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Scott Pianowski

Closing Time: The Colorado carnival

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Thin air, cheap thrills, pinball scoring - even with the humidor, there's still a lot of fun to be had in Colorado. Coors Field was in full effect Monday as the Dodgers and Rockies combined for 38 hits and 26 runs; heck, even the normally-unhittable Hong-Chih Kuo got knocked around a bit. Most of the usual suspects went for big numbers, so this box score will go down easy with your morning cereal.

There were too many hitting stars to start a roll call here, but one guy we have to spotlight is Troy Tulowitzki, who ripped five hits fresh off the disabled list (lacerated hand). He hit seventh in the lineup Monday; it will be interesting to see how long that lasts. Jeff Baker got the start at second base, but a double-switch got Clint Barmes into the game, too, and he picked up four at-bats.

Tuesday's game figures to be interesting as well, as the Dodgers are recalling hot-shot lefty Clayton Kershaw from Double-A and giving him the ball. For all of Kershaw's skills and clippings, I can't roll him out for this assignment, not in this joint. Colorado starter Ubaldo Jimenez has been quietly useful over his last eight turns (four wins, 2.50 ERA, .219 batting-average against), but after seeing Jaws show its teeth Monday, I'm not ready to go back in the water. Scout the young hurlers all you want, but I'll wait for a safer spot to dial them up.

A pair of high-profile closers went hit the skids Monday, as Jose Valverde (six runs, two homers) and Francisco Cordero (three runs, five baserunners) both suffered their sixth blown save of the year. Cordero's struggles of late are more concerning, but given the monster deal the Reds signed him to (four years, $46 million), it's doubtful a knee-jerk change will come about (plus, how much better could David Weathers really be?). It was a tricky night to be a stopper in the NL; Salomon Torres also blew a save (albeit he allowed just one run over two innings and eventually got a win), and Ryan Franklin struggled in the same game (three runs, two earned, working the top of the tenth).

Rich Harden was brilliant for seven innings Monday at Arizona, allowing just one hit (a solo homer to Alex Romero, of all people) and striking out ten. Alas, the Cubs couldn't solve Randy Johnson (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K) and wound up with a 2-0 loss. Chad Qualls got the last three outs for the Snakes, who needed to give embattled closer Brandon Lyon (three straight appearances) a day off. Even though Lyon blew up in Sunday's appearance (five runs), I don't expect Bob Melvin to make a change in the ninth anytime soon.

Maybe Kerry Wood can stay off the DL after all. He saw a hand specialist Monday and picked up some ointment for his blister, according to the Cubs official site, and Wood is hoping to throw on Wednesday. In the meantime, Carlos Marmol is ready for the ninth, as needed.

Chris Volstad's second start was steady enough Monday (6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K), but it was Atlanta's Jorge Campillo who stole the show (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K). "Nobody really had any good swings against him," Bobby Cox noted of Campillo, a 29-year-old journeyman who's stepped into a starting job nicely (3.31 ERA over 12 turns). Campillo nonetheless is the sort of guy you worry about as he circulates around the league a little bit - he still has just 110 innings on his major-league resume - but for the time-being, he's at least worthy of streamer consideration.

Jorge Posada hit the disabled list Monday and it's possible he might need season-ending surgery on his shoulder. Jose Molina steps in as the starter while Posada is away, and while Molina did have three knocks in Monday's victory, he doesn't have a fantasy resume you want any part of (.240/.277/.340).

Jon Lester was working with 12 days of rest entering Monday's start at Seattle, but nonetheless he didn't have any problems with the AL's worst offense, cruising to his eighth win of the year (7.1 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K). He'll get the Yankees in Fenway this weekend; he shut them out in New York earlier this month.

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Rickie Weeks knows he has to pick up his game with Ray Durham looking over his shoulder, and Monday night he did just that (2-for-5, homer, walk, three RBIs). Say this for Weeks - even with his anemic .219 average, he's done a nice job filling the other stat categories this year (62 runs, nine homers, 14 steals through 81 games).

Perhaps it's not too late for Bill Hall to save his fantasy season after all. His game-deciding homer Monday against St. Louis was his third hit of the game, and he also stole a base. He's at .381 with three long balls this month, while Russell Branyan's bat has cooled off (5-for-29, no homers); that explains why Hall go the call here even with the Cardinals starting a right-handed pitcher.

Don't look now but Adam Jones has hiked the average up to .282, and he offered a nifty 4-2-2-2 line Monday along with his sixth homer of the year. So long as he stays in the No. 2 slot between Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis, where he's been most of the time recently, I'm bullish.

Time to worry about Billy Wagner, or no big deal? Let's go to the latest from the Mets official site and you can flip your own coin:

After their closer's left shoulder was examined by a club-affiliated doctor on Monday, the Mets decided that Wagner should be re-examined Tuesday, and at that point, the need for additional examination via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will be determined. Wagner said the trapezius has bothered him for about two weeks. "I'm old [he turns 37 Friday]; I'm supposed to hurt," he said.

It was another hitless night for Carlos Gomez, who's now 10-for-65 this month without a steal. You have to wonder why Ron Gardenhire keeps leading off with the slumping rookie; plate discipline remains a foreign concept for Gomez (just 15 walks, to go with an embarrassing .281 OBP).

The Angels hadn't seen Masa Kobayashi since the second week of April, and it certainly showed Monday as the Cleveland closer had his way with the Halos (perfect inning, three strikeouts). Kobayashi now has six saves on the year, and the resurgent Indians have won seven of eight.

Brett Myers circled the wagons in the minors (3.00 ERA, 28 strikeouts in four starts), but it's hard to forget just how brutal he was with the Phillies prior to the demotion. He's back up and set to start Wednesday against the Mets, but I need a show of good faith first.

Speed round: A tip of the cap if you timed it right on Robinson Cano - he's now 10-for-19 since the break, along with two homers and two doubles. But should home runs against Boof Bonser even count at this point? . . . Another bang-up night for Howie Kendrick (3-for-5, homer, steal), who's up to .325 on the season. Despite his aggressive approach at the plate (just five walks), here's a guy who has batting title written all over him, it's just a matter of when . . . Scott Kazmir didn't feel any affects from his forced All-Star Game appearance; he mowed down the Athletics for seven innings Monday (2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 9 K) . . . B.J. Upton snapped out of his July funk with two hits, two walks and two stolen bases . . . You'll be happy to know Brad Evans and Billy Butler have been reunited, and it feels so good . . . It was a fun night to own Detroit batters (19 runs, 18 hits), unless you were searching for Magglio Ordonez, who got the night off . . . Two more hits and a run scored for Mike Aviles, who's working hard to justify our love. Stop what you're doing and pick the guy up, already . . . The Padres are the lowest-scoring team in the majors, but don't blame underrated OF Scott Hairston (16 homers in 264 at-bats). He's homered twice and reached base eight times over the past two days.

Pssst, hey kid - this is not an injury blog. That said, it was another productive rehab game for David Ortiz Monday, this time in Double-A (2-for-3, walk). If everything goes well over the next two days, you'll see Ortiz (wrist) in Fenway on Friday . . . Alfonso Soriano (hand) went 0-for-2 with a walk Monday and might be with the Cubbies on Thursday . . . Thursday is also the day the Rays are pointing to with Jason Bartlett (knee) . . . Johnny Damon (shoulder) was active Monday and batted leadoff, putting up a 4-1-1-1 line in New York's win . . . Hideki Matsui will not have season-ending surgery on his knee, the New York Daily News reports, but it's not clear when he might be ready to play again . . . Khalil Greene (back) returned to action Monday and went 1-for-5. Hopefully you moved on a while ago; he's at .214 for the season.

As we wrap up another C/T, let's have a moment of silence and reflection for baseball writer Jerome Holtzman, who passed away this weekend at age 81. Holtzman made the Hall of Fame in 1989, and he's also well known for creating the save rule, which became an official statistic in 1969. The mound is yours, Mr. Holtzman - for this edition of Closing Time, you get the final out, and the save.

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