Big League Stew - MLB

This and every weekday a.m. (except for tomorrow, when Big League Stew nails down the shutters for Fourth of July weekend), let's rise and shine together with the most recent and decent major league happenings. Today's Roll Call starts at the Florida Suncoast Dome ThunderDome Tropicana Field, home of the pending 2008 AL East champions, baby! The Rays already had swept the Red Sox once, but this was their "Alec Baldwin from 'Glengarry Glen Ross' " moment. After the Fenway brawl, the Rays were a curiosity, but something to be taken or left. Now, at 52-32, they have everyone's attention.

Game of the Day: Rays 7, Red Sox 6

How do you say "sweep" in New English? Listen to the voice of Dewayne Staats crack on Longoria, who had the biggest hit, a go-ahead two-run double in a six-run seventh. B.J. Upton made the biggest catch, a cross between Jim Edmonds and Willie Mays — call it "JiMayzin'!" — in the ninth. Later, Dioner Navarro had the biggest throw, to nail the potential tying run at second base.

Let's talk about something important: Since baseball went to three divisions, the outcome for any team's season is like that of the salesmen in Mamet's classic cursefest, "Glengarry." Either you win the El Dorado motor car (the division) the steak knives (the wild card) or you get fired. Now that the Rays lead the Sawx by five games in the loss column (not to alaaahm anyone) their chances of taking home the cutlery or the coupe are pretty good.

Ichtheology: Eric Wilbur of Boston.com recently noted, with the help of these scientists, that the Rays have a 74-percent chance of making the playoffs, and a 53-percent chance of winning the East. Why so conservative? Morning Juice puts the Rays chances at 100 and 100, respectively.

A bag too far: Dustin Pedroia missed the cycle by one base — too many. His eighth-inning double, were it a single, would have made for the 278th cycle in big league annals. On its face, a double is better than a single. Twice as good, in fact. Yet, Pedroia somehow misses history (there have been 256 no-hitters, to compare) because he hit the ball too well. It's kind of like Powerball. Twenty-three might be your number, it might be the coolest number, it might be the smart number to play. But if the No. 23 ping-pong ball don't come up, you're still working at Sears tomorrow.

* * *

Feelin' Rundown (Wednesday's other games):

Twins 7, Tigers 0Nick Blackburn says, "Back in your cage!"

Marlins 4, Nationals 2 — A-mez-a-ga, A-mez-a-ga, God shed his grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.

Angels 7, Athletics 4 — Bobby Thigpen in 1990 set the major league record for saves in a season with 57, but did it without the X-ray shopglasses (hey, K-Rod, you throwing splitters or splitting 2x4s out there?) that give Francisco Rodriguez an unfair competitive advantage.

Cubs 6, Giants 5 — Cubs announcer Bob Brenly says Carlos Marmol is in love with his slider; lemme tell ya, kid, she'll only break your heart.

Orioles 5, Royals 2 — God, it looks like Daniel Cabrera pitched a great game; must be the clouds in my eyes.

Brewers 4, D-backs 3 — Battle stations, people, we have a division leader under .500 in July, move it, move it, move it.

Yankees 18, Rangers 7 — Hank Steinbrenner probably thinks he's like Albert Brooks in "Broadcast News" ("I say it here and it comes out there") now that he demanded more runs one minute and received them the next.

Rockies 8, Padres 1 — If Joe Buck and Colin Cowherd were talking about this game being an example of baseball being hard to watch, one certainly could see their point.

Cardinals 8, Mets 7 — Game-winning homer in the ninth for Troy Glaus — so, was THIS game good enough for you two dipthongs?

White Sox 6, Indians 5 (10 inn.) — C.C. gets an N/D in what could be his next-to, next-to, next-to, next-to last start with the Indians.

Dodgers 4, Astros 1 — Come back soon, Clayton Kershaw!

Mariners 4, Blue Jays 2 — The sun will come out to Morrow, Brandon.

Phillies 7, Braves 3Brett Myers made his first start for Lehigh Valley — wait, did they send him all the way back to high school?

Pirates 9, Reds 5 — The bursa sacs in Matt Capps' shoulder are jacked.

Ooh, that's bad.

But the Bucs bullpen pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings!

That's good.

Jay Bruce came in batting .218 in his past 26 games.

That's bad.

But he hit two home runs and drove in four!

That's good.

About two dozen friends and family saw John Van Benschoten get rocked in his first hometown start in Cincinnati.

That's bad.

Xavier Nady hit two homers and had four RBIs.

That's good.

Nady contains potassium benzoate.

(?)

That's bad.

Can we go on vacation now?

* * *

Photo of the Day: And ... boom goes the fireworks!

"Designate Vinnie Chulk for assignment, will they? I'll show those no-good so-and-so Giants."

* * *

Fantasy Freaks

Blackburn (Twins) 7 IP 3 H, BB, 4 K, Win

Jason Giambi (Yankees) 2-4, 2 R, HR, 6 RBI

A-Rod (Yankees) 2-3, 4 R, HR, 3 RBI

Daniel Cabrera (O's) 9 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 K, Win

Nady (Bucs) 3-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI

Bruce (Reds) 2-3, 2 HR, 4 RBI

Pedroia (Red Sox) 4-5, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI

Hiroki Kuroda (Dodgers) 7 IP, 5 H, BB, K, Win

Grady Sizemore (Indians) 3-4, 4 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, SB

A.J. Pierzynski (White Sox) 2-4, 2 HR

Glaus (Cards) 2-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI

* * *

Fantasy Flakes

Sidney Ponson (Yankees) 5 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, K

Randy Wolf (Padres) 4 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, Loss

* * *

Words of Mouth

"We do expect to win on a nightly basis." — Rays manager Joe Maddon

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