It promises to be a fascinating week in MLB, with five of the division leaders facing their second-placed rivals. Cleveland are the exception, but they have to play the Twins who would make the AL Central a true three-way battle with a series sweep.
It’s no surprise that quite a few of the top match-ups are taking place during the evening in the States, meaning that British fans will have to forgo sleep if they want to watch them live. Still, there are some exciting day games to watch during the British evening and no doubt there will be some classics. Here’s my guide to what could be a week to remember, with all times listed in BST.
Monday – One early game to end your Bank Holiday weekend. Edwin Jackson (who has pitched well in recent weeks) will take on Jose Contreras (who hasn’t) in a match between the AL East and Central cellar dwellers (first pitch at 19.05). Later on, the Twins start their series in Cleveland with Carlos Silva taking the mound against Paul Byrd, while Brian Lawrence and J.D. Durbin start for the Mets and the Phillies respectively (both 00.05). John Lackey looks to play his role as the Angels’ ace as he faces Miguel Batista and the Mariners, while Jake Peavy looks to do the same for the Padres in their opener against Livan Hernandez and the D-Backs (both 03.05).
Tuesday – Another day on which the only early game involves two teams well and truly out of play-off contention. The Reds and the Pirates begin the first of a doubleheader at 22.05. A couple of hours later, the action really heats up. Just after midnight, Dice-K and Pettitte look to get their teams off to a great start in the latest round of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, the Mets and Phillies begin their series with Tom Glavine leading from the front (Adam Eaton may come off the DL to start for the Phills), and Boof Bonser will start for the Twins against Jake Westbrook and the Indians. At 01.05 Suppan and Hill will start in the battle for the NL Central between the Brewers and the Cubs. Two hours later, the Angels and the Mariners (Ervin Santana and Jeff Weaver), and the D-Backs and the Padres (Brandon Webb and Justin Germano) play game two of their respective series.
Wednesday – Four early games, one of which could be a classic. It’s game three of the Angels versus the Mariners at 21.35 with Jered Weaver facing Felix Hernandez. A little earlier, Brad Penny looks for win number 15 against the Nationals (20.10), Jeff Francis and Noah Lowry start for the Rockies and the Giants in an exciting young pitching match-up, and Roy Halladay starts for the Blue Jays against the A’s (both 20.35). The quality continues later on. The Braves face the Marlins at 00.05 looking to capitalise on the Mets and Phillies potentially beating each other up (Smoltz and Dontrelle Willis are the scheduled starters). It’s youth against experience in Philadelphia and San Diego as Oliver Perez faces Jamie Moyer (00.05) and Micah Owings faces Greg Maddux (03.05). Meanwhile the big guns are out in Cleveland and New York. It’s Johan Santana versus C.C. Sabathia and Josh Beckett against Roger Clemens, both at 00.05. The Red Sox-Yankees clash is scheduled to be live on Five and looks to be unmissable, except for Johnny Gould who has chosen a bad week to go on holiday!
Thursday – Before you’ve had time to recover from Wednesday’s Ace-fest, there are four early games to enjoy. Schilling faces Wang in the Boston-New York finale, while El Duque takes the mound against Kyle Lohse and the Phillies (both at 18.05). The Cardinals play against the Astros (19.05) and Jeremy Bonderman tries to get his season back on track against the Royals (19.10).
Friday – Two early games this evening. Matt Garza starts for the Twins against the Royals (19.10) and the Astros travel to Wrigley Field to face the Cubs (19.20).