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David Brown

Tae-Bo power! Padres' Blanks delivers knockout punch to Cubs

David Brown
Big League Stew

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This and every weekday a.m. during baseball season, let's rise and shine to recap the most recent diamond doings. Roll Call starts at PETCO Park in San Diego, where a hulking rookie named Kyle Blanks(notes) made like namesake Billy Blanks and had a good cardio workout. He hit the game-ending homer, jogged around the bases and took playful punches from grateful teammates. In burning about 35 calories, Blanks also burned Kevin Gregg(notes) and the Cubs, possibly beyond redemption.

Game of the Day: Padres 4, Cubs 1

Heavenly fathers: This has to be the happiest day of the season for the Padres, who signed their top draft pick and played pennant-race spoiler with a dramatic four-run ninth inning. After Chase "It's Hedy Lamarr" Headley tied the score with an RBI double with two outs and Kevin Kouzmanoff(notes) was intentionally walked, Blanks — listed at 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds — absolutely crushed one of Gregg's fastballs, hitting it over the fence to Simon and Simon's house.

Watch it go.

For those old enough, it woke up an echo of Steve Garvey taking Lee Smith deep in the '84 NLCS. In wasting a great start by Ted Lilly(notes), this loss merely dropped the Cubs six games back in the NL Cenrtal because the Cardinals beat the Dodgers.

Blanks fired up: After taking a pummeling by his mates, Blanks carried Kouzmanoff on his back for a few moments. Now, martial (marshal?) artist/salesman Billy Blanks probably would have defended himself from such an attack, but the rookie's still trying to fit in among the Padres.

"I'll take it," Blanks said. "The part of the park I hit it to is pretty big out there. I was definitely hoping for it. When I saw it go out, I was definitely relieved."

Gregg's the dregs: Also relieved, Cubs fans, who have been calling for manager Lou Piniella to eject Gregg from the closer role.

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"I think we are going to make some changes as far as what we're going to do late innings," Piniella said. "We'll see what we do. I'm going to think about it tonight."

The candidates are Carlos Marmol(notes) — whom Gregg beat out (in a fixed fight) in spring training — and Angel Guzman(notes).

Gregg (right, hangdog) has six blown saves in 29 opportunities overall, including three this month. He has allowed 12 homers in 56 innings. Gregg said he understands why Piniella is upset.

From the Chicago Tribune:

"I could see why he's [ticked]," Gregg said. "I'd be [ticked]. I'm [ticked] right now. That's a crappy effort I just put forth on the field. I could have regrouped. I still have to get people out."

The Cubs have time to regroup, but doubt grows daily whether they have the wherewithal. The back of the bullpen isn't the only problem; sometimes, the Cubs just can't score runs, either.

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Feelin' Rundown ("Go Cubs Go" was not played after any of these games, either):

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Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2: L.A. tried to pull a fast one — or maybe a slow, dancing one — by throwing knuckleballer Charlie Haeger(notes). Everything was going to plan until Rick Ankiel(notes) turned around a floater for a two-run homer in the top of the seventh inning. Chris Carpenter(notes) continued his trek in Cy Young's general direction with eight strong and Ryan Franklin(notes) picked up his 30th save for the Redbirds, who are putting real estate between themselves and the Cubs.

Athletics 3, Yankees 0: The people in Oakland probably thought A-Rod hitting into a 1-2-3 double play was worth the price of admission.

Braves 9, D-backs 4: If you see that Tommy Hanson(notes) is pitching, you expect the Braves to win. That's saying a lot for a guy who just got here.

Rangers 8, Twins 5: Twinkeasy.

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White Sox 8, Royals 7: General manager Ken Williams called his team "underachievers" before the game. Not good, but it's better than being called "lollygaggers".

Giants 10, Mets 1: The Giants are 64-54 but are nine games under .500 on the road, a split that prompted manager Bruce Bochy to call a team meeting to address the "elephant in the closet."

What the hidden sexual orientation of elephants has to do with scoring runs and playing defense, no one can say, but the Giants are 1-0 after the talking-to.

Angels 8, Orioles 5: The Halos are 28-4 in Vladimir Guerrero's(notes) past 32 games with at least one homer, so he hit two in this game just to make sure they heard him.

Pirates 9, Brewers 5: The Bucs, you think they can catch the Nats for worst record and the next Stephen Strasburg and then they go and beat the Brewers. This is no time for integrity, boys!

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