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Jose Bautista: 53 Home Runs Since Sept. 5, 2009

Jose Bautista has to be the comeback player of the year in the AL after hitting 53 home runs since Sept.5, 2009 and leading the majors in home runs with 43 in 2010 after never having hit more than 16 in any previous season and is one of two players in majors with over 100 runs batted in.

If anyone had predicted in spring training that Jose Bautista would be leading the major leagues in home runs on September 1 with 43 they would have been fitted with a straitjacket on the spot.

However, Bautista has done exactly that.

He has hit 27 more home runs than his previous personal high of 16 he hit for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006. His 103 runs batted in this season are 40 more than his personal high of 63 for the Pirates in 2007.

Bautista hit a home run every 25.8 at bats in 2009 but has hit one every 10.7 at bats in 2010. He had 29 extra base hits all last season but has 75 in 2010 with about 30 games left in the 2010 season.

Who would have thought that Bautista would have eight more home runs than Albert Pujols, 19 more than Ryan Howard and 22 more than Alex Rodriguez this season?

Who would have predicted that he would be one of two major league players with over 100 runs batted in going into the last full month of the season?

His slugging percentage has increased by 215 points after a .408 slugging percentage in 2009 to a .623 slugging percentage in 2010. He has slugged over .700 in three different months in 2010.

On this date a year ago Bautista had 40 less home runs with three home runs at the end of August in 2009.

The only major leaguers with a higher slugging percentage this season are Miguel Cabrera slugging at a .643 clip and Josh Hamilton slugging .637.

Since the All Star break Bautista hit .323, slugged .761 and has an OBP of .422 so he has shown no signs of slowing down. He has hit 53 home runs since September 5 of 2009.

Someone has hit 50 home runs only 41 times in the history of major league baseball and Bautista needs only seven more to hit 50 for the 42nd time.

If he does hit 50, will Bautista be a one season wonder like Hack Wilson who hit 56 in 1930 but only hit 13 in 1931 and never hit more than 31 in a season before or after his 56 home run season?

Or Brady Anderson who hit 50 in 1996 but hit only 18 in 1997 and never hit more than 24 in any other season? Anderson only hit more than 20 home runs three times in his fifteen year career.

Luis Gonzalez is another example of a one season wonder when he hit the eleventh most home runs ever in a season with 57 in 2001. He still finished 16 home runs behind the major league leader Barry Bonds who hit 73 that season.

He never hit more than 31 home runs in any other season of his 19 year career.

It will be interesting to watch Bautista in 2011 and see if he comes close to this year’s numbers.

One thing for certain is that Bautista should receive a hefty raise from whatever team he plays for in 2011. He is only earning $2.4 million this season.

His teammate Vernon Wells is earning $15.6 million this season but is 20 home runs and 34 RBI behind Bautista currently.

In these days of steroids it does seem suspicious that a player like Bautista who had only three home runs a year ago has hit 53 home runs since then but for now he deserves credit for having a great season.



Around the Diamond

Manny Ramirez makes his debut for the Chicago White Sox against Carlos Carrasco 0-4, 8.87 ERA of the Indians who will be making his 2010 debut this afternoon against the White Sox.

Josh Hamilton who is hitting .361 to lead the majors in batting is hitting .417 in his last ten games.

Vladimir Guerrero needs one RBI to become the third major leaguer this season to reach the century mark and the tenth time for him to accomplish the feat.

Barry Zito was 6-2 at the end of May but has a 2-8 record since then. He hasn’t won since July 16 and has recorded only two wins since May 16.

Ichiro Suzuki needs 31 hits in 30 games to post his tenth consecutive 200 hit season.

Fifteen of the major league teams are at least 10 games out of first place in their division which is not a good sign for attendance in those cities.

The Orioles and Pirates have already been eliminated from the 2010 pennant race.

The Yankees, Orioles and Braves have the longest current winning streaks with streaks of four wins.

The Astros have the best record in the last ten games with an 8-2 record and have moved to only one game behind the third place Brewers in the NL Central.

The Rays are only a game behind the Yankees in the AL East but are seven games ahead of the Red Sox in the AL wild card race so are likely to be in the playoffs this year one way or the other.

The Cardinals are seven games behind the Reds but are only four games behind the Phillies in the NL wild card race but are still trailing the Giants who are a game-and-a-half behind the Phillies.

Jered Weaver and Felix Hernandez share the major league strikeout lead with both hurlers having posted 200 strikeouts exactly.

Clay Buchholz with a 2.21 ERA is the AL ERA leader while Tim Hudson has posted a 2.24 ERA to lead the NL.

Ubaldo Jimenez looked like a lock for 25 wins earlier this season but is 3-4 in his last ten starts. He was 2-1 with 6.04 ERA in July but actually pitched better in August but was 1-3 for the month with a 2.83 ERA. His last six starts have been quality starts.

Twelve AL players are hitting .300 currently, but Kevin Youkilis who is out for the season will not have enough at bats to qualify by the end of the season.

Nine NL players are hitting .300 this season with the Cubs and Cardinals being the only teams to have two players hitting .300 leaving five players among the other 14 NL teams to be hitting .300.

Chris Young needs eight home runs and four stolen bases to join the 30-30 club.

Carlos Gonzalez needs one home run and ten stolen bases to join the elite club. No other player at this time has a realistic chance of joining the club.

Most major league starters will have six or seven starts before the end of the season. With that in mind it looks like C.C. Sabathia, with 18 wins, Ubaldo Jimenez and Adam Wainwright, with 17 wins each, and Roy Halladay and Phillip Hughes, with 16 wins each, have the best chance of winning 20 games in 2010.

Only Cliff Lee, Brandon Webb who both won 22 games in 2008 and Josh Beckett who won 20 in 2007 have won 20 games since 2005.





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Baseball History: Bobby Thomson Dies at 86

Bobby Thomson hit one of the most if not the most dramatic home runs in baseball history on October 3rd, 1951, when he hit a home run that turned a 4-2 defeat into a thrilling 5-4 come from behind win for the New York Giants over the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The hero of the 1951 NL playoffs died Monday at the age of 86 at his home in Savannah, Georgia. The mere mention of his name brings back memories of that day in 1951 when Thomson hit the “Shot heard around the world”.

The Dodgers had took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning and Bobby Thomson tied the score at 1-1  in the bottom of the seventh when he hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field, scoring Monte Irvin.

However, the Dodgers came back with three runs in the top of the eighth to give them a 4-1 lead. The Giants were unable to score in the bottom of the frame and Dodgers went down in order in the top of the ninth.

Alvin Dark and Don Mueller singled to start the bottom of the ninth for the Giants. Monte Irvin made the first out when he popped up to first base. Then, Whitey Lockman hit a double to left field scoring Dark to make it a 4-2 game.

Then Don Newcombe was relieved by Ralph Branca who had given up a home run to Thomson earlier in the playoff series and was facing Thomson with runners on second and third and with one out.

Thompson had an 0-1 count when he hit a line drive home run over the left field wall giving the Giants a 5-4 walkoff win culminating the 1951 season when the Giants were 13 games behind the Dodgers on August 11 with a 59-51 record. The Giants would play 29-8 baseball the rest of the season and won 11 of their last 13 games to take the NL championship.

The N.Y. Times obituary says the Giants were 13.5 games behind the Dodgers, but shows that they were never more than 13 games behind in 1951.

Thomson was 3-4 at the plate and drove in four of the five Giant runs, so he not only won the game with his three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth, but had put them in position to win by tying the game in the seventh.





Ralph Branca shown lying face down after giving up the dramatic home run to Bobby Thomson that gave the Giants a 5-4 victory that sent them to the World Series.

While Thomson and the Giants were celebrating the dramatic home run—Branca, the reliever who gave up the home run—was devastated and took the loss very hard.

This paragraph from an article about Branca written after the death of Thomson tells what a priest friend told Branca that day—

“I remember the parking lot,” Branca said. “I remember going out to the parking lot. Ann was in the car with a friend of ours, Father Paul Rowley from Fordham. And I said to Father Rowley, ‘Why me? Why did this have to happen to me?’ And Father Rowley said, ‘God gave you this cross to bear because you’re strong enough to bear it.’”




Thomson and Branca, who is now 84, were good friends since that day in October.

Only in America could a two year old Scottish boy move to America with his immigrant parents and become one of the biggest heroes in American baseball history for one day in October of 1951.

Thomson was not a one season wonder, as he hit hit 264 major league home runs and drove in 1,026 runs in his 15 year major league career. He drove in over a 100 runs for the Giants in four seasons.

He was traded by the Giants to the Braves on February 1, 1954, but would break his ankle, allowing a young outfielder named Hank Aaron win a place in the starting lineup. When Thomson returned to the lineup, he was playing third base because Aaron was doing so well.

Thomson would never be considered for the Baseball Hall of Fame, but for one day in October of 1951 he was a Hall of Famer to Giant fans everywhere.


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MLB Attendance Down 701,000

For the first time this season since I have been tracking the MLB attendance at, the attendance has declined over 700,000. Not surprisingly, we haven’t heard any reports from baseball commissioner Bud Selig about how well the game of baseball is doing.

Only 12 teams have shown an increase in attendance during the 2010 baseball season. The numbers should continue to drop as teams drop further out of the races, school starts again, and college and pro football start in about a month.

Attendance would have fallen more if not for the new Target Field in Minnesota showing an increase of over 561,000 more fans than in 2009 for the Minnesota. The Colorado Rockies, with an increase of over 163,000, and the San Francisco Giants, with over 108,000 more fans this season, are the only three teams with an increase of over 100,000 more fans than in 2010.

Seven teams have drawn over 100,000 less fans in 2010 than in 2009 with the New York Mets topping the list with a loss of over 341,000 fans. The Toronto Blue Jays, with a loss of over 273,000 fans, the Indians, drawing over 271,000, and even the Milwaukee Brewers, who Selig used to own, have drawn over 217,000 fewer fans.

Twelve teams are drawing 1,000 fewer fans per game than in 2009 with the New York Mets losing over 6,200 fans per game while Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians losing over 4,000 fans per game while the Milwaukee Brewers and Baltimore Orioles are drawing over 3,000 less fans per game.

The Yankees are averaging over 46,000 fans per game while the Cleveland Indians are the worst drawing team with about an average of 17,000 fans per game.

The Florida Marlins could move to the positive side in attendance since they have lost only 38 fans per game and are only a minus 2,249 for the season.

Over 700,000 fewer fans represents a huge loss for the major league baseball. Those 700,000 fans, assuming they would have spent $20 at each game, means a loss of $14 million for baseball.

Baseball is averaging 408 fewer fans per game which, if using the $20 per fan benchmark, represents a loss at each game of $8,160, which multiplied 81 times for each home game comes to a loss of $660,960 for the season.

With 11 major league teams at least 10 games behind the division leaders and three teams at least nine games behind the division leaders, that could be 13 teams out of the division races very soon.

On a more positive note five division races are showing a separation of two-and-half games or less between the first and second place teams which should boost attendance. The AL West is the only race not hotly contested but not by no means over with the Angels seven-and-half behind the Rangers.

The Tampa Bay Rays have lost over 98,000 fans despite being the thick of the AL East race.

These are the attendance gain or loss numbers for all the division leaders:

Yankees: +38,839

Twins: +561,382

Rangers: +96,386

Braves: +43,264

Cardinals: -14,617

Padres: 88,012

The totals for all the last place teams in each division:

Orioles: -176,399

Royals: -149,108

Mariners: -68,584

Nationals: + 63,477 ( most of increase could be attributed to Stephen Strasburg pitching in home games)

Pirates: +71,064 (this is a surprise considering the Pirates have lost seven more games than at this point last season)

Diamondbacks: -27,879

In summation, these numbers mean that general managers will have to be even more careful to not sign free agents for exorbitant sums.

They will be careful to not take a risk on injury prone players like Ben Sheets who earned $10 million from the Athletics despite winning only four games in 20 starts and is now out for the season and is not likely to pitch at all in 2011. They also paid Coco Crisp $5 million to play in only 41 games so far and he will fall short of playing in 100 games.

Another example is Kevin Millwood earning $12 million this season with two wins in 23 starts. The Mariners have paid out big bucks to players like Milton Bradley (hitting .205 for $11 million in 2010) and Chone Figgins, who is hitting .253 for $8.5 million but is hitting .310 since the All-Star break.

The Mets are paying Carlos Beltran over $19 million and he only recently played in his first game of the season. Jason Bay is earning $8 million to hit six home runs.

Then there is the case of Carlos Zambrano, who has either pitched badly or been suspended this season for $18.8 million, despite winning only three games.

Kosuke Fukudome is earning $14 million in 2010 and hit .189 in June and .162 in July, but is hitting .421 in August.

Baseball is going to have to stop the insanity of these long-term contracts because the fanbase isn’t there to support such extravagant spending.

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J.P. Arenciba: Toronto Blue Jays Prospect Impressive in MLB Debut


J.P. Arencibia may have surprised most baseball fans on Saturday by hitting his first Major League pitch over the fence and then homering again in the sixth inning for the Toronto Blue Jays. However, the Blue Jays organization has been expecting this kind of power from Arencibia due to his power production in the minors this season.

The 24-year-old Arencibia has hit 31 home runs and 79 RBI so far in the minor leagues this season and the two home runs Saturday gave him 33 for the season, leaving him one behind Jose Bautista, who leads all of professional baseball with 34 home runs.

He hit .313 for Las Vegas in the Pacific Coast League while having an OBP of .367, slugging .658, and posting an OPS of 1.025 which leads all minor leaguers with at least 300 at bats.

Arencibia was called up after John Buck, who’s caught this season for the Blue Jays, was placed on the DL. However, Buck is scheduled to be back on August 20. If Arencibia continues to hit well, Buck may finish the season as the backup for Arencibia.


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Billy Loes Dies at 80

Billy Loes, former Brooklyn Dodgers hurler who appeared in three World Series (1952, 1953, and 1955), has died at the age of 80.

Loes, who compiled a 80-63 record in 11 seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, and San Francisco Giants, died in a hospice in Tucson, Arizona. He had been battling diabetes for several years.

He made headlines when he said the Yankees would win the 1952 World Series in six games. He was one game off as the Yankees won in seven games, but it was unusual for a player to predict that the other team would win the World Series.

Loes missed a chance to be the winning pitcher in what could have been a World Series clinching win for the Dodgers in the sixth game, but allowed the Yankees to take the win.

Vic Raschi gave up a single when a ball caromed off the leg of Loes. After the game, Loes said he had lost the ground ball in the sun. The Yankees went on to win the World Series in the next game.

Loes died on July 15, but The New York Times didn’t run the obituary until its July 27, 2010 edition.

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Pete Rose Jr. Now Hitting Coach

2010 is the first year since 1959 that Pete Rose or Pete Rose Jr. hasn’t either played or managed in a baseball game.

That is impressive that a father and son have worn a professional baseball uniform for 50 years. Pete Rose Sr. may have played the game better, but they both had a burning desire to play baseball.

Pete Rose Jr. is not playing organized baseball for the first time since 1989. He made his only appearance in the major leagues for the Cincinnati Reds in 1997, playing in 11 games and making 16 plate appearances while hitting .143.

He made two errors in his 11 chances with the Reds, so he did nothing to impress the Reds offensively or defensively.

Rose Jr. doggedly pursued his dream of returning to the majors until he was released by the York Revolution of the independent Atlantic League last fall.

When typing his name into the search box for his photo, most of the photos were of his dad, including some with his dad’s girlfriend, but very few of himself. Then I did a search for him being in the news, and an article about his dad watching Stephen Strasburg pitch was at top of the search list, which of course included a photo of Rose and his girlfriend again.

So he continues to live in the shadow of his dad and even spent time in prison in 2006 like his dad, serving a month for distributing performance enhancers to his minor league teammates. He claimed he distributed the performance enhancers so his teammates could relax after games.

It is doubtful that any baseball player has spent more time in the minor leagues than Rose. In the minors, he spent 21 years with six different organizations and wore 24 different uniforms. He also spent two winters playing in Nicaragua.

He spent part of the 2003 season playing for Cordoba of the Mexican League and only played independent baseball the last six years of his career.

After 21 minor league seasons, he had hit 158 home runs and driven in 994 runs while hitting .271. He mostly played third base and first base during his career but only played shortstop once.

He was a 19-year-old kid who was drafted 295th by the Baltimore Orioles in the 1988 amateur draft. He was 19 when he made his professional baseball debut with the Erie Orioles in 1989 and was 39 when he played his last game in 2009 for the York Revolution.

Any other player without the last name of Rose may have been out of baseball in five or six years, but Rose loved the game of baseball enough to play it till he was 39. His dad instilled the love of baseball in him, and the older he got the more he looked like his dad and wasn’t the Petey Rose that was there for his dad’s record-breaking 4,192nd hit.

That day meant more to Pete Rose Jr. than just the record. It was the first time he had seen his dad, who had been a tough dad, cry and his dad told his son he loved him. All the baseball records in the world couldn’t have meant more to Pete Rose Jr.

If the coaching of Pete Rose Jr. is counted, the father and son have a combined 51 years in baseball, and with the love of the game by Pete Rose Jr., he may be in the game another 25 years, which would make 76 years in baseball for the Roses.

His baseball career may not have ended the way he wanted, but he can say he followed his dream to the end, and although the final destination wasn’t the major leagues, he did it his way.

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Book Review of ‘Ty Cobb: My 20 Years in Baseball’

85 years ago in 1925 Ty Cobb wrote a series of articles for the New York Evening Journal recapping his 20 years in baseball.

I just read those same memoirs in book form published by Dover Press in 2009. Before reading this book I had a mindset that Cobb was a great baseball player but a dirty baseball player who would go to any length to win a baseball game regardless of any injuries he may have to impose on his opponents.

The book is written in his own words telling how he played in an adult baseball league at the age of 12. It tells of how supportive his father was of his efforts to play baseball at a time when baseball players were looked down on and were not yet the role models they would become later.

Popcorn Crackerjack Incident

He tells of a minor league game when he was munching on a popcorn crackerjack in the outfield during the middle of the game. A ball was hit his way and he said he didn’t want to drop the popcorn ball or the ball coming toward him in the air.

As fate would have it the popcorn crackerjack and the baseball both fell to the ground as he attempted to multi-task by eating the popcorn crackerjack and catch a baseball at the same time.

Needless to say his manager was not too happy about his outfielder dropping the baseball and he had a talk with his  outfielder that was more interested in keeping his popcorn ball than catching the baseball.

George Leidy his manager while Cobb was playing for Augusta in the South Atlantic League taught him a life lesson he would never forget.

He told Cobb that he needed to take baseball seriously because if every player had the attitude of Cobb baseball would die out. He learned a life lesson from his manager that would last the rest of his professional baseball career.

First Major League At Bat

Cobb goes on to tell about his first major league at bat in 1905 against Hall of Famer Jack Chesbro who had posted 41 wins in the 1904 season and no pitcher since then has won more games in a major league season in the last 106 years.

He was only 18 when he faced the 31 year old veteran Chesbro of the Yankees and was shaking when he was at the plate but he conquered his nerves and laced a double that would score two runs.

No More Headfirst Slides

In that same game Cobb learned a lesson from Kid Elberfield the Yankee shortstop. He had always slid headfirst in the minors but when he tried sliding headfirst into second base Elberfield lowered his knee which shoved Cobb’s head into the ground peeling off some skin.

That was the last time he ever slid headfirst into second base. It also taught him how to fight fire with fire as he later slid so hard into Elberfield that he knocked him five feet from the base.

Cobb’s style may not have been popular with the fans of other teams but the players on those teams knew to treat him with respect once he learned how to strike fear into the fielders by sliding with spikes high.

Attacks Heckler in 1912

The story about Cobb attacking the fan in New York on May 15, 1912 has been told many times but this is the first time I have heard it from his perspective.

Cobb had endured the heckling of a fan in New York named Claude Leuker many times in the past but Leuker was particularly abusive on this date using vulgar language with women in the stands. The fan asked Cobb what he was doing on a team with white people which infuriated Cobb.

His teammates told Cobb that if he didn’t attack the heckler he wasn’t much of a man and that they would support him. So Cobb went into the stands and struck the man several times knocking him out.

Later he would find out that the man was a crippled man and American League president Ban Johnson immediately suspended Cobb. This development angered his Tigers teammates who told Johnson in a telegram that if Cobb wasn’t reinstated they would not play in the next game.

Violin Student Pitches For Tigers

Johnson didn’t back off and neither did the players who didn’t play that day. Instead manager Hughie Jennings rounded up a substitute team by getting Allen Travers who wasn’t good enough to make the varsity team for St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia to round up a team.

He found some guys on a street corner and they became Detroit Tigers for that day as Cobbs states in the book.

Athletics Pound Tiger Team Misfits 24-2

Travers who was a violin student took the mound for the Tigers that day and the Athletics pounded the substitute Tigers 24-2. It would be the only game played by the team of misfits and Cobb was reinstated a few days later.

After reading the book I could tell Cobb was repentant for some of his actions on the baseball field and he says he would do some things differently if given the chance. The book may not sway baseball fans to his side but it does give him a chance to defend himself for his actions.

Best Hitter Ever

Cobb was clearly the best hitter in the history of major league baseball hitting .366 but Pete Rose has 67 more hits than Cobb according to Rose hit safely 4,256 times while Cobb garnered 4,189 hits. At one time Cobb had been credited with 4,191 hits.

However, Rose batted 2,619 more times than Cobb which is more than five more 500 at bat seasons than Rose. There is a huge difference in their lifetime batting averages with Cobb hitting .366 while Rose barely hit over .300 with a .303 average with Rose listed 174th among all baseball players.

Eleven Batting Titles

Cobb would win eleven AL batting titles and would have won in 1922 when he hit .401 but George Sisler hit .420 that season. Pete Rose only won three batting championships during his career.

He only hit 117 home runs in his career which was mostly during the deadball era but drove in 1.938 runs which is seventh on the alltime list so he was more of a slugger than given credit for. He led the AL in slugging eight times and in OPS ten times.

Cobb won the Triple Crown in 1909 when his nine home runs led the AL and was voted the 1911 AL MVP. His 897 stolen bases is fourth best with only Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock and Billy Hamilton having more in their lifetime.

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New York Yankees Have Best Team at All-Star Break

It is a misnomer to say that the season is half over at the All-Star break, with the Angels having played 91 games and having only 71 games left when they return after the midsummer classic. That being said, it is time to look at the current division leaders and the teams that are still contending in those divisions.


AL East

The Yankees have the best record in the majors at the break with a 56-32 record and a .636 winning percentage. The Rays, also in the AL East, have the next best record with a 54-34 mark and a .614 winning percentage.

Both teams lead the majors in run differential with the Yankees scoring 117 more runs than their opponents, while the Rays are scoring 105 more. On the other hand, the Pirates are the worst team, giving up 194 runs more than they have scored in 2010.

AL Central

The White Sox moved into first place yesterday with a half game lead over the Tigers in the AL Central. On June 8, the White Sox were 24-33 and nine games under .500, but have played 25-5 baseball since then. They will enter the second half with an eight-game winning streak, and a 9-1 record in their last 10 games.

Falling back into third place, the Twins have played 6-13 baseball since June 20. They need to address their starting pitching problems before the trading deadline, with Carl Pavano and Kevin Slowey having the only winning records among their starters.

Joe Mauer, who led the majors in batting with a .365 average in 2009, is hitting .293 this season, while hitting .229 in July. Last season, he hit a home run every 18.7 at bats, but this season, he is homering every 72.5 at bats.

AL West

The financially troubled Rangers have not let those problems affect their play on the field, with the largest margin in the majors over the second place Angels, who were only a half game behind the Rangers on June 12, but are now four and a half games behind Texas.

With the addition of Cliff Lee last week, the Rangers should be even stronger after the break. No team in the AL West has a current winning record in their last 10 games. The Athletics showed that they can contend in the AL West, by outscoring the Angels 20-3 in their last two games.

NL East

It was almost a foregone conclusion that the Phillies would be leading the NL East at the break, but instead, they are in third place and four and a half games behind the Braves. The Mets are four back and a half game ahead of the Phillies, and with the return of Carlos Beltran after the break, their offense should be even better.

NL Central

On this date a year ago, the Reds were in fifth place in the NL Central and trailing the first place Cardinals by five games. A year later, the Reds are holding a slim one-game lead over the Cardinals, but have lost their last four games. The Cardinals are not playing much better as they and the third place Brewers, like the Reds, are all 4-6 in their last 10 games.

No NL Central team has a winning record in their last 10 games.

NL West

The Padres lead the Dodgers and Rockies, who are tied for second place in the NL West. Both teams are trailing the Padres by two games. The Padres lead the majors in team ERA with a 3.21 mark, and are also holding opponents to the lowest batting average at .237.

AL Wild Card Standings

The Rays are currently leading the Red Sox by three games, the Tigers by five games, and the Twins by eight games in the AL wild card standings.

NL Wild Card Standings

There is a tie for the lead in the NL wild card standings with the Dodgers and Rockies in first, the Mets one game out, the Phillies a game and a half behind, and the Giants and Cardinals two games behind.





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Healthy Josh Hamilton Back on Track

Josh Hamilton only played in 89 games last season due to injuries and hit hit 10 home runs while driving in 54 runs and hitting .268 in 336 at bats.


So far, 2010 has been a different story as Hamilton has hit 22 home runs, which is one behind the major league leader Jose Bautista with 23. He has also driven in 64 runs and is leading the majors with a .349 batting average.

He is hitting .395 in his last 10 games and since May 30 has been hitless twice, on June 3 and July 1, hitting safely in 33 of 35 games. June was his best month this season when he hit nine home runs and drove in 31 runs while hitting .454. He had an on base percentage of .482 for the month and slugged at a .815 clip.

Hamilton leads the AL in hitting with a .349 average, leads in hits with 117, is third in doubles with 25, and is second in home runs with 22.

He is fourth in runs batted in with 64, leads in total bases with 212, is second in slugging with a .633 mark, and is third in OPS at 1.026. He also leads in extra base hits with 49.

The 29-year-old Hamilton has hit only 10 fewer homers than he hit in his 2008 breakthrough season when he hit 32 and drove in 130 runs. projects Hamilton will have 42 home runs and 123 runs batted in by the end of the season and shows him having 224 hits for the 2010 season.

Around the Diamond

Cliff Lee, who was reportedly close to signing with the New York Yankees, was sent with reliever Mark Lowe to the Texas Rangers while the Seattle Mariners received first baseman Justin Smoak and three minor leaguers in the deal.

Lee, who will be 32 next month, will be pitching for his fourth team in the last two seasons. After being traded to the Phillies last season, Lee posted a 7-4 record during the regular season and a 4-0 record during the postseason.

He didn’t pitch his first game until April 30 for the Mariners in 2010 and posted an 8-3 record with them before being traded to the Rangers yesterday. He has lost only once May 16 and has won seven of his last eight decisions.

His most remarkable stat this season is his 89-to-6 strikeouts to walk ratio with the six walks being issued in 103 innings. Lee leads the AL in complete games with five.

Lee was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos and included in one of the worst trades ever when they traded Lee, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, and Lee Stevens for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew. Phillips didn’t hit well for the Indians but is an integral part of the Cincinnati Reds, who lead the NL Central, but Sizemore and Lee both starred for the Indians.

Stephen Strasburg won his first start since June 13 last night and received some run support from his teammates for a change in the 8-1 win. His two losses this season came in games in which the Nationals failed to score a run.

Jayson Nix hit his sixth home run for the Indians after being selected off waivers from the White Sox.  Nix only hit one home run in 49 at bats for the White Sox but has hit six in only 51 at bats for the Indians.

Jake Fox, who hit only two home runs for the Athletics earlier this season in 98 at bats, has hit three already for the Orioles in only 20 at bats and hit a game winning home run last night in the 10th inning in a come from behind 7-6 win over the Rangers.

Albert Pujols is on track to have his 10th straight season with 30 home runs, 100 RBI, and a .300 batting average. However, his current .305 batting average could be in jeopardy since he is hitting .258 this month.

Adam Wainwright, who missed winning 20 games last season by one win, won his 13th game of the 2010 season last night.

Mark Buehrle who won only three of his first twelve decisions won for the fifth time in his last six decisions as the White Sox defeated the Royals 8-2. A.J. Pierzynski homered twice and he and Andruw Jones were a combined 5-for-7 and drove in six of the eight White Sox runs. Gordon Beckham continues to struggle for the White Sox hitting .176 in July with three hits in 17 at bats.

Mark Teixeira with a .243 batting average isn’t hitting for average but has hit better in July with a .353 average and is slugging .824 for the month.

Ted Lilly who was 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA in June is 0-2 in July with a 12.19 ERA. After giving up two runs in 13 innings to the last place Mariners and Pirates he has allowed the Reds and Dodgers 16 runs in his last 10 innings.

Carlos Silva and Ryan Dempster have a combined 16-9 record while the other four Cubs starters have a combined 13-26 record.

The Yankees, Rays, White Sox, and Rockies are 8-2 in their last 10 games.

The Rays are leading the Red Sox by two games in the AL wild card race while the Rockies and Dodgers are tied for the NL wild card lead with a one game lead over the Mets.

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Chicago White Sox Now Second Place in AL Central

Freddy Garcia has been the most consistent Chicago White Sox starters in 2010 with a 9-3 record and has only lost once since April 15th.  He has won nine of his last 10 decisions and has been a big part of the White Sox turning their season around, helping them to move into second place in AL Central as of last night.

The Chicago White Sox were 24-33 a month ago today on June 8th. On that date, they were nine games under .500, nine and a half games behind the first place Twins in the AL Central, and six games behind the Tigers.

Since that date a month ago, however, the now-second-place Twins have played 11-15 baseball, compared with the White Sox who have played at an amazing 21-5 clip. One of the reasons?

Freddy Garcia.

Freddy Garcia (9-3) has pitched well consistently after losing his first two starts of the season. Garcia had to battle Dan Hudson for the fifth spot in the starting rotation in spring training but manager Ozzie Guillen made the right choice by using Garcia as the fifth starter.

Garcia has had 12 quality starts among his 16 starts this season and has not walked more than two batters in any of his last 14 starts.


Speaking of Batters…

The White Sox were hitting .225, which was the worst batting average in the majors early in the season, but since then have raised their average to .254, which is 23rd in the majors. 

So they went from April 25th to May 22nd without winning more than one game in a row. Then, the White Sox reached their low point of the season on June 8th with their 24-33 record.

But the turning point of the season was when they defeated the Detroit Tigers in the last two games of a three game series, and then defeated the Chicago Cubs in the first two games of that series for a four-game winning streak.

They lost to the Cubs the next day, but then put together an 11 game winning streak, sweeping the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves before losing the third game of a series against the Cubs.

Even facing the first and second place Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels of the AL West has not slowed down the White Sox, who then took two of three from the Rangers.

A win today will mean a four-game sweep over the Angels.

When they return from the All-Star break, the White Sox will hit the road for a four-game series with the Minnesota Twins, and then they’ll play the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics in their next 13 games.


So What is There to Watch For?

From August 3rd to August 19th, the White Sox play the Twins and Tigers 13 times in a 17 game stretch. By the end of play on August 19th, we should have a good indication of how good this White Sox team can be this season.

With Jake Peavy on the 15-day DL and possibly out for the season, it is imperative that the White Sox get some wins out of his spot from either a minor league pitcher or trade for a top notch starter. There is a rumor that Cliff Lee could wind up with the White Sox but with so many teams vying for Lee’s services, including the Twins, the chances of the White Sox actually winding up with him are slim.


Where to Improve

Some of the White Sox hitters who struggled earlier in the season are now starting to hit. Carlos Quentin and Alexei Ramirez are two who have hit well recently. Juan Pierre still has not hit like he has in the past but he has shown some improvement lately.

Paul Konerko and Alex Rios have hit well from the start of the season but Gordon Beckham has struggled from early in the season and can’t seem to get past the .210 mark. Brent Lillibridge hitting .429 and Dayan Viciedo hitting .281 have hit well coming off the bench.

One concern is that three everyday players have an on base percentage under .300. Viciedo has a .281 OBP, A.J. Pierzynski has a .278 mark and Beckham has posted a .272 OBP.

The key to the second half is finding a dependable starter for Peavy’s slot in the starting rotation. Beckham needs to at least get his average back to .250 and start hitting with power so he can move up from the ninth spot in the batting order.

A month ago it looked like the White Sox were not going to be a factor in the AL Central. Now it looks like they will be a contender in the division all season.

It remains to be seen if general manager Kenny Williams will make any moves to improve the team before the trading deadline. There have been rumors that the White Sox might trade for Adam Dunn of the Nationals. The question is, how many prospects are the White Sox willing to give up for Dunn who may turn out to be a three month rental player?

Dunn, who hit three home runs last night, would be a huge upgrade at designated hitter over Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay. Dunn leads the NL in extra base hits with 47 and is only one behind the major league leader Miguel Cabrera.

It is a good sign the White Sox have played this well for an entire month.

And it shows they are capable of being in the AL playoffs in October.

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