At least there's still hope for one Chicago team
Carlos Zambrano falls into a similar category -- the Cubs thought they were getting a different player than the guy they're seeing on the mound this year. This season, he was taken out of the starting rotation for the first time since 2003. But what stands out most to me is his lack of confidence. Once an intimidating figure, Zambrano really has lost his edge. Which team can solve their problems faster? White Sox general manager Ken Williams made it clear this week that changes will be made, and a few moves would bode well for the club. Still, I'm not a big fan of front offices telling the media about potential shakeups. Every player on that team knows the team is underperforming and knows when they underperform that trades are a strong possibility. But threatening words don't spark a club, actions do. If you want to go out and sign a player such as Jermaine Dye, don't talk about it -- just do it. Ultimately, the Cubs won't gain much ground on the Reds and Cardinals, but the White Sox still have what it takes to make a run in their division. Their team is built to win, and if a team like that can finally catch fire, watch out.
Eduardo Perez is an analyst for "Baseball Tonight."
Baseball Tonight Live
"Baseball Tonight" analysts, ESPN.com writers and SweetSpot Network bloggers chatted and gave their in-game opinions throughout the day's games -- all in Baseball Tonight Live.
Touch 'Em All
Who went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page. For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.
|Josh Hamilton, TEX||13||SEA||Bot 1: 2-0, 2 Outs. 1 on.||Rowland-Smith|
|Adam Dunn, WAS||13||PIT||Bot 4: 2-2, 1 Out. None on.||Duke|
|Carlos Pena, TB||13||TOR||Bot 2: 1-1, 1 Out. None on.||Cecil|
|Xavier Nady, CHC||4||MIL||Top 6: 0-1, 1 Out. 1 on.||Bush|
|A.J. Pierzynski, CHW||3||DET||Bot 8: 0-0, 0 Outs. None on.||Scherzer|
Friday's Best Matchups
Phillies at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. ET
The Phillies take their sluggish offense to Boston, where John Lackey will be waiting. Lackey is 2-0 over his past three starts. The outing before that? He lost to the Phillies. Jamie Moyer goes for Philadelphia. The lefty ended a three-loss run -- a stretch in which his offense scored a combined one run for him -- with a win last time out against San Diego.
Braves at Twins, 8:10 p.m. ET
Tim Hudson and Francisco Liriano open this series. Hudson has not lost since April 21, going 5-0 in nine starts. In that run he has allowed more than five hits just twice. Liriano struck out 10 batters in his most recent start, his second double-digit strikeout total of the year.
Angels at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET
The Dodgers have been tough at home, posting a 23-10 record at Chavez Ravine. Oddly enough, their starter, Chad Billingsley, has had problems inside Dodger Stadium, where he is 2-2 with a 4.66 ERA. On the road, Billingsley is 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA.
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WEB GEMS LEADERBOARD
THURSDAY'S BEST AND WORST
BESTJonathon Niese, RHP, Mets
Chris Denorfia opened the third inning with a double. Why is that such a big deal? He was the only baserunner the Padres had against Niese, who faced 28 hitters in a complete-game, one-hit, six-strikeout shutout in the Mets' 3-0 win. Niese has allowed seven hits and one run over his past two starts.
WORSTBrandon League, RHP, Mariners
The Rangers were all over Mariners pitching in a 12-3 win. And it was particularly ugly for League, who recorded only one out but did give up four hits and four runs. Before this, League had not given up a run and only one hit over his previous five appearances.
Recently, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon has employed an unorthodox strategy against pitchers with great change-ups. Ever since Dallas Braden and his nasty change threw a perfect game against the Rays, Maddon has stacked his lineups with players who bat with the same hand as the starting pitcher in order to neutralize that pitch. The change-up is a pitch that is typically used to neutralize opposite-handed hitters, and so Maddon is attempting to take away this advantage from pitchers with great change-ups by reducing the number of opposite-handed hitters in the lineup. So far, the strategy has worked pretty well.Most notably, on May 29, the Rays torched White Sox lefty John Danks for eight runs with a lineup that included four left-handed hitters. On Wednesday night, the Rays faced right-handed change-up specialist Shaun Marcum of the Toronto Blue Jays, who had a 2.77 ERA entering the gme. The Rays lineup still included three left-handed hitters, as it's essentially impossible for the Rays to remove Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, and Reid Brignac from their line-up at this point. However, the Rays sent up switch-hitters Ben Zobrist and Dioner Navarro to bat right handed against Marcum, and even more telling was that they not only used right-handed catcher Kelly Shoppach as the DH, but they hit him clean-up. Did it work? Marcum's line -- four innings, 10 hits and seven earned runs -- certainly suggests it did. Shoppach, Navarro and Zobrist were a combined 3-for-6 against Marcum, including a home run by Navarro.