Josh Beckett, the hero of Florida's 2003 World Series winner, returned from two months on the DL last Friday, allowing one run in 5 2/3 in a win over Seattle. A night earlier the Twins' Carl Pavano (right), threw his second straight complete game, a shutout of Baltimore that lowered his ERA to 3.26.
Talk about good exposure. The four-time defending Sprint Cup champ gave his sponsors $48 million worth of TV airtime in the first half of the season, far and away the highest amount in NASCAR. Johnson finished 22nd Sunday but is still safely in the Chase for a fifth title.
After being inserted at the top of the lineup, outfielder Tyler Colvin (right), 24, and shortstop Starlin Castro, 20, combined for 10 RBIs in six games. Last Saturday, setup man Andrew Cashner, 23, used his triple-digit heater to work out of two jams in a win over St. Louis.
Colt McCoy signed a four-year deal with the Browns worth $5 million. (Not bad for a third-rounder.) And he got it a week after getting married—and serenaded at the reception by former Texas teammate Jordan Shipley, whose ditty became a TMZ.com sensation.
Seattle (39--60) reached a new low in Friday's loss to Beckett's Red Sox. A scuffle broke out in the dugout after manager Don Wakamatsu benched second baseman Chone Figgins for failing to back up a throw. Said the M's Russell Branyan, "With the way we've been playing, it'd be hard to convince any fan to come out."
And then there's bad exposure, as in seeing the 67-year-old Fox NFL analyst and ExtenZe pitchman toughing it out shirtless on the beach in Nicaragua for the upcoming season of Survivor. Johnson reportedly was going to be on the show in 2008 but failed his physical.
On a dispiriting 2--9 road trip, the Amazin's were below the Mendoza line, batting .195. In one three-day span the Mets, who have fallen from a half game back to 7½ in four weeks, had hitless stretches of seven and eight innings. The bright side: They aren't stranding many runners.
Since July 19, Detroit has lost third baseman Brandon Inge (broken hand), outfielder Magglio Ordo√±ez (broken ankle) and second baseman Carlos Guillen (strained calf) to the DL. "We've got to revamp this whole thing right now," said manager Jim Leyland.
SI PLAYERS MLB POLL
WHICH CATCHER IS HARDEST TO STEAL ON?
Yadier Molina, Cardinals 58%
Gerald Laird, Tigers 9%
Joe Mauer, Twins 9%
Ivan Rodriguez, Nationals 9%
Jose Molina, Blue Jays 2%
The respect shown Yadier Molina is warranted. This season the St. Louis backstop has gunned down 47% of would-be thieves—highest among catchers who had played at least 68 games and virtually identical with his career percentage, which leads active receivers.... At 38, Rodriguez (active leader in arrested steals, with 637) was nailing a dandy 38%.... The third Molina brother, Bengie, got six votes (2%).
Based on 313 players who responded to SI's survey
AL TIELEMANS (PAVANO)
MIKE EHRMANN/GETTY IMAGES FOR P & G (JOHNSON)
JOHN BIEVER (COLVIN)
GREG NELSON (MCCOY)
ROBERT BECK (MOLINA)
LOUIS LOPEZ/CAL SPORT MEDIA (LAIRD)