Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hart's 2 HRs Drop Astros; Rookie Murphy Slams Royals

Players of the Day from Wednesday, June 11, 2008 American League Maybe the NL brass should just hand over the Rookie of the Year hardware to David Murphy at the All-Star game. After all, there's a pretty good chance he'll be on the field. On Wednesday, Murphy added to his star appeal with a pair of home runs to right field in the 7th and 9th innings of the Rangers' 11-5 pummeling of the Royals. The first one was a grand slam, the second a solo shot, giving Murphy 5 RBI on the night and 46 on the season to go with his 10 homers. He also singled earlier in the game and was 3-for-5 overall. Murphy's solid stats may have something to do with his teammates. He's surrounded by some of the best hitters in the league, making it impossible to pitch around anyone in the Texas lineup. Leadoff batter Ian Kinsler is batting .312. Michael Young, at .302, just had a 23-game hitting streak snapped last night. Josh Hamilton is... well, you know, ridiculous. Milton Bradley leads the league with a .333 average, and third baseman Ramon Vazquez, who has filled in admirably for the injured Hank Blalock, is pounding the ball at a .333 clip. The Rangers are leading the majors with a .286 team batting average, 378 runs, 362 RBI and 683 hits. Heck, All-Star Game? Just send these guys. But leave the pitching staff home. Their 5.04 ERA is the main reason the Rangers are in 3rd place in the AL West, 7 behind the Angels, but only 2 back of the A's. Notes: Can Detroit turn its season around? With last night's 5-1 win over the White Sox (their second straight over Chicago), the Tigers are 9 games behind and have a record that is the converse of division-leading Chicago's. The Sox are 37-28; the Tigers 28-37, but hey, it's only June and there are still 90+ games to play. Stay tuned. National League Corey Hart had a pretty good game on Wednesday, helping the Brewers knock off Houston, 10-6, but it was more the kind of game you'd expect from a clean up hitter rather than your leadoff man. Hart stroked a double and a pair of 2-run homers in 5 at-bats, boosting his average to .302. The home runs were numbers 8 and 9 on the season and he has 36 RBI. For a leadoff hitter, his 31 runs scored is a little low and he still strikes out too much (43 Ks to 13 BBs). He has stolen 10 bases in 13 tries, so there's plenty of upside for the Brew Crew. Notes: Wild Cards? If the season ended today... well, what would we do all summer? But, if it did, the NL Wild Card would belong the the St. Louis Cardinals, who are 2 1/2 behind the Cubs in the Central. At 40-27, St. Louis would be leading if they were in either of the other two NL divisions. Their closest pursuers at the moment are the Marlins (36-29). Forget the West. Only Arizona has a winning record. Second-place LA is 3 1/2 back at 31-34. Every team in the Central except the Reds (7-8) has a winning record against West division teams.

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