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, the first of the second half of the season, starts at Anaheim Stadium The Big "A" Edison International Field Angel Stadium of Anaheim where the actual best team in baseball — thanks to a sneaky three-run eighth — swept their annual divisional series opponent and the team that Pointy Headed East Coast Baseball Intellectuals probably think is the best in baseball.
Game of the Day: Angels 5, Red Sox 3
The Big A: The Angels are 39-18 against teams with winning records. Even though luck counts a great deal more in the playoffs than in the regular season, Arte Moreno would be righteously disappointed if they don't win the World Series.
B as in Bushwhacked: The Celtics taking home a big ESPY (for best NBA team from Boston) can't possibly distract from this disturbance in the force for the New English. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was bobbing along with a lead until the eighth when the Angels doubled thrice, with Casey Kotchman (a.k.a. West Coast Youkilis) doing the big damage. If you can't trust a 60-year-old man with the most unpredictable pitch in nature, whom do you trust?
California dreamin': Francisco Rodriguez is eight saves ahead of Bobby Thigpen's record pace of 1990, when Thiggy finished with 57. At this rate, he might lap him.
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Feelin' Rundown (the rest of Sunday's action):
Dodgers 6, D-backs 5 — Five-run comeback in the ninth for the Dogs. Teams slugged .537 against Brandon Lyon in June and came in slugging .444 against him in July before LA dropped five runs on his head yesterday. Considering Justin Timberlake's dominating performance as host of the ESPYs, Hollywood rules right now.
Mets 7, Reds 5 (10 inn.) — The stretch drive is upon us (kind of) and the Mets are in first place (they're sharing it) as predicted here (vaguely and without confidence) weeks ago. ... I wanted this to be a cool video of Billy Joel playing Shea Stadium for the last time. Mostly it's annoying media types speaking over Billy Joel playing Shea Stadium for the last time. Enjoy! OK, here's a better video that includes Paul McCartney, and only some dopes in the audience are talking over it. Blymie!
Nationals 15, Braves 6 — The Gnats are 16-17 when Willie Harris starts, which has to be their best team split. Wait. They're 9-8 on Sundays. Well, look who drove in five runs on Sunday? Put two and two together, Acta. Between promoting Harris to full-time starter and the adjustment of the second-half schedule so that three of every four games happen on Sundays, they'll be back in the NL East race for sure.
Cubs 9, Astros 0 — You should have seen the panic in the streets after the Cubs dropped the first two games of this series. Drunken persons were throwing themselves at cabs in Wrigleyville. Wait, that was just a normal Saturday night. But this one Cubs fan was so despondent, it was as if Mark Grace broke off the engagement with the guy's sister. He felt better yesterday. Chuckin' and Glove-Jivin' Ryan Dempster won on the road, people. Is it a leap-year? Also, the Cubs have captured Bigfoot; Lance Berkman is 4-for-27 (.148) against them this season.
Marlins 3, Phillies 2 (11 inn.) — When did the celebration of the game-ending play turn into terrifying if pixelated cell-phone video of the hazing teen-age girls getting the snot kicked out of each other in the forest preserve? The Hip Bump is but a peck on the cheek compared with the beat-down that's going down on the infield. Here's a shocked Jorge Cantu — after kind reporters rescued him from a headlock — describing his teammates reaction to his RBI single: "I was starting to run away. They were grabbing me and hitting me. I don't know who it was, but I got a little side punch." The horror! Where's commissioner Gordon Selig on that?
Cardinals 9, Padres 5 — A well-placed grounder, line drive or fly ball would have done — but, no — teeny, weenie Aaron Miles has to show off and hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning. That's how life is for the Padres, who not only must lose, but also in the most spectacular of ways.
Rockies 11, Pirates 3 — Aaron Cook was a bit edgy coming off his All-Star appearance and ... wait a moment. We have a breaking story. The Pirates have announced they've recalled John Van Benschoten to start their series opener at Houston tonight. You know how Mr. Bill goes, "Oh, nooooooo!" whenever Sluggo appears? That's the scene in the Steel City at this hour. John Wesley Van Benschoten. His ERA once shot a man just for snorin' too loud.
Brewers 7, Giants 4 — The Crew ("It's the Crue, not the Crew!") swept the Giants into the Cove and added Ray Durham from across the pasture to play second base. Doug Melvin is now Ryan Braun's favorite uncle. His old favorite, Lloyd Braun? Dead to him. Ray-Ray is a big upgrade over Rickie We(a)ks, although this article in the Journal-Sentinel claims that Durham will "provide flexibility off the bench" and losing popular Joe Dillon to the minor leagues as a result might play badly in the tight clubhouse. You guys want to win the division or not?
Tigers 5, Orioles 1 — Verlander came in with a 2.73 ERA in his past 12 starts, and that's before we count the 8 2/3 he went against the Birds. He is right. This might be the week the Tigers get right, too. They have three at KC — against which they are 0-6 — and then three with the White Sox at home. Big week, big week!
Blue Jays 9, Rays 4 — Longoria is up to 18 deeps, the best for a rookie to this point in the season since Tim Salmon raked 20 in 1993. Did you know that Tim Salmon is a cousin of Holly Hunter? That factoid has been rattling around in my brain for 15 years; finally, it's put to use.
Royals 8, White Sox 7 — Not to pick gnat poop out of pepper, but the White Sox '83 throwback uniforms weren't quite authentic. On Sunday, the pants utilized belt loops (and a corresponding belt) instead of the elastic waist bands common of the period. Everyone also needed to wear red spikes (because we're going home to Kansas!) Also inauthentic when considering '83: the Royals actually beating the Sox. La Marr Hoyt never would have allowed it.
Indians 6, Mariners 2 — From the AP story: "Jim Riggleman said team doctors think Silva will make his next start next weekend in Toronto." Riggs, don't let the doctors be right, eh?
Rangers 1, Twins 0 — Taylor Teagarden. Dainty. Not the opening act for Hannah Montana, but a great opening day for his career. He hit a home run against what had been a perfect Scott Baker, and caught a team shutout. Now go back to the minors, the Rangers got some roster shuffling to do!
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Photo of the Day: Heads of State
"Bob Goen? My wife and I really enjoyed your charitable work on 'Entertainment Tonight.' "
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Words of the Mouth
"We played terrible. Kansas City showed up to kick our butts and they did." — Ozzie Guillen