This and every weekday a.m. during baseball season, let's rise and shine together to recap the most recent diamond doings. Roll Call starts in Starbucks, Wash., where it must be something in the coffee for the Mariners, who woke up on the right side of the bed this season.
Game of the Day: Mariners 4, Rays 2
It's Jarrod! After Evan Longoria and Pat the Bat put the Rays on top with RBI doubles in the first inning, Jarrod Washburn settled in, struck out nine over seven and improved to
2-0 3-0. It must seem like 3,000,000-0 after the past three seasons in Seattle, where he had gone 23-43 without pitching that badly for the M's, who gave him the worst run-support for any AL starter in that span. Hey, they only scored four for him this time, but it was the defending AL champions, after all.
Joe Maddon said Washburn was a different guy out there than in recent seasons.
"He reinvented himself. I saw a different pitcher," said Maddon, who was the bench coach with the Angels when Washburn played there. "He is throwing entirely different than in the past. ... He is a different cat right now."
Needs of the many: Not to be out-reinvented, Ken Griffey tried to bunt for a hit with a shift on (it sort-of worked, too, thanks to a wild throw) and Ichiro bunted in the same inning. After last year's helmet-throwing embarrassment, the M's have the self-sacrifice thing down. They're 9-5 and in first place in the AL West.
The best part of waking up: Washburn signed a $37.5 million free-agent deal before '06 (that included an annoying no-trade clause — God love ya', Boras) so Washburn's had a front-row seat to watch the M's go from 78 victories, to 88 and back down to 61. He survived the unpleasantness of '08 and appears geeked about what the M's are doing so far in '09.
"It's exciting; we're looking forward to coming to the park," Washburn said. "Winning is fun. I'm out there yelling and screaming out there, I don't even know what I'm doing, but I like it that way."
Triple on the rocks: As for Our Heroes from St. Petersburg, some adjustments are in order. Lucky to not have been swept by the White Sox at home, they dropped the first game of a West Coast trip to fall to 5-9 overall. That's a Devil Rays record, boys.
The M's Rob Johnson and Yuni Betancourt hit back-to-back triples in the fourth to provide the margin of victory. Both balls went over outfielder Gabe Kapler's head in center. Kapler, subbing for the injured B.J. Upton, was playing shallow just as he was told to.
Explained Maddon, who surpassed Larry Rothschild to become the managing-est manager in club history: "We take a lot of chances. The thing is I want us to play an aggressive defense. We want to play aggressively on defense according to our information."
Upton playing shallow is one thing; he's the fastest player in the game. But Mr. Kotter is 35 years old and no better than average in center. C'mon, Joe, back him up a few steps.
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Pirates 3, Marlins 2: "A lot of people doubted us," right-hander Jeff Karstens said of the 8-6 Buccos. That would be everyone, Jeff. Maybe there's something to having players such as Karstens, who came from the Yankees organization and hasn't been immersed in the Pirates 16-season losing morass.
Phillies 11, Brewers 4: Make that Phillies 11, Ryan Braun 4. He did all of the heavy lifting for Milwaukee, going 5-for-5. But one man does not a team make! ... Five guys pitched for the Brewers all with ERAs between 5.19 and 10.80. ... There's a chap in the Brewers pen named R.J. Swindle. Great name for a lefty and a suburban mall pub. "Hey, check out the Spicy Bacon NachoBurgers here at R.J. Swindle's Tavern-o-Rama and GrilleQuarters!"
Cardinals 6, Mets 4: It wasn't an error, but Daniel Murphy misplayed Brendan Ryan's fly ball into a triple and Rick Ankiel busted out of a 1-for-20 skid with an RBI double as the eighth inning went to heck for Mr. Met. Not that there's anything wrong, but Jerry is worried about his defense out there. ... Ryan Franklin is 3-for-3 in save opportunities. Believe it!
Natinals 4, Braves 3: OK, the manufacturer fixed the jerseys and apologized to the team. The team, in turn, apologized to the world by winning its second game in a row. Hanrahan issued a walk and a double to start the ninth but wriggled out of the jam and converted his second consecutive save. They're the most consistent team in baseball over the past 48 hours. Let it sink in.
Astros 8, Dodgers 5: Manny hits No. 3, but kaput goes LA's eight-game winning streak. Russ/Ramon Ortiz gets away with a victory despite five walks, needing 116 pitches to squeak through five innings. Jeez, if you can pitch at all, send your resume to MLB.
Cubs 7, Reds 2: Mother Nature birthed just a miserable night for a ballgame. Rich Harden had eight strikeouts, but reached 93 mph on the gun only twice, and he threw about 30 fastballs in the upper 80s. He used to throw 100 mph but is really dialing it down in an effort to make more than the 15 starts many expect out of him. Why do I have the feeling throwing softer isn't going to matter and he'll go to the DL anyway?
Indians 8, Royals 7: The Tribe turned six double plays (tying a club mark) and would you believe Billy Butler grounded into none of them? Two, in fact, were hit by the speedy Coco Crisp to help KC set a team record.
UPDATE: For those who don't think Crisp is that speedy and never has been, he hit into six double plays all of last season. He also stole 20 bases in '08 and plays center field, which usually requires a certain amount of speed. He's got three triples this year. Triples do not require speed, as every baseball fan knows. That was sarcasm.
Yankees 5, Athletics 3: Only one home run, so the demolition of the $1.5 billion monstrosity can be postponed.
Orioles 10, White Sox 3: Ozzie's about ready to put Joe Contreras on a rowboat back to Cuba. Hey, it's a return engagement of Orioles Magic after a five-game hiatus.
Angels 4, Tigers 3: A pair of homers for Yahoo! Sports blogger Curtis Granderson are trumped by a big double from Gary Matthews in the eighth (bad Brandon Lyon, bad!). Matthews' hit gave the Halos some happy news for the first time in a while.
Twins at Red Sox, ppd. (rain): Can't play when the tarp is out.