Friday, July 27, 2007

Manny Just Being Manny

After his slow start this year, many people (myself included) were questioning the selection of Manny Ramirez to represent the Boston Red Sox in this year's All-Star Game. A .284 batting average and 11 home runs to go along with 45 RBI's? A pace of just 20 homers and 85 RBI's??? This was hardly Manny "just being Manny." People were speculating that perhaps THE MANNY at 35 years of age was on the downside of his career and that he didn't have a lot of productive time left. This is a player who for nine conseuctive years has smashed at least 33 home runs and driven in 102 or more - doing all of this while missing 32 games one season and more than 40 games twice! For him to have such un-Manny-like numbers more than halfway through the season was very disconcerting for most of us.

Apparently, the recent All-Star break was just what the doctor ordered to rejuvenate Mr. Ramirez. Yesterday in Cleveland, he clubbed two homers, including a 484-foot shot to left center field in the Red Sox' 14-9 victory over the Indians. With that huge day, all he has done in the 15 games since the break is hit .415 (22-for-53) with 6 homers, 19 RBI's and a ridiculous .500 on base percentage to go with an .811 slugging average. With a .303 batting average, 17 homers and 64 RBI's on the season, Manny is suddenly close to being on pace for yet another year of 30+ homers, and 100+ RBI's... if you own him in a few fantasy leagues as I do, it indeed is very nice to see Manny Just Being Manny again!


As I'm sure a lot of you know, there are a lot of milestones close to coming down - Alex Rodriguez needs one more homer for 500 in his career, and a certain San Francisco Giant player needs two more homers to tie the all-time record of Hank Aaron's... Definitely some exciting stuff to look forward to. Not to mention the great Pedro Martinez currently has 2,998 strikeouts, so when the future Hall of Famer comes back next month, he's all but assured of cracking the 3,000 barrier. Speaking of the Hall of Fame, on Sunday the great Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn will be inducted. Two class acts - and players who spent their entire career with only one team. In this day and age of free agency, that indeed is something to be very porud of.


Lots of games to cover yesterday... In Philadelphia, the Washington Nationals overcame an early 5-2 deficit to score two runs in the 7th and three more in the 8th inning on a Jesus Flores three-run homer to take a 7-5 lead over the Phillies. Ryan Howard clubbed his 29th homer for the home team, but it wasn't enough as "the Chief," Chad Cordero came in to record his 20th save for the Nationals in spite of giving up a run in the bottom of the 9th. The Nats are again playing good ball, winning 8 of 14 games since they held Miss DC Day at RFK Stadium the day before the All-Star break. Like I said before, all they needed was a little inspiration to start playing better!

Speaking of Miss DC connections, Jeff Francoeur hit a monstrous two run homer off rookie sensation Tim Lincecum in the fourth inning to give the Atlanta Braves a 2-0 lead over the Giants at 3-Com Park in San Francisco yesterday afternoon. Just to clarify for those of you that don't know, the soon-to-be-married Francoeur went to Parkview High School in Atlanta, Georgia - the same school as 2006 Miss DC Kate Michael went to. FYI, Francoeur was engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Catie McCoy this past summer. Unfortunately for the Braves, starting pitcher Buddy Carlyle could not keep the Giants in check, surrendering three runs in the fifth inning and one more in the sixth before being pulled with two outs in that frame. Ex-Dodger and UCLA graduate Dave Roberts led the Giants attack with three hits and two RBI's as they took a 4-2 victory over the Braves.

The Dodgers headed off to Colorado yesterday for the first of a four game series against the Rockies. The red-hot Jeff Kent got a day off, but that hardly slowed down the Blue Crew as they would quickly jump to a 5-0 lead off of Rockie starter Rodrigo Lopez, thanks in large part to a 2-run single by Nomar Garciaparra in the fourth inning and a two-run homer by shortstop Rafael Furcal in the fifth. Brad Penny kept the Rockies silent until the sixth when Todd Helton would hit a sacrifice fly, and Brad Hawpe hit a two-run single. Jonathan Broxton would give up a run-scoring single to Hawpe in the bottom of the 8th inning to make it a 5-4 game, but Takeshi Saito would come in and close things out in the 9th for his 26th save of the year. For Penny, it was his league leading 13th victory of the year. The Dodgers now have a 1 1/2 game lead in the National League West over the suddenly resurgent Arizona Diamondbacks who won 7-4 last night thanks to a dramatic three-run walkoff homer by Eric Byrnes with two outs in the ninth off of Florida Marlins' reliever Armando Benitez. With the win, the Diamondbacks swept their four game series with the Marlins.


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