Hot Marlins off to Pittsburgh to face strong Pirates pitching

Updated: April 19, 2009

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Cody Ross and the Marlins get a crack at baseball's best staff Monday when they face Pittsburgh.

ON DECK: MONDAY'S BEST MATCHUPS

The schedule is light Monday, with seven games on the docket. That doesn't mean the day lacks interesting matchups:

Marlins at Pirates

Now, imagine somebody threw this out at the beginning of the season: The Marlins have the best record in the majors and the Pirates have, by the numbers, one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Sounds crazy, right? Well, that's how things have gone so far. The Marlins are 11-1 after yet another comeback win Sunday against the Nationals. Florida has won seven in a row, and has four everyday players hitting at least .300 -- and none of those four is Hanley Ramirez or Dan Uggla.

Hitting could be difficult the next few days because the Marlins have to face the Pirates. Yes, the Pirates. Pittsburgh pitchers entered Sunday's game with a baseball-best 2.65 ERA. They were smacked around by the Braves, though, and dropped to 3.34, still good for fifth in the majors. Opponents are hitting just .255 against them, which is als fifth-best. The Marlins should try to take advantage of Pittsburgh early in the series. Ross Ohlendorf, Monday's starter for the Pirates, is 0-2 with a 4.91 ERA through two starts. On Tuesday, the Pirates start Jeff Karstens, who struggled in his first and only outing of the year, lasting four innings against Houston. But then on Wednesday, the Pirates send out Paul Maholm. How good has Maholm been so far? Try 2-0 with a 0.87 ERA and .197 batting average against.

A's at Yankees

The question, as it likely will be all season, will revolve around just how many balls jump into the seats at new Yankee Stadium. The building has proven to be a homer haven. Andy Pettitte will try to keep the ball in the park Monday. It will be his first regular-season start at home after opening with wins on the road against Kansas City and Tampa Bay to start the year. Pettitte will need the command he has shown over his first two starts; he's struck out 10 and walked two.

Dana Eveland, the A's starter on Monday, gave up 10 homers last season -- eight of which came away from the Coliseum. The good news for the A's: He's never given up a homer to anybody on the Yankees' roster.

Braves at Nationals

Washington manager Manny Acta wasn't happy on Sunday after the Nationals blew yet another game against the Marlins, a loss which dropped them to a baseball-worst 1-10. He promised change; actually, he promised an entirely new bullpen for Monday's game against the Braves. Was he serious? Well, the Nationals designated Steven Shell and lefty Wil Ledezma for assignment and optioned right-hander Saul Rivera to Triple-A Syracuse. The pitchers weren't the only ones being shuttled out of Washington -- catcher Josh Bard will be headed to Syracuse with Rivera.

Will it get better Monday? Hard to say, considering the Braves will have Derek Lowe on the mound. Lowe did struggle in his most recent outing, but that was against Florida and, well, who hasn't struggled against Florida so far? Lowe already has faced Washington this season, but his outing was brief on April 10 because of an extended rain delay. In that appearance, he gave up one run over three innings of a game the Braves won 6-5.

For the rest of Monday's schedule, click here.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: April 16 | April 15 | April 14 | April 13 | April 12

WEB GEMS SCOREBOARD

Touch 'Em AllThis season, "Baseball Tonight" will be tracking Web Gems. We'll publish a leaderboard on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page each Monday. In addition to listing the leaders in appearances (both players and teams) on "Baseball Tonight," we'll offer up the leaders in Web Gem Points.

Web Gem Points will be calculated by awarding five points for the night's top defensive play, four points for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth. Scoring will be based on the Web Gems from the last "Baseball Tonight" show to air on a given night.

Web Gem Points leaderboard
Brandon Inge 14
David Wright 11
Orlando Cabrera 8
B.J. Upton 7
12 players tied 5

Web Gem appearances leaderboard (players -- 2009)
Brandon Inge Detroit Third base 5
David Wright New York Mets Third base 4
Carlos Pena Tampa Bay First base 3
B.J. Upton Tampa Bay Center field 2
Matt Kemp L.A. Dodgers Center field 2
Orlando Cabrera Oakland Shortstop 2

Web Gem appearances leaderboard (teams -- 2009)
Tampa Bay 8
Detroit 5
Kansas City 4
New York Mets 4
Eight teams tied 3

TOUCH 'EM ALL

Touch 'Em AllWho went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
NAME HR OPPPITCHER SITUATION
S. Choo, Cle3NYYBurnettTop 2: 1-1, 0 Outs. None on.
A. Pierzynski, CWS1TBGarzaTop 2: 2-0, 2 Outs. 1 on.
R. Garko, Cle1NYYBurnettTop 4: 1-1, 2 Outs. 1 on.
M. Prado, Atl1PitDukeTop 4: 2-1, 2 Outs. 2 on.
M. Cameron, Mil4NYMFigueroaTop 6: 0-0, 1 Outs. None on.

The complete list of Sunday's homers


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BBTN ON THE AIR: MONDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analyst: Peter Gammons, John Kruk, Dave Winfield
12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analyst: Peter Gammons, John Kruk, Dave Winfield

BBTN MINUTE: APRIL SURPRISES

SIMON SAYS

Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he looks at Randy Johnson, who flirted with yet another no-hitter on Sunday before losing it in the seventh against Arizona:

Most starts of 7+ IP, 1 hit or fewer since 1969
Nolan Ryan 28
Randy Johnson 13
Pedro Martinez 9
Steve Carlton 7
Vida Blue 7

WEB GEMS

SUNDAY'S BEST AND WORST

BEST
Jon Lester• Yes, Randy Johnson was good. But he wasn't the only pitcher who stood out on Sunday. Jon Lester posted a pretty good line in the Red Sox's 2-1 win over the Orioles. He pitched seven shutout innings, scattering four hits to go with nine strikeouts.
Glen Perkins• There were more pitchers out there baffling opposing hitters on Sunday. Minnesota's Glen Perkins was one of them. Perkins went eight innings, allowing four hits and a run in a 3-1 victory over the Angels. Perkins' ERA dipped to 1.50 after Sunday's outing.
WORST
Matt Belisle• Just like there were more pitchers than just Randy Johnson with stellar efforts, there were others (besides the jettisoned Nationals bullpen) that were bad Sunday. The worst? Matt Belisle takes dishonors, giving up five hits and four runs while recording just one out in Colorado's 14-2 loss against the Dodgers.
Eric Chavez• Oakland's Eric Chavez will be happy to see hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium on Monday. Chavez went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in a 1-0 loss against the Blue Jays. Chavez hasn't had a hit since April 10 and his batting average rests at .125.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

Yes, more Randy Johnson information. It was his slider that helped him dominate against Arizona. That pitch had been hit hard -- very hard -- over his first two outings of the year, both losses.

Randy Johnson (2009)
First 2 starts Sunday
Record 0-2 1-0
ERA 11.42 0.00
BA against vs. slider 6-for-17 (.353) 1-for-11 (.091)
K's with slider 4 6
Chase pct. vs. slider 30.0 60.0

-- ESPN Stats & Information

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF MONDAY'S GAMES

Adam Morrison examines the seven games on Monday's slate.

Fantasy Morrison ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Monday. Daily Notes