The Lineup: Carlos Zambrano is back, Clayton Kershaw is waiting
Carlos Zambrano of the Marlins spins a gem, the Mets find an unlikely hero, and the Giants have a tall order ahead of them.
Maybe Carlos Zambrano has the change of scenery he needs? Monday night's results suggest that's the case. Can the San Francisco Giants possibly get to Clayton Kershaw ? Who was Cleveland's double-hero on Monday?
Carlos Zambrano, Miami Marlins - Is any pitcher so maligned as a bum despite having had a damn good career? Zambrano's solid 2012 just got better after his gem against the Astros on Monday night. Big Z tossed a complete-game shutout and struck out nine against only one walk. In the process, he lowered his ERA to 1.98. Best of all from the Marlins' perspective, they're paying just $2.55-million of Zambrano's salary for 2012.
Jordany Valdespin, New York Mets - The 24-year-old rookie reserve was 0-for-6 for his major-league career coming into Monday night. Then came his game-winning, three-run bomb off Philly closer Jonathan Papelbon , who up until then had never given up a three-run homer in his career.
Asdrubal Cabrera , Cleveland Indians - In the double-header against the White Sox, the Indians picked up a pair of victories to push their record to 17-11 on the season. Cabrera had much to do with their success on Monday, as he went a combined 4-for-6 with a pair of walks, an RBI and two runs scored. Cabrera, one of the most underrated players in baseball, is now hitting .356/.437/.556 on the season.
Brian Matusz , Baltimore Orioles - Coming off his best start of the year, Matusz logged his worst start of the year: 5.0 IP, 7 R, 4 K, 2 K, 1 HR. "I just never got in a good rhythm," Matusz said of his rough night. "[I was] getting behind guys all game, flying open on pitches and leaving some breaking balls out over the plate." To be fair, though, Ranger hitters can make almost any pitcher look bad.
Giants defense - In the Giants- Los Angeles Dodgers game, each team committed three errors on the night, but San Fran's were particularly ugly. Conor Gillaspie and Steve Edlefsen each committed throwing errors, and Buster Posey made his fifth miscue of the season.
Octavio Dotel , Detroit Tigers - As though Jose Valverde 's struggles weren't enough, Octavio Dotel blew a two-run ninth-inning lead on Monday night (the Tigers' fifth blown lead of the season) and in doing so squandered a Doug Fister gem. Dotel gave up three runs on one hit and two walks without retiring a batter, and just four of his 15 pitches went for strikes.
AL East showdown: Can a game involving a fourth-place team really qualify as a "showdown"? When it's the New York Yankees , yes. The Yanks will host the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night, and Ivan Nova will oppose James Shields . Nova has given up 11 runs over his last two starts, so he'll hope to get untracked against 19-10 Tampa Bay. This season, the Yanks are 0-3 against those Rays. 7:05 p.m. ET
Orioles mettle-tester: Baltimore was throttled by the two-time defending AL champs in the series opener, but the upstart O's will get two more cracks at them. Crack No. 2 comes Tuesday night when Pedro Feliz squares off against Jake Arrieta . Feliz is coming off a rough outing against Toronto, while Arrieta last time out dominated the otherwise hard-hitting Yankees. 7:05 p.m. ET
Ruler of the Giants: One of baseball's most compelling rivalries goes down again at Dodger Stadium. This time, reigning NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw is on the mound, and Kershaw brings with him a 1.25 ERA in 79.0 career innings against San Fran. Since the Giants are also without their best hitter, Kerhsaw's counterpart Ryan Vogelsong may not receive much in the way of run support. 10:10 p.m. ET
• Seattle Mariners among us: Which team has produced the most major-leaguers currently on rosters all across baseball? It happens to be the otherwise lowly Mariners, with a total of 36. Among those 36 is a certain Boston DH who everyone forgets was a Seattle signee some 20 years ago. [SeattlePI.com]
• Irrational exuberance, redefined: Know what's not worth getting soaked to the bone and then getting tossed from a game for? A Humberto Quintero home-run ball. [Big League Stew]
• Japan vs. China in California: These days it's hard to imagine using ethnic hostilities to sell tickets, but that's what happened back in 1932 in the Pacific Coast League, when Oakland's owner signed a Chinese pitcher (Lee Gum Hong) to oppose Sacramento's Japanese pitcher (5-foot-2, 100-pound Kenso Nushida). "This is a battle between nations," Lee said of the game. "I represent China and Nushida represents Japan. And China shall win." Infinite Card Set has the fascinating back-story.
• Barry Larkin checks out his new home: Former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin, who will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in July, recently enjoyed a tour of the Cooperstown museum in advance of his enshrinement. “I think it’s the amount of baseball history that’s here, the quality of the baseball history that’s here, being here, all that," Larkin said. "There are some incredible pieces that sparked a lot of memories. Wow … very impressive.”
• The hook plays hooky: Remember the hook slide, that bit of base-running artistry that was once a staple of the game? What happened to that? Lyle Spencer of MLB.com theorizes:
"If you're old school, you probably believe that if it was good enough for Cobb, Robinson, Wills and Brock, sliding feet first is the way to go.
If you're new school, you most likely bow to the Cooperstown shrine of Rickey Henderson and dive in headfirst."
• Candid-camera Cole: Cole Hamels 's new tough-guy carriage seems at odds with existing photographic evidence. [Ted's Quarters via BTF]
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