Morning Juice: One swing from Hank swings it the Rangers' way

David Brown
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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 deep in the heart of Texas, where the Rangers will thank themselves tomorrow for beating the Angels now.

Game of the Day

Rangers 9, Angels 7

Two for one: Hank Blalock(notes) hit the game-ending homer in the ninth (hence the good-natured pummeling on the right), but he wasn't playing along with the narrative that this was a "big" game for the Rangers, who drew a little closer to the first-place Angels.

"If you think one game is more important than another, that means you're not trying to win against a team with a worse record," Blalock said. "You've got to take every game as serious as you can because once it gets later in the year, you start thinking about the games you let slip away."

That's a fine speech for when you play the A's, or another poor little sister, but the sentiment is misplaced here. Games against the Halos actually represent two games — the one you might win and the one they might lose. So he's close to being right, with his cliche of "every game being important," yet he's full of crap at the same time.

The Angels rallied from a 7-1 hole with three runs in the seventh and three more in the ninth against new/old closer Frank Francisco(notes) to set up Blalock's moment. Justin Speier(notes) said he gave Blalock way too good of a pitch, especially with rookie Julio Borbon(notes) on deck and a base open. Speier can't get it back now, and neither can the Angels.

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Feelin' Rundown (hey, watch the hernia!):

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Cardinals 2, Giants 1 (10 inn.): Was hoping for a five intentional walk game for Pujols after he was pitched around in his first two plate appearances. Instead, the outcome was sealed with Albert standing in the on-deck circle.

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After Pablo Sandoval(notes) dropped a pop foul (no, Kung Fu Panda, no!) and Bob Howry(notes) didn't get the call on a close two-strike pitch ("You wanna know what happened, go ask the [bleepin'] umpire!"), Colby Rasmus(notes) gave himself a hernia with his eighth homer to lead rookies.

Rascally Rasmus already had the hernia, truthfully. His was the first game-ending homer by a Cardinals rookie since Andy Van Slyke beat Houston's Bill Dawley in 1983.

Astros 7, Padres 1: Details would be much more interesting if this were 1997.

Marlins 5, Nationals 3: Spoiling a swell outing at bat and on the mound by Jordan Zimmermannnn, the Fish beat the Nats for the ninth straight time. Not every team can say that, but just give them time. Florida is 25-3 against D.C. since September 2007, to which I add, "And?"

New guy Nyjer Morgan(notes) didn't play, presumably, because he got to the park with relief pitcher Sean Burnett(notes) about 40 minutes before the first pitch. Their arrival was in plenty of time for Burnett to blow the save in the seventh, however.

Elijah Dukes(notes) surely is figuratively smiting the Nats from Triple-A Syracuse, where he now resides. Put ... the cell phone ... down ... Dawg.

Blue Jays 5, Rays 0: Ricky Romero(notes) is something else. Only two poor stars all season, both coming right after his DL stint. A thousand apologies for saying he had a jockey's name at the start of the season. He still does have a jockey's name but he pitches much taller.

"I'll ride this little thing I've got going for as long as I can," Romero said.

Riding. See what I'm saying?

Red Sox 6, Orioles 5 (11 inn.): Red Sox ask Orioles to turnabout dance.

Mets 1, Brewers 0: A day after the big closed-door meeting, the Mets togetherness extended to the team bus ride from their downtown Milwaukee hotel to the game. Ignoring the negative impact on Milwaukee's taxicab industry, each and every last Met rode the bus to Miller Park. Mr. Met even came in from Jersey and drove the bus himself.

Ryan Church(notes), who drove in the game's run with a sixth-inning single, said he couldn't remember ever, in his career, riding the team bus to a game — much less a time when everyone made the trip together.

Mike Pelfrey(notes), who pitched his best game of the season, actually missed Tuesday's meeting (the next day's starting pitchers are excused early) to which Jerry Manuel joked, "I told him, if he'd been at the meeting, he would have thrown a no-hitter."

When the Mets all ride to the park in the same cab, that's when we'll know they're ready to get back in the pennant race.

Yankees 4, Mariners 2: A-Rod O-K.

Dodgers 1, Rockies 0: The Dodgers went 29-21 with Manny absent, but it's not like they haven't missed him. They've scored eight runs over the past five games. ... In one way, a four-man shutout is more impressive than just one guy pitching it. The Dodgers needed Clayton Kershaw(notes), Ronald Belisario(notes), Ramon Troncoso(notes) and Jonathan Broxton(notes) all to be on/lucky.

Twins 5, Royals 1: Joe Mauer(notes) cranked out three hits and then went into the studio to work on his second love.

The Twins improved to two games over .500 for the first time, prompting Michael Cuddyer(notes) to shout, "We're there!"

Billy Butler(notes) went 4-for-4 and drove in KC's run, but the rest of the Royals didn't handle Glen Perkins(notes) as well.

"Obviously, I had a good day, but we just couldn't get the big hit we needed. But that's the way it's going right now," Butler said, meaning since 1986.

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Cubs 4, Pirates 1: Lou can still blow his stack in Hall of Fame fashion. Randy Wells(notes), easily my favorite Cub, beat out a grounder on which umpire Chad Fairchild called him safe at first base. Umps almost never blow this call, but Fairchild blew this one, costing the Cubs a run and maybe more. Mt. Piniella, neck veins fixing to burst, erupted with fiery argumentative goodness (VIDEO).

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Lou whipped off his cap twice — because Fairchild neglected to toss him out the first time — and screamed expletives like a crusty old sailor.

"I didn't have to say much after the cap," Piniella said. "I think the cap said it all. The umpire missed the call. What can I say? I saw it very plain from where I was."

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In the past, Piniella has admitted to concocting a tantrum but this one was straight from his blackened heart. Piniella started simmering earlier in the at-bat after umps didn't give Wells a close call on a grounder down the third-base line.

And as you can tell from the screen capture, it gave some amateur photographers/videographers something to record.

Athletics 5, Tigers 1: First pitch came way too early for the Tigers, who swung with sleep in their eyes against Dallas Braden(notes).

Braves 11, Phillies 1: Jair Jurrjens(notes) takes a no-no into the seventh, but Paul Bako(notes) breaks it up with a two-out single.

Curse you, Paul Bako!

The hit took Bobby Cox off the hook; he wasn't sure how to handle Jurrjens going beyond the alarming 100-pitch barrier. Jurrjens finished with 97 pitches.

"It would have been interesting if I'd had to make that decision," Cox said. "Bako helped me out."

Bless you, Paul Bako!

White Sox 6, Indians 2: The Indians already have used a league-high 25 pitchers, only one of whom is any good.

Reds 1, D-backs 0: Johnny Action Pitcher! Cueto and Garland accessories sold separately!