AP Photo/Denis Poroy
July 4 is usually marked by fireworks, representing those "bombs bursting in air," and this Saturday didn't disappoint, as three players hit noteworthy home runs on our nation's birthday.
In Los Angeles, Manny Ramirez hit his seventh home run of the season, and first since returning from his 50-game suspension, with a first-inning shot off San Diego's Josh Geer. It was also Manny's 534th career home run, which moved him into a tie with Jimmie Foxx for 16th place on the all-time list, and with three more home runs, Ramirez will pass Mickey Mantle.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, even with the excitement surrounding Ramirez's blast and six innings of one-run ball from Randy Wolf, their bullpen allowed six runs in the seventh and eighth to let the Padres take a 7-4 victory. The Dodgers' 'pen may be getting tired. Only Baltimore has seen its relievers clock more innings so far in 2009. That's something to keep an eye on as the long season continues.
Meanwhile, in our nation's capital, Adam Dunn did something few people have been able to do this season: hit a home run off Atlanta's Tommy Hanson, who had gone three starts without allowing any runs at all. Dunn's 22nd home run of the season sparked a Nationals comeback, but more important, it was the 300th of his career. Dunn achieved this milestone in the fifth fewest at-bats in major league history, behind only Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire, Ralph Kiner and Harmon Killebrew. That's pretty elite company.
• A day after his 10-game RBI streak ended, Hanley Ramirez started a new one. On Saturday, Han-Ram went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs against Pittsburgh and raised his batting average for the season to a league-leading .346. With 14 home runs and 60 RBIs on the year, he may not be Albert Pujols, but he's certainly getting you bang for your fantasy buck. Dan Meyer earned his second save for the Marlins in the win, as he and Leo Nunez continue to share the closer's role in the wake of Matt Lindstrom's injury.
• Houston pitcher Russ Ortiz had a happy fourth, but then was done in by the fifth and sixth. He was pummeled for eight runs in those two frames and ended up the losing pitcher in San Francisco's 9-0 win on Saturday. We see no reason to hang on to Ortiz, whose ERA is now 4.11 to go along with a WHIP of 1.53.
• Jamie Moyer did not allow a hit for the first three innings of Saturday's game against the Mets and really could have gone much longer than the 6 1/3 innings he worked. Moyer threw only 87 pitches in his five-hit, one run effort as he made New York look foolish all day. Philadelphia went on to win 4-1. Jimmy Rollins drove in two runs with a double, while Shane Victorino and Pedro Feliz each had three hits.
• Justin Morneau appears to be just fine. After he left a game earlier this week with a groin injury, some fantasy owners might have been a bit worried. No need for concern. Morneau went 4-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs as Minnesota beat Detroit on Saturday, 4-3. Morneau upstaged Magglio Ordonez's return to the Detroit lineup after being benched earlier in the week. Ordonez went 2-for-3 with a three-run blast of his own in a losing effort.
• The man I call Dig Dug, Baltimore's Adam Jones, seems to have finally shaken off his collision with the center-field wall. Jones had three singles, two RBIs and his sixth stolen base of the season and brought his batting average up to .307, which is even more impressive considering his abysmal .229 June average. You dig?
• Stephen Drew was a single short of the cycle, Gerardo Parra had four hits, and Mark Reynolds hit his 23rd home run of the season as Arizona loaded up on the offense against the Rockies, 11-7. With all those runs, who was the fantasy goat? Justin Upton, who went 0-for-5 with four groundouts (one turned into a double play) and a strikeout. Wah-wah-wah-wah.
• Jorge Posada finished things off for the Yankees with a walk-off single in the 12th inning against the Blue Jays Saturday. Earlier in the day, Posada had also homered off an unusually ineffective Roy Halladay. Halladay allowed five runs in seven innings and struck out only three. In addition to Posada's blast, he also gave up home runs to Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon. It seems even the best pitchers won't enjoy a trip to the new Yankee Stadium anytime soon.
• David Price continues to be wrong. After he gave up six runs on three hits and five walks in only 1 1/3 innings, it's pretty much time to recognize he might just be better suited for the bullpen at this stage of his career if he's to stay in the majors. Still, it's not just the rookies who struggle. Rich Harden of the Cubs was also battered and beaten Saturday, allowing seven runs in just two innings of work. So take heart, David. Even eight-year veterans can get lit up, too. Of course. Harden's 5.35 ERA makes us not want to own him, either.
Casey McGehee, Brewers
Sure Mat Gamel got all the hype, but it's Casey who has been wielding the mighty bat. On Saturday, McGehee went 4-for-5 with a home run and five RBIs to help the Brew Crew to an easy win over the Cubs. Yet, McGehee's .331 batting average has resulted in only 17.8 percent ownership in ESPN standard leagues. What's a guy gotta do?
Tim Lincecum, Giants
With seven scoreless innings against the Astros, Lincecum extended his streak to 23 innings in a row without allowing a run. With a 9-2 record, a 2.23 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP, to go along with his league-leading 141 strikeouts, he's well on his way to a second straight Cy Young Award.
That's the combined batting average of hitters in the eighth and ninth slots in the lineup when going up against the Oakland A's this season, highest in the majors. On Saturday, Cleveland's Luis Valbuena and Ben Francisco went a combined 6-for-6 and scored three of the Indians' five runs.
• Arizona activated Yusmeiro Petit from the 15-day disabled list in time for the pitcher to face the Rockies on Saturday. Bad idea. Petit didn't look good, allowing four runs and five hits, including a Clint Barmes home run, in only three innings. Infielder Ryan Roberts wasn't around to see the disaster, as he was sent to Triple-A Reno.
• The fanfare isn't as loud in Los Angeles for Howie Kendrick, but he returned to action on Saturday after being recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake. The Angels' second baseman hit ninth against the Orioles and went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. Sean Rodriguez was sent back down to make room on the roster.
• Kevin Slowey's wrist is bothering him, so the Twins are playing it safe with their 10-game winner, placing him on the 15-day disabled list. Anthony Swarzak, 2-2 on the season in five starts for Minnesota, was recalled from Triple-A Rochester to take his spot in the rotation.
• After leaving Saturday's start against Toronto in the sixth inning, an MRI has revealed Chien-Ming Wang has a right shoulder strain and bursitis, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. Expect a trip to the 15-day disabled list to be announced for Wang, who has already been scratched from his next scheduled start this coming Thursday.
• Brett Cecil will start Sunday for the Blue Jays after the team placed Scott Richmond on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis. That makes 10 pitchers and counting to have spent time on the DL so far this season for Toronto, yet somehow the team manages to remain above .500.
AJ Mass: Well, of course there's a chance. However, I've always felt Rollins was more iron pyrite than gold. After all, here's a guy who had a 30-game hitting streak a few years back to end the season and still didn't reach .300.
-- Full chat transcript
Jason Grey: Like everything it all depends on context. I love groundballers, especially if it includes strikeouts, but it's not everything. I think there's some slight regression due to his low HR/FB rate, but that new slider is legit so the numbers may not slide that much.
-- Full chat transcript
Monday's fantasy chat schedule:
AJ Mass, 11 a.m. ET
Tristan H. Cockcroft, 3 p.m. ET
• Carlos Quentin is finally back on his feet, as he began a rehab assignment in Triple-A Charlotte on Saturday. The White Sox outfielder went 2-for-3 with an RBI and, if all goes well in his next few games, may be able to return to Chicago late next week.
• Where's there's Smoak, there's rain. Highly touted Rangers first base prospect Justin Smoak has been promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City by the organization after batting .328 in 50 games at Double-A. Unfortunately, his debut there must wait until a Sunday doubleheader, as rain washed away Saturday's action.
• Pittsburgh's Ryan Doumit continues to struggle in the early stages of his rehab. Doumit went 0-for-7 during his short stay in the Gulf Coast League. Despite the lack of success, he's now scheduled to play for Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday. Don't expect him back in Pittsburgh before the All-Star break if he can't start hitting minor league pitching.
• Twins' pitcher Nick Blackburn and the Metrodome is usually a winning combination. He's 11-3 with a 2.85 ERA there, but Detroit is hitting .270 over the past two weeks.
• Cliff Lee has struggled to get wins this season. Still, you have to like his 0.61 ERA against Oakland in his past three games against the Athletics.