Fenway Park scoreboard after last night's 19-17 classic: AP
It took 50 years and 44 days for the change to occur, but the American League almanac has a new entry for Most Combined Runs Scored In One Game - courtesy of Boston's 19-17 win over Texas on Tuesday night. To describe the lunacy of this classic, in great detail, would consume every inch of this column (thus ignoring football-draft talk). Instead, here is an abridged version of the fantasy highlights (and lowlights):
* The Red Sox scored 10 runs in the bottom of the first inning
* David Ortiz crushed not one, but two three-run homers
* Rangers righty Scott Feldman allowed 12 runs (only six earned) in 2.2 innings of work. More importantly, he became the first-ever pitcher to surrender 12 runs in a game and NOT take the loss
* Marlon Byrd and Dustin Pedroia both collected five hits
* Byrd, by the way, has 21 hits in his last 34 at-bats (which comes to no surprise to this fantasy soothsayer)
* Kevin Youkilis racked up five RBIs, including the game-winning homer in the 8th
* Rangers infielders Ian Kinsler (2-5, 2 runs, 1 HR) and Chris Davis (2-5, 2 runs) each knocked in four runs
* The Red Sox twice enjoyed a 10-run lead - and yet trailed afterward (16-14)
* Both teams combined for 37 hits
* Of the 11 combined pitchers, only Rangers reliever Warner Madrigal and Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima did not allow a run
* The 19 runs scored by the Red Sox constituted a season-high for the team
* And poor Charlie Zink, a knuckleballer, allowed eight runs on 11 hits in 4.1 innings in his major league debut -- ironically filling in for Tim Wakefield - and, perhaps, his major league curtain call. Ouch!
Can you name the only four players in MLB history to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in the same season? Scroll down for the answer.
In search of an unheralded Wednesday spot starter for your fantasy lineup, one who may bring glory in Ks, ERA and WHIP -- if for just one night? Look no further than Philadelphia's Joe Blanton, who's been a stabilizing force since the joining the Phillies, via trade from Oakland last month. In his previous three outings, spanning 16 innings, Blanton (a classic innings-eater in four-plus seasons with the A's) has surrendered only three runs, while posting a 13-to-5 K/BB ratio. Since the All-Star break, Blanton also has a 3.27 ERA and strong WHIP (1.09). What's more, Blanton should have extra motivation to pitch well against the Dodgers, in his first West Coast outing since being dealt.
Adam Dunn: Dustin Bradford/Icon SMI
On Monday, the West-leading Diamondbacks traded three players to the Reds for outfielder Adam Dunn, a prolific slugger who averaged 41.5 HRs, 100 RBIs, 138 hits and 103 runs from 2004-07. But does Dunn have a track record of consistency down the stretch? SI.com presents a historical listing of Dunn's production - starting on today's date, Aug. 13, to season's end -- from 2004-07:
2004: 27 runs, 40 hits, 11 HRs, 28 RBIs
2005: 24 runs, 35 hits, 7 HRs, 19 RBIs
2006: 20 runs, 26 hits, 6 HRs, 12 RBIs
2007: 30 runs, 33 hits, 10 HRs, 29 RBIs
The verdict: At this point last year, I would have strongly recommended unloading Dunn before fantasy trade deadlines -- based on his declining numbers, across the board; but not anymore. The 2007 season seemingly sparked a Dunn revival; and let's not forget the two major carrots dangling before him this time around -- a chance to win the World Series with Arizona (Dunn, by the way, is the active leader in career home runs without ever making the playoffs) and a chance to boost his stock for a big payday come November (should he opt out of his deal and become a free agent). Now ... if you're still dying to dump Dunn for a pitcher in fantasyland this week, here's one more stat to consider: Of Dunn's major-league-leading 32 homers this season, only 16 took place at Cincinnati's bandbox-of-a-ballpark and 16 occurred on the road.
Let's pretend the trade deadline in your mixed 5x5 baseball league is this weekend ? and you feel compelled to part with superb Royals closer Joakim Soria (2nd in MLB saves) and Mike Mussina -- as part of a 2-for-2 blockbuster trade -- in hopes of getting back two hitters who'll bring instant hits and HRs. Well, once again, SI.com has you covered with its list of the top Hits/HR producers since July 13 -- along with Royals shortstop Mike Aviles (whose lack of power can be forgiven when factoring in his great hitting pace):
1. Matt Holliday, Rockies (36 Hits, 8 HRs)
2. Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals (35 Hits, 9 HRs)
3. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (34 Hits, 8 HRs)
4. Aubrey Huff, Orioles (37 Hits, 6 HRs)
5. Manny Ramirez, Dodgers (33, 6)
6. Melvin Mora, Orioles (33, 6)
7. Raul Ibanez, Mariners (32, 7)
8. Bobby Abreu, Yankees (35, 5)
9. Xavier Nady, Yankees (32, 6)
10. Mike Aviles, Royals (38, 3)
Switching gears to football ... as if Steve Smith didn't need any more headaches this preseason (warning: intended pun forthcoming), the embattled Panthers receiver skipped Tuesday's practice with a concussion. As a quick review, Smith has already been suspended for Carolina's first two regular-season games, stemming from his training-camp fight with teammate Ken Lucas ... a punishment that would, by most accounts, greatly diminish his fantasy draft stock. But I am not giving up on Smith (as long as Jake Delhomme's healthy), who shall remain prominently listed on my Top 200 list. Here's why:
1. Delhomme is back ... and with a new elbow.
2. Smith racked up 15 catches (on 24 targets), 271 yards and four TDs in his only two full games with Delhomme under center in '07.
3. Even without Delhomme for much of last year, Smith still caught 87 passes for 1,002 yards.
4. Carolina's improved offensive balance (drafting RB Jonathan Stewart and signing WRs Muhsin Muhammad and D.J. Hackett) will result in zero double-teams for Smith.
5. Smith lucked out by missing games against the Chargers and Bears in Weeks 1 and 2 -- but he gets two shots against Atlanta and New Orleans and one shot against the Chiefs, Cardinals, Raiders and Lions.
In real-world football, the Jets-Dolphins season opener continues to gather steam as a must-see TV event -- now that Brett Favre has taken the Big Apple by storm and Chad Pennington, in turn, has reunited with Bill Parcells (who drafted Pennington with the Jets back in 2000) in Miami. But what's the buzz in fantasyland? Our friends at AccuScore.com have re-crunched the numbers (accounting for Favre and Pennington) and posted the following predictions (condensed version below):
Jets -- Favre: 206 yards, 1.7 TDs, 0.7 INT
RB: Thomas Jones: 49 rushing yards
WRs: Jerricho Cotchery (5 catches for 61 yards) and Laveranues Coles (5-60 yards)
Dolphins -- Pennington: 193 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
RBs: Ronnie Brown (67 yards) and Ricky Williams (58 yards)
Final Score: Jets 21 Dolphins 19
1. Whether it's DeAngelo Williams, DeCori Birmingham, LaBrandon Toefield, Nick Goings or even hotshot rookie Jonathan Stewart carrying the rock, can/will the Panthers run the ball 48 times against the Eagles -- like they did last week against the Colts? If so, it'll be time to pencil the Panthers in for second place in the NFC South -- with an improved chance at stealing the division title from the Saints.
2. Will Eagles rookie DeSean Jackson (five catches for 51 yards last week) supplant Reggie Brown as the team's go-to receiver at any point this season? On a totally unrelated note (well, maybe that's not true), am I crazy for picking Philly to win the NFC East -- as part of my preseason playoff predictions coming out next week?
3. Which Steelers running back will log more carries against the Bills -- rookie Rashard Mendenhall (my personal pick for Rookie of the Year) or Willie Parker -- the NFL's leading rusher before a late injury in '07? Mendenhall (seven carries for 34 yards) and Parker (three carries for 20 yards) both ran well against the Eagles last week, so the above question was not meant to disparage either candidate. But in fantasyland, it's becoming harder and harder to deny Mendenhall's versatility as a between-the-20s escape artist and goal-line threat. Sorry, Willie!
Hallelujah! The Fantasy Football Show on Sirius satellite radio is back for another season, on Friday nights from 8-11 p.m. EST (with Saturday re-airs). Life ... is good!
Ever dreamt of playing fantasy football against a Hall of Fame safety, Sports Illustrated football writer, Major League Baseball general manager, world-renowned swimsuit model, professional poker player or best-selling author -- to name a few? SI.com, in conjunction with Facebook, will welcome someone into its 2008 Celebrity Fantasy League where one lucky fan matches weekly wits, from Draft Day to the Fantasy Bowl, with Ronnie Lott, Peter King, Oakland A's GM Billy Beane, supermodel Brooklyn Decker, poker great Phil Gordon and Michael Lewis, author of the sabremetrician-friendly book, Moneyball. Time's running out, though, so click here and register today! As a consolation prize for the contest non-winners, you can create new leagues and develop newer rivals on the new SI/Facebook fantasy game.