I decided to go with two servings of Closing Time today; your first helping of CT can be found here, or you can stick with this piece, Closing Time 2 – Electric Boogaloo. Everyone who reads both entries and passes a detailed comprehension test will be entered to win a Craig Falzone bobblehead. Enough with the preamble, onto the notes of the evening.
• Does anyone want to offer a defense for David Ortiz(notes)? What's on the pro side of the argument? Does the line-drive rate of 21 percent soothe you? Will you cut him some slack because he bats third in a strong offense? Does he get any points for being huggable? Papi took an ugly 0-for-7 collar at Anaheim Thursday, striking out three times and stranding 11 men on base. He's yet to hit a homer or play the field this season – who wants to be stuck with a utility-lock up that doesn't offer any power?
I realize the walk/strikeout rate offers some reason for optimism, but in my mind that's in part because teams haven't accepted the reality yet – there's no reason to be afraid when pitching to Ortiz. I can't imagine it gets much worse for Ortiz, but I'll be surprised if it gets a lot better. I think his stardom days are gone for good, and I'm glad he's not torpedoing any of my teams at the moment. If you've got an Ortiz trading story from the front lines, I want to hear about it in the comments.
• The Mets had to be steamed after blowing a couple of games against Atlanta this week, and they decided to run out their frustration at San Francisco Thursday night. Jerry Manuel's crew went for seven steals against poor Bengie Molina(notes) and Co., with David Wright(notes) getting four of the swipes. Throw in a couple of bags on the other side (Emmanuel Burriss(notes), Fred Lewis(notes)) and it was a fun night on the basepaths.
The respective closers had the final say in the game's result. Brian Wilson(notes) got the "ninth inning in a tie game" assignment that's routinely given to home-team closers, but he couldn't command his electric stuff and the Mets rapped him around for three runs. Francisco Rodriguez(notes) appreciated the big cushion and needed just 10 pitches to take the Giants down in the bottom of the inning, stranding one runner. Say what you want about the price of free-agent closers, but K-Rod (10 saves, 1.02 ERA) sure looks like a reasonable buy to me (three years, $37 million).
• Make it four mediocre turns in a row for Gil Meche(notes) (4.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 1 K), which makes you wonder if he's still feeling any lingering effects from the sore back that popped up at the end of April. Mind you this Baltimore lineup is going to do a lot of damage to good and bad pitching, alike, as the season goes along. Snappy Orioles prospect Nolan Reimold(notes) made his major-league debut and went 1-for-5 out of the No. 7 slot. Ellis Bradley Evans would like you to know that Billy Butler(notes) was moved into the No. 3 spot and had another productive game (5-1-2-3, .283 for the year).
• Three cheers for B.J. Upton(notes), who doesn't just play for the Tampa Bay Rays – he plays for you and me. A lot of players would shut down the running game if their club happens to trail by nine runs, but that didn't stop Upton from swiping a couple of bags in the middle of Thursday's loss to the Indians. The game was a lost cause because the Tribe basically took BP against James Shields(notes), Joe Nelson(notes) and Grant Balfour(notes); Asdrubal Cabrera(notes), Victor Martinez(notes) and Shin-Soo Choo(notes) combined for 10 runs, 12 hits and nine RBIs. Matt LaPorta got in on the fun as well, posting a 5-2-2-0 line and stealing a base.
• We had a good discussion of Ricky Nolasco(notes) in the comments last night and RotoWire's Dalton Del Don has some interesting thoughts on the Nolasco topic as well; must-reading for anyone trying to figure out the enigmatic right-hander.
• NHL Game 7s are better than NBA Game 7s for one simple reason – the road team has a fighting shot. I know this is a baseball blog, but I had to get that off my chest. Next question.
Not an Injury Blog: Carl Crawford(notes) (shoulder) isn't seriously hurt and might have pinch hit in Thursday's game had the contest been close. There's a good chance we'll see him on Friday. … Edgar Renteria(notes) tweaked his right hamstring beating out an infield single and was forced out of the game. We'll see what the Giants say Friday. … B.J. Ryan(notes) (shoulder) came off the DL as expected, but the Jays have already made it clear that he's no going to supplant Scott Downs(notes) . . . Delmon Young(notes) will be away from the Twins this weekend so he can tend to his ill mother. … Hideki Matsui(notes) (hamstring) got back in the lineup and went 1-for-3 at Toronto; his solo homer decided the game. … Pat Burrell(notes) (neck) will miss a couple of games after he gets a cortisone shot in his neck Friday. Willy Aybar(notes) went 1-for-4 as the DH Thursday. … Jose Reyes has a sore calf and is listed as day-to-day, like the rest of us. He didn't play Thursday.