The Juice is back for its fifth season of fun! Stop by each weekday for an ample serving of news from the action, plus great photos, stats and video highlights.
Moneyball is back, baby!: The Oakland Athletics improved to 14-2 in July after completing a sweep of the Yankees on Sunday, thanks to an unlikely 5-4 victory in 12 innings. Well, maybe it wasn't unlikely to the A's, who have 11 walkoff wins to lead the league despite opening the season with the lowest payroll in the majors. Down a run in the ninth, Seth Smith lined a hanging breaking ball by Rafael Soriano over the fence in center field for a tying home run. Three innings later, Coco Crisp placed a run-scoring single to right, saddling New York with another one-run defeat in Oakland and its first four-game sweep since 2003. Crisp got a pie or two in the face (Josh Reddick got him good right here), plus a Gatorade bath, and the A's celebrated like that time 10 years ago when they won 20 straight. The Yanks still have the league's best record.
Better Angels: Albert Pujols hit his 18th home run this season and 463rd of his career (remember in April when he was washed up?) and right-hander Dan Haren returned with six effective innings for the Los Angeles Angels in a 7-4 victory against the Rangers. Texas still leads the AL West by five games, but don't you get a sneaking suspicion the Angels are better? Mike Trout, who might with the AL MVP, set a rookie record by scoring a run in his 14th straight game. Haren, whose streak of 254 straight starts ended July 3 because of a sore back, said he had butterflies. Aww.
Tiger claw: Miguel Cabrera hit two home runs to reach 300 for his career by age 29, and the Detroit Tigers asserted themselves in the AL Central with a 6-4 victory against the White Sox, completing a three-game sweep. The Tigers lead the division by 1 1/2 games after Chicago dropped its fifth straight game. Cabrera became the 13th player in history to accumulate at least 300 homers before his 30th birthday.
Pirates checkup: They're a half-game out of first place, but the Pirates are 54-40 after beating the Marlins 3-0 to complete a three-game sweep and win their fifth straight overall. Jeff Karstens allowed five hits over seven innings, Pedro Alvarez hit a home run, and PNC Park is becoming a Fortress of Solitude for the Bucs; they have a 32-14 record at home, best in the majors. The Marlins have dropped five in a row, scoring seven runs in that span.
Nats swat back: The best the Braves could do was split a four-game series against the Nationals after Ryan Zimmerman hit two homers and Washington won 9-2. Atlanta had closed within 1 1/2 games of first place after taking the first two in D.C., including an emotional 11-10 comeback on Thursday.
* * *
Quote of the Day: ''I was kind of playing whiffle ball out there. I just think to when I was a little kid, honestly, to make them take unorthodox swings — really bad swings" — Jeff Karstens.
* * *
Photo of the Day: Barry Larkin needs a moment.
Cincinnati Reds great Barry Larkin wipes a tear as he speaks at his Hall of Fame induction at Cooperstown, N.Y. Larkin and Ron Santo were added to the rolls.
* * *
Three Facts for the Water Cooler:
• The Reds beat the Brewers 2-1, and have a 5-2 record since learning that Joey Votto would miss time because of arthroscopic knee surgery. They also went 8-2 on their homestand, which included sweeps of Milwaukee and St. Louis.
• The Mets fell under .500 for the first time this season at 47-48 after the Dodgers dropped them 8-3 in 12 innings.
• Jon Lester allowed a career-worst 11 runs in a 15-7 loss to the Blue Jays. Toronto swept the Red Sox at Fenway, outscoring the host 28-11.