Manny in a pinch, a bunch of sweeps and a Heyward walkoff

1. Pinch Me, I’m Manny

Manny B Manny

Manny B Manny pinch hit a two-run homer against Giants reliever Sergio Romo to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a 2-1 victory over San Francisco. Ramirez hadn’t started for the second straight day because of tightness in his right calf (presumably he remembered which leg was actually bothering him). Ramon Troncoso (1-0) picked up the victory and Jonathan Broxton went 1-2-3 in the 9th to convert his first save opportunity of the season.

The Giants wasted a strong performance by Barry Zito who threw 7.1 innings and allowed one ER (the runner he left on base for Romo). Dodger starter Clayton Kershaw gave up four hits and four walks over 7+ innings and struck out nine. The Giants’ only run came in the 7th when Juan Uribe homered. Every member of the Giants lineup struck out at least once.

It was Ramirez’ 548th home run, tying Mike Schmidt for 14th place on the career list, and his second pinch dinger. His other one came on July 22, 2009, against Cincinnati at Dodger Stadium, when he hit a grand slam on “Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Night,” an event that seems redundant to me.

Yesterday was the 52nd anniversary of the Dodgers’ first regular-season game in Los Angeles, a 6-5 win over the Giants at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum and the 60th anniversary of baseball’s greatest announcer Vince Scully‘s first regular-season game.

2. It’s Marathon, Boston

Today is one of my least favorite days here in Boston, “Inconvenience Monday,” known by others as “Marathon Monday.” I mention this not to get off on a rant, honestly you don’t want to get me started how ridiculous this is that most of the population is working and we’ve got a bunch a people dividing the city in half by running through it. I mention it to remind Red Sox Nation that there are 150 games left in the season and by jumping off the Prudential or the band wagon, at this point only inconveniences the runners, but does not stop them.

The Red Sox (4-8) so far look like a third place team in fourth place only because the Blue Jays haven’t yet fallen below them. Yesterday, behind the brilliant pitching of Matt Garza and the less-than-stellar pitching of Jon Lester, the Rays topped the Sox, 7-1. Garza is now 3-0 on the season with a 0.75 ERA after throwing shutout ball for eight innings. Lester (0-2), who gave up seven runs, seven hits, three walks and struck out five in six innings now has an 8.44 ERA. While it should be pointed out that lifetime Lester is 2-6 with a 5.46 ERA in 15 career starts in March and April, it’s his lackluster performance this year that should have Sox brass scratching their heads.

Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton each hit two-run homers and the Rays continued their hot road start remaining unbeaten away from Tropicana Field, winning its sixth straight on the road during this current 10-game trip. The club record for consecutive road victories in a season is seven, in June 2004. The Red Sox are four games below .500 for the second time since the 1998 season began and while the season is a marathon, hope will be dashed quickly if the Sox don’t figure out a way to fix a multitude of problems.

3. Yankees Sweep

Mark Teixeira hit his first home run of the season and Ramiro Pena drove home a pair on single, filling in for Derek Jeter out with a cold, Andy Pettitte (2-0) pitched four-hit ball for eight innings, and Mariano Rivera earned his fifth save in five chances as the New York Yankees topped the Texas Rangers 5-2 to complete a three-game sweep.

Rich Harden (0-1) continued to appear clueless on the mound throwing 94 pitches in a mere 3.2 walking six walks and hitting two. His ERA is now 4.72 and in his first three starts he has now thrown a total of 14.1 innings on, wait for it, 288 pitches (164 for strikes).

For Teixeira, the homer helped his anemic .114 batting average while for Jorge Posada his third homer of the season bolstered his .378 average. While Teixeira has struggled at the plate, he has continued to be outstanding in the field. In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees have played 10 straight games without an error, their best stretch ever in April.

Hmm, run prevention in the field, timely hitting at the plate, steady starting pitching on the mound, where have I heard that mantra before?

4. Angels Sweep

Behind the brilliant pitching of Ervin Santana, the Angels topped the Blue Jays 3-1 to complete a three-game sweep for the first time in Toronto since July 9-11, 2004. In the complete game win Santana (1-2) allowed just four hits, walked none and struck out six, setting down 17 in a row before Adam Lind broke up the shutout with a homer on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the 9th, his third of the season. Ricky Romero (1-1) was the hard-luck loser allowing one run and five hits in eight innings. He walked two and struck out six.

Hideki Matsui went 2 for 4 with two doubles and an RBI for the Angels, and is now hitting .327. Lyle Overbay went 0 for 3 Toronto, dropping his average to .080.

5. On tap today

AL

Rays (Jeff Niemann) at Red Sox (John Lackey), 11:05 AM

Royals (Brian Bannister) at Blue Jays (Brandon Morrow), 7:07

Tigers (Dontrelle Willis) at Angels (Joel Pineiro), 10:05

Orioles (Brad Bergesen) at Mariners (Doug Fister), 10:10

NL

Cubs (Randy Wells) at Mets (Jonathon Niese), 7:05

Rockies (Aaron Cook) at Nationals (Craig Stammen), 7:05

Cardinals (Brad Penny) at Diamondbacks (Rodrigo Lopez), 9:40

Giants (Matt Cain) at Padres (Clayton Richard), 10:05

6. Indians Sweep

Well, that’s an odd headline.

Shin-Soo Choo hit a grand slam and drove in five runs to lead Cleveland to a 7-4 win over the Chicago White Sox and a three game weekend sweep. Fausto Carmona (2-0) gave up three runs over six innings as the Indians completed their first three-game home sweep of Chicago since May 2003. Gavin Floyd (0-2) gave up seven runs in one inning plus facing five batters in the 2nd. He gave up six hits and walked four and now has a symmetrical 14.14 ERA in two road starts. He had a 5.47 ERA on the road last year, with a 2.47 ERA at home, the largest disparity in the majors.

7. Pirates Sweep

Well, that’s an odd headline.

Yesterday, Paul Maholm pitched four-hit ball for 6.2 innings, Jason Jaramillo hit a three-run double and the Pirates completed a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds, 5-3. Maholm (1-1) struck out five and walked one. Jay Bruce hit his first two homers of the season in the Reds fifth straight defeat.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been outscored 75-53, yet they are 7-5 because they’re 5-0 in games decided by two runs or fewer and their five losses have come by at least six runs. Hello to the Pirates 1960 World Series, redux.

8. Padres Sweep

Well, that’s an odd headline.

The San Diego Padres rallied for five runs in the 7th to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3 for their first sweep of the season. Scott Hairston hit a leadoff homer in the 7th off reliever Aaron Heilman (0-1) and older brother Jerry Jr. doubled to drive in a run. Heilman gave up three runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning.

Reliever Edward Mujica (1-1) pitched two innings for the win despite allowing Mark Reynolds fourth homer of the season. Heath Bell picked up his third save in three chances.

Padres’ starter Wade LeBlanc struck out seven in five innings, allowing one run and seven hits and two walks. Arizona starter Ian Kennedy struck out seven and walked three, allowing just two San Diego hits in five scoreless innings. He got a no-decision but picked up his first major league hit. Diamondbacks relievers have blown leads in three of Arizona’s last four games, all losses.

9. I love Walkoffs

Now, we’re talking.

Jason Heyward drove in two runs with a two-out, bases-loaded walkoff single to give the Braves to a 4-3 win over the Colorado Rockies. Heyward, who had two walks, singled off Franklin Morales (0-1) and moved into a tie for second in the National League with 15 RBI. Heyward is hitting .302. The Braves won two of three against Colorado, which won 4-0 Saturday night behind Ubaldo Jimenez‘s no-no. Eric O’Flaherty (1-0) pitched a scoreless 9th in relief of Jair Jurrjens who pitched 8 innings giving up two runs on five hits, striking out nine and walking two. Five Colorado pitchers combined for 11 walks.