The Lineup: Rays vs. Sox, Cubs vs. Cubs
The Rays and Sox had a spicy encounter in Boston, and the weekend might bring more of the same. Nelson Cruz owned the night in Arlington, and the Cubs played like, well, the Cubs.
On Friday, blood was almost spilled in Boston. On Saturday, blood might be spilled in Boston.
Friday's full scoreboard with box scores and recaps for all games
Matt Joyce , Tampa Bay Rays : In Tampa Bay's hate-tinged clash with the Boston Red Sox on Friday, Joyce went 2-for-3 with walk. Chief among those two hits was a grand slam off Jon Lester that proved critical in a 7-4 Rays win. That makes two consecutive Alex Cobb starts in which Joyce has provided a grand slam. He's now hitting .283/.400/.551 on the season.
Jason Hammel , Baltimore Orioles : While the O's have been among the best teams in baseball thus far, their starting pitching has not been a particular strength. Hammel, though, has been a pleasing exception. Hammel was at it again on Friday night, as he blanked the Kansas City Royals for 6.0 innings. In addition to picking up the win, he whiffed seven and walked only one.
Nelson Cruz , Texas Rangers : In the course of Friday night's ritual slaughter of Toronto, Cruz went 4-for-5 with a grand slam and a career-high eight ribbies.
Brandon Morrow , Toronto Blue Jays : Yes, Arlington can be a tough environment for a pitcher, and, yes, the Rangers have the most potent lineup in all of baseball. But even given those contexts, Morrow's outing on Friday was an absolute disaster: 0.2 IP, 6 R, 5 H, 0 K, 3 BB. In less than an inning of work, Morrow's 2012 ERA vaulted almost a full run.
Tim Lincecum , San Francisco Giants : For a while on Friday night, Lincecum looked like he'd figured something out. But then the sixth inning came around, and Lincecum hemorrhaged five runs. It marked the seventh time this season that he's given up three or more runs in an inning. He took the loss, and his ERA rose to 6.41. Worse, no one seems to know what's happened to the two-time NL Cy Young winner.
Chicago Cubs ' offense: On the one hand, the Cubs managed 10 hits and two walks against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night. On the other hand, the Cubs went 0-for-12 with RISP and lost 1-0. So it's another squandered gem for Ryan Dempster and a 10th straight for the North Siders. The Cubs' offense has scored just four runs in their last 56 innings.
Let there be runs: Two of baseball's most potent offenses clash when the Blue Jays (3rd in the AL in runs scored) visit the Rangers (tops in the AL in runs scored). Put the likes of Jose Bautista and Josh Hamilton in hitter-friendly Arlington, and the crooked numbers could be plentiful. In related news, the Rangers are still clinging to the top record in the AL, while the Jays are still clinging to playoff position. 3:05 pm ET
Stras. Burg: One should never pass up the chance to watch Stephen Strasburg and his video-game stuff. That Saturday's outing comes against the Atlanta Braves , the team nipping at the heels of Strasburg's first-place Nats, only adds to the intrigue. Opposing Strasburg will be Mike Minor , who's fighting to keep his spot in the Atlanta rotation. 4:05 pm ET
The plot thickens: As you may have heard, these two aren't particularly fond of each other. On a baseball level, we knew the AL East was going to be tough, but at this moment in time, every single team in the loop has designs on a postseason berth. The war of attrition continues on Saturday when Rays ace David Price opposes Josh Beckett , who's given up only one run over his last 14.2 innings pitched. Bring a helmet. 7:15 pm ET
• MLB is tops: MLB took the Sports League of the Year Award at the recent Sports Business Awards presented by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily. Among other merits, MLB boasted a 19% increase in TV ratings for the World Series and raked in record revenues for a ninth-straight season. Methodically, MLB has almost pulled even with the NFL in terms of gross revenues. [MLB.com]
• The price of pinstripes: Okay, the New York Yankees aren't for sale. But what if they were? USA Today posits that the Yankees, what with their powerhouse cable network, iconic brand and sprawling market share, could fetch almost $4 billion on the market.
• Israel's getting ready: Brad Ausmus, who will coach Israel in this year's World Baseball Classic, is aiming high when it comes to assembling a roster. How high? Haaretz reports that Ausmus "has been in touch with every Jewish Major Leaguer or their agent, though he could not comment on any progress made in efforts to receive commitments from current MLB stars such as Ryan Braun or Kevin Youkilis ."
• A gamer's hope: Are you the victim of a crushing depression since learning that the MLB 2K video-game series might not be long for this world? Know hope. GamerLive.TV examines the scenarios that will keep baseball alive in the gaming world.
• The fine print: The most recent Basic Agreement forged by owners and players brings some pretty sweeping changes to MLB. Until now, though, the document itself wasn't available to the public. Thanks to BizofBaseball.com, you may now peruse the guts of the game.
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