Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Howard Hits His Stride; Thames Homers 4th Straight Game; Mets Relieve Randolph

Players of the Day from Monday, June 16, 2008 American League Marcus Thames is finally getting the playing time he deserves and he's delivering for the Tigers. In Monday night's 8-6 loss at San Francisco, Thames homered twice, driving in three runs in 4 at-bats. It was the fourth straight game in which Thames has homered, and his 7th home run in his last 9 games. He has 12 on the season. Notes: The Tigers' loss snapped a six-game win streak, the longest of the season for Detroit, which is in 4th place, 6 1/2 behind the White Sox in the AL Central. National League Notorious for getting off to slow starts, the Phillies' Ryan Howard was batting just .184 with 9 homers a month ago. Since then, the average has rounded up to .224 and he's socked 10 more home runs, including the two that left the yard in Monday's 8-2 bombing of the Red Sox. Howard also tripled, going 3-for-5 with 4 RBI, giving him 62 on the season, tying him with teammate Chase Utley and San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez for the NL lead. He's also tied with Gonzalez for second in home runs, at 19, three behind Utley. Notes: After weeks of speculation, the Mets finally disposed of manager Willie Randolph, turning the team over to Jerry Manuel following the Mets' 9-6 win over the California Angels. Sadly, the Mets' brass saw to it that Randolph was given his walking papers far from the bright lights of Broadway, in an LA hotel room a continent away from home. Randolph probably isn't to blame for the collapse of the Mets last season, for losing in seven games to the Cardinals in the NL Championship Series in '06 or for the 34-35 record this season, but, eventually, he became the guy who took the heat for this underperforming bunch. Manuel may do better, he may not. If the Mets win the East, the front office can pat themselves on their collective backs. If the Mets continue to play uninspired, sub-par baseball with a team loaded with talent, then letting Randolph go will be seen as a mistake. Only time will tell whether it was Randolph, the front office or the players who let Mets fans down. For now, he looks like a scapegoat for mismanagement that covers the entire organization.

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