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.
• 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.
• 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.
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.
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.
MORE MLB HEADLINES
- Braves suspend struggling Uggla for 1 game
- Wright to get shot to aid shoulder at break
- Reds' Simon among 4 pitchers added to ASG
- Grand record: batterymates slam for S.F.