Which team has the best record in the American League? Say it with me: Boston Red S ... wait, what? Baltimore Orioles? I'll be damned. Things are so crazy at Camden Yards that they're actually cheering Aubrey "Jackin' It" Huff, whose solo homer in the eighth stood for the Orioles in a 5-4 comeback win over the Mariners.
So the O's sweep the M's to go 5-1 and take first place in the AL East. That's their first four-game sweep since 2004, and their best start since 1999. What? The season is only two weeks old? Do not rain on the Orioles' parade with your calendar! This is Huff's day! Of course all Orioles' fans recall when, in the preseason, Mr. Huff called Baltimore "a horseshit town" on Sirius Radio's Bubba the Love Sponge show, then revealing in the same interview that, when on the road, he often wakes up hung over and "jacks off."
In Huff's defense, who hasn't appeared on the Bubba the Love Sponge Show and blurted something controversial? But Orioles' fans never seemed to forgive him, booing Huff lustily in the home opener, and even razzing him a bit on Monday when he came up in the eighth. But after his homer, all now seems forgiven. George Sherrill pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save (third in the series) and Adam Jones scored the tying run to set the stage for Huff (and the kerosene-soaked relief stylings of Seattle's Eric O'Flaherty). You may recall Sherrill and Jones from the big 5-for-1 deal that sent Erik Bedard to the Mariners. Bedard, by the way, has only pitched one game this season.
And now on to my big question: What's with the attendance at Camden Yards? Only 10,744 on Monday afternoon — the second-smallest crowd in the park's 17-year history. What gives? First-rate ballpark; first-place team; horny, hung over star player; why wouldn't people show up?
• What About Bob? Mike Mussina has tied Bob Gibson for 44th on the career wins list. OK, Gibson won 20 or more games in a season five times, and Mussina has never done it. And Gibson could peel paint from a wall just by staring at it. But Mussina gets to pitch against Tampa Bay several times per season, so it all evens out. Mussina went six innings and Bobby Abreu homered and went went 3-for-3 as the Yankees prevailed against the Rays 6-1. Oh yeah, Derek Jeter is out indefinitely with
a strained quadriceps.
• Hockey Chants At Your Home Opener? Nice. Fun graph from the Chicago Tribune's game story on the Cubs and Pirates at PNC Park: "It was so ugly early on that the sellout crowd of 37,491 was chanting "Let's Go Pens" during the Cubs' six-run third, a reference to the Penguins' quest for the Stanley Cup, which begins at home Wednesday." The Cubs went up 7-0, of course lost the lead and then came back to win 10-8 in 12 innings. Aramis Ramirez's sacrifice fly off Evan Meek brought home Ryan Theriot with the winning run. Also: Chicago's Kosuke Fukudome, who entered the game hitting .500 and is currently hitting .458, is still batting fifth. WTF, Lou?
• Hunter Harnesses Mysterious Monkey Powers. Torii Hunter left the Twins for a five-year, $90 million contract with the Angels in November, then started the season 0-for-10 at the Metrodome. But back in Anaheim — where keeps a stuffed Rally Monkey toy in his locker — he's 11-for-23. That includes a walkoff grand slam and an eighth-inning solo homer in the Angels' 6-4 win over the Indians on Monday.
• Your First-Place Florida Marlins. Dan Uggla's solo homer in the sixth and Robert Andino's two-run shot in the ninth led Florida to a 10-7 in over Washington, as the Marlins took sole possession of first place in the NL East. It was the fifth straight loss for the Nationals after a 3-0 start. Paid attendance for the second game at brand new Nationals Park was 20,487 (capacity is 41,888). Also, the $611 million scoreboard malfunctioned through most of the first inning.
• Big, Big Opener. Anyone going to the Royals' home opener today? Mark Mangino is throwing out the first pitch, so I hear. Also it's the debut of the CrownVision video board, which at 84-by-105 feet is the largest in the world!