– Interesting story out of St. Louis today. Apparently the Cardinals watched John Smoltz pitch in the bullpen on Thursday, recognized right away that he was tipping his pitches, got him to make a small change, and he went out in his debut and was almost unhittable. You have to wonder how St. Louis could see that so quickly but Boston never noticed. It’s not like Smoltz had the time to become a whole new pitcher in the time between the two cities, and he didn’t even have time to get healthy or anything. It reminds me of horse racing – you’ll often see a horse perform badly for one trainer, get moved to another trainer, and immediately win his next race. The new trainer just sees something that the old trainer was blind to, and it makes all the difference.
– I am honestly and truly flabbergasted by the Rockies. Last night they won a totally insane game against the Giants – it was 1-1 until the 14th, then the Giants took a 4-1, only to see their hopes crushed by a walk-off Ryan Spilborghs grand slam. The win was as huge as it was dramatic – it gives the Rockies a four game lead on the Giants in the wild card race. More significantly, it puts them just three game behind the Dodgers for the division lead, and the Dodgers start a three game series in Colorado tonight. I was absolutely convinced of two things when Jim Tracy was hired as a mid-season replacement – that he was a terrible choice, and that the Rockies were destined to be a joke down the stretch. Good calls on both fronts – the Rockies are heading to the playoffs, and Jim Tracy should be manager of the year. You win some and you lose some when you make predictions, I guess. I really lost this one. I’ll try to redeem myself with this prediction – the Rockies are going to win this series and close the gap even further.
– That wasn’t the only interesting thing to happen yesterday. Two former Cy Young winners who have become linked together this year had very different outings last night, and have had very different months. Cliff Lee was again brilliant, allowing no walks and no earned runs in seven innings as the Phillies beat the Mets and Lee moved to 5-0 with his new squad. The similarities between what Lee is doing now and what former Cleveland teammate CC Sabathia did last year are scary. Meanwhile, Roy Halladay had another terrible outing. He allowed seven runs in six innings, which is his worst start in more than two years. Halladay has looked unfocused and ineffective since the Jays flirted with trading him, and he is now 2-5 in the last seven starts.