BASEBALL TONIGHT EXTRA
By Mark Simon, ESPN Research
Pitching, pitching, pitching. That was the name of the game Tuesday, with some of the best in the business in action. For a while it looked like Twins ace Johan Santana might challenge baseball's single-game strikeout record, but he couldn't even get a win as Boston's Curt Schilling was equally as good.
Kudos as well to the Jays' Roy Halladay, who won his seventh straight decision, and the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter, who matched Santana's 13 strikeouts and got a win to boot after closer Jason Isringhausen picked up yet another "cardiac save" (a Harold Reynolds-coined term).
FOR TEXAS, LESS IS MORE
By Rick Sutcliffe, ESPN
Texas manager Buck Showalter told me earlier in the year that a team can improve one of two ways: either with run production or run deduction, and the Rangers chose to go with the latter this year.
Run deduction is all about pitching and defense. Texas signed free-agent starter Kevin Millwood (who had an AL-best 2.86 ERA in 2005) and got better on defense by trading Alfonso Soriano. Everybody sees the home runs Soriano hit, but what they didn't see were the double plays that weren't being turned and the ground balls not being fielded. Soriano was a huge defensive problem at second base, and Texas turned what was a negative defensively into a big positive this year.
What I also like is the depth that general manager Jon Daniels added to the starting rotation with the addition of Adam Eaton, whom they expect to get back at the All-Star break. Eaton was arguably the best pitcher in baseball the first half of the 2005 season. He's young (28) and was really coming into his own last year. Their bullpen has been solidified with closer Akinori Otsuka (we saw what he could do in the World Baseball Classic). And when you have Michael Young, Hank Blalock and Mark Teixeira, you're always going to have offense. I look for Texas to be able to stay in the race this year because the Rangers no longer have to score eight runs a game to win.
CHATTING WITH JOE MORGAN
TJ (LA): Were there contract restrictions in your contracts as a player, like not riding a motorcycle? What do the players think of such restrictions?
Joe Morgan: Yes. We had restrictions like that. I'm sure they still exist. I had no motorbikes, no skiing and even no basketball! Some teams would give a pass on basketball. I also couldn't skydive! But I wasn't going to do those things anyway. I started skiing the day after I retired! I never rode a motorcycle.
At some point, an athlete has to think about that one time and how it can change your life. I personally do not understand why young guys want to do these things. I understand it is exciting and the thrill involved. I would love to ride a motorcycle, but I fear the consequences. It only takes one bad driver to pull out in front of you. You can say the same about a car, but on a motorcycle you don't have anything around you to protect you. The concrete doesn't bend.