Hooray for not-so-great expectations: Baseball's worst team had two—count 'em,two—winning streaks last week, its first consecutive W's since July 4--5. Saidrighthander Craig Stammen (2.60 ERA in his last five starts), "Two wins ina row, you can't beat that." Sadly, through Sunday, the Nats hadn't sinceJune 20.
Last Friday, at the tender age of 51, Ron Hornaday (right) became the firstNASCAR truck series driver to win four races in a row. Two days later MarkMartin, 50, finished second at the Brickyard (page 39) to solidify his place inthe Chase. "It's so unbelievable," said Hornaday.
As they did in Beijing, the Americans staged a furious rally to win gold in the4√ó100 relay at the world championships in Rome. Michael Phelps had the slowestleg; anchor Nathan Adrian made up for it. "Relays are raced as a team,"Phelps said. "All four guys swam a great race."
Thanks to Jeets, last week was not a good one for Red Sox fans. His Yankeesreplaced Boston atop the AL East, and on Friday the Captain—who was hitting.321 at week's end—picked up career hit number 2,655, pushing past Ted Williamson the alltime list.
After creeping to within four games of first in the AL West, Seattle got sweptat home by the Indians for the first time in 11 years. Suddenly 7½ back, wouldthe M's go to fire-sale mode? "You look over at [free-agent-to-be JarrodWashburn's] locker and you wonder if you're going to see him again," saidDH Mike Sweeney.
Welcome to the NBA's most cursed franchise, Blake Griffin. In just his thirdsummer league game for L.A., the top pick in the draft strained his rightshoulder, knocking him out of the USA Basketball camp in Vegas (page 34). He'llmiss a month but won't need surgery.
Presumably expecting beer, thieves in Melbourne boosted the contents of arefrigerated truck: 58 curling stones—a third of the country's supply. Said onedistraught curler, "They're useless to anyone else ... apart from as adoorstop or propping up a coffee table."
The Yanks were hot in spite of A-Rod, not because of him. He hit only .200 withfive RBIs during the team's 9--1 run, dropping his average to .248. And as ifhe needed more tabloid coverage, he was photographed smooching Kate Hudson onFamily Picnic Day at Yankee Stadium.
SI PLAYERS MLB POLL
WHICH YOUNG PLAYER WILL END UP IN THE HALL OF FAME?
Evan Longoria, Rays 3B 35%
Albert Pujols, Cardinals 1B 9%
Tim Lincecum, Giants P 7%
Hanley Ramirez, Marlins SS 6%
Ryan Braun, Brewers LF 5%
Players could not vote for a teammate.... Triple Crown threat Pujols, 29, isshort on votes because he's in his ninth season and not generally thought of asyoung; the rest of the top 10 are 26 or younger.... Longoria, AL Rookie of theYear in 2008, was second in the league with 75 RBIs through Sunday....Lincecum, a Cy Young winner last season, led the NL in strikeouts with 168 in139 2/3 innings; he had a league-best 265 in '08.
[Based on a survey of 380 MLB players]
MARGARET BOWLES/CAL SPORT MEDIA (STAMMEN)
RUSTY JARRETT/GETTY IMAGES FOR NASCAR (HORNADAY)
HEINZ KLUETMEIER (PHELPS)
CHUCK SOLOMON (RODRIGUEZ)
CHUCK SOLOMON (LONGORIA)
BRAD MANGIN (LINCECUM)