How Lou Piniella could decide the NL playoff races (cont.)
Stud of the Day
On a wild Thursday night with a gaggle of heroes -- including those with walkoff winners in Milwaukee (Ryan Braun's 10th-inning grand slam), New York (Carlos Beltran's ninth-inning rip down the line) and in Minneapolis (Alexi Casilla's 10th inning single) -- I'm going with the breathless comeback by the Twins to retake the lead in the American League Central and giving the SotD to Denard Span for his roof-rattling triple to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth.
Facing White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, with one out and an 0-2 count, the exciting Span took a 95 mph fastball and pulled it down the line past first baseman Paul Konerko to score Carlos Gomez from first, tying the score at 6-6. That completed a three-for-four night with three RBIs for Span and a comeback from a 6-1 hole that put the Twins a half-game ahead of the Sox.
Check out the fist-pumping joy from Span, the unbridled excitement from Gomez -- and the look on Ozzie Guillen's face in this clip.
Dud of the Day
Bobby Jenks has been pretty good all year long for the White Sox. But with first place on the line, the big right-hander let the piranhas get to him. Span's triple in the eighth. Casilla's game-winning single in the 10th. It wasn't a good day for Jenks.
To be fair, it probably was too much for Jenks to handle. He went 2 1/3 innings against the Twins, gave up three hits, walked two and struck out two. It was his longest outing, in terms of outs, all year. It was also his seventh blown save in 36 tries.
Quote of the Day
"I practice that in spring training. I was a dead duck -- a sitting duck right there."
-- The Mets' Ryan Church on his amazing, tag-avoiding play at the plate in the Mets' 7-6 win
The Twins, new leaders in the Central, get the Royals this weekend while the White Sox host the Indians. More bad news for the ChiSox: They get to go against Cy Young winner-to-be Cliff Lee on Sunday. The Twins miss the Royals' best starter, Zack Greinke.
How quietly the Diamondbacks went, dropping under .500 with a loss to Cardinals that knocked them out of playoff contention. The Diamondbacks, who won 90 games last year in winning the NL West, have Dan Haren, Brandon Webb and Randy Johnson scheduled this weekend against the Rockies, though that's not guaranteed. We'll see if they can finish over .500
The Dodgers knew that they were West champs before they played Thursday night, courtesy of that Arizona loss to the Cardinals in the afternoon. Joe Torre then got some early playing time for Rafael Furcal and Jeff Kent, both freshly off the disabled list. Now, Torre will pull a Piniella in the last weekend, resting whoever he can against the Giants. The Dodgers, by the way, will have the worst record of any team in the playoffs.
Was it desperate for the Brewers to use Yovani Gallardo on Thursday? Sure it was. The guy hadn't pitched since May 1 and was recovering from knee surgery. Did it work out? You bet it did. Gallardo looked fantastic, striking out seven in four innings. The Brewers used him wisely (67 pitches), too, and they pulled out a win. And if they make it to the postseason, they ought to get desperate again. Smart, calculated move by Milwaukee.
Micah Hoffpauir goes 5-for-5 with two home runs, and then the game-winning hit goes off his glove at first? Man, it's a cruel, cruel game sometimes.
The Rays failed to clinch the AL East on Thursday, falling to the Tigers, and the Red Sox won, so the AL East is still up for grabs. All the Rays need is one win, or one loss by Boston. The Rays finish the season in Detroit while the Red Sox host the Yankees.
I hope that wasn't the last we've seen of Pedro Martinez. He pitched admirably for the Mets, after a shaky first inning, and gave them a chance to win. Nice, touching scene as he came off the field and acknowledged the crowd at a soaked Shea Stadium, too.
The weather forecast is still nasty looking through Saturday on the East Coast, threatening Nationals-Phillies, Marlins-Mets and maybe Yankees-Red Sox. Could be a long, wet weekend.
Some congratulations are in order for Toronto right-hander Roy Halladay, who won his 20th game Thursday by beating the Yankees and stopping their seven game winning streak. That guy is money. So underappreciated, too.
See the Seattle Times piece, quoting a "clubhouse insider" as saying he wanted to knock out Ichiro? I can see that. Ichiro, for reasons both cultural and otherwise, is on an island of his own. But he does what he does and he does it well. If everybody did that in Seattle, the Mariners would be much better off.