The Daily Closer: Red Pinstripes In Morning, NL Take Warning

Notes from a day in baseball:

1. Failure To Launch. In our opinion, nothing in baseball beats the Mighty MJD's minor league potato-throwing story from Sunday. While not as awesome, the majors has its own version of the airborn spud; the Philadelphia Phillies. It's getting dangerously close to the point where we can say "Phillies" and "playoffs" in the same sentence, as Chase Utley and — who else? — Ryan Howard both homered to lead the Sillies to a 3-2 win over Houston in 10 innings on Monday. Three things we love about this game: 1. Utley's home run came with two outs in the 10th to win it; 2. Howard hit his 53rd homer (that's four HRs in two days), meaning that he is utterly unconcious and could do anything, including lifting a school bus; 3. We now have someone named Charlton Jimerson to keep track of (he hit a pinch-hit homer in his first major league at-bat for the Astros). Oh, and Roger Clemens left with a strained right groin. The Phillies ended a 12-game losing streak to Houston that dated to May 18, 2003, which seems hard to believe, so we're disregarding that.

2. Doh! If Ramon Ortiz hadn't decided to have a career day on Monday — or, like, got lost on the way to work — the Cardinals would be celebrating a win right now. But Ortiz came within three outs of pitching the majors' first no-hitter this season, and also hit his first career homer in DC's 4-1 win over the Birds.

3. Bless Me Father, For I Have Dinged. Rookie Josh Barfield got his first career game-winning homer as the Padres beat the Rockies 7-5, maintaining a 1 1/2 game lead over the Phillies in the wild-card race.

4. The Sweet Whiff Of Success. The Yankees had struck out 10 times and trailed 5-1 going into the eighth, but then scored 10 runs in the eighth to beat — you guessed it immediately — the Royals, 12-5.

5. Those Surging, Rampaging Giants. Well, that's one way of protecting your NL home run record. Barry Bonds' game-tying homer in the eighth (No. 730) helped San Francisco to a 5-4 win over the Reds, as Ken Griffey Jr. injured himself trying to catch the ball, snagging his cleats in the center field padding and coming up limping.