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Scott Pianowski

Closing Time: Hats off to Jonny Gomes

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Jonny Gomes(notes) is far from a perfect player, with his wild swings and outfield follies, but exciting things tend to happen when he makes contact. The Cincinnati faithful had three reasons to cheer Gomes on Thursday, a hat trick of homers as the hosts sunk Washington. You still get the idea that Gomes should be in the hitter's league DHing for somebody, but the Reds haven't really cared about their outfield defense over the last few years (let's not reopen the Adam Dunn(notes) file, please).

Gomes generally does most of his damage against left-handed pitching, but surprisingly this monster game came entirely against a pair of Washington northpaws. I'm still not ready to endorse Gomes as a regular mixed-league play, but I wouldn't hesitate to give him a spot start here and there, especially against a suspect left-hander.

The Gomes power display backed Bronson Arroyo's sterling effort (CG, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K); Arroyo has 5-6 starts like this every year, but there's absolutely no rhyme or reason as to when they come about. If you think you can solve the matrix, more power to you.

Kevin Kouzmanoff(notes) went 11-for-13 in the series at Milwaukee while Chase Headley(notes) reached base seven times; the Padres are one of those small market clubs that are easy to discount but there's fantasy value here. Everth Cabrera(notes) doesn't seem to mind when he's occasionally dropped to the eighth spot in the order; he went 1-for-2 with three walks Thursday and swiped his 16th base.

I've been slow to accept Scott Feldman(notes) as a reliable fantasy option, but the King of the Cutter keeps putting people away. His latest victory came after a duck-and-run six innings at Cleveland Thursday (6 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K), pushing his ERA under 4. Feldman's numbers aren't as friendly in Arlington, as you'd expect, but it's not like he's throwing batting practice there. I'll give him my endorsement for next week's home assignment against Minnesota.

Did some people really think Cliff Lee(notes) was going to struggle in the National League? This guy is Philadelphia's best pitcher right now, period. A daytime assignment at Wrigley Field wasn't a problem Thursday (8 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 8 K); Lee's got three clean wins and a 1.12 ERA since joining his new club. He'll work at home against Arizona next week, but there's no reason to sweat the small park given how Lee is chucking it right now.

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There's a lot to like about Seattle's outstanding outfield defense, but when a pitcher gets rocked like Ian Snell(notes) did Thursday night, no amount of glove work is going to help. Snell handed out nine hits, eight runs and a pair of homers (Jeter here, Matsui's first of two later) over his six rocky innings; there weren't many cheap knocks against him. C.C. Sabathia(notes) seems to be hitting his stride, allowing just one run and striking out 19 over his last two turns.

Another day at the office for Jason Marquis(notes), seven smooth at Colorado (3 H, 1 R, 6 K), a bunch of ground balls, win No. 13. Dexter Fowler(notes) returned to the fold with a zesty 5-3-4-0 line (I guess the knee is fine) while Clint Barmes(notes) and Troy Tulowitzki(notes) left the yard. Carlos Gonzalez(notes) got a rare start against a left-hander and went 1-for-4 with a run and two RBIs. Paul Maholm(notes) threw strikes for the Bucs, but unfortunately they were plenty hittable (6.1 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 0 BB, 5 K).

Handshakes: Frank Francisco(notes) retired three of four Indians en route to his 16th save, in back of another electric Neftali Feliz(notes) appearance (two perfect innings, five strikeouts, ridiculous video here). … Joakim Soria(notes) (19) worked hard for the money, getting the final six outs against Minnesota. It was just his second save chance of the month. … Fernando Rodney(notes) pitching in Fenway Park sounds like a risky proposition, but he put down David Ortiz(notes) (back in a funk), Mike Lowell(notes) and Casey Kotchman(notes) in order. … Whatever you paid for Trevor Hoffman(notes) (26) back in March, it's been a major profit. He's only blown two chances all year, to go with a tidy 1.80 ERA and 1.06 WHIP.

Injury Blog: Jake Peavy(notes) (ankle) worked three innings at Triple-A Thursday and rolled up five strikeouts. The White Sox are hoping to get him back in the final week of August. … Ian Kinsler(notes) (hamstring) played in a rehab game Thursday and is expected to join the Rangers Friday. … Cody Ross(notes) left after six innings with a sore back but the Marlins don't seem too concerned about it. … Poor Adrian Beltre(notes) can't catch a break this season; it's likely he's done for the year with an injury that's no fun to talk about. … Miguel Cabrera(notes) (hand) got back for the Tigers and went 1-for-4. … The underrated Chris Getz(notes) (oblique) is headed to the DL. Brent Lillibridge(notes) will join the club this weekend. … Tim Hudson(notes) worked four innings in his most recent rehab turn, allowing two runs and hitting the low 90s. The Braves think he might be able to help them in September.

Speed Round: Why has Ricky Nolasco(notes) been dropped in 3,000 Yahoo! leagues over the last few days? The guy had one rotten start on the heels of two outstanding months. Let's see the big picture here. … Had Cesar Carrillo(notes) pitched any longer for San Diego (2.1 IP, 8 R, 3 HR), Bernie Brewer would have needed a hip replacement. Milwaukee's offensive explosion allowed Manny Parra(notes) (5.2 IP, 13 H, 6 R) to steal his way to a messy victory. … Gil Meche(notes) was nothing special just off the disabled list (5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 2 K), but it was good enough for a win against the Twins anyway. … Good to see Josh Hamilton raking again, even as he's on zero of my teams. Sometimes you just gotta root for the story. … The Orioles don't want to tax their young arms too much down the stretch, so they'll use a six-man rotation next month.

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