Closing Time: Travis Snider just needed a bigger bat, that's all

In the image over on the right, you'll find Blue Jays outfielder Travis Snider(notes) in darker times, before Toronto embarked on the road trip that just concluded at Fenway.

Snider raised his batting average 83 points over his last 10 games, hitting six doubles, two homers and driving in seven runs. If this trip hadn't gone well, he could have been ticketed for the minors. Instead, he leads off Closing Time. Lucky dog.

After grounding out in his first at-bat against Tim Wakefield(notes) on Wednesday, Snider decided to make a slight adjustment. He temporarily switched to a heavier bat, scrapping the Eddie Gaedel signature model (pictured).

Details via

Why a heftier strip of lumber?

"Just to see if maybe that would work," Snider said after the Blue Jays escaped Fenway Park with a 3-2 victory. "You're looking at a 65-mph pitch. It's bouncing around. Tim's been playing this game a long time for the reason that he's a good pitcher and he's got a great knuckleball."

Using the XXL bat, Snider hit an RBI double off Wakefield in the fifth, then he homered in the seventh. He drove in all three runs in the Jays' 3-2 win. The 22-year-old is only eight percent owned in Yahoo! leagues at the moment, but he can offer assistance in the power categories. He hit 14 home runs in just 175 at-bats at Triple-A last season, and added nine more bombs in the majors.

Give Snider a test drive while you wait for Michael Stanton(notes). Also, please enjoy some bulleted fantasy content…

Note: As always, the purpose here is to discuss a few actionable items. If you want to talk about Phil Hughes(notes) (85 percent owned), Jason Heyward(notes) (91), David Price(notes) (89) or any other member of the Fightin' Boom Dizzles, please feel free to do so in comments.

Texas left-hander Derek Holland(notes) was outstanding in his 2010 MLB debut, earning a win against the A's. He went six innings and struck out seven, allowing five hits, one walk and no runs. He also demonstrated a vicious pick-off move in the third inning, embarrassing Rajai Davis(notes). All things considered, a terrific showing. He's in line for two starts next week (LAA, CHC), and he has no intention of going back to the minors. You'll find additional Holland hype here.

Over the past seven days, the Washington Nationals have a record of 5-2, and relief pitcher Tyler Clippard(notes) has been credited with four of the wins. He's now 7-1 on the season. Just for fun, let's have a look at Clippard's on-pace numbers: 119.0 IP, 33 W, 5 L, 33 HD, 24 BS, 143 Ks, 1.80 ERA, 1.12 WHIP. If he goes 30/30 on wins and holds, that'd be fairly impressive. You have to think he'll be in the Cy Young discussion, no matter how many saves he blows. Clippard goes for win No. 8 tomorrow at Colorado.

Homer Bailey(notes) followed Johnny Cueto's(notes) shutout of the Pirates with one of his own. The Bucs offered little resistance as Bailey needed only 90 pitches to dismiss them. Highlights can be found here. Pittsburgh had just 10 total hits in their three-game series against the Reds, scoring one run. Bailey, Cueto and Bronson Arroyo(notes) combined for 16 Ks and issued only one walk. Those three lowered their season ERAs to 5.66, 4.07 and 5.36. So yes, it appears that we're safe streaming pitchers against the Pirates.

"We lost the game," said Javier Vazquez(notes), "but it was a big step forward for me." He struck out seven Tigers over seven innings on Wednesday, giving up five hits, two walks and two earned runs. Not bad, really. That's about four innings more than he's pitched in recent starts.

Here's a delightful sentence from the AP recap of Vazquez's loss:

Valverde ended the game by striking out Nick Swisher(notes) and celebrating with a pulsating squat on the mound.

There's an excellent fantasy team name in there somewhere.

Trevor Hoffman(notes) raised his season ERA to 12.00 by giving up three runs in a non-save situation. No Brewers reliever distinguished himself in the team's 9-2 loss to the Braves, as Manny Parra(notes) and Carlos Villanueva(notes) each allowed a pair of runs. There's no pulsating in Milwaukee. The beating shouldn't affect Hoffman's status as closer; it's just one of those classic non-save disasters.

Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo(notes) had himself a decent day. He went 5-for-5 against the Phillies — and 3-for-3 against Roy Halladay(notes) — then hit a game-ending bomb off Chad Durbin(notes) in the 10th. Olivo entered in a 2-for-28 nosedive, so he certainly needed the binge. Colorado reportedly changed their signs each inning, not that they suspect the Phillies of cheating or anything.

Everybody hurts: Brad Lidge(notes) returned to Philadelphia to have his surgically repaired elbow examined, but the Phillies aren't going the DL rout just yet. … Nelson Cruz(notes) (hamstring) will likely be activated on Friday, for the Rangers' series at Toronto. … Mariano Rivera(notes) got his first inning of work this month, pitching a clean frame against Detroit in a non-save scenario. … Freddy Sanchez(notes) (shoulder) may come off the DL as early as May 19; he's 3-for-6 in his minor league rehab stint thus far, and all the hits have been doubles. … Carlos Ruiz(notes) suffered a capsular sprain in his right knee, but he's reportedly not headed to the disabled list. He figures to get some time off, however. … Nick Swisher is considered day-to-day due to a biceps soreness, so don't expect to see him in the lineup on Thursday. … Kurt Suzuki's(notes) return has been delayed "for at least three days after he felt soreness in his rib-cage area," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The hope is that he can rejoin the A's this weekend. Mark Ellis(notes) (hamstring) and Coco Crisp(notes) (finger) are expected to begin Single-A rehab assignments next Tuesday. … Erik Bedard(notes) threw a 30-pitch simulated game on Wednesday, and manager Don Wakamatsu said, "He had no problems." He'll throw another on Monday or Tuesday, then it's a rehab assignment. There's hope he can make it back by the end of May. (Seems a little aggressive, but that's the official line).

Not quite a bullet: For coverage of Stephen Strasburg's(notes) six no-hit innings, please join us over here. It was just another 98-mph sort of night for Strasburg. Nothing new to report. … Making his 2010 debut, Corey Patterson(notes) went 1-for-5 for the Orioles, because that's what he does. For reasons unknown, Patterson hit lead-off. He was recalled when Nolan Reimold(notes) was shipped to the minors for recalibration. … Michael Cuddyer(notes) owners were robbed of a home run by Alex Rios(notes). Video here. … Mike Aviles(notes) went 2-for-5, keeping his average comfortably above the .400 mark. The watch is on! … Alfredo Simon(notes) earned his fourth save for Baltimore, pitching a hitless frame against the Mariners. Simon now has eight Ks in seven innings, and he hasn't yet allowed an earned run. He and Jose Contreras(notes) are the only SP-eligible relief pitchers who are currently in the closer's chair. … In the seventh inning at Arizona, the Diamondbacks intentionally walked Andre Ethier(notes), loading the bases for Manny Ramirez(notes). Edwin Jackson(notes) got two strikes on Manny, but then he gift wrapped a fastball and it was launched to the deepest part of the park for a three-run double. For highlights with Vin, click here.


Photo via AP Images

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