Wood returns to face Sheets
Buster Olney takes a look at Wednesday's top matchups and the good, the bad, and the ugly from Tuesday.
• 2:20 p.m. ET: The Best Pitching Matchup of the Day will be in Chicago, where the Cubs will see another frontline starter return to the rotation: Kerry Wood takes the mound, against the Brewers' Ben Sheets. Milwaukee's ace has a tendency to give up some long bombs, and folks out on Waveland Avenue might want to have their gloves prepped when Derrek Lee comes to bat: He has five career homers in 31 at-bats against Sheets, which makes him The Most Likely Guy To Go Deep today.
• 3:10 p.m. ET: The Padres have had multiple chances to put a dagger into the heart of the Dodgers the last couple weeks and have repeatedly blown leads. They can at least nick up L.A. in the series finale, with Darrell May working against Jeff Weaver. For all of Weaver's hang-dog looks when things are not going well, he has been pretty consistent over the last month, allowing about one hit or walk per inning and about one to three runs, pulling down his ERA from 5.97 to his current 4.75.
• 7:05 p.m. ET: When Mike Mussina pitches and you want to get an early indication of how well he will throw, just count the foul balls. If there is a lot of them, that means that Mussina is struggling to muster the kind of fastball he needs to finish off hitters, and that is often a barometer of a short night. When he gets a lot of swings-and-misses, however, it's probably going to be a good night for him. Baltimore rookie Hayden Penn throws for the Orioles, and you get a sense from his most recent outing -- eight hits, two walks and seven runs in two innings -- that the league is starting to develop a scouting report on how to beat him.
• 7:05 p.m. ET: The Pirates' Dave Williams, one of the more underrated pitchers in the majors this year, throws against the Nationals' John Patterson, who might be the most underrated pitcher in the majors this year. Patterson's home ERA is about four runs lower at RFK Stadium, and that's where this game will be staged.
• 7:05 p.m. ET: At this stage in his career, Al Leiter is probably going to get in trouble when he throws against an opponent too much, because they have a sense of what he tries to do, especially when he's ahead in the count. But he's already had two starts against the Braves and is 1-0 against Atlanta, with a 1.69 ERA in 10 2/3 innings. Kyle Davies throws for the Braves, in Florida.
• 8:05 p.m. ET: John Lackey seems to be slowly developing into an impact-type pitcher, as this season goes along. After accumulating a 5.61 ERA in April, with 31 hits allowed in 25 2/3 innings, he went 3-1 with a 3.02 ERA in May and is 1-0 with a 2.13 ERA in June. Maybe the absence of Kelvim Escobar won't hurt the Angels quite so badly. Lackey throws tonight in Texas, against Ricardo Rodriguez of the Rangers, and considering the pitching matchup and how badly Texas has fared against the Angels the last week, this is The Reverse Lock of the Night, with all logic pointing to an L.A. victory.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Tuesday
The Good: Mark Buehrle won his 10th game of the season and ninth straight decision in the White Sox's 2-1 win over the Tigers. Buehrle struck out six and didn't walk a batter in 6 2/3 innings.
The Bad: The Astros' bullpen was horrible, allowing the Rockies to score five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Roger Clemens was in line for the victory after departing after seven innings ahead 5-1, but the game quickly turned when Garrett Atkins hit a grand slam off of Astros reliever Russ Springer.
The Ugly: The Royals lost for the eighth straight time, falling 11-8 to the Twins. K.C. is now 12-14 under manager Buddy Bell.
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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