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Thursday, September 28


Line of the Day

Rick Reed
Given his chance, Reed quieted the Braves' bats for a day, allowing the Mets to clinch consecutive playoff berths for the first time in their history. Reed allowed four hits and one Atlanta run in his eight innings.

8 41 17

'Hiro of the day
That's right, Kazuhiro Sasaki was Wednesday's 'Hiro. Sasaki tied an MLB rookie record with his 36th save, working out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and getting the final five outs in the Mariners' 6-4 win over Texas.

Goat of the day
The Yankees, collectively, for once again failing to claim the AL East. New York, which has lost 11 of its past 14 games, lost its second straight at Tampa Bay, the worst team in the American League

Injury report
  • Red Sox CF Carl Everett is probably done for the season after hurting a tendon near his left ankle Tuesday night. A Red Sox spokesman said Everett may have an MRI.

  • Expos LF Andy Tracy who left Wednesday's game against the Marlins inning after hyperextending his right elbow, will not play the rest of the season. "They're dropping like flies," manager Felipe Alou said of his team.

  • Mets OF Benny Agbayani hit against soft-toss pitching and intends to take regular batting practice Thursday. He is bothered by a sore hamstring.

  • Arizona's Todd Stottlemyre had successful surgery Tuesday on his right elbow and won't be able for throw for at least eight weeks.

    Stat of the day
    It's the time of the year when team records and other oddball statistical barriers are surpassed. With that in mind, we give you this potpourri of statistical minutiae:

  • Rick Ankiel struck out seven Padres to raise his total to 193, surpassing Dizzy Dean's Cardinals rookie mark of 191 in 1932.

  • Toronto's Carlos Delgado walked in the first inning against Baltimore, breaking Fred McGriff's club record of 119 set in 1989.

  • Houston's Jeff Bagwell has 131 RBI and has scored 151 runs to go with his personal-best 46 home runs. The last major leaguer to score 150 runs in a season was Ted Williams in 1949.

  • Edgar Martinez replaced Ken Griffey Jr. as the Mariners' all-time leader in games played with 1,536.

  • Darin Erstad's solo home run for the Angels gave him 99 RBI this season, the most ever for a leadoff batter.

  • With 860 runs this season, the Royals have broken the club record for runs scored for the second consecutive year.

  • The Reds have not been shut out in any of their 158 games so far, tied for the second-longest stretch to begin a season.

    Quote of the day
    "Hopefully, tonight we bottomed out. Tonight was an embarrassment. We need to do something about it."
    -- Joe Torre, on his free-falling Yankees

    Twins at Indians
    Eric Milton (13-10, 4.97) vs. Bartolo Colon (15-8, 3.88)

    With the Mariners and Athletics streaking toward the finish, it's imperative that Cleveland keeps winning to keep alive its second-half playoff charge. The Indians trail Seattle and Oakland by two games in the loss column with four to play.

    Braves reign supreme
    Greg Maddux
    Greg Maddux is vying for his fifth Cy Young this year.  

    Are the Atlanta Braves the Buffalo Bills of baseball? Ah, not even close.

    Though the Braves won just one World Series since 1991, during that same time they've won nine division titles. Repeat nine division titles.

    As's Jayson Stark writes, recognize this team for what it is: One of the most amazing organizations in sports.

    The All-Improved team
    There are still a few games left in the season, but here's our lineup for the most improved players off 2000:

    C: Bobby Estalella, Giants. Estallela has been one of the hidden gems behind the Giants' success. His average has dropped off in the second half, but his hitting numbers are very solid for a catcher: .364 on-base percentage, .488 slugging percentage, 53 RBI in just 287 at-bats. The Phillies gave up on him after he hit .188 in 1998 and suffered through injuries in 1999, trading him for Chris Brock.

    1B: Derrek Lee, Marlins: Lee's once-bright future appeared to come to a screeching halt after a dismal .206 campaign in 1999. But he improved his strike-zone command and his power stroke arrived. He has 26 home runs in 464 at-bats with an .863 OPS in a difficult hitter's park. In fact, 19 of Lee's 26 homers have come on the road. If he takes another leap forward in 2001, the Marlins have a topflight first baseman on their hands.

    2B: Jose Vidro, Expos: A lot of players qualify as least-improved at this position, but we'll go with Vidro. While he wasn't exactly a nobody last year (.304, 45 doubles), he lifted his offensive game to a new a level with a .332 average and 96 RBI. He's also improved his play on defense.

    3B: Troy Glaus, Angels: In his second full season, Glaus has become the best third baseman in the AL. He may win the AL home-run title, he has terrific range and he's already surpassed 100 walks. What more do you want? OK, maybe a higher spot in the batting order so he can drive in more runs.

    SS: Cristian Guzman, Twins: Guzman was so weak at the plate as a rookie (.276 slugging, .267 OBP), that there were serious doubts he would ever hit enough to be a regular shortstop. However, he's learned to take a few walks and thanks to 20 triples, has a .389 slugging percentage. He still has plenty of room to grow, however, and needs to get stronger (he's hit just .228 in the second half). But at least he now looks like a big-league ballplayer.

    100 extra-base hits in a single season
    1921 Babe Ruth 119
    1927 Lou Gehrig 117
    1930 Chuck Klein 107
    1932 Chuck Klein 103
    1937 Hank Greenberg 103
    1995 Albert Belle 103
    1948 Stan Musial 103
    1922 Rogers Hornsby 102
    1930 Lou Gehrig 100
    1932 Jimmie Foxx 100
    2000 Todd Helton 100

    OF: Richard Hidalgo, Astros: Hidalgo hit just .227 in 1999 and a knee injury left his starting status in doubt for 2000 -- as did the trade for Roger Cedeno. Well, 44 home runs and a .635 slugging percentage will win a spot in the lineup. And don't credit Enron Field for Hidalgo's success: he has 28 home runs on the road.

    OF: Terrence Long, A's: Sure, he's only a rookie, but he's shown dramatic improvement from what his Triple-A numbers projected. He had just nine home runs and hit .299 in the minors, but is hitting .290 with 17 home runs this year. Just as importantly, he arrived with a shaky defensive reputation, but has played a solid center field.

    OF: J.D. Drew, Cardinals: Drew has improved his Triple Crown percentage numbers from .242/.340/.424 to .300/.405/.489. Now, Tony La Russa just needs to put him in the lineup every day.

    P: Ryan Dempster, Marlins: This kid has all the makings of turning into an elite pitcher. He's 13-10 with a 3.62 ERA and ranks fourth in the majors with 206 strikeouts. He's just 23 years old and if he stays healthy will be the ace of the young Marlins for years to come.

    P: Glendon Rusch, Mets: His 11-11 record may not seem too impressive, but that's very good these days for a No. 5 starter. He entered 2000 with a 5.78 career ERA and spent most of 1999 in Triple-A with Kansas City. But he's posted a 4.02 ERA and an impressive 155/43 SO/BB ratio that bodes well for his future.

    P: Mac Suzuki, Royals: It's been another dismal year for the Royals' pitching staff, but Suzuki has been a bright spot with his 4.24 ERA. If he improves his control (94 walks in 188.2 innings), he could take another step forward next year.

    P: Jim Parque, White Sox: After going 9-15 with a 5.13 ERA last season, Parque is 13-6 with a 4.21 ERA and will be the No. 2 starter in the playoffs.

    P: Felix Rodriguez, Giants: Another key to San Francisco's division title has been the bullpen and Rodriguez has been perhaps the best setup guy in the majors. He leads the majors with 29 holds, has lowered his ERA from 3.80 to 2.72 and has fanned 90 in 79.1 innings.