What we're watching – June 30

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– Tim Lincecum dominated Albert Pujols and the rest of the Cardinals
with a two-hit shutout on Monday. Now St. Louis will try to even up the
series with Chris Carpenter on the mound. Carpenter has lost two of his
last three starts with the Cardinals’ offense struggling, but he still
hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start this season. He’s 5-2
with a 1.78 ERA. 302-game winner Randy Johnson will get the ball for
the Giants. The Cardinals are one of three teams against which he has a
losing record over the course of at least a dozen starts. The Yankees
and Mets are the other two. Albert Pujols is 9-for-21 with three homers
and three doubles off him, giving him a .429/.478/1.000 line.

– John Smoltz will look to bounce back from a rough Boston debut
when he faces the Orioles in Baltimore. Smoltz showed pretty good stuff
last week, but he gave up five runs over five innings in a loss to the
Nationals. The Orioles will counter with Rich Hill as they try to avoid
what would be a ninth straight loss to the Red Sox at Camden Yards.
Hill is 3-2 with a 6.03 ERA in eight starts.

– While the Red Sox have been remarkably solid, they’re not opening
up any wider of a lead in the AL East. The Yankees will go for their
sixth straight win tonight at home against the Mariners. It will be a
matchup of relievers-turned-starters Brandon Morrow and Joba
Chamberlain. Also, the Rays will go for their seventh straight victory
versus the team the recently overtook for third place in the East, the
Blue Jays. The AL East currently boasts the teams with the first,
second, fifth and seventh best records in the AL.

Game of the Night

Colorado vs. L.A. Dodgers – The two teams played what was probably
Monday’s game of the night, with the Dodgers winning on an Andre Ethier
walkoff homer on the 13th. Tonight’s game will feature a pair of
starters trying to become the NL’s first to 10 victories (unless Johan
Santana, in a game being played two hours earlier, beats them to it).
Jason Marquis is 9-5 with a 4.22 ERA. He beat the Dodgers in his
previous start against the team this year, throwing 7 1/3 innings of
three-run ball back on April 26. Chad Billingsley is 9-3 with a 3.10
ERA. He’s also 1-0 against his opponent tonight, as he beat Aaron Cook
by allowing three runs in six innings on April 18.

The White Sox will retire Mark Buehrle’s number this June

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Starting pitcher Mark Buehrle #56 of the Chicago White Sox waves to the crowd after being tasken out of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field on September 27, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Mark Buehrle last pitched in 2015, for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was still pretty effective and toyed with the idea of pitching last season, but he never signed anywhere and is, for all intents and purposes, retired.

Now at least his number will be retired officially. It will be done by the club for which he had the most success and with which he is, obviously, most associated:

Buehrle pitched for the White Sox for 12 years. He was the model of consistency and durability in Chicago, logging over 200 innings a season in every single season but his rookie year, when he was primarily a reliever. He was a solid defender, a multi-time All-Star, tossed a perfect game in 2009 and helped the Chisox to their first World Series title in 88 years in 2005.

He was also one of baseball’s fastest workers, so I’m going to assume that, in his honor, the number retirement ceremony will last, like, a minute 20, after which everyone can get on with their dang day.

Terry Francona isn’t sure how long his health will allow him to manage

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19:  Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians reacts during batting practice before a game with the Boston Red Sox on August 19, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.

He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:

“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.

“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”

Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.

With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.