Friday, June 20, 2008

Dye's 6 RBI Lead ChiSox; Bush Watches as Near No-Hitter Nearly Wasted

Players of the Day from Thursday, June 19, 2008 American League The White Sox lead the AL Central because they've been getting key contributions from different players. On Thursday, it was Jermaine Dye, who doubled in a run in the second inning, hit a solo homer in the third and blew the game wide open with a grand slam in the seventh to lead Chicago to a 14-8 mash-fest over Pittsburgh. Dye finished with 6 RBI on the night, completing the three-game sweep in which the Sox scored 37 runs to the Pirates 15. The win kept them 4 1/2 ahead of the Twins and 7 in front of the suddenly-threatening Tigers, who have won 8 of their last 9. Notes: The Seattle Mariners, with the worst record in baseball (25-47), fired manager John McLaren and replaced him - for the time being - with bench coach Jim Riggleman, who is not expected to stay in the job long. Besides searching for a manager, the Mariners are likely to unload underperformers like Adrian Beltre or Richie Sexson. Veteran Raul Ibanez would be a solid acquisition as he's very steady. The only player whose job is deemed safe is hitting star Ichiro Suzuki. The Mariners are 17 1/2 games behind the Angels in the AL West. National League Milwaukee starter Dave Bush (3-7), had a perfect game through five innings and a no hitter through seven, left the game with an 8-1 lead after completing the 8th, in which he allowed a pair of hits and a run, and watched as the bullpen nearly gave it away in the ninth. The Blue Jays scored six times in their final at-bat as the Brewers held on for an 8-7 win, a series sweep and their 4th straight win. For Bush, it was easily his best performance of the season, as he lowered his ERA to a barely-acceptable 5.26. The starter was aided by an inside-the-park home run by Prince Fielder and a 3-run blast from Russell Branyan. The Brewers gained on both the Cubs and Cards in the Central. They are now 5 1/2 behind Chicago and just 2 shy of the Cardinals.
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Notes: If you're looking for coaches about to be fired or players to be traded, look no further than the bottom of the NL Central. The Reds are the current occupant of the basement, and manager Dusty Baker could go any day, along with Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Corey Patterson or a host of other possibilities. The Reds have lost five straight and are 12 1/2 back at 33-41. Not to be outdone, the Houston Astros have dropped 8 straight and are just 1/2-game ahead of the Reds at 33-40. The prize here is clearly Lance Berkman, though Hunter Pence, Carlos Lee or Mark Loretta hold some appeal. Pitcher Roy Oswalt would also make a fine pick-up. Manager Cecil Cooper probably isn't likely to last much longer if the 'Stros don't turn things around. Prior to their current 8-game skid, they rode a 4-10 streak. That's 4-18 over their last 22 games. Not so hot.

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