- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Setup men, the faceless guys who take care of leads before giving way to the big-name closers, are finally getting some acclaim this year because several of them have accumulated quite a few victories. At week's end, Barry Jones of the White Sox had 10 wins in relief, Mark Williamson of the Orioles had eight, and Juan Berenguer of the Twins, John Candelaria of the Blue Jays and Bill Sampen of the Expos each had seven.
While relievers agree that most of their wins are attributable to being in the right place at the right time, this year's top setup men have been both lucky and good. "People see a middle reliever get a win and they say, 'Oh, he vultured it,' " says Williamson. "But I know this year when I come into games, if I give up a run, I'll get an 'L' next to my name." At week's end, Williamson had allowed only two runs in 21⅔ innings in his seven victorious outings. Jones had yielded just two runs in 13⅓ innings in his 10 wins, and Berenguer had given up one in 14 innings in his seven wins.
One member of the middle relievers' fraternity recently took a step up when the least prominent—and perhaps most talented—of Cincinnati's Nasty Boys, Norm Charlton, was put in the starting rotation after 3½ months of setup work. "I think setup guys are starting to be noticed a little more," says Charlton. "They're making more money. Berenguer is a $1 million [a year] setup man. Setup men, middle men have value."
THE O'S HAVE IT
Baltimore is back in the American League East hunt thanks mainly to its '89 trademark: defense. Through Sunday, the Orioles had allowed 29 unearned runs all season—only 10 more than Detroit pitcher Jack Morris had. The O's have also gotten a lift from rookie pitcher Ben McDonald, who allowed only two runs in 15⅔ innings while winning his first two major league starts. "If I were the Blue Jays," says one scout, "I'd worry more about Baltimore than Boston."
...Houston first baseman Franklin Stubbs did not have a putout in a 5-1 victory over the Braves on July 25. Stubbs, who played the entire game, is the 15th first baseman ever to do that in a nine-inning game. "I didn't even know," says Stubbs. "I was more concerned about getting hits, not putouts."
...Montreal pitcher Oil Can Boyd no longer slam dances in the dugout between innings. Nor does he throw 90 mph anymore, yet in his last 15 starts, through Sunday, he was 4-2; had allowed more than two earned runs in only three of those appearances; and had struck out 57 batters while walking 22. "I'm relying on my know-how," says the Can. "But I still like to show people I can punch hitters out." He's one reason that the plucky Expos are still contending in the National League East race....
Daniel Boone, the 36-year-old knuckleballer Baltimore signed last winter out of the Senior League (SI, July 23), pitched a seven-inning no-hitter for Triple A Rochester against Syracuse on July 23. "I had to fight back the tears the last three innings," says Boone. Doug Melvin, the Orioles' farm director, said Boone's chances of being recalled in September are improving. "I suggested that we could have Coonskin Orioles Cap Day," said Melvin, smiling. "I was told to stay out of marketing."
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