Opening Time: Coors Field turns back the clock

We've completed our Santa Monica summit and things should be back to normal now. The shuffleboard was intense, the beverages flowed freely, and we've got a kick-ass football schedule in place for you. Come along for the ride.

The sandlots? Ah, yes, baseball never really takes a holiday. Time for a clean-up on Aisle 4.

A decade ago, Coors Field was a radical game-changing park for fantasy players. Pitchers couldn't be trusted there; good hitters turned into great hitters in the friendly yard; and banjo hitters morphed into useful fantasy pieces. It was a slow-pitch softball game with runs and homers galore; all that was missing was a keg in the on-deck circle.

Colorado's still a good place to hit today, but it's not dramatically better than other offensively-friendly parks. With that in mind, I got a little nostalgic watching the Red Sox and Rockies play a keg-tapper at Coors on Thursday night. The two clubs combined for 33 hits and 24 runs while the pitchers – and the marquee relievers – headed for cover.

Dustin Pedroia(notes) emerged as the star of the game, going 5-for-5 with three homers, including the game-deciding tater in the 11th inning. Alas, that final homer was a Coors special all the way, a lazy fly ball that kept carrying and carrying until it was into the first row of the seats. Pedroia's an offensive stud on his own ability, but the elements hit this homer more than he did. Teammate Adrian Beltre(notes) also got into the fun, posting a 5-3-3-3 line with his 11th homer; he's quietly working his way into the MVP discussion.

Every position player from Colorado's starting lineup figured in the run production, with unheralded Jonathan Herrera(notes) starting things off with three hits and two runs from the leadoff spot. Herrera could have done even more damage if not for some issues on the bases; he was thrown out twice trying to steal. The best thing you can say about Herrera's potential fantasy value is that he's in the right place at the right time; while the Rockies want to upgrade their middle infield in the wake of the Troy Tulowitzki(notes) injury, there's no guarantee that they'll be able to get anything done.

Jonathan Papelbon(notes) is thrilled to see Coors Field in his rear-view mirror – he blew his second save in as many nights on Thursday, though he wound up getting the win courtesy of Pedroia's bat. Huston Street(notes) was the thin-air loser on the other side, giving up the two deciding runs in the top of the tenth. Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes) was the better of the two starters (5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 6 K, and please, don't watch him pitch) while Jason Hammel(notes) had a step back from his recent performances (four runs in four innings). Both pitchers look more appealing closer to sea level.

It's going to take a while for us to put Wandy Rodriguez(notes) back in the circle of trust, but he at least took a first step Thursday, holding the Giants to two runs (both unearned) over six solid innings. Rodriguez walked one and struck out three. I don't like him next week at Milwaukee, but maybe you can put together a persuasive argument in the comments.

Anyone excited about the Pat Burrell(notes) revival? He homered again on Thursday, his fourth in 17 games since joining the Giants, and although the sample is very tiny (just 51 at-bats), he's carrying a .314/.379/.608 line with his new club. Bruce Bochy has no issues with Burrell's defense – the San Francisco skipper is running Burrell out there every day in left field. Burrell is unlikely to be a plus player for us in batting average and we know he's not going to run at all, but he is just two years removed from a 33-homer, 86-RBI season.

Brandon Morrow(notes) has teased us several times in the past, but it looks like he's finally turning the corner in Toronto. He baffled the Cardinals on Thursday (8 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K, roll tape) and he's on a fantastic run over his last five turns (34 IP, 5 R). You know he's got enough stuff here to be a potential ace – the 9.86 K/9 rate tells you that – and there's always been a pedigree at play here (Morrow was the fifth overall pick in 2006). Even in the rough-and-tumble AL East, this is someone you want to snatch up if he's still out there in a standard mixer

So much for the White Sox being a seller in the July trade market – their blistering 13-1 run might put them in position to be buyers in a few weeks. The Pale Hose took the Braves on Thursday, 2-0, behind a Paul Konerko(notes) two-run homer and a three-man shutout from Gavin Floyd(notes) (nice call, Noise), J.J. Putz(notes) and Bobby Jenks(notes) (get off his back, he's automatic these days). Freddy Garcia(notes) is an intriguing stream choice for the weekend, going Saturday against the Cubs and Carlos Silva(notes).

Matt Garza(notes) was on a five-game skid before his Thursday assignment, but a meeting with the Padres turned out to be the tonic he needed. Garza worked eight sharp innings (6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 5 K), his best start since the middle of May. It will be interesting to see what he shows us at Boston next week.

When Yovani Gallardo(notes) has his good stuff, you wonder how anyone ever gets a hit off him. Thursday was one of those days, as he threw a dazzling five-hit shutout against the Twins (no walks, 12 whiffs) and lowered his ERA to 2.36 for the year. The only concern with Gallardo is workload; he's already piled up 103 innings on the year (he's never gotten to the 186 mark). As much as I love the skills here, it might be wise to consider a sell-high deal in the next couple of weeks. Keep in mind he's still got a WHIP of 1.21, and his peripherally-suggested ERA is about a half-run higher than the actual number.

Injury Blog: A sore shoulder forced Carl Crawford(notes) to leave Thursday's game early, and he's not expected to play Friday against Arizona. This injury is something that's going to bother him both swinging and throwing. … Carlos Beltran(notes) (knee) started his rehab assignment Thursday, going 0-for-2 in Single-A. "I feel better than what I was expecting, honestly," Beltran told the New York Daily News. … The Mariners think there's a chance Erik Bedard(notes) (shoulder) will be ready to go in about two weeks. … Mike Lowell(notes) (hip) went on the disabled list, clearing room for Matsuzaka on the Boston roster. If the Red Sox can get Lowell back healthy in July, they'll do all they can to deal him. As for J.D. Drew(notes) (hamstring), he's avoided the DL for now, but he's still not ready to play. Is there anything more frustrating than watching a day-to-day player turn into a week-to-week player?

Speed Round: The Phillies offense continues to get well, plastering the Indians for 15 hits and 12 runs. Jimmy Rollins(notes) had the day off and Ryan Howard(notes) took the collar (albeit with one run scored and one knocked in) but otherwise all the major hitters got a share of things here. … Matt Joyce(notes) is finally up with the Rays (have a look at these zesty 2010 stats), with Dioner Navarro(notes) getting sent down to Triple-A (more good news for John Jaso(notes) and Kelly Shoppach(notes)). … The Reds will give Mike Leake(notes) some extra rest into his next turn; he's now scheduled to go Tuesday against the Phillies. … Adam Wainwright's(notes) a hard guy to go deep on, but the Blue Jays got him for three round-trippers up north (Vernon Wells(notes) hit two, and some guy named Adam Lind(notes) connected as well). … Tom Gorzelanny(notes) got a rogue save in Seattle as the Cubs outlasted the Mariners in 13 innings. I'm still hoping we see Gorzelanny back in the rotation at some point. … Brandon League(notes) broke our trust some with a four-run outing at Texas on June 10 (albeit all runs were unearned). He's rallied nicely since, allowing just two hits and one run over his last eight innings, along with nine strikeouts. … The top five men in the Texas lineup collected multiple hits as the Rangers scored their 11th straight victory on Thursday; Vladimir Guerrero(notes) ended the win with a walk-off single. The hits should keep coming on the weekend, when Texas hosts Houston for three games. Duck, Brian Moehler(notes). … A scheduling conflict at the Rogers Centre forces the Blue Jays to play the Phillies on the road this weekend. It should be interesting to see how Toronto fares against old friend Doc Halladay on Friday night.

What to Read Next