The Lineup: Can Zack Greinke save the awful Angels
It was another disastrous day for the drain-circling Angels on Saturday. On the other hand, it was a very good day for Yoenis Cespedes. Sunday brings a pair of key NL rubber matches.
|The Angels have a lot to talk about after Saturday's collapse. (Associated Press)|
Since we've already devoted some bandwidth to Adam Dunn 's historic night, let's turn our attention to everything else than unfolded on Saturday and everything that will unfold on Sunday ...
Rangers bullpen: Texas Rangers has one of the strongest bullpens in the American League, and they proved it on Saturday. Against the Jays, the Rangers' relief corps -- Robbie Ross , Tanner Scheppers , Michael Kirkman , Mike Adams and Joe Nathan -- combined for 4.1 scoreless innings. The Rangers prevailed 2-1, thanks in large part to the yeoman's work of the pen.
Pedro Ciriaco , Boston Red Sox : Ciriaco came into Saturday's tilt in the Bronx (an eventual 4-1 Red Sox win) as a career .440/.462/.600 hitter against the Yankees. And <I>then</i> he went out and went 4-for-4.
Yoenis Cespedes , A's: Sure, Cespedes went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI in Oakland Athletics 's win over Cleveland Indians , but his most impressive display with the bat may have come before the game. Take it away, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Giants Chronicle…
DJ O'Neil of ad agency Hub Strategy says Cespedes was hitting piñata blindfolded for upcoming TV spot for Fiesta Day.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) August 18, 2012
O'Neil says Cespedes hit the piñata so hard they found candy in the dugout.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) August 18, 2012
Los Angeles Angels ' pitching: The Angels are the most disappointing team of 2012, and never was this more evident than on Saturday night. Staked to an early 8-0 lead, starter C.J. Wilson fell apart, as he gave up seven runs in just 4.2 innings of work. And then the bullpen gave up three more. The Angels lost. Again. Through the first three games of the critical four-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays , Angel pitching has surrendered a total of 29 runs. This is what a $150-million payroll gets you? And let's not forget that Saturday was supposed to be a 10th-anniversary celebration for the 2002 World Series winners.
Andrew McCutchen , Pittsburgh Pirates : Needless to say, the NL MVP frontrunner is a stranger to 3 Down. On Saturday, however, he came up small in a big game against the Cardinals. McCutchen went 0-for-5 with no walks, and, while he did drive in a run on a fielder's choice, he left six key runners on base. It happens to even the best of players.
Alex Cobb , Rays: Yes, Cobb's team rallied from the depths to prevail in Anaheim, but it was no thanks to Cobb. He lasted just 2.2 innings against the Angels, and in that brief span he managed to allow eight runs on 12 hits.
Rubber match: The Los Angeles Dodgers and Braves will determine who takes their key series in Atlanta Braves when Chad Billingsley opposes Mike Minor . Each has been outstanding in the second half: Billingsley has a 1.56 ERA since the break, and Minor has a 2.39 ERA over that same span. Both teams have designs on the postseason, so consider this a critical game. 1:35 pm ET
Rubber match II: The Pirates won a tight one in the series opener on Friday, and the Cardinals countered with a one-run victory on Saturday. What will Sunday bring in the this key encounter between these two contenders? For the Cardinals, Jaime Garcia will make his first start since June 5. Are the stakes bigger for St. Louis Cardinals , who trail the Pirates, or for those Pirates, who, after a rough home stand, could take two-of-three on the road from the defending champs? 2:15 pm ET
Wild-card clash: While the Rays and Angels are long-shots to win their respective divisions, they are very much in the wild-card race. Those plucky Rays are in wild-card position at the moment, while the sad-sack Angels are just 3.5 games back. Adding to the intrigue is a potentially tremendous pitching match-up: Matt Moore against Zack Greinke . Can Greinke give the Halos a sorely needed victory?
Sunday probables for all games
• Comedy of errors: The question posed really says it all: What if Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart and Bill Maher teamed up to purchase the Mets? [Forbes.com]
• Tommy Milone , self-made pitcher: What's unique about the warm-up music of Oakland rookie Tommy Milone? His friend composed the song along with some help from Milone himself. I haven't listened to it, but it's better than Maroon 5. [CSN Bay Area]
• Super scout: What's the injured Jim Thome doing in his downtime? Scouting Baltimore Orioles top prospect Dylan Bundy. Thome checked out the gifted young right-hander at the request of manager Buck Showalter. His assessment? Paul White of USA Today writes: "Showalter said Thome was impressed, but told the manager he thinks Bundy needs to add a slider to be successful in the majors."
• Bench jockeys: What does a bench coach do? How long have they been around? Who's the only manager in baseball right now who doesn't use a bench coach? Was Dick Williams nice to bench coaches? The New York Mets Times answers these questions in an interesting look at every manager's right-hand man.
• Photo of the day: Courtesy of Getting Blanked, it's Wally locking eyes with the very face of cinematic evil …