AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Darren Calabrese
Cito Gaston was beaming after the game, and had nothing but glowing things to say about his young starter, Ricky Romero. "What a performance he had out there today; he pitched a great game," Gaston told the Canadian Press. "It was just what we needed. He shut that team down over there, and that's something because they have a really good-hitting ball club."
Romero gave the Toronto fans something to be happy about on Canada Day, tossing eight shutout innings against the Rays, striking out seven and allowing only four hits. The win ended a seven-game winning streak by the Rays, and stopped a four-game losing streak by Toronto (aka "all the other games the team has played since the last time Romero pitched").
Romero is elevating himself into must-own territory for fantasy leagues, with his ERA now down to 2.85 and his strike out per nine innings rate at 7.56 and rising. Of course, it helps to get some run support, and the Blue Jays bats rose to the occasion, with Rod Barajas, Adam Lind and Scott Rolen all homering in the 5-0 victory. Quietly, Rolen has been working on a hitting streak that now stands at 19 games.
We're not sure why the baseball powers don't schedule the Blue Jays to play at home every year on Canada Day, but since they are the only team in the league from that country, we think they should. The Blue Jays are 4-1 at home on July 1 since a 1997 loss to the Montreal Expos.
And speaking of the Expos ... it's official. They're not in Canada anymore.
Wednesday marked the first Canada Day since the Montreal franchise moved to Washington in 2005 that the Nationals didn't win, in spite of a solid outing from young Jordan Zimmermann, who held the Marlins to only two runs over six innings with six strikeouts. Washington couldn't score more than one run off Florida's Josh Johnson, who allowed five hits and four walks in only 3 1/3 innings. In fact, it was Zimmermann himself who drove in the only run Johnson allowed. Ryan Zimmerman went 0-for-5 on the day.
• Canadian Jason Bay did not have a good Wednesday. He struck out not once, not twice but five times against the Orioles, and played no part in the Red Sox comeback in which they scored four times in the ninth to tie the game before winning it in the 11th inning. Jonathan Papelbon got his 20th save of the season, and moved past Bob Stanley into first place on the all-time Red Sox saves list.
• Canadian Joey Votto had a much better day, going 2-for-4 and driving in the only run of the game in Cincinnati's 1-0 victory over the Diamondbacks. His batting average is now up to .358, and it's clear he's recovered nicely from his anxiety issues. Johnny Cueto pitched six innings of one-hit baseball to improve to 8-4 on the year, but he also walked four Arizona hitters. Jon Garland was once again the hard-luck loser, and is now 0-6 with two no-decisions since May 19.
• Canadian Justin Morneau ended his Canada Day early, as the Twins first baseman left the game in the seventh inning with a groin injury. Shortstop Nick Punto also left the game with a back injury, and catcher Mike Redmond had to leave after getting hit in the forearm with a foul tip. Somehow, the Twins still beat the Royals, 5-1. Manager Ron Gardenhire told the team's official Web site none of the injuries were of great concern, "[We have] a day off tomorrow and then we have all the way until Friday night before we play again. Redmond looks really, really sore. But it sounds like [Morneau and Punto] will both be fine."
• Jair Jurrjens was brilliant against the Phillies, taking a no-hitter into the seventh before Paul Bako singled to right with two outs. His performance was in stark contrast to his mound opponent, Cole Hamels, who once again got crushed, allowing seven runs on nine hits over four innings before Charlie Manuel mercifully pulled the plug. Hamels' ERA is now 4.98 on the season.
• Maybe Texas manager Ron Washington should just stop talking. In Frank Francisco's first outing since Washington declared him to be once again the team's "official closer," he blew his second save of the season on Wednesday, blowing a three-run lead in the ninth against the Angels. However, the saving grace for Francisco's fantasy owners is that he at least picked up the victory, as the Rangers scored twice in the bottom of the ninth to win the game, 9-7. (See "Hitter of the Night" sidebar for more details.)
• Clayton Kershaw and three relievers combined on a three-hit, 1-0 shutout against the Rockies. Kershaw walked five, which is why he lasted five innings and was not involved in the decision. Colorado's Jason Hammel went all eight innings for the visiting Rockies in defeat, allowing only five hits. Unfortunately, Rafael Furcal's RBI single in the eighth, scoring Canada's own Russell Martin, was enough for the Dodgers to grab the brass ring.
• Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr. and ... Jack Cust? All three players homered Wednesday, which surprisingly keeps Cust in the lead amongst the trio with 14 round-trippers on the season. A-Rod hit his 13th of the year off Jarrod Washburn in New York's 4-2 win over Seattle. Griffey added his 10th of the season in that same game, and made new Yankee Stadium the 44th park in which he has homered during his career. Meanwhile, Cust's two-run shot off of Detroit's Justin Verlander was enough to saddle the Tigers pitcher with his fourth loss of the season.
• Mark DeRosa's injury is not as serious as first feared. According to the Cardinals' official Web site, DeRosa has only a strained tendon in his hand, and will be required to miss only a few games. Joe Thurston went 0-for-4 in DeRosa's place at third base on Wednesday. Adam Wainwright allowed only one run in nine innings and struck out a career-high 12 batters, but the Cardinals' weakened lineup failed to do much better against Matt Cain. The game went into the 10th before Colby Rasmus ended it with a home run off reliever Bobby Howry.
• Randy Wells has won three straight starts, and is now 3-3 with a 2.43 ERA after seven strong innings of one-run, six hit ball against the Pirates. While he's not yet an automatic fantasy start, he's definitely a pitcher to keep an eye on. Derrek Lee helped out Wells by hitting a two-run shot in the first inning off Virgil Vasquez to givethe Cubs an early lead. Sam Fuld was 2-for-4 leading off and playing left field in his 2009 debut for the Cubs, with Alfonso Soriano getting the night off.
Hank Blalock, Rangers
Blalock went 3-for-5 with three runs scored, but it was his two home runs that saved the day for Texas. His second blast of the night came with two out in the bottom of the ninth, and completely upstaged the heroic effort of the Angels' Juan Rivera, who hit a three-run shot in the top of the inning, threatening to send the game to extra frames.
Yovani Gallardo, Brewers
On a day with three 1-0 games, there were plenty of pitching performances worth mentioning here, but we went with Gallardo. Yo-Ga allowed only five hits in seven innings, striking out a career-high 12 Mets,including David Wright three times. It's the second time this season Gallardo has lost to New York 1-0.
With a two-run double against Washington, Hanley Ramirez extended his RBI streak to 10 games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's the longest streak by a NL shortstop since the stat became official in 1920. It's also the longest streak in the major leagues since Garret Anderson went 12 straight games with an RBI in 2007.
• The Rockies reinstated catcher Yorvit Torrealba to the active roster. Torrealba missed 27 games to be with his family in Venezuela after a kidnapping. He will back up Chris Iannetta, with Paul Phillips being designated for assignment. Phillips, who was hitting .310 on the year, will go to Triple-A Colorado Springs if he is not claimed off waivers by another team.
• The Reds called up infielder Drew Sutton from Triple-A Louisville, but don't expect the speedy switch-hitter to have any immediate impact. After all, manager Dusty Baker told the Cincinnati Enquirer he has never seen Sutton play and has no clue how best to use him. The Reds acquired Sutton in early April, after spring training, as part of the deal for Jeff Keppinger.
• The Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers have designated Mitch Jones for assignment, a move that paves the way for the return of Manny Ramirez to the team. Manny's suspension is now over, but the Dodgers do not play again until Friday.
• The Yankees needed to make a roster move with the acquisition of Eric Hinske, and Ramiro Pena drew the short straw. The utility infielder was hitting .267 for the Bronx Bombers so far this year. He will be asked to start a few games in the outfield in the minors to get used to the position. Pena would likely be the first player called on in the event of an injury -- anywhere on the field.
• In another move made to make room for a player acquired from Pittsburgh, the Washington Nationals sent Elijah Dukes to Triple-A Syracuse. One of the outfielders had to go with Nyjer Morgan coming to town, and Dukes still had options left, making the decision easy for the team.
Tristan H. Cockcroft: Fox. He can rake, and I'd say enough so that the Cubs need to find creative ways to get him into the lineup fairly regularly. But I always want talent over opportunity. Talent creates its own opportunities, most of the time.
-- Full chat transcript
Eric Karabell: Hanson. I don't think Santana should be given up on, but as soon as Hanson really rids himself of the walks, you're going to see a really good pitcher. He's already pretty good!
-- Full chat transcript
Thursday's fantasy chat schedule:
AJ Mass, 11 a.m. ET
Jason Grey, 3 p.m. ET
• Josh Hamilton is clearly taking his rehab seriously. The Rangers outfielder led off for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday, serving as the team's designated hitter. The game was a marathon affair, lasting 14 innings, and Hamilton stayed in the whole night, going 1-for-7 with a single. He is expected to play again on Thursday, this time, manning center field.
• Andy Marte continues to wield a hot bat for Triple-A Toledo. He went 4-for-4 with two doubles and a home run to extend his hitting streak to nine games, batting .500 over that stretch. With DeRosa gone, couldn't the Indians use this guy in the big leagues?
• San Diego's Kevin Correia is on fire as of late, with a 2.49 ERA in his past three starts, but with Adrian Gonzalez's status for Thursday in doubt, we're going to have to lean in the direction of Houston's Wandy Rodriguez for this matchup.
• It's true that Brian McCann of the Braves is in the midst of a severe slump, but don't forget the fact he already has three home runs and nine RBIs against the Phillies this season.
• For more on Thursday's games, check Daily Notes.