|Why is this man smiling? (Associated Press|
What happened on Friday night? Besides Manny Machado, we mean? Lots. So let's dig in.
Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers: Call it a dish best served cold. In his first trip back to Miami since being traded to the Dodgers on July 25, Ramirez came up big: 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI. In doing so he notched his first three-hit game since May 30 and quieted the boos that greeted him at every turn.
Chase Headley, Padres: The criminally underrated Headley had a night to remember on Friday. His first home run drove in three crucial runs, and his second bomb proved to be the winner in a back-and-forth contest with Pittsburgh. Headley is now hitting .278/.372/.458 on the season, in addition to playing stellar defense.
Paul Maholm, Braves: Maholm struggled badly in his first start as a Brave, but his second time around brought much better results. To say the least. He tossed a complete-game shutout against the Mets, gave up three hits and struck out five against no walks. How on was he? Here's what catcher David Ross told CBSSports.com Insider Danny Knobler: "I could have thrown down a thumb and he'd have made a good pitch."
John Axford, Brewers: He did it again. For the eighth time this season, the once-impeccable Axford blew a save. This one came at the hands of the lowly Astros, who roughed up Axford for two runs on two hits and a walk. Axford was able to record only one out, and his 2012 ERA now stands at 5.25.
Cubs' defense: In the course of a windblown 10-8 loss to the Reds, the Cubs committed five errors. Five. Three in one inning. It was the first time the Cubs had logged so many E's since 2006. Adding to the misery was a puzzling base-running mistake by Starlin Castro. And with that the Cubs have now dropped nine of their last 10.
Blue Jays' bullpen: Ricky Romero notched his third-straight quality start on Friday against the Yankees, but relievers Steve Delabar and David Carpenter made quick work of it. They combined to hemorrhage seven runs on seven hits in 1.2 innings of work. The Yankees wound up winning 10-4.
Full Friday scoreboard with box scores and recaps for all games
The Stopper: Seven of A.J. Burnett's 14 wins this season have come following a Pirates loss. Can he make it eight when he faces the Padres, who bested the Buccos on Friday? Burnett will also try to join R.A. Dickey as the lone 15-game winners in the NL. And that's enough about pitcher win-loss records. 7:05 pm ET
Surprise!: Two of the most pleasantly surprising teams in all of baseball, the Athletics and White Sox, will cross swords on the South Side on Saturday night. Friday night's series opener was a thriller, and Saturday night's will feature Francisco Liriano, who will make his third start since being traded to Chicago. 7:10 pm ET
AL's best vs. AL's best: The reigning AL Cy Young winner will face the reigning AL champs. Yes, it's Justin Verlander, fresh off a dominating performance against the Yankees, against the Rangers, who have one of the best offenses in baseball. How will Verlander respond after logging a career-high 132 pitches last time out? 8:05 pm ET
Sunday probables for all games
• Some guys have all the luck: Who has more fun, contenders or the inconsequential squads? Yes, contenders. Stands to reason, of course, but it's still an interesting read on the mentality that takes hold when a team matters. [MLB.com]
• The Dougie: If Doug Fister seems like a different pitcher lately, that's with good reason. He is a different pitcher since refining his curveball. Over at Fangraphs, Dave Cameron takes notice and makes a most interesting comparison.
• The sequel: On Friday night, Stephen Strasburg squared off against Trevor Cahill, and Strasburg prevailed. Back in 2006, Strasburg squared off against Cahill, and Cahill prevailed. Oh, they were both in high school back then. [San Diego Union-Tribune]
• Goodbye to all that: I like Twitter. A lot. It's a riveting medium, and it's a great way to tap into the moment, regardless of your interests. However, it's also peppered with rank sub-morons who use it for no other reason than to troll their betters. Angels catcher Bobby Wilson recently figured that out and decided he'd had enough. [Orange County Register]
• #FWIW: Would scouts today have tinkered with Roberto Clemente's swing? The answer is a resounding "maybe." [@matthewcoller]
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