The Closer: Cubs Are High On Substance Z

Notes from a day in baseball:

1. Let's Hear It For The Z-Man. Carlos Zambrano always makes us smile. Although the Cubs are going nowhere, Zambrano plays with the enthusiasm of a Little Leaguer — albeit a Little Leaguer with an attitude and kind of in need of ADD. Just look at the guy. Zambrano (11-3) hit his fourth homer of the season and won his eighth straight decision, as the Cubs beat the Mets 8-6 on Tuesday. Hey, and Dusty Baker even made a good move, bringing in Bob Howry to retire Paul Lo Duca on a popup for his third save.

2. Twins Playing Pretty Well, You Betcha. If for no other reason, you gotta love the Twins for making the AL Central somewhat interesting. Johan Santana outpitched Jose Contreras, and Jason Bartlett hit a three-run homer as Minnesota beat Chicago 4-3, the Twins creeping to within one game of the second-place Stockings. Minnesota has won 33 of its past 41, Chicago has lost 11 of 14. Of course, Detroit is 7 1/2 games in front of Chicago.

3. Boston Hot To Trot. It's going to be hard to bet against the Red Sox in the AL East with a one-two punch like Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling. Both are 13-game winners after Schilling won on Tuesday, the Crimson Foot Coverings beating the Athletics 13-5. Oh, and Trot Nixon ended a 123 at-bat homerless streak.

4. Know When To Fold 'Em. Ha. Witness this Associated Press lead from Tuesday: CLEVELAND — Although he was probably charge-a-cameraman angry, Kenny Rogers stayed calm, cool and collected. On a warm, muggy night there was nothing he could do but take this beating. Harsh. Cleveland scored seven runs off of Rogers (11-4) in the first, then held on for dear life to beat Detroit 12-7. It was Rogers' stinkiest outing since 1992.

5. Roger That. What kind of a world do we live in where Aaron Harang outpitches Roger Clemens? Actually, that's not so farfetched, now that we think about it. The Reds beat the Astros 2-0 despite another great effort by Clemens, who must now be thinking of going to the Royals so that he can get some offensive support.