Once-bubbly Brewers going flat fast
PHILADELPHIA -- The manager of the Milwaukee Brewers says he doesn't watch scoreboards. Doesn't worry about stuff he can't control. Doesn't even know exactly what the old games-ahead and games-behind columns in the standings look like.Hmmm. Well, it might be time for Ned Yost to take a look. Or, then again, maybe not.
|For more on the races, see Hunt for October.|
In fact, the manager says even he is different now. He said he learned last year that he "can't control everything.""Last year," Yost said, "I'd come in the dugout saying, 'We've got to get a base runner here. So if they do this, then we do that' and you just end up getting frustrated. Or I'd say, 'We've gotta get this guy out here.' But it just doesn't work like that. So I'm not trying to control the damage anymore. Just watching the game and reacting to the game is a lot easier than trying to control things you've got no control over." Not that doing it this new way is exactly a day in Aruba, either, you understand. You know what time Yost got to the ballpark Thursday? How about 10:30 a.m. -- for a 7 p.m. game. And why was that? "I couldn't not be here," he said. Which means he's already back at the ballpark as you're reading this. Breathing in. Breathing out. And trying his hardest not to look at a standings column that is offering his troops less comfort by the day.
Old Timers DayLet's try to put in perspective what Jamie Moyer did Thursday:
• Apparently, rumors of Rich Harden's dire condition were slightly exaggerated. In his first start for the Cubs in 13 days, Harden spun a six-inning two-hitter against the Cardinals on Thursday. It was the sixth time in Harden's 10 starts as a Cub that he allowed either one or two hits. He leads the National League in starts like that -- even though he's been in the National League for only two months.
The only other Cub in the past 50 years with six starts that unhittable in a season: Kerry Wood in 2001.• If the Astros make the playoffs, they will make last year's Rockies look like this year's Angels. The Stros were 12½ games out of a playoff spot on July 27. If they make it, they will be only the third team in history to be that far out that late in the year and still make the postseason. The others: the 1995 Mariners (12½ back on Aug. 20) and the 1951 Giants (13 out on Aug. 11). Since July 27, the Astros are 17-1 in games started by Roy Oswalt and Randy Wolf. Speaking of Oswalt, who shut out the Pirates on Thursday, ESPN research guru Mark Simon reports (via the Elias Sports Bureau) that Oswalt now has the highest September/October winning percentage in modern history -- .788 (26-7).
|• Milwaukee at Philadelphia, 7:05 ET | Talk about it|
• St. Louis at Pittsburgh, 7:05 ET | Talk about it
• Tampa Bay at N.Y. Yankees, 7:05 ET | Talk about it
• Minnesota at Baltimore, 7:05 ET | Talk about it
• Toronto at Boston, 7:05 ET | Talk about it
• Atlanta at N.Y. Mets, 7:10 ET | Talk about it
• Detroit at Chicago White Sox, 8:11 ET | Talk about it
• L.A. Dodgers at Colorado, 9:05 ET | Talk about it
• Cincinnati at Arizona, 9:40 ET | Talk about it
|For more on today's big games, see the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse.|
• Most mind-boggling quote of the night: The Brewers' Corey Hart said it was great to escape the boo-birds in Milwaukee and get to a more serene place -- ehhhhh, Philadelphia? "Actually, it felt more like a home game than playing in Miller Park," Hart said. "We didn't hear the boos that we sometimes hear at home. A guy makes an error, a guy strikes out, and you hear your hometown booing you. It makes you ready to get out of there and go somewhere else for a while. I think we're all looser here." Now that's an all-time first, a team heading for Philadelphia to escape the boos.
Get out your schedulesBig pitching matchups for Friday night: Tim Wakefield (1 2/3 innings pitched, seven earned runs in his last start) versus David Purcey in Boston (where Toronto will start A.J. Burnett, Jesse Litsch and Roy Halladay on three days' rest this weekend). Matt Garza (0.64 ERA in his 11 wins, 6.43 ERA in his 16 non-wins) versus Sidney Ponson in the beginning of the last homestand at Yankee Stadium. Cole Hamels (0-1, 6.43 ERA against the Brewers last year) versus Manny Parra (1-5 since July 20) in Philadelphia. John Danks (1-4 in his past six starts) versus Justin Verlander on the South Side of Chicago. Brandon Webb (0-3, 12.51 ERA in his past three starts) versus Johnny Cueto in Arizona. Chad Billingsley (11 straight starts allowing three runs or fewer) versus Jeff Francis at Coors. And don't forget the Cubs and the Astros versus Ike in Houston. Those teams won't be playing that game, of course, thanks to Hurricane Ike. So in case you were wondering: Last win by an Ike in the big leagues: July 5, 1963 -- Ike Delock, for the Orioles versus the Twins, courtesy of a four-run first inning kicked off by Orioles leadoff dynamo Luis Aparicio.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. His book, "The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History," was published by Triumph Books and is available in bookstores. Click here to order a copy.
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