MLB News and Notes June 18

MLB News and Notes June 18

Wednesday's Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

Marching right into the mid-week, a full 14-game card continues interleague action. A solo National League throwdown between the Dodgers and Reds should shuffle some interest from a gambling perspective.

Boston (Masterson) at Philadelphia (Kendrick) – 1:05 p.m. EDT

In five starts, Boston’s (44-29, +1135) starting pitcher Justin Masterson (3-1, 2.90 ERA) has filled some large shoes with the absence of Daisuke Matsuzaka (8-0, 2.53) due to injury. But Masterson’s days in the majors may be numbered with reports indicating that Dice-K is just about set to return to the rotation.

Masterson has been effective in three of his five starts. By effective we mean giving up no more then one run and three hits surrendered in three of the starts. Opposing right-handed hitters are batting a low .130 average when paired up against Masterson, while southpaw swingers are struggling with a .208 BA.

The most negative impact on the young Red Sox starting slinger is a low run support figure of only 3.4 runs per start. This figure goes directly against the grain as Boston is ranked No. 4 in the league with 373 runs, No. 3 with a .280 BA and No. 2 with a .806 OPS.

And talking about offensive powerhouses, the Phillies aren’t far behind from its Red Sox counterpart. Philadelphia may have only two batters making contact for averages at .300 or above, but a team 373 RBIs coupled with a league high 103 home runs tells another offensive tale.

Phillie's slinger Kyle Kendrick (6-2, 4.54) will grace the hill on Wednesday.  It's been 12 starts since Kendrick last logged in his last loss. With 6.7 runs of support per start, the right-hander has been able to take four wins in the last six starts. 

Overall, the Phillies have had trouble in interleague play with a combined record of 14-22 in the last three years and a 79-93 ledger since 1997.

Philly slugger Ryan Howard may have finally found harmony with his swing after logging in a .300 BA with 13 RBIs and four long balls in the last seven games.

The ‘under’ is 11-3 in the Phillies last 14 overall games, while Boston is a solid 9-2 in its last 11 head-to-head meetings.

San Diego (Peavy) at N.Y. Yankees (Rasner) – 7:05 p.m. EDT

Just when the Yanks look to be finding the dim light at the other end of the tunnel down goes No. 1 starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang (8-2, 4.07). But the show must go on and after New York swept through Houston with three straight wins, a home stand against the Padres could help meld together some key components.

San Diego will enter Yankee Stadium with some of the lowest offensive numbers in the game (3.79 runs produced per game, a .246 BA with an OPS of .697). There’s no doubting that a 7-3 run in the last 10 has done justice for a Padres team who hasn’t experienced much success this season, but a road record of 11 wins and 22 loses ranks this club second worst in the NL.

On the topic of offense, the Pads have made major strides inside the batters box with a .282 BA with 59 RBIs (4.2 RBIs per game) in the month of June. A 6-1 ‘over’ record in the last seven has found its way to total bettors’ pockets and five wins dating back from Jun. 6 to Jun. 8 witnessed this team grabbing cash as underdogs in all five.

If you’re deciding to back San Diego then ace starter Jake Peavy is going to be key. Peavy is coming off a six inning, three hit skunking over the Dodgers on Jun. 12 (9-0). His last two starts before that win where part of his worst outings this season. In two back-to-back defeats against the Cubs and Rockies, Peavy was responsible for surrendering a total of seven runs on 14 hits in only 10 innings of work.

Since 2005, Peavy has been untouchable on the road with a 21-12 record accompanied by a 3.33 ERA and a BAA of .227 (in 270.1 innings).

Talk about a plethora of batting production coming out of the Bronx, Johnny Damon, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Jason Giambi have come together for a .393 BA, 38 RBIs with 11 homers.

Chicago Cubs (Zambrano) at Tampa Bay (Sonnanstine) – 7:10 p.m. EDT

It’s hard to talk about slugging and base running statistics when the Cubs send out Victor Zambrano (8-2, 2.98) and Tampa looks to counter with Andy Sonnanstine (7-3, 4.89).

Chicago’s Zambrano made a solid comeback on Jun. 12 after getting ripped for 13 hits and seven runs against the Dodgers on Jun. 7. In a 3-2 win over Atlanta at home, Zambrano was void of earning the win but eight hits and two runs yielded a positive outing. Zambrano is 5-1 in his last 10, while the ‘over’ has gone 5-2 in the last seven starts.

For the Rays, second place positioning in the AL East hasn’t come without a fight.

A 26-11 home record has done justice for Tampa. The offense might be sub par at best with a .262 BA, but the hurlers have put together a solid 3.87 ERA (eighth best in the MLB) and a top notch 1.28 WHIP (fifth best). Shifting from defense to offense reveals that the Rays have actually mustered up 4.5 runs per game (which equates to a difference of +0.63 runs).

Since going 6-1 in his first nine starts, Tampa’s Sonnanstine has hit some bumps in the winding road through the season for a 2-2 record in his last five calls to the mound. One aspect of Sonnanstine’s game that sticks out is his 4-1 record on the road versus a 3-2 performance on the road. Backers keep track that this Tampa pitcher has been pelted by righty batters for a .315 BAA.

N.Y. Mets (Perez) at L.A. Angels (Garland) – 10:05 p.m. EDT

It’s been a long week for the Mets and we're not even through Wednesday yet. Firing manager Willie Randolph at the early mourning hours followed by the dumping of pitching coach Rick Peterson and first-base coach Tom Nieto has put a short exclamation mark on the Randolph-Mets era. So what now for New York from a gamblers perspective?

We can’t expect much from the Mets with a 14-21 road record. Four wins and only one loss in interleague play this year is encouraging but a 4-6 record in the last 10 on top of an overall poor defensive performance should keep backers weary. Scoring four runs per game while giving up 5.7 runs per game in New York’s last six losses supports the fade effect.

And then there’s the unpredictable play that Mets’ starter Oliver Perez (5-4, 4.98) has brought to the diamond. His last two starts has seen Perez throw pellets for a total of two runs sacrificed on only seven hits (in11.1 innings). The southpaw has been rock solid, building on a .151 BAA versus lefties. Perez’s road resume currently stands at a 3-3 record with a high 4.97 ERA.

If you want anymore reason to fade the Metropolitans on Wednesday just take a look at an Angels team responsible for owning a 19-8 record in the club’s last 27 interleague games, starter Jon Garland’s (6-4, 4.13) 2.1 runs per game allowed in his last seven starts and a rotation which has logged in an impeccable 40 quality starts.

In the seven head-to-head games played between these two teams, the Mets have come out on top with a 4-3 record, outscoring the Halos 29-12 (in the four wins).

Total players listen up because the Angels are a hot 41-25-5 on the 'under', possess a 24-13-1 'under' record at home this season and are 9-1-1 on the 'under' in Garland's last 11 starts.

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Re: MLB News and Notes June 18

Chicago Cubs (45-26) at Tampa Bay (41-29)

Right-handed ace Carlos Zambrano (8-2, 2.98 ERA) will toe the slab for the Cubs in the middle game of a three-game interleague set at Tropicana Field against the Rays and right-hander Andy Sonnanstine (7-3, 4.89).

Tampa Bay held on for a 3-2 victory in Tuesday’s opener, improving to 23-4 in their last 27 home games, including 6-1 in the last seven. They’re also 20-7 in their last 27 against right-handed starters. However, the Rays are still a middling 6-7 in their last overall, and they’re on slides of 7-21 against the N.L. Central and 11-29 as an interleague underdog.

Despite last night’s setback, Chicago is still on a 26-11 roll, going 6-2 in the last eight. However, Lou Piniella’s club is just 16-18 on the road this year and 4-12 in its last 16 interleague road games against winning teams.

Prior to this series, these two teams hadn’t met since 2003, when Chicago won two of three at Wrigley Field.

Zambrano has lost only once since April 11, going 7-1 with four no-decisions, and the Cubs are 9-3 in those 12 contests. On Thursday against Atlanta, he yielded just two runs on eight hits in seven innings, getting a no-decision in a 3-2 Chicago win at home.

Zambrano is 4-2 with a 3.86 ERA in six road starts this season, averaging just under seven innings per start, and the Cubbies are 9-2 behind Zambrano in his last 11 road starts against winning teams. This will mark the 27-year-old’s first career start against Tampa Bay.

The Rays have won their last three games behind Sonnanstine, with the 24-year-old going 1-0 with a pair of no-decisions. On Friday against Florida, he allowed three runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings, getting the win in a 7-3 home victory. However, Sonnanstine hasn’t pitched six full innings in any of his last four starts.

Sonnanstine, who will face Chicago for the first time in his career, is 3-2 with an elevated 5.32 ERA in eight home starts this year. The Rays are 9-2 in Sonnanstine’s last 11 outings overall, but 2-8 in his last 10 starts as a home underdog.

The over is 5-2 in Zambrano’s last seven starts overall and 6-1 in his last seven interleague starts, but the under is 14-4-1 in his last 19 road outings and 23-10-1 in his last 34 road starts against winning teams. The under is also 4-1 in Sonnanstine’s last five starts in the second game of a series.

For Chicago, the under is on streaks of 37-17-5 on the highway, 7-0-1 against winning teams and 9-2-1 in interleague play. Likewise, for Tampa Bay, the under is on runs of 13-4-1 overall, 21-7-1 at Tropicana Field, 17-6-1 in interleague home games and 7-1 on Wednesdays.

ATS ADVANTAGE: CHICAGO CUBS and UNDER


Oakland (39-31) at Arizona (37-34)

The Athletics will send right-hander Joe Blanton (3-9, 4.23 ERA) to the hill at Chase Field for the second game of a three-game interleague series against the freefalling Diamondbacks, who will counter with former Oakland pitcher Dan Haren (6-4, 3.41).

Oakland destroyed Arizona ace Brandon Webb en route to Tuesday’s 15-1 series-opening victory, the team’s fourth straight win overall, all on the road. The A’s are 10-4 in their last 14 overall, including 5-0 on the road. They’re also on a 7-0 streak against the N.L. West.

The DBacks have dropped three in row, all at home, and they’re 9-18 in their last 27 overall, including 3-7 at Chase Field. They’re also in slumps of 7-20 against winning teams and 5-12 against right-handed starters.

These two teams last met in the 2006 season, with Arizona sweeping three games at Oakland. The A’s are 6-1 in their last seven trips to Arizona, but they haven’t played there since 2001, with the road team winning each of the last eight games.

Blanton’s ERA hardly matches up with his poor record, as the 27-year-old has consistently gotten little offensive support. The A’s have mustered two runs or less in six of his nine losses, including just one run in each of his last two starts. On Thursday against the Yankees, he gave up four runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings in a 4-1 home loss.

Blanton, who will face the D-Backs for the first time in his career, is 2-2 with a 4.88 ERA in four road starts this season.

Haren has helped the Diamondbacks to wins in his last three outings, going 1-0 and coming off two straight no-decisions. On Thursday against the Mets, he allowed two runs on five hits in six innings – with no walks and five strikeouts – in Arizona’s 5-4 road victory. The right-hander has allowed five runs over 20 innings in his last three starts, for a 2.25 ERA.

Haren, pitching against his former team for the first time, is a solid 6-1 with a 2.56 ERA in eight home starts this year.

The “under” has been the play for both these pitchers, going 9-2 in Blanton’s last 11 interleague starts, 5-1 in his last six as an underdog, 9-4-1 in his last 14 when starting the second game of a series, 7-2 in Haren’s last nine overall, 5-1 with Haren a favorite and 4-1 with Haren pitching at home.

Although last night’s game hurdled the total, the under for Oakland is on streaks of 8-4-1 on the road, 5-1 as an underdog, 4-2-1 in interleague road games and 45-22-3 against the N.L. West. The under is also 7-3-1 in Arizona’s last 10 as a favorite, but the over is 5-1-1 in the DBacks’ last seven overall, 9-3 in its last 12 against the A.L. West, 11-4-1 in its last 16 in interleague play and 22-10-2 in its last 34 interleague home games.

Finally, the under is 6-2 in the past eight clashes between these two teams and 5-2 in the last seven at Chase Field.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ARIZONA and UNDER

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Wednesday's streaking starting pitchers
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Streaking

Andy Sonnanstine (7-3, 4.89 ERA)


This guy doesn’t get the same kind of credit as some of the other guys on the Rays’ staff, but even though he doesn’t do it with Scott Kazmir-type power, Sonnanstine still gets the wins.

He’s led the Rays to wins in his last three starts, not with dazzling stuff but with great control. He hasn’t allowed a home run since May 21 and he’s walked only one batter in those three recent wins.

Shaun Marcum (5-3, 2.43 ERA)

You wouldn’t expect a starter who’s got only one win in his last five outings to be listed among the “streaking” pitchers, but just look at Marcum’s numbers and you’ll quickly realize that he’s not to blame for any of those losses.

Marcum is almost a guaranteed quality start every time out. In the three most recent losses, the right-hander went seven innings every time and allowed a total of four earned runs. It’s amazing the Jays weren’t able to get a single win out of that, but just to reiterate, it sure as hell wasn’t Marcum’s fault.

Slumping

Kevin Slowey (3-6, 4.70 ERA)


Some folks just aren’t morning people. Take Kevin Slowey for example. He’s got a horrible 0-4 record and 9.00 ERA when he has to drag his butt out of bed for a day game, but when his Twins play at night, he’s 3-2 with a 2.60 ERA.

Lucky for him, today’s game is scheduled for an 8:10 p.m. ET start. Other good news for Slowey: he’ll be matched up against Washington’s Jason Bergmann who is 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA in night games.

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White Sox put 1B Paul Konerko on disabled list
June 17, 2008

CHICAGO (AP) -Chicago White Sox's veteran first baseman Paul Konerko has a new experience and it's not one he wanted. He's landed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

``I'm a little bit lost,'' Konerko said Tuesday as he discussed his injury, a strained left oblique muscle he got while hitting in the batting cage Sunday.

``I was actually probably about two swings away from being done for the day. It wasn't anything out of the ordinary,'' he said. ``I swung and kind of released with my top hand, which I do a lot anyway. It didn't hurt, I just felt something give. I stepped out for a sec, then got back in and tried to take two swings. Then it was sore.''

Konerko had an MRI taken and went on the DL Tuesday. His injury is one that can linger if not treated properly or rushed, and that's why he can't do anything for the first week but rest.

Teammate Jim Thome had a similar injury last season - a strained rib cage muscle - and was on the DL for three weeks.

``You have to allow it to heal, then you're fine. But right now, it's painful to even raise my voice or even to laugh, or cough or anything like that,'' Konerko said.

Konerko has struggled this season and was batting .215 with eight homers and 30 RBIs for the AL Central leaders. In a perfect world, he'd come back after two weeks and be a more productive player.

``Obviously this year isn't going the way I'd like it to go personally, but, you know, if I get big hits and have a good three months when I come off of this thing,'' he said.

``If I get going and we go to the playoffs - that's fine with me. If it's not the year I wanted, I can deal with that. I've had other bad years, years that weren't up to my capabilities. It's not fun. You'd rather have great years every year, but the main thing is the team's doing well.''

Konerko, who broke in with the Dodgers at the end of the 1997 season, entered this year as a .281 career hitter and 276 homers - 269 of them with the White Sox, whom he joined in 1999.

Nick Swisher, who's made 52 starts in the outfield and another 13 at first base this season, will stay at first during Konerko's absence. Swisher said he had a similar injury while playing college baseball.

``You can't do anything. Because every time you try to test it again you'll just reinjure it and start from ground zero again,'' Swisher said.

``I want him to get healthy and I want him to get back and I know he wants to be on that field, but I told him I'll keep first base nice and warm for him.''

The White Sox purchased the contract of outfielder DeWayne Wise from Triple-A Charlotte. Wise played in six games with Chicago in May, going 0-for-5 before he was designated for assignment. He got the start Tuesday night in center field against the Pirates.

The White Sox also sent right-hander Esteban Loaiza on an injury rehabilitation assignment to Charlotte. He was placed on the disabled list on June 13 with right shoulder inflammation.

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BEHIND THE LINES

Odds are changing on Rays and Mets


Tampa Bay becomes one of the favorites to win the AL, while New York is dropping in the NL.

The Major League Baseball season is weeks away from the All-Star break, but pennant odds for the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays have already drastically changed.

After a subpar start that cost manager Willie Randolph his job, New York has become a shaky bet despite being the preseason favorite to win this year's National League championship.

On the other end of the spectrum is Tampa Bay, which began the season as a longshot for the American League title, but after a strong start, the Rays are now listed as a major contender by oddsmakers.

The explanation for the quick Las Vegas turnarounds? Unrealistic expectations.

For the Mets, once they picked up standout pitcher Johan Santana during the off-season, they were immediately installed as a heavy favorite for the NL pennant. Just look back to February when New York was listed at +175 at Betonline.com, the best odds of any team to represent the NL in the World Series.

The Mets were even made a strong favorite to win this season's World Series with 5.5-1 odds at Bodoglife.com. Only the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox had better numbers at 3.5-1.

But by the time the Mets replaced Randolph with interim Manager Jerry Manuel on Tuesday, their odds had already dropped to 6-1 to win the NL pennant, behind Chicago (9-4), Arizona (4-1) and Philadelphia (9-2).

Before the season, the Rays were listed at 75-1 to win the AL pennant at VegasInsider.com.

With Tampa Bay currently in second place in the AL East behind the Red Sox, oddsmakers have responded.

At VegasInsider.com, Tampa Bay is now listed with 10-1 odds to win the AL pennant. Boston is still the favorite at 7-4, followed by the Angels at 11-4, New York Yankees at 9-2, Chicago at 6-1 and Cleveland at 8-1.

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Baseball Today

Oakland at Arizona (9:40 p.m. EDT). Dan Haren (6-4, 3.41 ERA) pitches for the NL West-leading Diamondbacks against the team that traded him last offseason. Joe Blanton is on the mound for the Athletics.

STARS

- Mark Ellis, Athletics, hit two of Oakland's six home runs and drove in four runs in a 15-1 victory over Arizona.

- Jason Giambi, Yankees, homered twice in an 8-0 victory over San Diego.

- Justin Morneau, Twins, hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning of a 2-1 victory over Washington.

- Mike Aviles, Royals, homered to snap an eighth-inning tie and lift Kansas City to a 2-1 victory at St. Louis.

- Cliff Floyd and Evan Longoria, Rays, hit solo home runs in Tampa Bay's 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

- Greg Reynolds, Rockies, pitched six strong innings and led Colorado's season-high 17-hit attack by going 2-for-3 with a run scored in a 10-2 victory over Cleveland.

CHIPPER WATCH

Chipper Jones went 0-for-2 with two walks, lowering his average three points to .400 in Atlanta's 7-5 loss at Texas on Tuesday night. Despite going 2-for-4 in his previous game, Jones has just four hits in his past 21 at-bats.

SEEING A FAMILIAR PLACE

Miguel Tejada went 0-for-3 with a walk in Houston's 6-5 loss to the Orioles in his first game at Camden Yards since being traded to the Astros in December. After signing a $72 million, six-year contract with the Orioles before the 2004 season, Tejada never batted lower than .296 and hit 102 home runs and averaged 107 RBIs during his four-year run in Baltimore. ... Braves first baseman Mark Teixeira went 0-for-2 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI in a 7-5 loss to the Rangers. It was his first game in Arlington, Texas - a place he spent five years before a trade-deadline deal last year sent him to Atlanta.

RARE FEAT

Seattle's Felix Hernandez struck out the side on nine pitches in the fourth inning of a 5-4 win over the Marlins on Tuesday night, becoming the 13th pitcher in American League history to accomplish the feat.

SHUTOUTS

Andy Pettitte gave up five hits and struck out a season-high nine in seven innings to help the Yankees to an 8-0 win over San Diego on Tuesday night. ... Boston's Jon Lester struck out five over seven innings in a 3-0 victory over Philadelphia. ... Manny Parra allowed four hits in seven innings of Milwaukee's 7-0 victory over Toronto.

STRONG STARTS


Justin Duchscherer limited Arizona to one run and five hits in eight innings of Oakland's 15-1 victory over Arizona on Tuesday night. ... The Dodgers' Chad Billingsley took a shutout into the seventh inning of a 3-1 victory at Cincinnati. He allowed one run and five hits and struck out nine in 6 1-3 innings. ... Livan Hernandez, on pace to become the first pitcher since Atlanta's Phil Niekro in 1979 to allow more than 300 hits in a season, limited Washington to one run and five hits in seven innings of the Twins' 2-1 victory. ... Kyle Davies allowed one run and five hits with four strikeouts in seven innings to lead Kansas City to a 2-1 victory at St. Louis. ... The Angels' John Lackey gave up one run and six hits with seven strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings of a 6-1 victory over the New York Mets.

CELEBRATING 600

The Cincinnati Reds commemorated Ken Griffey Jr.'s 600th homer Tuesday night before the opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Griffey was on the field with his family while the team showed highlights of his career on the video board. He turned his cap backward and addressed the crowd briefly. The 38-year-old outfielder became the sixth to reach the mark last week in Florida. He was out of the starting lineup because of illness, but struck out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning.

SIDELINED

White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko went on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his career Tuesday after straining his left side during pregame batting drills over the weekend. Konerko, who hurt himself Sunday, has struggled this season and was batting .215 with eight homers and 30 RBIs. Nick Swisher is expected to play first base during Konerko's absence. ... The Dodgers put right-hander Brad Penny on the 15-day disabled list with a sore shoulder that has bothered him for much of the season. He went back to Los Angeles for a medical test Monday that detected tendinitis. ... Red Sox pitcher Bartolo Colon was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday with a stiff lower back, and injured right-hander Curt Schilling was sent back to Boston for an examination with team doctors.

NOT FAST ENOUGH

Houston Astros manager Cecil Cooper and the Minnesota Twins' Ron Gardenhire were fined undisclosed amounts by Major League Baseball on Tuesday for failing to comply with pace of game regulations last weekend. With games seeming to run longer each year, teams were asked last month to help enforce speed-up rules already on the books. Cooper and Gardenhire were the first two managers sanctioned under the new push.

SURGERY

Indians infielder Josh Barfield underwent surgery to repair an injured ligament on the left middle finger on Tuesday and the team said he will be out six to eight weeks.

STICKING AROUND FOR A WHILE

Jerry Manuel received assurances from general manager Omar Minaya that he will be the Mets' interim manager for at least the rest of the season. Manuel took over for Willie Randolph who was fired late Monday night after the Mets' 9-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels. Manuel, who was Randolph's bench coach, previously managed the Chicago White Sox for six seasons and was the AL manager of the year in 2000. Manuel lost his first game with the Mets, 6-1 to the Angels on Tuesday night.

SNAPPED

Chad Billingsley took a shutout into the seventh inning, and the Dodgers held on for a 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds that ended Los Angeles' five-game losing streak. ... Seattle's 5-4 win over Florida snapped the Mariners' eight-game home losing streak.

STREAKS

Milwaukee's 7-0 win over Toronto on Tuesday night was its eighth straight at home against the Blue Jays - and the first since 1997, the last year the Brewers were in the American League. ... Marcus Thames homered in Detroit's 5-1 victory at San Francisco, tying the Giants' franchise record for consecutive games with home runs. In Thames' past 30 at-bats, he eight hits - all homers. The last streak longer was Mark McGwire in 2001 when he had 11 straight hits for homers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Houston's 6-5 loss at Baltimore was its sixth straight defeat.

SPEAKING

``Very, very special. ... You never imagine when you are thrown in with names (like) McCovey and Ted Williams. That's pretty neat. It really is. ... I remember my dad talking about Ted Williams, what a great hitter he was and just the great things he did. ... It's something hard to imagine being in a class or in a same group with those men.'' - White Sox DH Jim Thome, after hitting his 521st home run - tying him with Willie McCovey and Ted Williams for 16th place on the career list - in a 16-5 victory over Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.

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