Sunday Baseball Report
THE BASEBALL REPORT
CHECKING OUT SUNDAY'S (POTENTIAL) PITCHING STARS
PLUS MR. UTLEY TELLS EVERYONE HE'S BAAAACK
IN KEY PHILLIES HOME WIN
There is no question about it: The 2011 Major-League Baseball season has been about pitching, pitching and more pitching and all you really need to do is check out some of Sunday's scheduled starting pitchers – hey, some of them the average baseball fan probably has not even heard of yet but check out who's on our goody list:
In Sunday's National League action, keep an eye out for Colorado Rockies RHP Ubaldo Jimenez who may or may not still be on the trade market. Jimenez (6-8, 4.00 ERA) really has rebounded from a miserable start this season and he enters Sunday's game in Arizona having won his last three starts in a row while pitching to a tidy 2.18 ERA with 21 Ks and 5 BBs. The $64,000 question is why in the world would the Rockies even consider dealing away this ultra-talented hurler who has a 56-44 lifetime mark and some of the best stuff in all baseball? Word to the wise in Colorado: Trade Jimenez and you risk being irrelevant on the big baseball stage for the next few seasons.
Than there's the case of San Diego Padres RHP Tim Stauffer (6-6, 2.83 ERA) who gets less run support than just about any pitcher in the 'bigs' and he will strut his stuff this afternoon in Philadelphia against RHP Roy Halladay, not-so-fresh off his heat exhaustion game earlier in the week at Wrigley Field. Note that Stauffer pitched six shutout innings last Tuesday night in an eventual 4-0 win at Miami and take note that he's pitched to a delicious 2.00 ERA in his last three starts. If you haven't been singing his praises this year, you should!
Hey, what look at the NL would be complete without checking out who's on the hill for the Pittsburgh Pirates? In this case in the 1:30 p.m. ET start against 1B Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals, the Buccos send RHP Charlie Morton to the mound after he threw five shutout innings last Monday en route to a 2-0 series-opening win against the Cincinnati Reds. Maybe you have not noticed but Morton is 8-5 this year but the down side here is the career numbers versus the Redbirds ain't great: He's 2-3 with a bloated 6.43 ERA against St. Loo but Morton did best the Birds in his one-and-only 2011 start against 'em. It's time for Morton to be a stopper here as the Cards won the first two games in this three-game set 6-4 and 9-1 – time to show you're for real, Buccos.
Okay, flip the page to the American League and here's what you've got on the Sunday sked …
Cleveland Indians righthander Justin Masterson has been – without a doubt – one of baseball's top five starting pitchers this season despite the fact the Tribe hurler is just 8-6 overall. Note that Masterson has a tiny 2.64 ERA and his hits-to-innings pitched reads 123-to-136.1 while he has 101 strikeouts and just 40 walks. Cleveland lost its last game started by Masterson 2-1 last Tuesday night in Minnesota and – in case you were wondering – the Indians entered yesterday's rain out game against the Chicago White Sox having scored just six runs in the last three games. Yuck!
Elsewhere, all eyes are Detroit Tigers RHP Rick Porcello who has posted rather ordinary numbers for the year – that's 9-6 with a 4.76 ERWA – but check out the recent outings and you see Porcello's won his last three starts while pitching to a 3.44 ERA with 14 Ks and 3 BBs. Put it this way: If Porcello is a difference-maker type pitcher the rest of the way, the Tigers might actually run away with the AL Central race.
And now hear this: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers release Major-League Baseball Winners each/every day and you can be part of all the action -- just remember to call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here and make sure you're all aboard for a summer filled with all our MLB winners! The calling/check-in times are after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays; anytime after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball action; and than anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the weeknight action. Now go ahead and pile up all your summertime Baseball winners!
Editor's Note: Hopefully, the National Football League will inch closer to a resolution with its silly lockout and be reminded that – according to in-the-know-sources – the NFL Preseason schedule is expected to go on as planned although the August 7th Hall of Fame Game between the St. Louis Rams and the Chicago Bears has been cancelled. Folks, we'll keep you posted and so make sure you're all aboard for our full-season college & NFL packages, as there will be plenty of Side & Totals winners for sure.
In other MLB News & Notes …
Folks, there were a grand total of 27 home runs hit on Saturday but the two that really interested us were the ones slugged by Philadelphia Phillies 2B Chase Utley in his team's 8-6 win against the SD Padres. Utley – who finished the game 3-for-3 with two runs scored and four RBI – walloped home run #5 against Pods starter Mat Latos allowed the first of Utley's two dingers and later reliever Chad Qualls surrendered a solo shot to Utley that gave Philadelphia an 8-4 lead.
Maybe that was a sign of what's to come the rest of the way as Philly's star second baseman is roaring back after injuries kayoed him for the better part of the season's first 75 games but now he could be the real fuse that lights off a Phillies attack that's quite capable of scoring 7 or 8 runs a game …
Meanwhile, there was not a single home run hit in Saturday night's 5-4, 10-inning win by Kansas City over the Tampa Bay Rays but the real hero there was Royals closer Joakim Soria who wiggled his way out of a bases-loaded and no out jam in the top of the tenth inning. The Royals went on to win when hot-shot rookie 1B Eric Hosmer doubled in the winning run but if the Rays wind up falling a tad short in their quest for a third consecutive playoff berth than this sort of game will stick with 'em for a long, long while.
Consider that KayCee tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning thanks to a two-out double by LF Alex Gordon – and so should anyone really be surprised that TB's bullpen is 'coming back down to earth' as RHP Kyle Farnsworth blew his fourth save of the season while Brandon Gomes eventually took the loss. Might the Rays be in the market for someone else's closer in the coming days (is Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol still on the market?) …
Finally, great combined stat line from Saturday night :The San Francisco Giants' bullpen threw four innings of no-run, no-hit ball in relief of starter (and winner) Ryan Vogelsong (now 8-1, 2.10 ERA) in the tight-fitting 4-2 home win against the Milwaukee Brewers. The combo of Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez and closer Brian Wilson (30 saves) teamed up to face 14 batters while allowing a mere pair of walks. Now, think the Giants can't repeat as World Series champions with that sort of pen?
NOTE: Get our NFL News & Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.