Bannister taking on Maddux-esque qualities

Updated: April 13, 2008

John Rieger/US Presswire

Brian Bannister gets ready to deliver a pitch during his complete-game three-hitter Sunday.

THE NEW MADDUX?

Perhaps one day, someone will speak of catching Brian Bannister with their eyes closed, like those who bragged they could catch Greg Maddux in such a manner in the latest ESPN The Magazine profile of the Padres' pitcher.

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Bannister may be the new Maddux, a thinking man's pitcher who wins with location and pinpoint control, rather than by overpowering hitters. He won his third straight start Sunday, pitching a complete game against the Twins. Bannister was among the majors' best rookies last season and is now a major part of what looks to be a Royals' resurgence. He may not get a lot of strikeouts, but he's winning games impressively, and that's what counts.

By the way, Maddux won Sunday as well, the 349th win of his major league career. He has Bannister at this point by 332 victories. Maddux seems to be the kind of guy who could pitch forever. He's able to get by now with outings like his start on Sunday -- five shutout innings to beat the Dodgers, a team he has been dominant against recently.

BRIAN BANNISTER: FIRST THREE STARTS OF SEASON
  2007 2008
W-L 0-2 3-0
ERA 4.60 0.86
IP-H 15 2/3-17 21-10
K-BB 7-6 14
TEAM W-L 0-3 3-0

MAD ABOUT MADDUX
Notes from Greg Maddux's 349th career victory:
• Ranks second among living pitchers with 349 career wins, five behind Roger Clemens.

• Sunday marked the 90th time he's won a start in which he allowed no runs. That's the same total that Clemens has had in his career. That's tied for second-most in the past 50 years behind Nolan Ryan's 97.

• It was the 24th time he's won a start in which he pitched exactly five innings. In the past 50 years, no pitcher has more "bare minimum" wins than Maddux, and the next-best active pitcher is Jamie Moyer, with 17.

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NEWS AND NOTES

• Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo, coming off arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, is scheduled to make a rehab start for Triple-A Nashville on Monday. Brewers manager Ned Yost said that Gallardo will then be worked into the Brewers' rotation. Yost said he wasn't sure whose spot Gallardo would take.

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• Jeff Niemann became the seventh Tampa Bay pitcher to win his first big-league game. The 6-foot-9 right-hander, making his major league debut Sunday, allowed six hits and one run over six innings in beating the Orioles 6-2. He also struck out five and walked one.

• Rays pitcher Matt Garza (right arm irritated nerve) is scheduled for a bullpen session Tuesday. He will likely need a minor league rehab stint before rejoining the team.

• Royals first baseman Billy Butler and Pirates outfielder Nate McLouth each extended their hitting streaks to 12 games with hits against Minnesota and Cincinnati respectively on Sunday.

• Angels CF Torii Hunter didn't start Sunday against Seattle because of a bruised toe. He expects to play Monday. Meanwhile, John Lackey threw a bullpen session Sunday for the Angels. He is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right triceps.

• Mariners closer J.J. Putz threw for about six minutes before the game. A decision could be made on his return after a Monday meeting. Putz is on the 15-day DL with inflammation near his ribs.


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SUNDAY'S NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCES

GOOD
Javier Vazquez blanked the Tigers over seven innings, holding them to five hits, in the White Sox's 11-0 blowout victory. Vazquez (2-1) also struck out nine and walked none.
BAD
Phil Hughes made his first start at Fenway Park for the Yankees, and it's one he'd like to forget. The 21-year-old right-hander was touched for seven runs in two-plus innings, allowing six hits and three walks. He also threw 65 pitches, including 38 in the first inning alone.
UGLY
DiamondbacksThe Diamondbacks' eight-game win streak came to an end at the expense of their bullpen, which took a beating in their 13-5 loss to Colorado. Brandon Medders pitched one scoreless inning, but the other four Arizona relievers -- Jailen Peguero, Juan Cruz, Doug Slaten and Tony Pena -- gave up 10 runs and 10 hits in five innings of work.

FORWARD THINKING: MONDAY

Blue Jays at Orioles, 7:05 ET: Guess who's leading the AL East? That's right, the Jays and the O's, both 7-5 as they begin at three-game series at Camden Yards with Dustin McGowan (0-0, 3.27 ERA) going against Baltimore's Matt Albers (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Royals at Mariners, 10:10 ET: The Royals' pitching staff is on fire, with an MLB-best 2.58 ERA. And Zack Greinke (2-0, 0.60) has been stellar. He gets the call against the Mariners' Jarrod Washburn (1-1, 3.00).

Diamondbacks at Giants, 10:15 ET: Arizona left-hander Randy Johnson, who is returning from back surgery, will make his regular-season debut on Monday night at San Francisco. Manager Bob Melvin said he won't have the Big Unit on a pitch count. Johnson went 4-3 with a 3.81 ERA for Arizona last season.

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Adam Madison examines the pitching matchups in store for the nine games on Monday's schedule in the American League and National League.

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THIS DATE IN MLB HISTORY (APRIL 14)

1910: William Howard Taft becomes the first president to throw out the first ball at a baseball opener in Washington. Walter Johnson catches it, then pitches the first of his 14 Opening Day games.

1969: The first major league game outside the United States was played in Montreal's Jarry Park with the Expos defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 8-7.

1999: The Mets down the Marlins, 4-1, as New York reliever John Franco records the 400th save of his career.

2005: The Nationals beat the Diamondbacks 5-3 in the first game played in Washington, D.C, since 1971.