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Big Unit looks to stop Yanks' 3-game slide

6/1/2005

• 7:05 p.m. ET: There will be just a little extra pressure on the Angels to win tonight's game against the White Sox, after back-to-back walk-off losses – and Texas just keeps on winning. Paul Byrd throws for L.A., against Jose Contreras, who pitched great last week against the Angels – right up to the moment when he decided to throw a fastball to rookie Dallas McPherson. Contreras will stick with his dead-fish splitter tonight in the same situation.

• 7:05: The Guy Most Likely To Go Deep is a Ranger. Just pick any of them; they're crushing the ball. Actually, they have a bit more of a test tonight, facing Jeremy Bonderman of the Tigers, but for argument's sake, we'll take Mark Teixeira. Ryan Drese throws for Texas.

• 7:05: Game 3 of The Big Series between the Orioles and the Red Sox. Tim Wakefield works for Boston, against Baltimore's Sidney Ponson, who probably will be really good or will be clubhouse-bound by the fourth inning; he's either all or less than nothing.

• 8:10: The Yankees have dropped three straight, and with Randy Johnson on the mound and The Boss undoubtedly getting restless, they will be pressing to beat the Royals, huge underdogs with D.J. Carrasco on the mound. This has Reverse Lock all over it: All logic points to a Yankees' victory, so ...

• 8:10: The Pitching Matchup of the Night will be in Minnesota, where Cliff Lee – having a strong season for the Indians, with a 6-2 record and a 3.32 ERA – throws against the Twins' Brad Radke. Since getting knocked around by the White Sox in his first two starts, Lee has a 2.36 ERA, typically giving Cleveland six to seven innings in every start. The Indians have played tough against Minnesota the last eight days.

• 10:05: Brewers left-hander Doug Davis continues to fly under the radar, except with NL hitters. He was 4-2 with a 3.00 ERA in May, and batters managed just a .218 average against him. Milwaukee needs him to be as good as he can be tonight, facing the Padres and Brian Lawrence.

• 10:10: The Cubs try to keep it rolling, with one of their new starters. John Koronka makes his major-league debut, throwing against the Dodgers' Derek Lowe.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from Tuesday
The Good: Brad Halsey threw seven scoreless innings against the Mets, running his record to 4-2 and adding weight to the mounting evidence that the Randy Johnson deal might turn out to be a huge mistake, long-term, for the Yankees. Only a return to dominance or a World Series ring could vindicate The Big Unit.

The Bad: The Marlins have a problem in Pittsburgh; they never seem to win there. They dropped the second game of their series with the Pirates Tuesday night, as Nate Bump surrendered a one-run lead in the seventh inning, on a two-run homer by Daryle Ward. Mike Lowell went 0-for-3, his batting average dipping to .200.

The Ugly: The Dodgers managed only one hit against Carlos Zambrano and two relievers – naturally, it came from the ubiquitous Cesar Izturis – and continued their slide in the standings. L.A. is 6½ games behind the Padres now.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His book, "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty," is available in paperback and can be ordered through HarperCollins.com.

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