MLB General

The Full Count: Thome’s 500th one to remember

1. Yet Another Milestone: In what has been more than anything a season of milestones, Jim Thome supplied the latest with his 500th career homer. Becoming the third player this year and 23rd overall to join the once-exclusive club, Thome has understandably received less attention than most to reach the mark. The home run, which dramatically was a walk-off shot in a win over the Angels, was Thome’s 28th this year. He is two homers shy of his 11th career 30-homerun season. Thome, contrary to fellow 500-homer sluggers Frank Thomas and Alex Rodriguez, is not a sure-fire Hall of Famer. His career average is .281, just .229 in the postseason. He never finished in the top 3 of the MVP voting either. Though Thome may not make the Hall, it is undeniable that he is among the league’s all time greatest sluggers. He is top 20 all time in career slugging percentage and OPS. Regardless of whether he is enshrined in Cooperstown, Thome deserves more recognition for what he has accomplished.

2. Right in the Race: The Philadelphia Phillies continue to make a push for the playoffs. With a weekend sweep of the Mets, they moved within 3.5 games of the previously dominant division leaders. They are also only 1.5 games back of the wild card-leading Padres. Whether Philly can pass one of these teams is still unknown. They continue to have the league’s best offense, with 49 more runs than the second-place Rockies. But their pitching staff, as always, has been a weakness, with only the Nats and Reds allowing more runs on the year. On Sunday, Philly outscored the Mets 10-6, with the Mets virtually beating themselves. New York had 6 errors, their most in five years, and 11 walks. Jose Reyes made two errors on one play in the second inning, which led to two Phillies runs. The Mets should still roll to the division title, as they have the easiest schedule they could have asked for down the stretch. Their four remaining series are split between the Nationals and Marlins, two of the worst teams in the National League.

3. Peavy for MVP?: In a season that lacks a standout contender for the NL MVP, Padres starter Jake Peavy certainly deserves at least some consideration. He is virtually an automatic win every time he takes the mound, with an 18-6 record and a 9-2 mark since the All Star break. Without him, the Padres would be nowhere near the Wild Card lead. On Sunday, Peavy shut down the Giants, with one run allowed in seven innings and 10 strikeouts. He leads the league in strikeouts (225), ERA (2.39), WHIP (1.04), and wins. There has certainly not been any offensive player in the National League that has done as much for his team as Peavy has done for the Padres.

Player of the Day: Michael Young, Rangers: 3-4, HR, 7 RBIs in an 11-9 win over the A’s.

Chicago White Sox

Odds and Ends 05.31.06: Make way for MVP Thome

A change of scenery has Jim Thome being talked about as a strong MVP candidate. Even Paul Konerko understands this is one of those magical seasons for a player. He is willing to step aside in interleague play so that Thome can play 1B and get his at-bats in.

There’s no way I’m going to sit this guy,” Guillen said of Thome, who leads the Sox with 20 home runs. “I already talked to Konerko about that, and he’s willing to do what I want him to do. That’s why I think it’s easy to manage this club. Nobody has an ego, and, obviously, when you’re playing interleague, you want to be in the lineup.

In other news…

[MSNBA]: Barry Bonds wants us to think he’s human after all

[Pioneer Press]: Kevin McHale is delusional

[USA Today]: Report clears Armstrong of doping in 1999 Tour de France

[Sportsline]: NCAA rule change allows coaches one replay challenge per game

[SignOnSanDiego]: Sauerbeck is sorry for getting arrested

[Mirror UK]: England’s March Madness — 15% plan “illness” during World Cup matches

MLB General

Full Count for Tues May 30 2006: Prodigal son

1. Make yourself at home: Jim Thome, playing in his second series at Jacobs Field since he used to be an Indian, gave fans a flashback to the past on Memorial Day. Thome, who hit 334 homers in his career as an Indian, hit two out on Monday, giving him 20 on the year. His two two-run shots increased his RBI total to 49, and he leads the AL in both power categories. Thome was just a part of the White Sox’s 11-0 smashing of the Indians, as Paul Konerko also homered and Javier Vasquez pitched 2-hit ball through 6 innings. The shutout was the third of the year for the Indians, who are second in the majors in scoring. The White Sox improved to 33-17, but they are still 1.5 back of the Tigers.

2. Most Important Player: Albert Pujols proved once again on Monday how valuable he has been to the Cardinals and their best-in-NL 33-18 record. With the Cardinals down 1-0 in the seventh and Astros starter Roy Oswalt out of the game, Pujols jacked his 25th homerun on the season. The three-run shot provided the Cards with their only runs of the game and showcased once again how valuable this player is. The Cardinals pitchers were efficient as usual–Jason Marquis improved to 7-4 and Jason Isringhausen got his NL-leading 17th save. The Astros–who have met the Cardinals in each of the last two NLCS–fell to 26-26 on the year.

3. Guess who’s back: Randy Johnson has struggled hugely this year for the Yankees, with no quality starts since April 23. On Monday, he showed that he can still pitch well, shutting out the Tigers in 6 innings pitched. It was the first time this year that Johnson hadn’t allowed a run, and the first time this month that he has allowed less than 4 runs. The Yankees rode Johnson to a 4-0 victory over the Tigers, who still have the major league’s best record. Detroit was held to 2 hits on the day, and this was their second loss in a row after winning 15 of 16. Meanwhile, the Yankees have won 3 in a row but they still trail the Red Sox by a game.

4. The Rockies are pitching well: That’s not a sentence you hear very often, but it was true on Monday. Jason Jennings, who’s ERA hasn’t been under 5 since his 2002 Rookie of the Year campaign, shut out the Padres. Jennings allowed only 2 hits in a complete game effort, and he was supported well by the Rockies offense. Matt Holliday hit his 12th homerun, and surprising Brad Hawpe hit his 11th. The Rockies are in third place now in the jam-packed NL West, while the Padres are just a game back of them yet tied for last. Arizona and Los Angeles are virtually tied for the division lead.

5. DL Time: 2005 AL Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon had been on the DL for more than a month now, and he is about to be joined by last year’s NL winner Chris Carpenter. Carpenter, who is on pace for numbers similar to last year’s stellar season, has had shoulder problems. He will go on the 15-day disabled list and will be replaced in the rotation by promising prospect Anthony Reyes. But the news is much worse for the Blue Jays’ AJ Burnett. He was transferred from the 15-day DL to the 60-day, which means he can’t come back until June 21. Burnett, after signing a huge contract this offseason, has only seen two starts in a Toronto uniform. However, Dodgers fans should be happy, as Eric Gagne made his final rehab start yesterday. Gagne, the record-breaking closer, earned a save for AAA Las Vegas. He is expected to be back this Thursday to fortify to Dodgers’ bullpen.