Marlins riding the D-Train again

Originally Published: June 8, 2005
By Buster Olney | ESPN The Magazine

• 2:20 p.m. ET: Without Kerry Wood, and without Mark Prior, the Cubs have to walk the pitching tightrope at least one or two days a week. Today's that day, with Sergio Mitre throwing for Chicago, against Roy Halladay of the Jays. This is what's called a Reverse Lock; all logic points to a Toronto victory.

Kip Wells
Starting Pitcher
Pittsburgh Pirates
Profile
2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM W L BB K ERA BAA K/9
12 4 4 39 59 3.58 .232 7.05

• 7:05: Kip Wells is one of baseball's best-kept secrets right now, his development hidden within small-market obscurity in Pittsburgh; he's allowed three earned runs or less in seven of his last eight starts. Bruce Chen pitches for the Orioles, who need to gain ground in the AL East, right now, with the Red Sox floundering a little and the Yankees floundering a whole lot.

• 7:05: Dontrelle Willis has nine victories and the way the Marlins are going, they need every single one, and many more. He pitches tonight against the Mariners' Gil Meche, who is the would-be victim of The Guy Most Likely To Go Deep – Carlos Delgado, who has four hits in seven previous at-bats against Meche, with one home run.

• 7:05: Presumably, the pitch thrown behind Darin Erstad settled the emotional problems between the two teams, but there is still the matter of who will win this series. Kelvim Escobar throws for the Angels, against the Braves' Tim Hudson, in what is going to be The Pitching Matchup of the Night.

• 7:10: The Cardinals go for a sweep of the Red Sox, with Chris Carpenter throwing against Boston's David Wells. Says here that Wells is the wrong pitcher at the wrong time for the Red Sox, because his stuff is sometimes compromised these days.

• 8:05: It's more than a decade since George Steinbrenner had to worry, sincerely, about the Yankees getting swept by the Royals and the Brewers in the same road trip. That fear could become reality today in Milwaukee. The Yankees' Mike Mussina throws against the Brewers' Chris Capuano, and the Walking Dead try to wake.

• 10:05: The Twins aren't leading the AL Central, but they've got a nice little cushion building in the wild-card race: two games over both leaders in the AL West, four games over the Red Sox, seven games over the Yankees.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from Tuesday

Nick Johnson
First Base
Washington Nationals
Profile
2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM HR RBI R OBP SLG AVG
57 8 35 34 .453 .552 .338
The Good: Typical game for the Nationals: They manage to hit only a couple of balls hard off Barry Zito, and yet they walk away with a 2-1 victory when Nick Johnson crushes a monstrous two-run homer. Washington hasn't been this excited about their ballclub since Joe Cronin was the manager and Heinie Manush propelled the offense.

The Bad: The Marlins have dropped four straight, and Jack McKeon's frustration with his players is mounting, his anger increasingly apparent in his body language. The Marlins, a first-place team a week ago, are a last-place team in the scrum that is the NL East, now 2½ games out of first.

The Ugly: The Yankees have had a vacant stare in their eyes the last two nights, as if they have no idea how to reverse their slide. And with nine losses in 10 games, something is going to happen: the most likely scenario is that pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre is going to lose his job in the hours to come, and hitting coach Don Mattingly may be in jeopardy, as well.

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.

Buster Olney | email

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine