Top pitching matchup: Haren vs. Meche
Buster Olney takes a look at Thursday's top matchups and the good, the bad and the ugly from Wednesday.
• 1:05 p.m. ET: Amid all the success of the White Sox's staff this year, the pitching of Freddy Garcia has been largely overlooked he's 7-3 with a 3.58 ERA. Thursday, he goes against Mike Maroth of the Tigers, and we say The Most Likely Guy To Go Deep is Joe Crede, who has three homers in 21 career at-bats against Maroth.
• 1:05 p.m. ET: If this Nationals game plays out like so many others, the outcome will be undecided by 3 p.m., but then Washington will score late and win by a run. Kip Wells throws for the Pirates, Esteban Loaiza for the Nationals, who have a ridiculous record of 20-7 in one-run games.
• 3:35 p.m. ET: The Best Pitching Matchup of the Day will be in Oakland, where Danny Haren who is 5-0 since May 30 will work against the Mariners' Gil Meche, who has somehow managed to compile eight victories in 12 decisions despite Seattle's problems.
• 7:05 p.m. ET: In the last game of the Braves-Marlins series, the Braves will go to their emergency services again and turn to Roman Colon, a reliever who is being pressed into duty as a starter. This is a big game for Florida, with the return of Josh Beckett from blister problems.
• 8:05 p.m. ET: The Reverse Lock of the Night will be in St. Louis, where the Rockies will take their 5-31 road record. And Jeff Francis, the Colorado starter, is 1-4 with a 7.21 ERA on the road (Strangely, he is 5-1, 3.50 in Coors Field). All logic points to a victory for the Cardinals, who are 25-14 at home.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Wednesday
The Good: Kerry Wood came back and threw very well against the Brewers Wednesday, giving hope to the possibility that he and Mark Prior can make the Cubs' staff whole again. It appeared Wood was using his changeup effectively in this game.
The Bad: When Ballplayers Attack: The Kenny Rogers Story. We suspect he'll be hearing from the commissioner about this cameramen incident.
The Ugly: Gary Sheffield might actually have more leverage using his unhappiness than he does with his ability to drive in runs. And he's made it known, now, that if he's traded, he won't go willingly.
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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