2009 MLB American League East Notebook
An amazing stellar defensive run helped the Yankees climb to the top of the standings in the American League East.
The Bronx Bombers set a major league record of 18 consecutive games without committing an error. The mark spanned 660 chances.
Consider how difficult that is. Every routine play had to be flawless. Every tricky play had to be scored favorably. No catcher’s throws on steal attempts went into the outfield. No pickoff throws went down the right field line.
But the Yankees didn’t beat themselves and when a team can play great defense, it will win a lot of ballgames.
The streak ended June 2 against Texas on an errant throw into center field by catcher Jorge Posada.
Well, no one’s perfect.
Manager Terry Francona picked up his 500 th career victory with the franchise June 2 at Detroit. That puts him third on the all-time managerial victory list behind Joe Cronin (1,071) and Mike Higgins (570).
As he always is, Francona was gracious about reaching the milestone. Regardless of how his tenure ends, he will have carved out a piece of sainthood in Boston. He will forever be linked as the manager who broke the “Curse of the Bambino” by leading the Red Sox to world championships in 2004 and 2007.
Francona has taken the Red Sox to the postseason in four of his first five seasons. In 2005, the Red Sox lost to the eventual world champion Chicago White Sox in the division series. The Red Sox missed the playoffs in 2006 and then lost to Tampa Bay in the AL Championship Series in 2008.
All-Star center fielder Vernon Wells is just having an ordinary season. And by that, we mean it’s not the type of season Wells has been used to in the past.
The former No. 5 overall pick in the 1997 draft, Wells is not driving the ball as well as he normally has. During the middle of the week, Wells was batting only .257 with five home runs.
His doubles total is decent with 14 and he hasn’t been striking out much either, just one every nine at bats. If Wells keeps up this pace, he would be on pace to hit a career-low 15 home runs. His lowest total was 16 in 2007.
Nearing the one-third pole of the season, the Rays have to be considered the biggest disappointment in the American League.
For one, their starting pitching has really held them back. The team ERA was 4.54 and running in the middle of the AL. Leading the frustration is left-hander Scott Kazmir, who is currently on the disabled list with a quad problem.
But even before he went to the sidelines, Kazmir was terrible with a 7.69 ERA through his first nine starts. He walked (29) nearly as many as he struck out (35).
The Rays are really hoping than when Kazmir returns to the rotation following a possible rehab stint, that he will regain the form that can make him one of the toughest lefties in the game. However, Kazmir has never won more than 13 games in any season.
You know you’re getting old when you learn that Melvin Mora is 37 years old. When Mora came to the big leagues with the New York Mets, he was trumpeted as one of the games shiny new stars.
Eventually, he was traded to the Orioles where he has delivered some pretty consistent seasons. Between 2002-2008, Mora has averaged 20 home runs per season. He may not reach number this year with only two through his first 36 games. Mora has 158 home runs for his career.
By Kevin Lonnquist
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