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The Closer: Bronx Cheer

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Notes from a day of baseball ...
1. Well, That's Two. It was a headline in The New York Times that really bothered us: 'Yankees Rough Up Angels' Colon.' But they were refering to Bartolo Colon, of course, who got pounded by A-Rod & Co. 10-1 yesterday, and hey, the Yankees are off! After beating Barry Zito in their opener, New York had lost four straight before finally winning again against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim By Way of Santa Barbara. Jorge Posada homered twice and had five RBI, and Rodriguez had a solo shot to avert panic in the Bronx.

2. Be Barry, Barry Quiet. So the unfolding strategy seems to be: Don't give Barry anything remotely close to the strike zone. San Francisco's 6-5 win over Atlanta featured Bonds walking twice, grounding out and striking out looking in four at-bats. He remains stalled at 708 home runs in his quest to have an asterisk placed by his career total. On Friday a San Francisco talk host (Damon Bruce of KNBR-Sportsfone 68) said that he wondred why pitchers weren't throwing at Bonds. "If a guy was taking steroids and jacking balls out of the park on me, I'd throw at him." Hopefully cooler heads will prevail.


3. It's Willis And Pray For Four Days Of Rain. You gotta feel for Dontrelle Willis. And Marlins fans. The only marquee player Florida has remaining — and its only real chance to win any game these days — lost a battle with the Mets' Tom Glavine, 3-2. (OK, fine, Miguel Cabrera too.) David Wright's triple in the seventh and sacrifice fly in the ninth drove in all of New York's runs, giving the Mets a 4-1 start, after beginning 0-5 last season. Get ready, by the way, to hear the term "pitching duel" a lot in connection with Willis this season.

4. The Amazing Adventures Of Michael Barrett.Quite a weekend for Michael Barrett, whose grand slam off Jason Isringhausen in the eighth led the Cubs over the Cardinals 8-4 Sunday night to complete a three-game sweep, causing us, as Keith Olberman once famously said, to "Drool the drool of regret into the pillow of remorse." (We're over it now). In Friday's opener, Barrett caught Greg Maddux's 319th win, and on Saturday hit a game-tying pinch-hit home run. Off the field, however, his living room was crushed by a tree during a tornado in his hometown. His parents didn't tell him about it until after the series.

5. Hit This If You Can. We love knuckleball pitchers. They're baseball's throwbacks, the last of a dying tribe, getting by with guile and deception in a world of power and bravado. Tim Wakefield used his Wiffle Ball-like talents to baffle the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, not such a hard thing to do, granted, but he earned a 4-1win nonetheless. Wakefield pitched six perilous innings without allowing an earned run, Adam Stern drove in two runs for the Red Sox, whose 5-1 start is their best since 1999. Somewhere Jimmy Fallon is thinking sequel.

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