Seven straight wins put Minnesota at .500 and angling to get back in the ALCentral race. And catch this: Joe Mauer (left, batting .380 through Sunday)could be the first backstop in 64 years to lead the AL in hitting. Said aceJohan Santana, "We're putting everything together."
The U.S. Open (page 48) went down to its last, agonizing strokes (PhilMickelson, right); Game 5 of the NBA Finals went down to its last,controversial seconds; the U.S. and Italy played a 1--1 edge-of-seater in theWorld Cup; and the Stanley Cup (page 62) got pushed to Game 7.
Tigers gambled on the ol' lefty (he's 41) last winter with a two-year, $16million deal. The reward: Rogers was 10--3 after nailing down career win number200 on Sunday. Said Mr. Rogers, "I've got some left."
Two wins had the upstart nation rolling into the second round of the World Cup.And look out: This team beat Brazil and Argentina in the qualifying rounds.
Seven straight losses dropped Atlanta 14 games back in the NL East throughSunday. The injury-nicked team (with starter Horacio Ramirez, below) had adivision-worst 4.83 ERA, and fans chanted, "Let's go Red Sox," during asweep by Boston in Atlanta. Said G.M. John Schuerholz, "It's frustratingand perplexing and aggravating."
NBA prospect J.J. Redick (below) made an illegal U-turn that led to a DWI.Devil Rays prospect B.J. Upton went 55 mph in a 30-mph zone and got a DWI. AndA's pitcher Esteban Loaiza drove his Ferrari 120 and got busted; police smelledalcohol and booked him on suspicion of DUI.
Journeyman starter's fairy-tale 2005 (10--0 for the Yanks) seems long ago.After New York sent him to the minors with an 0--3 record, Small, who has beenreleased four times, called it the "hardest demotion" of hiscareer.
First it had much-publicized squabbles over salaries and bonuses, then it gotbounced, 2--0, from the World Cup by Switzerland.
SI PLAYERS MLB POLL
Who is the best umpire
in the major leagues?
Tim McClelland ...29%
Jim Joyce ...10%
John Hirschbeck ...6%
Ed Rapuano ...6%
C.B. Bucknor ...21%
Bruce Froemming ...15%
Angel Hernandez ...12%
Joe West ...6%
FAST FACTS McClelland worked home plate for DavidWells's 1998 perfect game. He's known for his small but consistent strikezone.... Bucknor (seven years) is the least experienced ump on either list;Froemming (35 years) is MLB's most experienced active ump.... Among hittersHernandez drew 16.4% of the worst vote. This season Mets LF Cliff Floyd said,"A lot of us have had confrontations with Angel Hernandez."
[ Based on a survey of 470 MLB players ] • For anexpanded version of the poll, go to SI.com/players.