The Closer: A Surprise Party? For Me?

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Notes from a day in baseball:

1. Indians Fans Never Forget. He was mericlessly booed in his return to his former home stadium on Monday. No, not Johnny Damon; we're referring to Chicago's Jim Thome, who found that his first game at the Jake since Sept. 29, 2002 was a pretty intense experience. The Indians' career home run leader left as a free agent following the 2002 season to sign a six-year, $85 million contract with the Phillies. On Monday he went 1-for-5 with an RBI in Chicago's 8-6 win over the Indians.

2. Hall Ball. OK, everyone check on your Bill Hall baseball cards and make sure that they are in mint condition, because they are bound to ... what? You don't have any? Come on people, it's Bill Hall! All he did on Monday was get three hits for the third straight game, including a home run, to lead the Brewers over the Astros 4-2. But don't worry Houston fans, help is on the way. The Astros want Roger Clemens back and are ready to make him "an enticing offer." Hey, that's what they said.


3. A Barry We Can All Get Behind. Now, this is the Barry Zito we know and love. Forget the 5.93 ERA, which the A's hurler owned going into Monday's game with the Angels. Zito went 7 2/3, giving up five singles, striking out four and walking two, as Oakland won 1-0. Just the way Catfish Hunter used to do it.

4. Mr. Met Is Getting A Little Cocky. In case you forgot, the Mets are running away with the NL East (if you call a six-game lead on May 2 running away). The reason is that they've played the Nationals in every single game so far. The latest was a 2-1 win as Endy Chavez scored the winning run on a throwing error in the ninth.


5. Arroyo A Cut Above. Wait a minute, what the hell? What have they done with Bronson Arroyo? Get this man to a barber, stat! On second thought, if he keeps pitching as he did on Monday — complete-game four-hitter in the Reds' 6-1 win over the Cardinals — he can do what he wants. Arroyo is 5-0, and unlike Johnny Damon, has the luxury of not having to return to Fenway Park this season.