MLB General

The Full Count: Yankees get a baby step

1. Boo Me Now: Alex Rodriguez was ridiculed by the Red Sox fans every at-bat over the weekend. On Sunday, he made them shut up by hitting what proved to be a game-winning homer in a 6-5 victory for the Yankees. A-Rod hit a solo shot off Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth, his league-leading 20th big fly of the year. The win gave the Yankees a series victory over Boston, but they are still 12.5 games back and just one game out of last place. The projected pitcher’s duel between Andy Pettitte and Josh Beckett did not occur, as both aces did not pitch their best. Both teams have one more series before starting Interleague play later this week.

2. West Coast Showdown: The weekend did nothing to separate the top teams in the NL West. The Diamondbacks, Padres, and Dodgers remain tied in the league’s most heated divisional battle. The streaky D-backs have won 9 of their last 10 games, including two of three from the Mets over the weekend. Doug Davis pitched 7 2/3 excellent innings in a 4-1 win on Sunday. The Padres won as well, with David Wells picking up the win and Josh Bard driving in four runs. The Dodgers rallied in the seventh and eighth innings to beat the Pirates 5-4. According to, the Dodgers are 27-0 when leading after eight innings. This is a testament to the outstanding play of closer Takashi Saito, who is 16-16 on save chances and has a 1.50 ERA. All three of these teams have an overachieving offense, solid bullpen, and a capable array of starters. Though the NL West race usually doesn’t get much attention, it should this year.

3. MVP Resurgence: The last two National League MVPs, Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols, were very disappointing early on this year. However, both have picked it up in the last week or so, and they will likely return to superstardom as the year goes on. On Sunday, Howard hit his fourth homer in nine games since returning from the DL. He was one of four Phillies to go deep in a crazy 9-8 win over the Giants. Though he is still hitting just .224, Howard is still on pace for 38 homers and 133 RBIs on the year. Pujols, meanwhile, hit two homers to help the Cardinals win 8-6. He had his fifth multi-hit game in his last ten games. Neither Pujols nor Howard are atop the leaderboards like they were last year, but expect that to change very soon.

Player of the Day: Gary Sheffield, Tigers: 2-4, HR (13), 3 runs. Sheffield’s April struggles are now a distant memory thanks to 11 homers and 24 RBIs since May 2.

Stat of the Day: Giants phenom Tim Lincecum has a 9.00 ERA in two starts against the Phillies this year. In his other four starts he is 2-0 with a 2.17 ERA.

Philadelphia Phillies

Odds and Ends: Ryan Howard needs a hug

This slump must really be hitting Ryan Howard hard. A usually media friendly slugger decided that yesterday was “Ryan Howard Day” and announced he would not be talking to any reporters yesterday. Certain members of the press are ripping him (of course) but he probably should get a break. He’s not exactly pulling a Ryan Leaf here. For the record, Ryan Howard day is gonna be May 16 when the Phillies give out Ryan Howard MVP bobbleheads in a game against the Brewers. Let’s hope he’s figured out his hitting by then.

In other news…

[beRecruited]: The worst hairdo in the NCAA tourney

[ebay]: A pair of Michael Jordan game worn shoes goes fot $35,000 on ebay. (You’d think the seller would throw in free shipping.)

[SI]: NFL breaks paid attendance record for 5th straight year

[WISHTV]: ex-Colts DB arrested on gun, drug charges. Will sign with Cinci any day now

[Boston Herald]: Tom Brady’s dad says success doesn’t eliminate problems. Yeah but keeping your soldier helmeted does eliminate one.

And finally, even though we have a firm “no white guy not named Eminem should rap” stance, this “This is why Duke Sucks” video is pretty funny.

MLB General

The Full Count: sneaky Giants in postseason chase

1. A Giant comeback: The San Francisco Giants have sat toward the back of the NL West division throughout most of this season. However, via a recent winning streak they’ve snuck up on the class of the division, the Padres and Dodgers. After beating the Rockies 10-6 yesterday for their 7th win in 10 games, the Giants are just 3 games back of the leading Dodgers and 1.5 games out from the Wild Card-leading Padres. Yesterday Pedro Feliz drove in three RBIs in the win, giving him a team-leading 91. Despite being a quiet team throughout most of the year, the Giants have a serious shot at the postseason.

2. The Greatest Show on Grass: The St. Louis Cardinals appear to have the division title wrapped up once again. They’ve won two straight games and lead the pretending Reds by just five games, but they are the vastly superior team. Their record is 77-67 after winning last night, while the Reds are stuck at 72-72. The Cards slipped away with a late win due to the usual suspect: Albert Pujols. He hit a two-run double in the ninth that provided the difference in their 6-5 win over the Astros. Pujols, who has 45 homers and 120 RBIs, has a good shot at his second straight MVP award. However, our vote would still go to Ryan Howard of the Phillies, who was rained out again yesterday but leads Pujols in most categories.

3. West vs. Central: The “Big Three” AL Central teams are currently in battle with the three top teams from the AL West. The Tigers are taking on the Rangers, the Twins are playing the A’s, and the White Sox are facing the Angels. Yesterday, the Tigers, Twins, and Angels won among those three series. Detroit snapped a losing streak with a 3-2 win, with each of their runs coming off a solo homer. Kenny Rogers earned the win in that one. Meanwhile, the Twins beat the A’s 7-5 to win their fifth straight. Justin Morneau improved his average to .324 while hitting two RBIs (120). The Sox lost, however, by a 4-3 margin to LA. Chone Figgins drove in a run off Bobby Jenks in the 11th to win that one.

4. Over after the first: The Yankees displayed all their offensive power as early as the first inning in yesterday’s home game against the Devil Rays. They scored 9 runs in the first, including a remarkable 6 driven in by Bobby Abreu. Abreu hit a three-run homer his first time up and followed that up with a three-run double. His 6 RBIs in one inning tied him for the second-most in the last 30 years. Only Fernando Tatis, who hit two grand slams in one inning on April 23, 1999, has ever had more. Abreu is hitting .346 with 31 RBIs as a Yankee and has a .298 overall average. Mike Mussina pitched well for the Yanks and improved to 14-6 on the year. New York rolled 12-4 and has reopened their double digit lead over the Red Sox.

5. 14 and done: This has been a forgone conclusion for a while now, but at least now it’s official. The Braves are out of the running in the NL East, and they won’t win their 15th straight division title. Yesterday the Mets edged the Marlins, and even though the Braves were off that sealed the deal for Atlanta. The Mets, who are 89-55 and so much better than the Braves in every way, have done what they haven’t been able to do for 15 years. They even made the World Series in 2000, but they’ve hadn’t beaten the Braves since the Internet Age began. Now they have. They lead Atlanta by 19.5, and the Braves’ Wild Card hopes are all but over as they are 5 out with six teams ahead of them. RIP, Braves dynasty.