– Detroit’s Justin Verlander, arguably baseball’s hottest pitcher,
takes on his nemesis tonight in the fourth game of a five-game series
with the White Sox. Verlander has won six in a row since April 27,
posting a 1.12 ERA during that span, but he’s 2-9 with a 5.90 ERA
lifetime against the Pale Hose. That’s a full quarter of his 36 career
losses coming against one team. The struggling John Danks will get the
ball for the White Sox.
– I’m rooting for Lance Berkman to drive in five runs with a pair of
doubles tonight, setting things up perfectly for Thursday. He’s
currently sitting at 299 homers, 994 RBI, 1,497 hits and 4,993 at-bats.
– It figured that the Pirates would want to Charlie Morton a look
soon after acquiring him in the Nate McLouth deal, but to have him
pitch against his former team just a week following the deal certainly
wasn’t the ideal scenario. He’s taking Jeff Karstens’ place against the
Braves tonight after Karstens was needed in Monday’s 15-inning game.
Game of the Night
N.Y. Yankees vs. Boston – Chien-Ming Wang wasn’t exactly eased back
into the Yankee rotation: after facing the Rangers in his first start
since coming off the disabled list, he gets to pitch in Fenway tonight.
Wang is 6-5 with a 4.82 ERA lifetime against the Red Sox. Boston will
go to Tim Wakefield, who didn’t pitch in either of the first two series
against the Bombers this year. The knuckleballer went 1-1 with a 4.98
ERA in four starts against the Yankees in 2008 and is 10-17 with a 5.03
ERA lifetime against the team. Alex Rodriguez has hit .276 with seven
homers in 76 at-bats against him. The Red Sox will hope for another
strong night from David Ortiz, who has hit .444 with two homers in 36
at-bats versus Wang.
Padres starter Jered Weaver lasted just two-thirds of an inning in Wednesday afternoon’s Cactus League appearance against the Royals. He yielded four runs on three hits, throwing 31 pitches before getting pulled. His spring ERA now sits at an ugly 10.13.
Weaver said he’s been dealing with a “dead arm” since his last bullpen session, but added he’s dealt with the issue in previous springs, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The Padres signed Weaver to a one-year, $3 million contract last month. The right-hander is coming off of the worst season of his 11-year career. His fastball averaged a career-low 83 MPH and he put up a 5.06 ERA with a 103/51 K/BB ratio in 178 innings.
Earlier, Craig wrote about Dan Duquette’s dogwhistle language in his criticism of Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. We have some more dogwhistling, this time coming from Tigers (and Team U.S.) second baseman Ian Kinsler. Via Billy Witz of The New York Times:
I hope kids watching the W.B.C. can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays. That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.
The goal of the World Baseball Classic, created by Major League Baseball, is to promote baseball across the globe. It’s players like Puerto Rico’s Javier Baez who are doing the best job in that regard, not boring white guys from the U.S. Potential baseball fans are not swayed into liking the sport when a player hits a home run and solemnly puts his head down to stroll the bases. They get excited and energized when players show emotion, flip their bats, celebrate. Baez did more to make baseball appeal to new and lapsed audiences with his premature celebration tag than the entire U.S. team has done this tournament.
Furthermore, it is hypocritical to want to diversify the sport’s audience while squelching incoming cultures.
Jim Leyland also got in on the action:
Go Puerto Rico.