Can the Brewers and Cubs rally from losing their NLDS openers?
Matchup: Brewers (90-72) at Phillies (92-70), 6:05 p.m. ET, TBS Probable Starters: CC Sabathia (253 IP, 3.02 RA, 1.12 WHIP, 251 K) vs. Brett Myers (190, 4.88, 1.38, 163) Pythagorean Record: Milwaukee, 87-75 (750 RS, 689 RA); Philadelphia, 93-69 (799 RS, 680 RA) Final Hit List Rankings: Milwaukee, #9; Philadelphia, #5 Series Favorite: Phillies, 65.4% Prospectus: Sabathia will make his fourth consecutive start on three days of rest tonight. Before the 6'7" left-hander's late-September heroics, no pitcher had thrown three straight regular-season starts on short rest since Esteban Loaiza and Danny Graves did so back in 2003. Since 1990, there have been only five pitchers to go on three days' rest four times in a row during the regular season-Dave Stewart in 1991, Randy Johnson, Chris Bosio, and Salomon Torres (now Milwaukee's closer) in 1995, and Graves in '03-so there is not much recent precedent at all for what Sabathia has been asked to do. At some point, all the extra work might wear him down, but there's been no indication that has been the case, for thus far the big man has thrived while carrying his teammates. Sabathia's last two outings have been overpowering: he beat Pittsburgh with a one-run, seven-inning performance with 11 Ks on September 24, and then held the Cubs to an unearned run in a complete-game two-hit effort to clinch the wild-card spot for Milwaukee on Sunday. Sabathia threw 122 pitches in that game, his major league-leading fifth Category 4 start of the season, and pushed his yearly innings total to 253, more than any pitcher has thrown since Livan Hernandez tossed 255 in 2004. There will be a great deal of pressure on Sabathia tonight, not just because he is the ace and expected to pitch the Brewers out of a 1-0 hole in the short series, but also because of how he performed in October last year, when his ERA was right around 9.00 in three playoff starts for Cleveland.
The clash of the Twins and White Sox determines who should stay and who should go now.
Matchup: Twins (88-74) at White Sox (88-74), 6:35 p.m. CT, TBS Probable Starters: Nick Blackburn (187 IP, 4.86 RA, 1.37 WHIP, 93 K) vs. John Danks (187, 3.56, 1.25, 155) Pythagorean Record: Minnesota, 89-73 (829 RS, 744 RA); Chicago, 89-73 (810 RS, 729 RA) Hit List Rankings: Minnesota, #12; Chicago, #7 Prospectus: Thanks to Alexei Ramirez's major league rookie-record fourth grand slam of the season yesterday, the White Sox and Twins will play a 163rd regular-season game tonight at the Cell to determine the AL Central champion. For the fourth straight game, the Sox will be starting a pitcher on three days' rest. It didn't work out with Javier Vazquez on Saturday, but Mark Buehrle and Gavin Floyd both turned in excellent outings to keep Chicago in the hunt. Danks has never before pitched on short rest in his two major league seasons, but he did throw only 80 pitches his last time out, when he was shelled by the Indians for seven runs in four innings on Friday night. The worst start of the season for Danks came against Minnesota back on April 9 (he allowed seven runs in less than three innings), and for the season he has given up 18 runs in 19 1/3 innings to the Twins across four starts. Blackburn has faced the White Sox five times already, most recently just last Wednesday, when he earned the victory in a game Minnesota won 3-2. That start came after he had allowed six runs in back-to-back outings, a rough patch which may be related to the fact that Blackburn is in uncharted territory in terms of innings,; the 160 1/3 he threw last season was his previous career high.
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For the White Sox it's do or die versus a Tigers team trying to avoid finishing last.
Matchup: Tigers (74-87) at White Sox (87-74), 1:05 p.m. CT, WGN Probable Starters: Freddy Garcia (58 IP, 6.05 RA, 1.60 WHIP, 50 K-2007) vs. Gavin Floyd (200 1/3, 4.72, 1.26, 137) Pythagorean Record: Detroit, 78-83 (819 RS, 849 RA); Chicago, 88-73 (802 RS, 727 RA) Hit
List Rankings: Detroit, #17; Chicago, #7 Prospectus: Mark Buehrle helped keep the Sox alive yesterday, beating the Indians 5-1 to snap the team's five-game losing streak, and this afternoon Chicago will host Detroit in a makeup game from a rainout earlier this month to finish up their regular season. Because Minnesota also won its game on Sunday, a victory today would send the Pale Hose to a one-game playoff at U.S. Cellular against the Twins on Tuesday for the AL Central; a loss and Chicago's playoff odds will have fallen from 87.8 percent on September 20 down to zero. Ozzie Guillen is giving the ball to Floyd on three days' rest; he was knocked around by Minnesota for four runs in 5 2/3 innings last Thursday, a game in which he threw 101 pitches. This will be the second time in three starts that Floyd goes on short rest-he also received just three days off in between beating the Yankees on September 16 and giving up five runs over 6 1/3 innings in a loss to Kansas City on September 20. (He is 0-1 with a 7.56 RA in three career starts on short rest.) Floyd no-hit the Tigers for 7 1/3 innings way back on April 12. Both of his first two starts of the season resulted in wins against Detroit, but in two starts versus the Tigers since then he has allowed nine runs in 10 innings.