Thursday, August 30, 2007

Baseball In The Daytime: 8-30-07

Here on the penultimate afternoon of August, four day games flavor the palette of baseball. All four have possible playoff implications, and one is the latest edition of the greatest rivalry in sports.

From the venerable old Stadium in the Bronx, the Red Sox and Yankees play the final game of their three-episode midweek drama. The Bombers have taken the first two behind the strong pitching of Rocket and Andy Petitte, and have trimmed Boston's AL East lead to a six-pack. It's still the biggest spread in baseball, but because of the history of these two franchises we have to speculate about whether it's possible for the Yankees to catch the Olde Towne Team. It all comes down to simple mathematics.

At the outset of this series, I figured the Sox would need to win one of the remaining six games the two teams had scheduled (they play three at Fenway in mid-September). In taking that one contest, Boston would allow New York to pick up a maximum of four games head-to-head, half of what they need (the lead was 8 as of Tuesday morning). I further deduced that Boston's easier schedule (more home games, more games against crappy teams) would lead them to the division title.

Well, that's all well and good, but you still need to win that one game. The assignment in this suddenly big, important game goes to old Curt Schilling, who's won more big, important games than any pitcher still drawing a big-league paycheck. He'll step on to the same mound where he once bled through his sock and attempt to shut 50,000 New Yorkers up.

His doppelganger will be Wang, who's having another nice season (15-6, 3.95). Of much more import to Boston than slowing the Yankee lineup is scoring runs off of Wang--their offense has gone into another funk, and now Man-Ram is hobbled with an oblique injury. It should, as always, be fun, and it all kicks off at 11:05 Mountain on XM 176, DTV 734 (SD) and 731 (HD).

At the same time from the City Of Steak N' Cheese, the Phillies attempt a sweep of the Mets. To call such a sweep improbable is a vast understatement: the way these two teams were playing last week you'd have given the Phils a one-in-ten shot at even splitting the four-game series. Yet here we are. The home team has cut the Metropolitan's division lead in half, from six to three, and Philly is within the same distance of the wild card lead. El Duque, who's played in his fair share of big games himself, is the Met starter, opposite Kyle Lohse, who's one of only two Native Americans in Major League baseball (the other is Yankee phenom Joba Chamberlain). XM 183 and DTV 735 are your audio/video options.

At noon the Tigers and Royals square off at The Kauff on XM 180 and DTV 737. Detroit continues to defy logic--after taking three of four from the Yankees over the weekend they've dropped consecutive games to the fourth-place Royals.

Their starter today is Jeremy Bonderman, who's even more mystifying than his employer. Once thought of as one of the best young pitchers in the game, Bonderman has absolutely sucked donkey balls since the All-Star Break. He's lost six straight decisions and today faces Leo Nunez. The defending Al champion Tigers are clinging to their postseason lives, currently 4 1/2 behind the Indians in the Central and three back of the wild card lead.

Finally, also at noon, the Cardinals and Astros get one in at Minute Maid Park. Assbag loser Joel Pineiro starts for St. Louise, while Matt Albers toes the slab for Houston. Following the Astros' shutout win last night and the Brewers' impersonation of a big league club, the Cards are still two behind the Cubbies in the NL Central. This one can be found on XM 187 and DTV 736. Cheers!