Different Smoltz, in different uniform, makes return
Al Bello/Getty Images
By Rick Sutcliffe, ESPNThe starts when I was an older player were more special for me than any in my career. I knew there was a chance that any one of them might be my last.
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|
|A. Hill, Tor||16||Cin||Arroyo||Bot 1: 0-0, 0 Outs. 1 on.|
|V. Wells, Tor||7||Cin||Arroyo||Bot 1: 0-0, 0 Outs. None on.|
|A. Lind, Tor||15||Cin||Arroyo||Bot 1: 3-1, 0 Outs. 1 on.|
|J. Gomes, Cin||3||Tor||Richmond||Top 2: 2-2, 1 Outs. None on.|
|P. Burrell, TB||2||Phi||Blanton||Bot 2: 0-1, 1 Outs. 1 on.|
|D. Ortiz, Bos||7||Was||Stammen||Top 4: 3-2, 2 Outs. 2 on.|
|M. Cabrera, Det||15||ChC||Harden||Bot 4: 2-1, 0 Outs. None on.|
ON DECK: THURSDAY'S BEST MATCHUPSCardinals at Mets, 1:10 p.m. ET The only non-interleague game on the schedule features a pair of former Cy Young winners, with Chris Carpenter going for the Cardinals and Johan Santana pitching for the Mets. Santana is coming off a pair of losses, while Carpenter is coming off a strong 7 2/3-inning start in a win against Kansas City. Dodgers at White Sox, 2:05 p.m. ET Since losing a pair of starts at the end of May, Clayton Kershaw is 3-0 in four starts. Clayton Richard's outings have been short lately; he has not pitched more than 5 1/3 innings since May 29, a stretch of four outings. Phillies at Rays, 7 p.m. ET The Phillies and Rays have split the first two games of this World Series rematch, and it has been an odd start. Philadelphia hammered David Price for 10 runs in the opener, then scored just one run in the second game. What happens on the third night? For the rest of Thursday's schedule, click here.
BBTN ON THE AIR: THURSDAY
|12 a.m. ET
|Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Tim Kurkjian, Eduardo Perez
BBTN MINUTE: SMOLTZ RETURNS
ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.Tonight, he looks at John Smoltz, who will be making his debut with the Red Sox on Thursday. Smoltz had spent his entire big league career in the NL with Atlanta, so the fact that he'll make his first start as an AL pitcher in an interleague series will help ease the transition:
Most wins vs. opponent
WEDNESDAY'S BEST AND WORST
|• Josh Fields has struggled this season with the White Sox, and it has cost him his job at third base. On Thursday, playing first to give Paul Konerko a night off, Fields hit a pair of homers and drove home three runs in the White Sox's 10-7 win against the Dodgers.||WORST|
|• The Cubs weren't without chances in their 5-3 loss against the Tigers. However, the offense went 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left 13 on base in their third consecutive loss. Milton Bradley twice struck out with runners in scoring position, the final time coming with two on in the ninth.|
NUMBERS TO KNOWCardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter is on fire since his return from the disabled list (4-1 with a 1.85 ERA). Carpenter made only four starts over 2007 and 2008. He won his first start of 2009, but then left his second start early with what was later diagnosed as a left oblique tear. He returned from his latest injury with a win over the Cubs on May 20. Since returning, he has had the best 1-2-3 inning percentage among all pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched (58.2 percent). His work with off-speed pitches has driven his success this year, as he entered the day Wednesday ranked in the top 10 in batting average against, slugging percentage and well-hit average. Carpenter and the Cardinals conclude their series with the New York Mets on Thursday night at Citi Field.
Opponents vs. non-fastballs
FANTASY: PREVIEW OF THURSDAY'S GAMES
AJ Mass examines the 13 games on Thursday's slate.Mass ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Thursday. Daily Notes