Morning Juice: Cards-Rays prove best of '08 interleague debut

This and every weekday a.m., let's rise and shine together with the most recent and decent major league happenings. Today's MLB Interleague Roll Call (except for the Cubs and Pirates) begins in St. Louis, where the Cardinals renamed 8th Street after 87-year-old Stan Musial and struggled to fend off the pesky Tampa Bay Rays in a nearly classic series.

Somewhat east of there in Ohio, Reds enigma/Hollywood funnyman Adam Dunn had some hits on his hands — finally! — in an intrastate tussle with Cleveland.

Series of the Weekend

Sunday: Cardinals 5, Rays 4; Series: Cards take 2 of 3

What's the meaning of this?: The Rays surrendered a 3-0 lead on Sunday, otherwise they would have won a series in which no game was decided by more than two runs. The series actually oozed playoff intensity at times, which should be owed to the Rays' fundamentally sound approach and the Cardinals' recent frustration.

MVP: L'il guy who can, Aaron Miles, went 6-for-10 with two runs and two RBI in the two Cards' wins.

The Man: The appearance of Musial inspired the Cardinals, who had dropped eight of 10 coming into Saturday. "It sounds corny, but we talked about it. We wanted to play a game that Stan would enjoy," Cards manager Tony La Russa said after his team won Sunday's game in comeback style.

The damage: Despite the Cardinals triumph, the AL went 22-19, winning eight of 14 series; each league swept a pair (the Mets and Yankees were rained-out a game).


Anchorman (Weekend MVP): Reds slugger Adam Dunn, like his doppelganger, Hollywood's Will Ferrell, goes through ups and downs. Dunn came into the series batting .207 and slugging .413 but had big hit after big hit to lead the Reds to a sweep against the hottest starting staff in the majors.

Hey, Ferrell seemed lost in '05 after "Kicking and Screaming" begat "Bewitched," which begat "Wedding Crashers" — which, like Dunn this season, stunk no matter how much money it made ($209 million). Dunn simply rebounded with a great weekend; his performance (4-10, 3 HR, 6 RBI) against the Indians was his "Talladega Nights" and "Stranger Than Fiction."


Photo of the Weekend: The Man, the street, the legend

"You mean I hit 475 home runs for you people and all I get is this lousy sign from the gift shop?"


Feelin' Rundown (The weekend's other series)

Royals at Marlins

Royals 9, Marlins 3 — Royals win 2 of 3

In a sentence: Jose Guillen finally is living up to his contract while Hanley Ramirez (6 years/$70 million) is having trouble living his down in the first 72 hours (1-for-12, seven strikeouts).

MVP: Guillen 6-12, HR, 8 RBI


Indians at Reds

Reds 6, Indians 4 — Reds sweep

In a sentence: Indians starters, even Mr. Untouchable Cliff Lee, run out of Iron Man fuel against the superheroic Dunn.

MVP: Dunn 4-10, 3 HR, 6 RBI


Nationals at Orioles

Nationals 2, Orioles 1 — O's take 2 of 3

In a sentence: Orioles owner Peter Angelos sweeps: he owns the TV rights for both teams.

MVP: George Sherrill, Mr. Brim, saves a pair. Not an au pair.


Brewers at Red Sox

Red Sox 11, Brewers 7 — Sawx sweep

In a sentence: The Red Sox are 18-3 at home in interleague play since '06 and the Brue Crue has dropped five straight overall.

MVP: Big Papi 5-10, 3 HR, 8 RBI


Athletics at Braves

Braves 5, A's 2 — Braves win 2 of 3

In a sentence: Home are the Braves, Jo-Jo Reyes has the blister from hell and A's are 4-for-40 lately with runners in scoring position.

MVP: Chipper with .410 BA


Blue Jays at Phillies

Jays 6, Phillies 5 — Jays take 2 of 3

In a sentence: Pat's is better than Geno's, Fred McGriff was better than Joe Carter, the CN Tower rises far above Independence Hall.

MVP: Roy Halladay (huh!?) pitches 2 1/3 of relief for Sunday's win on his side day. Is the All-Star Game this week?


Astros at Rangers

Astros 5, Rangers 4 — Rangers take 2 of 3

In a sentence: Lance Berkman's at .399 with a 17-game hitting streak, and the Rangers suddenly are a threat to do ... something.

MVP: Josh Hamilton would have had a 5x5x5x5 box score in Friday's game, but the wimp only had four runs.


Twins at Rockies

Rockies 6, Twins 2 — Rox take 2 of 3

In a sentence: A combined 19 runs scored in a three-game series. The Coors Field of our youth is long gone, thanks to the baseball humidor.

MVP: Jeff Francis 6 1/3 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, first win of season on Sunday.


Dodgers at Angels

Angels 10, Dodgers 2 — Angels win 2 of 3

In a sentence: The O.C., like, totally rules over Hollywood.

MVP: Angels catcher Mike Napoli, whose name always reminds one of Mambo Italiano (you mixed-up Siciliano!), had 5 RBI on Sunday and has 10 homers for the season.


Tigers at D-backs

D-backs 4, Tigers 0 — Arizona takes 2 of 3

In a sentence: AZ leads its division by 5 1/2 games; the Tigers, at an AL-worst 17-27, would make Sparky Anderson's hair turn red.

MVP: The Big Unit, who's 4-1, sitting on 288 career wins and could single-handedly bring back the mullet — if he so chose.


White Sox at Giants

White Sox 13, Giants 8 — Sox sweep

In a sentence: Each game of this series drew 35,000-plus fans; if the Giants, who present hardly any challenge to the opponent, still played at Candlestick, it would have been a tenth of that.

MVP: A.J. Pierzynski; he gets booed everywhere he goes, but says the S.F. fans could have been louder.


Padres at Mariners

Mariners 3, Padres 2 — M's take 2 of 3

In a sentence: Eddie Vedder must have been torn — although both of these towns are dead to him if the Cubs are playing.

MVP: Erik Bedard (8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 10K, win on Saturday) has been really good outside of being banged-up and one poor start.


Mets at Yankees

Mets 11, Yankees 2 — Mets take 2 in rain-shortened sweep

In a sentence: Mets fan Chris Rom, who sat right next to where Carlos Delgado's non-home run landed Sunday night, might help usher in the replay era for baseball by saying, "CSI can come take DNA off the pole — it was a home run."

MVP: Jose Reyes 4-for-10, 2 R, 4 RBI.


Pirates at Cubs

Cubs 4, Pirates 3 — Cubs take 2 of 3 in non-interleague series

In a sentence: The Cubs have second-best record in baseball.

MVP: Pittsburgh's Phil Dumatrait walked seven batters.

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