Smoltz returns to old league, finds old form
Al Bello/Getty Images
By Rick Sutcliffe, ESPNJohn Smoltz, who takes the mound Thursday and makes his third start with the Cardinals after a rough go in Boston, will do well in St. Louis. In fact, I made a friendly wager with my colleague Dave O'Brien.
TOUCH 'EM ALLWho went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page. For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.
|Home Run Tracker|
|Nelson Cruz, TEX||30||Richmond||Bot 6: 1-0, 0 Outs. None on.|
|Derrek Lee, CHC||27||Paulino||Bot 4: 0-1, 0 Outs. 1 on.|
|Dan Uggla, FLA||25||Vazquez||Bot 3: 2-1, 1 Out. 1 on.|
|Paul Konerko, CWS||24||Nathan||Top 9: 3-2, 2 Outs. None on.|
|Brandon Phillips, CIN||19||Duke||Bot 4: 0-0, 1 Out. None on.|
ON DECK: THURSDAY'S BEST MATCHUPSGiants at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET An aging Cy Young winner (Pedro Martinez) and the young, reigning Cy Young winner (Tim Lincecum) meet. Martinez should be well-rested; he pitched only two innings in his most recent start because of rain delays. Lincecum tossed eight shutout innings against Colorado in his most recent start. Red Sox at Rays 7:08 p.m. ET Clay Buchholz is settling in to his spot in the Red Sox's rotation, going 2-0 in his past three starts. David Price hopes to inch the Rays a bit closer to Boston in the AL wild-card race. Price is coming off his best month of the year; he went 3-2 with a 3.73 ERA in August. Braves at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET Tommy Hanson went 4-1 with a 2.93 ERA in August, showing no signs of wearing down. His one loss came versus Philadelphia, against which he gave up one run in two innings before rain delays forced him and Pedro Martinez out of the game. Two starts ago, Ricky Nolasco was hit hard by the Braves, giving up nine hits and four runs in 4 1/3 innings. For the rest of Thursday's schedule, click here.
BBTN ON THE AIR: THURSDAY
|12 a.m. ET
|Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Fernando Vina, Tim Kurkjian
BBTN MINUTE: PEDRO VS. LINCECUM
ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.Tonight, he takes a look at Brad Penny, who pitched eight shutout innings against the Phillies in his debut with the Giants:
|8+ shutout innings in debut
Since team moved to S.F. (1958)
WEDNESDAY'S BEST AND WORST
|• Brad Penny wasn't the only pitcher to toss eight shutout innings on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, Ted Lilly blanked the Astros over eight innings, allowing four hits and striking out five without issuing a walk in a 2-0 win. It was Lilly's first win since July 11.||WORST|
|• The Orioles trailed by only a run heading into the ninth inning against the Yankees at Camden Yards. Then things fell apart. The Baltimore bullpen gave up seven hits and seven runs in the inning for a 10-2 loss. The worst of the bunch was Jim Johnson, who didn't record an out, but gave up three hits, two walks and five runs.|
NUMBERS TO KNOWJohn Smoltz has really found his off-speed pitches (especially his slider) again in his two starts with the Cardinals. Opposing batters are just 5-for-32 against his non-fastballs. The .156 batting average is nearly 100 points lower than the .252 opponent batting average against non-fastballs in his eight starts with the Red Sox.
|John Smoltz non-fastballs (2009)|
|Strikeout pct. against||19.8||45.5|
FANTASY: PREVIEW OF THURSDAY'S GAMES
AJ Mass examines the 10 games on Thursday's slate.Mass ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Thursday. Daily Notes
HUNT FOR OCTOBERHere's the latest in the wild-card races:
|AL WILD CARD|
|NL WILD CARD|