Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Stretch Run Coming Up, Exciting Month Ahead

There is no more exciting time in sports than the stretch drive in baseball. It’s the time of year that the tension built up over the grind of the six month season is at its highest.

A fan lives or dies with his or her favorite team on a daily basis as the clubs head for the finish line.

A world series berth seemingly hanging in the balance every game.

With that in mind let’s take a look at which teams are in the hunt and what it will take to keep them there down the stretch.

Click below for more!The Angel pen is faltering at the worst time. Pitcher Kelvim Escobar’s projected September return might be enough to help out K Rod and Scott Shields for the final month, if Escobar is able to pitch in a set up role.

Somebody needs to hit behind Vlad or else the Angels top slugger won’t see a pitch to hit all month. Outfielder Steve Finley hasn’t come through all season, meanwhile Garret Anderson’s back is hurting again. Trading for a hitter is a necessity for the Angels’ offense.

The A’s need to continue to pitch like they have since they began their long road back to respectability in June. With the most balanced pitching staff in the league leading Ken Macha’s team, only a total collapse by the Oakland offense can sink the local nine.

The White Sox hope to finish on a winning note. Chicago’s starting pitching is getting shaky. Manager Ozzie Guillen’s line up still lacks a consistent left handed hitter. Doubts about how good the Sox really are have begun to surface throughout baseball.

Cleveland can hang with the big boys if Travis Hafner starts to hit home runs again. Young hard throwing reliever Fernando Cabrera might be the real deal. Cleveland needs him because Bob Wickman is having trouble closing games.

The Twins have last year’s Cy Young winner Johan Santana back on course. If Minnesota could find some hitting to complement an excellent pitching staff, they could make things very sticky in the wild card race.

The Yankees are dangerous. Their offense continues to hit the ball with the best in the game. However, unless the Bombers find some consistent middle relief and a couple of hot starting pitchers, Joe Torre will have a lot of explaining to do.

Boston needs to keep bludgeoning the opposition with its big bats. The Red Sox bull pen is still questionable. Will Keith Foulke come all the way back? Will Curt Schilling rejoin the rotation? Can’t see the champs missing the playoffs, but it won’t be an easy road to the series.

Toronto has a ton of games left with the Yanks and Red Sox. Barring a sudden return to active duty by injured pitchers Roy Halladay and Ted Lilly, the Blue Jays better start praying now.

In the NL Central, The Cardinals just have to stay healthy.

With Larry Walker, Reggie Sanders, and Scott Rolen all injured, St. Louis suddenly looks vulnerable at the plate. The Cards will open the playoffs with pitchers Mark Mulder, Chris Carpenter, and Matt Morris leading the way. Pitching rules in September. Tony La Russa’s team has plenty of it.

The NL Wild Card race is truly wild.

The Marlins big three, AJ Burnett, Dontrelle Willis, and Josh Beckett are a threat to throw a shut out every time they take the ball. If Carlos Delgado, Miguel Cabrera, and Paul Lo Duca hit the ball, the Fish will be fine. Veteran closer Todd Jones, quietly mowing down the opposition, will have to continue to trick the hitters down the stretch.

Houston needs to pick up its offense. The Astros can match the Marlins big three with Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and Roy Oswalt, but they need to score runs on a more consistent basis.

The Phillies are solid if they have the lead after six innings. Getting the ball to relievers Ryan Madson, Ugueth Urbina, and Billy Wagner is the challenge. Bobby Abreu needs to reclaim his home run stroke pronto. With more games on the road than at cozy Citizens Bank Park over the rest of the season, the Phils will have to hit the ball with more authority to make the playoffs.

The Mets are a long shot to win the wild card. You need pitching and defense to win at Shea, two areas of the game that challenge the Mets. Carlos Beltran still hasn’t approached last season’s playoff hot streak. A sizzling last month for Beltran could make things very interesting in New York.

The Nationals need help from the Federal government. Can Livan Hernandez, Jose Guillen, and Nick Johnson play well enough to carry the Nats to success over the last month? Probably not, but the fact we are still talking about this team is a story in itself.

Atlanta should win its 14th straight NL East title. Tim Hudson and John Smoltz will get the Braves to the playoffs without any problem.

San Diego needs to hit. The Pads bull pen is first rate. Jake Peavy and Adam Eaton, if healthy, can anchor the starting staff. A good closing month for hitters Ryan Klesko, Brian Giles, and Mark Loretta should be enough to ensure the division title.

The Giants, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks hope that the Padres go into a long losing streak. The three also rans in the West all have inconsistent pitching, offensive problems up and down their line ups, and bull pens that make their managers shudder. Not a good recipe for September success.

No matter how the game is analyzed one team will surprise everyone in September.

It happens every year.

I hope it’s yours.


1 Anonymous { 08.21.05 at 1:17 pm }

Was last night a start of the total collapse of the A’s offense? Really hard game to have attended. No life in the team. Poor Barry. He pitches well and loses on a bloop double. 0 for 13 with RISP. Hope they can turn it around soon.

2 marty { 08.21.05 at 7:27 pm }

You are right-a total collapse in the A’s offence will keep them from going to the post season. I’m not sure why Ellis is batting 9th except it gives you two lead off hitters except that Kendall hasn’t been doing a very good job at leading off. My impression from the outside which may be wrong is that Macha doesn’t want to do anything to upset Kendall. I look at him as being somewhat selfish. Since he can’t seem to throw anyone out at second and his batting average is lower than what it has been in the past why don’t they let Melhuse play just a little bit more? Crosby is no good in the 3rd spot-he tries to do too much. Maybe for the time being Payton should be there. Payton had one of the few bad at bats I’ve seen from him last night. I’d definitely DH Kielty instead of Hatteberg and see what he can do. Hatteberg has been a rally killer lately-maybe he’s still hurt. Sorry to be so negative-it’s just that I can see it all slipping away.

3 Anonymous { 08.21.05 at 8:20 pm }

When a team finishes at .500, it’s never by way of a win followed by a loss followed by a win, etc. It’s usually by way of long winning stretches paired with long losing ones. Same with teams who finish over and above .500. But for some reason, when the A’s get into a streak, good or bad; it takes awhile to break it. Until they develop more consistency and confidence, the A’s will continue to both amaze and frustrate its fragile fan base

4 Anonymous { 08.24.05 at 4:05 pm }

Marty have you not seen the A’s the last two weeks?
A total offensive collapse has already begun.
I agree with everything Susan had to say starting with Kendall. It seems as though Macha puts a ton of weight on not hurting his guys confidence.

He’s a hypocrite for that.

His motto is that he “plays the hot hand”.

To be more accurate, that motto should be changed to “I play the hot hand…unless your name is Kendall, Kotsay, Crosby, or Chavez…then I play you no matter what”.

When Chavez was in his awful slump earlier in the year, Macha just kept him hitting fourth. He got lucky that Crosby came back to help Chavez out in the lineup.

The reason behind Machas madness was to not hurt his star’s confidence and show his faith in him. Meanwhile the team keeps losing because we can’t get runs across.

Now its Kendall. The guy is ice cold. And just because his name is Jason Kendall he gets a free pass to catch and hit lead off every single day. Does that directly hurt the team? Yes. Our lead off hitter goes 0-5 every day.

Macha should be less concerned with someone’s feelings and more concerned with making the necessary lineup changes to help his team win ball games.

These are grown men…not five year olds. They can handle a small hit to their egos. No way Kendall should be leading off and catching everyday with his numbers…both offensive and defensive. Just because a guy has a history of good numbers doesn’t do a damn thing for your team right now. Give Melhuse a shot.

The team needs a lineup shake up right now or they’ll stay in this slump and continue to lose games.

I know putting Ellis at the top, Payton second, kotsay third, chavez four, Crosby five, Johnson six (or something like that) would re-energize the team and break them out of their slump.

A lineup shuffle woud quite possibly save the season.

But Macha just continues to let things go as they are…nowhere.

I hate the A’s sit and wait strategy. Macha, be proactive once in a while. Make something happen, don’t wait around.


5 Anonymous { 08.24.05 at 5:33 pm }

Ned, perhaps you should put some of the blame on Beane too since we all know that Beane is the real manager of the team.

6 Anonymous { 07.29.06 at 9:58 pm }

You must log in to post a comment.