The Windup (cont.)
Player of the Week
It was more one-heck-of-a-series than one-heck-of-a-week for Ryan Doumit. Either way, it was a heck of a run. In three games against the Nationals last week, Doumit, the Pirates' catcher, had nine hits in 11 at-bats, including four home runs and a pair of doubles. He scored five runs and drove in seven. On Tuesday alone, with a pair of homers and his two doubles, he amassed 12 total bases, second-best this year in the bigs in a game.
Doumit (pronounced, according to the Bucs, DOE-mitt) is a true find for the Pirates, hitting .346 with nine homers and 22 RBIs. If not for the fact that he missed almost three weeks with a broken left thumb, you'd have to consider him over both Atlanta's Brian McCann and the Cubs' Geovany Soto as the National League's All-Star starting catcher.
Team of the Week
I'm not convinced that the Tigers are coming back. They've looked awfully bad for an awfully big chunk of this season. But they have won six straight games, and eight of their last nine, and they are only six games behind the White Sox now, and reliever Fernando Rodney is coming back. And, anyway, I've already gone way past my allotted number of words on the Yankees, so I can't give the Yanks the TOtW nod. That means the Tigers, who hit rock bottom at 12-under .500 on June 6 before these last nine games, are it.
Maybe the most interesting fact about their current streak is that the Tigers are winning with pitching (a 2.67 ERA and a .237 batting average against in the six games). Yeah, the wins have come against the Indians, the White Sox and the Dodgers, none of which is going to be considered for juggernaut status. But a W is a W. What's better, the Tigers have the Giants and Padres coming up this week, and the Rockies next weekend. The weak-milk NL West could save the Tigers' butts.
Lines of the Week
Braden Looper, STL at CIN, June 11, 9 IP, 3 Hs, 0 R, 4 Ks, 0 BB
Looper gave up only one extra-base hit -- a double to Ken Griffey Jr. -- and used only 98 pitches in a 10-0 Cardinals' win.
Ryan Spilborghs, COL at CHW, June 14, 0-for-5, 3 Ks, 1 GDP
The one time Spilborghs didn't have a runner in scoring position, he hit into a DP. He never got the ball out of the infield.
Quote of the Week
"Makeup calls or not makeup calls; call it when it's there. You know what I mean? You shouldn't change your strike zone just because of the count. It doesn't make sense."
-- Tampa Bay pitcher Scott Kazmir on the job that home plate umpire Derryl Cousins did Wednesday in a Rays' loss to the Angels
Why Julio Lugo is Still Starting in Boston
1.) So he can continue to showcase Kevin Youkilis' Gold Glove picks at first.
2.) Bobbling and kicking the ball brings excitement to the game.
3.) Makes it easy to defend J.D. Drew's contract.
4.) Fills the quota for shortstops who neurotically adjust themselves.
5.) Red Sox figure they ought to pay a shortstop that actually plays for them.
-- Kevin Gray, Manchester, N.H.
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Series to Watch
The reason to be excited about this weekend's three-game set between the Red Sox and Cardinals isn't because the two have tradition-rich pasts that include three head-to-head battles in the World Series, the most recent in 2004. Instead, it's the present, with both teams in playoff contention, that makes this so intriguing. The Sox are the best team in the American League, and the Cards are one of the best and most surprising in the National League. In a lot of ways, this should be interleague at its best. Or as good as it gets this weekend. Unless you want to talk ...
Matchup to Watch
Hey, it's Cubs-White Sox weekend, with three afternoon games at Wrigley Field beginning Friday. The best part of this weekend, bar none, is going to be how Ozzie Guillen, the wildly tact-challenged White Sox manager, is going to handle the extra pressure of a series between two Windy City teams who currently sit in first place. As it is, Guillen has a major inferiority complex regarding how his Sox are viewed in the city. It's a well-earned paranoia, no doubt, even with the Cubs holding the best record in the game. Still, it'd behoove Ozzie to just play this one cool.
That's not gonna happen, is it?