Palmeiro needs one hit for 3,000

Buster Olney takes a look at Friday's top matchups and the good, the bad and the ugly from Thursday.

Originally Published: July 15, 2005
By Buster Olney | ESPN The Magazine

• 7:05 p.m. ET: The Red Sox are at home, where they win about 60 percent of the time. They've got David Wells, veteran of many big games, throwing against the Yankees' Tim Redding, who is 0-5 in the majors this year, with an ERA of 9.10. Redding's allowed a whopping seven homers in 29.2 innings, and now he's going to be working against arguably the best lineup in the majors. All logic points to a Boston victory, so this is The Reverse Lock Game of the Night, and the Yankees will win.

c.c. sabathia
Sabathia
freddy garcia
Garcia
• 7:05: The Best Pitching Matchup of the Night will be in Cleveland, where C.C. Sabathia of the Indians takes on Freddy Garcia of the White Sox. The pressure on the Indians is mounting: After bursting into the playoff race, they've now dropped six of their last seven games, with four of the losses coming against the Yankees and White Sox. The Indians' second-half schedule is by far the easiest among the contenders, but they've occasionally got to beat good teams, as well.

• 7:10: Old pals Tom Glavine and John Smoltz used to battle all the time on the golf course, as teammates. Now they're going to be teeing it up against each other in Shea Stadium, as the Braves face the Mets in a must-win series for New York. That makes it The Must-Watch Game of the Night.

• 8:10: The Astros open the second half of their season, in St. Louis, trying to remain hot and relevant in the NL wild-card chase. Andy Pettitte pitches for Houston, Mark Mulder for the Cardinals.

• 8:10: The Angels play the Twins in Game 2 of their crucial series, with Minnesota still desperately in need of some pop from its lineup. Brad Radke throws against L.A.'s Paul Byrd, who might be the last guy Minnesota wants to face in this situation: The Twins are anxious, and he usually is very adept at taking advantage of anxious hitters.

Rafael Palmeiro
First baseman
Baltimore Orioles
Profile
CAREER STATISTICS
GM AVG HR RBI OBP SLG
2808 .289 566 1825 .371 .515
• 10:05: The Guy Most Likely To Go Deep is Rafael Palmeiro, who needs only one more hit to reach 3,000 for his career -- and he will get it against Joel Pineiro, against whom he is a career .300 hitter, with six hits in 20 at-bats, including two homers. Rodrigo Lopez throws for the Orioles. Raffy would be only the second member of the 3,000 hit club to reach that milestone with a bomb; Wade Boggs was the first. • 10:05: The Diamondbacks took one step toward keeping themselves in the NL West race on Thursday night, when Javier Vazquez and a reliever shut out the Padres. Now Brandon Webb takes the mound, against the Padres' Brian Lawrence.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Thursday
The Good: After finishing the first half strong, the Oakland Athletics came out with a second-half statement Thursday, as Rich Harden two-hit the Texas Rangers, striking out eight batters and walking none; Harden needed only 81 pitches.

The Bad: The Nationals are in trouble. With Nick Johnson in their lineup, their offense was passable, and he was the linchpin of hits and walks. With Johnson out, however, they've increasingly got a problem in the middle of their order, and they've now dropped six of their last eight games, averaging just three runs per game.

The Ugly: Curt Schilling's first outing out of the bullpen was a bust, as he allowed a game-winning two-run homer to Alex Rodriguez -- and the Red Sox are probably much more willing today than they were yesterday to make a trade for a veteran reliever.

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