Nine innings, nine items to get you going. Ladies and gentleman of the Stew, take a sip of morning Juice.
1. Meh — it's just C.C. and the Sawx: The Boston Red Sox came to Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field on Tuesday night, bringing a nine-game winning streak and former local superstar Carl Crawford(notes) with them. The Rays did not shrink from the challenge of facing the AL East leaders, or get overly sentimental about the return of the best player in franchise history, who signed with Boston for $142 million in the offseason.
(And they're not intimidated by your boss dance moves, either, Carl.)
Tampa Bay won 4-0 behind right-hander James Shields(notes), who pitched his third shutout of the season, and Crawford went 0 for 3 while receiving a mostly polite greeting. Manager Joe Maddon, whose club closed to within 3 1/2 games of first place, said the Rays wished Crawford a good-bye a while ago:
"Honestly, I hate to disappoint, but it's really not that big of a deal to us. … I think more of what you're going to see is for the fans," Maddon said. "For us, we've moved on. We've got a bunch of guys that say 'Rays' on the front of their jerseys and that's the group I'm concerned with."
2. Justin time: Well, we're just going to have go on a no-hitter alert every time Justin Verlander(notes) pitches, I guess. He took a no-no into the eighth before Orlando Cabrera(notes) broke it up, and the Detroit Tigers beat Justin Masterson(notes) and the Cleveland Indians 4-0 to take sole possession of first place in the AL Central.
3. Invader Zim returns!: Ryan Zimmerman(notes) should come off the disabled list more often. After missing 58 games, he hit a key double in a six-run seventh inning for the Washington Nationals, who rallied against the Cardinals for an 8-6 victory. Team Fredbird has dropped four in a row.
4. Who needs the Captain?: With Derek Jeter(notes) simply cheering instead of playing, the New York Yankees thumped the Rangers 12-4. One thing is certain about the season Alexi Ogando(notes) is having: It would be even better if he didn't have to face the Yankees. He has allowed 11 runs in eight innings against them and 14 runs in 75 innings against everyone else.
The Astros right-hander, it would seem, sides with deposed pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, who was fired before Houston fell 1-0 to the Pirates and righty Jeff Karstens(notes). Also: A moment of silence for Hunter Pence's(notes) 23-game hitting streak.
6. Slim margins: The San Francisco Giants got to rookie Josh Collmenter(notes) for a big early lead, but needed to hang on after a rally for a 6-5 victory at Arizona. Miguel Montero's(notes) three-run homer made S.F. squirm — Panda was all like, "Matt Cain, you OK?" But Brian Wilson(notes) battled control issues to lock it down in the ninth. Giants lead the D-backs by 1 1/2 games, two in the loss column.
7. Cubs comeback: Yovani Gallardo(notes) seemed to have this one on lockdown through seven innings for the Brewers, but the Cubs stormed back against reliever Marco Estrada(notes) with three runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie, then won in the 10th — 5-4 — via an RBI single by Starlin Castro(notes). Milwaukee had gone 35 games without back-to-back defeats, which seems like a lot.
8. About a week back: Cole Hamels(notes) shut down the Marlins, and rookie Domonic Brown(notes) hit a pair of homers leading the Phillies to a 9-1 victory. Hamels had to leave the game in the eighth inning because of a stiff back, so there's your nightly angst material for Phillies fans.
9. Reds menace: Johnny Cueto(notes) and the Cincinnati Reds had to go and spoil Don Newcombe's 85th with a 3-2 victory at Los Angeles. Cueto outperformed Clayton Kershaw(notes) for his first career victory against the Dodgers in five starts.
"Where's the Metrodome when you need it?"