Looking Ahead to Tonight: The Brewers' Hail Mary
You have to love the final few days of the regular season, when contending teams will go to extraordinary lengths to keep their seasons alive. How extraordinary? Well tonight, the Milwaukee Brewers, who would be dead meat right now if the Mets' bullpen was even halfway decent, are starting a pitcher, Yovani Gallardo, who hasn't pitched in nearly five months. He's so rusty, he hasn't even run the bases or taken batting practice since blowing out his knee on May 1 -- at which point he assumed he would not pitch again this season.
And if the Brewers manage to survive until Sunday, they will probably start a pitcher, C.C. Sabathia, who will be going on short rest for the third consecutive start. (Fair question: Would the Brewers be doing that with Sabathia if he were under contract to them for next season, as opposed to heading into free agency?)
But so it goes in the final days of September. The Brewers, who enter tonight's play tied with the Mets for the wild card, are 7-15 this month, with losing streaks of four, three, five and three. But they have won three straight heading into their series finale tonight against the Pirates, after which they return home to face the Cubs, whose primary motivations in those three final games will be lining up their postseason rotation and giving their starters a little extra rest.
In other meaningful games tonight:
*The Twins seek to complete a sweep over the AL Central-leading White Sox at the Metrodome, where they are 51-26 this season. When the series began, the White Sox held a 2 1/2-game lead; if the Twins win tonight, the White Sox will trail by a half-game. More bad news for the South Siders: the Twins remain at home this weekend to face the Kansas City Royals, while the White Sox return to Chicago to face the Indians, who have the best record in baseball (23-12) over the past five weeks.
Who would you rather be -- the White Sox with a half-game lead, or the Twins with a half-game deficit? (The difference in the number of games played reflects a White Sox/Tigers rainout earlier this year that will be made up Monday if the White Sox and Twins finish Sunday's place separated by a half-game.)
*The Mets/Cubs series finale in Queens features a Pedro Martinez/Rich Harden matchup -- if this storm that is about to pummel the east coast allows it to be played -- and one can only imagine what horrible ending the Mets' bullpen is cooking up for tonight.
Is this 2007 all over again, when the Mets' blew a 7-game lead with 17 left to play? The only saving grace is that, should they survive to see Sunday, they'll be sending a fully rested Johan Santana to the mound. The Mets obviously did not have Santana a year ago, and down the stretch that has been one huge difference between last year and this.
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