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 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit — City of Too Many Nicknames — where the Stanley Cup Final series between the Red Wings and Penguins was stopped several times so fans could watch on JumboTron the Tigers drop a heartbreaker to the Athletics out on the Left Coast.
Aw, puck: Ready to celebrate an 11th Stanley Cup title, fans inside the Joe were stunned when Pittsburgh's Max Talbot scored a tying goal with 35 seconds to go. Detroit nearly had double the shots, but Pittsburgh gets to guzzle the game-winning beer (Iron City) after Petr Sykora scores the skate-off goal (like that? see how dumb it is?) sometime in the 22nd century. Marc-Andre Fleury made 55 saves, including 24 in overtime (six more than Matt Capps had all last year for the Pirates).
And we drop to 24-33: Because of favorable odds since Kenny Rogers was pitching, the Tigers had a realistic hope of building on their mini-surge in recent days (they've won three of four). Rogers did not win for the 24th time in 25 decisions at Oakland (one of the most amazing individual marks in baseball history); he got a no-decision after the A's pushed across the tying run in the seventh and the winning run in the bottom of the ninth on Sidney, Bobby Crosby's goal, RBI single.
By any other name: Detroit has been called many things — many, many, many things — including the "Motor City" (for automobiles), "Motown" (R&B music), "Rock City" (KISS), the "Arsenal of America" (during WWII), the "313" (the downtown area code), "Tiger Town" (in a Disney Channel movie starring Roy Scheider) and "The D" (which I refuse to use — what about Dallas and Denver and Des Plaines, Ill. — home of the first McDonald's?). There's also "Hockeytown" (because the Wings are popular). Well, that's about several too many nicknames. A brief tangent: I remember growing up thinking that boxing great Tommy Hearns, who came from "D-Town," was known by several nicknames; "Hitman," and "Motor City" and "Cobra." Turns out he was "Hitman" and the "Motor City Cobra." Sorry, but Ali was the "Greatest," (so was Alice Kramden) and Rocky Balboa was the "Italian Stallion." So Tommy has to cut a nickname and Detroit has to cut at least one. I'm thinking "Hockeytown," because, um, anyone ever heard of Montreal?
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Feelin' rundown (Monday's other games):
Phillies 5, Reds 4 — Chase Utley, the Lord of Dogtown, twice this season has hit home runs in five straight games. He's on pace to hit 58 homers, a Ruthian number which would obliterate the record for a second sacker. His first full season came at age 26, and he turns 30 this year, so there's a chance he doesn't have that many great seasons left. But, he's listed by Men's Fitness as one of the country's 25 fittest persons, he's a top-notch defensive player (indicating good athleticism) and he plays half of his games in a launching pad — so maybe he hits 200 home runs over the next five seasons, 300 over the next decade and skates into the Hall of Fame. Reds dynamo Jay Bruce, on the other hand, is a bay-bay and on pace to break every record, including those owned by the Beatles, Evel Knievel and these people.
Braves 7, Marlins 5 (10 inn.) — Smoltz fails in his first test as a starter-turned-closer-turned-starter-turned closer, but the Braves win anyway because of Yunel Escobar's home run. If it had been a solo shot, umpires might have awarded the game to the Marlins because the Braves just can't win the closest ones. Chipper. Ready? 2-4, .407.
Cubs 7, Padres 6 — Eight in a row for the Cubs. Carlos Zambrano hits a triple and runs like he's the offspring of Babe Ruth and Benny Hill. North Side should have had it in the bag once it took a 7-3 lead; the Pads ain't reached seven runs but nine times all season. Nine times? Nine times. But Carlos Marmol had a clunker in the ninth and Kerry Wood needed to bail him out — which he did, after a breathtaking fly ball by Michael Barrett to the track in left field. Whoof.
Brewers 4, Diamondbacks 3 — Prince Fielder, like any young man, loves the noise a firetruck makes and wants it to be his "sound" when he hits a home run at Miller Park. If only the noise statutes and personal privacy laws were in his favor.
Pirates 5, Cardinals 4 — Jason Michaels hits a pinch-hit grand slam to tie the score in the eighth, and Jason Bay drives in the go-ahead run an inning later. The pinch-hit grand slam. Does anything make a pitcher feel worse? Maybe this.
Dodgers 8, Rockies 2 — Derek Lowe's first win since lookalike Owen Wilson had a hit, I think. What was Drillbit thinking getting back with Kate Hudson? Now the strumpet is off snuggling with Lance Armstrong. He's going to tank again, and I'm not gonna be the guy holding his hand this time. Live strong, buddy. The Rox are like a skunk that's been de-skunked and then released into the wild. They are defenseless, especially on the road, where they have dropped 19 of 21. I'm telling you, just don't leave Colorado — it'll save so much aggravation.
Giants 10, Mets 2 — That must have been a long carriage ride from coast to coast for the Mets, who really would have benefited from the invention of the transporter, which is not scheduled to come until, well, at least another century. "I'm givin' ya' all I can, captain!" Scotty says. Today is Pedro Martinez day, yeah!
Orioles 6, Red Sox 3 — Big Papi's out for a month or longer with a partially torn ECU (East Carolina?) tendon sheath in his left wrist. Surgery doubtful, Dr. Terry Francona reports. Manny to be interim DH. Yankee fans may send dead flowers (poppies, of course) to:
4 Yawkey Way
Boston, MA 02215
Twins 6, Yankees 5 — Joe Mauer hits his first home run of the year to tie the score in the seventh and then the normally soft-spoken catcher says, "It's about time," in his most controversial statement ever! Let's see that again: "It's about time," Mauer said. What will the kid say next, folks? Delmon Young is still looking for his first homer, but he had a big night against Andy Pettitte, who called some of his own pitching "ignorant." Stupid is as stupid does, Andy.
Indians 13, Rangers 9 — Curt Schilling's bloody sock be damned, Kobayashi wins! The Indians offense is ... alive. Maybe. It's a big game at Texas against poor pitchers (sorry, Doug Mathis) on a hot August June night. Casey Blake knocked in seven runs and went 3-for-5 with a pair of homers — to raise or lower? — Raise his batting average to, yeesh, .236.
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Photo of the Day: Heaven help the Mets
Carlos Delgado, a semi-pro Catholic priest back home in Puerto Rico, tries semi-successfully to absolve left-hander Oliver Perez of all of his sins Monday night. Perez was told to say three Our Fathers, six Hail Marys and to work on his slider — which "the pope could hit right now," Perez says — in a bullpen session.
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Casey Blake (Indians) 3-5, 2 HR, 7 RBI
Derek Lowe (Dodgers) 8 IP, 5 H, ER, BB, 3 K, Win
Yunel Escobar (Braves) 3-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
Marlon Byrd (Rangers) 2-4, HR, 4 RBI
Adrian Gonzalez (Padres) 3-4, HR, 4 RBI
Ervin "Magic" Santana (Angels) 7 2/3 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB,
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Doug "Praying" Mathis (Rangers) 3 2/3 IP, 12 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
Oliver Perez (Mets) 1/3 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, Loss
Aaron Laffey (Indians) 5 IP, 11 H, 8 ER, BB, 3 K, Win
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"The beauty of this role is I get to go right back out and do it again." — John Smoltz new/old Braves closer. Again.