Morning Juice: Hafner, Diesel, coupla Knockaround Guys

This and every weekday a.m., let's rise and shine together with the most recent and decent major league happenings. Today's MLB Roll Call starts on a conference call between movie execs in Hollywood, Calif. and baseball execs in Cleveland, Ohio, where the careers of doppelgangers Vin Diesel and Travis Hafner continue to go in eerily similar directions ...

AL Game of the Day: Indians 4, Athletics 0

The fast (as in Mohandas Gandhi) and the furious (as in Eric Wedge): Paul Byrd kept continuity on the set in check by directing Cleveland to its fourth shutout in seven games; Tribe starters have a 34-inning scoreless streak going, and it's a good thing, because the hitters just ain't hacking it. Cleveland had eight combined hits in a doubleheader on Monday and is batting .199 in May, so manager Eric Wedge let his guys have it for abstaining from proper preparation.

Inaction stars: Somewhere in the Dominican Republic, Diesel is/was/will be filming another "The Fast and The Furious" movie in another attempt to reignite his flagging acting career (prediction: the upcoming "Babylon A.D." will not do it). Diesel, who had a string of well-done and/or popular roles — in Saving Private Ryan, the Iron Giant, Pitch Black, Boiler Room, tF&tF and even xXx — ever since has been wandering around in what probably will be called his "Find Me Guilty" period. Conversely, somewhere near Lake Erie, Hafner has been much more donkey than prospect.

The Chronic slump of Travis: In one of the great injustices of the 21st century (1. War, 2. Poverty, 3. Famine, 4. Then this), Hafner never has made an All-Star team. Two seasons ago, he slugged .659. and finished eighth in MVP voting. Thanks, fellas. Now his best seasons appear behind him. He went 2-for-4 with an RBI last night, which prompted his admittedly reserved manager to chirp, "It was good to see Hafner help us out." Yeesh.

The arc of Diesel and Hafner

........................ Diesel......................................... Hafner

DOB: ............... July 18, 1967 in New York City... June 3, 1977 in Jamestown, ND

Dimensions: .. 6-1, 220 pounds......................... 6-3, 240 pounds

Given name:... Mark Sinclair Vincent.................. Travis Lee Hafner

Top hobby:..... D&D (goes by "Melkor").............. Pro wrestling (loves the ", M F-5" move of Brock Lesnar)

Looks like: ..... Travis Hafner............................... Vin Diesel

Nickname:...... "Diesel," for his high energy....... "Pronk," (called part-prospect, part-donkey by Kevin Seitzer)

Big Break:....... Carpazo in "Private Ryan" ('98).... Traded to Tribe 12/6/02, day Jim Thome goes to Philly

Breakthrough: "Pitch Black" (2000).................... RBI triple for Texas against lefty Mark Redman 08/07/02

Biggest hit:..... "Furious" nets $100 mil ('01)...... RBI single beats Yankees in 11th inn. of Gm. 2 of '07 ALDS

Biggest flop:.. "Riddick" lost $55 mil ................ Currently hitting .214 with .349 slugging pct.


NL Game of the Day: Brewers 5, Dodgers 3

Turnbow of events: In the quickest comeback since LL Cool J (maybe it wasn't a comeback — he had been there for years), Eric Gagne is back as Brewers closer. He put approximately 44 men on base (it actually was two) but got the last three outs against his old team, the Dodgers. Brewers manager Ned Yost, who two days before said the Crue would go with a closer committee, has reorganized the committee back into one, $10 million guy. "I just think that he just needed a day to get away from closing, and that day was yesterday," Yost said.

Puns intended: "It feels good," Gagne said. "A little relief, you know?" (Get it? A little relief? He's a relief pitcher and he feels a sense of relief and all the Brewers wanted from him was a little relief, you know, for an inning at a time? OK, I'm done.)

Nordique: Gagne supposedly had been tipping his pitches and, although he did again Tuesday, he was doing it in French, so the Dodgers were slower to pick up on it.


Feelin' rundown (Tuesday's other NL games)

Phillies 5, Braves 4 — Charlie Manuel for some reason has Jayson Werth (4 RBI) playing center field in the ninth inning and — lo and behold! — he misplays a ball into a double. Brad Lidge minimizes the damage. Flyers fall to Penguins. Ryan Howard, perhaps upwardly mobile: six hits in past five games.

Reds 5, Marlins 3 — Crossing of the fingers for Jeff Keppinger, who fouled a ball off his kneecap and broke it (not the ball). Ugh! That just stinks, like the Reds — though Volquez and Votto look like fun ones to follow for the future.

Mets 6, Nationals 4 -— John Maine hits Felipe Lopez — his hair, French-braided — but nothing else happens in a follow-up "Softball Girls" night at Shea. John Lannan wasn't going to keep making hit after hit, people. This was a clunker.

Pirates 8, Cardinals 4 (10 inn.) — La Russa says Cardinals don't need Jim Edmonds. Albert Pujols reaches base in 40th consecutive game. Pirates are 19-20 somehow. Cardinals are cracking.

D-backs 8, Rockies 4 — Seems like the Rockies have lost every game since the World Series started. Arizona is 6-10 against everyone outside the NL West. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Giants 4, Astros 2Matt Cain has Barry Bonds' old locker. He also has two homers already this season. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Padres 4, Cubs 3 — Oh boy, here comes Jim Edmonds to play center for the Cubs. Huzzah, joy, great, sarcasm.


Photo of the Day: Interpretive Bat Dance

Mets outfielder Ryan Church twists himself into a knot after he pirouettes at home plate in an original dance he calls the "I'm no Lastings Milledge"


AL Games:

Rays 2, Yankees 1 (11 inn.) — The torch has been passed. We're in first place in the AL East. Peter Angelos has to be spinning in his grave. J.P. Howell (long-lost son of Thurston and Lovey) is 3-0.

Orioles 5, Red Sox 4 — Birdies pound Josh Beckett. Sawx are 1-9 on the road against AL East foes. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Rangers 5, Mariners 2 — No fighting. The M's are devolving into the early '80s M's. Pre-Langston, Pre-Alvin Davis.

Royals 3, Tigers 2Jose Guillen was pure Stinko De Mayo nine days ago, batting .165 on May 5. Since, he is 10-for-18

Blue Jays 5, Twins 3 — Take the Stairs; Matt had a homer and two walks.

Angels 2, White Sox 0 — Pale Horses make Jered Weaver look like a pitcher again. A franchise trait.


Fantasy Freaks

Paul Byrd (Indians) 7 IP, 5 H, 7 K, Win

Chipper Jones (Braves) 3-4, RBI, .415 BA

Edwin Jackson (Rays) 7 IP, 5 H, BB, 5 K

Ryan Church (Mets) 2-4, HR, 4 RBI

Troy Glaus (Cards) 2-5, HR, 3 RBI

Stephen Drew (D-backs) 2-5, 2, R, HR, 3 RBI


Fantasy Flakes

Brad Penny (Dodgers) 6 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, BB, 6 K, Loss

Jeff Francis (Rockies) 4 IP, 13 H, 8 ER, 3 K, Loss

Paul Konerko and Jim Thome (White Sox) 0-for-6, BB


Big Talker

"I caught it in the dugout. That's always a bad sign." — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, on a throw from center by outfielder Carlos Gomez.

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