- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The Blue Jays were playing a game John McGraw wouldn't recognize. They will break the record for fewest sacrifice hits (they had four, a dozen fewer than the 1998 Tigers and the 2000 Yankees); they steal the fewest bases in the league (they had 12 while being caught 14 times); and they strike out the most (they had 545). Yet they were in contention because they were slugging .489, which would tie the alltime record set by none other than the 1927 Yankees. First baseman Carlos Delgado was on pace to become the first player in 65 years with more than 165 RBIs. Toronto plays 12 straight games against the Yankees and the Red Sox beginning on July 8, a stretch that will determine if they should unload (left-fielder Shannon Stewart to the Oakland A's; righthander Kelvim Escobar to the Cardinals, the Red Sox or the Yankees) or load up (righthander Sidney Ponson from Baltimore) before the trading deadline.
6. Albert Pujols flirts with .400 and the Triple Crown
PREVIEW: The home run race will be Pujols's Belmont Stakes, the toughest leg, especially when Bonds goes on one of his power streaks. As for hitting .400, it's become nearly impossible to accomplish in today's game because of the specialization of relievers and reporters alike: There are more of them, and they come at you harder than ever.
REVIEW: No pitcher has lost 20 games in a season since Oakland's Brian Kingman in 1980. And if Maroth (2-12) doesn't do it, the 20-year-old Bonderman (2-12) could, establishing a new and unintended 20-20 club.
PREVIEW: Maroth received only 3.4 runs per start. With that kind of support and continued good health, he is a lock to be the first 20-game loser in almost a quarter century. Bonderman got even less run support, 2.3 runs per game. These guys are in a no-win situation.
8. The Dodgers are hitless wonders
PREVIEW: Two scouts say that the Dodgers cannot be a playoff team unless they trade for a hitter—reliever Guillermo Mota has emerged as L.A.'s most valuable trading chip—or unless rightfielder Shawn Green and third baseman Adrian Beltre start to hit. "No team that is so one-dimensional gets through a whole year like that," says one scout, referring to L.A.'s superior pitching staff. "At some point you need some offense, and they don't have any." Without an offensive upgrade, the Dodgers will be another 90-plus-win team that falls just short of the playoffs.