Peavy-Penny highlights top weekend matchups

Updated: April 10, 2008

Robert Benson/US Presswire

Jake Peavy will square off against Brad Penny on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

WEEKEND PREVIEW

Yankees-Red Sox may get the lion's share of the attention, but if you're looking for good baseball action this weekend, go west. Friday will get it started with a Jake Peavy-Brad Penny rematch, pitting two of the best pitchers in the National League against each other, with the added tension surrounding whether Peavy had pine tar on his hand during his last start. The Dodgers need to find some way to get an edge against Peavy, because they haven't beaten him in his past 14 starts.

SUNDAY NIGHT BASEBALL

• Yankees at Red Sox, 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN

On Saturday, the focus will shift to the American League West with a battle of two of the best young pitchers in the AL -- Jered Weaver and Felix Hernandez. Both look like they're primed for huge seasons, though Hernandez is still looking for his first win.

Speaking of youngsters, you can come east a bit on Sunday and Reds starter Johnny Cueto is definitely worth checking out. Cueto has been excellent in his first two appearances, impressing many throughout baseball with his stuff and control. He has the advantage of going against the Pirates, who have sputtered a bit at the start of the season.

And oh, you might as well check out Sunday Night Baseball and the intrigue of the Daisuke Matsuzaka-Alex Rodriguez matchup. Matsuzaka had the edge last season, but Rodriguez has come through several times on Sunday Night Baseball before.

Friday

Marlins (Ricky Nolasco) at Astros (Roy Oswalt), 8:05 p.m. ET
Oswalt is 3-0 with a 1.01 ERA in his last four starts against the NL-East leading Marlins. He's 5-2 career against the Marlins, and in those five wins, his ERA is 0.76.

Angels (Weaver) at Mariners (Hernandez), 10:10 p.m. ET
Hernandez has gotten shelled by the Angels in his last four starts against them, allowing 20 runs in 24 2/3 innings pitched. Weaver is 4-1, albeit with a 4.64 ERA, against the Angels. He will need to be wary of Raul Ibanez, who is 10-for-19 against Weaver (.526 batting average) with two home runs. It's an all-or-nothing scenario, though -- Ibanez also has five strikeouts in 19 at-bats against him. This will be Weaver's 50th big league career start. He's 25-10 in his career and with a win, he'd have the second-best winning percentage of any active pitcher in his first 50 starts (.722), trailing only Tim Hudson (.778).

Padres (Peavy) at Dodgers (Penny), 10:40 p.m. ET
This is a rematch of a matchup from April 5, which Peavy dominated, pitching a complete game two-hitter. He's now 8-0 with a 1.82 ERA in his last 14 starts against the Dodgers. The Padres have also won his last six starts against the Dodgers. Penny, meanwhile, is 3-7 with a 5.63 ERA in 15 career starts against the Padres. Among active pitchers who have made 10-plus starts against the Padres, Penny's win percentage is the worst.

Saturday

Braves (Tom Glavine) at Nationals (John Lannan), 1:05 p.m. ET
Glavine has left with the lead in each of his first two starts this season, but on both occasions, the Braves' bullpen blew the game. He'll try to fix things, for an Atlanta team that is 1-6 against teams other than the Mets while also trying to avoid his 200th career loss.

Brewers (Ben Sheets) at Mets (Johan Santana), 1:10 p.m. ET
It will be the first start for Santana at Shea Stadium as a member of the Mets. Santana is 2-0 with an 0.60 ERA at Shea in his career, including a four-hit shutout against the Mets there last season. However, if you look at the Mets major pitching acquisitions in the last 20 years (Pedro Martinez, Glavine, Mike Hampton, Al Leiter, Bret Saberhagen and Frank Viola), only Martinez was able to get the Mets a win in his Shea debut.

Blue Jays (Roy Halladay) at Rangers (Jason Jennings), 8:05 p.m. ET
Halladay has an aversion to three of the four AL West ballparks, including Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, where he'll try to win on Saturday. He has a 5.44 ERA at McAfee Coliseum, a 7.00 ERA at Rangers Ballpark and a 7.04 ERA at Angel Stadium. Yet he's only a combined 6-8 at those three ballparks.

Sunday

Reds (Johnny Cueto) at Pirates (Tom Gorzelanny), 1:35 p.m. ET
Cueto will try to become the first pitcher to strike out at least eight batters in three straight starts to begin his career since Herb Score and Camilo Pascual in 1956. Through two starts, Cueto has 18 strikeouts and no walks, and has drawn comparisons on the Reds telecast to the pitching style of Hall of Famer Bob Gibson.

Padres (Greg Maddux) at Dodgers (Chad Billingsley), 4:10 p.m. ET
Maddux is 15-8 in his career against the Dodgers, but seven of the eight losses have come at Dodger Stadium, where he's 8-7 all time.

Yankees (Phil Hughes) at Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka), 8:05 p.m. ET
The Red Sox have scored 28 runs in Matsuzaka's four career starts against the Yankees. So look for him to get some support, especially against Hughes, who will make his first start against Boston. Matsuzaka will hope that Derek Jeter remains out of the Yankees' lineup. The injured Yankees shortstop is 4-for-12 in his career against Matsuzaka, with two home runs. Alex Rodriguez will also try to solve Matsuzaka, against whom he's 1-for-8 with five strikeouts.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: April 9 | April 8 | April 7 | April 6 | April 3 | April 2

NEWS AND NOTES

• The Cubs had as many extra-inning victories (two) in their three-game sweep of the Pirates as they did last season, when they were 2-8 in extra-inning games.

• The Cardinals will activate right-handed pitcher Joel Pineiro from the 15-day disabled list (strained throwing shoulder) to start Sunday against the Giants and make his season debut, replacing righty Brad Thompson.


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BBTN ON THE AIR: SUNDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
12:30 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Steve Phillips
Hall of Famer Wade Boggs
7 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Chris Berman
Analysts: John Kruk, Steve Phillips
Hall of Famer Wade Boggs

BASEBALL TONIGHT MINUTE: PEAVY-PENNY DUEL

PEAVY A REAL PITCHER

I saw Jake Peavy throw his first professional game in Peoria, Ariz., in 1999 and, even then, you could sense there was something different about him.

Fast forward to today and there are two things that separate Peavy from the pack: He's afraid of no one when he's on the mound and he's learned to add and subtract with his fastball, and that was evident on Opening Day when he pitched against the Astros. Peavy didn't have his best velocity or great command of his fastball, which for most 26-year-olds would be a catastrophe. But Peavy noticed that Miguel Tejada was diving out over the plate, so he would add velocity to his fastballs on the inner half of the plate. Conversely, he took something off his fastball and worked the outer half of the plate when he recognized Carlos Lee was bailing out. Peavy picks up on certain tendencies of hitters that not everybody does -- similar to how Barry Bonds had the ability to recognize certain characteristics in a pitcher.

Peavy has learned there will be days when he has his 95-mph fastball and pitches lights out, like he did in his second start against the Dodgers. But he's shown the ability to recognize when he doesn't have great command or his best stuff that he needs to be a mathematician on the mound, adding and subtracting velocity with his fastball. And even on those days when Peavy doesn't have his best fastball, he's always going to go out and compete.

THURSDAY'S NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCES

GOOD
Edwin Jackson pitched eight shutout innings, allowing two hits while striking out six, in the Rays 7-0 win over the Mariners. Jackson's ERA stands at 0.64 as he's given up just one run in two starts.
BAD
Matt Morris gave up 11 hits, including two home runs, in the Pirates' 7-3 loss to the Cubs. Chicago scored five runs in the sixth inning off of Morris to put the game away and complete a three-game series sweep of Pittsburgh.
UGLY
Nationals• The Nationals lost their seventh straight game, falling 4-3 to the Marlins. The Nats have lost four one-run games among the seven defeats.

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF FRIDAY'S GAMES

Tristan Cockcroft examines the pitching matchups in store for the 15 games on Friday's schedule in the American League and National League.

Tristan also looks at current injuries and details player reports that could help shape the way you put together your roster for Friday's slate of games. Daily Notes

THIS DATE IN MLB HISTORY (APRIL 11)

1961: At Fenway Park, Red Sox rookie Carl Yastrzemski got his first hit. A's hurler Ray Herbert gave up the first of 3,318 hits Yastrzemski amassed over a 23-year career.