The buzz was missing last weekend when the Giants hosted their cross-bay rival, the A's, and not just because Barry Bonds remains out indefinitely. The teams entered the series a combined 10 games under .500 with 11 players on the DL. Oakland's anemic offense ranked last in the majors in home runs and slugging, and San Francisco's wasn't much better. Not since 1996 have the Giants and the A's finished with losing records in the same season, but it's a possibility this year as long as Bonds's health is in doubt and Eric Chavez (above) doesn't provide Oakland with some power. Though the A's were off to their third-worst start in Oakland history, G.M. Billy Beane scoffed at suggestions that manager Ken Macha's job was in jeopardy. "With all the injuries we've had," Beane says, "he shouldn't be on the hot seat. He should be bronzed."
White Sox righthander Jon Garland was unbeatable through eight starts. "He's having a Kent Bottenfield kind of year," says one AL scout, referring to the former Cardinals righthander who won 18 games in 1999 but never more than eight in any other season. "Everything he throws is on the black [part of the plate]." But the Royals' Zack Greinke (right) was almost as good--with nothing to show for it. Before he lost to St. Louis last Friday, Greinke's first eight starts looked a lot like Garland's with two glaring exceptions: won-lost record and run support (R/G--runs per game--below).
ROCKET TAKING OFF?
The Astros' offense has been so bad, rumors are percolating that righthander Roger Clemens (3-2, 14 runs of support in nine starts) will be moved to the Yankees, despite a vow by Houston owner Drayton McLane to keep him. Figuring in the reassignment bonus in his contract and the extra luxury tax if he were added to the payroll, Clemens (left) would cost the Yankees about $1 million per start: $15.6 million for half a season or $11.4 million after the July 31 trade deadline.
1. Is there a pitcher any less intimidating than Kirk Rueter? The Giants' soft-tossing lefty had nine strikeouts in nine starts.
2. Early returns on two of the three players Kansas City received in last June's trade that sent Carlos Beltran to Houston were underwhelming. The Royals were 7-25 when John Buck started at catcher, and third baseman Mark Teahen had one homer in 73 at bats.
3. The Reds' pitchers have been so atrocious, the club was carrying 13 of them last week. That's especially embarrassing in the National League, in which bench players more often figure in games.
BRAD MANGIN (CHAVEZ)
BARRY TAYLOR/WIREIMAGE.COM (GREINKE)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (CLEMENS)