scully let the crowd reaction play for 38 seconds, then said, "On the scoreboard in right field it is 9:46 p.m. in the City of the Angels, Los Angeles, California."

Yes, it was a night game.

Posted on: May 9, 2010 9:55 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2010 10:06 pm

3 to watch: The perfect or not edition

The Yankees have never had a perfect game thrown against them. The Rays have had it happen twice in 10 months.

The Royals have never had a perfect game thrown for them, or against them. The Angels, Dodgers, Expos and White Sox have been on both sides of perfect games.

Some of the best pitchers in the history of the game have thrown perfect games. And some guys who never were and never will be considered for the Hall of Fame.

It doesn't always make sense, just like the Royals' 1-6 record in Zack Greinke's first seven starts this year doesn't make sense.

And whether it makes sense or not, we're tying Dallas Braden's perfect game, the Yankees and Greinke into this week's edition of 3 to watch:

1. The day after they were the victims in Mark Buehrle's perfect game last July, the Rays faced Roy Halladay in Toronto -- and got a hit in the very first inning. Matt Garza was the Tampa Bay starter that day, and Garza went nine innings to get credit for the Rays' 4-2, 10-inning win. Guess who starts for the Rays Monday night? Yep, it's Garza, who will face Joel Pineiro in Rays at Angels, Monday night (10:05 EDT) at Angels Stadium .

2. The Yankees have had three perfect games, the most of any team. You wouldn't figure that they'd get another one this week, since the Tigers' have the second-best team batting average in the game (behind only the Yankees). But their series this week in Detroit, besides giving the Yanks their first look at Johnny Damon in a Tiger uniform, gives us all a great pitching matchup. It's CC Sabathia against Justin Verlander, in Yankees at Tigers, Thursday afternoon (1:05 EDT) at Comerica Park .

3. Greinke, somehow, is 0-4 despite a 2.51 ERA and five quality starts in seven starts. He's the first defending Cy Young Award winner to lose his first four decisions the next year since Bartolo Colon, who was 0-4 with a 5.77 ERA in six starts (wrapped around a trip to the disabled list) in 2006. The Royals bullpen has already cost Greinke two wins with blown saves, and the Royals hitters have hurt him by scoring just one run in his last two starts combined (1-0 and 4-1 losses). They'll try again, in Indians at Royals, Thursday afternoon (2:10 EDT) at Kauffman Stadium . The last defending Cy Young to start 0-5? Frank Viola, who began 0-5 (but then won his next start) for the 1989 Twins.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com