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David Brown

Morning Juice: Max Scherzer breaks out his O.R. scrubs

David Brown
Big League Stew

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This and every weekday a.m., let's rise and shine together with the most recent and decent major league happenings. Today's NL roll call starts in the Desert, where Arizona's Max Scherzer continued his meteoric rise with a memorable debut — even if it came after Houston already had enough runs to win the game

Game of the Day: Astros 6, D-backs 4

Six sense: As if intuitively forecasting impending doom, or at least a coming thunderstorm, Houston jumped on Edgar Gonzalez for all of its runs in 2 2/3 innings — Geoff Blum's 3-run double being the big hit. Enter Rushmore's brightest young student, Max Scherzer. The Astros found themselves on sudden death academic probation.

To the Max: Scherzer, who complements (and, possibly, compliments) a fastball that reaches the upper 90s with a nasty slider, retired all 13 batters he faced in 4 1/3 innings of relief. With Johnny Cueto's ERA now in juvenile hall on a trumped-up charge, well, let's all meet the New Johnny Cueto — Max Scherzer! He had a 38/3 strikeout/walk ratio in Triple-A, so the Deebax figured Scherzer had no more worlds to conquer in the minors. Beekeeping, astronomy, karate, model plane flying, theater, baseball. The kid's talent is sheer genius.

Dr. Guggenheim: But will Max be allowed to sprout his full abilities in Arizona's starting rotation? The curmudgeonly manager, Bob Melvin, won't say: "We'll take a look at it later."

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Feelin' Rundown (Tuesday's other games)

Cardinals 7, Reds 2 — Everyone please bow your heads in a moment of silence for Johnny Cueto's ERA, which rose to 5.40 after he allowed 6 earned runs in 1 2/3 innings. Speaking for the family, the rise and fall of Johnny's ERA has been tragic for all of us. As a young boy, Johnny's ERA showed much promise; it was 1.29 after he dominated the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 3. The Reds lost his next start, but Johnny's ERA still was a very impressive 2.02. Then, with both of Johnny's ERA's parents working and unable to watch him after school, Johnny's ERA began to fall in with the wrong crowd — it ballooned to an alarming 3.72 on April 13. Pool halls and street corners just are no good for a young man's ERA. Luckily, for a while at least, Johnny's ERA found a big brother and was lowered to 3.42 on April 19. We had so much hope that Johnny's ERA would make it, but we could not deny a problem after his Houston start April 24; 5 runs allowed, more hits than innings pitched, only 2 strikeouts. Johnny's ERA crept over 4.00. It's OK to cry it out. Cry it out! It's another senseless tragedy, people. When are we going to wake up to the dangers our young people's ERAs are facing today?

Phillies 7, Padres 4Cole Hamels pitches better and singles against Greg Maddux, who tried to set silly reporters straight about the significance of not reaching career win No. 350: "It's not a milestone. It really isn't. Trust me, I've been on extra credit for 5 or 6 years now. I've stopped pitching for results. I'm just going out there to see how long I can do it." Maddux still gets results, whether tries to or not, at age 42. He has a 3.66 ERA and a K/BB rate of 21/7. You wonder if Maddux would ever try be a closer — just to see if he could do it.

Nationals 6, Braves 3 — After consulting with team official Barry Larkin before the game, Ryan Zimmerman puts 19 points on his batting average with a 3-for-4 night including a home run. RyZi then pays Larkin, a former Michigan student, the worst compliment he ever will receive: "People don't know how smart he is." ... Chad Cordero began the 9th but Jon Rauch had to finish for the save after Cordero's arm flaked out again. ... For the Braves, Tom Glavine returns from DL hell and pitches well, but John Smoltz takes his place in limbo.

Dodgers 7, Marlins 6Dan Uggla has been nominated to be the vanguard of the next Marlins purge: He hits a homer, dives into the stands, Jeter Style, to make a great catch, then is the middle part of a perfect relay to keep the score tied in the 8th. He can't make the Fish win, though, with Jeff Kent coolly knocking in the go-ahead run in the 9th.

Brewers 10, Cubs 7 — The Cubs finished last with Dawson as MVP in '87, and they finished last this night with Dawson Leery in the booth. Despite the presence of James Van Der Beek to sing take me out to the ballgame, the Brue Crue takes down the Cubs behind a less-than-Olympic effort by Ben Sheets. Van Der Beek, ever the thespian, appeared to look down at notes before going, "A-one, a-two, a-three..." and "Let's get some runs." Line! Line! ... Mike Cameron, back from greenie hell, had 3 hits for the Brewers. Seemed like everyone had 3 hits for the Brewers, who got a save from — gasp! — Eric Gagne.

Rockies 3, Giants 2 — Wackadoodle, that's what this game was. Troy Tulowitzki went down with an injury and Jeff Baker already was hurt, so Garrett Atkins played second base (and a certain rotisserie segment jumps for joy), Chris Iannetta (a catcher) goes to third and hits a score-tying home run, and the go-ahead run comes across on a balk. Call 1-800-388-ROCK to buy tickets for a game at Coors, or to offer manager Clint Hurdle your infielding skills. "It just goes to show when you think you have control, what do you control? At the end of the day, you really don't," Hurdle said. Thanks, Nuke!

Mets 5, Pirates 4 (11 inn.) — The Mets bullpen can't hold a lead for Johan Santana, who gave up 2 hits but needed 114 pitches to go 5 2/3 innings. The game ended after David Wright begged the wind to keep fair his pop up to right. Wind responded by blowing Wright's way and by dropping two quarters in his cup.

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Photo of the Day: National League noogie patrol — Matt Diaz and Johnny Estrada Edition

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If you just hold still, and let me twist counter-clockwise — no, it's counter-clockwise — I'll get this dang thing off your head.

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Fantasy Freak

Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) 3-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI

He came in spiraling, in a 2-for-31 slump and with no homers in 98 at-bats.

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Fantasy Flake

Carlos Delgado (Mets) 0-for-5, K

No standing "O" offered this time.

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Big Talker

"It's nice because he's a guy I grew up with and idolized. And to get a hit off him is pretty special." — Hamels, on his night against Maddux.
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