The Lineup: Curtis Granderson owns the night
On Thursday, Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson had a night for the ages. On Friday, he'll try to spoil Fenway Park's birthday party.
Curtis Granderson? Hell of a nice guy. Curtis Granderson's bat? Significantly less polite, especially if you pitched for the Twins on Thursday night.
Curtis Granderson, Yankees - Shocking choice, no? Granderson went 5-for-5 with three bombs on Thursday in a 7-6 Yankee win over Minnesota. It was just the 17th time in major-league history that a player tallied three homers in a game while also tallying at least five hits in that same game. Granderson is the first Yankee to pull off both feats in a single game.
Bronson Arroyo, Reds - Sure, Arroyo's line for the day -- 8 IP, 5 H, 3 R -- is merely "good" and thus not quite up to the usual 3-UP standards, but consider the context. The Reds badly needed a win, and they badly needed a starter to work deep into the game and thus give a little rest to one of the hardest-worked bullpens in the NL. He's also the first Cincy starter to earn a win since opening day. Arroyo did what he needed to on Thursday as the Reds avoided the sweep against the Cards.
Albert Pujols, Angels - No, Pujols still doesn't have a home run on the year, and he hasn't drawn a walk since the third game of the season. Still, Pujols showed distinct signs of life Thursday night when he smacked three doubles (and missed that first home run by inches) in a loss to the A's. It was just the third time in his career that Pujols had hit three doubles in a game. Don't be surprised if the switch has flipped.
Dayan Viciedo, White Sox - While Viciedo had a good day in the human sense, he was not as successful in the baseball sense. In a 6-3 loss to the Orioles, Viciedo went 0-4 with three whiffs and five runners left on base. On the day, White Sox hitters struck out a whopping 16 times.
Daniel Schlereth, Tigers - The ALCS rematch in Detroit was vaguely interesting until Schlereth took the mound. Schlereth entered the game with two outs in the seventh and, after walking Elvis Andrus, got Josh Hamilton to ground out. Schlereth returned for the eighth, and the sequence went as follows: fly out, single, double, intentional walk, double, strikeout, double, single. Five runs later, the game was out of reach.
Fernando Rodney, Rays - Technically, I must classify what follows as a "3 DOWN," but it's really a "3 UP" because, well, I don't want to live in a world in which this is regarded as anything less than something to be cherished and celebrated:
Happy birthday - Fenway Park will be the star when the Yankees and Red Sox take the field on Friday. These two august rivals played the first game in Fenway back in 1912, and they'll play this game, which will mark the 100th anniversary of what many regard to be sacred baseball ground. Worth noting: In the regular season, the Sox are 459-456 all-time versus the Yanks in Fenway. 3:00 p.m. ET
100? Meh. Try 10,000 - While the Red Sox are toasting their home digs, the Reds will be trying to become the sixth franchise in baseball history to win 10,000 games when they take the field against the Cubs in Wrigley. Homer Bailey will oppose Chris Volstad. 2:20 p.m. ET
This division ain't big enough for the both of us - The two NL East upstarts, the Marlins and Nationals, will cross swords for the first time in 2012. The (latest) Ozzie Guillen controversy seems to have died down, and the rebranded Fish come to D.C. having won four straight. The Nats, meantime, lead the division and are only a half-game behind the Dodgers for best record in the National League. 7:05 p.m. ET
• Goodbye to all that: At some point in the indeterminate future, the Tampa Bay Rays might actually reside in … Tampa. Reports Mike Salinero of the Tampa Tribune: "By a 6-1 vote, commissioners asked the county attorney to analyze the lease agreement that ties the Rays Major League Baseball team to St. Petersburg until 2027. Commissioners want to know if the contract prohibits Hillsborough [County] representatives from talking to Rays officials about their future plans."
• Rat shot: Who's the hidden hero behind one of the most iconic moments in sports-television history? The Sporting News reminds us that Carlton Fisk's walk-off in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series might not have been so visually memorable if not for a certain wandering rodent.
• The revolution will be televised: WGN, broadcast home to the Cubs, will soon introduce "Stats Sunday" to its Cubbie telecasts. On those Sundays, advanced statistics will be used to paint a more accurate picture of the game on the field and do away with a few sacred cows in the process. Fittingly, there's no better broadcaster to communicate such concepts to the masses than the Cubs' Len Kasper.
• A survivor's story: Royals legend Willie Aikens, who last year returned to the organization after a lengthy prison term for drug trafficking, has a new book out -- a book that chronicles his rise, fall and redemption. ""I just want my book to touch the lives of people who are struggling with drugs and alcohol and to inspire some of the ones that are still incarcerated. Give them hope," Aikens said. "I was incarcerated for 14 years, and I left behind a lot of people that are still there. It's just putting out the word that, hey, it doesn't make any difference how long you're there, it doesn't make any difference how long you struggled with drugs and alcohol, it doesn't make any difference if your dad or mom was there, you still can succeed in life." [MLB.com]
• Polyglotto Votto: Reds first baseman Joey Votto on learning to speak Spanish: "I was getting tired of running into situations when I couldn't communicate with my teammates," he says. "I'd like to befriend some of my teammates and become a better teammate in general. I think speaking the same language and understanding their perspective would help a lot." [Sporting News]
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