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D12: Nelson Cruz corrals a wager win for big Brad Evans

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Welcome to 'Duk's Dozen, a streamlined selection of 12 morning-fresh links and items to start your baseball day. It welcomes your submissions here or via Twitter.

1. Breathe easy, Big Noise! It took a little while longer than expected, but Yahoo! Sports fantasy writer Brad Evans can finally claim victory over our own Jeff Passan in one of the most-hyped workplace wagers in recent memory.

On Thursday night, Nelson Cruz(notes) hit his 26th home run of the season in an 11-1 win over the Twins, allowing Evans to win his workplace wager with Passan that Cruz would hit over 25 homers in 2009. At our next meeting in Santa Monica, Passy will have to begrudgingly hand over half a C-note and admit he was wrong on Evans' big sleeper pick.

Not that Brad didn't have to sweat it out. Though Cruz had 17 homers by June 7, it took him almost another two months to get to 25 and a recent DL stint with a sprained ankle made it look like Cruz might have stopped right on the magic number. Cruz, however, ended all the drama in his return to the Rangers' lineup on Thursday, putting a pitch from Anthony Swarzak(notes) over the fence. [Yahoo! Sports]

2. For the record, Passan isn't that broken up over the lost bet:

"In order to hedge my bet against Brad, I also drafted Nelson Cruz in the BP Kings Scoresheet League, where the winner gets $1,000 to donate to his favorite cause," Passan explains. "My team current sports the league's best record. So I am hoping that while today I have to give $50 to one charity case (Brad) because of Nelson Cruz, he'll keep hitting home runs and in October allow me to give $1,000 to a much better one."

3. Mike Wise calls introduces Jon Heyman as "a complete lackey" for Scott Boras on his radio show, several minutes of awkward hilarity ensues. [The Big Lead]

4. NESN's Heidi Watney somehow does a better job of impersonating a reporter than the cabdriver in this commercial does of impersonating Denis Leary. [Sox & Dawgs]

5. On May 19, the Blue Jays led the AL East by 3.5 games. Today, they're an even 20 games behind the Yankees. How did they get there? [Tao of Stieb]

6. Sad story: A Mexican immingrant was found dead on the property of Chipper Jones'(notes) Texas ranch. [Walkoff Walk]

7. You think Stephen Strasburg(notes) is a young phenom? According to MASN, the Nationals have a pitcher who's six years old and was drafted two years before he was even born. [Bugs & Cranks]

8. After seeing Magic star Jameer Nelson clear the CBP fences on Thursday night, I'm wondering if he'd be able to clear waivers and help the Giants. [The Fightins]

9. The coolest name in baseball? Julio Borbon(notes) and it's not even close. [Razzball]

10. It's Elvis Night tonight at The Cell and our old friend Carl Skanberg cooks up a special comic strip to celebrate. Ahhhankyouverymuch. [Smells Like Mascot]

11. Billy Wagner(notes) is back and the Rays and Marlins are said to be interested. [MetsBlog]

12. Do you remember your first baseball game? Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune remembers his first Cubs game 40 years ago, but has the luxury of being able to remember it was the day after Ken Holtzman's no-hitter. My first Cubs game came somewhere in 1984, though if you offered my dad or I a million bucks to pinpoint the date, we wouldn't have a shot. Let's hear your stories of your first game in the comments below. [Hardball]

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