The Closer: Five For Fighting

Notes from a day in baseball:

1. I Got It! I Got It! If Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are comically botching an easy popup, you know it must be the eve of the Yankees' biggest series of the season. Five games in four days at Fenway Park face the the New Yorkers, beginning today, and oh, are they ready. "We stunk today,'' manager Joe Torre said Thursday after a 12-2 loss to the Orioles, who were paced by Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis and Melvin Mora on offense. "Hopefully, we got the stinker out of our system.'' Boston, idle Thursday, is now 1 1/2 games back of first-place NY. And the Red Sox used their day off to call in more Pinkertons ... bringing in 2002 AL Rookie of the Year Eric Hinske from the Blue Jays.

2. No Fight In The Mariners. Let's see, the Angels were without their manager and two players (second baseman Adam Kennedy and reliever Kevin Gregg), and the Mariners still lost, 5-2. Vladimir Guerrero had a three-run double for LA, as the Ms lost their eighth straight. The LA Three each began a four-game suspension for brawling in Wednesday's game at Texas. Brendan Donnelly appealed his four-game suspension but didn't pitch.

3. Mr. Met Takin' It Easy. At this point, the Mets only need to win every third game or so to cruise to a division title. And that appears to be what they're doing, as Carlos Delgado (!) hit a pair of home runs and John Maine earned the win in a 7-2 decision over the Frillies.

4. Should It Be This Difficult To Beat The Royals? This time, Ozzie Guillen walked Mark Grudzielanek, and it paid off. Chicago closer Bobby Jenks got Mike Sweeney to ground into a game-ending double play after in the following at-bat, as Chicago beat Kansas City 5-4.

5. Oh Oscar, Oscar, Oscar ... Oscar Villarreal hadn't started in more than three years, but it didn't matter. He threw five one-hit innings as the Braves beat the Nationals 5-0.