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Sport Sections
Tuesday, August 8


SUNDAY'S TIDBITS

Line of the Day

Stan Javier
Javier tied his career high with five of Seattle's 16 hits as the Mariners pounded the Yankees 11-1. Orlando Hernandez, making his first start since July 14, lasted just four innings, giving up eight hits, three walks and five runs.

AB R H RB1 HR
6 25 20

Hero of the day
Shawn Estes allowed nine hits but went the distance and threw just 95 pitches while allowing one unearned run as the Giants beat the Pirates 7-1. Estes improved to 11-3 and has a six-game winning streak. He hasn't lost since June 10.

Goat of the day
Cincinnati's Pokey Reese went 0-for-4 and left seven runners on base as the Reds lost 9-6 to the Marlins to fall two games under .500 and remain six games behind St. Louis.

Injury report
  • Mike Piazza is out 3-to-5 days with a knee sprain, although he may be available to pinch-hit.

  • The Cubs placed Kerry Wood on the DL with a strained left oblique muscle and activated Rondell White.

  • Chuck Knoblauch has not played in four straight games and the Yankees may place him on the DL for the first time in his career. The Yankees have described the injury as a strained right elbow but Knoblauch said he has a "small tear on a small muscle."

    Stat of the day
    Texas' Gabe Kapler extended his hitting streak to 20 games. The longest in the AL this season is 22 games by Toronto's Carlos Delgado. During the streak Kapler has raised his average from .241 to .278.

    Stat of the day, II
    Will Clark homered for the fourth consecutive start since joining St. Louis. Clark is 8-for-13 with seven RBI for the Cardinals.

    Quote of the day
    "It tells us we can come into hostile environments and play good baseball. Down the road that is very important."
    -- Seattle's Alex Rodriguez, whose team had lost 10 of 12 in New York before winning the last two games.

  • MONDAY'S GAME OF THE DAY
    Braves at Reds
    Greg Maddux (12-6, 3.35) vs. Steve Parris (5-14, 5.41)

    It's just about do-or-die time for the Reds. Maddux has lost three straight starts, although he pitched well in two of those defeats. He'll face Ken Griffey Jr. for the first time in a regular-season game. Griffey homered off him in the 1992 All-Star Game. Meanwhile, after winning consecutive starts on July 3 and 8, Parris is back on track to challenge the 20-loss plateau with three losses in his past four starts.

    FANTASY CORNER
  • In Warning Trax, Greg Ambrosius analyzes the potential impact of the players who moved at the trading deadline.

  • How to improve your team's batting average or ERA? In The Pivot, Keith Law says it may be harder than your realize
  • Young, but good
    Jon Garland
    The White Sox are banking on Jon Garland down the stretch.  

    Baseball has many sayings based more on myth than evidence. One of those "truths" is that you can't win in the postseason with rookie starting pitchers. Considering the White Sox (Jon Garland), A's (Mark Mulder, Barry Zito) and Cardinals (Rick Ankiel) will likely have rookies in their rotation if they make the playoffs, this is one saying worth examining.

    Chris Kahrl of the Baseball Prospectus does the homework and finds some interesting data about the success of rookie starters in the postseason.

    Junk dealers
    Our two cents on the weekend's "big" deals:

  • The Reds picked up fleet-footed Brian Hunter from the Rockies for right-hander Robert Averette, who was 12-6 with a 2.44 ERA in Double-A. "He brings a lot of speed," Reds GM Jim Bowden said of Hunter. "He can disrupt a game. We've lost those one-run games. This is a guy who can get on first, steal second, steal third and score on a ground ball to short."

    Now, Hunter can run. But if Bowden really thinks Hunter can help the Reds in any capacity other than pinch-running, he's just flat-out wrong. Hunter may be the worst regular in baseball if he plays every day . He can't get on first base, because he can't hit and doesn't walk. He has no power -- heck, he has 200 at-bats this year with the Rockies and the grand total of six extra-base hits.

    Sure, he's hitting .275, but Bowden apparently didn't check out Hunter's home/road splits -- he's hitting .336 at Coors, .195 (with a .478 OPS!) on the road. It's not clear if Hunter will even play much, so we can't bash the move too much just yet, although trading a 23-year-old starter with a 2.44 ERA in Double-A for a player as awful as Hunter doesn't make any sense.

    As a sidenote, how about the Rockies giving up on both Tom Goodwin and Hunter within a week? Ah, guess that speed and defense thing didn't pan out too well.

  • The Blue Jays picked up Mickey Morandini from the Phillies for a box of batting practice balls to be shipped later. If you're a Phillies fan, it should be viewed as a great weekend, as the team traded the abysmal double-play combo of Morandini and Desi Relaford.

    Morandini was a black hole on offense this year, with a .324 on-base percentage and .315 slugging percentage. Why would the Jays want him? Well, Homer Bush broke a bone in left hand and is out until September. Of course, Bush had been even worse than Morandini with a .271 on-base percentage and .253 slugging percentage. Bush

    So, you can sort of call it an upgrade, if replacing the worst-hitting second baseman with the second-worst can be called an upgrade.

    Cone-cerned
    After getting a no-decision in Saturday's start against the Mariners, David Cone has now gone 15 straight starts without a win.

    Cone, who allowed three runs in six innings, is still in the rotation, according to manager Joe Torre. But since Cone threw 137 pitches -- his most in a game since Game 5 of the 1995 Division Series (when he blew a late lead against the Mariners) -- he may get skipped over his next start. The Yankees could start Orlando Hernandez on three days' rest and move Cone back to Friday. More likely, Dwight Gooden will start the Thursday game against Oakland with Cone missing a turn.

    But Torre isn't about to write off Cone just yet. "He deserves that loyalty from me," Torre said. "Again, I wouldn't do it if I didn't think he could win. I'd have to make a difficult decision. I still think he can win. I'm not going to be loyal to a fault."

    Gotcha!
    Oakland rookies Adam Piatt and Barry Zito became the latest victims of a traditional Chicago prank. It is standard fare for National League rookies to get "intitiated" by painting a certain part of a horse statue's anatomy with their team colors. Their teammates then stage a fake arrest the next day in the clubhouse.

    "I was sweating bullets, " Piatt said after a police officer came and said the two were facing charges.

    Manager Art Howe said the team got a good laugh. "We had some fun with it," Howe said. "We're the first American League club to do it, so that's something. But I was starting to feel guilty, it worked so well. They got a little pale."

    Indeed, when the rookies went to paint the statue, the horse was already painted orange. Seems the Giants were in town last week.

    Random facts
  • Top averages with runners in scoring position, mimimum 75 at-bats:

    Carlos Delgado, Blue Jays (.413, 50-for-121)
    Mike Sweeney, Royals (.397, 56-for-141)
    Jeff Cirillo, Rockies (.387, 41-for-106)
    Jeff Kent, Giants (.382, 47-for-123)
    Ricky Gutierrez, Cubs (.377, 29-for-77)

  • Worst averages with runners in scoring position, minimum 40 at-bats:

    Matt LeCroy, Twins (.125, 5-for-40)
    Matt Williams, Diamondbacks (.125, 5-for-40)
    Benji Gil, Angels (.127, 7-for-55)
    Mike Matheny, Cardinals (.147, 11-for-75)
    Damian Jackson, Padres (.148, 9-for-61)

  • Jose Canseco is 1-for-29 with two outs and runners in scoring position.

  • Boston's Hipolito Pichardo has held hitters to a 1-for-23 (.043) mark with two outs and runners in scoring position. Teammate Rich Garces is 2-for-27 (.074).