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Yardwork: Shields, Verlander in the Zone & Down Goes Albert

Considering the amount of attention that’s been paid to baseball attendance this season and the plethora of photos Darren Rovell has tweeted to hammer home the number of consistently empty stadiums around the league, I thought it might be appropriate to center the headline of this post around the Cubs and Yankees breaking an attendance record at Wrigley Field this weekend, but too much other stuff happened yesterday. Now having said that, it’s worth mentioning that Wrigley welcomed 126,283 fans, a franchise record for a three-game series. Yes, the needle was moved. The Yankees often treat the needle like a lightweight javelin. But onto baseball…

Justin Verlander pitched his second straight complete game, allowing four hits and one run that came on a Ty Wiggington home run as the Tigers won 9-1. He has four complete games on the season and has gone eight innings or more in seven of his last nine starts. One can comfortably say the Tigers ace has found his groove. And really, when you look at his entire body of work thus far, he’s only had one bad start. The guy has been tremendous.

Rays 2, Marlins 1 — James Shields pitched his fifth complete game of the season and continued his dominance of the Florida Marlins. In two starts this year, he’s gone the distance in both and fanned 23. Ridiculous. After getting crushed by Seattle just a few starts ago, he’s settled back in to where he’s been most of the season rather nicely. Sam Fuld also made some filthy, key catches in the top of the eighth. Meanwhile, the Marlins are a roaring trainwreck. Manager Edwin Rodriguez resigned before yesterday’s game and I’m guessing most of the reason was based more on how much fun it is to work for Jeffrey Loria and less on the mounting losses.

Cards 5, Royals 4 — The Cards experienced some brief joy on Skip Schumaker’s walkoff homer, but the reality is they lost Albert Pujols thanks to a sprained left wrist (his injury is the second replay on the Schumaker link). Whenever a first baseman has to reach like that with a guy busting it up the line, I cringe. Reminded me a little of the Bubba Crosby-Brian Roberts collision at Yankee Stadium a few years ago, but this one wasn’t nearly as bad. Here’s Albert: “To be honest, I can’t give you guys too much until the X-rays and an MRI tomorrow. I know I’m pretty sore. Am I worried? Of course. Hopefully, everything will come out negative tomorrow. When I come out of a game, believe me, something is really wrong.”

Twins 5, Padres 4 — The Twins have ripped off seven straight and since June 2, have won 14 of 16. Their lastest win came on a Drew Butera walkoff single. Believe it or not, at a record of 31-39, their climb to .500 – which seemed far from possible a few weeks ago – now feels inevitable. And not that anyone cares, but the boring Padres have dropped eight of nine.

White Sox 8, D-Backs 2 — Phil freaking Humber. He gave up two runs over 7 2-3 innings and is, gasp, more or less the ace of this rotation? That can’t be true. And come on MLB.com, he allowed seven hits, I wouldn’t go as far as to call this a “dominant” start.

Mariners 2, Phils 0 — Jason Vargas, on the other hand, pitched dominantly to the tune of a complete game three-hitter. The Mariners are actually a decent baseball team. They took two of three from the Phils and sit half a game back of the Angels.

Red Sox 12, Brewers 3 — Tim Wakefield (8 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 6 K) will live forever. The Red Sox look mighty good.

Yankees 10, Cubs 4 — If you didn’t stick around to see a ball riccochet off the chest of Ramiro Pena (playing third) and into the hands of Eduardo Nunez, who frantically threw the ball directly into the ground John Wall style, you missed out royally. Unfortunately, MLB does not have that play included among the full highlights. They do, however, have the cool exchange between Mo and a young fan out by the bullpen that ended with a fist bump. (It’s the fifth highlight in.) Even if you hate the Yanks more than you love trivia night, you can’t help but appreciate the class of Mariano Rivera.

Also, I agree with Bubba on this A-Rod/Soriano exchange. A glove tap to say hello is one thing, but fist bumping between opposing players during a game is lame:

Since we’ve been showing mostly late inning home runs, here’s a great catch by Peter Bourjos from Friday night at Citi Field:

[Photo via Getty]

 

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