This Day In Baseball: 29 June, 2005

Wednesday, June 29 2005 @ 12:05 PM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

We come from the land of the ice and snow
The midnight sun, where the hot springs flow
Hammer of the gods

Here's today's schedule:

Toronto (Towers 5-7, 4.67) at Tampa Bay (Hendrickson 3-4, 5.72) 12:15
Cleveland (Elarton 4-2, 4.76) at Boston (Wakefield 6-6, 4.05) 1:05
Kansas City (Carrasco 2-3, 3.49) at Minnesota (Radke 5-7, 4.08) 1:10
New York (Mussina 8-5, 3.95) at Baltimore (Penn 2-1, 6.07) 7:05
Chicago (McCarthy 0-1, 8.40) at Detroit (Jackson 5-6, 3.35) 7:05
Los Angeles (Lackey 6-2, 3.50) at Texas (Rodriguez 2-1, 4.76) 8:05
Seattle (Franklin 3-9, 4.63) at Oakland (Saarloos 4-4, 3.82) 10:05

Milwaukee (Sheets 3-6, 3.68) at Chicago (Wood 1-1, 6.15) 2:20
Houston (Oswalt 9-7, 2.70) at Colorado (Kim 2-6, 6.27) 3:05
San Diego (May 1-2, 5.40) at Los Angeles (Weaver 6-7, 4.75) 3:10
Pittsburgh (Williams 6-5, 3.77) at Washington (Patterson 3-2, 3.14) 7:05
Atlanta (Davies 3-2, 4.75) at Florida (Leiter 3-6, 6.33) 7:05
Philadelphia (Lidle 6-6, 4.12) at New York (Ishii 2-6, 5.25) 7:10
Cincinnati (Ortiz 3-5, 6.22) at St.Louis (Morris 8-1, 3.38) 8:10
San Francisco (Rueter 2-7, 5.21) at Arizona (Webb 8-3, 3.20) 10:10

A lot of rubber matches are being played today, and the Jays and Tampa get it all started. Some stuff to watch for:

The two hottest teams in the majors play in the AL West: the Angels have won eight in a row, and look like the class of the division. But Oakland has very definitely gotten their act together as well - they've won five straight and 19 of 27. They're not even at .500 yet, but they could be by the All Star Break, and they're 6.5 out of the Wild Card.

In Detroit, White Sox rookie Brandon McCarthy fills in for Orlando Hernandez (on the DL - shock, surprise). McCarthy's made three starts in his young career, but he's still looking for his first win.

Boston went to Cleveland last week and kicked a few heads, sweeping the Indians as part of a 6-0 road trip. So they came to Fenway for the rematch, and the Indians took the first two games.

At Camden Yards, the Orioles finally stopped the bleeding last night, with a very satisfying come from behind win over the Yankees. If they beat the Yankees again tonight, it might be even more satisfying, seeing as how Mike Mussina is starting for the Bombers.

The Cubs just got Mark Prior back on the weekend, and today Kerry Wood makes his first start since April 30. The Cardinals have more or less run away and hid from the rest of the division, but give Dusty Baker and the Cubs some credit: without Prior, Wood, and Garciaparra they've managed to stay in touch with the other Wild Card contenders. Prior looked like.. well, he looked like Prior on his return. So let's see what Wood has. Ben Sheets goes for the Brewers.

The NL East has been wild and topsy-turvy all season, but Washington and Atlanta seem to be separating themselves from the pack. The Nats still have the best home record in the majors, and they're hosting the Pirates tonight. The Pirates crawled all the way up to .500 earlier this month - that's an achievement for them - but since those heady days, they've lost 11 of 15.

Meanwhile, Atlanta... Atlanta. Here is my Question of the Day. Basically, can anyone explain this? How do they do it? Mike Green suggests that a lot of their magic is actually the product of superior defense, especially up the middle. Anyone else have any ideas? You know, besides "John Schuerholz has made a pact with Satan?"