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Scott Pianowski

Opening Time: Shaun Marcum's comeback story

Scott Pianowski
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I'd like to publicly thank Shaun Marcum(notes) for deciding not to no-hit the Athletics on Monday night. No-hitters have become annoyingly routine in 2010, but I'm more than happy to discuss another one-hit wonder.

Conor Jackson's(notes) seventh-inning homer was the only blemish on Marcum's record here; he needed just 103 pitches to turn the Athletics aside (1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K). And he didn't have a huge margin of error to work with, as the Jays managed just three runs off Brett Anderson(notes) on the other side (Jose Bautista(notes) hit his obligatory homer, No. 37; the regression police must be going crazy).

Marcum's tidy season (11 wins, 3.69 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) reminds us that it's possible to break the rules with respect to mixed-league pitching. It's difficult but not impossible to earn a positive value pitching in the AL East, even if you don't work for the Yankees, Rays or Red Sox. Tommy John surgery is no longer a death sentence for several years; Marcum had the procedure late in 2008 and he's already back to full throttle. And you don't have to be a speed merchant to get batters out in this game; Marcum's 2010 success has come despite an average fastball around 87 mph. I've been late to the party on Marcum all year, but I'm doffing my cap now.

It's comical that Tommy Hanson(notes) doesn't have a victory over his last eight starts; he's allowed just 11 runs over that span, including four in his last five turns. At least the Braves rallied for a victory on Monday, knocking around Hong-Chih Kuo(notes) and Octavio Dotel(notes) en route to a three-run game-ending rally in the ninth. Brooks Conrad(notes) reached base three times for Atlanta and also stole a base, but he will likely be back on the bench soon, given that Martin Prado(notes) is nearing a return and the Braves are also interested in making a waiver deal for an infielder.

Tom Gorzelanny's(notes) Monday turn was a little better than the numbers would suggest 6.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 2 K) but it still goes down as another loss, and he's now got a 5.17 ERA and 1.57 WHIP over six second-half turns. Kevin Correia(notes) got the victory on the other side, his fifth win in his last six starts. He's a six-inning man all the way but that doesn't mean there isn't spot-start value there; I'll sign off on Correia as a viable deep-league option this weekend against Milwaukee.

Is there time for James McDonald(notes) to get into the circle of trust? He's been sharp in two of three starts for Pittsburgh and the overall numbers tell a story: 17.2 IP, 14 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 20 K. He's still just 25, and you never know when the lightbulb will come on for some young pitchers. I'm not afraid to dial him up Saturday against the Mets. Pedro Alvarez(notes) sparked the Bucs offense Monday, collecting two hits and three RBIs. He's been a solid corner option in the second half (.885 OPS, seven homers, 24 RBIs over 29 games).

Don't look back, Alfredo Simon(notes), something might be gaining on you. The struggling Baltimore reliever has allowed a homer in four straight appearances; Adam Moore(notes) took him over the fence Monday. It's a bad time to be slumping because other men are taking off for the O's – Koji Uehara(notes) struck out four of six batters Monday and Michael Gonzalez(notes) fanned both of the men he faced. A closer shakeup in this bullpen seems inevitable.

Alas, the Orioles still won the opener of the Seattle series despite Simon's gopheritis; the plucky Sons of Showalter tied the score with a run off David Aardsma(notes) in the tenth, then pushed across another run in the 11th. Baltimore is at home all week, so be sure to have Luke Scott(notes) deployed for the next six days.

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At times it looked like the Tigers and Yankees both wanted to give Monday's game away. Detroit assembled 14 baserunners over nine innings but scored just three times; New York starter Javy Vazquez needed relief after four innings because of a crazy pitch count (106 in all; foul balls were a repeated problem). Jim Leyland eventually called on Jose Valverde(notes) to record the final four outs and that was a circus act; Valverde, perhaps not 100 percent yet, walked four of the eight men he faced and needed 38 pitches in all. But a Derek Jeter(notes) GIDP wrote a finish in the bottom of the ninth – the second time Jeter did that Monday – and somehow Detroit had their victory. Let's hear it for Max Scherzer(notes), who's allowed just seven runs over his last six starts.

Matt Lindstrom(notes) finally got back to it on Monday but he didn't have much against the Mets, allowing three hits and two runs over a messy third of an inning. Brandon Lyon(notes) looked crisp in the eighth (two strikeouts, perfect frame) and might be needed to take the ninth back at some point.

New York's rally allowed Jerry Manuel to unveil his freshly-minted closer-by-committee in the bottom of the ninth, and Hisanori Takahashi(notes) came through with a rocking-chair save (perfect inning, one strikeout). Takahashi wasn't exactly facing Biggio, Bagwell and Berkman in their prime here – he retired Jason Bourgeois(notes), Geoff Blum(notes) and Angel Sanchez(notes) – but hey, a handshake is a handshake.

Injury Blog: Dustin Pedroia(notes) (foot) is off the DL and is expected to play Tuesday night. … So much for the Carlos Delgado(notes) experiment; he's got a bad back and won't play the rest of the year. … Even though his hamstring isn't torn, Nelson Cruz(notes) nonetheless went on the DL for the third time on Monday. The Rangers also have to worry about Michael Young(notes), who left Monday's game due to a stiff neck. … Ian Kinsler(notes) (groin) took some ground balls Monday; he's aiming for a Sept. 1 return. … Derrek Lee(notes) (back) didn't play Monday and is expected to miss more games this week. … Carlos Guillen(notes) bruised his knee at the end of Monday's win over the Yankees. Par for the course; at this stage of Guillen's career, he could get hurt answering the phone. … Manny Ramirez(notes) (calf) should be able to start a rehab assignment this week.

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