MLB News and Notes September 24

MLB News and Notes September 24

Notes from Sunday's games
September 23, 2007

OAKLAND: Rookie 1B Daric Barton accounted for the A's scoring in a 6-2 loss by hitting his second career homer, a two-run shot in the sixth off Jake Westbrook. Barton has hit safely in seven straight games and has reached base in all 13 games since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento. ``I feel comfortable,'' he said. ``I don't feel any pressure. When I got called up, I was nervous, but I was ready to get out and see what I can do.'' ... LHP Dallas Braden fell to 1-8. He won his first major league start on April 24. Braden's 6.88 ERA in 69 1-3 innings is the highest by an Oakland pitcher with that many innings since Dave Stewart (6.89) in 1995. ... The A's dropped to 38-53 since they were a season-high eight games over .500 on June 15.
   
CLEVELAND: GM Mark Shapiro stood to one side of the chaotic clubhouse and watched as the Indians, the club he dismantled and rebuilt, celebrated winning a division it used to own. Shapiro was covered in pie, champagne - and satisfaction. ``We still have work to do,'' he said after the Indians clinched their first AL Central title since 2001. ``But this is a moment worthy of a celebration for this team and this city.'' Shapiro was the Indians' assistant GM under John Hart six years ago when the club last made the postseason. One year later, Shapiro traded ace right-hander Bartolo Colon to Montreal, a deal that signaled the beginning of a reconstruction that would eventually get the Indians back to playing in October. At the time, the Colon trade was unpopular with Indians fans, some of whom wondered what Shapiro was thinking. Those critics aren't nearly as vocal anymore. ``Four or five years ago I looked at a lot of blank stares around here,'' Shapiro said. ``Not many people believed we could do it.'' ... The Indians partied like it was 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001 ... all in one. During their wild postgame celebration, the team ripped through 150 bottles of champagne - French and domestic - and 30 cases of beer were dumped, gulped and sloshed around before another 20 cases were ordered. ... The Indians went 49-28 at Jacobs Field, but their official home record is 51-29 after going 2-1 during three games in April at Milwaukee's Miller Park when a series was moved there because of bad weather.


DETROIT:
Tigers manager Jim Leyland was happy to see a sold-out crowd of 40,068 even though his team is nearly out of the playoff hunt. ``Our fans have been fantastic,'' he said. ``We're disappointed and I know they are as well, but hopefully everyone will realize how hard it is to win in this game, and how much you have to enjoy things like what we did last year.'' ... The Tigers need 25 hits in their final six games to break the franchise record of 1,611, set in 1937. They are within 16 total bases of the 1987 team record of 2,548.

KANSAS CITY: Royals manager Buddy Bell was touched by a seventh-inning tribute on the Comerica Park scoreboard that thanked him for his years of service to the game. Bell, who is stepping down after the season, managed the Tigers from 1996-98. ... The Royals finished 4-5 this year at Comerica Park, where they will open the 2008 season on March 31. ... Bell said Jorge De La Rosa's one-inning start won't change the team's plan to start him in next Sunday's season finale. ``He had a pretty good fastball, but he kept leaving it up in the zone,'' Bell said. ``We'll give him another chance on Sunday.''


BOSTON: Manager Terry Francona hasn't talked with DH David Ortiz, who was thrown out Saturday trying to steal third. Ortiz has been bothered recently by a sore knee. ``I think he thought he was invisible,'' Francona said. ``I think he took enough grief from the rest of the guys, he probably didn't need to hear it from me. I take it as a good sign his knee feels good. We don't need Maury Wills. We need David Ortiz. We'll stay with David.'' ... 2B Dustin Pedroia was rested. ``He's a little beat up,'' Francona said. ... LHP Hideki Okajima, who has been shut down to build up arm strength, threw at 60 feet on level ground. He is scheduled for a bullpen session Tuesday and could be available for game action Thursday.

TAMPA BAY:
Manager Joe Maddon said LF Carl Crawford's progress from a left groin strain has leveled off and he is ``not so sure'' the 2007 All-Star will be available for the series with the New York Yankees starting Tuesday. ``He has made progress, but it's not to the point where he's comfortable,'' Maddon said. Crawford has missed six straight games. ... 2B Brendan Harris (strained muscle in back) didn't play for the fifth consecutive game.


BALTIMORE: RHP Jeremy Guthrie, coming back from a strained left oblique, is scheduled to start Thursday against Toronto. Orioles manager Dave Trembley said Guthrie will throw on the side Monday, but he expects Guthrie to be OK. If so, the pitching rotation is set for the final week of the season. ... OF Jay Payton didn't play, a day after coming back from a two-game suspension. Payton is an .094 career hitter (3-for-34) against Rangers starter Kevin Millwood, and is batting only .205 (11-for-53) in September. ... OF Corey Patterson missed his 17th straight game with a sprained left ankle sustained when he ran into the wall at Tampa Bay on Sept. 5.

TEXAS: RHP Frank Francisco is available in the bullpen, but hasn't pitched since Sept. 14. Rangers manager Ron Washington said Francisco has been nursing a sore shoulder, and was having too many command problems when he did pitch. ... RF Nelson Cruz was in the lineup for the fourth straight day. After Cruz had seven hits the previous three games, Washington wasn't ready to give him a break. ``I've been waiting for him to swing the bat, and he is,'' Washington said. ``I'm not going to yank him right now.'' Cruz went 2-for-3 with an RBI triple.


CHICAGO:
LHP Mark Buehrle was the star of the clubhouse before the game, after he shot a black bear the night before on a quick bow-hunting expedition in northern Minnesota. Jim Thome was the videographer, and Jermaine Dye and A.J. Pierzynski were also present on the trip arranged by Twins radio announcer Dan Gladden - taking advantage of the free time provided by Saturday's early game. ... 3B Josh Fields has two or more hits in 30 of his 94 games this year, but he's batting only .249. It's usually all or nothing for him: Fields has 118 strikeouts in 353 at_bats. ... Buehrle will be skipped in his final turn through the rotation Thursday so the White Sox can look at one of their prospects, either Lance Broadway or Heath Phillips.

MINNESOTA: C Joe Mauer has had myriad injury problems this year, and he said he might have been playing with a hernia the past few months, too. He'll have more tests after the season to determine if he'll need any operations. ... Rookie RHP Kevin Slowey is finishing strong during his second stint in the majors this season. He struck out a career-high nine, throwing his fastball hard inside, using his breaking ball well and most importantly improving his off-speed pitches. Slowey is a control pitcher, but he had given up 16 homers in 54 innings before this start. This was his ninth start, and he said he's learned more during his second stint in the majors. ``I can't throw like Joe Nathan. I can't throw like Pat Neshek,'' Slowey said. ``I have to be able to get guys out with the stuff I have.'' ... The Twins finished 41-40 at home.


SEATTLE: The Mariners (82-72) finished their road schedule 39-41, four games worse than last season. ... Seattle last made the playoffs in 2001, winning the division with a club-record 116 victories. ... RHP Jeff Weaver, the loser in Sunday's 7-4 defeat that assured the Angels the AL West title, said he was happy for his kid brother Jered, who pitches for the Angels. Jered went to all but one of the Cardinals' postseason games last fall when his older brother won a world series ring with St. Louis. Jeff said he would try to return the favor when the Angels are in the playoffs. ``I'm definitely planning on at least catching the games that he's throwing,'' he said. ``It would be something special, for someone like Jered to be in that position at that young an age to have an opportunity to pitch in the postseason. So I'm going to do everything I can to be there and show the support he did for me.''

LOS ANGELES: RHP John Lackey's win in the Angels' 7-4 victory over the Mariners on Sunday gave him an 8-4 record with a 3.31 ERA in 16 starts at home this season. ... With the win over Seattle, the Angels clinched the division title earlier than any of the other five times. The 1979 club locked up the West on Sept. 25. ... The Angels hadn't clinched at home since 1986. ... 2B Howie Kendrick, who was hit by RHP Jeff Weaver's pitches twice on Sunday, had been plunked only twice in 334 previous plate appearances this season. ... The Angels' finished their home schedule 54-27, matching the 2002 World Series championship team for the best mark in franchise history. Their 34th sellout crowd boosted their total home attendance to 3,365,632.


TORONTO:
Toronto C Gregg Zaun threw out Alex Rodriguez trying to steal second in the third, inning, threw out Bobby Abreu trying to steal second in the sixth inning and Abreu trying to steal third in the eighth inning. He became the first Toronto catcher to throw out three runners since Pat Borders on July 10, 1994. ... Aaron Hill was 2-for-4 with a double and was 8-for-15 with three doubles in the first three games of the series. ... Frank Thomas (sore knee) didn't play. ... Four of six batters walked by Dustin McGowan scored. ``I didn't have command of anything. No fastball,'' McGowan said. ... RHP Shaun Marcum will have surgery Wednesday to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, which he aggravated the knee during Saturday's game. ... C Sal Fasano will have left knee surgery this week. He will be the 11th Toronto player to be operated on this season.

NEW YORK: RHP Roger Clemens is being given an extra day to rest his left hamstring and was pushed back until Tuesday night at Tampa Bay in the rotation. Clemens tweaked his hamstring while running Thursday and originally was rescheduled from Sunday to Monday. Andy Pettitte will now start Monday's series finale against Toronto on regular rest. ... Phil Rizzuto was given a pregame tribute in ceremonies that included Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Yogi Berra, and broadcast partners Bill White and Bobby Murcer. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner did not attend - he was represented by daughter Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal. ... Doug Mientkiewicz is 10-for-23 (.435) with seven RBIs since returning from the DL on Sept. 1. ... The Yankees are a season-high 25 games over .500 at 90-65. ... Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez threw the ceremonial first pitch to Alex Rodriguez. ... Torre said rookie RHP Ian Kennedy probably won't get another start in the regular season. Kennedy had been scheduled to pitch Saturday against Toronto, but he was scratched after his back tightened up during a bullpen session last week.


PITTSBURGH: SS Jack Wilson was absent again from the Pirates clubhouse, as he continues to be with his wife in Los Angeles after the birth of their child Thursday. Manager Jim Tracy said Wilson's wife was suffering from minor complications after the birth and was still in the hospital. Wilson is expected to rejoin the team at home for its series against Arizona, starting Tuesday. The shortstop had been suffering from a tight right hamstring and probably wouldn't be able to play right away. ... Tracy said he might skip Tom Gorzelanny's and Ian Snell's last starts against the Cardinals next weekend, because the young pitchers have thrown career highs in innings. ``I will consider it,'' he said. As of now, the rotation for the last two series looks like this: Snell, Matt Morris and Paul Maholm against Arizona; Zach Duke against St. Louis, and two TBAs. ... Shawn Chacon was unavailable because of stiffness in his right elbow. ... The Pirates have been shut out 12 times.

CHICAGO: The Cubs are a season-high 10 games over .500 headed into their final week. Manager Lou Piniella got his 1,602nd managerial victory, tying him with Fred Clarke for 15th place all-time. He's 17 wins away from tying Ralph Houk for 14th. ... With two homers Sunday, the Cubs hit 10 during the three-game sweep of the Pirates and now have 38 homers in September to tie a franchise mark for the month set in 2004. ... Derrek Lee has hit at least 20 homers seven times. ... The Cubs have thrown eight shutouts this season. ... Steve Trachsel threw 85 pitches in a simulated game Saturday to get ready for his start Thursday against the Marlins. He's been bumped out of the rotation. ... The Cubs are finally solving left-handers. Chicago has a 19-22 record against southpaws this season but is 6-1 against them in September and 9-3 since Aug. 16. They're scheduled to face two more in Florida this week when they go against Dontrelle Willis on Tuesday and Scott Olsen on Thursday. ... The Cubs beat the Pirates in the season series 8-7, winning four of six at Wrigley Field while dropping 5 of 9 at PNC Park.


NEW YORK: LF Moises Alou threw out Florida's Todd Linden at home in the eighth inning, his team-best sixth outfield assist of the year. ``Everyone knows I don't have the arm I used to have,'' Alou said. ... 1B Carlos Delgado's eighth-inning home run was the 431st of his career, tying him with Cal Ripken Jr. for 37th on the all-time list. ... The Mets improved to 9-53 when trailing after six innings, and finished the road part of their regular-season schedule 47-34.

FLORIDA: LHP Chris Seddon's five innings were a career-high. The rookie was pulled after 75 pitches in his third major league start Sunday. ... The Marlins now have 758 runs this season, tying a franchise-record, but are still on pace to go the entire season without a complete game by a starter. ... Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he plans to give LHP Scott Olsen his final start of the season in Thursday's home finale against the Chicago Cubs, but cautioned that he may have to move Olsen to Wednesday.


MILWAUKEE: Manager Ned Yost has no immediate timetable for RHP Ben Sheets, the ace who hasn't pitched since lasting just one inning in a Sept. 18 start against Houston. Yost was emphatic, however, when asked if Sheets made the final call whether he would start on Sunday. Sheets, out with a strained left hamstring, still isn't strong enough to pitch. ``I make every call,'' Yost said. ``No pitcher on my team makes the call. They share in the process. Yes, we talk about it. He just said, 'I still feel it. I don't think I can go.' The decision makes itself. You feel it, you're not pitching.'' ... Yost never considered using RHP Claudio Vargas for just one inning. The manager wanted him to pitch two so he could bring in RHPs Scott Linebrink in the eighth and closer Francisco Cordero in the ninth. ... The Brewers have blown a three-run lead 16 times this year. ... Milwaukee dropped to 12-9 in September. ... They are 12-22 at Turner Field, which opened in 1997.

ATLANTA: CF Andruw Jones wasn't interested in elaborating on whether he has played his final game at Turner Field. With the Braves' wild-card hopes nearly dissolved and the nine-time Gold Glove winner expected to file for unrestricted free agency, Jones acknowledged he might have worn a home uniform for the last time. ``Everybody keeps asking me if it's going to be my last game. I can't answer that question,'' Jones said. ``I love this game. I think this year was one of those things that go that way. I know I'm better than that. So I'll go out next year and put this behind me.'' Jones made it 1-0 in the second after reaching on an infield single, going from first to third on Matt Diaz's soft single and scoring on Corky Miller's RBI single. He had two over-the-shoulder catches in deep center and cut the Milwaukee lead to 4-3 with an RBI single in the seventh. ... RHP Manny Acosta's win marked the second straight day that a Braves pitcher earn his first career victory. RHP Joey Devine, who's been called up from the minors for six times, won after escaping a bases-loaded jam on Saturday. ... 1B Mark Teixeira first the seven-game homestand with two homers and six RBIs. ... The Braves are 11-60 when trailing after six innings.


HOUSTON: 2B Craig Biggio, who is retiring after the season, started in his final game in St. Louis. His pinch-hit single on Saturday was his 3,054th hit, moving him ahead of Rod Carew for 21st place on the career list and one hit behind Rickey Henderson for 20th. ... Rookie C J.R. Towles got a day off after going 6-for-10 with 10 RBIs in the first three games of the series. Veteran Brad Ausmus always catches Roy Oswalt. ``He's kind of Roy's guy, really, and I don't want to disrupt that,'' interim manager Cecil Cooper said. ``This is your ace.'' ... SS Adam Everett was with his wife, who is having a baby induced, and is due to rejoin the team on Wednesday.

ST. LOUIS: Team broadcaster Mike Shannon, who played with the Cardinals before moving behind the booth, was honored in a pregame ceremony for 50 years with the team. ``This has been a tremendous ride,'' Shannon said. ``I don't know if I'm going to make five more years or five more minutes, but I'm sure going to have fun.'' ... 1B Albert Pujols (strained left calf) missed his fifth straight start. He had a pinch-hit, two-run single Saturday and needs two RBIs to become the first player in major league history with 100 RBIs in each of his first seven seasons. ``I'm doing all I can to get back in there,'' Pujols said. ... La Russa said C Gary Bennett, bothered by back woes, has recovered and will get some playing time on the seven-game trip to conclude the season.


PHILADELPHIA: 1B Ryan Howard tied a major league record by striking out for the 195th time. Cincinnati's Adam Dunn set the mark in 2004. ... 2B Chase Utley extended his hitting streak to a team-season-high 18 games with a ninth-inning double. ... RHPs Tom Gordon and Brett Myers and LHP J.C. Romero did not pitch Sunday after appearing in the five previous games. ... RHP Kyle Lohse, who started and pitched two innings Thursday, made his first relief appearance of the year Sunday, throwing a scoreless seventh. ... LHP Cole Hamels pitched five innings Sunday in his second start since missing a month with a strained left elbow, giving up one run and two hits. He didn't factor in the decision and hasn't lost in his last seven starts. His last loss was July 19.

WASHINGTON: 1B Dmitri Young sat out an eighth consecutive game with a sore neck. ``He has stated he doesn't feel well, so I can't push him out there,'' manager Manny Acta said. ``Got to go by what he says.'' ... LF Wily Mo Pena was a late scratch from the starting lineup because of a bruised right hand and wrist, but he singled as a pinch hitter in the eighth. ... RF Austin Kearns had three hits and two RBIs; he entered the game in a 1-for-14 rut. ... Sunday's game was the last for baseball at RFK Stadium. The Nationals, who are moving to a new park in 2008, went 122-121 in three seasons at RFK.

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CINCINNATI: OF Norris Hopper received a little surprise in his locker before the game. Some of his teammates thought he needed a change of wardrobe and switched uniform pants on him, giving him a tighter pair than normal. ``They made me do it. They said they wanted to bring back the Big Red Machine,'' Hopper said. ``It was terrible. You're wearing them and I was afraid to swing.'' Hopper did walk three times. He had never before walked more than once in a game. ``He may be wearing them on Tuesday,'' OF Adam Dunn said. ... Dunn left the game with soreness in his right knee. ``When I ran around third in the first inning it was hard to stop,'' he said. ``That's the main reason I was concerned.'' Manager Pete Mackanin said his knee will be examined when the team returns to Cincinnati. ... The Reds finished 33-48 on the road.

SAN FRANCISCO:
RHP Brian Wilson has been successful in all six save opportunities and likely will fill one of the Giants' many holes for next season as the closer. ``He's doing a great job and he's throwing strikes,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. ``I like his mentality out there. He's been a real shot in the arm for us.'' ... In his first start since going on the disabled list in June, C Eliezer Alfonzo faced another collision at home plate. He was jarred by Adam Dunn, who came in standing up in the first inning. Alfonzo suffered a left knee sprain in a collision with Oakland's Donnie Murphy on June 8. ``He hit me pretty good but we won,'' Alfonzo said. ``I didn't want anything bad to happen but I have to block the plate. He said 'sorry about that' when he came up to hit.'' Alfonzo said his left shoulder and nose is a little sore from the collision. ... LHP Barry Zito will be looking for his first win over the San Diego Padres in six starts against them on Monday night.


LOS ANGELES: By defeating Arizona on Sunday afternoon, RHP Chad Billingsley won for the fifth time in six decisions. Billingsley did not win a game between July 23 and Aug. 23. ... RHP Scott Proctor has not allowed an earned run in 13 1-3 innings, dating to Aug. 24 against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium. In September, Proctor has struck out 12 and allowed six hits in 9 1-3 innings. ... The Dodgers went 39-42 on the road this year. ... RF Matt Kemp turned 23 on Sunday.

ARIZONA:
LHP Doug Davis, RHP Livan Hernandez and RHP Brandon Webb will pitch the three-game series beginning Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, manager Bob Melvin said. In his last three starts, Davis (13-12, 4.27 ERA) has allowed 12 earned runs and 25 hits in 12 2-3 innings. ... RHP Micah Owings has been dropped from the rotation but could make a spot start on Saturday at Colorado. Owings threw a two-hit shutout in his last start, on Sept. 18 against San Francisco. ... The Diamondbacks' 12 pinch-hit home runs are the most in the majors. ... The Diamondbacks are an NL-best 41-25 since the All-Star break, and they have won 16 of 21 series in that span.


COLORADO: Garrett Atkins' inside-the-park home run in the seventh inning was the first of his career, the first for a Rockies player this season and the ninth in franchise history. ... With three away games left, the Rockies have tied the 1997 club record of 36 road wins. ... Jeff Francis' 17th win matched Kevin Ritz (1996) and Pedro Astacio (1999) for the franchise single-season record.

SAN DIEGO: Rookie 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff went 3-for-4 with three doubles and an RBI. He's reached base in each of his last 17 games. In that span, he's gone 26-for-57 (.456) with eight doubles, two home runs, 10 RBIs, six runs scored and seven walks.

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Re: MLB News and Notes September 24

Baseball today - September 24
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Monday, Sept. 24

St. Louis at Milwaukee (8:05 p.m. EDT).

The Brewers try to gain ground on Chicago in the NL Central.

STARS

Sunday

-David Wright, Mets, singled home the go-ahead run in the 11th inning to lift the New York Mets over Florida 7-6.

-Garrett Atkins, Rockies, hit an inside-the-park home run and Colorado beat San Diego 7-3.

-Jose Molina, Yankees, had three hits, three RBIs and made a key tag at the plate to help the New York Yankees defeat Toronto 7-5.

-Marcus Thames, Tigers, homered twice to power Detroit past Kansas City 7-2.

AL CENTRAL CHAMPS

Jake Westbrook struck out a career-high nine and Grady Sizemore had four hits as the Indians, fourth-place finishers a year ago, clinched their first AL Central title since 2001 with a 6-2 win over Oakland. The Indians moved into first place on Aug. 15, stayed there by going 27-9 and running away from defending AL champion Detroit, and now have a chance to finish with the best record in the majors.

AL WEST CHAMPS

John Lackey and the Los Angeles Angels gave their fans another reason to wave those rally monkeys. The Angels clinched their third AL West title in four years Sunday, with Lackey leading them to a 7-4 victory over Seattle. After losing two in a row to the Mariners, the Angels clinched in their final home game of the season.

METS RECORD

Mets outfielder Moises Alou extended his hitting streak to 27 games Sunday in New York's 7-6 win over Florida in 11 innings, setting a franchise record and giving him the longest in the major leagues this season. At 41, Alou is the oldest player to have a hitting streak extend past 21 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. His previous best was a 23-game streak in 2001, when he was with Houston.

90 WINS

The New York Yankees overcame a 3-0 deficit to beat Toronto 7-5 on Sunday and reach 90 wins for the seventh straight season, the third-longest streak in major league history behind the 1947-58 Yankees and 1904-12 Chicago Cubs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Yankees won for the 14th time in 17 games and moved within one of Boston in the loss column.

IMPRESSIVE

Justin Verlander earned his 18th win in Detroit's 7-2 victory over Kansas City on Sunday and has 35 wins in his first two full seasons, the most for a Tigers pitcher since Frank Lary also had 35 from 1955-56.

LAST DANCE AT RFK

Chad Cordero struck out Jayson Werth with the tying runs on base to give Washington a 5-3 win over Philadelphia on Sunday in the last major league game at RFK Stadium. The ballpark hosted the Senators from 1962-71, and has been the Nationals' home since they moved from Montreal and brought the sport back to the nation's capital in 2005.

SPEAKING

''Somewhere among the snow and the craziness of the schedule and the injuries, this team became a family.'' - Cleveland pitcher Paul Byrd, after his team beat Oakland 6-2 on Sunday to clinch the AL Central title. The Indians won in dramatic fashion all season, with 43 come-from-behind wins, including 13 in their final at-bat at home.

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