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Weekend predictions

1. The sky-high Yankees will hit a speed bump, dropping two of three to Hideki Matsui and the Angels for their first series loss of the season. Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez, fresh off an odd brouhaha with A's pitcher Dallas Braden, will find more trouble when he throws a finished apple and a torn-up shirt into a stranger's trash can, just as Larry David and Ted Danson did in this episode of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm," and drawing the wrath of the homeowner.

"Maybe he should just watch his captain a little more often," the stranger will tell reporters of A-Rod. "Jeter would never use someone else's trash can."

2. The Mets, coming off their first series victory of the season, will follow that by taking two of three from the Braves. And Ike Davis’ first major-league weekend will be a memorable one.

The Mets, trying to recapture the magic of Davis' first day in the big leagues, will have the first baseman take two daily rounds of batting practice – the first in Buffalo, the second in Flushing.

“I’m not getting tired,” Davis will insist late Sunday night, after hitting his first career home run. “Although, I would appreciate it if they at least paid for the flights."

3. Roy Halladay will raise his record to 5-0 with the Phillies, an accomplishment all the more astounding because the right-hander won’t actually pitch over the weekend. Saturday’s scorekeeper, asked why he credited Halladay with the win over Arizona, will respond, “There is no chin behind Doc Halladay’s beard. There is only another fist.”

4. The Orioles will get swept by the Red Sox at Fenway Park, and believe it or not, that will be the least of their problems. Back in Baltimore, Peter Angelos and Cal Ripken, Jr. will try to get together, to get Ripken involved again with the Orioles.

“Let’s go to Cheesecake Factory at the Inner Harbor,” Ripken will tell Angelos on the phone.

“I don’t want to go there,” Angelos will respond, “because if we get a really good piece of cheesecake, you’re going to try to take credit for it.”

“Fine,” Ripken will say, “then you pick the place. But once we sit down at the table, don’t even think about asking me to move positions. Or, even worse, sit out a course on the tasters’ menu.”

At that point, Angelos will pretend there's static on the phone, much as Pee-Wee did right around here in "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure," and the two men won't speak for another year.

--So what did you think of the A-Rod/Braden thing? I've never heard of walking on the pitcher's mound, in the way that A-Rod allegedly did, as breaking "the code." It does sound kind of jerky, though.

For Braden to speak out as he did, I would say that it's out of line, just like last year when Brian Bruney called out Francisco Rodriguez. But Braden was so brazen, IMO, taking on A-Rod - a guy who, whatever you think of him, will likely wind up as baseball's all-time home run leader - that his words sped right through "out of line" and wrapped around the bend to "hilarious."

By invoking Derek Jeter, Braden used an old trick from the 2004-05 Red Sox. At that point, Braden was in the minor leagues.

--Erik Boland followed up on Phil Hughes' great start Wednesday night.

--What did you think of Francisco Rodriguez's five-out save? I thought it was a good call by Jerry Manuel, going to the closer when the game actually needed to be "saved." Obviously, it's not something the Mets should be doing routinely, but in this instance, it felt all right to me.

--Good column by Anthony Rieber, discussing Manuel's Mets lineups. I agree with Anthony: Fans probably over-obsess about the lineup, yet at the same time, you can't be hitting Alex Cora high, or Angel Pagan below Gary Matthews Jr. Reyes will hit third tonight against the Braves, Adam Rubin reports.

--Another good piece here by David Lennon, on Rod Barajas and Henry Blanco. Catchers' ability to work with pitchers is one of the few remaining, very difficult to quantify "intangible." But all other things being equal, why wouldn't you want a catcher with a good reputation in this department? The fact that opponents haven't run much on the Mets so far also ranks as a positive.

--John Maine, tonight's Mets starting pitcher, keeps working on his mechanics.

--Mets fans will likely read these comments by Tom Seaver and scream, "Amen!"

--Dwight Gooden spoke only vaguely about his recent arrest.

--The Rays signed Ben Zobrist to a long-term deal, Marc Topkin reports. Thanks to old pal Twitter for this story and the Rubin/Reyes story.

--Thanks to the hilarious Batting Stance Guy, who alerted me to the below video with a Twitter direct message, reading, "Here is your 80-82 Mets 1 min preview."

--Have a great weekend.





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