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The Strike Zone

Goat's head highlights weird day around majors

Jake Westbrook threw his first shutout in almost seven years by blanking Cincinnati. (Jeff Curry/Getty Images)Jake Westbrook threw his first shutout in almost seven years by blanking Cincinnati. (Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

For a random day in April, Wednesday had more than its share of major league weirdness, starting with the delivery of a package containing a severed goat's head to a gate at Wrigley Field. Goats are, of course, famous in Cubs lore dating back to October 1945, when William Sianis, the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, attempted to bring his pet goat Murphy into the Friendly Confines for Game 4 of the World Series between the Cubs and Tigers. When the Cubs refused the goat admission, the incensed Sianis is said to have put a curse on the franchise that endures to this day. At the very least, they haven't won a pennant since.

The head, which wasn't accompanied by any kind of note, may be some kind of commentary on the team's tense negotiations with the city of Chicago and Wrigleyville neighbors over the proposed renovation of Wrigley Field. Or it may be part of some occult ritual whose diffuse impact was felt in other spots around the majors as well as Chicago, where the day's Brewers-Cubs game was rained out. So was the Yankees-Indians game in Cleveland, while three other games — Rays-Rangers in Arlington, Mets-Phillies in Philadelphia and Orioles-Red Sox in Boston — featured rain delays.

Also possibly attributable to the goat's head:

• The Rangers lost to the Rays in the coldest day game ever played in Texas; at first pitch, the temperature was a frigid 39 degrees, 40 degrees cooler than at the start of Tuesday night's game. The home team's bats remained frozen all day long, as the Rangers were shut out by Matt Moore and four relievers on five hits, and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

• In Washington, the start of the White Sox-Nationals game was delayed by 15 minutes because the umpiring crew was caught in traffic, though at least they didn't get lost on the way to the ballpark or sucked into another dimension.

Once the game began, the Nationals' offense chewed up the White Sox, with Bryce Harper destroying Gavin Floyd's hanging slider for a towering solo homer into the second deck in right field:

[mlbvideo id="26176969" width="400" height="224" /]

• An MRI revealed that Scott Sizemore, who missed all of last season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, had suffered yet another tear of the same ligament. He'll miss the remainder of this season, and test the infield depth that Ben Reiter wrote about earlier today.

• The Cardinals' Jake Westbrook spun his first shutout since August 9, 2006, beating the Reds. He held them to five hits while walking four hitters and striking out only three. Last year, only two pitchers, the Indians' Derek Lowe and the Rangers' Matt Harrison, completed shutouts with more walks than strikeouts.

Luis Cruz collected his first hit of the season, a single off the Padres' Eric Stults, to break an 0-for-17 start. It was the second day in a row a Dodger third baseman snapped a season-opening 0-fer; Juan Uribe homered to stop his own 0-for-7 start.

• Even after Chris Davis led off the ninth inning against Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan with his fifth homer of the year, the Orioles appeared to be on their way to dropping to 0-4 in one-run games, as they quickly found themselves down to their final out. Keyed by Ryan Flaherty's two-strike single, they rallied for another four runs against Hanrahan, who issued two walks and a wild pitch and allowed a steal before serving up a three-run shot over the Green Monster by Manny Machado.

Last year the Orioles set a Major League record with a .763 winning percentage in one-run games, going 29-9 record in such contests. They didn't lose their fourth one-run game until May 23, by which point they had won eight.
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