This and every weekday a.m., let's rise and shine together with the most recent and decent major league happenings. Today's Roll Call starts — oh, dude! — in San Diego's famous Gaslamp District, where the Cubs toyed with the Padres before winning their ninth straight game, their best streak in seven seasons. It's the classic American sports story; either the Cubs break loose from their chains and win the World Series, or they take their fans to the brink of ecstasy before pushing them over a cliff to their doom.
Game of the Day: Cubs 9, Padres 6
Marquis de plod: Lou Piniella becomes easily irritated by anything Jason Marquis does, and it makes for great TV. If it were socially acceptable for Piniella to knee Marquis in the groin during a mound visit, he would do it. The Pads scored their first run on an errant pickoff throw to first base by Marquis with two outs and runners at the corners. Piniella was seen saying something like, "What the hell's he doing!" in response. Piniella must have gone up to each of his coaches 10 times and asked about Marquis. Larry Rothschild shook his head and furrowed his brow. Alan Trammell shook his head and said, "I don't know." Matt Sinatro just shook his head. Marquis actually stayed in the game long enough to win. He needed 105 pitches to wriggle through five innings. He had five walks, a balk, he hit a guy and the error.
The end: The Cubs built a 9-3 lead, but the bullpen frittered it away and SD was actually a swing away from tying the score in the eighth. TV had another great shot of a group of 200 or so Cubs fans sitting near each other, going cuckoo after Kerry Wood retired the last batter. They looked like holdovers from the '84 NLCS, stranded in San Diego all this time.
Feelin' Rundown (Tuesday's other games):
Rockies 3, Dodgers 0 — The First Rule of Fight Club is, only start fights you can win. Nobody wins in a baseball fight. Heck, hardly anyone ever fights in a baseball fight, but Matt Kemp and the Yorvit Torrealba rolled around on the ground pretty good after Matty took exception to something he probably imagined. Not to be pejorative or prejudicial or persnickety, but it's my understanding that Matt Kemp is — mothers, clear the room of children or at least cover their eyes — kind of surly. Take it out on the baseball next time. The second rule about Fight Club is, make sure that word reaches Singapore in no more than 14 minutes. Jeff Francis, where have you been? Come in here and give your Dutch Uncle a hug! The Third Rule of Fight Club is, never fight in front of Vin Scully. That's the most obscene part, that he was made to announce it. Matt Kemp, go to your room.
Astros 2, Pirates 0 — Oh, Wan-dy. Oh, you stink on the road but you pitched well — like the Astros sure needed. Oh, Wan-dy. All you throw are some change-ups and curveballs — but the Pirates were clueless. Oh, Wandy.
Phillies 3, Reds 2 — No 600th home run for Ken Griffey, no sixth home run in as many days for Chase Utley, nothing but a single for The Boss Jay Bruce Almighty. The game counts anyway. I know, it's dumb. Pat Burrell did hit a two-run shot, but Pat the Bat is so April.
Braves 5, Marlins 4 — Chipper (2-4, HR, 3 RBI, .409 BA) apparently blushed when reporters reminded him that he reached 399 career homers. He's gonna pee his pants when they tell him he's hit No. 400. Ohmigosh, ohmigosh. The Braves improved to 3-16 in one-run games as Will Ohman goes to 3-0 (great news for those of you playing in a 28-team fantasy league) and Rafael Soriano picks up the save. John Smoltz stayed in the bullpen; shoulder soreness.
Brewers 7, D-backs 1 — Randy Johnson pitched well, despite the score, surpassing Roger the Dodger on the career strikeout list. He's still 1,000-plus behind Nolan Ryan. He is closer to catching up to the Express in age (Nolan only ages one year for every two in retirement) but it's cool to have an ancient ex-Mariner around. Mustache and mullet never complemented each other so well as with the Unit. Fans at Miller Park applauded Johnson as he exited the game. Except during football season, you don't find any nicer class of people than those from Wisconsin.
Cardinals 6, Nationals 1 — Rain deluged the nation's capital and made for 2 1/2 hours of delays, which could not cleanse the pile of dirty undies that are the Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman went on the DL because of a sore shoulder, so the club turned to the 1971 Washington Senators and recalled a 22-year-old Toby Harrah to play third base. The move, made possible because of the time machine discovered underneath the Smithsonian, is expected to be overturned by the commissioner's office — unless Nats officials can go back in time and prevent Bud Selig from being born in the first place.
Blue Jays 9, Yankees 3 — Jobad, says Jeff Passan. In funnier news, get this statement from Hank Steinbrenner on Joba's first career start: "Tonight was a creation of the media. If this had been a first start for any other pitcher on any other team, it wouldn't have been such a big deal." Yeah, Hank didn't have anything to do with hyping this.
Red Sox 7, Rays 4 — The cast David Ortiz wears is the most notorious one in Boston history since Harry Frazee cast "No, No, Nanette." And the Red Sox made do without Papi, for a night, against the best team in the American League. Every team gets lucky. Once.
Rangers 12, Indians 7 — The Rangers resort to using blunt instruments to bludgeon their opponents because they haven't had a pitching staff worth a darn in 15 years. Josh Hamilton is the biggest blunt instrument around these days so, sometimes, that'll work good.
Orioles 5, Twins 3 — Radhames Liz. Sounds like a pharaoh, and he wouldn't let anyone's people go for 5 1/3 against the Twinkies in his 2008 debut. Check out this fine story and priceless photo from 2006 of Liz sitting in a car with his minor-league host family — which apparently included Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin, former Giants slugger Matt Williams and some other kid -— for an idea of what we might expect from him.
White Sox 9, Royals 5 — The Royals are to a struggling opponent what chicken soup is to a cold. Ozzie manages by terror sometimes. He threatened that GM Ken Williams would make sweeping roster changes (and/or fire a coach), or that Guillen would make sweeping lineup changes (like what, putting Pablo Ozuna at two positions?) if the ChiSox didn't score some runs. Faced with neither of those threats being viable, the club responded with four homers in a drubbing of Zack Greinke the likes of which he hadn't received in a long while.
Athletics 5, Tigers 4 (11 inn.) — The teams combined to leave 26 men on base. Dontrelle pitched four scoreless innings in his return to the starting rotation, but he walked five and struck out two. So, how does one read it? The Tigers slipped back to 10-under .500. They're like the British space program. Not going anywhere.
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Photo of the Day: Big Talker
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Fantasy Freaks (Chris Berman edition)
Alfon"So-So"riano (Cubs) 2-4, HR, 3 RBI, SB
Kaz "No. 26 for the 1985 Chicago Bears" Matsui (Astros) 4-4, 2 R
"Magic" Wandy Rodriguez (Astros) 6 IP, 5 H, BB, 3 K, Win
Dan "You so" Uggla (Marlins) 2-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI
David "Father" Murphy (Rangers) 4-4, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI
Milton "Friedman" Bradley (Rangers) 2-3, 2 HR
"Upper G.I." Joe Saunders (Angels) 7 IP, 6 H, ER, BB, 5 K, Win
Jeff "Lighten Up" Francis (Rockies) 7 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 K, Win
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Justin Louis Chamberlain (Yankees) 2 1/3 IP, H, ER, 4 BB, 3 K
Zack Greinke (Royals) 6 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, Loss
Edgar Renteria (Tigers) 0-5, BB, 10 stranded runners
Barry Zito (Giants) 4 1/3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, K, Loss
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"If I was to retire right now, I'd be pretty proud of where I stand in the history of the game, simply because I never imagined doing these things." — Randy Johnson.