Sunday Slate: Halladay vs Lester, Yankees Old-Timer's Day, Young Guns in Cincy

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Quick peek at the best pitching match-ups on Sunday:

Red Sox at Blue Jays: Could it be Roy Halladay’s
final start as a Blue Jay? Guessing that if he gets traded, it’ll be
closer to the deadline, so probably not. He’s struggled (all relative)
lately, going 0-2 with a 4.50 since a DL stint, and had a rough time in
the All-Star Game. It’s his first start against Boston this year, after
dominating them in 2008 (2.56 in 5 starts). Meanwhile, Jon Lester
has found it in a big way, rocking a silly 1.48 ERA in his last 8
outings, including 69 Ks in 54 2/3 innings. He’s also 2-0 against the
Jays this year, giving up a total of 2 runs.

Brewers at Reds: The Battle of Red Hot But Now Struggling Youngsters. Both Yovani Gallardo and Johnny Cueto
were dealing for the first 3 months of the year before opponents
started soiling their All-Star credentials in July. Gallardo has given
up 9 runs in his last 10 innings. Cueto didn’t make it out of the 1st
inning against the Phillies (very embarrassing), and then got lit up by
the Mets (even more embarassing). Interesting albeit useless fact: they
were born 12 days apart in February, 1986.

Giants at Pirates: Zach Duke and Matt Cain
are linked because the former took the latter’s place on the All-Star
roster because of an injury. Duke faces a terrorizing G-Men lineup that
has scored 1 run in 23 innings this series. To be fair, the Pirates
have only scored 4. If Cain doesn’t come through today, you can bank on
Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s Monday radio show to be even more animated than his rant from a couple weeks ago when he “fired” his whole staff. Go Buccos.

Tigers at Yankees: Sure, the two starters are intriguing (Edwin Jackson vs Joba “5 and a third” Chamberlain). But I gotta think everyone headed to the Stadium today for Old-Timer’s Day is just itching to see Pat Kelly put on the pinstripes again. I guess Alvaro Espinoza wasn’t available?

Angels at A’s: Be sure to tune in as John Lackey helps out his ERA in healthy doses against the woeful Oakland offense. At least the A’s have Brett Anderson on the hill, who is only 138 outs shy of Orel Hershiser’s consecutive scoreless innings record.

You can follow me on Twitter at mattcasey9.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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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: