The Closer: Things Change

Notes from a day in baseball:

1. Pedro Offers You His Protection. But don't take it. Pedro Martinez's return to Fenway Park on Wednesday went about as well as Rush Limbaugh's return from the Dominican, only with fewer drug sniffing dogs. After Red Sox fans gave him a nice ovation, they further delighted in their team pummeling the Mets' starter with illegal Ninja moves from the government. Martinez gave up four runs in the first, four in the third and was gone by the fourth as the Red Sox won their 11th straight, 10-2.

2. Mauer Power. Have you seen this man? He's hitting .484 in June, went 11-for-13 in a three-game sweep of the Dodgers and is hitting .392 overall. Considered armed and fab-u-lous!, Joe Mauer was 2-for-3 as the Twins won their seventh straight, 6-3 over the Dodgers. Torii Hunter also had a grand slam, but his best contribution was this quote: "What Joe Mauer's doing is sick. He's 23 years old. What's he going to do when he gets man muscles?"

3. Welcome To Sealy Posturepedic Select Comfort Sleep Number Bed Day. It was little Timmy's first baseball game. And nine hours after he arrived at Camden Yards, with the Orioles batting in the bottom of the seventh, he also vowed that it would be his last. Baltimore's glorious doubleheader sweep of the Phillies, 7-5 and 12-4, included rain delays of three hours between games and 41 minutes during the second game. But in the first good break he's had all week, beleaguered Phils' reliever Brett Myers didn't have to see any of it, having been optioned to Class-A Clearwater before the game.

4. Our Long National Nightmare Is Over. The Cardinals scored the winning run (excuse us as we linger on those words for a bit) on a throwing error in the ninth to break an eight-game losing streak, 5-4, over the Indians. And suddenly, we can taste food again.

5. Now Here's A Team With A Real Problem. Have the Pirates officially supplanted the Royals as the worst team in baseball? Well, they both have .329 winning percentages, but Pittsburgh would have to be considered the stinkier of the two currently, we suppose. The Jack Sparrows lost their 13th straight, 4-3, to the White Sox on Wednesday.