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The Closer: Fear The Awesome Hitting Might Of Mark Mulder

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Notes from a day of baseball.
1. Mulder Gets A Little Raucous During Housewarming Party. When they said that the new Busch Stadium would be a pitcher's ballpark, we didn't know they meant it this way. Cardinals starter Mark Mulder clubbed his first career home run on Monday, right over the new Hardee's sign in right center. But then everything's new there; the place isn't even officially finished. Mulder also pitched 8-plus innings to get the win in the 6-4 decision over the Brewers. Albert Pujols hit his fourth homer — of the season — another drive to left-center that traveled an estimated 445 feet. But the trvia answer to who got the first homer in new Busch history is: Bill Hall, a two-run shot in the second.

2. Baseball Comes Out Swinging. Wasn't this new steroids scrutiny supposed to be an early advange to pitchers? Not so far. Major League teams are hitting .270 so far this season, the highest opening week since 1961. Home runs (216) are up 10.6 percent and average runs scored per game at 12.40, the highest in the latter category since 2001. (All of this according to the Elias Sports Bureau). Doing his part has been Jim Thome, who hit his fourth homer of the season in the White Sox's 5-3 victory over the Tigers, ruining Detroit's home opener. Thome hit only seven homers all of last season with the Phillies, who then dealt him to the White Sox, and are now maybe kicking themselves; that is, when other teams aren't doing it. Freddy Garcia went six innings for his 100th win.

3. Well, This Looks Familiar. The Dodgers pummeled Pittsburgh in the Pirates' home opener, 8-3, and this time manager Jim Tracy got to see it from a different angle; the Pirates' dugout. The former Dodgers' manager is 1-7 so far with the Pirates, thanks in part to Jason Repko, who homered and tripled to drive in four runs for L.A. It's Pittsburgh's worst start since 1974, when they were also 1-7 ... but they did go on to win the division title that season, so step back from the ledge, Bucs Faithful.


4. Biggio, 40, Glad No One Timed Him On That Sac Fly. Craig Biggio motored home on a sacrifice fly in the 12th inning to give the Astros a 5-4 win over the Nationals at Minute Maid Park, in a game noticable for its absence of Washington manager Frank Robinson. The former MLB Director of Discipline was serving a one-game suspension stemming from his actions during Thursday's game with the New York Mets. Robinson was ejected for arguing after Jose Guillen was beaned by Pedro Martinez. On Monday, Nationals starter John Patterson hit two batters, by the way.

5. Now Hitting For Alex Rodriguez, Rupert Gee. Should Yankees fans be worried that David Letterman struck out Johnny Damon last night? As part of his guest appearance on The Late Show on Monday, Damon went to the street outside the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan and took some cuts with Letterman pitching ... and struck out. If, that is, if you count the first and third pitches as called strikes, which they were. Letterman then pitched to Billy Crystal, and Yankees manager Joe Torre stepped out of the crowd to pitch to Damon, with better results for the former Red Sox star. Damon's only intelligible answer to a question all night, by the way, was his wish that no one throw anything at him when the Yankees visit Fenway Park May 1-2.

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