David Sabino
Tuesday June 23rd, 2009

The week that was saw the game's longest active playing streak end, the Reds win in a way they hadn't in over three decades and evidence that a ticket to Fenway Park is the hardest to come by in all of professional sports.

Consecutive games streak, snapped after Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was forced back to the hospital on Saturday night with flu-like symptoms.

It appeared that the streak would end at 342, but Howard emerged from the hospital before Saturday's game and clubbed a three-run, pinch-hit home run against Baltimore's Danys Baez. Then he returned to the hospital and missed Sunday's game. Howard's streak was a mere 2,289 games shorter than Cal Ripken Jr.'s record of 2,632. This leaves Padres slugger Adrian Gonzalez, who hasn't missed a San Diego game since Aug. 15, 2007, with the longest active stretch at 275 games. Gonzalez is within 30 games of the club mark set by fellow first baseman Steve Garvey, who played in 305 straight as part of his 1,207 straight games played for the Dodgers and Pads, which is the fourth longest in baseball history.

Strikeouts for Reds pitchers in a 4-3 win over the Braves on Wednesday at the Great American Ballpark.

Five hurlers (Micah Owings, Nick Masset, Arthur Rhodes, David Weathers and Francisco Cordero managed to hold Atlanta hitters to three runs, seven hits and four walks in the 4-3 victory. Although teams have won four nine-inning games this season in which no opposing batter struck out, the Reds hadn't been involved in such a victory since August 7, 1976, when Pat Zachary and Will McEnaney handcuffed the Dodgers 4-1.

Consecutive home sellouts for the Red Sox after filling Fenway Park for an Interleague game with the Marlins.

Only three other U.S.-based sports teams -- all from the NBA, including the Celtics -- have achieved longer such streaks (Trail Blazers, 744 from 1977 to '95; Celtics, 567 from '80 to '95; Bulls, 515 from '87 to '00). The last time there was vacancy at a Sox home game was May 14, 2003, when a mere 32,485 fans showed up for a 7-1 win over the Rangers. Red Sox fans have gone home happy from the majority of their trips to Lansdowne Street during this time, as Boston owns the best home record in the game since the start of the streak, eight games better than the team in second place: the Yankees (naturally).

Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals

Last week the game's greatest hitter took full advantage of his favorite part of the season, interleague play, scorching the Tigers and Royals for four home runs, 11 RBIs, six runs scored and .389/.522/1.111 averages, leading his Cards to five wins in six games. The all-time interleague average leader's (.354) tear was punctuated by a huge Sunday when he nearly single-handedly clinched the I-70 Series sweep for the Redbirds with two home runs, including a grand slam off of K.C.'s Gil Meche.

Honorable Mention: Derrek Lee, Miguel Cabrera, Garret Anderson, Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Prince Fielder, Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, Kevin Correia and George Sherrill.

Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees

It's a rare occurrence when the game's highest-paid player is benched for multiple games, especially in his childhood hometown, but that's what happened to Rodriguez this week against the Marlins. A-Rod claimed to be "bone tired" in a discussion with Yankees brass, who then decided to have their franchise player sit out a couple of games against the Marlins in hopes of ending a prolonged slump. Since going 5 for 5 against the Rangers on May 25, A-Rod is hitting just .179 with a .295 slugging percentage, just two home runs, and no multihit games. Jigger the starting point a little to June 2 and his averages fall to .145 and .291. And last week, with the Yankees playing at home against baseball's worst team (the Nationals) and in Miami, Rodriguez managed just a single in 14 at-bats.

Dishonorable Mention: Kelly Shoppach, Chris Davis, Kelly Johnson, Pedro Feliz, Gerardo Parra, Stephen Drew, Elijah Dukes, Dave Bush, Bobby Parnell, Paul Maholm, Jeremy Sowers, Clay Condrey and Ryan Madson.

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