Mid-August Baseball isn't known for it's amazing, earth-shattering happenings. The tight division races won't be decided until the September playoff push. The multitude of individual awards won't get sorted out until then either. Yet there are some intriguing stories to watch this weekend in baseball.
Dan Uggla probably isn't the first guy anyone ever thought of when "long hitting streak" was mentioned. He is now. Uggla is at 31 games and counting. That's not in DiMaggio range but it's entering the range of "quite impressive." Can Uggla keep it going? If he gets through this weekend he'd wake up Monday at 34 games. The 10th longest hitting streak in MLB history is 36 by Gene DeMontreville which spanned the 1896-1897 seasons. He could tie that Tuesday at home against the Giants but he'll need to keep the streak going against the Cubs this weekend first.
"Mr Popular" in Oakland, CJ Wilson
“I hate pitching there,” The mound sucks, the fans suck. There’s no fans there.”
- CJ Wilson to ESPNDallas.com earlier in the week about pitching in Oakland.
Wilson who is the Texas Rangers' best starting pitcher and a free-agent after this season clearly does NOT have his eyes set on Oakland as a potential free-agent destination. After that quote Oakland is unlikely to expend much energy pursuing him either.
While the Oakland A's aren't known for their offensive prowess, when Wilson takes the mound in Oakland tonight it's a safe bet that both the players and fans will be a little more focused on producing some runs. Wilson is winless in Oakland and would love to change that. The A's will do their best to send him to the showers as quickly as possible.
Yankee's Ace C.C. Sabathia
In spite of the fact that everyone knows that the total number of wins a pitcher accrues over the course of a season is not an accurate representation of how great a pitcher he is, the stat still seems to hold weight when it comes to those votes for the Cy Young Award.
Justin Verlander leads all of baseball with 17 wins. Sabathia will take the mound in the Bronx tonight trying to match that total. The big lefty doesn't have the eye-popping numbers that Verlander has this season and he also lacks the notoriety of throwing a no-hitter.
Sabathia does have a sub 3.00 era ( 2.81) and he's fifth in the AL in strikeouts at 168. Perhaps Sabathia is a long shot to catch Verlander or others in the Cy Young race but if he going to do it, keeping up with the major league leader in wins will be key.
Tim Wakefield throwing his knuckleball.
There really aren't too many guys like Tim Wakefield left in baseball. In fact there aren't any. Tim Wakefield is 45 years old and throws a knuckleball. That's really all you need to know about him as far as scouting goes. Sure he'll mix in an occasional "fastball" which isn't really fast, it's just a lot faster than the unpredictable floating knuckleball that he normally unleashes.
Wakefield, who was originally a third baseman in the Pirates system, converted to a knuckleball throwing pitcher when scouts told him he had no shot as a position player at the big league level. He's been a knuckleballer since the 1989 season at the Pirates single-A affiliate Salem Buccaneers. He made the big leagues with the Pirates in 1992. Following the 1994 strike he joined the Red Sox in 1995 and has been a constant presence ever since.
At times maddening, at times dominating, and always available to fill in whatever need the five different managers he's played under have needed, Wakefield keeps chugging along and if he wins on Sunday in Seattle, he'll have chugged his way to 200 wins. It's not 300 but 200 is still more than Dwight Gooden, David Cone or Dennis Eckersley.
Justin Morneau looks to get back in the swing of things
On July 7th 2010 Justin Morneau was in the midst of making a run at his second American League MVP award. That was until he sustained a concussion in a collision at second base. Since then his career has been a test of medical science and Morneau's patience. At first he was expected to miss a little time, then it became more as the post-concussion symptoms didn't subside. He missed the rest of the regular season, then he missed the playoffs.
Morneau didn't return to the Twins until opening day this season. He logged 55 games producing at an uncharacteristically low level before landing on the disabled list once again. First it was a wrist injury and then a neck injury that required disk surgery.
Morneau is back on the field once again tonight for Minnesota. He hasn't played since June 9th and he really hasn't been the Morneau that won the 2006 American League MVP since that concussion back in July. The Twins are 10 games out of first place and probably aren't headed for the postseason this year, but if Morneau can return to his old form that would be a huge boost for a team that will have its eyes on October next season.