BLACK MESA 5, ARIZONA 2
WP: Justin Verlander (4-2, 3.58)
LP: Jered Weaver (1-6, 4.33)
SV: Fuentes (1)
Justin Morneau hit his team-leading 12th HR of the season and Rafael Furcal added a solo shot as the Anomalies, behind Justin Verlander (7 IP, 5 H) made an early 4-0 lead stand up to win at home in Black Mesa. Arizona blew a tremendous scoring opportunity in the top of the eighth, when pinch-hitter Delmon Young was hit in the shoulder by a Verlander fastball to load the bases with nobody out. Bryan Fuentes came on, however, and got Jose Reyes and Chris Young to ground harmlessly to the infield and, after a wild pitch allowed Magglio Ordonez to score, Rafael Betancourt flew out. In the bottom of the frame, Black Mesa got an insurance run on Scott Rolen’s RBI double and Fuentes worked a 1-2-3 ninth to nail down the win for Black Mesa.
DARWIN 4, WORCESTER 3
WP: John Smoltz (2-3, 3.46)
LP: Eric Bedard (5-6, 2.91)
SV: Hoffman (15)
A day after being shellacked 15-6 by the home town team, the Darwin Finches barely managed to hold on and edge the Elims after a costly ninth-inning error led to two unearned runs in the ninth. The Finches had built a 4-1 lead on Eric Bedard’s bout of wildness (four walks) in the sixth, but when Nomar Garciaparra’s fly ball was dropped by (of all people) Jeff Francouer leading off the bottom of the ninth, things got interesting. Rookie catcher Ronnie Paulino singled Nomar to third, Carl Crawford hit a sac fly, and Hoffman uncorked a wild pitch to put Paulino in scoring position. After Jeter grounded harmlessly to second, Grady Sizemore hit a booming double to make it a one-run ballgame. Fortunately for the Finches, Garret Atkins nubbed a ball right back to Hoffman, who threw over to Berkman for the final out, as the Finches stayed one game in front of the Elims in the Eastern Division.
LAS VEGAS 4, POTTSYLVANIA 2
WP: Ian Snell (4-4, 4.57)
LP: Noah Lowry (4-5, 4.15)
SV: Rivera (14)
Alfonso Soriano had four hits, including a pair of doubles, and Michael Barrett and Jimmy Rollins both added run-scoring singles as the Luchadores held on win on the road in Pottsylvania. Noah Lowry went the distance for the Creepers, who couldn’t get the big hit off Ian Snell, or cash in errors by Barrett and Carlos Lee. With the big day, the struggling Soriano lifted his seasonal average to .209 with 9 HR and 33 RBI, still a far cry from the 30-30 season many prognosticated. Perhaps Soriano is being hurt by his poor defensive play at second base, where he is being forcefed by Luchadores management in an attempt to add yet another bludgeoning bat to their lineup.
SAN JOSE 6, YUMA 2 (10 innings)
WP: John Lackey (4-7, 4.64)
LP: Rafael Soriano (2-3, 4.05)
John Lackey struck out twelve and took a shutout into the ninth, but needed a furious four-run tenth from his teammates to earn the win after choking against the West-leading Firebirds. Yuma nearly stole a win with a dramatic ninth: trailing 2-0, Nick Markakis drew a leadoff walk and Vlad Guerrero hit a soft single to put the Greek God into scoring position. Shane Victorino came in to run for Guerrero, and Hafner struck out, both Victorino and Markakis moved up a base due to Lackey’s wild pitch. With things unraveling so quickly, the no-name bullpen of the Rockets began to warm, but not before Vernon Wells singled home both baserunners to tie the ballgame. The Rockets, stunned, took out their frustrations on Yuma pitching in the top of the tenth, as Jermaine Dye hit a one-out, three-run homer and Torii Hunter tripled and scored, a four-run inning. Brad Hennessey finished up in a non-save situation, and the cellar-dwelling Rockets had handed Yuma a rare loss.
FROSTBITE FALLS 4, BROOKLYN 3
WP: Matt Garza (1-0, 0.00)
LP: Francisco Rodriguez (1-1, 2.76)
Chien-Ming Wang outdueled Chris Capuano, allowing only three hits in eight frames, but the Squirrels (blind or otherwise) pulled a nut out the tree in the ninth trailing 3-1: Takahito Iguchi walked to lead off the inning against Wang, and Albert Pujols greeted Francisco Rodriguez’s first pitch with a colossal blast, a two-run shot that tied the game. Before the Moabs pen could begin to so much as warm another guy----any guy----‘F-Rod’s’ next pitch was launched by Brad Hawpe, a go-ahead, walk-off shot in the bottom of the ninth! PANDEMONIUM, and easily the most dramatic win of the year for the Squirrels, who maintained their third place (31-28) standing in the ultracompetitive East. The Moabs (28-31), still only six-and-a half games out, visibly slumped as they walked off the field: Brooklyn has scored more runs than any other team in the East, but they’ve struggled to get any sort of consistent effort from their pitching staff.