Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Carlos Quentin Powers Sox to 7th Straight; Angel Pagan Lifts Mets

Players of the Day for Tuesday, June 22, 2010 American League Following a couple of rough months, the June version of the Chicago White Sox is beginning to look more and more like the contender everyone thought the team could be at the start of the season. Winning their 7th in a row with a 9-6 home win over the Braves, the Sox are 13-6 for June and have finally crossed the .500 mark, at 35-34, just 4 1/2 games behind the Central division-leading Twins, with the Tigers sitting in second place, 1 1/2 out. Chicago was 9-14 in April and 13-14 in May. One reason the Chisox have been getting their act together is the re-emergence of Carlos Quentin at the plate. Like the rest of the team, Quentin started out badly, with his batting average falling to a low of .154 nearing the end of April. Manager Ozzie Guillen never lost faith in the slugging outfielder, and his persistence has paid off. During Chicago's win streak, Quentin has hit safely in five of the last six, with 2 hits in four of those games and 7 RBI, including three on Tuesday night as he banged his 9th homer of the season with three aboard in the 4th inning after singling and scoring in the 2nd. Quentin is batting .391 (9-for-23) over his past six games. His homer put the White Sox up 9-3, chasing Atlanta starter, Tommy Hanson, who left after allowing 13 hits and all nine earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings. National League Atlanta stole the limelight in the NL East, emerging in May as the top team in the division, as the Phillies faltered. However, as the season cruises into the summer, the New York Mets are beginning to look like the team to beat, going 14-4 thus far in the month of June. Following a 7-2 road trip, the Mets opened a six-game home stand with a 14-6 rout of the Detroit Tigers and now trail the Braves by just a game and a half. Angel Pagan, who originally was used as a replacement for the oft-injured Carlos Beltran (right knee surgery, out until after the All-Star break) in center field, extended his hitting streak to ten straight, knocking out 4 hits in 6 at-bats, driving in 4 runs and scoring 3 times. Pagan singled twice, doubled and tripled. Pagan's solid defensive play and his plate explosion (.304, 41 runs, 35 RBI, 14 steals) will make Manager Charlie Manuel's decision a tough one when Beltran returns from the DL, though if both players perform well, one could easily end up in right field, with Jeff Francoeur taking a seat on the bench. Whatever the choices, Manuel has options so long as Pagan continues to produce.

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