Look who's leading the big bad AL Central! Scrappy Minnesota won its fifth straight on Sunday. The hitters are hitting (Joe Mauer, above, was at .333; Justin Morneau had 25 RBIs), the closer is closing (Joe Nathan had 11 saves in 11 chances) and spirits are high. Said pitcher Boof Bonser after Minny rallied to beat Detroit, "You can't count us out."
Under the name of Saunders you find this: a 6--0 record and a 2.61 ERA. That gives the Angels' lefty a 21--8 record over his three-plus seasons, though he's still modest Joe. Says he of his place in L.A.'s stable, "I'm just one of the guys who can pitch at this level."
It's not just that Kevin Durant won the NBA Rookie of the Year award (his 20.3 scoring average augured that), it was also his grace in accepting. His family flew to Seattle to see him honored, he dedicated it to his late AAU coach, and all in all he made fans sorry that Seattle's first ROY will likely be its last—the team seems headed to Oklahoma City.
A bogey on the first playoff hole? No problem. Creamer birdied the second to win in Broken Arrow, Okla., to ease the memory of her playoff loss a week earlier. Said Creamer, "I was not going to lose this week."
Last in the NL West, with miles to go (O.K., eight games, but it's early May!) to the top, Cincy had lost five straight through Sunday, and hitters like Ken Griffey (above, batting .228) recently conspired on a 21-inning scoreless drought. Newly hired G.M. Walt Jocketty has work to do: The 12--20 Reds haven't fielded a winner since 2000.
What's the matter wit' you, Willis? It's his right knee, the same one the Tigers' lefty hyperextended in his second start, is acting up and muddling his rehab in the minors. Bottom line: Willis's 7.20 ERA in five innings as a Tiger won't be shrinking anytime soon.
Weren't these guys supposed to be Rookie of the Year candidates? It's not just the stats of starting pitchers Ian Kennedy (0--2, 8.37 ERA) and Phil Hughes (0--4, 9.00), it's also where they are now: Hughes is out until July with a fractured rib, and Kennedy has been sent to Triple A to find his groove. Kennedy to Newsday: "I can't say I'm happy about it."
A double bogey on 15, a double bogey on 16 (what is that, like, a quadruple bogey?), and thus he blew his Sunday lead and a win in Lakeway, Texas. "Such a crazy game," said Price, winless in 96 Champions Tour events.
SI PLAYERS MLB POLL
Which team has the best offensive lineup in baseball?
Detroit Tigers 69%
New York Yankees 12%
Boston Red Sox 10%
Philadelphia Phillies 3%
L.A. Angels of Anaheim 2%
Through Sunday the Tigers, led by Magglio Ordo√±ez (30) and Miguel Cabrera were fourth in the AL with 158 runs scored; the Red Sox' 162 was best in the league .... The Cubs, who weren't among the 12 teams to get a vote, led the majors with 189 runs.... Philadelphia had hit a big-league-high 48 home runs.... Bobby Abreu (above, left) led the Yankees with 21 RBIs.
[Based on a survey of 495 MLB players] • For more on the poll, and to comment on it, go to SI.com/players.
JIM MONE/AP (MAUER)
BRAD MANGIN (GRIFFEY)
ANDREW WEBER/ICON SMI (WILLIS)
JOHN FROSCHAUER/AP (DURANT)
G. NEWMAN LOWRANCE/GETTY IMAGES (CREAMER)
BILL KOSTROUN/AP (TIGERS)
JOHN IACONO (ABREU)