Change of scenery helping Volquez

Updated: May 13, 2008

Frank Victores/US Presswire

Edinson Volquez has turned into a different pitcher since joining the Reds.

EDINSON LIGHTS UP

Someone flipped a magic switch for Edinson Volquez once he was traded from the Rangers to the Reds this past offseason. Volquez has been fantastic in all eight starts this season. He won again on Tuesday, beating the first-place Marlins for the Reds' second straight win in the series.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL

Braves at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET, ESPN

Some have said that Dusty Baker is not the best manager for young pitchers because he tends to put more trust in veterans. Volquez, so far, has pitched like someone with vast experience. Imagine where the Reds would be without him. They're 11-22 in games in which the 6-1 Volquez hasn't factored into the decision.

The light has definitely gone on for Edinson this year:

• He has allowed one run or fewer in all eight starts this season (1.12 ERA, same as what Bob Gibson finished with in 1968).

• He is averaging 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings (best in MLB among those who have pitched at least 40 innings).

• He has allowed one home run in 48 1/3 innings (allowed 14 HR in 80 innings before this season).

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: May 12 | May 11 | May 8 | May 7 | May 6 | May 5

SANTANA FOCUSED ON PRESENT, NOT PAST

Whatever Ervin Santana did during the offseason, it's working. With a 6-0 record and a 2.63 ERA so far this season, Santana seems to have recovered from a subpar 2007.

"There's nothing new. I'm throwing the same pitches as always. But the changeup has improved a little bit," Santana told ESPNdeportes.com. "In the winter, I worked to have more confidence and improve location. I did a few changes in my mechanics. The key is to improve focus and work faster."

Last year, after two respectable seasons in 2005 (12-8, 4.65 ERA) and 2006 (16-8, 4.28 ERA), Santana lost his spot in the Angels' starting rotation and was sent to the minors in July. In 2007, he finished with a 7-14 record and a 5.76 ERA.

"I had a bad year that I'd rather forget. People remember the bad and not the good things," Santana said. "People forget that I won 12 games my first year and 16 the second year. But they only remember that I had a bad season last year. As for me, I forgot what happened in 2007."

Santana, 25, pitched winter ball for the Licey Tigers in his native Dominican Republic, where he was 3-1 with a 2.13 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 25 innings.

"Ervin has nothing new, he's himself once again," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He had a slump last year, especially with his mechanics, but he was dominant for two seasons. His talent was intact. He only needed to get back to being himself."

Scioscia said that Santana's road to recovery began last August, when he returned to the majors after a minor league stint. In his final six starts, Santana's record was 2-2 with a 2.96 ERA.

"I have high hopes that he'll keep pitching to win, as he has done since he has been here, except for last year," Scioscia added.

FORWARD THINKING: WEDNESDAY

Mike Mussina • Yankees at Rays, 7:10 p.m. ET: Nobody is complaining about Mike Mussina (5-3, 4.36 ERA) these days. He has won his past four starts, which is bad news for the Rays considering Mussina already has a history of success (17-7 career) against them. James Shields (4-2, 3.14 ERA) is coming off one of the best outings by a pitcher this season, a complete-game, one-hit shutout of the Angels.

Ervin Santana • White Sox at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET: Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders are about to get help in the rotation. John Lackey (0-0, 0.00 ERA), out with a right triceps strain, will make his first start of the season. Jose Contreras (3-3, 3.66 ERA) compiled almost identical numbers to this point last season. It was at this point a year ago that he started slipping, finishing 2007 at 10-17 with a 5.57 ERA.

Tom Glavine • Braves at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET, ESPN: Tom Glavine is making his third start since coming off the disabled list. He's struggled with his command since returning, issuing nine walks in two starts. He only issued seven in four starts before getting hurt. Brett Myers has had trouble on the road, where his ERA is 8.18. At home, Myers' ERA is 3.00

Complete list of pitching probables for Wednesday's games


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BBTN ON THE AIR: WEDNESDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: Eric Young, Steve Phillips, Peter Gammons
12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Eric Young, Steve Phillips

BASEBALL TONIGHT MINUTE: ON-FIELD ANTICS

BEHIND THE SCENES

Doing a salsa dance with Jose Reyes, dropping a packet of ketchup into Curt Schilling's sock, stepping into the batter's box against Ralph Branca (played by Steve Phillips) to hit the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" … I have been asked about all the new Baseball Tonight and SportsCenter spots that are airing these days. There seems to be a considerable level of interest in the spots, so I figured I'd tell a little more about them.

Do you have a question or comment for Karl Ravech? Click here to send one and check back on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page to see if he responded to it.

For Baseball Tonight, there are three different spots: the bloody sock, the bugs and the "Shot Heard 'Round the World." All were shot during spring training at Disney's Wide World of Sports. Each spot takes between 5-10 hours to shoot. We use different angles and different ligthing. There is also constant make-up adjustment. Did you notice Peter Gammons, complete with a bald head, as Terry Francona in the bloody sock spot?

The one with the bugs was a blast to shoot. Like movies, much of the footage that is shot is left on the cutting room floor. The spots run 30 seconds in length, with some cut down to 15 seconds. In the bugs spot, Tim Kurkjian played Alex Rodriguez. At one point, he was asked to dance and run and bob-and-weave as if he were being attacked. It was priceless to watch in person, but was left on the cutting room floor. Kurkjian is never seen in the commercial.

The Reyes commerical, which was for SportsCenter, was shot in February, before spring training. He was tremendous to work with. He laughed quite a bit at my lack of rhythm, but he's late to that party on that one. Former NBA player Gheorghe Muresan made that observation about 13 years ago.

In the Bobby Thompson "Shot 'Heard Round the World" shoot, only once was an actual baseball thrown to me. Phillips was on the mound, playing the Branca role. We gave him one shot to pitch, and he nearly killed me with a fastball that had zero control. Following that, we opted to use the actual footage spliced with my swing. There was no baseball at all. Most importantly, Phillips will never again be handed the ball in a crucial spot.

It never ceases to amaze me how big a reaction these spots get.

TUESDAY'S NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCES

GOOD
Paul ByrdPaul Byrd and the Cleveland Indians bullpen combined on a shutout against the A's. It was the Indians' fourth shutout in seven games, and not only did they not allow a run, but Cleveland pitchers did not issue a walk, either.
BAD
Felix HernandezFelix Hernandez and reliever Sean Green did not get much support from the Seattle defense. The two gave up five runs, though only two were earned because of four Mariners errors in a 5-2 loss against Texas.
UGLY
Ron Villone• Pittsburgh and St. Louis entered the 10th inning tied at 4-4. But Ron Villone gave up four runs on four hits and two walks in the 10th as the Pirates won, 8-4.

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.

Fantasy Sean also looks at injuries and details player reports that could help shape the way you put together your roster for Wednesday's games. Daily Notes