Win number 298 is in the bag. Roger Clemens outpitched Barry Zito today to bring his record to 5-2 and climb to within two wins of the magic 300 total. Clemens seems to be on a mission this year and though he has hinted that this year may be his last (or maybe because he has hinted that it's his last), he hasn't pitched one poor outing and very easily could be 7-0 and have the 300 already. His ERA is 2.35 in his eight starts. The American League is only hitting .225 against him. He has 50 strikeouts in 53.2 innings and has only given up 45 hits in those same innings. Not bad for a guy who is going to turn 41 soon. Watching him stretch out for this milestone has been most exciting.
A couple of other observations: Jorge Posada has stepped up his game. His defense is much better and his hitting has been very timely. With 29 RBI already this season, he is among the leaders. The one concern with Posada is that he always seems to have good numbers at the AllStar game and then seems to fade in the second half.
Oakland seems to have Soriano's number as he is 0 for the season against them now after five games. They bust him inside and since they have the heat and talent in their arms to pull that off, it is working. Other teams have tried that but he is too quick and a 90 MPH fastball is not going to get by him.
Besides Chavez, Tejada and the pitching staff, I'm not real impressed with the Athletics as a team. They win on good fundamental baseball and good pitching but they certainly don't have the best talent in the league. I would take Seattle's talent over Oakland's anyday.
Sammy Sosa is out 15 days because they removed the toenail on his foot. I've been there and a sore foot isn't fun. This will be a big test for the Cubs who are in a battle with the Cardinals and Astros in that division and will be all year. The Cubbies beat the Cardinals in extra innings today without Sammy. But Sammy is one of the most miraculous RBI man that has played the game in the last 40 years. The man has AVERAGED 140 RBI a season for the last five years. 700 RBI in five seasons! Wow! And that is on a team that has had no one around him or in front of him. He just got it done somehow. It will be tough for the Cubs not to slip a few games back without Sammy.
Okay, Okay. The Braves are going to be much better than I had predicted (or hoped) this year. I just hate those guys and I really didn't think their pitching would hold up. But they are getting great stuff from their makeshift staff and have had a great surge. A lot of that surge has to do with the hitting of the two Joneses...which I have to say through gnashed teeth as I hate Chipper Jones more than any other ballplayer.
I think the Yankees should keep Sterling Hitchcock this season. So far this season, Hitchcock has been well...sterling. He can keep the other team off balance for a few innings, that's for sure.
Mark on your Yankee calendar, Friday, June 13th as Interleague play will be in effect by then and Tino Martinez returns home to NY for a three game set. Tino had some great moments as a Yankee and was a truly class act. I hope the Yankee fans give him a superb welcome.