BASEBALL TONIGHT EXTRA

Bonds one step closer to history


Barry Bonds picked up right where he left off in spring training, homering in his second game and fourth at-bat of the season. For those curious, Chris Young became Bonds victim No. 435 among pitchers and it was the 86th home run that Bonds hit against the Padres, his most against any team. San Diego managed to win the game on Wednesday, but Bonds moved one step closer to the magic 755 home run milestone.

Elsewhere, four teams completed sweeps on Wednesday, with the Mets, Pirates, Twins and Angels each improving to 3-0. The Mets, Twins and Angels all dominated. The Pirates, who struggled mightily in close games early last season (losing 23 of their first 30 one-run decisions), got both timely hitting and good relief pitching to narrowly edge the Astros. The good news for Houston and St. Louis is the two play each other next, so one of the winless won't be for long.

BONDS' FIRST HOME RUNS OF THE SEASON
  Bonds Game # At-bat #
2007 2 4
2006 14 31
2005 5 11
2004 1 3
2003 2 6
In the last five years.
INSIDE THE SWEEPS
Mets-Cardinals Mets starters: 20 IP, 0.90 ERA
Pirates-Astros Three wins by combined four runs; Pitt. 'pen 10 IP, 1 R
Twins-Orioles Mauer and Morneau: 9-for-22, 4 R, 2 RBIs
Angels-Rangers Angels never trailed in series

THOSE WHO WILL THRIVE IN NEW SURROUNDINGS

Below is my list of the five players who changed teams this past offseason and will make the biggest impact in 2007:

Jason Schmidt, Los Angeles Dodgers: Schmidt is a guy who throws hard and does so up in the strike zone. Dodger Stadium is an extremely tough place to hit in and Schmidt is going to take advantage of that and have a monster season.

Jeff Suppan, Milwaukee Brewers: People may be surprised by this pick, but Suppan is a guy who throws a lot of innings as he proved over the past three seasons in St. Louis (he pitched an average of just over 190 innings per year the last three seasons). He beat Roger Clemens in Game 7 of the NLCS back in 2004, which proves he knows how to win the big game. Count on him being a big difference maker for the Brewers.

Carlos Lee
Lee

Carlos Lee, Houston Astros: Lee will add a lot of offense to the Astros. Roy Oswalt said with the addition of Lee, the Astros now have the best offensive team he's played on since he's been in Houston. A lot of people talk about Lee being overweight, but he's been a big guy for awhile and hasn't had any trouble hitting with the extra pounds.

Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees: I think Pettitte returning to the Yankees is a great fit. He knows he's expected to win because he knows how to play in New York. Pettitte is a New York kind of guy in terms of being able to pitch in that type of spotlight in big games and in the dregs of summer.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Red Sox: Matsuzaka has the ability to be the ace of Boston's staff before the season is over. He's pitched under pressure before so he's not an average rookie. He's also a guy who should be able to handle the pressure of pitching in Boston. The question is, will he be able to handle pitching twice a week? That's something he didn't have to do when he pitched in Japan.

FORWARD THINKING: THURSDAY
• Indians at White Sox, 2:05 p.m. ET: Left-hander Jeremy Sowers gets the start as Cleveland looks to complete a three-game sweep of division-rival Chicago. Mark Buehrle, who allowed a whopping 26 home runs in 19 starts at home last season, counters for the White Sox.

Daisuke Matsuzaka
Matsuzaka

• Red Sox at Royals, 2:10 p.m. ET: The much-anticipated debut of Daisuke Matsuzaka has finally arrived. Zack Greinke also returns to make his first start in the big leagues since 2005.

• Padres at Giants, 10:15 p.m. ET: Clay Hensley is coming off a strong performance in the second half last season (2.66 ERA in 15 outings, 13 starts). Matt Morris pitched poorly down the stretch last year, going 0-4 with a 7.42 ERA in five starts in September.

• Thursday's complete list of probable starters

RUMOR CENTRAL: CANTU HEADS TO MINORS
• Demoted Devil Rays second baseman Jorge Cantu has agreed to report to Triple-A Durham in time for Thursday's season opener, but he still wants to be traded, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

Jorge Cantu
Cantu

"Our request was firm. I think that sums it up," Cantu's agent, Steve Canter, told the newspaper. "I think right now he's focused on going to Durham and working hard. He's made the trade request, and we're going to go from there. The club did not provide a time frame. He's going to go there and work and turn this into something positive."

• Complete Rumor Central Insider

BRAVES TURN ON THE POWER
Atlanta rides late-game homers to victory.
IN THE ZONE
Ted Lilly Left-hander Ted Lilly pitched seven dominant innings in his first start for the Cubs. He allowed one run on three hits -- all singles -- in a 4-1 win over the Reds. Lilly also had nine strikeouts and walked just one.
ELIAS SAYS
Cardinals With its loss to the Mets, St. Louis became only the second defending champion since 1974 to begin a season 0-3. The only other reigning World Series winner to do so in that period was the 1984 Orioles, who lost their first four games. The last National League team to start 0-3 after winning it all was the 1965 Cardinals.

• Complete Elias Says

NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCES
GOOD
Carlos Beltran Carlos Beltran hit two home runs -- a two-run blast in the sixth inning and a solo shot in the seventh -- and drove in four runs in all as the Mets clobbered the Cardinals 10-0, completing a three-game sweep of the defending world champions.
BAD
Tom Gordon Handed a 2-0 lead entering the top of the ninth, Phillies closer Tom Gordon didn't make the lead hold up as he gave up a leadoff double to Jeff Francoeur and then a home run to Brian McCann to tie the game at 2-2. Scott Thorman then won the game for the Braves by hitting a solo homer in the 11th inning.
UGLY
A.J. Burnett A.J. Burnett didn't get out of the third inning, allowing six runs in the frame, in the Blue Jays' 10-9 loss to the Tigers. Burnett gave up four singles and issued two walks in the third before being lifted for reliever Shaun Marcum.
TRIBE TAME CHISOX
Indians hold off hard-charging White Sox.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"It's embarrassing. This is the big leagues. It's unacceptable. The only good thing about today was seeing the heart of this team. They almost got me off the hook."
-- Blue Jays starter A.J. Burnett
PHOTO OF THE DAY
AP Photo/Matt Sayles
Vladimir Guerrero is the center of attention after scoring a run in the Angels' 5-3 win over the Rangers.


 

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