White Sox looking for redemption at home against the Cubs

Updated: June 26, 2008

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Mark Buehrle will pitch Sunday in this year's Cubs-White Sox finale … unless they meet in October.


The White Sox are looking to have a better weekend after getting swept in three rough days last weekend at Wrigley Field. The Twins have sliced the White Sox's lead in the AL Central to a 1/2 game, making this series with the Cubs significant.


Cubs at White Sox, 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN

In the first meeting, the Cubs set the tone with an Aramis Ramirez game-ending home run in the series opener. The White Sox need someone to rise to the occasion like Ramirez. Perhaps it will be Carlos Quentin, who went 5-for-10 against the Cubs this past weekend. Or maybe it will be someone who didn't fare as well the first time around, like Jose Contreras, who allowed nine runs in his previous start against the Cubs.


Pedro MartinezMets (Mike Pelfrey) at Yankees (Dan Giese), 2:05 p.m. ET; (Sidney Ponson) vs. (Pedro Martinez), 8:10 ET
With a split or anything better in this series, the Mets would take the season series from the Yankees for only the second time ever and first since 2004. Only Alex Rodriguez (.303 BA) has had any success against Pedro Martinez. Overall, the current Yankees roster is hitting .195 against him.

Joel PineiroCardinals (Joel Pineiro) at Royals (Gil Meche), 8:05 p.m. ET
The Royals (12-3 in interleague play) stunned the Cardinals by sweeping the first three games between the teams in a series dominated by pitching (Royals scored nine runs, Cardinals just four). Kansas City hasn't won the season series against the Cardinals since 2001, when they went 3-0.

Joe SaundersAngels (Joe Saunders) at Dodgers (Chan Ho Park), 10:40 p.m. ET
The Angels have won nine of the past 11 meetings between the two teams, including two of three earlier this season. As good as Joe Saunders has been, he's even better on the road, with a 1.89 ERA and .207 batting average against.

Complete list of pitching probables for Friday's games


Andy PettitteYankees (Andy Pettitte) at Mets (Johan Santana), 3:55 p.m. ET
The Mets have lost the past four games started by Johan Santana. He's 0-3 in that span with a 2.08 ERA. Andy Pettitte, meanwhile, has won his past five decisions.

Justin VerlanderRockies (Jeff Francis) at Tigers (Justin Verlander), 7:05 p.m. ET
Justin Verlander (8-0 career in interleague) is 2-0 with a 2.21 ERA in his past three starts after going 2-9 with a 5.05 ERA in his first 13 starts. Since May 18, Jeff Francis has followed each winning decision with a loss.

Tim LincecumGiants (Tim Lincecum) at A's (Justin Duchscherer), 9:05 p.m. ET
Perhaps the best pitching matchup of the weekend: Justin Duchscherer, 6-0 at home this season, has won four straight starts. Tim Lincecum is 4-0 with a 2.98 ERA over his past 10 starts.

Complete list of pitching probables for Saturday's games


Ben SheetsBrewers (Ben Sheets) at Twins (Kevin Slowey), 2:10 p.m. ET
Ben Sheets, since suffering his only loss of 2008, is 5-0 with a 1.92 ERA over his past seven starts. Now, he'll try to cool down the bats of a team that enters the weekend on a nine-game winning streak. The Twins are hitting when it counts, leading the majors in batting average with runners in scoring position.

John LackeyAngels (John Lackey) at Dodgers (Derek Lowe), 4:10 p.m. ET
John Lackey has won four straight starts. After missing the first six weeks of the season, Lackey has a 1.65 ERA, the lowest in the majors since May 14, the date of his season debut. Derek Lowe has allowed a homer in each of his past four starts.

Mark BuehrleCubs (Sean Marshall) at White Sox (Mark Buehrle), 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN
Mark Buehrle is 3-0 with a 1.41 ERA in his past four starts after going 2-6 with a 5.20 ERA in his first dozen starts. June seems to be his magic month. He's 25-10 in his career in June. Sean Marshall will make his second start since being recalled from the minors.

Complete list of pitching probables for Sunday's games

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: June 25 | June 24 | June 23 | June 22 | June 19 | June 18


The St. Louis Cardinals are 11 games over .500 and 4 1/2 games out of first in the National League Central. They've managed to stay not only competitive, but also in the thick of things despite the fact Mark Mulder and Chris Carpenter have not thrown a single pitch in 2008, and Adam Wainwright hasn't pitched in three weeks. And offensively, Albert Pujols played Thursday for the first time since June 10.

One reason the Cardinals' starting pitchers are 36-17 with a 3.99 ERA is pitching coach Dave Duncan. If you asked players in the Cardinals' clubhouse who was the team's MVP, there's no question the answer would be Duncan. This is Tony La Russa's system, but it's one Duncan has been a part of dating back to 1983 when they were with the White Sox.

What makes Duncan so special? For me, it's been his ability to get the most out of the talent he's had to work with. In Duncan's first year in Chicago, LaMarr Hoyt went 24-10 and won the Cy Young. When Duncan joined La Russa in Oakland in 1986, he started working with Dave Stewart, a pitcher most people had given up on. Stewart went 9-5 in '86, and then won at least 20 games from 1987 to 1990. Duncan also worked with Bob Welch in Oakland. In 1990, at 33, Welch won 27 games and the AL Cy Young. Dennis Eckersley was at the crossroads of his career when he joined the A's in 1987. With Duncan's help, Eckersley became one of the greatest closers in the history of the game, and won the AL Cy Young in 1992.

With St. Louis, Duncan helped the late Darryl Kile become a 20-game winner after two disastrous seasons in Colorado. Carpenter was 49-50 before he joined the Cardinals in 2004, and since then he's 51-19. Matt Morris was a 20-game winner, and Woody Williams won a career-high 18 games with St. Louis in 2003.

Fast forward to 2008, and look at what Duncan's done with the Cardinals' staff. Kyle Lohse hadn't won more than nine games in a season since 2003, and already he's 9-2 with one more start to make in June. Braden Looper went 12-12 in his first year as a starter in '07 but is 9-5 in 2008. Todd Wellemeyer -- a career reliever until he got to St. Louis -- is 7-2 this season. Joel Pineiro has an ERA of 3.86, and Ryan Franklin is having a good season now that he's taken over the closer's role.

Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild is every bit as good as Duncan, and there are three great up-and-coming pitching coaches in Mike Maddux (Milwaukee), John Farrell (Boston) and Darren Balsley (San Diego). But the one thing that separates Duncan -- something that makes him unique -- is that he wasn't a pitcher in his playing days. He was a catcher for 11 seasons in the majors. Having worked with different pitchers as a catcher, Duncan understands that there isn't one way to fix every pitching problem. Each pitcher is different, and what works with one pitcher might not work with another. He understands that as a former catcher.


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9:30 p.m. ET
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Chris Singleton, Eduardo Perez, Tim Kurkjian
12 a.m. ET
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Chris Singleton, Eduardo Perez, Tim Kurkjian


10 p.m. ET
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Chris Singleton, Eduardo Perez, Tim Kurkjian
12 a.m. ET
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Chris Singleton, Eduardo Perez, Tim Kurkjian


12:30 p.m. ET
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: Steve Phillips
7 p.m. ET
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: Steve Phillips, Chris Singleton



Players will voice displeasure on decisions organizations make, but displeasure never gets physical like it did between Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon and GM Ed Wade. There have been issues in the past between players and managers, but the guys in the suits don't normally get involved with players.

Chacon was released Thursday by the Astros, and I'd be surprised if he ever pitched in the big leagues again after this incident. While Latrell Sprewell got a second chance after he attacked his coach, P.J. Carlesimo, in 1997, Chacon isn't Sprewell when it comes to ability or talent. Chacon was always a fifth starter or middle reliever, and I think he was on his last legs as a player.

I am surprised the altercation got to that point. A lot of players in baseball believe that they always seem to get the raw end of the deal -- whether it's getting demoted or taken out of the starting rotation. That mentality is pervasive in baseball, but you never expect it to get physical.

I don't know any other GM who is going to think Chacon is a fit for their team. Besides, his June numbers weren't good (0-3, 9.35 ERA in four starts). It's one thing to manage a player who's a great talent but can be a problem; it's a different story when you're a marginal pitcher and also a problem.


Matt GarzaMatt Garza flirted with a no-hitter against Florida before giving up a solo homer to Hanley Ramirez in the seventh. It was the Marlins' only hit in the Rays' 6-1 win.
Jason MarquisJason Marquis coasted through the first two innings against Baltimore, but gave up five runs with two outs in the third and two more in the fourth in an 11-4 loss.
Kevin MillwoodKevin Millwood was hammered by the Astros, who posted three runs in the first and four more in the second in Houston's easy win.


Ballgame It's the 100th anniversary of baseball's most famous tune, and "Baseball Tonight" has asked nine popular musical artists to record a rendition of the song and engage in a battle of the bands. Take a listen

• Latest video: Branford Marsalis


Inside EdgeBe ready to hit. According to Inside Edge's scouting data, here are the five starting pitchers who throw the most first-pitch strikes. (minimum of 850 pitches thrown):

PLAYER 1st-pitch strike %
1. Nick Blackburn 67
2. Javier Vazquez 67
3. Jered Weaver 67
4. Greg Maddux 66
5. Andy Sonnanstine 66
Note: Major league average is 58 percent


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

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


Carlos Zambrano •  Carlos Zambrano (right shoulder strain) played catch before Thursday's game and plans on throwing a bullpen session Sunday. If all goes well, Zambrano will be activated July 4 against St. Louis.

Geoff Jenkins •  Geoff Jenkins went 0-for-3 in Thursday's game against Oakland, extending his current skid to 0-for-26. His batting average has dropped 32 points since June 13, from .275 to .243.

Bobby Crosby •  Bobby Crosby doubled off Adam Eaton on Thursday for his 25th double of the season. Crosby is just the fifth player in Oakland history to record 25 doubles before the All-Star break.