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David Brown

Morning Juice: Ankiel avoids catastrophe after not avoiding wall

David Brown
Big League Stew

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This and every weekday a.m. during baseball season, let's rise and shine together to recap the most recent diamond doings. Roll Call starts at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, where Rick Ankiel scared the bejesus out of everybody by slamming head-first into the outfield fence after an athletic, and violent, running catch. He's going to be OK, but yikes.

Game of the Day
Phillies 6, Cardinals 1

Grand slams: Ryan Howard, a genuine St. Lunatic, came home in fine fashion by slugging a slam against Kyle Lohse. No matter that his team was down five runs in the eighth, Ankiel gave an all-out effort on Pedro Feliz's drive into the left-center gap. Ankiel caught the fly ball but stumbled on the track and did a header into the padded fence. And this isn't like Aaron Rowand semi-comically smashing his face into a fence. This makes you just cringe. Ankiel was able to raise his arms at the final moment before contact, but his head and neck appeared to take the brunt of the impact.

Breathless: Ankiel lay on the ground as help came, but he never lost consciousness and made semi-voluntary movements with his upper and lower body that made his injuries appear to be non-catastrophic. Chris Duncan, the left fielder, stood over Ankiel and talked to him as the medical persons approached.

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"He went down and I thought maybe he might be unconscious," Duncan said. "So I tried to talk to him. I said, 'Are you all right?' and he said, 'I think so. I'm just going to lay here.' "

Visions of football players such as Mike Utley, Dennis Byrd and Darryl Stingley race through the mind when something like this happens, especially when Ankiel — head and neck immobilized as he's strapped to a gurney — raises a thumb to say he's OK. Utley did that, too, but also suffered paralysis.

Phew: An ambulance rushed Ankiel to the hospital, where X-rays and CT scans showed no fractures. He has movement in his arms and legs and a relative amount of soreness. A decision about putting him on the disabled list will come soon, but the Cards are just happy Ankiel — who's turned into a solid outfielder after a mid-career position change from pitcher — is OK.

Here's the video. I'd think about skipping it, but it's there for you.

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Feelin' Rundown (no cervical collars — promise):

Dodgers 7, D-backs 2: Not even a triple play could stop the Dodgers, who can tie the Tigers' 98-year-old major league record for a 12-0 start at home with one more victory at Chavez y Ravine. Has anyone tried garlic, or maybe just leaving a bear trap in left field for Manny? No one would know.

Royals 3, White Sox 0: Zack. Greinke.

Brewers 7, Pirates 4: Ryan Braun began the day inside an MRI tube in Milwaukee, and hadn't reached Pittsburgh until after the game started. Presenting a clean-ish bill of health to manager Ken Macha, he declared himself ready to pinch hit, which he did, driving in a couple of runs in the Crew's comeback victory. Why Braun didn't just fly with the team to Pittsburgh (where they also have MRI tubes), no one has explained yet. Just another day at the ball field.

Nationals 9, Astros 4: Four hits for Ryan Zimmerman, who's got a 22-game streak going. Much more improbably, the Nats have won consecutive games for only the second time this season.

Mets 6, Braves 4: A pair of two-run homers for Carlos Beltran (I love those kinds of games) and John Maine survives six walks. Was he so wild to honor Oliver Perez, who was banished to the bullpen? I'd like to think so.

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Marlins 3, Reds 2 (14 inn.): The awesome lead paragraph in the AP story cannot be improved upon:

Regis Philbin’s ceremonial first pitch bounced in front of the plate. The game ended 4 1/2 hours later with the same kind of throw by Cincinnati shortstop Paul Janish.

Cubs 4, Giants 2: Ryan Theriot recently ended a streak of 620 at-bats without a homer. Four games, later, he has equaled his season high with three homers. This is just the kind of thing the Giants need, say, Eugenio Velez to do. Alas, they cannot hit.

Rockies 9, Padres 6: Chris Iannetta can hit grand slams too.

Twins 7, Tigers 2: Might Francisco Liriano be learning how to pitch? In 14 years, let's all meet back here to see if this performance kick-started a great career.

Red Sox 6, Yankees 4: Hey, this new place ain't so bad if you're from Boston. Speculation was that Yankees skipper Joe Girardi (who hates autobiographies by the way) caught Red Sox coach Tim Bogar stealing signs, or tipping pitches, or reading about John Adams. Whatever drew G-Man's ire, the two screamed at each other for a moment but did not elaborate on what went down.

Indians 9, Blue Jays 7 (12 inn.): From this game, I take away Matt LaPorta's first major league dinger. Also, Josh Barfield is batting 1.000 in his return to big league glory.

Orioles 8, Rays 4: Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts each hit a home run, which I feel should happen every game where one goes deep. If one homers, the other should follow. Like Batman and Robin, or Balki and Cousin Larry. Inseparable, these two.

Angels 5, Athletics 2: Mike Napoli has reached base in 13 of his past 14 plate appearances. Do it, Ted Williams.

Rangers 6, Mariners 5: Chris Davis learns from failures against King Felix and takes him deep in his third at-bat to help the Strangers along.

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