Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on May 18, 2007 · 43
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · 43

Detroit, Michigan
Issue Date:
Friday, May 18, 2007
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&ETROIT FREE PRESS I WWW FREER COM BASEBALL frjijay may m. vtfi 9D Mets stun Cubs with 5 in ninth Polanco, Pujols stay close NATIONAL LEAGUE FRU PRhS Wi SHiUt B NEW YORK - Carlos Del- gado's two-run single capped a five-run rally in the ninth inning and set off a wild celebration at home plate Thursday, and the New York Mets startled the Chicago Cubs, 6-5. Manager Willie Randolph started a makeshift lineup be cause the Mets' rain-delayed, 8-1 win Wednesday night ended at 12:53 a.m. David Wright, Car los Beltran and Jose Reyes were among those scheduled to have a day off. Instead, Wright and Beltran contributed as pinch-hitters and the Mets, boosted by key hits from Carlos Gomez, Ruben Gotay and David Newhan, pull ed off their biggest ninth-inning comeback since 1999. "Nice job by my A-minus boys" Randolph said. Delgado's one-out single gave the Mets a final thrill and their seventh win in nine games entering tonight's opener against the Yankees. Cubs manager Lou Piniella watched relievers Ryan Dempster (1-2) and Scott Eyre blow the big lead. They lost for the sixth time in eight games, and headed back to Wrigley Field to play the White Sox tonight. Down 5-1, the Mets got going when Newhan and Gomez singled with one out. Piniella went to the mound to lecture Dempster, who loaded the bases with a walk to Beltran. Chavez drew a walk that forced home a run, and Gotay's RBI single brought Eyre from the bullpen. Wright batted for Shawn Green and hit a single that made it 5-4. Delgado, who hit into a double play earlier, hit a grounder just out of the reach of second baseman Ryan Theriot. The previous time the Mets overcame a four-run deficit in the ninth to win was May 23, 1999, against Philadelphia. ARIZONA J, COLORADO 1: Livan Hernandez (4-2) allowed four hits over seven innings, singled twice and scored a run for the visiting Diamondbacks. Hernandez has 30 multiple-hit games. MILWAUKEE PHILADELPHIA 2: Ben Sheets struck out eight in T'li innings, and Gabe Gross homered twice for the visiting Brewers, who had lost four straight. Former Tiger Francisco Cord-ero got his 16th save in 16 chances. WASHINGTON 4, ATLANTA 3: Felipe Lopez singled, doubled and tripled for the host Nationals, who have won six of seven. Tiger, Cardinal reunite tonight Br JON PAUL MOROS1 ST. LOUIS When asked if he had time to talk about Plac-' ido Polanco, Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols pulled up a chair, sat down and asked the visitor to do the same. Then he talked for about 15 minutes in the Busch Stadium clubhouse one day last week about the man he considers his best friend and mentor. "I care a lot for him, from the bottom of my heart," Pujols said of Polanco, the Tigers' second baseman. "He's a great person. It's more than baseball. We are family." Pujols will see Polanco at Comerica Park tonight when the Tigers and St. Louis play for the first time since the World Series. Polanco was hit-less during the Cardinals' five-game triumph but is now an early contender for the American League batting title. The two have been close friends since 2001, when Polanco reached out to a 21-year-old who had barely played above Class A and was then in his first camp with the Cardinals. Pujols had been staying in a hotel near the team's Jupiter, Fla., spring complex but needed more space when his wife and children came to visit. Polanco, an established player in St. Louis, invited Pujols' family to stay in his apartment. Pujols has never forgotten the gesture, even after one Most Valuable Player Award, five All-Star selections and more than 250 home runs. "He showed me the way," Pujols said. "He was one of several guys who really took me under his wing. He wanted the best for me. "He knew I didn't have much money, and he opened the door for me, my wife and my kids. He said, 'Hey, you can stay here.' " Their friendship has re mained strong since, even though Polanco was dealt to Philadelphia in 2002, then to the Tigers three years later. Pujols visited Polanco a couple of times last off-season, and they found time to work out to gether, even though Polanco, 31, was busy building a new home in the Miami area. Pujols, 27, is happy to lend Polanco his car when the Ti gers travel to Kansas City, where Pujols owns a home. Polanco does the same when Pu jols visits Florida. t ..--(V V - i . - H i KlRTHMON F DOZIER, Deroir free Press Tigers second baseman Placido Polanco, left, and Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols have been friends since they were St, Louis teammates. "I care a lot for him, from the bottom of my heart," Pujols said. Their children Pujols has three, Polanco two are similar in age. Pujols smiled as he said that Rose, Polanco's 6-year-old daughter, "is like a teenager already," and Pujols proudly hientioned that he's the godfather to Ishmael, Polanco's 3-year-old son. Ishmael apparently has his father's energy. "I think that's where my compadre is going to pay for all the hard times he gave his dad when he was a little boy," Pujols said. Pujols laughed as he recalled the time he received a phone call from an overwhelmed Polanco, describing how his children were, at that moment, "throwing stuff all over and breaking things." Pujols offered to pay for anything the kids broke, to which Polanco replied, "Oh, are you spoiling my kids already?" The players have similar work ethics, dating to their childhoods in the Dominican Republic. Polanco grewup with a very simple rule: His homework had to be finished by the time his mother, Haydee, returned home from working at a Santo Domingo photo lab. "No excuses," Polanco said, during an interview at Comerica Park earlier this season. "It On deck: Cardinals Series: St. Louis at Tigers for three games, tonight through Sunday. TVradio: Tonight - 7:05, FSN, WXYT-AM (1270), WKRK-FM (97.1). Saturday - 7:05 p.m., FSN, WXYT, WKRK. Sunday -1:05 p.m., Channel 2, WXYT. Pitching: Tonight - LH Andrew Miller (first game) vs. RH Bra-den Looper (5-2, 2.29 ERA). Saturday - LH Nate Robertson (3-3, 3.62) vs. RH Anthony Reyes (0-6, 5.08). Sunday - RH Justin Verlander (4-1, 2.76) vs. RH Brad Thompson (2-0, 4.03). Ticket availability: Tonight Single seats and standing room. Saturday -Single seats and standing room. Sunday - Some pairs, plus single seats and standing room. had to be done." Now Polanco's approach could produce his first All-Star selection and perhaps the batting title. Pujols, whose average has hovered near .250 over the last week, would not be surprised to see that happen. "It's so early, but I think he can do it," Pujols said. "When he's hot, I don't like to call him because I don't want to distract him." This weekend, though, Pujols will do his best to take hits away from his best friend, as he did during last year's World Series. "If he doesn't want me to rob him, then don't hit the ball to me," Pujols said, smiling. "That's the way I look at it." The Tigers appeared to have the more talented roster last autumn "You look at their lineup, their pitching staff, and they were better than a lot of teams, not just us," Pujols said but St. Louis was sharper over those five games. The World Series ended with Polanco on first base, after a walk, only a few feet away from his friend. "He didn't get any hits in the World Series, but he always gave you a tough, competitive at-bat," Pujols said. "That's what I love about him. He was always the toughest out. In that last inning, he took that walk. "He's an unbelievable play er. Hopefully I can get an opportunity to play with him again." Contact JON PAUL MOROSI at 313-223-409? or jmorosi Check out his Tigers blog at www.freep.comsports. TIGERS I Red Sox arms too strong at Fenway, 2-1 From Page ID , Right-hander Zach Miner, subbing for ill left-hander Mike Maroth, had allowed two runs, each of which traced to misfortune involving shortstop Carlos Guillen. Tigers officials planned to send Miner back to Triple-A Toledo today. He will leave to make room for left-hander Andrew Miller, scheduled to come up from Double-A Erie to make his first major league start tonight against the Cardinals at Comerica Park. Miller steps in for Jeremy Bonder-man. When Bonderman went on the disabled list Wednesday, it created a one-day opening on the roster for a pitcher before Miller arrives today. Thus Miner was brought up for bullpen reinforcement in Thursday's doubleheader. When Miner arrived in Boston, he learned that he was starting the opener in place of Maroth, who had been decked by a stomach ailment. Miner performed a reprise of last season, when he won often after Maroth's elbow surgery knocked him out of the rotation. Miner got left-handed slugger David Ortiz to hit what could have been a double-play grounder to end a scoreless first. Guillen, shifted to the rightfield side of second base, fielded the ball and missed the tag on Coco Crisp, the runner coming from first who swerved away from him. Guillen threw out Ortiz, then argued that Crisp should have been called out for going out of the baseline. Umpire Rob Drake didn't agree. "I think the umpire got it right," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. Cleanup man Manny Ramirez got a chance to drive in Crisp, and he did with a single. In the third, Julio Lugo's grounder f x " ' A ...... 'v - h lv ELI Jonathan Papelbon makes a fist after pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning in the day game of the doubleheader at Fenway Park. took a wicked hop by Guillen; the shortstop was charged with a tough error. With two out, Kevin Youkilis fouled a pair of two-strike pitches, then singled in Lugo. That made it 2-0. Polanco singled in a run with two out in the fifth. Sheffield then walked, loading the bases for Ordonez. With a two-run single there, Ordonez would have put the Tigers ahead and would have tied Alex Rodriguez for the league lead in RBIs. He flied out. The Tigers never had another base-runner. "Kind of a dead day," Leyland said. "No sunshine and it's kind of cold (47 degrees). You don't take batting practice. It was the same for both teams. "You don't see a lot of offense once in awhile in situations like that. And we SE AMENDOUvAssociated Press didn't see a lot of offense today, and a lot of that was a credit to the pitchers. All the pitchers for both teams pitched outstanding." And none in a more critical spot than Okajima. Contact JOHN LOWE at 313-223-40.53 or jlowe a Check out his Tigers blog afwww.freep.comsports. TIGERS CORNER Tigers schedule Horn games sMi4. SUN ' VON ' T'JE I WFJD ! THU f R! ' SAT 13 14 J 15 J 16 17 18 19 . Yin. Eos. M. bos., Eos. Stl Vl 16, 7, 7, ppd, 2, 7 0S Kjb tet.4Det.lEcs. 2 rn Detl FSN f'Ji lTn"lTl3 24 25 26 S'L UA UA UA (W Cif 10S 7 05 7-0$ i 05 7 55 3 55 (h 2 f'.S FIN f.N f jN hi V 28 30 n J 2 O. IB. IB IB Cie ( de 5 95 7:10 7 10 7:10 7 05 7.05 7 05 ESPN FSN F'N FSN . FIN FSN KH Jones says Cards in tough spot By JOHN LOWE mil pkcashurts wRirm BOSTON Todd Jones was talking Thursday about the Tigers' World Series reunion with the Cardinals this weekend at Comerica Park. The first thing he mentioned is the jewelry that goes with the title. "I want to see their ring, because in my mind I can take out 'St. Louis Cardinals' and put in 'Detroit Tigers' and see what it would look like," Jones said. A moment later, Jones without prompting talked about Josh Hancock. It is hard to think about or talk about the Cardinals long without coming to Hancock. He was the Cardinals' 29-year-old reliever who was killed in a highway accident three weeks ago. "Once somebody on the team dies, all bets are off," Jones said. "You don't even know what to expect anymore from the whole season for those guys." The Cardinals arrive in Detroit six games under .500. They are well off the lead in the National League Central. "It's got to be weird," Jones said. "It's got to be really weird. I imagine it would be hard for even (manager) Tony La Russa to call a team meeting and yell at his guys. You can't yell at your team when a guy died a month ago. "It's like a fog." MORE PAYBACKS: More thoughts from the Tigers on the Detroit-St. Louis rematch series: Brandon Inge: "It's not the same stage, it's not the same year. It's two different teams. We have (Gary) Sheffield now. "I want to take out our World Series frustration. I don't want the Cardinals to win any game I play in. "There are no hard feelings. I think the organization is great. I like the players, the manager, everything about them. There's just that feeling, that sense of pride: 'You guys got us in the World Series. You're not going to rub it in my face again.' It's the whole sense of pride." Justin Verlander, who lost the first and last games of the World Series, and who starts against the Cardinals on Sunday: "I've got different stuff now. We'll see what happens. I've got a better breaking ball now, and I had fatigue at the end of last year. The last game of the World Series (in which he gave up one earned run) I don't want to say that I was pleased with it, but I was happy with myself for being able to dig down and keep us in the game." GOOD POINT: Longtime manager Whitey Herzog said veteran fringe pitchers should try to add a new pitch to their repertoires. Tigers left-hander Tim Byrdak might be the latest to verify Herzog's point. On the last day of spring training, Byrdak started dabbling with a split-finger pitch to serve as his change-up. It s now in full use. In two games since being called up by the Tigers, Byrdak has pitched four in nings and hasn't allowed a hit. Bvrdak faced six Boston bat ters Thursday and fanned five. That was two more than he had fanned in any of his previous 106 major league games. "The addition of the split-finger pitch has given me the ability to change speeds earlier in the count and to be effective later in the count," Byrdak said.

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