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The Closer: Forget Steroid Testing, Franco Needs Carbon Testing

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Notes from a day in baseball:

1. Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard. The desert tortoise has the longest active lifespan of all creatures; 80 to 100 years. Next comes the Mets' Julio Franco, who on Thursday became the oldest player ever to hit a home run in the Major Leagues, a two-run shot in the eighth to help New York to a 7-2 win over San Diego at Petco Park. Rounding the bases on his Lark scooter, he was met at the plate by Wilford Brimley, who presented him with a free diabetes testing kit. Franco, who broke into pro baseball in 1978, is 47, a year older than the previous oldest player to hit a homer, the Athletics' Jack Quinn, 46, on June 20, 1930. Of course, there is speculation that Franco might actually be older than 47, as he is from the Dominican, where players sometimes forge birth certificates to break into baseball.


2. Wonder Boy. OK, just for the record, pitchers are supposed to read the entire scouting report. As an example of what can happen when you skip around, we present Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips, career .216 hitter, who looked like Roy freakin' Hobbs on Thursday with two homers — one a grand slam — in the Reds' 12-8 win over the Brewers. Edwin Encarnacion and Phillips, the seventh and eighth hitters, were 4-for-8 combined, with nine RBI and five runs scored.

3. Twins Bandwagon Makes Unscheduled Stop. Is Francisco Rodriguez the best closer in baseball? That's for guys with pocket protectors and calculators with many unneccesary buttons to decide. For our part, we'll just call him one of the best; as proven in the Angels' 6-4 win over the Twins on Thursday. Rodriguez saw his club-record 22-game save conversion streak end on Wednesday, but came back to pitch 1 1/3 of one-hit relief for his fifth save.

4. The First 1,000 Wins Are Always The Toughest. Some things you perhaps didn't know about Frank Robinson: He was a high school basketball teammate of Bill Russell at McClymonds in Oakland, Calif.; while playing for the Orioles, he hit back-to-back grand slams on June 26, 1970 — against the Washington Senators; in the 1960s, he was once arrested for waving a gun at a cook who refused to serve him. And he now has 1,000 career victories as a manager, following the Nationals' 10-4 win over the Phillies on Thursday. Equally impressive: his 1,095 losses.

5. What Do They Do For An Encore?. Our Orioles-Indians three-game series recap: 56 runs scored, 81 hits, 8 errors. That was fun! On Thursday they topped if off wth Baltimore's 9-4 win, featuring 19 hits — 11 by the Os. Baltimore's Miguel Tejada had an OK three games, going 6-for-12 with 5 RBI.

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