Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on June 10, 2000 · 21
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · 21

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Saturday, June 10, 2000
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SATURDAY, JUNE 10, 2000 SPORTS DETROIT FREE PRESS 7B Rocker strikes back vs. Toledo By BILL L. ROOSE FRLE PRESS SPORTS WRITER MAUMEE, Ohio - The last time Toledo Mud Hens fans cheered as boisterously for an opposing pitcher, Mark Fidrych returned to Ned Skeldon Stadium as a member of the Pawtucket Red Sox in 1983. On Friday night, 7,733 thunderously applauded Atlanta Braves bad boy John Rocker, who made his minor league season debut with Triple-A Richmond. Rocker raced in from the bullpen to pitch the ninth inning of the Braves' 10-5 victory. He faced four hitters, striking out Chris Wakeland, Chris Lemonis and Jesus Azuaje. , "He was popping his fastball and looking pretty good," said Lemonis, who struck out swinging. "His pitching wasn't so great this year in the big leagues, but he looked good down here tonight. I took the first pitch because he walked (Rob) Sasser in front of me. But that was the best pitch he threw me. Otherwise, the sliders he threw me were a pitcher's pitches down and away." ( Agitated with the sight of photographers and reporters who watched him throw for 10 minutes in the bullpen before the game, Rockers said, "Get a good picture of me throwing, that's important." He then turned to pitching coach Mike Alvarez and asked, "Let me ask you something: Is it more exciting to watch a guy throw or paint dry? Paint, probably." The left-hander also got himself in the middle of another con- SHARP I Comerica can't contain Mac From Page IB pected sellout crowds during the Cardinals' visit. Two years after blistering Roger Maris' single-season home run record, Big Mac remains the big sideshow. He struck out three times in the Tigers' 4-2 victory, only once hitting the ball out of the infield in four trips to the plate. Tigers fans held their breath when he got in front of Todd Jones' fastball in the ninth inning but hooked it foul. But those who were at the park a little less than an hour before game time got the show they paid to see as McGwire deposited two shots beyond the left-field stands and into the concession area. The Tigers might want to issue hard hats to those who dare mill around the concourse during St. Louis batting practice the rest of the weekend. , "You've got to really stroke it TIGERS I Weaver sharp;. McGwire: 3 K's From Page IB that," said Jones, who got his major league-leading 18th save. "I was fortunate enough to get him with a high fastball inside for strike three. I'm just happy he didn't pull the trigger." , Jones said he considered it an honor just to face McGwire. "I'm just a guy passing through this game," Jones said. "Heck, my 5-year-old Alex's favorite player isn't me, it's McGwire. "Mark is a special guy; he understands his place in the game. But saying all that, it doesn't mean I won't do everything to get him out every time I face him." Jones said he doesn't know what he'll throw McGwire if he has to pitch to him again today. ' "I used everything I had there in the ninth inning," Jones said. "Maybe I'll have to break out a knuckler." i Jones saved the game for Jeff Weaver (3-5), who allowed hardhitting St. Louis two runs and four hits over eight innings. Howard hit a two-run homer off him in the seventh, making it 4-2. "Weaver took it as a challenge tonight and picked it up a level," Garner said. "I think what you UN1LOCK OF MICHIGAN C inilaB PAVING STONES. ORIVFWAVS MTIOS WALKWAYS, POOL DECKS STEPS, RETAINING WALL PLANTERS Wednesday June 14th . Panetta's Landscaping ! Westland 6:30 p.m. (734) 421-5299 Suburban Landscape Supply Walled Lake 6 p.m. 248-960-4000 ' '. ' i J (- V " V I. I j", ..4k , . I - . r : x ru .. . . i Tl : J -Ik-'-' " ' ..' ' " " ' t FRANCIS SPECKER Associated Press troversy while in Toledo. Following Thursday's game, a Toledo TV station showed video of a man wearing a white T-shirt with his right middle finger extended to the camera as he left the stadium in a cab. The TV station identified the man in the distorted video as Rocker, but Atlanta and Richmond officials vehemently challenged the report's validity. "John Rocker was in front of me as we got on the bus," Richmond manager Randy Ingle said. "Plus, John had on a black shirt." The anticipation of seeing Rocker pitch drew 18,508 fans for the three-game series. Toledo had averaged 2,919 fans in its previous 23 home games. Rocker, whose derogatory comments against minorities and gays that appeared in a Sports Illustrated article got him a suspension to begin the season, angrily confronted the SI writer last Sunday. The next day, the Braves demoted him. CLARK UPDATE: Tigers first baseman Tony Clark, out for the past month with a pulled rib-cage muscle, started a three-day rehabilitation assignment Friday here," McGwire said to teammate Eric Davis as they stood along the batting cage. He thought he really got into a couple of balls, but they made it only into the first rows in left. That should be the new team slogan instead of "You'll love playing here." Can you think of a greater endorsement than having the game's most prolific power hitter say that no cheap shots are permitted here? That could be the company sales pitch to attract potential free-agent left-handed starters Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle next off-season. "Make no mistake," Easier said. "This is a legitimate park. There are no gimmes here. But the size of the park doesn't matter to Mac. He just focuses on hitting the ball sound each time. And if he does that, the rest is going to take care of itself." Naturally, McGwire's steady progression up the career home saw tonight is why he's going to keep getting better and better. And the people who can't keep up with him are going to get left by the wayside." Weaver agreed that he raised his game Friday. "You have to against a team like the Cardinals," Weaver said. "It's kind of like facing the Indians they have a lot of good hitters." The crowd cheered McGwire when he batted for the first time in the second inning and cheered louder when Weaver caught the slugger looking at strike three on a 2-2 count. During the at-bat, McGwire looked at all five pitches. McGwire struck out in three of his four at-bats in his first game since missing two games because of a sore hamstring. Garrett Stephenson (8-2) allowed four runs, including Dean Palmer's team-leading 12th home run in the sixth inning. It was Stephenson's second straight loss LIVE RACING SUNDAYS POST TIME 6:45 pHk Problem Gambling Call 1-800-270-7117 John Rocker completes a pre game session in the bullpen, followed closely by a policeman. Rocker faced four batters in the ninth, walking one and fanning the side in Richmond's 10-5 victory over Toledo. night at Toledo. He was 0-for-4. "I'm a little concerned, because I haven't played for a while," Clark said, "and knowing the injury that I had, things will be fine until I get into some games." The muscle pull was on the left side, which Clark said affects his right-handed swing. In 25 games with the Tigers, Clark is hitting .176 (15-for-85) with four homers and seven RBIs. He hopes to return to Detroit for Monday's game against Toronto. Contact BILL L. ROOSE at 313-223-4413 or broosel964aol.com. Cleveland: Left-hander Jim Poole, cut by the Tigers and Expos this year, Is an Indian for the fourth time. Poole joined Triple-A Buffalo. Florida: Infielder Andy Fox was acquired from Arizona for former Tigers outfielder Danny Bautista. Fox hit .209 with one homer and 19 RBIs; Bautista hit .191 with four homers and 12 RBIs. ... The Marlins traded outfielder Brant Brown to Texas for right-hander Chuck Smith. The Rangers then sent Brown to the Cubs for outfielder Dave Martinez. Brown, who played for the Cubs in 1996-98, hit .192 with two homers and six RBIs; Martinez hit .234 with one homer and 1 3 RBIs; Smith will make his first start Tuesday against Philadelphia. He was 5-3 with a 3.78 ERA at Triple-A Oklahoma. Free Press news services contributed; more transactions, SB. run list he's eighth with 543, five behind Mike Schmidt draws some criticism from those who believe the combination of bad pitching and small ballparks taints his assault on the record books. Hitters take exception to such characterizations. "That stuff just gives the old guys something to complain about," Tigers hitting coach Bill Madlock said. "Everyone likes to talk about how bad the pitching has gotten in baseball, but why can't people take into consideration that hitters have gotten better and stronger? Mac's doing the same thing now that he was doing 15 years ago when he first came into the league with Oakland. He'd dominate in any era." He was humbled in his first visit to Comerica, but considering the display he gave us earlier in the evening, even the statues might consider running for cover. following a career-best eight-game winning streak. The Tigers scored in the second on singles from Palmer, Ausmus and Deivi Cruz. Juan Gonzalez singled with two outs in the third and scored on Bobby Higginson's double off the rightfield wall. Robert Fick led off the fourth with a fly that kept carrying away from nghtfielder Larry Sutton The ball landed on the warning track for a triple; Fick scored on Ausmus grounder to short, giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead. The Cards got their first hit in the fifth when Sutton singled with one out. Weaver fanned J. D. Drew on a nifty 73-m.p.h. break ing pitch before Eli Marrero flied to deep left, ending the inning. Palmer led off the sixth with a homer before the Cardinals scored against Weaver in the seventh on Jim Edmonds' single and Howard's homer. Contact GENE GUIDI at 313-222-2378. -v -j mj viiuvsiii Won Iliii.&kVi I i i DOLLAR SIMULCAST Triple OT Game 5 rating tiighest for NHL in 20 years NHL NOTEBOOK By NICHOLAS J. COTSONIKA FRtE PRESS SPORTS WRITtR EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals received the highest overnight rating for an NHL game in 20 years. ABC's Thursday night telecast of the Dallas Stars' 1-0, triple-overtime victory over the New Jersey Devils posted a national rating of 4.2 and a 9 share. No game has been rated as high since May 24, 1980, when Game 6 of the finals between the Islanders and Flyers pulled in a 4.4 with a 17 share on CBS. The Islanders won in OT and clinched the Cup. The most recent best was the 4.0 that Fox received for Game 1 of the 1997 finals between the Red Wings and Flyers. The 4.2 rating was 20 percent higher than what Fox drew for Game 5 of last year's finals between the Stars and Buffalo Sabres. That game, also on a Thursday night, posted a 3.5. ABC's final national numbers went down from the overnight rating of 5.3, which was an increase of 47 percent over Fox's 3.6 overnight rating for 1999's fifth game. Each rating point repre CUP I Stars have hope; Devils seem a bit deflated From Page IB rienced again. "I think it really just confirmed what I thought about this team," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I think there's a fabric there. We've learned to lose together. We've learned how to win together. We've learned how to stay together. I think we just stuck together." The Devils might still be leading the series, but suddenly, some of them sound as if they are in trouble. The demoralizing effect of the game cannot be discounted: NHL officials had taken the Cup out of its velvet-lined case at Continental Airlines Arena. Team officials had put the bubbly on ice. But . . . "Until they take it from us, the Cup is still ours," Stars forward Guy Carbonneau reminded everyone. "We're still the champions." After losing an epic goaltend-ing duel with Ed Belfour, Martin Brodeur walked into the dismal Devils dressing room, shrugged and told his teammates they'd get 'em next time. Captain Scott Stevens accentuated the positive, saying, "I'm thinking about being up 3-2, and that's not a bad position to be in. I like our chances." But there were plenty of long faces. "We have a cushion a little bit," Devils coach Larry Robinson said. Reality crashed down on all optimism. Wrestling the Cup away from a proud, veteran team such as the Stars is difficult, and the Devils let an amazing chance slip away no matter how brilliant Belfour was. If there was one player hanging his head afterward, he was Bobby Holik. No one had as many scoring chances as Holik did. He took a game-high eight shots, but those didn't include the pucks he put off posts and the sure shots he squandered. "Bobby Holik could have had six goals himself," Robinson said. "I'd rather not talk about it," said Holik, usually one of the Devils' most loquacious players. "It definitely wasn't fun. But it's done. It's over with. There's nothing I can do about it. It's a game of inches. I just didn't get them." No one did. Except Modano. "We should be disappointed, because, you know, it could have been all over," Robinson said. "But there is nothing you can do. We now have to go back there and win another game." Contact NICHOLAS J. COTSONIKA at 313-222-8831 or cotsonikafreepress.com. uiuuvuj uuiuiuu i m 1 1 k w PROGRAMS 50 CENTS good for TV sents 1 percent of the country's TV households, and overnight numbers are based on a reading of the largest markets. The disparity between the national and overnight ratings indicates that the game drew the bulk of its viewers from larger cities. The rating still fell far short of what ABC executives would have liked. They bumped the wildly successful game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." ON THE ROAD: In finals history, the road team has won the past 11 multiple-overtime games and all five triple-overtime games. The road team is 8-2 in finals overtime games since 1990. The Stars have won two of three games in New Jersey. The Devils have won both games played in Dallas, where Game 6 will be played tonight. Nice SHIRT: Marty Turco, the Stars' third-string goaltender, gave a live interview on CBC between overtime periods Thursday. He barely kept from smiling. Why? Because he's only two years removed from Michigan? No. Because he was wearing a loud, orange-and-black striped shirt with an obnoxious collar underneath his suit. Perhaps a little embarrassed, he asked CBC's resident fashion expert, Don Cherry, to explain the shirt to the audience. It's the team's good-luck charm. A healthy scratch must t .. .... f v. " U '.' VwiAfJ HUV NGUYEN Associated Press Mike Modano is surrounded by happy Dallas Stars teammates after he scored in the third overtime Thursday night. HAIR TRANSPLANTS MICROMINI GRAFTING 0OO MOST ADVANCED TECHNIQUES PROFESSIONAL ATMOSPHERE PERSONAL SERVICE the Cole Clinic 1-800-870-6437 www.transplanthatr.com WINDSOR, CANADA Dr. C. Cole M,D. 7TT minMMEimm I h , 16. Read Yak'e Corner mini www detroittigers.com & PEP 51 irwiiv ivui CHLMOfJJ STAKES PARTY Saturday, June 10'" Doors Open at 1 1:30 AM & ENTERTAINMENT STARTS AT 1 Pfvl FOR LIVE PROGRAMS numbers wear it each game day. lowe oilers' CM: Kevin Lowe became general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, two days after he resigned as coach. He replaces Glen Sather, who resigned last month and moved to the New York Rangers. There was speculation that Lowe, 41, would be the Rangers' coach, but he chose to stay in Edmonton. Oilers assistant Craig MacTavish is expected to replace Lowe as coach. notebook: Dallas goaltender Ed Belfour is 17-14 in playoff overtime games; New Jersey's Martin Brodeur is 3-11. . . . The Stars held an 82-48 advantage in face-offs in Game 5; the Devils held a 62-26 advantage in hits. . . . The Devils haven't received a point in the series from Claude Lemieux, a former Conn Smythe Trophy winner, or Scott Nieder-mayer, their top offensive de-fenseman. FOR THE RECORD Stanley Cup finals games that have j gone past two overtimes, with date, .; score, time of overtime and game-winning goal: May15,1990:Edmonton3,Boston2, ! 55;13,PetrKlima. S June 19, 1999: Dallas 2, Buffalo 1 (Stanley Cup winner), 54:51 , Brett Hull. April 9, 1931 : Chicago 3, Montreal Canadiens 2, 53:50, Cy , Wentworth. June 8,2000: Dallas 1 , New Jersey 0, 46:21, Mike Modano. ' - June10,1996:Colorado 1, Florida 0 (Stanley Cup winner), 44:31 , Uwe t Krupp. Note: On March 24, 1 936, the Red Wings defeated the Montreal Maroons, 1 -0, in a semifinal series game that was the longest in Stan- ley Cup history. Mud Bruneteau scored at 1 1 6 minutes, 30 seconds of overtime. Firing blanks Goaltenders whe share the record of four shutouts In one Stanley Cup ' playoff year. Ed Belfour. Dallas, 2000. Olaf Kolzig: Washington, 1 998. Kirk McLean: Vancouver, 1994. MikeRichter. N.Y. Rangers, 1994. Ken Dryden: Montreal, 1 977. Bernie Parent: Philadelphia, 1975. Terry Sawchulc Detroit, 1952. Frank McCool: Toronto, 1 945. Dave Kerr, N.Y. Rangers, 1 937. Clint Benedict Montreal Maroons, 1926 and 1928. More Stanley Cup Thursday night's summary, Devils' and Stars' stats, Page 8B. GRAFT SESSIONS Run the Bases iroughout the summer at Comerica Park, the Detroit Free AFTER BFFORE Press sponsors Kids Run the Bases, a post-game highlight for baseball's youngest fans. Weather permitting, your child can join the Detroit Free Press Yak mascot, as well as Paws, the Tigers mascot, on the field at the following Detroit Tigers home games: June 12, July 17, July 24, August 7 and August 21. - newepaper every Monday. to join the Yak Pack Club and receive a Baby Yak, call 1-800-395-3300. Detroit: Free Press P1076570 YT- t. rF He:- r - , Jin) jlti .iifctl?.'

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