Major League Roundup

It's moving into late June and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have won 12 games in a row, the Texas Rangers are in first place, and the races are tight in every division in baseball. Get the latest on each team throughout the majors right here, right now, from InsidethePark's Ian Levin.

Anaheim Angels: (Record: 37-31, Week: 2-4)
After challenging the team to trade him or start him, the Angels decided to give Ramon Ortiz another shot in the rotation and he responded with one of his best outings of the year. Ortiz got the win by allowing three hits and two walks while striking out five in six innings. Ortiz is doing his best to stay in the rotation after Aaron Sele returns but it is still likely that he ends up in the bullpen or on another team.

Baltimore Orioles: (Record: 28-37, Week: 1-6)
Jay Gibbons is probably wishing he hadn't come off the DL when he did. Gibbons was activated on June 14 and is hitting just .091 with two singles since then. Luis Matos and other Orioles went hitless this week and many of the pitchers were hit hard. With some of the performances the Orioles received this week, they are lucky to have a win to show for it.

Boston Red Sox: (Record: 39-29, Week: 2-4)
In a rough week that included getting shutout on one hit by Jason Schmidt, David Ortiz was the lone bright spot for the Sox. Ortiz drove in nine runs and hit two home runs but scored just three times. He was on base 10 times but the Sox were unable to get the job done. As each week goes by, his 2003 season is looking less and less like a fluke.

Chicago White Sox: (Record: 35-30, Week: 2-4)
With closing duties officially up for grabs again in Chicago, the likely candidates are Damaso Marte and Shingo Takatsu. Marte totaled 4.1 hitless innings for the week, striking out seven and recording one win and one save. Takatsu appeared in two games for 1.2 perfect innings and recorded a save of his own. Takatsu, as a righty, should get more opportunities to secure the job and could do a good job.

Cleveland Indians: (Record: 32-33, Week: 3-2)
The difference between a good week and a bad week? Timely hitting. Casey Blake, like David Ortiz, had two home runs and nine RBI and was on base 10 times this week. However, Blake scored six times compared to just three for Ortiz. The Indians don't have the overall lineup that the Red Sox do, but at least for this week they got the job done when it mattered most and had the wins to show for it.

Detroit Tigers: (Record: 31-37, Week: 2-4)
Jeremy Bonderman has been very inconsistent all season and this week was no different. In his first start of the week, Bonderman allowed one run on one hit and two walks in seven innings. In his second start, however, he lasted just five innings and allowed four walks and three hits. The good news for Bonderman is that he struck out a combined 15 batters in the two starts. Still just 21 years old, he is showing a lot of promise but needs to be able to put it all together.

Kansas City Royals: (Record: 26-40, Week: 3-3)
Angel Berroa had been having a disappointing sophomore season until recently, when something clicked. Berroa raised his season average to .248 by hitting .423 this week. He hit one home run, scored five runs and drove in six, and increased his season stolen base total from one to five. It will be nearly impossible for Berroa to repeat his numbers from his rookie season, but he can still post a solid line if he is able to maintain this level of play.

Minnesota Twins: (Record: 38-30, Week: 4-2)
Since being activated from the disabled list, Luis Rivas has been a whole new player. Rivas has hit .528 and raised his season average up to .299. He has doubled his home run total to four and increased his stolen base total to six with two of each. His six RBI and eight runs scored also bring his season totals up to more respectable levels. Maybe he should get hurt more often.

New York Yankees: (Record: 43-24, Week: 3-3)
It may not be great but it is certainly an improvement that the Yankees needed. Jose Contreras posted a 4.38 ERA in his two starts this week to lower, yes, lower his season ERA to 6.18. With Kevin Brown on the shelf for an undisclosed length of time, Contreras will need to step it up if the Yankees wish to maintain their lead in the AL East.

Oakland Athletics: (Record: 38-29, Week: 1-5)
Many of the disappointments of the season are players that switched leagues during the winter. Mark Redman wasn't expected to win a Cy Young award but coming over from the Marlins, the A's certainly expected better than this. His ERA currently sits at 4.07 but that may be the best he can do if his WHIP remains around 1.500. This week he had an outstanding start in which he allowed five runners in eight scoreless innings. His WHIP for that start was 0.625; ERA and WHIP go hand in hand.

Seattle Mariners: (Record: 29-38, Week: 4-2)
No run support? No problem. Swirling trade rumors? Ignored. Through many hardships that in the past may have shaken his performance, Freddy Garcia has been on a mission and just kept on pitchin'. In two starts this week, Garcia posted a 3.29 ERA yet could only win one of them. He is now an unbelievable 4-6 with a 3.21 ERA on the season and with each passing week, it looks more and more like he will be traded.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: (Record: 32-34, Week: 6-0)
We've seen many players perform well but not get any recognition but we haven't seen a player perform this unexpectedly and not get the recognition. Mark Hendrickson has done just that. He has allowed just five runs in his last four starts, covering 27.2 innings. He won three of the four starts and the Rays won the game in the other. So the next time someone asks you which nearly seven-foot tall lefty has been pitching the best you can proudly proclaim, Mark Hendrickson!

Texas Rangers: (Record: 37-29, Week: 3-3)
Look out Eric Gagne, you could be headed for a rematch with the man who caused your last (unofficial) blown save. Hank Blalock has had a solid season but he has been on a tear this past week. Blalock has hit .429 with three home runs and five runs scored and driven in this past week. He appears on the way to outperforming his outstanding 2003 season and firmly placing himself in the elite at third base.

Toronto Blue Jays: (Record: 30-39, Week: 2-4)
Alexis Rios, a top flight outfield prospect, was called up nearly a month ago but has not yet lived up to expectations. In 78 at-bats, Rios has just one RBI and nine runs scored. He is hitting just .244 with five doubles, one triple, and no home runs. He is not walking or hitting for power… yet. He will soon and he'll combine with Vernon Wells to form on of the best outfield duos in the league.

Arizona Diamondbacks: (Record: 27-42, Week: 1-5)
Last week we saw how Victor Zambrano was able to shut out his opponents while walking six. This week Steve Sparks decided to take the next step. In seven innings, Sparks walked seven and struck out three. He allowed three hits and just one run to pick up the win. Perhaps the most amazing part of this performance is the fact that prior to this start, he had walked just three in his last 18.1 innings yet allowed seven earned runs.

Atlanta Braves: (Record: 32-36, Week: 2-4)
The same week that Marlon Byrd got sent down, Paul Byrd made his return from Tommy John surgery in grand fashion. Byrd threw seven shutout innings and allowed just four hits while striking out four. Byrd hadn't pitched in a game since his breakout 2002 season and given a rehab year this year, he could be ready to improve on his best season.

Chicago Cubs: (Record: 39-30, Week: 6-1)
In another repeat of last week, we see more of the right place at the right time. In 34 appearances coming into this week, Kyle Farnsworth did not record a win. In three appearances this week, he recorded two. He had been a solid performer all season but was never in the lucky situation that would earn him a win. Now that he has two, his line looks better but it is basically the same as before.

Cincinnati Reds: (Record: 38-31, Week: 4-3)
Ken Griffey Jr. didn't have an amazing statistical week. He didn't do anything out of the ordinary. But what he did deserves a lot of praise, especially considering what he has gone through. On June 20, Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 500th career home run. I've always been and always will be a huge Junior fan so I would like to congratulate him, he deserves it.

Colorado Rockies: (Record: 25-43, Week: 4-2)
Last week I said that Todd Helton was "about to go on a tear" and it may have started. With Larry Walker and Preston Wilson both back in the lineup, Helton is protected in the order and will have many more big opportunities. He has taken advantage of them thus far with nine RBI this past week. Helton has just 44 RBI on the season, but don't be surprised if he leads the league from here until the end of the season.

Florida Marlins: (Record: 37-32, Week: 2-4)
A.J. Burnett is another pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery that has looked good in his first few starts. Even though he has a 5.06 ERA in his four starts since returning, that is trumped by his 1.39 ERA in his last two. He is not yet ready to go very deep into games as he is still working his way back. Barring any setbacks, he could be ready to repeat his 2002 season as soon as next year.

Houston Astros: (Record: 35-33, Week: 3-4)
It isn't a good week when you have a starter allow one run in 6.1 innings yet lose the game. The Astros did that this week when Wade Miller started on June 15. Luckily for the team, they didn't lose his next start in which he went seven innings and allowed just one unearned run. Miller is 7-6 on the season but could easily have nine or 10 wins with a little more support.

Los Angeles Dodgers: (Record: 37-29, Week: 5-1)
Odalis Perez is one of the more talented left-handed pitchers in the league and is doing his best to prove that 2003, not 2002, was the fluke season. Perez is pitching extremely well, posting a 2.84 ERA and a 1.095 WHIP. All of his peripherals point to continued success for Perez and gives the Dodgers a number one starter for the playoff run.

Milwaukee Brewers: (Record: 35-31, Week: 4-2)
The biggest surprise of Danny Kolb's season is not his strong performance but the fact that he hasn't gotten significantly hurt yet. Kolb has suffered injuries in virtually every season he has been in pro ball until this year. He has also always had the ability to get hitters out and that is something that has kept up this year. He is 21 for 22 in save opportunities and has a 0.98 ERA and 0.831 WHIP. Neither number will likely stay under 1.00 or even 1.10 but if he can stay healthy he will easily post the best numbers of his career.

Montreal Expos: (Record: 22-45, Week: 2-4)
After floundering for most of the season, Jose Vidro has finally started hitting as he should be. Vidro is still hitting just .268 on the season but his .366 average in June has greatly improved that. This past week he hit a robust .423 with two home runs and 10 RBI. If he is able use his improved play to help the rest of the offense, that will be the greatest contribution he could make.

New York Mets: (Record: 34-34, Week: 5-1)
After finally getting his batting average on the correct side of .200, Mike Cameron can now concentrate on getting his overall line up to respectability. The next step came this week when he hit two home runs, one a game-winner, and drove in and scored five. Even though he likely will fall short of career highs in either home runs or stolen bases, he could eclipse the totals he set in each category last year. Combine that with his defense and the Mets would have to be happy with the player that they picked up.

Philadelphia Phillies: (Record: 36-31, Week: 4-3)
Another player that deserves a lot of congratulating for a career achievement is Jim Thome. Thome hit his 400th career home run and has been on an insane tear recently. He has already hit 10 home runs in June to go along with his .344 average, 21 RBI, and 16 runs scored. Thome has just one 50-home run season in his career but he appears on the way to his second.

Pittsburgh Pirates: (Record: 26-39, Week: 2-4)
Another O. Perez that has pitched exceptionally well is 23-year old Oliver Perez. The left-handed fireballer uses his fastball-slider combo to keep hitters guessing and often striking out. Perez has improved his command this season and his numbers show what he is capable of. He has 89 strikeouts in 78.1 innings to go along with hit 3.68 ERA and 1.162 WHIP. His delivery can be somewhat conducive to injuries but if he can avoid that he is going to be special.

San Diego Padres: (Record: 34-34, Week: 1-5)
Something was missing in San Diego in 2003. Rod Beck was doing a good job closing games so that was not the problem. The Padres were showing promise and made a nice trade for Brian Giles, but something was still missing. That something was Trevor Hoffman and his entrance music, "Hells Bells." Now he's "Back in Black" with a 2.25 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP and closing games just like he had done in the past. The excitement is back in San Diego and it could pay off down the stretch.

San Francisco Giants: (Record: 37-32, Week: 5-1)
Thanks to two game-winning home runs this week, the Giants have found another possible yet repeat candidate for the spot in the order behind Barry Bonds, Edgardo Alfonzo. Alfonzo hit .400 on the week with two home runs, 11 RBI, and seven runs scored. He now has hit season average up to .280 and is beginning to show signs of the Alfonzo of old. But how long will it last?

St. Louis Cardinals: (Record: 41-28, Week: 5-1)
While the major league team was 5-1 on the week and continuing to look better, the farm system was disappointing 0-2. The news came in this week that both Adam Wainwright and Blake Hawksworth will miss the season due to arm problems. Wainwright is not a lock to miss the season but he has a slight tear in his elbow and could be done. Hawksworth may require surgery on his shoulder and is definitely out for the year. Luckily for the Cardinals, Brad Thompson has stepped up but these two going down is still devastating.

Stat of the week:
Welcome to the majors Arnie Munoz:
3 IP, 10 H, 11 ER, 3 BB 1 K, 2 HR for a 33.00 ERA

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