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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chase Utley Back In Action For The Phillies

By David

During Chase Utley's four and a half week stint on the disabled list the Phillies managed to stay afloat in the NL East and Wild Card race. In his return last night from a broken hand, the All-Star second baseman lined his eighteenth home run of the year deep to center field and finished the game with three hits.

The Phillies are now five games back of the Mets after yesterday's 9-2 victory and still have three remaining games left this week against New York. The next three days will determine if Chase Utley and company can stay competitive in the division heading into September, or if they will dwindle in the hot summer heat.

Houston Astros Fire Manager and General Manager

By David

In 2005 skipper Phil Garner and general manager Tim Purpuru guided the Astros to their first World Series appearance in team history. Two years later both men are without a job after disgruntled owner Drayton McLane fired them Monday afternoon, citing dissatisfaction with the clubs performance on the field.

At 58-73 the Astros are nine games back of the NL Central leading Cubs and losers of their last five out of seven games. In a baseball town where fans value winning at a premium and the owner is extremely sensitive ''in terms of public perception'', back-to-back losing seasons is unacceptable.

Injuries, age, poor pitching and inept hitting have all contributed to the teams failure on the field this season. Prized off season acquisition Jason Jennings has been hampered by injuries all year long and that has certainly contributed to his dreadful performance on the field. He's currently 2-9 with a 6.45 E.R.A. in eighteen starts.

Future Hall of Famer Craig Biggio is retiring after twenty stellar seasons in an Astros uniform and 38-year old Bard Ausmus is nearing the end of his career. When you look around the horn it's clear that only first and third base are occupied by players with good enough talent to make a significant impact on the team for years to come. Outside of All-Star Lance Berkman and newly acquired Ty Wiggington Houston has many holes to fill.

Patrolling the vacuous confines of Minute Maid Park is one of the premier sluggers in baseball, Carlos Lee, and one of the most talented rookies in Hunter Pence. Right field is still a question mark for the Astros as they are not sold on either Chris Burke or Luke Scott.

With only two consistent starting pitchers in ace Roy Oswalt and left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, Houston seems to be in a long term rebuilding mode and that is something die hard Astros fans do not want to hear.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Yankees' Phil Hughes Continues To Struggle

By David

Once thought of as the savior to this year's starting rotation, rookie Phil Hughes has struggled in his previous two starts giving up five runs in each outing.

On May 1st in his second-career start in the majors, Hughes had to leave after pitching 6 1/3 innings of no-hit baseball due to a debilitating left hamstring injury. The injury he sustained against the Rangers sidelined him until the beginning of August and severely hampered the Yankees chances of competing in the AL East.

Yesterday afternoon in Detroit Hughes lasted six innings and gave up four hits, three of them being home runs. To lead off the bottom half of the first Curtis Granderson ripped a line drive down the left field line that was mishandled by Hideki Matsui and allowed Granderson to score. His hit ignited the Tigers' offensive onslaught as shortstop Carlos Guillien blasted a two-run home run to right center field and slugger Marcus Thames hit his 15th home run of the season in the third inning.

The next several weeks will be critical in the development of Hughes as a big game pitcher and it will show the Yankees if he can be counted on to produce in the postseason.

Minnesota Twins Continue Hot Streak After Losing 9 out of 14

By David

On August 1st the Minnesota Twins were three games over .500, six back of the division leading Tigers and losers of six out of their last ten games.

All-Star second baseman Luis Castillo had been traded to the Mets and many prominent players on the team, including Gold Glove center fielder Torii Hunter and ace Johan Santana, were voicing their opinions about how disappointed they were with management. Players even went so far as to say that their inability to pull off any deadline deals is the major reason why the team will never make it out of the first-round.

What ensued in the following two weeks was a horrid combination of poor pitching and inept hitting. During the week of August 5th the Twins scored one or less runs five times, while surrendering 28 runs. They split a four-game set against the division leading Indians, lost two out of three against the woeful Royals and were swept at L.A.

Midway through the month Minnesota was 60-60 and seven games behind the wild card leading Mariners. They were now at a crossroads in their season as it seemed a bit to late for them to make a viable push at a playoff spot, but Rod Gardenhire's team was not ready to give up.

With a four-game sweep at Camden Yards against the struggling Orioles where they outscored Baltimore 31-10, they are now 5.5 games behind the Indians and four-games over .500.

The Twins will now start a crucial three-game series at Cleveland and if they are somehow able to leave Jacobs Field with at least two victories they will be in a good position entering September.

Landowner appeal pauses ballpark deal

Monday's ruling by independent panel will be appealed By Jess Myers / Special to MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- While plans go forward for a ceremonial groundbreaking next Thursday at the site of the Minnesota Twins' future ballpark, the current owners of the property will have to wait a few more months before learning what they'll be paid for the land.

On Wednesday, the landowners informed Hennepin County that they will appeal Monday's ruling by an independent panel that the land is worth $23.8 million. In the past, the landowners have sought more than $60 million for the parcel of land, which sits just north of Target Center in the Warehouse District of downtown Minneapolis.

At least one official from Hennepin County, which has taken the land via eminent domain and offered to pay $13.75 million for the parcel, said that the appeal was expected.

"We've played it the way we're supposed to and have followed the recommendation of the panel," said Hennepin County commissioner Linda Koblick. "The commissioners have met and done their job. We're not pleased with it, but the landowners aren't pleased with it, either. So the appeal doesn't surprise me. It's within their right."

Others with the county expressed disappointment that the landowners would not accept the panel's ruling.

"We thought this was about a fair process," said Hennepin County commissioner Peter McLaughlin. "Get the facts out and make a fair decision. There was a three-person panel who looked at it, which is what I thought [the landowners] wanted. Now they're going to appeal. It's disappointing. But we'll keep moving forward."

Aron Kahn, a spokesperson for the landowners, noted that work on the ballpark project, including the Aug. 30 groundbreaking ceremony, will not be delayed, but the landowners will exercise their right to appeal for a better price for their property.

"An appeal is part of the process," said Kahn. "When public entities take private property, the owners have the right to contest the amount, and that's what they intend to do."

The appeal will likely mean a jury trial sometime later in the year. On Monday, the independent three-person panel appointed to study the dispute and set a price for the land delivered the $23.8 million ruling, but only two of the three panelists signed the report. Larry Tucker, a licensed real estate appraiser on the panel, filed a dissenting report with the county, saying that the land was worth more than $33 million, in his opinion.

That dissenting opinion is expected to be the basis of the landowners' appeal. Koblick, who previously voted against using county sales taxes to partially fund the ballpark, said Tucker's actions were unexpected.

"Filing a minority opinion doesn't surprise me if it's a Supreme Court decision, but I think this was taken to an extreme," said Koblick, who represents several communities in western Hennepin County.

Content to concentrate their efforts on baseball and preparations for the groundbreaking, Twins officials said that they're letting the county deal with the land issues.

"We are committed to and focused on the design and construction of the ballpark, and that work is ongoing," said Kevin Smith, the Twins' vice president of public affairs. "Our county partners are working through the process regarding the land acquisition. As they do so, we prepare for the groundbreaking, which will signal that work will begin in earnest on the new facility."

The new open-air ballpark is expected to be finished in time for the 2010 baseball season, and will replace the Metrodome, which has been the home of the Twins since 1982.

Rockies Sweep Nationals To Inch Closer In Wild Card Race

By David

The season is far from over for the Colorado Rockies. Despite not winning a series since August 6th against the Brewers, the Rockies re-established themselves as a threat in the NL wild card chase with a three-game sweep over the woeful Washington Nationals.

Currently, the Rockies are lead by 26-year old left-hander Jeff Francis, 22-year old rookie phenom Troy Tulowitzki, 27-year old power slugger Brad Hawpe and 27-year old All-Star Matt Holliday. As the Rockies embark on a six-game road trip starting tonight in San Francisco, they trail the San Diego Padres by 3.5 games in the wild card race.

Behind six solid innings from veteran Elmer Dessens, 3 rbi's from Tulowitzki, 3 rbi's and a home run from slugger Matt Holliday, and 15 total hits by the teams offense. the Rockies leapfrogged the slumping Braves to pull into a third place tie with the Dodgers in the wild card chase.

''We're excited every day to come to the ballpark because we think we have a chance to win ,'' third baseman Garrett Atkins said. This is the first time in several seasons Colorado has had any hope of optimism late in the season and it will be very interesting to see if the youthful Rockies can sustain their success.

Georgia wins LLWS on walk-off homer

Peach State is home to champions for second straight year
By David Briggs / MLB.com

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Dalton Carriker remembers falling down to one knee and praying in the first-base dugout moments before his at-bat in the bottom of the eighth inning on Sunday.

"Please God," he said, "give me the strength to help my teammates."

From there, however, it's all a haze as Carriker laced an opposite-field homer over the right-field wall to ensure history would belong to Georgia and the boys from Warner Robins in a 3-2 victory over Japan in the title game of the Little League World Series.

The 12-year-old pumped his fists into the air, roared and dashed around the bases as chants of "USA! USA! USA!" pulsated from the 31,400 fans both in the stands and on the massive hill beyond the outfield at Lamade Stadium.

"My legs were about to fall off," Carriker said. "I really thought I was flying, like Peter Pan."
The first game-ending homer Carriker had ever hit just happened to be one of the biggest hits in the 61-year history of the Little League World Series.

"I almost fainted right there," Carriker said.

Said Warner Robins manager Mickey Lay, "I'm waiting to fall out of bed."

The upset victory over heavily favored Japan delivered back-to-back titles to Warner Robins' home state and proved the third time can also be a charm. The U.S. has now won three straight series titles for the first time since 1964-66 and the win gave Georgia a third championship in just the state's third World Series appearance. Columbus took last year's crown while East Marietta did so in 1983.

It's the water, it's the water," Lay said. "That's very sweet. I told [the kids] last night that even if we lost today, [you] are one of 36 players that has ever done this in the state of Georgia in 61 years."

Yet they joined their Peach State Little League brethren as victors, able to say they were the only team to run that jubilant victory lap around Lamade Stadium following the title game.

And belying the highlights of Carriker's home run that will forever live on as the tournament's defying moment, more than one player told the tale of Sunday's win.

Keaton Allen, pitching for the first time since last month's state tournament, held high-powered Japan to single runs in each of the first two innings while Kendal Scott pitched 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Pitching what Lay called "the best game I've ever seen him throw," Scott gave up one hit and struck out 10.

Meanwhile, Warner Robins quickly erased an early deficit with Allen's two-out, two-run double over the center fielder's head to tie the game in the second.

"I knew once we tied it up, it was going to come down to who had the last at-bat," Lay said.

And as Lay knew, that at-bat belonged to Georgia and ultimately, Carriker.

Carriker prayed because he had gone hitless on the day and was facing Junsho Kiuchi, who had looked unhittable over his first two innings. Simply looking for a fastball, he instead saw a 2-1 curveball on the outside corner of the plate.

You know what happened next.

"I just hit a walk-off home run to win the Little League World Series," Carriker recalled thinking. "I've never a hit a walk-off homer in in my life. Why did I do it now?"
Lay leapt in joy at third base while a joyous throng of red and gold sprinted out of the dugout to home plate.

"I jumped for joy, almost had tears of joy, I was so happy for him," said Zane Conlon, who pitched the final one-third of an inning for Georgia.

The boys from Warner Robins were champions of Little League baseball.

So much for the prediction of Lubbock, Texas, manager Ed Thorne, who like so many others, never gave Georgia a chance against Japan. After falling to Georgia on Saturday, Thorne said, "Japan will win that ballgame" and said Sunday he "wouldn't be surprised if it was by a large score."

Sorry, Ed. Wrong on both counts. An underdog Georgia team ended the most improbable of summer rides on top of the Little League World.

"This is sweet," Lay said. "There's only several times in your life that people come into your life to touch you emotionally and get into your heart and never leave. And the 12 on this team have done that."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Florida Marlins Plummet To Bottom Of NL East

By David

After a surprising season last year where they took the baseball world by surprise, the Florida Marlins have reverted to one of the worst teams in the majors. Despite a young roster full of energetic players who possess immense talent and ability, the fish have been unable to stay healthy and find any consistency.

Manager Freddi Gonzalez has guided the Marlins to a 57-73 record in his first-year on the job. At the same time last season, manager Joe Girardi had the Marlins 4 games under .500 and on a six-game win streak.

Injuries have hampered the Marlins all season long as sixteen players have been placed on the disabled list. That has been the real down fall for the team all year as the inability to get in a groove and find cohesion as a team has lead their horrendous record.

The Marlins pitching staff has been their real downfall this season as their 4.73 E.R.A. ranks 14th in the National League and their 536 walks given up is tops in the senior circuit.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Texas Rangers Score 30 Runs To Demolish The Orioles

By David

The Texas Rangers scored 30 runs in the first game of a doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday afternoon to set a modern day record and American League record.

After falling behind 3-0 in the third inning, the Rangers proceeded to score five runs in the fourth inning, nine runs in the sixth, ten runs in the eighth and six runs in the ninth. Their 29 hits were the most since the 1992 Brewers combined for 31.

Ramon Vazquez blasted a three-run home run in the top of the fourth and another three-run shot in the ninth, Marlon Byrd hit a grand slam in the sixth, rookie Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered twice and Travis Metcalf hit the team's second grand slam of the day in the eighth inning.

Starter Daniel Cabrera surrendered six runs over five, reliever Brian Burres gave up eight runs in 0.2 innings, Rob Bell did not fair any better as he gave up seven runs in 1.1 innings and journeyman Paul Shuey took the brunt of the Rangers offensive onslaught as he surrendered nine runs over two innings.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Phil Rizzuto, Yankees' Hall of Fame shortstop and longtime broadcaster, dies at 89

By BEN WALKER, AP Baseball Writer
August 15, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) -- To fellow Hall of Famers, Phil Rizzuto was a guy who could put down a squeeze bunt, handle a tricky hop or make a nifty hook slide.

To a generation of fans who never saw "The Scooter" play a single inning, he became famous for something else -- "Holy cow!"

Part of the New York Yankees family for more than a half-century, Rizzuto died Monday night at 89. The team will wear his retired No. 10 on its left sleeves for the rest of the season.

"I guess heaven must have needed a shortstop," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement. "He epitomized the Yankee spirit -- gritty and hard charging -- and he wore the pinstripes proudly."

A staple during the Yankees dynasty in the 1940s and 1950s, Rizzuto became a beloved broadcaster doing their games for four decades.

While many announcers spouted statistics, Rizzuto told stories. He delighted television and radio listeners by spinning yarns about his fear of lightning, his favorite place to get a cannoli and the prospect of outfielder Dave Winfield as a candidate for president.

His voice dripping with his native Brooklyn, Rizzuto liked to acknowledge birthdays and anniversaries, read notes from fans and send messages to old cronies. Once he noticed old teammate Bobby Brown -- then the American League president -- sitting in a box seat and hollered down, trying to get his attention.

"He would keep getting in trouble with WPIX for announcing birthdays and anniversaries," daughter Patricia Rizzuto recalled Tuesday.

If Rizzuto missed a play, he would merely scribble "ww" in his scorecard box score. That, he said, meant "wasn't watching."

His fans and colleagues never minded. Because by simply saying "Hey, White!" to longtime broadcasting partner Bill White, it was time for another tale.

"He didn't try to act like an announcer," Hall of Fame teammate Whitey Ford said. "He just said what he thought. It added fun to the game."

And, Rizzuto never strayed too far from his catch-phrase -- the same one that Harry Caray popularized in St. Louis and Chicago.

Rizzuto used it all sorts of ways, depending on what he was describing. He shouted "Holy cow!" when he called Roger Maris' record-breaking 61st home run, but he also employed it to express disbelief or acknowledgment.

For players who bothered him, however, it was always, "What a huckleberry!"

''Phil was a unique figure who exemplified the joy of our game to millions of fans," commissioner Bud Selig said.

In the New York area, Rizzuto's antics became a staple for TV ads. Nonbaseball fans got to know him, too, hearing his voice on Meat Loaf's rock hit "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" and watching Billy Crystal's imitations.

Rizzuto had been in declining health for several years. He had pneumonia and died in his sleep at a nursing home in West Orange, N.J., daughter Patricia Rizzuto said.

Rizzuto was the oldest living Hall of Famer and his Cooperstown plaque noted how he "overcame diminutive size." At 5-foot-6, he played over his head, winning seven World Series titles, earning the 1950 AL MVP award and becoming a five-time All-Star.

"When I first came up to the Yankees, he was like a big -- actually, small -- brother to me," said Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, who frequently visited Rizzuto in his later years.

The flags at Yankee Stadium were lowered to half-staff before Tuesday night's game against Baltimore and flowers were placed by Rizzuto's plaque at Monument Park.

Public address announcer Bob Sheppard detailed some of Rizzuto's accomplishments before the team observed a pregame moment of silence. His number was painted on the grass in front of each dugout and marquees outside the stadium said "Phil Rizzuto 1917-2007"

"Scooter, we will miss you," Sheppard said as a video tribute aired on the scoreboard.

Rizzuto's numbers, by Hall standards, were not gaudy: a .273 batting average and 38 lifetime homers. After falling short in 26 elections, it took a passionate speech from Ted Williams to get him picked.

Rizzuto was a flashy player who could always be counted on to steal a key base or make a diving catch in a lineup better known for its cornerstone sluggers. He played 13 seasons alongside the likes of Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle in a career interrupted by Navy service in World War II.

Often overshadowed by Hall of Fame teammates, it made sense that Rizzuto was the first "mystery guest" on the old game show "What's My Line?" in 1950.

A leadoff man with quick feet that earned him his nickname, Rizzuto inspired Yankees teams that won 11 pennants and nine World Series between 1941 and 1956.

He was a Yankee all the way," Indians Hall of Famer Bob Feller said. "He knew the fundamentals of the game and he got 100 percent out of his ability. He played it hard and he played it fair."

Long after his playing career, Rizzuto could often be found talking ball in the Yankees clubhouse. He especially enjoyed his visits with shortstop Derek Jeter.

"Mr. Rizzuto serves as the ultimate reminder that physical stature has little bearing on the size of a person's heart," Jeter said. "Nothing was ever given to Phil, and he used every ounce of his ability to become one of the greatest Yankees to ever wear this uniform."

On Phil Rizzuto Day at Yankee Stadium in 1985, the team gave him a fitting present: a cow wearing a halo.

The cow knocked Rizzuto over and, of course, he shouted, "Holy cow!"
"That thing really hurt," he said. "That big thing stepped right on my shoe and pushed me backwards, like a karate move."

Rizzuto was passed over for the Hall of Fame 15 times by the writers and 11 times by the Veterans Committee. Finally, Williams' speech pushed Rizzuto into Cooperstown in 1994.

"If we'd had Rizzuto in Boston, we'd have won all those pennants instead of New York," Williams often said.

The flag at Cooperstown was lowered to half-staff and a laurel was placed around his plaque, as is custom when Hall of Famers die. With Rizzuto's death, executive Lee MacPhail, 89, became the oldest living Hall member.

Rizzuto is survived by his wife, Cora; daughters Cindy Rizzuto, Patricia Rizzuto and Penny Rizzuto Yetto; son Phil Rizzuto Jr.; and two granddaughters.

A private, family funeral is planned. The family is working with the Yankees on a memorial to be held at Yankee Stadium.

AP Sports Writers Hal Bock and Jay Cohen, Associated Press Writer Pat Milton, AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland, and Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Gold in Hillside, N.J., contributed to this report.

Updated on Wednesday, Aug 15, 2007 3:48 am, EDT

Sunday, August 05, 2007

HR# 755 - Barry Bonds Ties Henry Aaron Vs. San Diego

Bonds' historic home run, dogged by controversy, is a big relief
Henry Schulman, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, August 5, 2007
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(08-05) 04:00 PDT San Diego -- Throughout the pursuit, Barry Bonds' world had become suffocating. He chased Hank Aaron while allegations of steroid abuse chased him. To his left, to his right, above and below, the media and fans crowded him, watched him, questioned him, cheered him and taunted him.
When he caught Aaron on Saturday night, hitting his 755th home run in the second inning of the Giants' 3-2, 12-inning loss to the San Diego Padres, Bonds finally got his reward - a chance to run the bases in solitude, to breathe, to know that no man who ever wore a major-league uniform has hit more home runs than he has.
Thirty-three years, three months and 27 days after Aaron hit his 715th home run to surpass Babe Ruth, Bonds met Aaron with a 382-foot shot against San Diego right-hander Clay Hensley, a onetime Giants prospect who two years ago drew a 15-game suspension in the minors for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds' 755th homer went to left field, just like his first homer in 1986. It clanged off the facing of the low second deck at Petco Park, a stadium, legend holds, that was built with deep dimensions to be "Bonds-proof." A crowd of 42,497 reacted with more cheers than boos, flying in the face of yearslong fears that this feat would be greeted with embarrassing derision.
Four hours after he homered, and eight hours after he took 113 swings in an unusual, early batting-practice session inside an empty stadium, Bonds expressed his relief with getting it done.
"This is the hardest thing I've ever gone through in my entire career," Bonds said. "It's a different feeling than any of the other ones. I really am lost for words at this moment."
Aaron has not embraced Bonds' pursuit of his record, but Bonds has embraced Aaron and did so again when they stood together at 755.
"We as baseball players, especially as African American ballplayers, have so much respect for Hank Aaron and all our other African American athletes as well," he said. "They have paved the road to what we are doing now. No one at any time, shape, form will ever allow me to say anything different about Hank Aaron (than) what a great person he is and what a great athlete he is."
It was fitting Bonds tied the record against the Padres. Bonds' 87 home runs against them are his most against any opponent. Hensley became the 445th pitcher to surrender one.
After homering, Bonds walked three times. When he left in the eighth for pinch-runner Rajai Davis, he received a standing ovation from a large segment of the crowd.
His next opportunity to pass Aaron is expected to be Monday, when the Giants open a seven-game homestand with the first of four games against the Washington Nationals. Even before Saturday's game, manager Bruce Bochy said Bonds probably will rest in today's series finale, and Bonds confirmed it, saying, "I am not going to be in the lineup tomorrow. I'm going to be celebrating with my family."
At 7:29 PDT, Bonds came to the plate on a warm evening, with plenty of sunlight still bathing the office buildings and hotels that compose the skyline beyond the 3-year-old stadium. As usual, flashbulbs popped incessantly as soon as he made his way to the batter's box, although their effect was muted in the dusk.
Bonds took the first three pitches, a strike and two balls, before slamming the 2-1, outside fastball to the opposite field. He had no doubt he made history. The same went for the pitcher.
"I knew it was gone when he hit it," said Hensley, who did not seem overly distraught with his infamous place in history. "I'm not going to put much stock in it. ... What I was more upset about was giving up the home run. I don't like giving up runs."
Bonds stood and watched the record-tying home run sail away. Left fielder Scott Hairston retreated as far as he could, stuck his back against the left-field wall and did not bother to look up and watch the baseball sail over the fence. A scrum for the ball ensued among the bleacher fans. It was retrieved by Adam Hughes, 33, of nearby La Jolla - a city whose Spanish name translates to "The Jewel."
Bonds dropped his bat, punched one hand with the other and clapped as he started to run. There were no histrionics, only a satisfying 360-foot trot.
The fans, already on their feet, offered a mixed reaction that symbolized the divisiveness Bonds has engendered during his chase for the record, although it was far more positive than many predicted for a road game.
The cheers, many from Giants fans in a hostile house, reflected their appreciation for Bonds' feat. The boos reflected the anger of many baseball fans who believe Bonds achieved this milestone only because he took performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds' son and batboy, Nikolai, charged out of the dugout on the third-base side of the field as the ball cleared the fence. When Bonds reached the plate he lifted Nikolai with one arm and continually slammed him on the back with the other, walking several steps along the way.
Commissioner Bud Selig was present, a reluctant spectator. As Bonds rounded the bases, ESPN cameras showed Selig standing in his box, looking indifferent, his hands appearing to be in his pants pockets. Selig later issued a statement congratulating Bonds and saying, "No matter what anybody thinks of the controversy surrounding this event, Mr. Bonds' achievement is noteworthy and remarkable."
Bonds hugged on-deck hitter Ryan Klesko then greeted the rest of his teammates, who emerged from the dugout. They stood on the field only a short time before Bonds walked to his wife, Elizabeth, and daughter Aisha, who were seated in a box behind the plate. Bonds kissed both through the protective netting of the foul-ball screen.
Bonds then hugged Sue Burns, the Giants' principal investor, tipped his helmet to the crowd, walked into the dugout, sat down and smiled, knowing that his next home run will leave him atop the all-time list.
No. 755 was rooted in his early batting-practice session. He asked batting coach Joe Lefebvre for the extra work, and Bonds said Lefebvre suggested they come out more than four hours before game time, away from the media glare of regular batting practice, and "go over some of the things my dad used to talk to me about. Joe wanted us to be by ourselves and get away from all of the attention.
"Joe wanted me to get out there and work on the things I've done for so long in my career, for 22 years, and get out there and spend time doing it like I've always done it, then take yourself away, go relax, visualize the things we did and follow through with it into the game. And it worked."
Manager Bruce Bochy threw to Bonds for 30 minutes, and Lefebvre the final 10, alternating in the cage with rookies Fred Lewis and Davis. Bochy is not one to take credit for things like this, although he did say, "I had some good stuff today."
When Bonds caught Ruth at 714 last year, he said that was far more important to him than passing Ruth. Most people will consider Bonds' next homer, No. 756, a more important event. But Bonds seemed to differ Saturday, saying, "The hardest part is over now."
In fact, Bonds already sounds resigned to losing the record to Alex Rodriguez, who hit his 500th home run earlier Saturday. Reiterating how difficult this chase has been, Bonds said, "I had rashes on my head. I felt like I was getting sick at times. It's tough to go up there and be in this situation as it is. Alex, I'm rooting for you. I'll be there for you. I'll help you through it all. I'm praying for you."
-- The Giants-Padres game was not over by press time. Go to sfgate.com for coverage.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Morgan Ensberg Homers Twice In Padres Victory

By David

Behind seven scoreless innings by Jake Peavy and two home runs by new Padre Morgan Ensberg, San Diego defeated divisional rival Arizona 11-0.

Acquired in a trade deadline deal Tuesday from Houston, Ensberg belted two two-run homers and drove in four runs to inch within 1.5 games of the division lead. In 85 games with the Astros he was batting a dismal .232 with eight long balls and 31 runs driven in.

All-Star Jake Peavy struck out ten Diamondbacks and improved his record to 11-5, while lowering his E.R.A. to 2.30. Arizona right-handers Yusmeiro Petit and Dustin Nippert both gave up 5 earned runs in their teams first lose since a 14-0 shellacking at the hands of the Atlanta Braves Sunday afternoon.

Two mainstays in the Padres, Adrian Gonzalez and Khalil Greene, both added home runs to shut out the NL West leading Dbacks. New hitting coach Wally Joyner must have enjoyed the offensive explosion San Diego put on against their division rival.

San Diego will welcome Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants into town this weekend.

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