Webb rises to the occasion once again
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
ALL ABOUT ACES
By Mark Simon, ESPN ResearchAces were both high and low in the majors Tuesday, as some sizzlers and some fizzlers took to the mound. One game had one of each as red-hot Brandon Webb handed Barry Zito and the Giants another defeat. The results have been nothing but disastrous for Zito and the Giants since he joined the team last season, and it doesn't appear as if it'll get any better anytime soon.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL
|• Yankees at White Sox, 8:11 p.m. ET, ESPN|
The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, considered by many of the Baseball Tonight analysts to be the best team in baseball, can't lose when Webb is on the mound. He's now 5-0. Another sinkerball pitcher, Chien-Ming Wang, also picked up a victory, the 50th of his career.
On the other side of the coin, it was a good night for previously winless hurlers C.C. Sabathia (the 2007 American League Cy Young winner) and Justin Verlander, both of whom escaped their funks with wins for their struggling squads.
|How they fared:|
|Brandon Webb||Win over Giants||Diamondbacks have won his past 11 regular-season starts|
|Chien-Ming Wang||Win over White Sox||Fastest Yankees pitcher to get to 50 wins (68 decisions)|
|C.C. Sabathia||Win over Royals||15-1 win was largest margin of victory for Indians over Royals since 2000|
|Justin Verlander||Win over Rangers||Helped by Ramon Santiago's first home run since 2003|
|John Smoltz||Loss to Nationals||16th pitcher to reach 3,000 career strikeouts|
|Barry Zito||Loss to Diamondbacks||0-5 record is the worst start of his career|
|No-decisions for Jake Peavy (against Astros), Felix Hernandez (against Orioles), Livan Hernandez (against Athletics) and Jeff Francis (against Phillies)|
MATSUZAKA SHOULD CHALLENGE TO WIN 20 GAMES
By Rick Sutcliffe, ESPNLast year, I thought Daisuke Matsuzaka would win 15 games (he went 15-12, 4.40 ERA) because he wasn't going to be intimidated on the big stage, and we saw how well he performed in the World Baseball Classic. Plus, Matsuzaka benefited from going to the Red Sox, a team with a great offense and -- as it turned out -- one of the best bullpens in baseball.
One thing I did notice in 2007 was that Matsuzaka shook off catcher Jason Varitek more than, I thought, he should have. Varitek tries to get an at-bat over within three pitches or fewer, and that didn't happen with Matsuzaka. On 1-0 counts -- which in my opinion is the most important count in baseball -- Matsuzaka wasn't able to throw his fastball or slider for strikes. One reason I think he has a chance to win 20 games in 2008 is he has better command of his slider and fastball when he falls behind 1-0 in the count; he also understands he can't use all his pitches in any situation.
Matsuzaka has yet to pitch seven innings in any of his five starts this season, but that's OK. He has a bigger workload over the course of 162 games than he did in Japan. Manager Terry Francona and the Red Sox coaching staff have a better understanding for him now that they've been together for one season. Matsuzaka might not pitch into the seventh or eighth inning, but Boston realizes what's best for him in the long run.
I think the first 54 games of the season are vital for two reasons: It's one-third of the schedule, but it's also a good indicator to a manager as to who he can rely on the rest of the season.
The Red Sox have played 22 games and already Matzuzaka is 4-0 with a 3.14 ERA. His walk total is high right now (17 walks in 28 2/3 innings pitched), but I think he'll be able to cut down on his walks. If he does that, and doesn't run out of steam at the end of the season like he did in 2007, Matsuzaka will challenge to win 20 games in 2008.
BBTN ON THE AIR: WEDNESDAY
|7 p.m. ET
|Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: John Kruk, Steve Phillips, Peter Gammons
|12:20 a.m. ET
|Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: John Kruk, Steve Phillips
BASEBALL TONIGHT MINUTE: SMOLTZ REAL SPECIAL
TUESDAY'S NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCES
|• Filling in for the injured Ryan Theriot, Ronny Cedeno hit a grand slam and drove in five runs in the Cubs' 8-1 win over the Mets. The Cubs are now riding a five-game winning streak.||BAD|
|• The White Sox stranded 13 baserunners, including five in the last three innings, in their 9-5 loss to the Yankees.||UGLY|
|• Gil Meche gave up eight runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings in the Royals' 15-1 loss to the Indians. Meche also allowed two home runs, including a grand slam to Casey Blake, in a five-run fourth inning for the Indians.|
FORWARD THINKING: WEDNESDAY
• Phillies at Brewers, 8:05 p.m. ET: Cole Hamels (2-2, 1.86 ERA) will make the start for the Phillies. He has a .181 batting average against. He'll face Dave Bush (0-3, 7.02 ERA), who will replace Ben Sheets in the Brewers' rotation. Sheets is suffering from tightness in his right triceps.
• Orioles at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. ET: Daniel Cabrera (1-0, 5.16 ERA) will get the ball for the Orioles. He's already allowed five home runs in four starts and has as many walks (14) as strikeouts (14). He'll be opposed by Carlos Silva (3-0, 2.79 ERA), who has pitched seven or more innings in each of his four starts.
• Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET: Dan Haren (3-0, 1.80 ERA) will get the start for the Diamondbacks. He's allowed more than one earned run in only one of his four starts. He'll face Derek Lowe (1-1, 2.59 ERA), who has a 1.93 ERA in two starts at Dodger Stadium this season.
FIRST TAKE: CATCHING UP WITH JEFF SAMARDZIJA
FANTASY: PREVIEW OF WEDNESDAY'S GAMES
Sean Allen examines the pitching matchups in store for the 15 games on Wednesday's schedule in the American League and National League.
Sean also looks at current injuries and details player reports that could help shape the way you put together your roster for Wednesday's games. Daily Notes