Cy Young winner vs. Cy Young hopeful in St. Louis

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

Originally Published: July 16, 2005
By Buster Olney | ESPN The Magazine

• 1:10 p.m. ET: The Braves get back another from their quartet of injured veterans, when Mike Hampton throws against the Mets' Pedro Martinez. There does remain some concern over Hampton's condition; he was out for weeks with a forearm strain, which is a major league euphemism for elbow pain among pitchers, so time will tell how healthy he is.

• 1:35: The Marlins are reeling, trade rumors are swirling around them, and they need a big day from Dontrelle Willis. He works against Vicente Padilla of the Phillies.

Chris Carpenter
Carpenter

Roger Clemens
Clemens

• 2:15: The Best Pitching Matchup of the Day is crystal clear: Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens throws for Houston, against a guy seeking his first Cy Young Award, in the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter. Talk about a great day to be a home plate umpire. This is the Must-Watch Game of the Day, as well.

• 4:05: The Guy Most Likely To Go Deep will be Mark Kotsay of Oakland, hitting against the Rangers' Chris Young. The Athletics are looking to take three of four in this series, and continue their path toward the frontrunners in the wild-card race. Danny Haren throws for Oakland.

• 4:10: Had the Dodgers not come back to win Saturday's game, they would have dropped into fourth place -- sole possession -- for the first time since Aug. 2, 2003. They've bought themselves a little wiggle room, and look for a split of their series against the Giants, with Jeff Weaver matched versus Brad Hennessey.

Al Leiter
Starting Pitcher
New York Yankees
Profile
2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM W L BB K ERA
17 3 7 60 52 6.64
• 6:05: The ultimate Reverse Lock will be in Boston. Al Leiter goes into Fenway Park and makes his first start for the Yankees, having compiled a 6.64 ERA and an average of 1.85 baserunners per inning for Florida this year, and he faces the best offense in the American League. Leiter has the lowest percentage of first-pitch strikes among all major league pitchers, at 49.1, and the Red Sox are the second most patient team in the AL, averaging 3.84 pitches per plate appearance. All signs point to a Red Sox win -- and a very, very long game -- and that makes it a Reverse Lock for the Yankees.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Saturday
The Good: The Braves went 20-9 in the games after Tim Hudson got hurt -- at a time when John Thomson, Mike Hampton and Chipper Jones also were hurt. If they win the division, that period of time is when they will have done their best work.

The Bad: Umpire Adam Dowdy, filling in for a vacationing member of the brethren, appeared to miss a check-swing call in a big way in the ninth inning of the Dodgers-Giants game Saturday. The apparent mistake (after the game, even Dodgers manager Jim Tracy acknowledged his team got a break) was followed by a game-winning hit for L.A. -- and then a confrontation with Giants manager Felipe Alou and some San Francisco players. And guess what? Unless an adjustment is made, Dowdy will be behind home plate for Sunday's series finale. Some words of advice: Dowdy should take some heat from the Giants without overreacting today.

Mark Buerhle
Buerhle

The Ugly: Travis Hafner of the Indians got popped in the face by a Mark Buehrle pitch, and will need some dental work. Cleveland retaliated after that, both teams were warned -- and when Buehrle inadvertently hit a batter later with a sweeping breaking ball, home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman did not overreact and toss Buehrle, realizing the pitch was just a mistake.

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