John Buck, Jon Stewart, a Kennedy, and the D-Train

Three Buck Thursday

1. Three Bucks, A Good Deal!

John Buck hit three homers to lead the Toronto Blue Jays to a 6-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics. Buck led off the 3rd with a shot off starter Justin Duchscherer into the left field bullpen. His next was a three-run blast off reliever Jerry Blevins into the second deck in left in the 4th and his third was a solo shot off the center-field restaurant (I hope no one spilled their soup) in the 6th against Craig Breslow. Buck flew out to right in the 8th against Andrew Bailey.

Duchscherer (2-1) came in to the game with a 1.82 ERA in four starts but allowed four runs and five hits in 3.1 innings in this one, raising his ERA to 2.89. Even worse, Duchscherer left the game with a sore hip and don’t be surprised if he’s the 10th player on Oakland’s disabled list.

It was the first three-homer game by a member of the Blue Jays since Adam Lind did it at Fenway on Sept. 29, 2009. Victor Martinez was the last catcher with a three-homer game, doing it for Cleveland at Seattle on July 16, 2004. Buck also tied a club record for catchers, equaling the three-homer games of Darrin Fletcher and Ernie Whitt.

Okay, here is the lesson for the day: hard work pays off. Buck took some extra batting practice before Thursday’s game with hitting coach Dwayne Murphy watching and pitching coach Bruce Walton throwing. So kids, stay in school, don’t take drugs, but do take extra BP.

2. Three Wins, Three Hits

Do we talk about A.J. Burnett moving to 3-0 for the first time in his career and holding the Orioles to three hits in eight innings as the Yankees beat the Baltimores, 4-0? Or do we talk about Robinson Cano getting three hits and two homers?

Note to self: there is no "e" in Cano

Note to self: there is no "e" in Cano

First Burnett, who improved to 10-2 lifetime against the Orioles, 5-0 at Camden Yards and only allowed three singles and a walk. He struck out four and allowed only two runners past first base.

Next we move on to Cano who is on fire batting .531 (17 for 32) with four homers in his last eight games, getting at least one hit in each. He went 8 for 13 with three homers during the three-game Orioles series. He leads the AL in batting with a .407 average and has eight homers on the year after his sixth career multihomer game.

Baltimore starter and loser Brian Matusz (2-1) allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings and had won six straight decisions since Aug. 15.

The Yankees top three starters, CC Sabathia, Burnett and Andy Pettitte, are 9-1 with a 2.34 earned run average in 14 starts in April.

3. All’s Welle with Dontrelle

Taking the D Train

I don’t want to put the whammy on him, but the D-Train may be back. Dontrelle Willis pitched four-hit ball and got to the 7th inning as the Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins, 3-0.

Willis (1-1) struck out six, his highest total since 2007 Florida Marlins days, and walked just two in his first win since last May 19 and just his second in three seasons with the Tigers. He was 1-6 the past two years in Detroit, averaging more than a walk per inning, and went on the disabled list twice because the team claimed he had an anxiety disorder.

Pitching with a stiff neck, Carl Pavano (3-2) gave up three runs, two earned, on seven hits and two walks over eight innings.

The AL Central-leading Twins (14-8) lost their first series of the season. They had won six straight. They were shutout for the first time since Aug. 29, 2009, and didn’t have an extra-base hit for the first time this year.

Magglio Ordonez became the 260th player in the majors with 2,000 hits.

Austin Jackson has 31 hits the most by an AL rookie in April since Rocco Baldelli had 39 in 2003.

4. Doumit Does More, Kemp Does Less

Is it possible that the Pittsburgh Pirates (10-12) may border on passable this season or are the Los Angeles Dodgers (8-14) just proving to be another disturbed child of divorce?

Last night, Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw (1-1) walked his first two batters of the game and then Matt Kemp, who had just been criticized by general manager Ned Colletti on the radio while the team was in New York for his lackadaisical play in the field, misplayed a Ryan Doumit sinking liner into a two-run triple, and that was all Brian Burres needed as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0.

Burres (1-1) combined with two relievers on a four-hitter. He allowed four hits over 5.1 innings with four walks and three strikeouts. Evan Meek earned his first major league save.

The Dodgers have lost five straight and have been shut out in three of them.

5. On Today’s Schedule

AL

Red Sox (John Lackey) at Orioles (David Hernandez), 7:05

Twins (Kevin Slowey) at Indians (Fausto Carmona), 7:05

Angels (Joel Pineiro) at Tigers (Rick Porcello), 7:05

White Sox (Freddy Garcia) at Yankees (Andy Pettitte), 7:05

A’s (Trevor Cahill) at Blue Jays (Brandon Morrow), 7:07

Royals (Brian Bannister) at Rays (Jeff Niemann), 7:10

Rangers (Colby Lewis) at Mariners (Cliff Lee), 10:10 – Lee makes his debut

NL

Diamondbacks (Rodrigo Lopez) at Cubs (Randy Wells), 2:20

Mets (Jonathan Niese) at Phillies (Kyle Kendrick), 7:05

Nationals (Scott Olsen) at Marlins (Ricky Nolasco), 7:10

Astros (Brett Myers) at Braves (Tommy Hanson), 7:35

Reds (Johnny Cueto) at Cardinals (Brad Penny), 8:15

Brewers (David Bush) at Padres (Clayton Richard), 10:05

Pirates (Charlie Morton) at Dodgers (Chad Billingsley), 10:10

Rockies (Aaron Cook) at Giants (Barry Zito), 10:15

6. Another Successful Meeting for the Friars

Singles hitters

The Padres tied a team record with seven straight singles as they scored five in the 5th and beat the Milwaukee Brewers 9-0. The Padres out-hit the Brewers 13-9 and all 13 hits were singles, including three by pitcher Wade LeBlanc.

LeBlanc (2-0) struck out six, walked none and held Milwaukee to eight hits in 6.1 innings, lowering his ERA from 0.82 to 0.52. Doug Davis (0-3) took the loss going four-plus innings, allowing six runs, five earned, eight hits, striking out five and he walked two.

The NL West-leading Padres (14-8) won their seventh straight home game and for the 11th time in 13 games overall. Every Padres had at least one hit except for Adrian Gonzalez. Trade the bum!

7. 10-4, Over and Out?

Wouldn’t it be something if the Braves fired Bobby Cox before he could complete his announced final season? It’s not going to happen, but I’m sure there are some Braves fans calling for his scalp after the Cardinals completed a four-game sweep of Atlanta, 10-4.

Rookie David Freese hit his first homer and drove home six as the Braves went down to their ninth straight defeat. The Braves finished an 0-7 trip, their first winless roadtrip of seven or more games since the Boston Braves went 0-8 in Philadelphia and Brooklyn in September 1949.

Adam Wainwright (4-1) improved to 5-0 in five career starts against the Braves. Jair Jurrjens (0-3) strained his left hamstring and lasted only one inning for Atlanta.

Jason Heyward had two hits, including the first homer allowed by Cardinals pitching in 10 homes games this season. St. Louis’ string of not allowing a homer at home was the majors’ longest to start the season since the Chicago White Sox also did it the first nine games of 1972, according to our friends at Elias. Both streaks lasted 98 innings. It was the first Braves homer in nine games and only the 10th given up by the Cards all season.

8. September 1, 2007

The last time Ian Kennedy won a major league game was yesterday as Arizona decimated the Cubs, 13-5. The time before that was a member of the Yankees on September 1, 2007, in his major league debut.

Kennedy (1-1) pitched eight innings and (1-1) allowed only one run in the first seven innings before giving up Kosuke Fukudome‘s grand slam in the 8th. He finished allowing six hits, one walk and four earned runs while striking out six.

Adam LaRoche hit two homers and drove home five and Kelly Johnson hit his sixth homer in the last seven games and leads the NL with nine. Chris Snyder also connected for Arizona, which leads the majors with 33 homers.

Ted Lilly (1-1) allowed six runs on seven hits in five innings.

9. Law and Border

Immigrant rights activists chanting “Boycott Arizona” and “Reform, Not Racism” demonstrated yesterday outside Wrigley Field as the Cubs opened their four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Protesters are upset over Arizona’s new immigration law that makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally and lets police question anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant. Activists nationwide have called for a boycott of Arizona tourism and businesses, including its athletic teams.

Here’s what Jon Stewart said about Arizona.

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Law & Border
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Protesters said they’ve faxed a letter to Cubs management asking that the team’s spring training be moved out of Arizona. Immigration reform groups said they targeted the Diamondbacks, in part, because the team’s owners have supported Republican politicians who backed the Arizona law. The team said in a statement that isn’t the case.

“Although D-backs’ Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick has donated to Republican political candidates in the past … Kendrick personally opposes State Bill 1070,” the team said. “The D-backs have never supported State Bill 1070 and have never taken political stances.”

Diamondbacks players and coaches had little to say about the issue beyond a few wisecracks. Backup infielder Augie Ojeda, who was born in Los Angeles, joked about changing his last name to Jones.

A small plane toting a banner criticizing the law also circled Wrigley. A Cubs spokesman said the team was declining comment. They were probably happy they weren’t protesting the Cubs continued poor play.

My thinking is that baserunners will be afraid to steal bases against the Diamondbacks when playing in Arizona for fear of being asked for the papers upon arriving at the base.