The Lineup: Meet Rich Thompson, greet interleague play
As a weekend of interleague play looms, let's take time to praise ... Rich Thompson?
Interleague hostilities? Forthcoming. Tampa Bay Rays "miracle man" Rich Thompson ? Off and running.
Rich Thompson, Rays - When you see that Thompson went 1-for-3 with a single in a 5-3 Tampa Bay loss, you might wonder what he's doing on here. But as with everything in baseball, context matters. Thompson, age 33, notched his first major-league hit on Thursday night, and that hit came after 13 seasons and almost 1,400 games in the minors. So, yeah, Rich Thompson is on this list. Oh, and he also followed that single up with a steal of second and third. So that's a pair of major-league steals compared to 442 minor-league thefts.
Carlos Ruiz , Philadelphia Phillies - Consider Ruiz a stealth MVP candidate. Against the Cubs on Thursday night, he went 4-for-5 with a double and three RBI. On the season, Ruiz, despite playing the most demanding position on the diamond, is now hitting .363/.405/.619. No one's doing more to keep his team above water than Ruiz is.
Jose Lopez , Cleveland Indians - It was Lopez who had the most critical hit in the wild Mariners-Indians game on Thursday night. Lopez's three-run homer in the eighth tied the game at 4-4 and thus positioned the Tribe to win it in extras. That Lopez's clutch blast came against his former team -- the team that signed him out of Venezuela back in 2000 -- is a bonus.
The Detroit Tigers - Just as one does not simply walk into Mordor, one does not get swept by the 2012 Twins. Okay, it was just a two-game series, but still: one does not get swept by the 2012 Twins. The AL Central race was supposed to be leisurely stroll for the Tigers, but so far it's anything but.
Logan Ondrusek , Cincinnati Reds - In a single inning of work, Ondrusek raised his 2012 ERA from 0.00 to 2.76. In that inning, he gave up five runs on four hits, including a double to David Wright and two-out homer to Ronny Cedeno that put the game out of reach for good.
Los Angeles Angels defense - In the course of the Halos' 7-1 loss to the White Sox, L.A. fielders botched a total of four fly balls. Mike Trout bounced one off his glove. Howie Kendrick lost one in the sun and then got a late break on another that fell for a hit. Maicer Izturis misplayed yet another. Sure, the sun was bright, but that excuses only so much.
Full Thursday scoreboard with box scores and recaps for all games
Possible World Series preview: In this one it's Atlanta Braves versus Rays. More specifically, it's Tommy Hanson versus James Shields . Both teams are among the best in baseball right now, and it's entirely possible that this will be your 2012 World Series match-up. 7:10 pm ET
Beltway Bowl: Most years, Baltimore Orioles - Washington Nationals wouldn't rate, but 2012 is different. The long-suffering clubs come in a combined 19 games over .500, and, yes, you may consider this a potential World Series preview. Maybe it's not as likely as the potential preview above, but thus far it's looking plausible. Nats starter Edwin Jackson hasn't won a game in more than a month. 7:05 pm ET
Possible NLCS preview: Let's take a break from interleague play to get stoked for some St. Louis Cardinals - Los Angeles Dodgers action. This one features two of the top starters to date in 2012, Lance Lynn and Ted Lilly . Each, however, is coming off his worst outing of the season. 10:10 pm ET
Full Friday schedule with probables
• Boone's breaking ball: What's behind Boone Logan 's early success in 2012? Sliders and lots of them. In fact, he's thrown the slide-piece almost half the time this season. His elbow might not like that too much, but the results are there. [Hardball Times]
• Zack in the zone: Does Zack Greinke 's focus on command ratios and tendency to work in the strike zone as often as possible actually undermine him? Beyond the Boxscore explores the possibilities.
• Keeping up with Jones: The Orioles' Adam Jones is in the midst of a breakout, MVP-caliber start to the season: .296/.345/.604 with 13 homers. So when will the Orioles get around to signing him to a long-term contract? Or will they get around to signing him to a long-term contract? [MASN]
• Nom, nom, nom: So Texas Rangers Ballpark at Arlington is adding a couple of notable menu items. A news release describes the "Boomstick Combo" as "a two-foot-long, 1-pound hot dog intended to feed as many as four" served along with two one-liter bottles of Coke. Prediction: It will typically be used to feed fewer than four. Meanwhile, the "Great Bratbino" is much like the Boomstick, albeit with a bunch of toppings that can sometimes be considered hostile toward the digestive process.
• Dodger deal: The Dodger bankruptcy settlement is proving quite accommodating toward new team ownership. Under terms of the agreement, the new Dodger owners will be able to squirrel away tens of millions of dollars in media revenues that would otherwise be subject to revenue sharing. Needless to say, other team owners aren't going to like this very much. [Los Angeles Times]
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.