Big League Stew - MLB

This and almost every weekday a.m. during baseball season, let's rise and shine together to recap the most recent diamond doings. Roll Call starts in Cincinnati, where the Reds and Pirates almost answered the question: "What if they played a ballgame and nobody came?"

Game(s) of the Day
Reds 4, Pirates 3 (Game 1); Reds 6, Pirates 3 (Game 2)

Let's play two? Seriously?: Testing the boundaries of Ernie Banks' famous motto, the Reds pulled off a doubleheader sweep of any kind for the first time in 10 years, and did it to the Pirates in Cincy for the first time in 33 seasons — since the days of the Big Red Machine. The first game ended on a run-scoring wild pitch and the second featured the first video reversal at Great American Ball Park.

And it all went down in front of the two smallest crowds in stadium history, as the above photo starring Jason Jaramillo(notes) shows. If you click on any link today, be sure to read the hilarious account of the games by AP reporter Joe Kay. Here are some highlights:

• No more than 2,000 fans showed up for game one, which turned the 42,000-seat stadium into a giant "red echo chamber." The Reds announced about 9,000 tickets sold for the second game, but nobody was buying that as an attendance figure, either.

• Rookie Drew Stubbs(notes), who hit two homers, said the early crowd reminded him of the Florida State League. Stubbs also said he could hear announcer Jeff Brantley's voice bouncing from the radios on the concourse and in cars outside the stadium.

"You could hear everything," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I saw one guy who was missing a finger catch a foul ball, and I could hear him say, ‘That hurt like hell,' but he caught it. That's one of those days where everyone could get a foul ball and a T-shirt."

• The sound system played "All By Myself" by Eric Carmen. When I was Delwyn Young(notes)/ I never needed anyone. ...

• Pirates rookie right-hander Daniel McCutchen(notes) (no apparent relation to Andrew McCutchen(notes)) said he was jittery before his major league debut. But he hit an RBI single in his first at-bat and lasted six innings.

"I was a little antsy, trying to block that crowd out," he said, breaking into a grin. "That's a joke there."

• Darnell McDonald scored the winning run on a wild pitch by Pittsburgh's Jesse Chavez(notes), sending several hundreds of fans into something resembling a frenzy. 

• Joey Votto was the only Reds player in the lineup for the original game, which was rained out April 10. Only Ryan Doumit(notes) and Adam LaRoche(notes) remain on the Bucs.

• In the nightcap, umpires initially credited Brandon Phillips(notes) with a home run on a drive down the left-field line, but checked the TV just to be sure.

"I was sure it was foul," Phillips said, "but then when I rounded second and saw them signal home run I was like, ‘Yeah, I like this.' Then I remembered they have instant replay."

• Both teams will finish with lousy but notable win-loss records. The Reds appeared improved at the start of the season but injuries helped kill their chances to content. They are nine losses from clinching their ninth straight losing season, their worst run since the 1950s, when Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television, Roy Cohn and Juan Peron really had the Reds on the run.

The Pirates are five more losses from clinching a 17th straight losing season, which would be a first for a major professional sports team in the U.S. Decades from now, perhaps three or four thousand people will say they were there for two of those games. 

* * *

Feelin' Rundown (one month to go in the pennant race):

Yankees 5, Orioles 1: Perfect for the first 20 batters until Jerry Hairston let one go through his legs for an error, Andy Pettitte(notes) had to settle for an eight-inning, two-hit, one-run, very good game.

Pettitte hugged Hairston in the clubhouse, absolving him of any sins.

"He was kind of funny," Hairston said. "He was like, 'You took the pressure off me.' He goes, 'If I haven’t thrown a no-hitter by now, then I’m not going to do it.’ ... He said he didn’t want to throw nine innings anyway. That’s what type of attitude he has."

Say, when did Pettitte buy the Orioles from Peter Angelos? He's 26-6 against them lifetime, including 16-4 in the stadium built around Babe Ruth's childhood outhouse. 

Twins 4, White Sox 1: The Metrodome is where fun goes to die for the White Sox. Before his team lost in the Twin Cities for the 15th time in 17 games, general manager Ken Williams sent a memo to the rest of the league announcing many of his players were for sale. About an hour after the game, the word came down: Designated hitter Jim Thome(notes) had been traded to the Dodgers and right-hander Jose Contreras(notes) — almost as popular as Thome inside the clubhouse — had been sent to the Rockies.

D-backs 5, Dodgers 3 (10 inn.): Rusty Ryal(notes) wins it with a go-ahead, pinch-hit homer. Does anyone but me remember his father, Mark Ryal? ... Hey, while they were all in L.A. at the same time, the D-backs figured they should trade Jon Garland(notes) to the Dodgers. They don't have to pay as much in relocation expenses that way. The Dodgers now have more starters than a team usually needs. Joe Torre addressed that:

"Jon Garland is going to get the ball every five days and if we have six starters, so be it," Torre said. "It has made us stronger. We have some threat off the bench now, and with Garland, we have someone who knows how to pitch."

Rays 11, Tigers 7: Trailing by five games in the standings, if the Rays are actually going to make it a race for the wild card, they need to sweep the Red Sox at home this week. I don't think they can. They haven't shown an inclination to do something so audacious all season long. They give too many games away. This isn't 2008. And that's OK. We'll always have Longoria.

Blue Jays 18, Rangers 10: The Jays beat the Rangers the old-fashioned Texas way: offensive bludgeoning. Like in one of them "Jason" movies, they got up 11 and thought it was over. But then here comes old hockey face, shrinking the lead to one. The remedy? More bludgeoning.

Adam Lind(notes) wins the prize for "Most Bludgeoning" with two homers and eight RBIs. Derek Holland(notes) wins the "Most Bludgeoned" award with 10 earned runs allowed. They really had Josh Hamilton(notes) (right) climbing the walls. For the ball, the ball.

Astros 5, Cubs 3: Like Andy Pettitte is to the O's, Carlos Lee(notes) is to the Cubs. The Cubs? Oh, they don't need to trade anybody. They're still in this thing (/rolls eyes).

Athletics 8, Royals 5: The first person to convince me it was right for the Royals to extend Dayton Moore's contract as GM, gets a prize from 'Duk.

Braves 5, Marlins 2: The ATL is only three games back in the wild card. Who's a believer?

Angels 10, Mariners 0: No slaughter rule in the MLB, so this went all nine. But the Angels should feel free to play some Slaughter. How about this?

Padres 3, Nationals 1: Just a great play by Oscar Salazar. Say, did I mention there's only one month left in the regular season? Don't wish it too hard.

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