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Article:Baseball Notebook: Marcus Thames Homers in 5th Straight Game

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Marcus Thames has been a big part of the resurgence of the Detroit Tigers and homered in his fifth straight game in the Tigers' 5-1 defeat over the San Francisco Giants. His last 8 hits have been homers, and, since 2001, only Mark McGwire has had more homers go for hits when he had 11 straight hits that were homers in 2001.

17 of Thames' 30 hits this season have been for extra bases. He leads the Tigers in home runs with in 117 at-bats and in slugging with a .624 mark. Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez are second with 10 homers despite having over 150 more at-bats than Thames, who is hitting a homer every 9 at-bats this season. Thames has been a bargain for the Tigers since he is only earning $1.2 million while outhomering Cabrera and Ordonez, who are making over $26 million this season between them.

Three Teams with Lowest Payroll Are Second Place in Their Division

The Florida Marlins who have the lowest payroll in the Majors with a $22 million payroll are in second place in the NL East. The Tampa Bay Rays have next lowest payroll at $43 million and are in second place in AL East. The Oakland Athletics, who are third lowest in payroll at $47 million, are in second place in the AL West.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, who are leading the NL West, have the lowest payroll among first place teams with $66 million, which places them 23rd in the Majors in payroll. The Tigers and New York Mets are second and third in payroll with both teams paying out over $137 million this season but are both next to last in their divisions.

The first place Boston Red Sox are 4th in payroll at $133 million, the first place Chicago White Sox are 5th at $121 million, the first place Los Angeles Angels are 6th at $118 million, and the first place Chicago Cubs are 8th at $117 million. The first place Philadelphia Phillies are 13th on the list at $95 million.

The New York Yankees lead all teams in payroll at $207 million, which is $70 million more than the Mets, who have the second highest payroll. The Seattle Mariners are the highest paid last place team with a $116 million payroll.

Around the Bases

Omar Minaya is pictured smiling on the front page of the ESPN baseball site, and it baffles me how this man could be smiling after firing Willie Randolph in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday morning. It is hard to believe he could be so callous to be standing there with the new Mets manager Jerry Manuel with a huge smile on his face. I think the problem with this team was more due to the general manager than anything Randolph did.

Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton, who leads the AL in homers (19) and RBI's (74, which is 19 more than second place Carlos Quentin) is only making $396,000 this season, while Quentin is making only $4,000 more at $400,000.

Andy Pettitte (7-5) pitched his second straight excellent game after being shelled by the Kansas City Royals on June 7th. On that date, he gave up 10 runs and 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings. Since then, he has given up one earned run in his last 15 innings. Surprisingly he received no decision in the 12-11 loss to the Royals. He has won his last four games in which he received a decision.

Yesterday, all the NL East teams lost their games and all the AL West teams won their games. The Milwaukee Brewers were the only team to win in the NL Central.

The Yankees have some interesting pitching matchups soon with Darrell Rasner (3-4) going to the mound against Jake Peavy (5-3) today and Mike Mussina (10-4) and Edinson Volquez (11-2) face each other on Friday. On Saturday, Dan Giese (1-1) will make his first Major League start against Homer Bailey (0-3), who has been struggling. This may be Bailey's last chance to stay on the Cincinnati Reds' roster after his humiliating loss to the Red Sox last Sunday.

Ron Gardenhire and Cecil Cooper have been fined by Major League Baseball for not cooperating with the latest rules for speeding up the game. Who is going to fine the umpires for looking the other way when Josh Beckett takes 32 seconds between pitches after getting the ball back from the catcher? That is 20 seconds longer than the 12 seconds he is supposed to have before delivering the pitch and is supposed to be an automatic ball.

Ken Griffey Jr., despite hitting his 600th homer, is showing signs of slowing down. He only has 7 homers, while the league leader, Chase Utley, has 22. His 30 RBI's are 32 RBI's less than the three league leaders Ryan Howard, Adrian Gonzalez and Utley who are tied with 62 each. His .244 batting average would be the lowest of his career if the season ended today, as well as his .391 slugging percentage. In the last 7 seasons, he has a total of 9 stolen bases, and 6 of them were stolen last year. There have been rumors he would consent to being traded to the Rays, but the way he is hitting now, I can't see the Rays being interested in acquiring him.

Alex Rodriguez missed some playing time, so his power numbers are down, but most of his numbers are about where they usually are. He is hitting .328, which would be third in the AL, but because he doesn't have enough at-bats, he doesn't qualify and is not listed among the leaders. He has not hit for this high of an average since his 1996 season with the Mariners when he hit .358. He has a .411 on base percentage and a .619 slugging percentage.

There are only 15 American Leaguers hitting over .300 this season, and only 4 are hitting higher than .315. The Tigers and Rangers have three players in the top 15, and the Yankees, Twins, and Red Sox have two players on the list. So that means four teams have 12 of the top 15 hitters in the league. The White Sox, Royals, and Angels have one each, leaving five teams with no qualified .300 hitters.

The Rangers have a chance of having three players with 200 hits this season with Josh Hamilton with 91, Ian Kinsler with 90, and Michael Young with 82 hits. The Rangers have played 72 games so these three players have 9 games to have 100 hits by the halfway mark.


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