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 ESPN.com, 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.