Thursday night saw a few notable pitching gems, and Friday brings us not only Johan Santana's follow-up act but also a full slate of interleague games.
R.A. Dickey, Mets: Regardless of how you feel about the Mets, wouldn't it be cool if a knuckleballer won the Cy Young? Dickey, it so happens, is putting together that kind of season. After blanking the Nats for seven-plus frames, Dickey has now thrown 24.2 consecutive scoreless innings. He's also got a 1.55 ERA over his last nine starts.
Michael McKenry, Pirates: In the course of the Buccos' 5-4, 10-inning win over the Reds, McKenry went 1-for-3 with a sac fly. While those are commendable enough numbers, they don't tell the whole story. McKenry's only hit of the night was a go-ahead double in the 10th. That double off a 99-mph fastball and plated the first earned run of the season off Aroldis Chapman.
Clay Buchholz, Red Sox: Has Buccholz figured it out? After Thursday night's shutout of Baltimore (which lowered his ERA from 6.58 to 5.77), he's now turned in three straight quality starts.
Cole Hamels, Phillies: Hamels's line against the Dodgers wasn't necessarily awful (6.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 6 K, 1 BB), but consider that Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and A.J. Ellis weren't in the starting lineup for L.A. It was a downright bad lineup for the Dodgers, but they still cuffed around Hamels.
Yu Darvish, Rangers: Although occasionally brilliant on the mound, Darvish has struggled to find consistency this season. That was painfully apparent on Thursday as he give up six runs and 13 base runners in 5.1 innings against the A's. Those A's, let us remember, do not have a good offense. As for the Rangers, they've now lost seven of nine.
Omar Vizquel, Blue Jays: Needless to say, we're admirers of the ageless Vizquel, but we cannot in good conscience spare him from this list. On Thursday against Chicago, Vizquel went 0-for-4 at the plate with two Ks and five runners left on base. In what turned out to be a one-run contest, Vizquel's out-making at the plate was critical.
No-han's encore: Johan Santana's follow-up to his no-hitter would lead off "On Deck" even if he weren't facing the Yankees in Yankee Stadium, which he is. Santana logged a career-high 134 pitches against the Cardinals last time out, but manager Terry Collins made sure he received extra rest between starts. How will his shoulder respond against a fairly powerful Yankee lineup? Hiroki Kuroda goes for the hosts. 7:05 pm ET
The battle of F.L.A.: While Rays-Marlins tends to be a bit of an interleague afterthought, it's usually a relevant encounter. That's especially the case this time around, as the Rays are now back in a first-place tie in the AL East, and the Marlins are just 2.0 games out of first in the NL East. Jeremy Hellickson squares off against Ricky Nolasco. 7:10 pm ET
Strasburg at the Fens: In four career interleague starts, Stephen Strasburg of the Nats boasts a 1.54 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 23.1 innings. The Red Sox, however, lead the AL in runs scored at home. Felix Doubront goes for Boston. 7:10 pm ET
Friday probables for all games
• And speaking of R.A. Dickey: How many times do you hear an athlete utter something like this: “I have a very devout interest in growth.” Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post profiles the Most Interesting Man in Baseball.
• Geography lesson: Wanna see a map that shows where every current major-leaguer was born? Of course you do.
• Goodnight, tweetheart: Mat Latos's wife Dallas announces on her blog that she's taking a break from Twitter because of a series of rude comments directed at her.
• Free baseball isn't free: Every time a Nats home night game goes into extra innings, it costs the team $29,500 to keep the D.C. Metro running. [D.C. Sports Bog]
• Hatteberg in the booth: Scott Hatteberg of recent Moneyball fame will soon begin providing color commentary during select TV broadcasts of A's games. Current color-man Ray Fosse is seeing his role scaled back. [San Franchise Chronicle]
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