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Scott Pianowski

Closing Time: Making outs with Alfonso Soriano

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There are a million stories in the Rotisserie City on any given night; here are a few that caught my attention Wednesday.

I don't mean to kick Alfonso Soriano(notes) when he's down but the average has dipped to .225 after Wednesday's collar and he's got an OBP under .300 – unacceptable for the leadoff spot. He's also stopped the running game, attempting just two swipes since May 1 (one of them was a ninth inning "just take it" bag that could have easily been called defensive indifference). Is Soriano's knee still bothering him? Is he getting himself out too often swinging at pitches out of the strike zone? Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune doesn't mince words with his Soriano take: When Piniella gets up from his nap, tell him to sit Soriano.

Javier Vazquez(notes) has fantastic stuff and a gaggle of strikeouts but when it comes to pulling defeat out of the jaws of victory, there's no one more tragic than him. He allowed just four hits at Cincinnati on Thursday and struck out seven over eight tight innings, but a couple of home runs – one by Micah Owings(notes) – got him beat. Despite his 112 whiffs over 92.1 innings and a WHIP a shade over 1, Vazquez is carrying a 4-6 record and, as always, an underachiever's ERA (3.41). He's still a valuable pitcher, no doubt, but there's a reason this guy constantly underperforms his suggested ERA every darn season.

Troy Tulowitzki(notes) clocked a three-run homer into the shrubbery Wednesday and Chris Iannetta(notes) added a solo shot as the Rockies became the latest team to burst David Price's(notes) bubble. Tulo now has four homers and four steals over his last nine games; unless you plan on drugging your league opponents or stealing their internet passwords, the buy-low window has been emphatically shut. As for Price, at least he forced the Rockies to beat him with the bat (10 hits); he didn't walk anyone over his seven-inning stint and he struck out five. Aaron Cook(notes) has quietly strung together three straight wins for Colorado.

Russell Martin(notes) continues to hit eighth for the Dodgers; he went 0-for-3 with a walk in Wednesday's game, dropping his average to .236. More disconcerting is his absolute lack of power – with no homers and just nine doubles, he's carrying around a puny .278 slugging percentage for the year. Is Martin going to hit a homer this year and if so, when? Is Joe Torre's crazy usage of Martin over the last couple of years the culprit here? Let's bat these questions around in the comments.

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The angels put down their harps and sighed around 8:05 pm EST tonight when future immortal Matt Wieters(notes) hit his first major league home run. It wasn't the most titanic shot – the lazy opposite-field fly ball barely cleared the left-field fence – but it looks like a 500-foot clout in the boxscore. The Crabcake Kid is on an 8-for-22 roll the last few games, if you wanted to know, though he's got just three walks against 12 strikeouts for the season. It doesn't look like he'll be leaving the bottom third of the order anytime soon.

Handshakes: Francisco Cordero(notes) (16) rebounded nicely from his last blown save, retiring three of four Braves. … Bobby Jenks(notes) is now 15-for-17 after setting down the Cubs in order. … Mike MacDougal(notes) in Yankee Stadium doesn't sound too promising, but he got a double-play grounder from Robinson Cano(notes) en route to a rare Washington save. … Brian Fuentes(notes) (18) struck out two of three Giants and continues to thrive in the OC save machine. … Andrew Bailey(notes) worked around an infield hit by Rafael Furcal(notes) (thanks, official scorer) and grabbed conversion No. 6. … David Aardsma(notes) (12) needed a lot of deep counts to get three outs in San Diego, but with two strikeouts and a handshake at the end, why quibble? The M's managed this one strictly by the save rule, which kept Aardsma from the Adrian Gonzalez(notes) assignment in the eighth inning. … Huston Street(notes) (14) keeps rolling along, setting down the Rays on 10 pitches. … Ryan Franklin(notes) (16) beguiled the Tigers with his beard and breaking pitches, working a perfect inning. … A scoreless frame from George Sherrill(notes) (13), who figures to be on the market all summer. Intriguing hedge Jim Johnson(notes) got the win for Baltimore, working two scoreless innings and striking out two. … Trevor Hoffman(notes) finally fritted away a ninth-inning lead, which allowed for lefty Mitch Stetter(notes) to pick up a rogue save in extra innings.

Not an Injury Blog: Jonathan Broxton(notes) had a cortisone shot in his big toe and wasn't available Wednesday, though the Dodgers expect him to be ready for Thursday. … Scott Downs(notes) (toe) went on the DL Wednesday and Andy Behrens has your wall-to-wall coverage of the Toronto bullpen here. … The MRI on Derek Jeter's(notes) ankle came back clean, though the Yanks still kept him out of Wednesday's game. … Ryan Braun headed to the showers early on Wednesday, dealing with a sore lower back. … Erik Bedard(notes) (shoulder) went on the DL and has a date with James Andrews, which makes the summer trade deadline a lot less interesting. … Scott Hairston(notes) (biceps) is once again taking batting practice but it's not clear when he might be able to play again. … Scott Kazmir(notes) (quad) worked into the fifth inning during his first rehab start and didn't allow a run. … Carl Pavano(notes) will essentially skip a turn as he deals with a tired shoulder. … Joey Votto(notes) is swinging a bat again and is ready for a rehab assignment.

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Speed Round: Dustin Pedroia(notes) broke out of his slump with a 5-0-3-3 line and two steals. He would have had a fourth ribbie if not for the painfully-slow running of the captain, Jason Varitek(notes). … Another day on the bench for Fred Lewis(notes), who should probably be kicked to the curb in any sort of competitive mixed league. Andres Torres(notes) batted leadoff for the Giants Wednesday and went 1-for-5, scoring a run and knocking one in. … Jose Lopez(notes) hit one of out Petco and now has five homers and a .309 average this month. … Pedro Martinez(notes) says he might be signing a major league contract soon; he told the Associated Press that he's spoken to the Cubs and Rays. … Curtis Granderson(notes) moved back into the leadoff spot at St. Louis and came through with two homers, a single and a stolen base. … Chien-Ming Wang(notes) was improved but not all that great against the Nats, working five ordinary frames (6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR). Phil Hughes(notes) relieved Wang and retired six of the seven men he faced. … Francisco Liriano(notes) had his longest appearance in six weeks (7 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 K), though it wasn't enough to beat Ian Snell(notes) and the Pirates. The Brothers LaRoche homered for the Bucs, and Andrew McCutchen(notes) also hit one out.

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