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06/01/2008 Archived Entry: "WORLD BASEBALL TODAY: Vol. 2, No. 22"

June 1, 2008
by Bruce Baskin
Radio Miami International

The National League East Division-leading Florida Marlins planned to use a four-man pitching rotation for the first two series of their current ten-game road trip. Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez wanted to take advantage of an off-day last Thursday to move struggling rookie Burke Badenhop to the bullpen until next Tuesday.

The notion was to start Scott Olsen last Wednesday, skip Bandenhop on the off day, then go back to Mark Hendrickson for Friday’s series opener in Philadelphia, followed by Ricky Nolasco on Saturday and Andrew Miller on Sunday against the Phillies. Olsen would then start Florida’s first game in Atlanta on Monday with Badenhop returning to the mound against the Braves one day later. The open day would allow all Marlins regulars to make starts on their regular four days of rest.

Gonzalez said, “We’ll go this way until one of these guys comes in and says they need an extra day of rest.”

The Marlins got an unscheduled day of rest last weekend when their May 24 game against the San Francisco Giants at Dolphin Stadium was postponed after a rain delay of two hours, 53 minutes. Surprisingly, since Miami weather can be best described as temperamental, it was the first Marlins washout at home since Hurricane Frances swept through Florida in 2004.

Florida leads the NL East with a 30-22 record, a half-game ahead of the 31-24 Phillies and two games up on 29-25 Atlanta. The Chicago Cubs lead the Central Division with a 32-21 record, one-and-a-half game in front of 31-23 St. Louis. The 30-23 Arizona Diamondbacks are on top of the NL West, with the 26-26 LA Dodgers in second.

Tampa Bay Rays closer Troy Percival was placed on the 15-day disabled list last Thursday with a left hamstring sprain, one day after the 38-year-old veteran had to leave a save situation in the ninth inning of a game against Texas at Tropicana Field.

While the Rays front office downplayed Percival’s injury, his absence will be a blow to Tampa Bay on and off the field. The four-time All-Star was 1-0 with 14 saves in 16 chances this season with a 2.95 ERA for the Rays, who have the best record in the American League after having never come close to a winning season in their existence. As important, Percival has been giving the young club veteran leadership ever since signing as a free agent in November. He has 338 career saves, tenth on the all-time list.

Setup man Dan Wheeler will fill in for Percival as closer. As Percival enters the DL, third baseman Willy Aybar is coming off it. Aybar was activated last Thursday after missing seven weeks due to a left hamstring strain of his own. He was hitting .292 with a homer in 24 at-bats when he was injured, but will have a hard time getting his old job back from rookie star Evan Longoria.

The 32-21 Rays have the best record in baseball (along with the Cubs), and lead the AL East by a game-and-a-half over World Champion Boston. The Chicago White Sox have the lead in the AL Central with a 29-23 mark, two games up on Minnesota. In the AL West, The 32-23 LA Angels are two-and-a-half games up on Oakland.

Veteran Yomiuri Giants infielder Luis Gonzalez has been banned from Japanese baseball for a year after testing positive for three banned substances. The 28-year-old former Colorado Rockies player tested positive for clobenzorex, amphetamine and parahydroxyamfetamine. All are banned by Nippon Professional Baseball. Gonzalez was hitting .307 with two homers and 17 RBIs in 32 games this year.

Yomiuri was expected to release Gonzalez, who has appealed his suspension. Gonzalez is the second player to be suspended for doping after NPB launched full-scale drug testing last year. Another import, pitcher Rick Guttormson of the Softbank Hawks, was suspended for 20 days last August after testing positive for finasteride, which was contained in the hair-growing agent he’d been using for two years.

On the field, The Hanshin Tigers continue to lead Japan’s Central League with a 32-16-1 record, with the 27-20-3 Chunichi Dragons holding second place. The Giants have moved up to third with a 25-25-1 mark. In the Pacific League, the Seibu Lions remain on top of the six-team standings with a 33-19-1 record, while the Nippon Ham Fighters are in second at 30-24-1. The 27-25 Rakuten Golden Eagles are in third place.

The 29-13 President Lions and 21-17-1 La New Bears have the only winning records thus far among the six teams that make up Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League. As a result, all eyes were on the two teams as they locked up a in a series last week, and fans were rewarded for their attention with back-to-back thrillers.

Last Tuesday, the Bears slipped past the Lions, 2-1, as Hao-Chu Tseng slammed a two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning for the Bears. La New starter Mike Johnson won his league-leading eighth game with no losses, allowing one run on one hit in seven innings for the win, although he did walk nine batsmen. Jermaine Van Buren came in for the save with two scoreless innings.

One night later, the Lions came back with a ten-inning 5-4 win over the Bears. This time, it was import Tilson Brito who took on the hero’s role, going 2-for-5 with four RBIs, including his league-leading 10th homer plus the game-winning RBI. Brito is second in the CPBL in ribbies with 37.

While the Lions lead the Bears by six games, the Brother Elephants have moved into third place with an 18-19-2 record. The Sinon Bulls are fourth at 18-22-1, followed by the 17-23-1 dMedia T-Rex and 16-25 Chinatrust Whales.

The Manila Sharks are undefeated after seven weekends of action in the Baseball Philippines league’s spring season. Every Sunday, six of the seven teams in BP get together for a tripleheader at Manila’s Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Last Sunday, the Sharks’ game with the Dumaguete Uni-Bikers was suspended by rain after three innings. Manila was leading 4-3 as Sharks catcher Rommel Roja was 2-for-2 with one run, one RBI and a stolen base. The Cebu Dolphins beat the Makati Mariners 8-6, thanks to Miggy Corcuera’s two-run single in the top of the ninth, and the Taguig Patriots held off the Antipolo Pilgrims 7-5 as Taguig starter Ernesto Binaroa gave up one run in 5.2 innings for the win while helping himself with two hits of his own.

Manila remains at 6-0 following their washout, while Cebu holds second at 5-2. Taguig is in third with a 4-3 record, just ahead of the 3-3 Batangas Bulls, who were idle last week. Antipolo, Dumaguete and winless Makati bring up the rear.

The Saltillo Saraperos and Yucatan Leones won first half championships in the Northern and Southern Divisions, respectively, in the Mexican League’s split season schedule for 2008.
Saltillo won the LMB North title with a 37-18 record, capping off the first half with a five-game winning streak. The Saraperos were a league-best 19-9 on the road. The Monclova Acereros parlayed a 23-5 record at home into a second place finish with an overall 35-21 mark. The Laguna Vaqueros came in third at 30-26, while the Chihuahua Dorados were fourth at 28-28. Defending Mexican League champion Monterrey was fifth in the North, followed by Nuevo Laredo, Tijuana and Puebla.

Yucatan won the Southern Division crown with a 35-20 record, three-and-a-half games ahead of the 31-23 Mexico City Diablos Rojos in second. The Quintana Roo Tigres were third at 32-24, including identical 16-12 record at home and on the road. The Veracruz Aguilas were fourth at 31-25, ahead of Tabasco, Campeche, Minatitlan and hapless Oaxaca, who won just 15 of their 54 first-half games.

Mexico City’s Eduardo Arredondo leads the batting race with a .399 average, while Saltillo’s Kit Pellow’s 20 homers and 59 RBIs both lead the Mexican League. Campeche’s Quincy Foster and Chihuahua’s Demond Smith are tied for the lead in stolen bases with 20 apiece. Among pitchers, Monclova’s Nerio Rodriguez has a Liga-best nine wins. Nuevo Laredo’s Wilton Chavez is tops in ERA at 1.42, and veteran strikeout artist Francisco Campos of Campeche leads in that department with 69. Yucatan’s Jose Vargas has 19 saves to top that list.

Solingen Alligators pitcher Enorbel Marquez-Ramirez carved a niche in German Baeball League history with a perfect game against Bonn last weekend, beating the Capitals 9-0. The Cuban-born pitcher struck out 15 Bonn batters in the win while pitching to battery-mate Kai Gronauer, who will be joining the New York Mets minor league system soon. The Solingen offense was led by shortstop Chris Beck, who went 4-for-4 at the plate. Solingen won the nightcap of the doubleheader in convincing fashion with an 8-1 win over the Capitals. Beck swung the big bat in that one as well with a double and triple as Alligators starter Andre Hughes picked up the win.

The wins kept Solingen unbeaten in the Bundesliga’s North Division with a 15-0 record. Their closest challengers, the 12-2 Paderborn Untouchables, kept pace with a sweep of the HSV Stealers. Paderborn took a 15-3 opener win as pitcher Eugen Heilmann’s seventh win of the year was aided by 13 Untouchable runs between the sixth and eighth innings. Paderborn won the second game as well, 5-1, to give starter Beningo Ozuna the victory.

Corendon Kinheim is barely holding first place in the Dutch National League standings with a 14-4 record, just a half-game ahead of the 13-4 Konica Minolta Pioniers. Kinheim has won five straight contests to hold off the Pioniers, who themselves have won three in a row. In terms of runs differential, the Pioniers are at +91, a more dominant showing than Kinheim’s +45. DOOR Neptunas is two games out of the lead in third place with a 12-6 record, while Sparta/Feyenoord is fourth at 10-7.

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Replies: 1 Comment

I love it

Posted by max blue @ 06/01/2008 07:14 AM EST

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