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The Closer: Vote For Pedro

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Notes from a day in baseball:
• 1. Xavier Nady, You're My Hero!. Could it be that the Mets are (gulp!) for real? Pedro Martinez still seems to be at any rate. Even though he was feeling not-so-fresh, P-Marty went 6 2/3 in a 4-3 win over the Braves, whom, the New York Daily News mused today, may have to settle for the wild card. Ha. But for now it cannot be denied that Mr. Met's team owns a 10-2 record — their best start in franchise history, and the best record in baseball. It was Martinez's 200th career victory, making him the seventh active pitcher to get there; sixth, if you don't count David Wells as active.

• 2. You've Got To Have Skills. Albert Pujols has a mission; to ensure that every fan who buys an outfield seat at Busch Stadium (or anywhere, really) gets a baseball. On Monday his two-run home run was all the offense the Cardinals would need in a 2-1 win over the Pirates, but check this out: the blast meant he had homered in four straight at-bats, which tied a major league record.


• 3. There's No %$&@! Crying In Baseball. We love a good expletive-filled tirade; there just aren't many good ones these days with Lou Pineilla and Tommy Lasorda in retirement. Fortunately, Jim Leyland is back after seven years away from the bench, and he laid into his Tigers good on Monday following their 10-2 loss to the Indians. The explosion could be heard outside the clubhouse doo , and included language that would make Dick Cheney blush. Exempt, we imagine, was Detroit's Chris Shelton, whose ninth homer of the season made him the fourth player in baseball history with at least nine home runs over his team's first 13 games.

• 4. Ask Your Doctor If Metamucil Is Right For You. In his first start since turning 40, Greg Maddux went to 3-0 after pitching the Cubs to a 4-1 win over the Dodgers, going eight innings and giving up three hits, walking none. The last Cubs pitcher to appear in a game after his 40th birthday? Anyone? Anyone? Ferguson Jenkins, 1983.


• 5. And The Crowd Goes Wild!. Despite the fact that he looks like your accountant, Mark Loretta lived every kid's dream on Monday, unless that kid was Michael Flatley. Loretta's two-run, two-out home run in the bottom of the ninth gave the Red Sox a 7-6 win over the Mariners in the annual Patriots Day game, colliding with and flattening an ecstatic Drew Barrymore as he rounded the bases (we added that last part).

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