The games tonight were littered with players who did something to silence their critics.
Alex Rodriguez flipped the world the bird tonight when he took the first pitch he saw after hip surgery over the fence for a three-run home run.
No one will be under more scrutiny from the media and his own team's fans than Rodriguez. As much as he brings all of this attention on himself, I almost started to feel bad for the guy.
He did himself a whale of a favor getting off to a good start in his return. If the Yankees start winning games, he could reverse his whole reputation.
It was his only hit of the game, but boy, was it a big one. Needless to say, if you didn't activate A-Rod in time for today, better get him in there for tomorrow.
C.C. Sabathia was in need of a big outing. He was sitting at 1-3 with an ERA near five, and nearly as many walks as strikeouts. Well, like A-Rod, he answered the call.
Sabathia threw a four-hit shutout on Friday against the Orioles, walked only one, and struck out eight.
Sabathia got off to a similar slow start last season, so his owners are hoping that this is the start of something big again in 2009.
Justin Verlander is BACK! I felt pretty good two starts ago when he threw seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts. I felt great after he allowed just one run over seven innings and fanned 11 his last time out.
But now, the confidence is back. Verlander threw a two-hit shutout tonight against the Indians, walked two, and struck out 11.
Is he back to the elite starter he was at the start of his career? I wouldn't go trading the farm for him, now's not the best time, but I haven't felt this good about Verlander in years.
Cole Hamels was finally able to get through a start without some crazy injury happening. Hamels looked fantastic in picking up his first win of the year, giving up just two runs over six innings, while striking out seven.
He threw 95 pitches, so the Phillies allowed him to go as long as he could. If you sat Hamels tonight, shame on you. Just kidding, but definitely get him back in there next time out, it appears he's okay.
Cliff Lee had a lot of questions about his ability to repeat his 2008 stats this year. Lee was a hard-luck loser tonight on the other side from Verlander. He gave up only one run over eight innings, and struck out five.
Somehow he sits at 1-5, and hasn't allowed more than three earned runs since April 11. Lee looks pretty dominant, but can't seem to catch a break. Keep throwing Lee out there with maximum confidence.
Jayson Werth is another guy who a lot of people didn't believe in after his 20/20 season in 2008. When he finished April with a .250 average, two homers and just ten RBI, the concerns seemed to be validated.
Well, Werth connected on No. 6 tonight, and since May 4, he has four homers, drove in 11 runs, and raised his batting average by 39 points. It is imperative you find a spot in your lineup for him while he is hot.
Troy Tulowitzki has struggled horribly again this season, but perhaps he is on the road back to the kind of production from his rookie season.
Tulowitzki hit a solo homer in his first at bat, and doubled in another run his second time to the plate. If you have Tulo, you have to just keep him and hope he turns it around.
Scott Baker finally had the kind of outing we knew he was capable of. Baker threw seven shutout innings, struck out five, and didn't walk a batter. It was the first start in which he didn't allow at least four runs.
He was so good last year, it was puzzling why he was so bad, but hopefully this is the start of a new beginning for Baker.
Barry Zito was great again. He pitched six innings, allowed just one run, and struck out five. Zito's ERA is now just 3.57. Is it really possible? Could he possibly be good again? I'm still not buying just yet unless you are in a NL-only league.
The Rest Of The News
Carl Crawford just will not stop stealing bases. With his swipe tonight, Crawford has now stolen a base in ten of his last eleven games, including that ridiculous six-steal game. He is now up to 21 on the season, and looks like he could get into the 60s or 70s if he can keep this up.
Casey Kotchman homered for the second straight game, but I beg you not to add him to your team. He usually hits around .285, but his career high is only 12 home runs, so this little power surge is sure to be short-lived. He isn't worth your time, even if it is for a short term, DL replacement.
Johnathon Niese made his season debut for the Mets, and he was pretty solid. Niese lasted six innings, allowed just two runs, and struck out five.
Even more impressive for a young guy, Niese didn't walk a batter. With Oliver Perez on the DL with his "injury", Niese could have earned himself another few starts.
Johnny Cueto continues his dominant season as he shut down the Cardinals over seven innings. Cueto allowed just one run, walked two, but struck out just three.
He has allowed one run or less in five straight starts, and before tonight he had been striking out more batters. You all know that this is a guy I like and he isn't someone I would be selling high on. That is, unless you can get something ridiculous.
San Diego State (and sure to be number one pick) Stephen Strasburg has put another chapter into his legendary book. In a game tonight against Air Force, Strasburg threw a no hitter. But it wasn't your usual no-hitter.
Strasburg struck out 17 guys and walked just two. His record is now 11-0, with a ridiculous 1.24 ERA, and he has struck out 164 batters in 87.1 innings.
The Nationals have got to pick this kid, and get him to the majors as soon as possible. We fantasy players are drooling over a kid who won't turn 21 until later this year.
Lance Berkman is day-to-day with a left wrist injury. Berkman was supposed to be moved down in the lineup, but then was scratched right before game time. The team has declared him day-to-day.
Aramis Ramirez dislocated his left shoulder while diving for a line drive (which he caught). He was only a back a short time, and now he is out again.
I have to figure he will be going to the DL with this sort of injury, especially when it is Aramis Ramirez who suffers it. This is exactly why I don't like a guy like him.
Brian McCann returned to the Braves lineup on Friday after missing a couple weeks with a mysterious eye problem. In his first game back, McCann doubled, walked, and drove in two runs. If you haven't already, get him back in there tomorrow.
Travis Hafner got the results from his trip to Dr. James Andrews. Hafner was told that the soreness he was experiencing was "not uncommon." Team trainers are thinking that he will be able to return shortly after his required 15 days on the DL are over.
Dontrelle Willis is scheduled to return to the Tigers' rotation on Wednesday in Minnesota against the Twins. I have no idea what to expect from Dontrelle, and I would stay away from this situation.
If you are holding on to someone who is really holding you down, or have an injury situation MAYBE I would grab him because of the couple of good seasons he had in the past. But I have no confidence that this will go well.
Anibal Sanchez was placed on the 15-day DL with a sprained right shoulder and will likely be out at least a month. He's been pitching to an ERA near six, so I think it is safe to drop him if you have him.
Michael Young left tonight's game with stiffness in his lower back. No news yet if this is something that will keep him out long, but it doesn't sound like anything that would keep him out for more than a day or perhaps through the weekend. Young has been playing way over his head, so this is unfortunate for his owners.
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