Rangers Ballpark at Arlington has long been on my list of parks to see; I finally scratched it off the list Tuesday night, taking in a ballgame with six of my
flatliner Scrabble friends word-game peeps. Let's quickly review some of the Pianow rules of the ballpark:
• When you're attending a game in person, you must have a roto interest. This is not negotiable. I made a point-and-click on Texas outfielder David Murphy(notes) a day in advance of the matchup, noting his recent production and fully aware that erratic A.J. Burnett(notes) was working for the Yanks. Murphy completely justified the love with a sixth inning homer off Burnett, and he also gave us a walk, a stolen base, and then the game-deciding hit in the bottom of the 10th against Mariano Rivera(notes). I thought this was going to be a one-day rental, but now I guess I have to ride Murphy out through the homestand. Fine with me.
• There are a lot of ways to dress up a hot dog, but if you're not going with mustard in the mix, something is wrong with you. (How do you get mustard out? Conservatory, lead pipe.)
• When Alex Rodriguez(notes) returns to one of his former teams, a team that he jilted for selfish reasons, you boo and boo and boo some more. That said, we also marveled at the frozen rope that Rodriguez hit to the grassy knoll in the eighth inning; a ball that seemed to leave the ballpark in 2.3 seconds.
• If you're old enough to drive, you're too old to bring a glove to the ballpark. Sorry.
• I was very impressed with the ballpark experience; the backdrop is beautiful, the sightlines perfect, the hometown fans friendly, the dogs were decent. We had seats in the 329 section on the first-base side, so we weren't killed by the sun as much as some others; that said, the ridiculous heat (it was still in the 90s at the conclusion of the game) and humidity had us consuming beverages all night. I've now been to about half of the current parks in play. Next up on the hit list: Wrigley Field (a glaring omission), Safeco Field, Target Field, PNC Park and Minute Maid Park.
• Felix Pie(notes) keeps knocking at the door, and it's time to let him in. The post-hype Oriole is on a robust 13-for-36 run in August with a couple of homers and a couple of bags; he posted a 5-2-2-3 line (with a tater) in Tuesday's beatdown of the Indians. Luke Scott(notes), Corey Patterson(notes), and Matt Wieters(notes) also left the yard for the Sons of Showalter, now 7-1 since Uncle Buck took over. Michael Brantley(notes) was frisky on the other side, with three runs, three RBIs, a homer and a walk.
• Jeremy Hellickson(notes) at Detroit looked like a mismatch on paper, and that's how it played out on the field. Hellickson allowed just three hits over seven brilliant innings (0 R, 0 BB, 7 K), throwing 61 of 86 pitches for strikes. He's a no-brainer start for next week's turn against the Rangers, though it's nice to know that it will come under the Tampa catwalk, not deep in the heart of Texas.
• I'm glad I was at a real baseball game on Tuesday and not in front of the TV watching Stephen Strasburg(notes) get knocked around; it would be like hearing Sinatra's voice crack for the first time. Strasburg was touched for six runs over 4.1 innings, including a homer from Dan Uggla(notes); the phenom's location was lacking after his brief stay on the DL. Anibal Sanchez(notes) gave us a tasty turn on the other side (6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K), but I'm wary of dialing him up on the weekend at Cincinnati, especially for a day game.
• The crazy 15-9 ballgame the Dodgers and Phillies gave us came straight from a time capsule; Jay Gibbons(notes) had a homer for LA (yeah, that Jay Gibbons), while the Ghost of Ross Gload(notes) knocked two out of the park for the Phils. Andre Ethier(notes) posted a zesty 4-4-4-3 line for the Dodgers (three singles and a double) and finally looks back in the swing of things; he's been ridiculous in August (.406/.486/.719).
• The Tim Lincecum(notes) & Mitch Kramer party isn't ready for liftoff yet; Lincecum's messy turn against the Cubs squashed the idea for Tuesday (4 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 4 K). The hot-shot rookies on both sides of this game answered the bell; Starlin Castro(notes) had two hits, three RBIs and his sixth steal, while Buster Posey(notes) collected three hits (does he do that every night?) and four RBIs.
• The overworked Aaron Heilman(notes) needed a day off on Tuesday, so Sam Demel(notes) got the ball in the ninth inning at Milwaukee. It wasn't the most dominant of efforts – Demel allowed two hits and didn't strike anyone out – but he got the handshake at the end of it all, so we'll take it. I'd still go for Heilman if you only have one spin to take in this bullpen, but Demel has at least cemented his status as the No. 2 guy here, and he's still just 24. The rogue save overshadowed another sneaky-effective start from Barry Enright(notes) (6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K); Enright and Strasburg have an interesting date on the weekend.
• Travis Snider(notes) is on a nice run for the Blue Jays, with four multiple-hit games in his last five starts. He had a homer and three RBIs in Tuesday's loss to Boston, and got to hit in the No. 2 slot in the order with Yunel Escobar(notes) nicked up. Snider's pedigree and upside should be enough to get his current ownership level far over the six percent he's trading at right now. My east-coast scouts sign off on him as well.
Speed Round: Mike Pelfrey(notes) got off the skids with seven strong innings against the Rockies (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K), but I need to see more before I even consider reintroducing him to any of my lineups. … Billy Wagner(notes) worked a clean ninth at Houston for his 28th save, and you have to wonder if he'll consider coming back for another year. He's got a 1.63 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over 49.2 innings, with a ridiculous 71 strikeouts. He might be the most underrated closer in the game right now. … J.P. Arencibia(notes) is human after all (0-for-4), though he did throw out Jacoby Ellsbury(notes) attempting to steal. … The Twins aren't allowed to hit homers at Target Field, but they were happy to clock five over the Chicago wall in a rout of the White Sox. … Wade LeBlanc's(notes) surface stats don't look as appealing in the second half, but he is learning how to put batters away. He fanned eight Pirates in Tuesday's home victory, and now has 26 whiffs over 30.1 post-break innings. He'll be at San Francisco on the weekend, though he's up against Lincecum. … The voodoo doll continues in the Philadelphia infield; Placido Polanco(notes) is day-to-day with arm tendinitis. … Kid Hairston continues to be productive for the Padres despite shin splits. … We knew this Rafael Furcal(notes) run wouldn't last forever; he's got a bad back and needs to go to the DL. … A sore back kept Jorge Posada(notes) out of New York's lineup, while stork duty had Mark Teixeira(notes) away from the club. Robinson Cano(notes) also was out of the starting lineup Tuesday, though he played the second half of the game. … Carlos Beltran(notes) has cleared waivers, if you have a few million dollars burning a hole in your pocket. … Jason Heyward(notes) has a sore knee, and when he hurts, we all hurt.