They may have felt ancient after Sunday's 15-inning, five-hour tussle with the A's, but they were feeling fine too. The 8--7 win gave first-place Seattle (yep, the team that lost 101 games last season) a record of 15--10. "Beautiful team this year," said second baseman Jose Lopez (right).
The crowd sang Happy Birthday to him last Saturday—he turned 24—then he won the Sprint Cup race to complete a weekend sweep. He passed $28 million in career earnings and he's better stocked than ever: He got a 12-pack of beer as a birthday gift from brother Kurt.
After missing the first month with a back injury, the Twins catcher came out swinging: a home run on his first cut and seven hits in 10 at bats over his first three games. "I felt pretty good," Mauer said. Added teammate Kevin Slowey, "He makes it look easy."
Yes, his Bulls lost an epic series (page 70), but the guard was on sharp display, playing through a hamstring injury to average a team-high 24.3 points against Boston. Now comes the payoff: Gordon's set for free agency and eyeing a bundle; he turned down $54 million last summer.
Their bullpen's a mess (it's closer-by-committee time, folks), their manager's already been ejected twice, and through Sunday they had lost eight of nine to sink to last place. So, are the O's pressing? "Of course we are," designated hitter Luke Scott told The (Baltimore) Sun. "We're all human."
Finishing 14th hurts when you've led 148 laps, then been undone by a lousy loose lug nut. Hamlin's fate in Richmond kept him winless in seven starts at his home track, despite several near misses. Crew chief Mike Ford to the Richmond Times-Dispatch: "It just [stinks], dude."
The lefty's early return on the three-year, $36 million deal he signed to stay with the Mets: a 9.97 ERA and 21 walks in 21 2/3 innings. After going wild (four straight BBs) last Saturday, Ollie said he'd go to the minors, then said he might not, then said his knee hurt, then....
In just his third outing since coming back from elbow surgery, the D-backs reliever was forced out of a game against the Brewers after injuring his hamstring. He showed grit, getting an out at home on the fateful play, but at 41, and with a 21.60 ERA, poor Flash is back on the DL.
SI PLAYERS NHL POLL
WHO IS THE DIRTIEST PLAYER IN THE LEAGUE?
Chris Pronger, Ducks D 13%
Steve Ott, Stars F 13%
Jarkko Ruutu, Senators F 12%
Sean Avery, Rangers F 10%
Scott Hartnell, Flyers F 5%
Pronger has been suspended by the league eight times for questionable hits or other on-ice infractions, twice during the 2007 playoffs. A five-time All-Star, he's the only one of the players above to be so honored even once.... Ott incurred 35 minor penalties in 64 games, the NHL's highest ratio for a player with more than 50 games played ... In January, Ruutu infamously bit the gloved hand of Buffalo's Andrew Peters.
Based on a survey of 324 NHL players
JIM BRYANT/AP (LOPEZ)
NIGEL KINRADE/AUTOSTOCK (HAMLIN)
JACK RENDULICH/ICON SMI (MAUER)
JOHN BIEVER (BEN GORDON)
LM OTERO/AP (OTT)
CHRIS CARLSON/AP (PRONGER)