Brooklyn—On the road, the BARB-leading (45-23) Yuma Firebirds unveiled their latest acquisition, 43-year-old hired gun Roger Clemens, making his first start of the year after sitting out nearly the first half of the season, and (while he didn’t win), ‘The Rocket’ didn’t disappoint, working seven-plus strong innings against his former teammates in Brooklyn, but took the loss (0-1, 3.68), when he was outdueled by the combo of Mark Buerhle (8-4, 4.48) and Felix Carmona (who got the save). The pair of Brooklyn hurlers combined on a two-hitter and got a great boost in the eighth when their teammates posted four runs, keyed by HR from Derek Lee and Ryan Howard.
Still, the West has to wonder what they have to do to even get the Firebirds within their sights. Yuma has an 11-game lead, no other team in the division is more than a game above .500, and now they’ve added Clemens to a rotation that already features Carlos Zambrano (6-3, 3.40, 2 shutouts), Jake Peavy (7-4, 3.00, five complete games), Roy Halladay (6-4, 4.26, three complete games) and C.C. Sabathia (a BARB-leading 10 wins against 3 losses, plus a 2.43 ERA). Small wonder that Yuma is pondering what to do with Matt Cain (5-5, 4.17), who can’t seem to buy a win despite excellent stuff at times.
In other BARB action:
WORCESTER 6, SAN JOSE 5 (13 innings)
WP: Chris Ray (3-0, 3.29)
LP: Daniel Cabrera (0-1, 0.79)
The Rockets’ pen blew a 3-0 lead in the eighth, then after rallying against Eric Bedard to tie the game (no mean feat), blew a 5-4 lead in extra innings, finally resorting to disgraced former starter Daniel Cabrera out of desperation. The Elims’ hot bats were equal to the challenge despite some chokes at the plate, with Robinson Cano’s third hit of the game delivering the win. Worcester is now 42-28 and appears to be aggressively pursuing trades (see above).
BLACK MESA 6, DARWIN 5
WP: John Maine (6-8, 3.95)
LP: Chad Billingsley (1-3, 10.13)
SV: Papelbon (14)
For the second straight game, the Anomalies rallied in the middle innings, scoring six runs (owch) in a big sixth capped by Justin Morneau’s 14th boundary belt of the season. For the second straight game, Black Mesa handed a late lead to Jonathan Papelbon, and he was up to the task, as the Bandos swept their three-game set with the muddled Finches, who committed costly errors in back-to-back games. Darwin manager PZ Myers indicated that Carlos Guillen would not play short for the next few days after throwing away two easy chances in the first two games of the set, while SS Khalil Greene was showcased for a possible deal.
FROSTBITE FALLS 16, ARIZONA 10
WP: Johann Santana (9-4, 3.57)
LP: Felix Hernandez (2-3, 6.35)
SV: Are you kidding me? They scored 16 runs....
After being swept by Yuma (again), the Squirrels took out their frustrations on the visiting D-Backs, with Albert Pujols driving in six runs and taking over the BARB home run lead from Darwin’s slumping David Ortiz. Pujols launched his 28th blast, one of four hits, to knock out ‘King Felix’ in the second, and the slugfest was on. Hunter Pence drove in five runs with a pair of homers in a losing cause, but seven of Arizona’s runs came in the last three frames against relievers Pat Neshek and Denys Reyes.
POTTSYLVANIA 8, S-MART 1
WP: David Wells (3-9, 4.41)
LP: Jose Valverde (2-2, 4.46)
"Boomer" Wells became the oldest pitcher in BARB to ever post a complete game, and Aramis Ramirez drove in five runs with three hits, including his team-leading 16th HR, as the Creepers won for only the fourth time in their last twelve games. Wells staggered at the end, but twice got S-Mart hitters to hit into the pitcher’s best friend, a twin killing, and with a seven-run lead (and, let’s face it, a completely strapped pen), the Creepers let the old man finish what he started, getting Edwin Encarnacion to ground out on pitch #107....not bad for a guy with both diabetes and gout.