THE NEWBERG REPORT: MAY 1, 2006

Hank Blalock looks like a different hitter.

Joaquin Benoit looks like a different pitcher.

Gary Matthews Jr. looks like a different defender. And that’s not good.

Michael Young isn’t different at all. And that’s very good.

The Rangers offense looks different from every version we’ve seen since the club last wore red.

Mark Teixeira is an extraordinary first baseman.

Wasn’t last night a night to use Francisco Cordero? I suppose the fact that three of the six hitters C.J. Wilson faced were lefties and another was a switch-hitter who’s better against righties factored in, but it just seemed like there was an opportunity to get Coco into a game situation that was important and yet offered enough leash, just in case.

But I’m disinclined to second-guess anything about that game, even if I have questions. It was a great win.

We don’t have to see Cleveland again until September, and that suits me just fine. I get sick to my stomach seeing Travis Hafner in another uniform.

But that’s behind us now. On to St. Petersburg.

April is the least important month of the season to finish in first place. But, especially given all the injuries and the blown saves, it sure beats sitting in fourth.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

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