Sunday, August 15, 2004
Ticket sales are brisk and television ratings are on the rise.
Around the majors: Look who's contending
Young, rebuilt Indians unlikely challengers in AL Central
Expected to contend in the American League Central next season, at the earliest, the Indians instead went into a weekend series against the Twins second in the division behind Minnesota and fourth in the AL wild-card standings.
"We never thought that we'd be in this spot," infielder Ronnie Belliard told The Plain Dealer. "I think we're just playing free. We have nothing to lose."
The three-game series against the Twins, which concludes today at Jacobs Field, signals the beginning of a significant stretch of games. Cleveland's next 19 games are against the Twins, Yankees, Angels, Rangers and White Sox.
"It gets deeper every day," manager Eric Wedge said. "We're in this thing."
The Indians had won 19 of 29 second-half games entering Friday and stabilized what was their most glaring weakness.
Indians relievers blew 22 saves before the All-Star break. Bob Wickman inherited the closer's role July 20 and converted six of his first seven save opportunities.
"If we had Bob all year," outfielder Matt Lawton said, "we'd be 10 games up right now."
VARYING OPINIONS: When the Blue Jays hired him as their manager in June 2002, critics scrutinized Carlos Tosca's lack of professional playing experience.
His ability to get the most from his players, however, was a well-known attribute Tosca honed during 1,759 games as a minor-league manager.
Yet it was a lack of motivation Blue Jays officials cited when they fired Tosca last week.
"We have six or seven weeks left in the season," Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi said, "and the team showed signs of not playing hard."
Tosca, who compiled a 188-191 record as the Blue Jays' manager, took exception.
"I would think that the majority of the team, when a team looks lethargic, it's probably because a lot of pitches are being thrown during the course of that game and the tempo of the game is going to be slow," he said. "The one thing I've always prided myself in is that the players gave a good effort."
DREAMS TO REALITY: As children, the brothers often mimicked the pitching stances of Don Gullett and Jack Billingham.
"But I don't think we ever emulated standing on the mound needing one out to get your 300th (win)," said Brewers pitching coach Mike Maddux, who compiled a 39-37 record as a pitcher from 1986-2000. "That's something that was so far-fetched."
Younger brother Greg became the 22nd pitcher in major-league history to win 300 games, doing so with the Cubs on Aug. 7.
"What can you say? It's an awesome accomplishment," Mike Maddux said. "Words can't really describe it."
NO CELEBRATION: Wednesday marked the 10th anniversary of the 1994 strike and the end of Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon's major-league playing career.
The politics behind the work stoppage contributed to his early departure.
"I was horse (manure) that year," McClendon said. "But in all honesty, I didn't have the focus. I didn't want to play the game anymore."
THE LAST WORDS: The Marlins are trying anything to gain a playoff return.
Resting on manager Jack McKeon's desk following a 1-0 loss against the Cardinals on Wednesday was a bottle of holy water from a Catholic church in Miami.
"I sprinkle the bats once in awhile," McKeon said. "I'll have to get it blessed again. Maybe a double blessing.
"Maybe what I need now is some of Schottzie's dog hair."
Information from other news organizations and submitted by other baseball writers was used in this report.
Barry by the numbers
Players with most consecutive 30-home run seasons:
13: Barry Bonds (1992-2004)
12: Jimmie Foxx (1929-40)
9: Mike Schmidt (1979-87)
9: Eddie Mathews (1953-61)
9: Lou Gehrig (1929-37)
8: Sammy Sosa (1995-2002)
8: Albert Belle (1992-99)
8: Mickey Mantle (1955-62)
8: Babe Ruth (1926-33)
Bonds recently reached base for the 5,000th time in his career, joining six others who have accomplished the feat:
5,929: Pete Rose
5,534: Ty Cobb
5,343: Rickey Henderson
5,304: Carl Yastrzemski
5,284: Stan Musial
5,205: Hank Aaron
5,001: Barry Bonds
Early returns show the White Sox got the better of their deadline arms swap with the Yankees, Esteban Loaiza for Jose Contreras.
Contreras' starts for the White Sox:
Aug. 3 at Kansas City: 6 innings, 5 hits, 2 earned runs.
Aug. 8, vs. Cleveland: 8 innings, 5 hits, 1 earned run.
Aug. 13, at Boston: 6 innings, 4 hits, 4 earned runs.
Loaiza's starts for the Yankees:
Aug. 4 vs. Oakland: 6 innings, 6 hits, 5 earned runs.
Aug. 9 vs. Toronto: 6 innings, 10 hits, 4 earned runs.
ODDS AND ENDS
Indians third baseman Aaron Boone was scheduled to start a rehabilitation assignment last week but experienced swelling in his surgically repaired left knee. The setback probably will push back Boone's rehab two weeks.
Marlins catcher Paul Lo Duca, who was acquired from the Dodgers on July 30, said last week that owner Jeffrey Loria told him the Marlins want to sign him at least through next season. Lo Duca is arbitration-eligible after this season.
The Expos became the first team to face Cy Young Award winners Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson in consecutive games (Aug. 8 and 10). They beat both.
Cubs starter Mark Prior, who has failed to win back-to-back starts this season, is still searching for his first win at Wrigley Field this season.
MLB power rankings
|1. St. Louis Cardinals||All that offense, and Larry Walker, too.|
|2. New York Yankees||Trying a six-man rotation.|
|3. Los Angeles Dodgers||Will bullpen be same without Mota?|
|4. Atlanta Braves||Have they lost a game since, like, May?|
|5. Boston Red Sox||Best 10-games-back team in majors.|
|6. Oakland Athletics||Mulder, Hudson keys to stretch run.|
|7. San Diego Padres||Offense looked pretty good Friday.|
|8. Chicago Cubs||Still baseball's sleeping giants.|
|9. Minnesota Twins||Santana may be best pitcher in AL.|
|10. Texas Rangers||Kenny Rogers chasing 20 wins.|
|11. San Francisco Giants||Bonds, Schmidt carrying club.|
|12. Anaheim Angels||Colon takes another step back.|
|13. Cleveland Indians||Broussard has Tribe closing on Twins.|
|14. Philadelphia Phillies||Added Lidle, but lost Burrell.|
|15. Chicago White Sox||Twins, Tribe haven't heard last of them.|
|16. Florida Marlins||Can McKeon pull off another miracle?|
|17. Houston Astros||Underachievers can't get over hump.|
|18. Baltimore Orioles||Quietly making a charge.|
|19. New York Mets||Losing ground quickly.|
|20. Cincinnati Reds||Ladies and gentlemen, Darren Bragg!|
|21. Tampa Bay D-Rays||Fell out of third place in AL East.|
|22. Milwaukee Brewers||Ben Sheets may be best pitcher in NL.|
|23. Pittsburgh Pirates||Jason Bay emerging as a top young OF.|
|24. Detroit Tigers||Fallen off, but haven't collapsed.|
|25. Colorado Rockies||Suddenly a strong road team.|
|26. Toronto Blue Jays||Tosca got the ax.|
|27. Kansas City Royals||Brian Anderson finally pitching well.|
|28. Seattle Mariners||End of an era: Edgar retiring.|
|29. Montreal Expos||Ten years since franchise doomed.|
|30. Arizona D'backs||No humidity, we hear.|
Phelps debut good as gold
Daugherty: Phelps takes gold, celebrates, plans for more
Daugherty: Nothing ordinary about her
Minus Americans, baseball loses luster
Olympics Special Section
BENGALS / NFL
Monday's game day for Bengals
Like father, like son
Quicker releases, shorter dropbacks counter sackers
Tomlinson signs richest RB deal
Saturday games roundup: Brown shines for post-George Titans
REDS / BASEBALL
Fireworks again light up sky
Photos of Saturday's game
Pitching staff undergoes a reshuffling
Reds insider: Will the budget budge?
Lopez learns from trips between Triple-A, Reds
Around the majors: Look who's contending
Add an aching Thome to Phillies' woes
NL: Wood a force in Cubs' victory
AL: Streaking Indians game out of first
Americans drawn to tennis event
Women's tournament events organized under tier system
History: Women's tennis in Cincinnati
Tournament gives local players a tougher level of competition
Kanaan, Rice bring rivalry to Speedway
Chesson overtakes first-timer Gregg
Johnson's goal is for clean start
Bourdais breaks track record, captures pole
USC talks a cool game
Sanders, Theismann, Green enshrined in college hall
GOLF - PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
Singh finally shakes Leonard for PGA lead
Mickelson shoots 5-under 67 to become major threat again
PAGE TWO - GOOD SPORTS
He's securing the future for youth baseball
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