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David Brown

Morning Juice: Strikeout leaders get a good whiff of each other

David Brown
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 at Chase Field, where Texas' Chris Davis(notes) and Arizona's Mark Reynolds(notes) showed that swinging a round bat at a round ball and hitting it squarely ain't as hard as they sometimes make it seem.

Game of the Day

Rangers 9, D-backs 8 (12 innings)

Feel the breeze: League leaders don't face each other often. KC's Zack Greinke(notes) and Arizona's Dan Haren(notes) missed an ERA-leaders showdown when the Royals came to town recently. Albert Pujols(notes) and Adrian Gonzalez(notes) might not pace the league in homers by the time the Cardinals and Padres play each other. So, in a sense, fans at the former BOB were given a special opportunity with Davis and Reynolds on the same field. Would they treat the desert folks with some man-made air conditioning?

Well, the strikeout showdown never materialized as both played well, especially in the rubber game of the series. Davis went 4-for-5 and hit the winning homer to trump Reynolds' two-homer, four-RBI performance. And both struck out only once.

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Oasis: The 23-year-old Davis has been struggling to keep his batting average above .200 — and to stay out of the minors — but hope floats after games like this. During the key at-bat in the 12th, he just got a piece of Esmerling Vásquez's 2-2 pitch that catcher Miguel Montero(notes) dropped. Davis didn't miss the next one.

"When I saw Montero drop it, I heard his frustration, so I kind of stepped out and took a deep breath and collected my thoughts and just got back in there," Davis said.

The Rangers have stuck with Davis, who had an exciting half-season debut in 2008, in part because the rest of their offense has covered him. But he's overdrawn at the strikeout bank, leading the league with 103 not even at the midway point, and is reaching the "or else" portion of his young career.

Wrapper: Reynolds, 25, set a major league record for Ks with 204 in 2008 and, with 99 so far this season, is in position to challenge his own beastly mark. But Reynolds more than makes up for his misses with hits. He's fifth in the majors in homers, he's just beyond the top 10 in RBIs and his .920 OPS is in the top 30. Davis can point to Reynolds and say, that's what I want my career to look like.

"He can put a team on his back and deliver some big blows," Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said of Reynolds.

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Feelin' Rundown (strikeouts are fascist):

Mets 3, Cardinals 2: You can't do much better than Johan Santana(notes) vs. Chris Carpenter(notes), so the Mets and Cards didn't even try. They just sent 'em out there and said, "OK, be great." They pretty much were, with Santana keeping Albert Pujols on a short leash. Carpenter allowed only four hits, the biggest coming from Nick Evans(notes), whose two-run double keyed the Mets' three-run fourth inning.

Evans couldn't hit Triple-A pitching but he handles the best in the world. Go figure.

"He keep hitting, he keep playing," Manuel said.

Jerry is so down with the street, yo.

Tigers 6, Cubs 5: Magglio Ordonez(notes) finally, finally, finally cuts off his Prince Valiant locks. Oh, and he hit the go-ahead homer, his first since in 40 games since April 27. Coincidence, of course, but as with Vladimir Guerrero(notes), we are gonna milk it like it's not.

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Pirates 3, Indians 2: Andrew McCutchen(notes) had a part in all three Bucs runs. He ended the game with a bloop single, after tying the score with a bases-loaded walk earlier, and he also doubled and scored the first run.

And it was all meant to be.

"It was kind of like almost predestined, the way you kind of looked at it," McCutchen said. "Every time I came up to the bat, it was a key situation. I was able to come through."

Calvinist, eh?

Look at how fun the Pirates can be: Jack Wilson(notes) hip-bumping the rookie phenom.

Twins 6, Brewers 4: I knew there was a reason I had Denard Span(notes) on the brain yesterday when I mistook him for Carlos Gomez(notes). I must have previsioned Span's first day back off the DL because of an inner ear infection. A triple, three walks and three runs. The Twins' next beloved player, Span is.

Astros 5, Royals 4: Killer Bs come in threes: Lance Berkman(notes) joins Bagwell and Biggio as the only 'Stros with 1,000 RBIs after going deep twice. Houston has made five errors in the past two games. Coop ought to tape their gloves to their hands — like a fumbling running back with a football — until they can find the right concentration frequency. Not sure what kind of torturous exercise we can implement for throwing errors. I'll get back to you.

White Sox 6, Dodgers 5 (13 inn.): There's no denying Scott Podsednik(notes) has become revived playing for his old World Series homeboys. This season ain't going to finish like 2005, but it's better than putting Dewayne Wise(notes) out in left field.

Another blown lead by Chad Billingsley(notes). Torre brilliantly points it out without being a big meanie:

"Four-to-nothing lead, he takes it to the bank," manager Joe Torre said. "And that's the second time this trip, so it's a surprise. I'm not concerned. It's just a surprise that it happened because we rely on him so much and he's been our main guy."

The White Sox looked good in breaking out the 1959 jerseys to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the World Series squad that lost to the Dodgers. I especially like the oversized numbers on the sleeve that probably were for the benefit of TV. Always thinking, that Bill Veeck.

Mariners 9, Padres 3: AP scribe Tim Booth writes that Ichiro(notes) "finished a triple short of the cycle." This is technically true, but it's not much different from saying he's visited every planet in the solar system except for Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus and Pluto. The triple is the hard part. To the moon, Boothie!

Nationals 9, Red Sox 3: The return of John Smoltz(notes) started poorly but finished with an optimistic kick. He still has a few more races left in his 42-year-old right arm. He also became a footnote, joining Warren Spahn and Phil Niekro as the third pitcher to spend at least 20 seasons with one team before joining another — and all three were Braves. Weird!

"Within a few starts," Smoltz said, "I'll be honed in to where I want to be."

Yahoo! Sports' own Gordon Edes was on the scene with this report. Gordon?

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Reds 7, Blue Jays 5: Four hits and a home run (his first in forever) for Joey Votto(notes), who previously had trouble at the hometown Skydome Hotel and Ballpark. Votto also has been working through stress and anxiety problems related to his father's death, as you probably know. Has nothing to do with this.

Rays 10, Phillies 4: Does Andrew Friedman wish he could get in a time machine and trade Andy Sonnanstine(notes) instead of Edwin Jackson(notes)? Possibly, but first he's contemplating using the machine to go back and kill a young Adolph Hitler.

Lost in all of this baseball analysis: The Rays have a time machine?

Marlins 11, Orioles 3: Second grand slam in three days for O. Hanley Ramirez(notes). He might be good. Keep an eye out. Nick Markakis(notes) went 4-for-4, and for what?

Yankees 11, Braves 7: The Yanks are 2-0, and now have second place all by their lonesomes, since general manager Brian Cashman joined the road trip in progress.

Maybe it's like when Joe McGrath joined the Chiefs on the road.

"It has nothing to do with me," Cashman said. "When you have talent, all you need is for a few things to break."

He got a good deal on those boys.

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