MLB News and Notes September 30

MLB News and Notes September 30

Notes from Saturday's games
September 29, 2007

MINNESOTA: Twins pitchers didn't allow a walk for the 22nd game this season in Friday night's 5-2 loss to the Red Sox. That's the most in the majors. Cleveland is second with 19. ... CF Torii Hunter entered Saturday's game with a .419 batting average (13-for-31) against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and was robbed of a hit on a sliding catch by Coco Crisp in short center field in the first. Hunter went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a double play on Friday. ... Saturday's starter, Carlos Silva, has pitched 180 innings or more for four straight seasons.
   
BOSTON: Julian Tavarez (7-10) will start Sunday's regular-season finale in place of Curt Schilling (9-8). The Red Sox said health reasons were not behind the change. Schilling is expected to start the second or third game of the AL division series against the Los Angeles Angels. ... Manny Ramirez fouled a ball off his left knee then doubled in the first inning. ... CF Coco Crisp returned to the starting lineup after missing four games because of illness. ... SS Royce Clayton made his first start for Boston since being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on Sept. 1. The Red Sox signed him after he was released by Toronto on Aug. 6.


TAMPA BAY:
OF Delmon Young's status for Sunday's season finale is in doubt after the 21-year-old rookie reacted angrily to being removed from Saturday's game. Young was replaced by Greg Norton in right field in the bottom of the sixth after he failed to run out a grounder to third in the top of the inning. ``I'm not the only one doing it,'' said Young, who has played in all 161 games so far. ``I play every day. I don't complain about going out there. I'll see you guys next year because I'm shut down tomorrow.'' ... 3B Akinori Iwamura will make his major league debut at second base Sunday. Iwamura could move there permanently once prospect Evan Longoria is ready for the major leagues.

TORONTO: SS John McDonald tweaked his abdominal injury Saturday and will not play in Sunday's season finale. McDonald (strained abdominal muscle) will have surgery next Tuesday. ... DH Frank Thomas was replaced by pinch-hitter Russ Adams in the eighth inning Saturday. By Thomas' count, it's just the second time in his career that he has been pinch hit for. ... 3B Kevin Ahrens and C J.P. Arencibia, Toronto's two first-round picks in the June draft, took batting practice before the game.


NEW YORK: Manager Joe Torre announced before Saturday's game that RHP Chien-Ming Wang would start Game 1 and LHP Andy Pettitte Game 2 of the Yankees' divisional series against Cleveland. ``He's handled the stress and pressure very well,'' Torre said of Wang. ``Even though it doesn't appear he's very emotional, he's got a fire in his belly.'' ... Torre said he was ``assuming'' RHP Roger Clemens would work the third game and added that RHP Mike Mussina could be used out of the bullpen in the playoffs. ... With the AL wild card clinched, SS Derek Jeter, 3B Alex Rodriguez, OF Johnny Damon and OF Hideki Matsui were omitted from Saturday's starting lineup.

BALTIMORE:
For the first time in 10 years, the Orioles did not lose the season series to the Yankees. Friday's 10-9 win gave Baltimore a 9-7 advantage with two games left. The Orioles had lost 22 of the last 25 season series to New York. ... Nick Markakis hit his team-high 23rd homer in the first inning Saturday, a two-run drive that increased his RBI total to 112. ... The Orioles scored four runs in the first two innings against Andy Pettitte, who came in with a 3.63 career ERA against Baltimore. ... DH/1B Aubrey Huff sat out Saturday's game with a stiff neck. His status for Sunday's finale was uncertain.


DETROIT:
Magglio Ordonez is on the verge of capturing the batting title. Ordonez got Saturday off but will take a .360 average into Sunday's season finale. He leads Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki. Ordonez also has 137 RBIs. ``Probably the best single-season I've ever had as a manager,'' Detroit's Jim Leyland said. Leyland said he also wants Placido Polanco to finish with 200 hits - he was two short going into Saturday - and Curtis Granderson to finish with a .300 average. ``Magglio is in a pretty good spot,'' Leyland said. ``He deserves it. He's earned it.'' Leyland said he would give Ordonez the option of playing RF or being the DH on Sunday. He said he might bat Polanco lead off on Sunday if he still needs two hits. If he gets two hits Saturday, Leyland said he would give him the day off Sunday and, jokingly, said he would let him manage.

CHICAGO: The White Sox will begin their organizational meetings Oct. 13 and general manager Kenny Williams said the team will explore all avenues for improvement. ``I'll put it to you this way: There isn't one player out there that will be available that we will turn away from,'' Williams said. ``If that player can help us, we're going to go down that road to see if the fit is there and the economics match.'' ... Jim Thome was honored before the game for hitting his 500th home run earlier this month. There were video tributes featuring former and current teammates, White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Thome's family. Thome then homered in the first inning Saturday night, the 507th of his career. ... Entering play Saturday the White Sox had been outscored 824-687.


CLEVELAND: If the Indians beat out Boston for most wins in the AL and get to choose whether they want to start their playoff series against New York on Wednesday or Thursday, look for Wednesday. Asked before Saturday's game if he would pick Wednesday, manager Eric Wedge said, ``Yeah, more than likely. You would assume.'' ... The longest hitting streak in the AL this season will belong to Casey Blake. The Indians third baseman hit in 26 straight from May 20 through June 17. ... Going 0-6 against the Yankees this regular season should cause no worry for the Indians as they prepare to face them in the five-game playoff series next week, says Travis Hafner. ``It's a whole new season,'' he said. ``It's a five-game series and we feel good about our team.''

KANSAS CITY:
When he struck out Grady Sizemore to start Saturday night's game, RHP Gil Meche had tossed the most innings by a Kansas City pitcher since Paul Byrd pitched 228 1-3 in 2002. ... It was exactly 31 years ago Saturday when Larry Gura pitched a four-hitter against Oakland and the Royals clinched their first AL West title with a 4-0 victory. ... The Royals will finish last in the AL Central for the fourth year in a row.


LOS ANGELES: Manager Mike Scioscia sat many of his regulars for rest and to help some of his banged-up players heal. Slugger Vladimir Guerrero probably also will sit out Sunday as he nurses sore triceps muscles on both arms, the left one hurting after getting hit by a pitch Friday. S Orlando Cabrera also rested. ``He's playing a demanding position every day and hitting in an important spot in our lineup,'' Scioscia said. ``Let him catch his breath.'' Garret Anderson, Maicer Izturis and Gary Matthews Jr. also were held out to rest nagging issues. ... Kelvim Escobar earned his career-best 18th victory and also reached 1,500 career innings. Escobar has allowed three or fewer runs in 23 of his 30 starts this season. His win Saturday was his first in four 2007 starts against the A's.

OAKLAND: INF Donnie Murphy was shut down for the final two games because of an undisclosed, non-baseball injury. ... RHP Rich Harden, who missed most of this year with a shoulder injury, will report to instructional league in Arizona after the season to get some additional work before returning to his native Canada for the winter. ... Oakland's 8-17 mark in September is the club's worst record for the month since going 8-20 in 1985. ... Daric Barton has reached safely in all 17 of his games for Oakland, with nine multihit performances.


ST. LOUIS: Heading into the final weekend of the season, the Cardinals had been either very good or very bad since the All-Star break. They outscored opponents 243-89 in their 35 wins and had been outscored 300-101 in the 39 previous losses. ... The Cardinals led the major leagues in pinch hits with 80 through Friday. The club record is 82, set in 1970. ... St. Louis relievers had 29 victories this season, led by RHP Russ Springer's eight. Only five times in history have the Cardinals had 30 wins or more from their bullpen (1987, 1991-92, 2002 and 2004).

PITTSBURGH: The Pirates named OF Steve Pearce their minor league player of the year and RHP John Van Benschoten their minor league pitcher of the year Saturday. Pearce hit 31 home runs and had 113 RBIs with three teams as he climbed from Class-A to Triple-A, and finally a September call-up. Van Benschoten went 10-7 with a 2.56 ERA, 79 strikeouts and a shutout with Triple-A Indianapolis. He was just 0-7 with a 10.15 ERA for Pittsburgh. ... The Pirates have three players (OF Jason Bay, 1B Adam LaRoche, OF Xavier Nady) with at least 20 home runs this season. The last time the franchise could say that was 2000, when Brian Giles, John Vander Wal and Kevin Young accomplished it.


ATLANTA: CF Andrew Jones was out of the lineup for the second straight day and said he was done for the season. Manager Bobby Cox had no problem with that. ``That's fine with me,'' Cox said. ``He's beat up and worn out.'' ... Cox said he wouldn't do anything special to try and help Chipper Jones win the NL batting title. On Friday, he replaced Jones after he went 1-for-2. ``The only way you can do it is just let him play,'' Cox said. ``I'm sure us not being in the chase takes a little of the Adrenalin away for him.'' ... Cox said he liked that the Astros were letting Craig Biggio play catcher for an inning or two in Saturday's game. ``It'll be good to see old Biggio back there with the tools on,'' Cox said with a smile. ``He's a Hall of Famer for sure. He and old (Jeff) Bagwell were real professionals.''

HOUSTON:
In the second-to-last game of his career, Craig Biggio was going to play an inning or two as Houston's catcher, the position where he started his career. Manager Cecil Cooper said letting Biggio play his old position would be a treat for everyone. ``It's going to be special,'' Cooper said. ``He's been itching to do it for a long time. I know the fans will love it. I talked to (Cox) about it and he said they're not going to take advantage of him when he's in there.'' ... Biggio's last appearance at catcher also was against Atlanta - Oct. 5, 1991, at Fulton County Stadium. He started 391 games there before switching to second base. ... Cooper said he also ``toyed'' with the idea of playing LF Carlos Lee at first base. The Astros have been impressed with September call-up Josh Anderson and rookie Hunter Pence in the outfield and Cooper said he might look at Lee at 1B next season. ``There might be some games in spring training that we can look at him there,'' Cooper said. ``Carlos is a pretty good athlete.''


WASHINGTON: The Nationals clinched fourth place in the NL East after three straight last-place finishes. ``It's a tremendous accomplishment for this club,'' manager Manny Acta said. ... Reduced to a spoiler role, the Nationals swept a three-game series from the Mets in Shea Stadium and have a chance to knock the Phillies out of the playoffs with a second straight win in Philly. ``Our goal is to win every game,'' Acta said.

PHILADELPHIA: Ryan Howard has homered in three straight games to reach 46. Last season, Howard hit 58 homers and was the NL MVP. His career-best streak is four straight games with a homer. ... Rookie Kyle Kendrick (10-4) could pitch on three days' rest if the Phillies have to play a tiebreaker game against the Mets on Monday. It would be Kyle Lohse's turn. He threw 28 pitches in 2 1-3 innings of relief on Saturday. ... LHP J.C. Romero extended his scoreless innings streak to 13 2-3, spanning 19 games. He has a 1.99 ERA this season.


CHICAGO: Manager Lou Piniella and general manager Jim Hendry met before Saturday's game to talk about their playoff roster. No final decisions were made. ``We'll wait and see who our first-round opponent is,'' Piniella said. ... Piniella plans to start RHP Carlos Zambrano and LHP Ted Lilly in the first two games of the playoffs. LHP Rich Hill is a candidate for the third game. ``We'll play this thing by ear,'' Piniella said. ``Right now, we'll just wait to see where we're going. Nothing's been decided on except Zambrano and Lilly will be our first two pitchers.'' ... Lilly is scheduled to start on Sunday in his playoff tuneup. He'll throw about 40 pitches before Piniella turns to his bullpen. ... The Cubs are the first team in the NL Central to go from last to first in consecutive seasons. The last NL team to pull off the feat was Arizona in 1999.

CINCINNATI: The Reds were held to one hit for the first time since 2005. They were one-hit twice that year - 7-0 by Boston on June 14 and 4-0 by the Dodgers on July 25. ... CF Norris Hopper left the game with a strained groin after the first inning, when he couldn't catch up to Geovany Soto's double, the first of his three hits. ... The Reds are 38-42 at Great American Ball Park. ... RH Aaron Harang set a career high with 13 strikeouts in eight innings. Harang's 218 strikeouts this season are a career high. ... The Reds have lost 90 games for the third time in the last seven years. They lost 96 in 2001 and 93 in 2003. Cincinnati is finishing off its seventh straight losing season, its longest such streak in a half-century.


FLORIDA: The Marlins were shut out for the ninth time this season. All they managed was an infield single by Paul Hoover with two outs in the eighth inning against John Maine. ``He was outstanding. You've got to tip your cap to him,'' manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ... LF Josh Willingham (back) sat out again and probably won't play in the season finale, either. ... Gonzalez on the fight that broke out when Marlins C Miguel Olivo charged across the diamond and threw a punch at Mets SS Jose Reyes, who was on third base. ``It's just boys being boys, I guess,'' Gonzalez said. ``We've played 17 or 18 games this year and we haven't had any problems.'' Gonzalez also said RHP Harvey Garcia wasn't throwing at Luis Castillo moments earlier. ``We're running young kids out there. We're not throwing at anybody,'' Gonzalez said. ``Then the other thing happened.''

NEW YORK: 3B David Wright finished with three hits and scored three times, extending his hitting streak to 16 games. He is batting .406 (28-for-69) during the streak. ... The 13-0 victory over Florida matched New York's largest shutout at Shea Stadium. ... SS Jose Reyes didn't run out a third-inning chopper that stayed fair in front of the plate, a disturbing trend with him this season. Reyes, thrown out easily on the play, was benched by manager Willie Randolph for a similar discretion at Houston in July. ... The Mets pitched their third one-hitter this season. The other two were in rain-shortened games. It was the 32nd one-hitter in franchise history. New York has never tossed a no-hitter. ... RHP John Maine improved to 3-0 in four starts against Florida this year. He struck out seven consecutive batters during one stretch, the first Mets pitcher to accomplish the feat since Al Leiter on Aug. 23, 1998, against Arizona. ... It was New York's 10th shutout of the season. ... Lastings Milledge had his first career multihomer game.


ARIZONA: Manager Bob Melvin said he would give the team the day off Monday and have a workout Tuesday if the team opens the playoffs at home. ... Melvin said OF Eric Byrnes and OF Chris Young were prime candidates to get a rest for the season finale on Sunday. ... Melvin was concerned Friday's celebration after the Diamondbacks clinched a playoff spot might leave him with a cold. ``I took three big hits with cold beverages that left me with the chills,'' Melvin said. ``One was out of a trash can and the other two from buckets.'' ... Arizona officials said there would be no champagne celebration following an NL West division-clinching game.

COLORADO: LHP Jeff Francis' 17 wins this season matches the most ever by a Colorado pitcher for a season. ``He's been the guts of our pitching staff, our rotation, all year long,'' manager Clint Hurdle said. ... Hurdle said that while Colorado's pitching staff has been better this season, the humidor deserves some credit. ``The humidor has made an impact,'' Hurdle said. ``The humidor is definitely playing its part.'' ... Hurdle credited unselfish play for the Rockies' franchise record 11-game winning streak, which was halted by Arizona on Friday night. ``It's been one of our greatest characteristics this year, the way they've gone about their business and played for one another,'' Hurdle said.


SAN DIEGO: The Padres, by losing Saturday, assured that Arizona would win the NL West. ... They are now only one game ahead of New York and Philadelphia, who are tied for the NL East lead. ... The Padres have 89 victories this season. The last time the Padres had that many victories was 1998, when that team went 98-64 and eventually reached the World Series. ... Sunday's starter will be Brett Tomko, not Jake Peavy, insists manager Bud Black. ``I don't see a scenario where we would use him (Sunday).'' ... Black described the importance of leaving Peavy available for a possible one-game playoff, which could take place Monday. ``The most important game we play will be our last one. Sunday probably won't be our last game.'' ... Tomko is 7-2 all-time against the Brewers with a 3.70 ERA. He is 0-1 this season, allowing five runs over 5.1 innings as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. ... Drew Macias made his major league debut when he entered the game in the seventh as a pinch runner and scored on Adrian Gonzalez's RBI single.

MILWAUKEE: The Brewers victory guarantees them a winning season for the first time since 1992. That team went 92-70. ... Ryan Braun is on pace to set a record for highest slugging percentage by a rookie with a minimum of 400 at_bats. Mark McGwire's slugging percentage was .618 in 1987. Braun's is .629. ... Braun's next home run would be his 35th, which would tie him with Mike Piazza for fourth all-time among rookies. ... The Brewers set the franchise record for attendance in a season on Saturday with a crowd of 40,946, pushing the season total to 2,826,729. The old record was 2,811,041. It was also the 30th sellout, another franchise record. ... Prince Fielder's next extra-base hit will set the franchise mark. He is currently tied with Robin Yount at 87, a mark set in 1982. ... The Brewers continue to increase the franchise record for homers in a season. This year, they have 230. The old mark was 216, set by the 1982 team. ... Jeff Suppan will start the season finale Sunday. Suppan is 3-3 with a 6.26 ERA against the Padres in eight career starts. He lost to the Padres at Petco Park earlier this season, allowing three runs in six innings. ... Prince Fielder stole his first base of the season Saturday in the second inning, and his second of the season in the fourth. He was walked both times to reach base. ... Rickie Weeks has scored in 12 straight games, the fourth-longest streak in franchise history.

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Re: MLB News and Notes September 30

SAN FRANCISCO: Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the Giants' final home game before moving from New York to San Francisco. They lost 9-1 to the Pittsburgh Pirates before a melancholy crowd of 11,606 at the Polo Grounds. Only three players started that game and the Giants' first game in San Francisco - CF Willie Mays, SS Daryl Spencer and 2B Danny O'Connell. ... LHP Barry Zito will make his 34th start in the season finale, marking the seventh straight season he'll reach that figure - but the first time in that span that he will come short of 200 innings. He is 10-13 with a career-worst 4.63 ERA, and will finish with a losing record for the first time as a big leaguer. ``More than anything, the consistency of his command wasn't quite as sharp this year,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. ``Barry threw some very well-pitched games, but it was an up and down season for him.''

LOS ANGELES: LHP Joe Beimel, who set a single-season franchise record for appearances by a lefty, wishes he had a chance to pitch in the postseason. He didn't get a chance to last year against the Mets in the NL division series because he cut his pitching hand at a New York bar at 2:30 a.m. - less than 36 hours before the series opener. ``Last year was really tough for me personally, because of the fact that we were in the playoffs and I wasn't able to do anything to contribute and help us win a couple of games,'' recalled Beimel, who had plenty of time to think about the 20 stitches in his hand on the drive back to Pittsburgh at season's end. ``I think I was in Colorado somewhere when Ned called me and we talked about it. He just said, `Everybody makes mistakes, and we're going to forget about this and not talk about it anymore.' And that's what ended up happening. So I felt good after that conversation with him and I knew that I when I came back this year, I'd have the confidence that I could still go out there and get guys out.''

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Re: MLB News and Notes September 30

MLB playoff tiebreaker scenarios
ASSOCIATED PRESS

NL playoff tiebreaker scenarios (records through Saturday):

NL East

If New York (88-73) Philadelphia (88-73) finish with the same record, they would play a tiebreaker game Monday in Philadelphia.

Wild Card

In the event two teams tie for the wild card, Colorado (88-73) would host New York, Philadelphia or San Diego (89-72) in a tiebreaker; New York would host San Diego; and San Diego would host Philadelphia.

Three teams with same record


In the event New York, Philadelphia and either Colorado or San Diego finish with the same record, New York and Philadelphia would play a tiebreaker Monday at Philadelphia for the division title. The loser of that game would then play a wild-card tiebreaker Tuesday against Colorado or San Diego.

Four teams with same record

If Colorado, New York and Philadelphia win Sunday and San Diego loses, all would finish 89-73. New York and Philadelphia would play the NL East tiebreaker Monday; the loser would play a three-team, two-day, wild-card tiebreaker with Colorado and San Diego on Tuesday and Wednesday. In that scenario, Colorado (the team with the best head-to-head record among the three teams in the wild-card tiebreaker) would get the choice of having a bye on Tuesday or playing both games at home.

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