- Bobby Murcer as an unintended witness:
- Indians 8-Rays 4:
This game is going to be a test for the Rays from their manager on down. I'm still not sold on Joe Maddon and his unique, new-age way of running his team and if he's unable to steer the Rays ship through this crisis, the team might have to seriously consider finding someone else in the future. (They're not going to do it unless the team completely collapses, but it's something to think about.) It's a perfect day for Kazmir to rack up a huge strikeout game and prove himself to be the legitimate star his potential indicates he can be. He should have some runs to work with and everything is working in his favor to portray that image; if he doesn't, the Rays could be in trouble.
- Aaron Harang goes on the disabled list with a strained forearm:
- Pirates 12-Cardinals 11:
Historically, Ryan Franklin was never as good a pitcher as he's been this year, especially since taking over as the closer; he was due to hit a slump eventually. Jason Isringhausen looks mentally fried and the other pitchers out there couldn't get the job done either. (Although in all fairness, the game should have been over in the ninth inning when Kyle McClellan got Jason Bay to hit a sure double play ball to Cesar Izturis----then stumbled as he was running out of the box----and Aaron Miles was unable to get the ball out of his glove to get the out at first and the tying run scored.) Then the Cardinals get a game-saving homer from a resurgent Troy Glaus and Chris Perez comes in and blows it all over again by allowing a game-ending homer to Jason Michaels. This was a bad loss.
The Cardinals were one of the positive stories of the first half of the season, but La Russa's brilliance has a limit when the talent's not there. Since the team was intent on having both Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder be their mid-season "acquisitions" as they returned from injury and that's not going to happen, they're going to have to find outside help, but if they're not willing to spend any money then they're not going to get anyone of consequence. Those available third-tier pitchers----Paul Byrd, Randy Wolf, Miguel Batista----aren't the answer even with La Russa and Duncan's ability to maximize talent.
The NL Central is slipping away and they're probably not going to be able to secure the Wild Card either with the Brewers, Phillies and Mets all likely to be vying for it in one way or another. The fast start by the Cardinals did an effective job of covering up the rift in philosophies between the factions, but that chasm is widening and a patch job isn't going to hold things together long enough to make a difference.