David Sabino
Thursday May 15th, 2008

A pair of pitchers not mentioned in the best light in last week's edition of Diamond Digits bounced back nicely. After going 0-for-4 in his attempts to win his 350th game, Greg Maddux finally became the ninth pitcher to reach three-five-o by allowing just one unearned run over six innings against the Rockies in San Diego Saturday night. That same night just a short trip up I-5, last week's worst player, Houston's Chris Sampson, redeemed himself by limiting the Dodgers to three hits over seven innings in the Astros' 5-0 win. Maybe this space provides the reverse of the SI jinx. Or maybe it just proves that baseball truly is a game of averages.

33

Consecutive scoreless innings thrown by the much maligned Rangers pitching staff from Tuesday to Saturday. Starts by Vicente Padilla, Kason Gabbard and Scott Feldman resulted in three straight shutouts against the Mariners (twice) and A's. In five days Texas lowered its team ERA from 5.08 -- which ranked last in the AL and 29th overall -- to 4.62, good for 24th in the majors. The three straight blankings were the most by any team since the Orioles finished the 1995 season with five straight white-washes including two complete game shutouts by Mike Mussina and one each for Kevin Brown and Scott Erickson.

1.43

Major league-leading home runs per game for the Marlins. After winning all seven games last week, the Fish entered Monday with a three game advantage over the NL East. With a pitching staff that ranks fourth in their division, ninth in the NL and 16th overall, how can Florida be winning? Look no further than the big bats around the infield. The combination of Mike Jacobs, Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu has combined for 33 home runs, best in the majors and five more than the Phillies starting quartet of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Pedro Feliz. At the end of the weekend the Florida Marlins led the major leagues with a team slugging percentage of .456 and had hit 53 home runs, one shy of the major-league leading total of the Phillies.

8

Number of Minnesota Twins players who have hit for the cycle after Carlos Gomez joined the club on Wednesday, May 7. The blazing fast Gomez became the first Twin since the late Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett did so on August 1, 1986. Gomez, the only player the Twins got in the Johan Santana trade that is contributing this season in the major leagues, is being expected to replace longtime favorite Torii Hunter in the outfield. Minnesota would be thrilled if Gomez even approached the status of Puckett or Hunter, and through his first six weeks he's holding his own nicely. Here's how the three center fielders fared in the first 32 games of their first full Twins seasons:

Lance Berkman, 1B, Astros

With all due respect to Boston's Kevin Youkilis who hit .375 with five HRs and 10 RBIs, the king of the week was Berkman who had had hits in 15 of 22 at bats for a .682 average. He also walked five times for an OBP of .741 and added six extra base hits (two HRs, four doubles) for a 1.136 slugging percentage.

Edgar Renteria, SS, Tigers

The two-time Gold Glove winner's poor week started on Monday the 5th when he tripled his season's error total (from one to three) in a loss to the Red Sox. In the same game he also began an 0 for 18 streak during which failed to earn his way on base in 18 trips to the plate, all while leaving a whopping 14 runners on base.

Kenny Rogers, SP, Tigers

Major league baseball has counted pickoffs since 1974, and last Friday night in Detroit a new king of deception was crowned when Tigers lefty Kenny Rogers caught Yankees third baseman Wilson Betemit leaning towards second base in the second inning. It was Rogers' 92nd career pickoff, placing him one ahead of former big-leaguer Mark Langston who nabbed 91 runners in 16 seasons. The next closest among active pitchers is Andy Pettitte of the Yankees, who picked off 84 overzealous base runners in his 14-year career.

After shuttling along Lake Erie between Cleveland to Buffalo multiple times over the last two seasons, the Indians have finally made a commitment to Ben Francisco. Since being recalled on May 6, the 26-year old outfielder has played in seven of Cleveland's eight games, including five starts and batted .263 with three RBI. Although to this point in his career he has just three career home runs and no major league steals, his minor league numbers (66 home runs, 124 SB in 611 games) suggest that Francisco is a candidate to reach double digits in both, either while platooning in left field with veteran David Dellucci or filling in at the other two outfield stations.

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