This and every weekday a.m., let's rise and shine together for those deserving of the AL Central title and others less deserving. Today's Roll Call begins in Minnesota, where the Twins completed a crucial sweep of the White Sox and took over first place with an exhilarating-for-some, gut-busting-for-others, eardrum-shattering for all, comeback.
Game of the Day: Twins 7, White Sox 6 (10 inn.)
Bait, switch and hemorrhage: They trailed 6-1 in the fourth inning against Chicago's top starter, but the Piranhas pecked and picked at Sox flesh until Alexi Casilla hit a soft single in the 10th to score Nick Punto against Bobby Jenks, who came in having saved 15 consecutive chances. The crowd of 43,601 had been loud all night, like in those '87 and '91 days of yore, but they really turned up the volume after the Twins took over first place. "That was unbelievable. The loudest thing I've ever heard in my life," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire says.
Sweep with the carnivorous fishes: The first two wins were nice, and necessary, but a loss for the Twinkies would have made for a two-game swing in the standings, which would be devastating with so little time left. Except for for a six-run fourth inning for the White Sox, the Twinkie Piranhas dominated every inning of the series. They now have a .5 game lead in the AL Central, good enough for their first solo day in first place since Aug. 23.
And we'll (maybe) see you tomorrow night: If the contenders stay even through the weekend — the Royals are coming to the Twin Cities while the Tribe is traveling to The Cell — the White Sox would host a makeup game against the Tigers on Monday. If they win that, a one-game playoff with the Twins would come at U.S. Cellular Field. Who's up for Game 163?
Get over the HumpDome: Other than the hometown club, no franchise looks more forward to the opening of Target Field than the White Sox, who feel as uncomfortable at the Dome as Paul Konerko, Ken Griffey and Jim Thome would if each ran a leg of a relay race. The Saggy Sox reflected their recent lack of success there in going 1-8 in Minnesota this season. Honestly, with the way they played, they should feel good about getting out of there with one victory all season.
* * *
Cardinals 12, D-backs 3: "They hit a hot stretch, and we hit a cold stretch," D-bax catcher Chris Snyder says. "Put that together and you get the Dodgers jumping around right now." I like it. Can we wrap on that? OK? OK. Let's go, boys. ... Oh, wait. We got more "tidbits." Sonuva! Mark Reynolds indeed surpasses Ryan Howard's K record. He's got 201. He also has a league-high 34 errors, which one of our readers already pointed out, and would be the first since AL MVP Zoilo Versalles in 1965 to lead the league in whiffs and boo-boos.
Padres 7, Dodgers 5: No matter. The Dodger Dogs already had clinched the NL West earlier while on their way to the park. Wet from champagne, Joe Torre tries to deflect any credit for this, saying, "Anytime a manager thinks that he's responsible for something that players do, he's a little deluded." He's too modest, but he also might have a point buried in there; this is the third playoff trip for L.A. since '04 under a third different manager.
Mets 7, Cubs 6: Carlos Beltran wasn't about to let the Mets lose because some guy named Micah the Au Pair goes 5-for-5 with 5 RBIs. "We're too old for a babysitter," Beltran says after singling in the game-winner in the ninth.
Brewers 5, Pirates 1: Sore-ribbed Ryan Braun starts a strip-tease as he begins to circle the bases on his game-winning slam. Check out the six-pack of MGD on our boy over there. Somebody whistle for me, both literally and figuratively. ... If the Brewers, Phillies and Mets all finish the regular season with the same won-lost record, can Milwaukee consider itself co-champs of the NL East? These issues keep me up at night.
Tigers 7, Rays 5: Big yawners, big yawners from the Rays, who didn't complain about the game's 1 p.m. starting time so I'll complain for them. A day game, for a series opener after arriving at the team hotel in the middle of the night? We at Wrigley Field? S.W.A.T come and shoot out all of Comerica's lights in a tactical assault exercise? No, the Tigers picked this game for "senior citizen day." They wouldn't try that on the Yankees. So, Old People helped delay the celebration for clinching the AL East. After all Tampa Bay has done for Old People. The Rays really are alone.
Red Sox 6, Indians 1: Jon Lester avoids giving his manager something to think about by not pitching a no-hitter beyond the sixth. Had the Tribe won, the Rays would have been reduced to celebrating the AL East title by running around a suburban Detroit hotel cheering for themselves. The bright side: Dominoes delivers anywhere, any time, especially in greater Detroit.
Blue Jays 8, Yankees 2: To tell a secret, Halladay technically became a 20-game winner in his previous start on the strength of the Canadian dollar against the U.S., but let's not pick gnat poop out of pepper and give the boy a round of applause. The Bronx line on Carl Pavano: 9-8 in 26 career starts over four seasons for $40 million.
Angels 6, Mariners 4: One more victory and the Angels assure themselves of home field throughout the AL playoffs. Nobody wants to visit Tropicana Field for a decisive seventh game. Well, nobody really wants to visit Tropicana Field unless he or she has to, period, but you get me.
Astros 8, Reds 6: The 'Stros remain alive for the playoffs, but to actually make them need a chain of events to occur that are so diabolical, it would melt your brain if you tried to figure them out. ... It's only a matter of time before the Yankees try to pay Roy Oswalt an obscene amount of money. Would they let him ride the tractor in Times Square, really, is the only lingering issue.
Rockies 3, Giants 1: Zito packs it up after finishing 10-17, 5.15. "I think I pretty much got to rock bottom this year," Zito says. "I know what that's like and don't need to worry about it anymore." Oh, and please buy his jeans.
Marlins at Nationals, canceled (rain): This game had so little importance, it was so unwanted and unloved, it will never be played. No makeup date. No doubleheader. No day/night split. No, "Let's MicroLeague this bad boy." No, rock/paper/scissors. No coin flip. No nothing. How would you feel? Makes me want to cry.
* * *
Photo of the Day: Canadian zen yoga
* * *
Ben Zobrist (Rays) 2-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI
Ramon Santiago (Tigers) 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR
Ah Pu (Cards) 3-3, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI
Troy Glaus (Cards) 1-1, 4 BB!
Lester (Red Sox) 6 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 4 K, Win
Vernon Wells (Jays) 2-5, HR, 4 RBI
Halladay (Jays) 9 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, BB, 5 K, Win
Hoffpauir (Cubs) 5-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI
Carlos Gomez (Twins) 4-5, 3 R, 2 RBI
Luis Rodriguez (Padres) 4 -4, 2 R, RBI
Jorge De La Rosa (Rox) 7 IP, 2 BB, 7 K, Win
* * *
Conor Jackson (AZ) 0-4, K
Garret Anderson (LAA) 0-5, K
Johnny Cueto (Reds) 2 2/3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, K, Loss
* * *
Words of Mouth
"It was just disgusting. It was embarrassing. You can't pitch, you can't hit, you can't win games." — Conor Jackson