Big League Stew - MLB

Nine innings, nine items to get you going. Ladies and gentleman of the Stew, take a sip of morning Juice.

1. Johnny Vander Meer still stands alone: Of all the feats accomplished in Major League Baseball, someone matching Johnny Vander Meer's back-to-back no-hitters ranks highly on the list of the unlikely. But that didn't stop Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander(notes) from facing the challenge head on.

"I did want to tie him tonight, maybe break it the next time," Verlander joked.

Verlander may have joked about it afterwards, but for five plus innings it seemed like a very real possibility. His stuff was every bit as good as it was last Saturday in Toronto, which allowed him to move within ten outs of joining elite company. That was when Kansas City Royals outfielder Melky Cabrera(notes) reaffirmed Vander Meer's place in history with a ringing RBI double to right field.

"He threw me a changeup," Cabrera said through a translator. "He left it up, and I was able to hit it good."

Oh, Melky, knock it off. You got lucky.

Regardless of falling short of rewriting history, Verlander still pitched a gem by anybody's standards allowing only two hits over eight innings in the Tigers 3-1 victory.

2. Baseball's real lost art: The straight steal of home. Legends like Jackie Robinson and Ty Cobb made it look routine in their day, but it's something you rarely see attempted in the modern era of baseball. When it does happen, it's worth talking about.

And that's why we're talking about Oakland's Coco Crisp(notes). Crisp made a mad dash for home in the 8th inning with his A's down one. But the White Sox battery of Matt Thornton(notes) and A.J. Pierzynski(notes) shut it down, with A.J. applying the tag just as Crisp's hand arrived at the plate. That allowed Chicago to escape with a 4-3 triumph.

3. Electric slide: Speaking of heart-stopping plays at the plate, Omar Infante(notes) pulled off one of the prettiest slides you'll see to score the deciding run in the Marlins 6-5 win over the Nationals.

Watch Infante's incredible slide

But that slide would have never happened if not for an incredible diving catch by Washington's Roger Bernadina(notes) that robbed Mike Stanton(notes) of hero status and kept the game even at four.

4. Vottomatic: If you give Joey Votto(notes) an opportunity to ruin your day, chances are he's going to ruin your day. That's exactly what the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen did — blowing a 5-2 seventh inning lead — and the reigning National League MVP sentenced them to a sleepless night with a walk-off RBI single in the 10th. Reds win it 6-5.

5. Hey John Krasinski, don't answer the door: In front of the first Yankee Stadium sellout since opening day, Red Sox sluggers Adrian Gonzalez(notes) and Kevin Youkilis(notes) each went yard — Gonzalez for the fourth time in three games — and Clay Buchholz(notes) won this third consecutive start as Boston claimed a 5-4 win over the Yankees.

6. Starlin's lucky number: Wearing the number thirteen proudly on his back, Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro(notes) clearly doesn't suffer from triskaidekaphobia. He's also not intimidated by Giants pitching, which he proved by collecting three hits, knocking in two and scoring twice in the Cubs 11-4 romp over San Francisco.

7. Pronk to the rescue: Homerless since April 17th, Cleveland's Travis Hafner(notes) finally connected for a two-out, two-run walk-off homer off Seattle Mariners closer Brandon League(notes) to give his Indians an exhilarating 5-4 victory. Of course he did.

8. Not so Beachy: Altanta's Brandon Beachy(notes) was victimized by a Ryan Howard(notes) three-run homer in the first, and then left the game in the third with a strained oblique. Though his teammates got him off the hook by the middle innings, late run scoring singles by Shane Victorino(notes) and Raul Ibanez(notes) helped the Phillies upend the Braves 5-4.

9. Blister be Ogando: A blister on his right index finger is the only thing that could stop Texas Rangers starter Alexi Ogando(notes). Now that he's past that, Ogando returned to the mound and returned to his winning ways (4-0), out dueling the Angels Jeff Weaver(notes) in a Rangers 4-1 victory.

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