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The season so nice, they opened it twice….

The biggest and best news of the day came out of Atlanta, where Andres
Galarraga
completed his comeback from cancer by popping a tie-breaking
home run to help the Braves beat the Rockies, 2-0. The Big Cat is rapidly
becoming one of my favorite players, in part because he keeps proving me
wrong. I wrote him off after his brutal 1992 with the Cardinals, after his
poor 1995 with the Rockies and after he moved to the Braves after the 1997
season. Each time, he followed my predictions of doom with a big year.

Galarraga is, by most accounts, one of the game’s nice guys. It’s great to
see that he has his health back, and while another 1998 is probably out of
his reach, it will be nice to see him get another chance to play his way
into a World Series with an Atlanta team certain to get into the postseason.

As expected, the St. Louis first baseman put on a power display…of
course, it wasn’t Mark McGwire, but last-minute sub Craig
Paquette
, whose three-run homer keyed the Cardinals’ 7-1 win over the
Cubs. Tony LaRussa’s taste in bench players is a bit suspect, but Paquette
isn’t a bad guy to have around. He hits for some power and can play on
every corner, plus be an emergency middle infielder. On a bench sporting
Mike Matheny and Placido Polanco, he’s one of the better
options.

The Kansas Mafia–you know who you are–got an unpleasant kick in the head
when import retread Jerry Spradlin conjured up the ghosts of 1999,
serving up a game-winning bomb to the Blue Jays’ Tony Batista.
Spradlin’s tateriffic performance followed three shutout innings by
Chris Fussell and a four-run comeback by the Royals.

Kansas City has cleared out some of the dead weight on their roster, but
there is still work to be done. As long as Spradlin, Brian Johnson,
Ricky Bottalico and their ilk are cashing paychecks, this team will
go nowhere. And inflict a lot of pain on its supporters in the process.

And the Yankee magic number is 162.

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

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