Who’s On Base?: Almost Perfect!

By John A. Poole
Updated: October 28, 2008

Carl Everett Mike Mussina
Carle Everett Mike Mussina

GLEN BURNIE, MARYLAND — During a season where there is a chance that 5+ players may have more than 50 home runs, it’s refreshing to know that big time pitchers can stand up when the game is on the line. On Sunday, we had a chance to witness maybe the best pitching performance of the 2001 baseball season by 1st year Yankee, Mike Mussina. At Fenway Park, Mussina pitched a perfect game for 8 2/3 innings until Carl Everett, who was pinch hitting, played the spoiler for the rival Yankees.

The series between the two teams carried playoff implications but is also one of the biggest rivals in baseball today. This game marks the second time when the two teams came together and had one of the best pitching duels of the season. Before it was Clemens and Pedro who dueled to one of the greatest games of all time. On Sunday it was Mussina who beat David Cone in a 1-0 NY victory but the story was Mussina’s near perfect game.

“Yeah, I was disappointed,” Mussina said after the game. “I’m still disappointed. That’s the second time I’ve been to the ninth and I didn’t get it either time. So it’s probably not meant to be.”

On the same night that Carl Everett was breaking up the perfect game of Mike Mussina, the Padres were beating the best pitcher in the NL, Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson. In 7 1/3 innings Johnson had 14 strikeouts and 0 runs. The Padres broke up the Big Unit’s attempt at 19 wins and will give Curt Schilling the opportunity to become the leagues the first 19 game winner.

On the following night, St Louis Cardinals pitcher, Bud Smith, became only the 16th rookie in baseball history to pitch a no hitter. He missed a perfect game by 4 batters, all in which he walked, but was able to keep his composure and win his 4th game of the season in dramatic fashion.

Monday was the longest Smith has ever pitched in the big leagues and with over 120 pitches in the 9th inning, his body was just going through the motions. “I was shaking out there knowing that I was going for a no-hitter. I was going on adrenaline,” Smith said after the game. Smith’s no-hitter was the first one since Jose Jimenez did it in 1999.

The playoff race in the NL has heated up and there is no telling right now who will be in the playoffs at the end of the month. There are 4-5 teams that realistically have a shot at the last playoff spot as there is only a difference of 5-games between the current front-runner, Chicago Cubs, and the Philadelphia Phillies who are just 5-games out of the wild card race.

But does anyone know who is actually on the Phillies? Has anyone heard the name Omar Daal or Robert Person? Well, both pitchers have been very essential in the Phillies run at the NL East title. Daal has a 12-5 record while Person is sporting a 13-6 record, while the Phils sit just 2 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL east.

In his 9th year, in the league, Daal has a 4.36 ERA and has compiled a 52-56 record in 329 games. Daal’s best year came in 1999 when he went 16-9 with a 3.65 ERA with the Arizona Diamondbacks. After last year’s disappointing season of 2-9 Daal has rebounded in great fashion to help the Phillies to a 72-65 record.

Person on the other hand is in his 7th season and has a career 45-36 record with a 4.54 ERA over that period. Person’s best year also came in 1999 with a 10-5 record as a starter for the Phillies.

Both pitchers will need to continue their consistent pitching if the Phils have any chance of catching the Braves who still have the best pitching staff in the league next to the NY Yankees. Person and Daal are the only two pitchers on the team who have 10 or more wins with the closest person being Randy Wolfe with 6 wins respectively.

The NL Wildcard is being lead by the Chicago Cubs and the hottest player in baseball, Sammy Sosa. Sammy ended the month of August batting above .400 and 17 home runs. Sammy has raised his season average to .318 with 53 home runs, 137 RBI’s, 30 doubles and 5 triples. Sammy is still 5 home runs behind Barry Bonds, but there is a good chance, Sammy could be the first person in Baseball history to hit 60+ home runs 3 times in their career. Babe who? Roger who? Mark who? The name of “The Man” is Sammy Sosa. Let’s give the man the respect he deserves.

Edited by Pam Gare