On The Mark by Mark Mayer | For teams like the New York Mets and Cleveland Indians, aces have as much value as drawing one when holding 11 on a double-down in blackjack.
Fortunately for both pennant contenders, the house has busted when Mike Pelfrey and Cliff Lee took the hill.
The mega-millionaire Johan Santana does have 28 strikeouts, but his 2-2 record is not what Mets management was hoping for in the offseason’s biggest free agent signing. Meanwhile the Mets are 2-1 with Pelfrey, outscoring the opposition 17-7.
It’s more like CC Sabatical than Sabathia in Cleveland, where the ace has these horrific stats – 27 earned runs in 18 innings. In steps Cliff Lee to save the day. The lefty leads the majors with a 0.40 ERA as the Tribe has won all three of his starts.
Around the majors, not all the hyped pitchers are failing. Daisuke Matsuzaka has pitched Boston to five straight victories. That makes up for the Red Sox going 1-3 when Clay Buchholz starts.
In Atlanta, John Smoltz has done his best to bail out good buddy and now DL-member Tom Glavine with a stellar 0.56 ERA that included a win over Santana.
And in San Diego and Arizona, you would be hard pressed to find two finer pitchers than Jake Peavy and Brandon Webb. Add Zona’s Micah Owings to the mix and the two NL West rivals are a combined 10-1 when they pitch. And the lone loss was the 22-inning game San Diego had with Colorado in which Peavy left a shutout game in the eighth.
As for hitters, let’s give it up for the little guy. Chone Figgins is batting .375 for the Anaheim Angels and a big reason why the Halos lead the AL West. Across town shortstop Rafael Furcal of the Los Angeles Dodgers was batting .409 through last Friday’s games.
We would be remiss if not mentioning that Colorado-San Diego marathon that lasted past 2 a.m. our time.
This could turn into an epiphany for the Rockies, who won the game 2-1 and have scored 10 runs or higher in four of their last 10.
Looking ahead: Everyone wants to play the Nationals, who are 2-14 after starting 3-0. After finishing a two-game series Tuesday in Atlanta, the Mets and Cubs visit D.C. At least the stadium looks good. And, it looks like Peavy and Webb could hook up Sunday in Phoenix. If so, expect another 6½ run line. A 6 would be chutzpah.
Key series: The Angels head to Boston and Detroit this week, while the Yankees visit Chicago and Cleveland. For sure, Dice-K and Mr. Lee will be in action. And, keep an eye on Javier Vazquez of the White Sox. Chicago is 3-1 with Vazquez, who is among the major league leaders in strikeouts with 27.
On a roll
Miguel Cabrera: The key offseason pickup for Detroit is finally paying some dividends. Cabrera went 11-for-24 with two homers and 10 RBI in a recent streak.
Conor Jackson: The Arizona 1B is on a 9-for-21 streak with 3 HR and 10 RBI.
FYI: The Atlanta Braves are a brutal 0-7 in one-run decisions. Through 18 games, all nine wins were by at least 2, and five by more than 5. It’s crying out for run line. And, San Diego has scored two runs or less in 11 of its 19 games.