The Closer: I Say! Fisticuffs? In Our National Pastime?

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Notes from a day in baseball:

1. The Swingin' A's. It doesn't have quite the gravity of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry; there's not as much history, and the weather is too nice most of the time to get cranky. But you've got to hand it to the Angels and Athletics: At least they're trying. Any time benches clear and the players actually fight, you're going to get our attention. Ironically, Tuesday's big brawl started when a player wasn't hit by a pitch. Jason Kendall charged the mound in the sixth after Angels starter John Lackey yelled at Kendall about his willingness to get hit by pitches. Kendall shouted back, then charged the mound. And because this is baseball, we have statistics on the fight: It was the A's first full-scale brawl since August 1993 at Milwaukee, and Kendall has six career ejections, including two for charging the mound. Oh, and Lackey, who was ejected, says he will appeal any suspension, "until I die." Did we mention the A's won, 10-3?

2. Bonds Homers, Giants Lose, Life Goes On. Meanwhile, Barry Bonds hit home run No. 712 in the Giants' 5-3 loss to San Diego, leaving him two short of Babe Ruth. It came in the eighth inning, with the Padres ahead by three and nobody on. It all seems very sad, somehow; like Bonds is taking handouts. If and when he hits No. 715, it will end up a bit of an anti-climax. Does anyone care at this point? Even Barry?


3. Zach Duke Loves Wrigley Field, This Much Is Clear. The Pirates' Duke has four career starts against the Cubs and is 4-0, three of those at Wrigley. The latest came on Tuesday, as Duke, in just his 20th Major League start, got his first career shutout, 8-0. In 32 career innings against the Cubs, he has an 0.56 ERA — 0.36 at Wrigley. Former Cub Jeromy Burnitz had a two-run homer for the Pirates.

4. Miguel Tejada Will Crush You All. Has anyone noticed that Baltimore's Miguel Tejada leads the majors in hitting? We signed on with the Miguel Tejada Experience back in Week Two, when he started crushing the ball and showed no signs of stopping. He's hitting .423, including 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI in the Orioles' 9-2 win over the Blue Jays Tuesday. Then there's his consecutive games streak, which stands at 945, despite the fact that he has a hyper-extended knee (he's DHing).


5. Royals Reach New Heights Of Suckiness. A sortrait of two organizations hurtling in opposite directions. The Tigers are 5-0 on their current homestand after a 4-1 win over the Royals. In those five wins, Detroit has outscored the opposition 40-4 (the opposition in this case being the Royals and Twins. Yeah, we know). Kansas City has lost five straight and is 0-11 on the road. The major league record for road losses to start a season is 13, held by the 1969 Astros and 1988 Orioles.