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Big Start for Big Unit

7/16/2005 - MLB

• 1:15 p.m. ET: The Yankees don't know for sure who's pitching Sunday, and they don't know who's pitching Monday, which means that Randy Johnson's start today against the Red Sox is Must-Win, and therefore, Must-Watch; they gotta have it. Matt Clement throws for Boston.

• 4:05: The Pirates' Zach Duke pitches against the Cubs' Greg Maddux in the late afternoon shadows of Wrigley Field. In other words, Cy Young against Cy Old.

• 4:05: Joe Blanton starts for Oakland and figures to throw -- what? -- six or seven no-hit innings against the Rangers? It's the trendy thing to do with the Athletics these days. Kenny Rogers pitches for Texas.

• 4:15: The Astros and Roy Oswalt take on the Cardinals and Jason Marquis in Game 2 of this series.

• 7:05: When they play in Citizens Bank Park, it's not a question of whether anyone will hit a home run; it's a question of how many will be hit. The Most Likely Guy To Go Deep could be Carlos Delgado, who has five hits and two bombs in 11 career at-bats against Jon Lieber, the Phillies' starter. Or it could be Pat Burrell, who is streaking and will face Florida lefty Scott Olsen. Burrell is hitting .303 with seven homers in 99 at-bats against lefties this year. We'll go with Burrell.

• 7:10: Tim Hudson returns to the rotation for the Braves against the Mets' Victor Zambrano. Hudson has been wild this year, and Zambrano, similarly, struggles with his command. The home plate ump will earn his money tonight. Look for the return of Chipper Jones to the Atlanta lineup.

• 7:10: The Best Pitching Matchup of the Night will be in Minnesota, where Bartolo Colon throws against the Twins' Johan Santana, who will be trying to reverse his recent problems. Minnesota needs this game, unquestionably.

• 10:05: Claudio Vargas has been a surprise for the D-Backs this season, and Jake Peavy has been somewhat erratic because of illness, but it's Vargas against Peavy, in San Diego, and that makes this The Reverse Lock of the Night. All logic points to a Padres victory.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Friday
The Good: The Angels are making a move right out of the gate in the second half, winning the first two games and advancing to seven games ahead of the Rangers in the AL West. All they need to do now, perhaps, is watch for Oakland in the rear-view mirror.

The Bad: The Dodgers are 8.5 games out of first place in the NL West, and they've dropped six straight; it's possible they will be in last place by the end of the day.

The Ugly: The Yankees' pitching is a mess, and as general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged, he's wearing out his cell phone battery trying to look for new blood.

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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