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David Brown

Morning Juice: Orioles face stark truth in AL East standings

David Brown
Big League Stew

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This and every weekday a.m., let's rise and shine together with who's bringing up the rear in the AL East for the first time in a long time. Today's Roll Call starts in the only stadium in the majors where you can also get a good night's sleep, the Rogers Centre in Toronto. There, despite the sometimes good-luck presence of a streaker, the visiting Baltimore Orioles fell for the 18th time in 23 games, ensuring themselves of basement quarters this season and reminding their fans of a time best forgotten.

Game of the Day: Blue Jays 8, Orioles 7

7-8-9: Male (boo!) streaker in the seventh. Travis Snider hits the go-ahead sac fly in the eighth. Ramon Hernandez swings and misses to make the final out in the ninth, ensuring the Orioles will finish last for the first time since 1988. We're talking the Ken Gerhart Era, when the O's began with a record 0-21 before beating the White Sox and finishing 54-107. As hard as it is to believe, not everyone profits from the phenomenal rise of the Rays this season. Tampa Bay had been occupying that last spot for nine of the 10 previous seasons.

Flash: Now this is rich. A few pitches before Alex Rios hits a go-ahead homer against Rocky Cherry, a naked man leaped onto the field and ran until caught. Rios said the moment helped him find clarity. "It did (distract) for a little bit but I think it was funny. It got my spirits up," Rios said. "I've seen two people naked. The other one was a few years ago. It was a little disturbing the first time." Let us now pause and appreciate the greatest quote in the history of the Blue Jays.

O boy: These Orioles ain't '88 bad. They were five games over .500 in June. Another Luke Scott here, Jeremy Guthrie there, and we're talking ... third place? Oriole Magic, eh? How about a smile? "Nobody wants to be in last place," Melvin Mora says. "Nobody wants to be a loser. It's one thing we need to turn around next year."

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Feelin' Rundown (fully clothed results from around the bigs):

Rays 10, Red Sox 3: Ninety victories after 10 consecutive losing seasons. Two more wins from clinching a playoff spot. Let's hear from rookie outfielder Fernando Perez on how it happened. "The way this team is put together, it isn't put together like the Yankees," Perez said. "It isn't a hoard of superstars that are expected to do well. This team is built on solid pitching and unity. Nobody sticks out." Well, almost nobody.

Yankees 5, White Sox 1: The bizarre list of individual Yankees pseudo-accomplishments continues as we count down to Dead Stadium Walking. A-Rod goes deep to become the first player in history with 35 home runs and 100 RBIs in 12 seasons, one more than Babe Ruth. My question: Was he already the first player with 34 homers and 100 RBIs in 12 seasons, and were we simply waiting until he got to 35 to notice? ... The White Sox could use some home runs and RBI and maybe Carlos Quentin will return in time to contribute some this season.

Indians 6, Twins 4: The only AL team to beat Cliff Lee did a pretty good job of punishing him this time, too, knocking him out in the seventh only to fall behind in the next half inning. The Twins seriously need to pull over and fill up on the trip to St. Petersburg.

Phillies 6, Braves 1: With Kendrick on the slow boat to Tokyo, Charlie Manuel turns to rookie J.A. (James Anthony) Happ. The headline writers were ready ("Happless, UnHappy, Not Happening"), but they'll just have to return to their filthy cubicles because the youngster from Peru, Ill. came through with six shutout innings. ... Here are my top choices for NL MVP and none of them are Ryan Howard: 1. Albert Pujols; 2. Lance Berkman; 3. Hanley Ramirez; 4.Chipper Jones; 5. David Wright; 6. CC Sabathia; 7. Ryan Ludwick; 8. Ryan Braun; 9. Chase Utley; 10. Matt Holliday; ... 65. Ryan Howard (kidding!)

Mets 9, Nationals 7: Jerry wore out a path to the mound, tying the franchise record by using eight pitchers — sadly, none of them were Doug Sisk — but it worked out. The Mets watched in horror as the bullpen whittled away another lead, this one 7-1 in the fourth."They'll make a laugher a tearjerker, that's what they'll do," Manuel said. ... Delgado loaned a two-homer game to Beltran. Team guy. Also not an MVP candidate, though.

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Marlins 14, Astros 2: Yogi was spot on when saying that 90 percent of this game is half mental. The Astros have psyched themselves out.

Brewers 6, Cubs 2: Two games into the coup, Dale Sveum works his magic but loses Ben Sheets two innings into this game because of elbow pain. Never would have happened on Yost's watch.

Athletics 3, Angels 2: A roller coaster in the ninth and, as usual when it comes to roller coasters, Disneyland fares poorly. K-Rod, thanks in part to a couple of errors (one of his own), does not get coveted save No. 59. ... Torii Hunter not abiding by the "nobody else get hurt doctrine," nearly breaks his own face in batting practice. The next move, Scioscia says, is to start bundling guys in bubble wrap. Mmm, bubble wrap popping noise.

Royals 5, Mariners 2: Eight straight 200-hit seasons for Ichiro, tying Wee Willie Keeler's record. Fans at Kauffman Stadium gave him a standing ovation. You just made Ichiro's list, pals! (It's a good list.) ... Six straight wins for the Royals. Don't get up for that.

Tigers 17, Rangers 4: Sweaty Freddy has returned. His shoulder finally sound, Freddy Garcia pitched strong five innings and picked up a victory in his first start since June 2007. The guy must munch on jalapenos between innings, because there's nobody who works up a lather like Garcia.

Pirates 15, Dodgers 8: Apparently it was like "Freaky Friday" at PNC, with the Bucs taking on the attributes of the Dodgers and the Dodgers playing like a JV squad. For the Buccanerds, A. LaRoche had three hits, including a pair of homers, and drove in five runs. Meanwhile, A. LaRoche had a two-run single. Go on, guess which LaRoche is which. Remember our theme of "Freaky Friday"? That was meant to mislead! Adam LaRoche had the monster game and Andy had the one hit. Just like it ought to be. Fools! You'll never catch me!

D-backs 7, Giants 6: Webb picks up No. 21, and AZ finally gains some ground on the Dodgers, but they have only 11 games to go, they can't get anybody out in the ninth inning and haven't played well for, say, a week at a time since May.

Rockies 1, Padres 0: Two 1-0 games at Coors in the past four days. Bypassing the humidor, they've apparently taken to dropping the baseballs in a fish tank. Koshansky, AKA Iceman from "Top Gun," goes deep into the Light Coors air for the lone run. That's OK. Maverick will save his butt later.

Reds 3, Cardinals 0: Ah Pu goes 0-for-4 to fall 11 points behind Chipper for the NL batting lead.

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Photo of the Day: Escape from Cleveland!

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Distraught at their team's hurtful play down the stretch, Carlos Gomez (left) and Denard Span make a break for it in the ninth inning Wednesday. They ascended the outfield fence but soon were captured by deadly robot guards and, shortly thereafter, humanely destroyed.

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Fantasy Freaks

A. LaRoche (Pirates) 3-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI

Ryan Doumit (Pirates) 3-4, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI

Happ (Phils) 6 IP, 3 H, BB, 2 K, Win

Hunter Pence (Astros) 2-3, 2 HR

Hanley (Fish) 2-3, 2 HR

Jorge Can-do Cantu (Fish) 3-5, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI

Ricky Nolasco (Fish) 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K, Win

Beltran (Mets) 2-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI

Papi (Red Socks) 2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI

Aaron Harang (Reds) 9 IP, 6 H, 4 K, Win

Maggs Ordonez (Tigers) 3-5, 2 R, 4 RBI

Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) 4-5, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI

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Fantasy Flakes

Chad Peter Billingsley (Dodgers) 4 2/3 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, Loss

Tim Wakefield (Bostons) 2 1/3 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 2 K, Loss

David Wright (Mets) 0-5, 2 K

Adam Dunn (D-bax) 0-5, 2 K

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Words of Mouth

"If you give a guy a chance, you don't know how he's going to react. Heck, Columbus took the chance." — Charlie Manuel, on using Happ in a pennant race.
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