As Steve wrote earlier today, if you’re an England fan then it’s times like these when you are all the more grateful than usual that you’ve got another great sport to take your mind off things. And frankly, even non-England fans would probably sooner watch the baseball; the World Cup has been depressingly mediocre so far in all but a few exceptions.
Never mind that, we’ve got an excellent selection of games this evening. All times are in BST.
18.05. NY Mets at NY Yankees (Mike Pelfrey – Phil Hughes)
We start with the Subway Series and a New York Mets team that has now won eight in a row after Hisanori Takahashi and the bullpen shut-out the Yankees’ batting lineup last night in a 4-0 win. Pelfrey has been the Mets’ best starter this season, while Phil Hughes has really settled into his role as a starter after being so impressive as Mo Rivera’s set-up man last season.
18.05. LA Angels at Chicago Cubs (Jeff Weaver – Ted Lilly)
If you were watching the first game of this series yesterday evening, not only would you have missed England’s non-performance, you would have also seen the Cubs go deep three times, commit three errors and fall one short of a dramatic comeback when they scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth in a 7-6 loss. Slightly more action than England-Algeria then, although the same would have been true if you had been watching paint dry. Ted Lilly’s 2-5 record obscures the quality of his pitching since making his season debut on 24 April and he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning of his previous start, while Weaver has assumed John Lackey’s role as the Angels’ ace this year.
18.07. San Francisco at Toronto (Matt Cain – Jesse Litsch)
The Blue Jays got the better of Barry Zito and the Giants last night, edging a close game 3-2. Litsch made his first start in a year on Sunday after undergoing Tommy John surgery and he lasted only 2.1 innings, giving up seven runs in the process. Matt Cain has been outstanding for San Francisco this season so Toronto will have a tough battle on their hands.
21.10. LA Dodgers at Boston (Vicente Padilla – Tim Wakefield)
There’s a circus in Beantown and the man portrayed as the leader of the clowns is former Red Sox hero Manny Ramirez. He got a mixed reception from the Fenway faithful that included Roger Clemens, just to add to the strange occasion. Away from the soap opera, the Red Sox won the game 10-6. Padilla is expected to come off the DL to make the start today against knuckleballer Wakefield.
21.10. Chicago White Sox at Washington (Jake Peavy – J.D. Martin)
Something tells me that the commentators will spend more time speaking about yesterday’s game, involving a certain rookie starter for the Nationals, than the one going on in front of them. Stephen Strasburg struck out ten over seven innings, but the White Sox rode him out and then won the game 2-1 in the eleventh inning. J.D. Martin will be a very different proposition for the White Sox hitters, while Jake Peavy’s shoulder woes shouldn’t stop him from making the start today.
21.10. Minnesota at Philadelphia (Kevin Slowey – Cole Hamels)
The Phillies pounded Nick Blackburn yesterday in a 9-5 win that made it three much-needed victories in a row for the stuttering NL East side. As for the scheduled starters: Cole Hamels got a win last time out, holding the Red Sox to five hits and one run over seven innings, while Kevin Slowey lasted just 4.2 innings in a loss to the Braves in his most recent outing. So everything looks to be in the Phillies’ favour today, but the Twins are a quality team and are more than capable of bouncing straight back.
All the above games can be followed via various resources on MLB.com (Gameday, At Bat with Gameday Audio and MLB.tv). ESPN America is concentrating on college baseball today. A complete schedule of MLB games can be found on MLB.com