Monday, June 25, 2007

Montoya wins Sonoma

Love him, hate him, however you feel about him, there is one thing that has become very clear when it comes to NASCAR rookie Juan Pablo Montoya: the guy can drive a race car! In his first season driving stock cars, Montoya has been criticized by his fellow competitors for his overly aggressive style of racing. The other drivers definitely have a point, as Montoya has taken out many opponents this year with bold moves which have often sent them spinning or crashing into the wall.

Yesterday was a different kind of race for Montoya. Instead of being the aggressive one, the Colombian was told repeatedly to be patient by his crew at the Toyota/Save Mart 350 in Sonoma, California. Over the course of the day, he was only responsible for one accident - spinning Kurt Busch about midway through the race. Montoya, the 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner, passed Jamie McMurray for the lead for good on lap 104 of the 110 lap race. He continued to drive cautiously in the closing laps, hoping he would conserve enough fuel to make it to the end. McMurray wouldn't be so lucky, as he ran out of gas on the very last lap in finishing 37th. Montoya took the checkered flag in only his 17th start. He also becomes just the fifth driver to win an Indianapolis 500 and a NASCAR race. Perhaps this win will mark a turning point for Montoya... will he continue to drive more passively? If so, he may just find a new legion of fans. Kevin Harvick finished behind Montoya in 2nd, while Jeff Burton came in third. Points leader Jeff Gordon overcame the penalties levied upon he and teammate Jimmie Johnson to finish 7th. Johnson came in 17th.


The local baseball teams continue to go in opposite directions. The Dodgers were in Tampa Bay for the rubber game of their three game series against the Devil Rays. Luis Gonzalez quickly staked the blue crew to a 2-0 lead, homering in the top of the first off D-Ray starter Edwin Jackson. The former Dodger farmhand would settle down after that, pitching five scoreless innings. Dodger starter Hong-Chih Kuo pithced pretty well in his 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs and four hits, walking one and striking out eight. Things fell apart for the Dodgers in the bottom of the 7th inning. Reliever Joe Beimal faced five batters and would not record an out! All five of those baserunners wound up scoring as the Rays would forge a 9-2 lead. James Loney (who only a week ago crashed hard into the left field wall at Dodger Stadium) came back and hit a two run homer in the top of the ninth to draw the Dodgers within five, but that was as close as they would get. The loss keeps the Dodgers in third place, a game and a half behind the division leading San Diego Padres.

In the meantime, the Angels are making a mockery of the American League West... Angel starter Bartolo Colon outdueled the Pittsburgh Pirates' Tom Gorzelanny for six innings. The Angels carried a 3-2 lead into the final three frames. Scot Shields closed out the seveneth and eighth innings for the Angels in recording his 19th hold of the year. The ball was then given to closer Franisco Rodriguez in the bottom of the ninth, and he was uncharacteristically wild, throwing two wild pitches. Those would prove to be costly as they would put pinch runner Raji Davis into scoring position after Adam LaRoche had been walked. Xavier Nady singled Davis in on a 3-2 pitch to tie the game and send it into extra innings. Chris Bootcheck would silence the Pirates in the 10th... in the bottom of the inning, Howie Kendrick doubled with one out off of Pirates closer Matt Capps. Kendry Morales would be intentionally walked. Gary Matthews had an opportunity to win the game, but he flew out to left... Erick Aybar then took care of business for the Halos, lining a single to right, scoring Kendrick with the winning run. With the win, the Angels continue to maintain an eight game lead over the Seattle Mariners in the American League West.

In Washington, the Nationals Jason Simontacchi hoped to rebound from his disastrous start this past Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers. You may recall Simontacchi was lit up by the Tigers for 10 runs, 10 hits and two walks in his last outing. Yesterday, Simontacchi would have no such problems with the Cleveland Innings. In six innings, he held the Indians to just one run and four hits while walking one and striking out six. Ronnie Belliard led the Nats attack going 3-for-3, while catcher Jesus Flores drove in two of the Nats three runs off Indians starter Jake Westbrook. Chad Cordero pitched the ninth to secure the Nats 3-1 win. For the Nats, it was their first win of a home series in nearly a month and a half - they took three out of four against the Atlanta Braves in mid-May. Some good news and bad news for the Nats... First off, the good news is that Jason Bergmann is coming off the disabled list and will pitch today against those same Atlanta Braves. The bad news is that Shortstop Cristian Guzman found his way onto the 15 day disabled list after sprained his left thumb while tagging out Josh Barfield at second base on a steal attempt in the fifth inning. Guzman was amongst their hottest hitters at .329...

We all know how well the Minnesota Twins' Johan Santana can pitch, but it also appears that baseball's best pitcher can also hit! Santana pitched his usual six brilliant innings against the Florida Marlins yesterday, allowing only a solo home run to Dan Uggla (his 15th) and five hits, walking one and striking out eight in picking up his eighth win of the year. The big story was Santana's hitting though. In the top of the second, Johan squared as if to bunt, and then swung away, driving a ball deep to the warning track in right center field off of Marlin starter Byung Hyun Kim. Johan ended up with a triple! Kim would wind up taking the loss as he struggled in his six innings, giving up six earned runs, seven hits and five walks to go along with six strikeouts. Twins catcher Joe Mauer carried the heavy lumber for the Twins, homering twice off of Kim.


Also, my condolences go out to the major league baseball community with the passing of Rod Beck. Beck died on Saturday of unknown causes. He was only 38 years old and leaves a wife and two kids. For many years, Beck pitched for the Dodgers rival, the San Francisco Giants and was a very imposing presence on the mound with his mustache... A fun-loving guy, he was one of the games great personalities. In 1999 he saved a career best 51 games for the Chicago Cubs, leading them into the playoffs. Beck's career ended in 2004 as he dealt with some personal issues. He will be sorely missed by anyone that considers themself a fan of the game.


In closing, I just would like to give my best wishes to my friends Jay and Kara... I found out just yesterday that they are going to be moving to Texas at the end of the week. A few things about both of them - they are two very special people... Blessed with very good looks, they are also both just as nice on the inside as on the outside. Jay has played the guitar on stage in helping lead worship at my church, Cornerstone Community in Simi Valley, for quite some time. Although I don't know him all that well, those that do know him well have told me nothing but good things about him. It's also been very comforting seeing Jay and his red guitar on stage these past couple of years... Kara has been a selfless giver of her time to various causes, serving on mission trips to Romania and many other places. Her smile, kindness, zest for life and her willingness to serve ANYWHERE have been so inspiring to me in the five years that I've known her... I really can't think of two people who are better examples of integrity and "living life the right way" than these two. I'll miss them both a lot, but I know that Texas is going to be getting two AMAZING people!!!


1 comment:

shibu said...

cornerstone church?! I've followed your church's story and gotten to hear Francis speak at various church conferences. I'm a youth pastor in KC, and love keeping track of churches like yours that are ALIVE. Francis is one of my favorite pastors to listen to; I try to keep up on the podcasts when I can.

I heard him speak in early May when he told us about the amphitheater! And his story about the Korean prayer meeting he went to was incredible. I figure that's a story you all have heard many times.

very cool to meet followers of Jesus in random ways, (roto baseball, that is) John. Sad that your friends are moving to texas, but glad that you got to mention CC b/c of it.