Tampa Bay Rays

He sure can move for a big guy

This might be the most amusing thing you see all day. Is that Justin Timberlake in there?

(Hat tip: Larry Brown Sports)

MLB General

The Full Count: Devil Rays do their best Bad News Bears

Crawford tagged out

1. This is Tampa Bay baseball: If you ever wanted to see an example of why the Devil Rays have always sucked, go back to their game last night. They get a good start from Casey Fossum of all people, they have a rally going and are tied 2-2 with the Twins, and then some stupid mistake occurs. This one was actually by their best player, Carl Crawford, who hit it to the outfield and motored toward third. However, his teammate got held up at third, and was then tagged out. But Crawford compounded his mistake by then heading back to second base, where he was tagged out for a double play. Tampa’s rally was killed, and then they lost in the ninth on a Justin Morneau solo homer. Is anyone actually surprised by this? But tune in Friday anyway for a fantastic pitching matchup: Santana vs. Kazmir.

2. Hammerin’ Hafner: The Indians’ Travis Hafner had a slow start to the season. However, it took him one game to regain his 2006 form. The Tribe was down 2-1 in the eighth inning when Hafner launched a deep three-run homerun, his first of the year. The homer came off the usually reliable Scot Shields of the Angels, who gave up his first runs of the year. 24-year-old starter Jeremy Sowers for the Indians had his second straight quality start, and Joe Borowski came on for his third save. Cleveland won their “home” series in Milwaukee and are 4-2 this season.

3. Three-way tie: I’ve already covered two wins by teams at the top of the AL Central. Why not go for a third? The Tigers won their third straight game yesterday in a pretty even contest with the Blue Jays. Detroit won with their usual formula: solid starting pitching (Mike Maroth had a quality start), overachieving hitting (Brandon Inge had 3 RBIs), and a great bullpen (Joel Zumaya had two shutout innings to close the game). The Tigers are now 6-3, tied with Minnesota and Cleveland for the AL Central lead. This team will be even better once Gary Sheffield actually does something. He snapped an 0-16 hitless streak yesterday and is just .125 on the year.

Player of the Day: Jason Bergmann, Nationals: 6 innings, one hit, no runs, 8 strikeouts in a surprising 2-0 win over Atlanta.

Stat of the Day: The starting pitchers in the Phillies-Mets game, Jamie Moyer (44) and Tom Glavine (41), are a combined 85 years of age. They are the oldest combined lefthanders ever to have faced each other and the second-oldest overall.

MLB General

The Full Count: Who is Gary Bennett?

1. Take a walk: Who is Gary Bennett? Most people besides Cardinals fans have no idea. But for one weekend, Bennett has captured the baseball world with his performance. After hitting a walk-off single and driving in both Cardinals runs in their 2-1 win on Saturday, he followed that up with an even more impressive performance. With the game tied 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth yesterday, Bennett hit a walk off rand slam that capped a Cardinals sweep of the Cubs. The career backup catcher helped win two games as the Reds lost two, giving St. Louis a three game lead in the division. Here are two interesting tidbits about the NL Central: every team in the division has a three game streak going of some sort (either winning or losing), and the bottom three teams in the division have each allowed exactly 666 runs.

2. Seeing double: Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams are arguably the greatest Yankees from their 98-01 three peat. And yesterday they did something as a duo that they had never done before. Both Jeter and Williams homered twice against the Angels on Sunday as the Yankees won easily 11-8. Williams had his first multi-homer game of the season and drove in 6 RBIs. Jeter continued his incredible success this season with his two blasts and three runs. Both Williams and Robinson Cano went 4-5 on the day as the Yankees extended their divisional dominance. They lead by 6.5 with one week left before September.

3. Rebound: Mark Buehrle needed a good start. His ERA had inflated to almost 5 after multiple bad performances since the All Star break. But yesterday Buehrle finally got what he needed: a win. He allowed one run in 7 innings against the Twins for his 11th victory this year. He has 11 losses, however, and his ERA is still over six since the break. But he gave the White Sox a win in their last game of the series against Minnesota, though they still remain a half-game back of the Twins. The Tigers also won yesterday, meaning the White Sox remain 5.5 back.

4. Logjam atop the NL Wildcard: Cincinatti, which looked like they could even challenge for the division title, lost 3 in a row over the weekend to the Giants leaving them in danger of being caught in the wildcard race. The Padres did not help themselves by going 1-2 over the weekend and remain 1/2 game back. Meanwhile, the Phillies were rained out on Sunday but remain 1 game back after splitting the first two with the Mets. And of course, don’t count out San Francisco, who have moved to within 2 games. Should be a photo finish.

5. Let’s hope he doesn’t throw a bat: The Devils Rays are expected to call up Delmon Young from the minors on Tuesday. Just this April, Delmon was suspended 50 games for throwing a bat at an umpire after he disagreed with a call. The Rays find themselves with an open roster spot after Jonny Gomes hit the DL and sent Ty Wigginton down to Triple-A. They are trying to determine if Young can be their everyday rightfielder next season.

Tampa Bay Rays

Odds and Ends: Broadcasters Gone Wild

Sports director Chuck Howard of WCNC in Charlotte resigned because he used the word “shit” in a taped segment even though he retaped it. There was a goof up and the original segment was broadcasted. Still, that pales in comparison to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays broadcasters who had their mics on during a commercial break and was heard on MLBTV making fun of the Yankees PA announcer and talking about hot chicks in the stands like Shannen Doherty. It’s good to know that those guys do exactly what we do at a baseball game… except, you know, thousands are listening.

In other news…

[AZ Central]: FIFA institutes bans for racism

[Off Wing Opinion]: Hasek Returns to Detroit

[Inside Bay Area]: NFL narrows field for commissioner to 5

[ESPN]: This could be the end of Priest Holmes

[True Hoop]: Nut Punching 101 with Bill Walton

[Thunder Matt]: Bruce Sutter finally gets into the HOF

[New York Yankees Update]: ABREU LETS A-ROD BE A-ROD