Despite performing consistently well week after week and all season long, recognition as the American League's Player of the Month had eluded Magglio Ordonez. Until now.
09/05/2007 10:17 AM ET
More big numbers for Ordonez
Ordonez, hitting above .350 and seeking a batting title, was named the Player of the Month after batting .393 with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs during August.
This was really nothing new for the Tigers' right fielder. Ordonez batted .344 with 26 RBIs in April, hit .346 with 23 RBIS in May, batted .421 with 19 RBIs in June and hit .278 with 20 RBIs in July.
"It could have been any of those times, but there's a lot of ballplayers in this league, so it's hard to single one guy out," Ordonez's teammate, Ryan Raburn, told MLB.com. "He's had a great year for us and he's been our go-to-guy."
Manager Jim Leyland says there is no doubt in his mind that Ordonez deserves such an honor.
"He's just had one of those years from top to bottom so far," said Leyland. "He's been solid throughout the whole season. He's had a tremendous, tremendous year and continues to have it. He deserves anything he gets along those lines in terms of individual awards. I'm all for that stuff."
Ex-No. 1 pick Bullington gets call: Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Bryan Bullington, who has not pitched in the Major Leagues since having his right shoulder operated on in October 2005, has been recalled by the Pirates and is expected to start on Wednesday against St. Louis.
While in Louisville, Ky., with his family, Bullington learned of the promotion.
"We're on our way, and I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to it," Bullington told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "You kind of take it all into perspective, everything you've been through and ... I couldn't ask for anything more than this opportunity."
The first overall pick in the 2002 Draft, Bullington made just one relief appearance in the Majors in September of 2005 before having to shut down to have a torn labrum worked on.
Now, he says, he's ready to go.
"The best part is that I feel so healthy and strong right now," he said. "The day after I start and throw 100 pitches, I can long-toss at 150 feet. That's something I haven't experienced in a while."
Martinez gets 3,000th K: Needing one out to qualify for a win Monday, Pedro Martinez was not about to come out of his New York Mets debut Monday after reaching his 75-pitch limit. With the go-ahead runs on base and left-hander Adam Dunn at the plate, manager Willie Randolph kept Martinez in the game.
Dunn made things easy for Martinez, swinging at the first pitch and grounding out to second. Martinez pumped his fist when Luis Castillo threw Dunn out at first base, leaving Martinez in line to get the win as the Mets went on to defeat the Reds 10-4.
"I didn't even look at Willie because I wanted to get that last batter," Martinez told Newsday
after winning his first start since last Sept. 27. "At least three more pitches. I knew we had a lefty warming up, a lefty coming up to hit, big lefty, close game. I wanted to get it done early because I knew Willie had the hook."
Martinez allowed three runs, though only two were earned, and five hits to earn the win, his first since Aug. 9 of last year. He walked three batters and struck out four. In the second inning, he became the 15th pitcher to reach 3,000 career strikeouts when he struck out Aaron Harang.
"He's amazing," Randolph said. "Pedro was superb and hopefully that's a nice little springboard to the rest of the season for him helping us out."
Chicago's Thome's kind of town: For Jim Thome, it's been a long time coming. Sitting on 495 career home runs -- 23 of which have come this season -- Thome would like a chance to get to his 500th career home run next week in Chicago.
"The thing that would be neat about Chicago is Ernie Banks did it there and my dad (Chuck) was a big Ernie Banks fan," Thome told the Chicago Tribune
. "It would be neat to do it at home because of growing up in the state of Illinois. It would be special, special for our fans because they deserve that."
When he does hit number 500, he will become the 23rd player in Major League history to reach that plateau.
"I really am trying not to get caught up in the whole thing," he said. "It's a difficult thing because it gets talked about every day and it's very common for the player to want to go out and do it, but you have to be under control. When it will happen, it will happen.
"You can't look into the crystal ball and say, 'If I go into this series, I might have a chance to hit three or four or five. It doesn't work that way. That's why it's the toughest thing there is to do, hit a home run. I'm a believer in that. A home run is a mistake and things have to be perfect.
Blalock puts a hurt on with bat: While on the disabled list for nearly three months recovering from shoulder surgery, Hank Blalock still can't play the field for the Texas Rangers due to lack of arm strength. However, he has proven he can still swing the bat.
Blalock hit a grand slam Sunday night against the Angels in only his fourth at-bat since returning from the disabled list. Blalock came straight off the disabled list and into the lineup, forgoing any rehab assignment.
In both his first and second at-bats, he saw six pitches before being retired. He then singled in his third at-bat to collect his first hit since mid-May. Then with two strikes in the eighth inning, Blalock fouled off two pitches before hitting a shot over the fence off Scot Shields, who Blalock was only 3-for-23 against lifetime.
"When I got out there, I felt off and when your timing is off, you are better off taking a few pitches rather than put bad swings on bad pitches," Blalock told the Dallas Morning News. "My first at-bat, I've never felt that way. ... But I think seeing a lot of pitches helped me."
Maddux conquers the dry Arizona air: Finally, Greg Maddux can claim to have a win in Arizona. Maddux, who has 343 career wins, was winless in 17 career starts in Phoenix before finally earning a victory Monday night as the San Diego Padres defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 10-2.
Maddux worked 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs. After the game, he was able to joke about finally winning in the desert.
"Nothing weird happened," he told the San Diego Union Tribune. "The good pitches I made, I got outs with them. The mistakes I made, they hit at people. The hits they got, they earned. No flares. No bad hops. No balls on the line."
Maddux has said in the past that the baseballs can be slicker, and thus harder to grip, because of the dry air in Phoenix. However, he felt he was able to get a good grip on most of the balls Monday.
"Maybe it was because the guy who rubbed 'em down (with mud) did a great job," he joked.
Mussina finally see some zeroes: With Roger Clemens to miss at least one start with a sore right elbow, Mike Mussina will likely return to the starting rotation for the New York Yankees. Mussina was lifted from the rotation after struggling in three straight starts.
However, in his last appearance, his first out of the bullpen during the regular season in his 17-year career, Mussina said he felt better on the mound after 3 2/3 innings of work.
"I felt a little better, I guess," Mussina told Newsday. "I knew where the ball was going, for the most part, but there's still more work to do."
Said manager Joe Torre said of Mussina: "I thought he was fine. It looked like his velocity was good, and his curveball was a little bit sharper. He made pitches today."
Mussina showed better command of his pitches and threw 43 of his 62 pitches for strikes.
"I actually got some zeroes some innings," Mussina said, "which hasn't happened in a couple weeks."
Flores shines with Nationals: The Nationals raised some eyebrows when they selected Jesus Flores, a catcher in the Mets' system who played the 2006 season at Single-A, in the Rule 5 draft this summer. A Rule 5 selection has to play the entire season in the Majors or be offered back to his original club. Would the Nationals keep Flores for the entire season? Indeed they have.
And the youngster has flashed glimpses of the potential Washington witnessed, including Tuesday night when he drove home the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Nationals to a 4-3 win over the Marlins.
"We trust the kid," manager Manny Acta told the Washington Post. "He's got some huge hits for us. Why not keep him out there?"
The Nationals originally planned to have Flores return to the Minors next season to continue his development, especially with starting catcher Brian Schneider having two more seasons on his contract. But Flores' impressive play this season may alter that approach.
"I consider Brian Schneider the best game-caller in baseball," general manager Jim Bowden said. "To develop the young pitchers we have this year could not have happened had Brian Schneider not been the catcher. ... But as far as Jesus, does he have the ability to compete and win the job at some point? Yeah, he does."
Penny thrives with extra day's rest: With the acquisition of pitcher Esteban Loaiza, the Dodgers were able to give Brad Penny an extra day of rest. The results were impressive, as Penny pitched seven innings and was still throwing 95 mph in the last frame. He led the Dodgers to a 6-2 win over the Cubs Tuesday in Wrigley Field.
"We've got some added depth to our starting set that shoulders some of that load that those guys have had to take for the last four to six weeks," pitching coach Rick Honeycutt told the Los Angeles Times. "This is the first day Brad's had an extra day to pitch on in I don't remember."
Penny upped his record to 15-4 for the season. He allowed just one earned run, thanks to inducing four double play balls.
"He's been able to minimize the damage," manager Grady Little said. "That's why he's won 15 games."
Anderson nears RBI record: The Angels faced southpaw Lenny DiNardo Tuesday night and put eight righty batters in their lineup. Garret Anderson, the lone lefty swinger, broke a 2-2 tie with a two-run homer to lift the Angels to a 4-3 win over the A's.
"When Garret is on, he attacks left-handers, and right now, he's the Garret that we've seen before, who hits any left-handed pitcher," manager Mike Scioscia told the Los Angeles Times. "The biggest thing we're seeing with Garret is health. That's stoking his confidence."
Anderson has an RBI in nine consecutive games, one short of a team record. He also has 26 RBIs in the past 14 games, thanks in part to eight home runs in that stretch.
"G.A. has been unbelievable," winning pitcher Jered Weaver said. "He's been battling injuries, but when he's healthy, he's the real deal. He's been a real spark to the lineup."
Injuries have slowed Anderson the last few seasons. A hip flexor kept him on the disabled list for over a month earlier this year. But he's feeling healthy enough now that he stole a base in the eighth inning Tuesday.
-- Red Line Ed