1. Denied again: Chris Young was twice denied a no-hitter in two excellent opportunities last week, and on Monday it was Carlos Zambrano’s turn. Zambrano, one of the majors’ most underrated pitchers, allowed no hits to the Houston Astros through seven innings. Then Preston Wilson broke up the chance at history, but the Cubs still won 8-0. The Cubs haven’t had a no-hitter since 1972, and this was likely the closest shot they’ll get in a while. Zambrano not only pitched excellently, but also homered and drove in four runs. The Cubs used two other homers to complete their rout of Houston.
2. Blasted away: The first game of the Red Sox-Yankees series could have developed into a pitcher’s duel, with Beckett vs. Mussina being the matchup. But the Yankees offense didn’t let that happen, scoring 8 runs in the first two innings and 13 in the first three. Beckett was removed after allowing 8 runs and only recording 4 outs. Jason Giambi and Andy Phillips both hit three-run shots in the second off Beckett to break the game open. Despite Derek Jeter not playing and sluggers Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield being on the DL, the Yankees offense rolled to their 12th straight game with at least 10 hits. That breaks their former franchise record. New York starter Mike Mussina didn’t have his best performance, allowing 4 runs in six innings, but he did strike out 8 and improved his record to 8-1 on the season. The two teams are virtually tied for first place now.
3. Around the world: Ken Griffey has been a great power hitter for a long time, and on Monday night he set another record. Griffey tied Fred McGriff for the most stadiums to homer in with 43. He has rounded the bases in every active major league park now. But that wasn’t even Griffey’s most memorable homerun of the night. That came when he hit a game-winning shot off of Jason Isringhausen. The 9th-inning homerun gave Cincinnati an 8-7 win, snapping a 5-game losing streak. St. Louis is now only two games ahead of the Reds in the NL Central.
4. Ready to roll: Roger Clemens is pitching again, but it’s not for a major league team. Clemens, who will take a few rehab starts before his return to the Houston Astros, will pitch tonight for the Lexington Legends. His son, Koby, will play third base for the Legends as the take on the Lake County Captains. This will obviously be the most anticipated game in Legends history, as seats were sold out hours after becoming available. Clemens will make two more minor league starts before his anticipated return on June 22.
5. On the clock: The Kansas City Royals need all the help they can get, and they will have an opportunity to nab a top prospect in tonight’s draft. The Royals, who have the number 1 pick, are projected to take pitcher Luke Hochevar in this mock draft. North Carolina standout starter Andrew Miller is considered the top talent in the draft, but the Royals won’t be able to afford his contract. Not many other teams could either, as Miller is projected to #11 (Arizona). The baseball draft is always a hit-or-miss extravaganza, as some #1 picks never make the majors while others become superstars.