With an unusually light schedule this afternoon, here’s what to watch tonight:
– At Citi Field, all eyes will be on No. 7, err, No. 12 as Jeff
Francoeur makes his unlikely debut as a New York Met against Johnny
Cueto and the Reds. The Mets have been shut out in three of their last
five games and haven’t homered in 66 innings dating back to last
Thursday. Omar Minaya hopes the Frenchy trade can “shake things up.”
We’ll see about that one.
– John Smoltz (0-2, 6.60 ERA) is still in search of his first win,
as the Red Sox take on the Royals. He looks to avoid a new-found
penchant for the big inning, including a four-run fourth against the
Athletics on Monday. Still, the 42-year-old Smoltz feels like he’s
– Matt Kemp looks to continue to his hot-hitting against the
Brewers. He is 15-for-27 with a home run and nine RBI since Manny
Ramirez returned to the lineup. All this despite often hitting eighth in Joe Torre’s lineup.
– Cole Hamels (5-5, 4.70 ERA) toes the rubber against the Pirates
tonight. The Phillies, who started the season 13-22 at home, have won
seven of their last eight at Citizens Bank Park. With Pedro Martinez
and some guy from Canada on their radar, the Phillies seem poised to
run away and hide in the NL East.
– Jason Marquis (11-5, 3.60 ERA) sets his sights on becoming the
majors first 12-game winner against the Braves on Saturday night.
Because, as we all know, wins = awesome pitcher.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: