The misadventures of Gagne

When the Red Sox traded for Eric Gagne in the last possible moments before the trade deadline, no one thought the results would be as dreadful as they have been through the first half of August. For the second straight appearance, Gagne frittered away an eighth-inning advantage, and Boston's ever-dwindling lead in the AL East fell by another game on Sunday.

The Boston bullpen, so good in the early part of the season, has struggled these past two weeks with Gagne. Those who wondered why the Red Sox would mess with a good thing by adding Gagne -- a closer with little to no experience in the set-up role -- are looking pretty smart right about now. So are the Yankees, who have a new, highly capable set-up man in rookie Joba Chamberlain and a closer who has been mistake-free (with no blown saves) for more than a month in Mariano Rivera.

The momentum in the AL East race has shifted. For the Red Sox to get back on track, they need Gagne to live up to the French translation of his name ("to win") in more ways than one.

Five appearances, four innings pitched, seven earned runs, 10 hits, 15.75 ERA
Has blown eighth-inning leads in past two appearances, and the Red Sox lost both games.
Has allowed one fewer run in these five appearances than he did in 34 appearances (33 1/3 innings) for the Rangers this season.
Red Sox bullpen ERA entering August: 2.73
Red Sox bullpen ERA in August: 5.93
Red Sox bullpen ERA in August without Gagne: 4.44

Over a two-week span, Baseball Tonight will be celebrating the top home runs in the history of each current major league team. There will be video tributes, discussions and memorable anecdotes for all 30 squads. The teams spotlighted this weekend were the Marlins, Angels, Blue Jays, White Sox and Phillies. You can catch each home run segment on Baseball Tonight and come here the next morning for a recap of each day's selections.

Florida Marlins1. Alex Gonzalez hits walk-off home run in 2003 World Series, Game 4.
2. Moises Alou clubs go-ahead home run versus Orel Hershiser in 1997 World Series, Game 5.
3. Miguel Cabrera hammers walk-off home run in first major league game -- June 20, 2003.
Franchise leaders: Mike Lowell, 143; Miguel Cabrera, 132; Derek Lee, 129; Gary Sheffield, 122; Jeff Conine, 120
Single-season leader: Gary Sheffield, 42 (1996)
Did You Know? According to the Elias Sports Bureau, with his home run this season, Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis became the first pitcher in 75 years to hit at least one home run in his first five seasons in the major leagues. The last was Pat Malone (1928-32).

Los Angeles Angels1. Scott Spiezio and Darin Erstad hit home runs in come-from-behind victory in 2002 World Series, Game 6.
2. Fred Lynn's grand slam in the 1983 Midsummer Classic is only grand slam in All-Star Game history.
3. Adam Kennedy hits three home runs in 2002 ALCS, Game 5.
Franchise leaders: Tim Salmon, 299; Garret Anderson, 247; Brian Downing, 222; Troy Glaus, 182; Chili Davis, 156
Single-season leader: Troy Glaus, 47 (2000)
Did You Know? The last American League second baseman to lead his league in home runs was Bobby Grich, who shared the MLB lead with 22 during the strike-shortened 1981 season.

Toronto Blue Jays1. Joe Carter hits World Series-clinching walk-off home run in 1993 Fall Classic, Game 6.
2. Roberto Alomar hammers game-tying ninth-inning home run in 1992 ALCS, Game 4.
3. Carlos Delgado slugs four home runs in one game -- Sept. 25, 2003.
Franchise leaders: Carlos Delgado, 336; Joe Carter, 203; George Bell, 202; Jesse Barfield, 179; Vernon Wells, 155
Single-season leader: George Bell, 47 (1987)
Did You Know? In their famous 15-14 victory over the Phillies in Game 4 of the '93 World Series, the Blue Jays scored 15 runs and had 18 hits, but did not hit a home run.

Chicago White Sox1. Scott Podsednik delivers walk-off home run in 2005 World Series, Game 2.
2. Frank Thomas hits three home runs and breaks club record for homers -- Aug. 15, 1996.
3. Harold Baines hits walk-off home run to end 25-inning game -- May 9, 1984.
Franchise leaders: Frank Thomas, 448; Paul Konerko, 261; Harold Baines, 221; Carlton Fisk, 214; Magglio Ordonez, 187
Single-season leader: Albert Belle, 49 (1998)
Did You Know? The White Sox have hit 200 or more home runs in each of the past seven seasons, averaging 221 home runs per year.

Chicago White Sox1. Mike Schmidt hits game-winning home run to clinch NL East -- Oct. 4, 1980.
2. Dick Sisler hits home run to clinch pennant on last day of 1950 season.
3. Mike Schmidt's 500th homer is a game-winner -- April 18, 1987.
Franchise leaders: Mike Schmidt, 548; Del Ennis, 259; Chuck Klein, 243; Greg Luzinski, 223; Cy Williams, 217
Single-season leader: Ryan Howard, 58 (2006)
Did You Know? Only one pitcher has hit a grand slam in his first major league game. Phillies pitcher Bill Duggleby accomplished the feat April 21, 1898, in his first major league at-bat.

Red Sox 'pen provides no relief in Baltimore.
Bobby Jenks Bobby Jenks pitched a perfect ninth inning in the White Sox's 6-0 loss to the Mariners, breaking David Wells' AL record and tying the major league record of 41 straight batters retired. Jim Barr also set down 41 straight for San Francisco in 1972.
Duane Burleson/AP Photo
Magglio Ordonez hit two home runs in the second inning of Detroit's 11-6 win over Oakland, joining Hall of Famer Al Kaline as the only Tigers to homer twice in one inning.
Brian GilesJake Peavy Brian Giles hit two home runs for the second consecutive day to help Jake Peavy remain unbeaten in his career against Cincinnati. Giles has hit five of his seven home runs in the past three days, and Peavy improved to 5-0 in eight starts against the Reds.
Barry Zito Barry Zito fell to 8-11 after allowing three runs on six hits over six innings in a 5-0 loss to the Pirates. The Giants' $126 million hurler was booed when he walked the first three batters of the game in his first career start against Pittsburgh, the only major league club he had never met.
Minnesota Twins The Angels swept the Twins and became the fifth team this year to limit Minnesota to six runs or less in a three-game series, along with the Red Sox, Athletics, Tigers and Blue Jays. The Twins have scored no more than three runs in 10 of their past 11 games.
Yankees bring out brooms against Indians.
"There isn't much that [Troy] Tulowitzki fears. He just wants to play and win and not much of anything else."
-- Colorado manager Clint Hurdle after the rookie shortstop homered off the Cubs' Kerry Wood in the Rockies' 6-3 win. Tulowitzki has already homered against some of the biggest names in the game: Roger Clemens, John Smoltz and Roy Oswalt.
James Shields • Devil Rays at Red Sox, 7:05 p.m. ET: James Shields (9-7, 4.32) goes for the Devil Rays after pitching seven strong innings against the Tigers in his last outing. He'll face Tim Wakefield (13-10, 4.81), who is 4-2 with a 6.06 ERA since the All-Star break.

• Blue Jays at Royals, 8:10 p.m. ET: Jesse Litsch (4-4, 3.64) has allowed only four runs in his past three starts (18 2/3 innings) for Toronto. The rookie right-hander will face Odalis Perez (6-11, 5.87), who has gotten shelled in his past two starts and is winless since July 28.

Felix HernandezJohan Santana • Twins at Mariners, 10:05 p.m. ET: Pitching matchups don't get much better. Johan Santana (12-9, 2.98) and Felix Hernandez (8-6, 3.97) square off in this gem. Santana ranks first in the AL in WHIP (1.05) and has limited opposing hitters to a .218 BAA. Hernandez is 2-0 with a 3.74 ERA in his past three starts.

• Astros at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET (ESPN2): L.A. looks to snap out of its offensive funk against Roy Oswalt (12-6, 3.42), but scoring runs on the right-hander won't be easy. Oswalt has a 0.72 ERA in his past four outings. Chad Billingsley (7-3, 3.34) pitched his lone career complete game in his last start, against Houston on July 23.

• Monday's complete list of probable starters



Search Arrow