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David Brown

Morning Juice: Can the Rays eventually outdraw a country star?

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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 Roll Call starts at the site of the recent Trace Adkins concert in Tampa, Fla., where singin' cowboys draw better than ballplayers — even if they're in first place in the AL East.

Game of the Day: Rays 4, White Sox 3 (10 inn.)

We're 35-22!: With a loss on Thursday, the four-game weekend series started poorly for Big League Stew's fave team, but the Rays rallied and limited the WSox to four runs over the next three games. The only earned runs the ChiSox bullpen has allowed in the past 32 innings were game-ending homers in this series. On Sunday, Gabe Gross took Matt Thornton deep-sea fishin' to take three of four games in the battle of first place teams.

You're gonna miss this: The Rays sold out Saturday's game, but only because Trace Adkins was playing a show at the Tropicana. Adkins is a superstar (or at least he's got a big hat, pictured in all its glory above) so it's not like the marquee read "Puppet Show and Spinal Tap." It's still a head-scratcher. The Rays average about 18,000, though it seems more like 12 or 13, or 10. If only they could get a country star every day, they would get 3 million easy. I'd see a doubleheader of Reba and Scott Kazmir, for example. Or two Mandrell sisters (one has to be Louise) and Andy Sonnanstine.

Do something, Kenny: June is here and so is Ozzie's most recent rant. The WSox are 30-26, still in first place, but they're something like 2-for-their-last-6,000 with RISP. "Just be ready because I expect movement Tuesday. I expect (general manager) Kenny Williams to do something Tuesday, and if we don't do anything Tuesday, there are going to be a lot of lineup changes. That's all I'm going to say about the offense. ... "It can be me. It can be (hitting coach) Greg Walker. It can be the players. It could be anybody. I'm sick and tired to watch this thing for a year and a half. I'm not protecting anybody anymore. [Bleep] it. If they can't get it done, Kenny should find someone to get it done."

Shut up, Ozzie: Williams did not get Ozzie's memo. Reached by e-mail, KW told the Chicago Tribune, "It's just not a good idea to throw your boss under the bus, especially when that boss has had your back as much as I have had his. I expect this team, if the leadership remains positive and the players stick together and continue to play hard, it will be a fun summer."

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NL Game of the Day: Reds 6, Braves 2

Road worriers: When the Braves go back on the road next week, someone needs to pull a Crash Davis and flood Dodger Stadium so that they get a postponement or two because — if you haven't heard — they haven't won on the road since Mark Lemke was doing his thing.

Red letters: The Boss (Jay Bruuuuuuuuce) went 13-for-22 with six walks, two homers, two steals and six RBIs in his first six major league games. Lastly, open your mind to Cueto.

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Feelin' rundown (Sunday's other games)

Phillies 7, Marlins 5 — Even as a cowhide curtain falls on most of the major leagues, a small band of rebels in Philadelphia hit like it's still 2006. Leading the rag-tag bunch of freedom fighters is Chase Utley, who is only two homers behind his 2007 total with about 100 games to go. Most other players are having their lightsabers busted into to pieces these days. Not Utley. To be this good, he must know the illegal ninja moves from the government.

Brewers 10, Astros 1 — Home run for Ryan Braun on his bobblehead day, which is better than homering on your birthday. Dave Bush had to be a hair away from getting sent to the minors, to an off-shore oil rig, or to a military school, but his past two starts have been splendid. So he can stay. The 'Stros have lost five in a row but they can stay in the NL Central.

Cardinals 7, Pirates 4 — I've been watching Micah Owings when he bats, but maybe I should have my batting eyes on Braden Looper, who has been a real pro jock at the plate — he's batting .429 after a pair of singles, runs scored and an RBI. Rick Ankiel might have made his catch of the year (though his play of the year so far is one of his throws in Colorado). Ian Snell should be better than this, though I have little evidence to prove it.

Cubs 5, Rockies 3 — The best win of the season for the Cubs came Friday. Down 9-1 heading to the bottom of the sixth, the Cubs rallied with three runs, and six more in the seventh — after Lou started to pull players. Reminds me of 1989, when they rallied from 9-0 down against the Astros to win, and later took the old NL East. They've won seven straight and no one is quite good enough to challenge them for real in the NL Central. So, they're going to make the playoffs again. It's like the man said with five outs to go against the Marlins in the 2003 NLCS: What could possibly go wrong?

Giants 4, Padres 3 (10 inn.) — Trevor Hoffman had a senior moment again, though it came for the first time since April 23, and the Giants broke a seven-game losing streak at AT&T, the prettiest li'l ballpark in the majors (other than PNC).

D-backs 5, Nationals 0 — Back-to-back shutouts — Webb and Haren are going be be very hard to beat in the playoffs, too — and June starts where May ended for AZ. The Deebs overall went 11-17 in May, and it seemed worse. It's attributable to Owings' slump (.167) at the plate ... OK, probably not.

Mets 6, Dodgers 1 - Johan Santana re-asserts himself as the best Santana going (Ervin and Carlos will make it a race all season long, though) as the Mets take three of four from the Dodger Dogs and five of six since manager Willie Randolph went to the principal's office.

Red Sox 9, Orioles 4 - Dice-K's on the DL with a strained rotator cuff. Manny finally surpasses 499 homers so ESPN's sentinels can go back to sleep. The Sawx can sweep with a win today. The Orioles are turning sour, and last place will soon be out of reach for the Yankees.

Royals 6, Indians 1 — The Royals 12-game losing streak is OVAH, in fact, by a couple of days. KC now has two wins in a row on the board, which just reminds everyone of how unattractive the AL Central turned out to be.

Twins 5, Yankees 1Delmon Young has no home runs. He's only 22, but no homers in 212 at-bats? I'm not asking a guy to cork a bat, but c'mon. Jeetah had a home run Sunday, but is 4-for-44 on the road trip, which probably means his hand is bothering him.

Athletics 13, Rangers 8 — Nine-run seventh inning does it for the A's. Mark Ellis had a legendary at-bat (Johnny Cash will write about it) against Frank Francisco, homering after fouling of 12 pitches before going deep. Francisco then threw a chair at a fan in disgust.

Angels 4, Blue Jays 3Maicer Izturis hits a game-ending single in the bottom of the ninth against B.J. Ryan, who blew his first save. Four of the six victories for the Angels on their homestand came in their last at-bat. Is it so hard to avoid saying "walkoff"? (This is not to besmirch Walkoff Walk. They do a fine job and should not change their name to Game-Ending Walk.)

Tigers 7, Mariners 5Curtis Granderson says watch out for the Tigers. Well, he sort of says it: "Yeah, looking at our division, nobody has pulled away. And we still haven't played good baseball." Not exactly Joe Namath by the pool before Super Bowl III.

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Photo of the Day: There are secrets we all keep

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"Too bad I don't really feel this way about you, Julio."

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Fantasy Freaks

Manny (Red Sox) 3-5, HR, 3 RBI

Mike Jacobs (Marlins) 2-4 2 HR, 4 RBI

Raul Ibanez (Mariners) 3-5, HR, 3 RBI

Dan Haren (D-backs) 7 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 5 K, Win

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Fantasy Flakes

Brian Burres (Orioles) 4 IP, 12 H, 7 ER, BB, 2 K, Loss

Paul Byrd (Indians) 4 1/3 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, Loss

Hiroki Kuroda (Dodgers) 2 2/3 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, Loss

Chipper (Braves) 0-4, .405 BA.

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Big Talker

I wouldn't say we were happy that he came in, but (A.J.) Burnett was pretty much dealing and we wanted to see something different. B.J. Ryan is a really good closer and we didn't want to see him, either. But get the guy that's hot out of there." — Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, on the Blue Jays taking out their starter and replacing him with their closer.
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