Morning Juice: Rays hang onto first with plundering of Papelbon

This and every weekday a.m., let's rise and shine together, take a breath and Rays some heck for the AL East leaders since June 28. Today's Roll Call staahtz in Baahstin, where pinch-hitter Dan Johnson jumped off a plane and out of the minor leagues to rescue Tampa Bay and keep the Boston Red Sox from jumping back into first place.

Game of the Day: Rays 5, Red Sox 4

When pinched, pinch back: The BossTones had sliced five games off TSP's lead like it was a juicy Christmas ham. Further, thanks to a two-run deep in the eighth by Manny Bay, they were three outs from jumping back into first for the first time in 2 1/2 months. Then, with noted jig dancer Jonathan Papelbon on the bump, up stepped the Durham Bulls top former slugger, Crash Davis Johnson. Boom-shacka-lacka! Over the Fen 'Pen for a 4-4 tie. Back-to-back doubles, with Dioner Navarro on the trailer, put the Rays ahead to stay.

No matter what: America's Team will leave Boston in first place, even if the Sawx take the rubber game today.

The plane, the plane!: Joe Maddon credited U.S. Airways for flying Johnson (who had some trouble escaping Scranton) in time to Boston, via Philly. Johnson used to be a starter on the A's, but mediocrity plus a Baldellian string of injuries threatened his career. The Rays are like the Statue of Liberty. We'll take your wretched refuse.

Prophetable: The Honorable Scott Kazmir said in spring training the Rays had World Series plans. No one believed, but they're still on track to make an honest man out of him.

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Feelin' Rundown (they played the game, too):

Blue Jays 3-8, White Sox 1-2: The Jays join the Big Ten, as in consecutive victories, but if they want to join the AL playoffs they're going to have to petition Bud Selig to add another team to the pool. They're just too far out and the teams ahead of them ain't going to hand it over. ... Whenever I see Marco Scutaro, I say his name like Operaman might. Scoo-tuh-rho, Scoo-tuh-rho, Scoo-tuh-rho, Scoooooooooooo-tuh-rho! ... Yesterday was rough, so if you see a White Sox fan, hug him or her. Although Paul Konerko's knee appears to be OKish.

Yankees 7, Angels 1: No clinch, so the Halogens could only clench their teeth. A victory plus a Rangers defeat (which didn't happen, either) still gives the Big A faithful a chance to rush the field and get an East Carolina beatdown. "This is the key shot. The fan going back and to his left... back and to the left... back and to the left."

Rangers 7, Mariners 3: Wait 'til you get a whiff of King Felix's line in Fantasy Flakes. Stinkeroopants.

Dodgers 6, Padres 2: Has Andre Ethier done any modeling? Adrian Grenier will play him in the movie. Let's make it happen. Good meeting, people.

Giants 5, D-backs 4: Scoring the winning run on a great slide after Fred Lewis' single, my new favorite Giant, Pablo Sandoval. As a catcher, he should know his way around home plate .

Marlins 10, Phillies 8: At first, it was perhaps the greatest prank in baseball history, but who would have thought the Phillies season made a turn for the worst when the trade of Kyle Kendrick to the Yomiuri Giants fell through?

Mets 10, Nationals 8: Another two-homer effort for Carlos Delgado, who got a great deal on 'em down at Kleinfeld's. Jerry says that Delgado's second half reminds him of Albert Belle's second-half surge in '98, in which his OPS was 1.267. Not to get all Lloyd Bentsen on my man Jerry, but Carlos (.979) is no Phat Albert '98. Man, I can't believe someone spoke up for Albert Belle. What's wrong with me?

Braves 5, Rockies 4 (10 inn.): Here is my impression of Taylor Buchholz. Bawk, bawk-bawk, bawwwwk! What do ya' mean, No Shrimp???

Cardinals 4, Cubs 3: Piniella made it to St. Lou OK (way to go, Garmin) but he's not sure about the rest of the Cubs. "We're playing like we're waiting to get beat," Lou says. It's called tradition, skip.

Reds 5, Brewers 4 (11 inn.): Brandon Phillips breaks a finger on a failed bunt, then breaks the hearts of fans in Wauwatosa, Wis. and elsewhere with a line-drive RBI single. Further evidence that bunting is dumb.

Astros 9, Pirates 3: Peek-a-boo, Brewers. The Astros can see you!

Athletics 3, Tigers 2: In some kind of bizarre post-Moneyball experiment, the A's have started a left-handed pitcher for 19 consecutive games. Guinness is getting itchy. Sean Gallagher, unless he switches to his left, is scheduled to break the trend today.

Twins 7, Royals 2: KC should change its baseball team's nickname to the Tonic. They are just what the doctor ordered for a struggling ball club.

Indians 6, Orioles 1: Travis Hafner didn't exactly pull a Dan Johnson, but the prime-time minor-league performer had a pair of hits and a walk in his first big-league game since May 25. Beer shower, for certain. Internal.

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Photo of the Day: "Damn, I miss Harvey Korman"

Phillies manager relays the "just throw a strike, you so-and-so" signal to Kyle Kendrick

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Fantasy Freaks

A.J. Burnett (Jays) 7 IP, H, BB, HBP, 7 K, Win

Jeremy Sowers (Indians) 8 IP, 4 H, ER, BB, 7 K, Win

Delgado (Mets) 3-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI

Lance Berkman (Astros) 3-4, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI

Alfredo Aceves (Yanx) 7 IP, 5 H, ER, 2 K, Win

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Fantasy Flakes

Kendrick (Filly) 1 1/3 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, K, Loss

Papelbum (Bos) IP, 3 H, 2 ER, Blown Save, Loss

Oliver Perez (Mets) 3 1/3 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, Loss

Brian Bannister (Tonic) 3 2/3 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, BB, 2 K, Loss

Felix (M's) 4 1/3 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 3 HBP!, 3 K, Loss

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Words of Mouth

"We're not executing, we're making mistakes and we're getting beat. I'm getting quite tired of watching it, to be honest with you." — Piniella, on his first-place Cubs

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