Leading the AL in ERA (3.14 through Sunday), Oakland keeps settin' 'em down behind control masters like righthander Dan Haren (1.75 ERA, above). The A's were 15--15 despite an often absent offense, and things could soon get much better on the mound: Ace Rich Harden is expected back from shoulder trouble in mid-May.
The agent for Roger Clemens (next page), Randy Hendricks, got richer—as did the folks at Hendrick Motorsports. Their drivers finished first (Jimmie Johnson), second (Kyle Busch) and fourth (Jeff Gordon) at Richmond on Sunday. Said Busch, "We've got great race teams.... It's hard to beat the best drivers with the best equipment and the best teams."
Move over, Todd Hollandsworth! Braves rookie catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia celebrated his 22nd birthday with a record-setting big league call-up: His is the longest surname to appear in the majors. He's got a long arm too—he's thrown out three runners in three attempts—and he had a game-winning RBI.
The legend grows. First, the young Penguin revealed he'd played the postseason on a broken foot. Then a TIME.com readers' poll named him the year's fifth-most-influential person—ahead of Al Gore, behind Sanjaya.
Last in the AL West in on-base percentage (.307 through Sunday), typically thumping Texas didn't have a regular hitting above .276. (SS Michael Young, above: "We have to take responsibility.") On ice the New York Ranger scorers awoke too late to upset Buffalo, and things may get worse: Sniper Brendan Shanahan is mulling retirement.
The Astros lost out on one Rocket—homeboy Roger Clemens—the day after the city's Rockets completed their collapse against the Jazz. Yao Ming (left) kept turning the ball over, and how's this for an 0-fer: Guard Tracy McGrady is winless in six career playoff series. Said he, "Maybe I could've done more.... I tried. I tried."
Move on, Ryan Langerhans! From top (the Braves) to bottom (the Nationals) with a stop in between. After shipping from Atlanta to Oakland, outfielder Langerhans was sent to Washington three days later. Said the struggling outfielder (.093 batting average) upon leaving Oakland, "I enjoyed my time here."
Bengal wideout Chad Johnson is being sued for allegedly hosting a bogus raffle, while fellow lightning rod Keyshawn Johnson got cut by Carolina. G.M. Marty Hurney on Keyshawn's reaction: "I don't think he agreed with the decision."
SI PLAYERS NBA POLL
Who is the toughest defender in the NBA?
Bruce Bowen, Spurs F 37%
Ron Artest, Kings F 31%
Ben Wallace, Bulls C 11%
Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz F 4%
Kobe Bryant, Lakers G 3%
Poll taken during the regular season.... Bowen (above left, guarding Bryant) has made seven straight NBA All-Defense teams but has yet to be named Defensive Player of the Year; Nuggets center Marcus Camby, who won the award this season, failed to receive a vote in this poll.... Artest was the only one of the top nine vote-getters whose team did not make the playoffs this season.
[Based on a survey of 271 NBA players]
For an expanded version of the poll, go to SI.com/players.
BRAD MANGIN (HAREN)
GREG NELSON (YOUNG)
GREG NELSON (YAO)
GREG NELSON (BOWEN)
JONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IMAGES (LANGERHANS)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (WALLACE)
BILL WIPPERT (CROSBY)
TODD KIRKLAND/ICON SMI (SALTALAMACCHIA)