Friday, May 19

Late Series Capsules: 5/19/06-5/21/06

Hey hey, let's hear it for being late! Multiple updates are hopefully coming this weekend. We'll see how well that actually works, though.

It's an interleague weekend, so 14 series are between leagues. The remaining series? Made the top 5. What didn't? Well, Cubs @ Sox. Yup. Sorry, kids - too much of a team disparity. Some clunkers out there, too - Pittsburgh/Cleveland, Baltimore/Washington, and Florida/Tampa Bay (toilet bowl of the weekend - at least it's indoors).

#5: Atlanta Braves (21-20, W4, 8-2) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (22-18, L1, 5-5)
Pitching Matchups:
5/19: Thomson vs Vargas
5/20: Smith vs Batista
5/21: Hudson vs Webb

For the Braves:
Well, it finally happened - they got hot, and in a big way. They're the second-hottest team in the majors (behind Detroit) at the moment, and there's no reason why they should slow down here. Travis Smith gets his first start of the season on Saturday, and that's their worst chance to win. With their pitching, Francouer finally waking up, and the stadium, they should walk out of here with 2 out of 3. If not? Well, they should be .500 at worst. Hudson's been hot, too.

For the Diamondbacks:
While they're not on a roll, they need this series. The NL West has everyone within 2 games of first at the moment, and with the exception of Colorado, they have the toughest opponent. Will they win this? It's possible, but Claudio Vargas needs to have a good start tonight, as does Miguel Batista on Saturday.

They should win Saturday's game, which means they have to win one of the two pitching crapshoots. It could happen.

#4: Toronto Blue Jays (23-17, W2, 7-3) @ Colorado Rockies (22-19, L1, 4-6)
Pitching Matchups:
5/19: Towers vs Cook
5/20: Taubenheim vs Francis
5/21: Lilly vs Fogg

For the Blue Jays:
Uh, this is a rivalry game. I guess. When in Rome? Anyway, this is the Blue Jays' first - and only - look at Coors this season. They're currently blistering the ball to a team .299(!) clip. That makes their suboptimal pitching worthwhile.

What can they expect? They'll rough up Fogg, more than likely, giving them a good shot at winning Sunday. Cook's been tough lately, Francis is better at home than on the road ... who knows? A series win isn't unlikely, but might be more difficult than originally thought. They do have the easiest matchup of the top 3 AL East teams, though.

For the Rockies:
Tough draw. They hold - amazingly - a pitching advantage. Unfortunately, they haven't hit well at home. Go on the road for this series and they'd probably win it convincingly, but at home? Maybe not. Bet you never thought you'd read that.

Can they win it, though? Sure. Cook and Francis will keep them in the early games, and they should win Saturday's for sure. (This is the first time I've even heard of the Blue Jays' pitcher.) That gives them the pitching advantage tonight and the possibility of a Coors crapshoot on Sunday. They might sweep, which they'll need.

#3: New York Yankees (23-16, L1, 5-5) @ New York Mets (24-16, L2, 3-7)
Pitching Matchups:
5/19: Johnson vs Gonzalez
5/20: Mussina vs Martinez
5/21: Chacon vs Glavine

For the Yankees:
Another week, another marquee series. Surprise, surprise. They've got their big guns going this time, too.

Only problem is their offense is banged up - specifically, their outfield. They should score on Friday, but the other two days are anyone's guess. They owned Pedro back when he was with the Sox; will that change now that Pedro has switched leagues?

For the Mets:
Tough break with Zambrano going down means that Jeremi Gonzalez sniffs a start for the first time in a while. Not good if you're the Mets. Could be Lima Time, though.

However, they've got their 1-2 punch in the final two games, meaning anything less than a series victory will be disappointing.

(For the record, this series falls under the "you'll hear about it somewhere else" exception.)

#2: Boston Red Sox (23-15, L1, 7-3) @ Philadelphia Phillies (22-18, L3, 6-4)
Pitching Matchups:
5/19: Clement vs Lieber
5/20: Beckett vs Myers
5/21: DiNardo vs Lidle

For the Red Sox:
It's a slightly easier draw for the Sox than the Yankees this weekend, even though this series got the #2 spot nod since the Phils are hotter than the Mets. They're getting healthy, which is good, as they're behind the gun - slightly - on pitching matchups.

Beckett is unquestionably their best pitcher going in this series, but they also drew the 1-2-3 of the Phils. Their familiarity with Lidle from previous seasons (Blue Jays) should help on Sunday. They could either get swept or win 2 out of 3, but a sweep might be a little too much to ask for.

For the Phillies:
Hey, solid pitching and a floundering Mets team? Sign me up! Huge motivation this weekend for the Phils - a good weekend and they could catch the Mets.

Is a good weekend possible? Totally - they lucked out only having to face Beckett. Just as importantly, David Ortiz will either be a PH or at first for the Sox. No reason why they shouldn't win the series here. Anything less will be subpar.

#1: Cincinnati Reds (24-17, W1, 4-6) @ Detroit Tigers (27-13, W7, 7-3)
Pitching Matchups:
5/19: Claussen vs Bonderman
5/20: Milton vs Maroth
5/21: Harang vs Robertson

For the Reds:
Uh-oh. Eric Milton's back. That's the equivalent of your mother-in-law dropping by because she was in the area.

That being said, Brandon Claussen and Harang have both been pleasant surprises, and while the Tigers have been tough pitching, they're not unbeatable. Unfortunately, the Tigers are also pretty hot. The key for the Reds will be getting ahead early and hoping the bullpen (with possible new closer Todd Coffey?) doesn't blow it.

Can it happen? 2 out of 3 isn't inconceivable. I can't pick Eric Milton to win, though.

For the Tigers:
Hot team + struggling visitors = fresh meat. Right?

This group of - still - overachievers (how much longer can we say that before they're for real? 2 weeks? 1 month?) throw their younger - but not youngest - guns out there this weekend. That'll keep them close.

What'll put 'em over the top? The Tigers know how to hit in Comerica. The Reds might not. The games will be closer than you think, but the Tigers should walk out of here with 2 - and they need to, as the Sox get an easier draw.