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David Brown

Morning Juice: Phillies facing moment of truth on Happ, Pedro

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 in Philly, where the world phreaking champions can be found at the crossroads of Happ Avenue and Pedro Boulevard. Put 'em together, you have HappyPete! But we can't put them together. Oh, no! What should manager Charlie Manuel do for a fifth starter?

Game of the Day: Phillies 7, Rockies 0

Embarrassment of pitches: The Rookie-of-the-Year candidate just tossed his second shutout of the season. The Hall-of-Fame candidate just struck out 11 in an injury rehab assignment. Thanks to the recent addition of reigning AL Cy Cliff Lee(notes), it would seem the Fightins have to either eject J.A. Happ(notes) (A.J.'s his brother) from the rotation or just keep Pedro Martinez in the minors until he makes all of the players down there lose their self-esteem.

Whatcha' gonna do, Cholly?

"Let me answer that later on," Manuel said. "I don't feel like getting into that."

You betcha he doesn't.

Well, after brewing the tea leaves, fishing out the divining rod and shaking down the Magic 8-Ball, I have it figured out, what the Phillies will do.

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He kind of looks like Gob Bluth here: Happ (right) makes for a pretty good starting pitcher, no? Not only does he own two shutouts (as many as any other pitcher in the majors), he's started four games overall in which he's allowed no runs. Happ's 2.74 ERA is eighth in the whole league.

And he just finished off the Rockies, a playoff contender, with a 10-strikeout, 127-pitch effort.

"I don't think one start should affect the situation," Happ said, trying to be hip to what's going down.

But one stat in Happ's start — the 127 pitches — tells us all we need to know.

"He earned the right to go out there" for the ninth inning, Manuel said. "That's how I look at it."

Ah-ha! You've given yourself away, Mr. Manuel. There's no way Happ finishes a high-pitch start in a semi-blowout unless change is coming to America. Manuel is demoting Happ to the bullpen and bringing up the fading superstar to take his place. Here's a nice little second prize, kid. Enjoy your shutout. Now grab a mop!

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Cruel, cruel game. If Manuel made the move based totally on statistics, he would keep Happ in the rotation, call up Pedro and — sorry, gramps — tell Jamie Moyer(notes) to go sit in the rocking chair. Moyer still has his moments, sure, but the man with the 5.55 ERA is the Phillies' sixth-best starter. Plain, but not so simple.

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Feelin Rundown (stick to your own clubhouses, guys):

Brewers 4, Dodgers 1: If you turned in before this one started, you have one question.

The answer: Yes, the TSA screened Prince Fielder before allowing him in Dodger Stadium. Cost him $6 in toothpaste, too.

Rays 6, Red Sox 4: It's not really a sweep unless you play three. That's the old-school in me, from when real men played six-game series, uphill both ways, in driving snowstorms. But it's another important victory for the Rays, who hit four more homers and continue to tighten the wild card race.

"We never felt out of it," David Price(notes) said. "A lot of people counted us out, but nobody in here did."

I counted them out. I still don't think the Rays have "it." Credit them for following up a World Series with a strong season, but one that leaves them short of the playoffs. It's no sin.

Count Jason Bay(notes) out of, at least, the first two games of the Yankees series. Canadian injury timeout.

Giants 10, Astros 6: Joe Martinez(notes) is back! The Hit-In-the-Head Guy! Off the DL to win his first major league start.

Eli Whiteside(notes), who is not a '70s TV character created by Joe Don Baker but instead a backup catcher, hit a grand slam for his first major league homer — and it was the difference in the game.

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White Sox 6, Angels 2: Getting two more homers from Jim Thome(notes) along with another strong start by Gavin Floyd(notes), the White Sox are acquitting themselves well against the Yankees and Angels, having won five of six with one more to go. A.J. Pierzynski(notes) (above) is obviously pumped to play the Halos.

Reds 4, Cubs 0: I get in trouble in the comments when I admit things such as, "I have no idea who Justin Lehr(notes) is." But I don't. And I won't apologize for it, either, and not simply because the feeling is probably mutual.

MacNeil-Lehrer, yes. Dragon's Lair, yes. Reds starter Justin Lehr, no.

Yankees 8, Blue Jays 4: Canadians just softened them up for the Red Sox, is all. Here's A-Rod's take on the upcoming Series of the Millennium:

"We have to beat them at some point," Rodriguez said. "This weekend is a good time to start."

Fightin' words!

Mets 9, Cardinals 0: Jonathon Niese(notes) rips a hamstring after doing the splits trying to cover first base. He's out for the season, like all the other Mets.

They're a Rob Zombie movie, face it. You play for this team, you die.

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Sentencing (wrap it up, one stanza at a time):

Indians 8, Twins 1: Francisco Liriano(notes) will learn to pitch by 2012, by which time it will be too late.

Braves 6, Padres 2: Tommy Hanson(notes) heard voices, but it was only some friends and family screaming at him during his first start in his native Southern California.

Mariners 11, Royals 6: Cat delay!

Nationals 5, Marlins 4: Sure, they win four in a row when nobody is looking.

Athletics 7, Rangers 5: What was Adam Kennedy(notes) doing on waivers earlier this season?

D-backs 4, Pirates 3: It's also not a streak until you win at least three in a row, and the Snakes have won four straight so they're fine there, but two have come against the Pirates, which disqualifies them.

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One and Done (one word to unite them, one word to describe them):

Tigers 4, Orioles 2: Edwins.

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