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HOT CORNER


HOT CORNER
WHO'S UP - Cito Slickers

The manager who steered the Toronto Blue Jays to consecutive World Series championships in the early 1990s has the Jays soaring again after more than a decade away from the bench. Cito Gaston left the Jays after the 1997 season but returned last year and has his club off to a surprising start this year. The Jays are the first American League team since 2001 to win its first five series of a season, and the last two teams to do so in either league won 100 games. quot;Good company,quot; Gaston told MLB.com. Injuries, like closer B.J. Ryan on the disabled list, will test Toronto, but Gaston has a track record that stretches back to last season. The AL East standings (entering Friday), stretched back to Gaston's rehiring, on June 20, 2008, when the Jays were in last place:

Rank, team W-L Winning Pct.

1. Toronto 63-42 .600

2. Boston 58-44 .569

3. Tampa Bay 59-46 .562

4. NY Yankees 58-46 .558

5. Baltimore 39-67 .368

WHO'S DOWN - New York Mess

Fresh from a sweep by the Cardinals in St. Louis, the New York Mets returned to their posh new ballpark primed to ... overreact. Manager Jerry Manuel (above) shuffled the lineup before Thursday's loss to the Cardinals , and the New York Daily News reported the next morning that management was ready to do the same with the coaching staff and pitching rotation. The Mets carry the biggest payroll in the National League (reportedly $136 million), seats to fill at Citi Field and all the bloated expectations that come with it. The Mets played sloppy in St. Louis and the pitchers scuffled, but even with a 6-9 record the only sure thing about the Mets so far: Two consecutive September collapses have made them skittish.

CROOKED NUMBERSWith his three RBIs on Thursday, Albert Pujols leapt toward the career mile marker of 1,000. He was poised to be the sixth to reach that number as a Cardinal, and he raced Carlos Beltran (999 RBIs entering Friday) to be the 22nd active player with 1,000 RBIs. He will be the only member of that group to have debuted after 1999 and the only member still in his 20s. (The next closest twentysomething was Mark Teixeira with 685.) But where does Pujols' RBI rate rank? Below are the top eight players sorted by their plate appearances per RBI. The grid also includes how many RBIs per game a player has in his career:

PLAYER Age Current Team Year Debut Games Ttl RBIs PA/RBI RBI/GM

Manny Ramirez 37 LA Dodgers 1993 2,119 1,737 5.23 0.82

Albert Pujols 29 Cardinals 2001 1,255 998 5.47 0.80

Alex Rodriguez 33 NY Yankees 1994 2,042 1,606 5.65 0.79

Carlos Delgado 37 NY Mets 1993 2,024 1,503 5.73 0.74

Vladimir Guerrero 34 LA Angeles 1996 1,758 1,271 5.86 0.72

Magglio Ordonez 35 Detroit 1997 1,556 1,101 5.97 0.71

Jim Thome 38 White Sox 1991 2,173 1,498 6.06 0.69

Ken Griffey Jr 39 Seattle 1989 2,533 1,774* 6.08 0.70

CHATTER BOX

quot;It's gigantic, but it's gorgeous. I'm sure it's like when people first walked into the Titanic.quot; -- Oakland DH Jason Giambi on his return to the Bronx and the new billion-dollar Yankee Stadium.

quot;No, this place isn't going to sink, trust me. I'm sure they got that design flaw out of there.quot; -- Giambi, when asked if his comparison of the ballpark to the boating disaster was on purpose.FARM REPORT

The Cardinals' High-A affiliate in Palm Beach has three hitters in the Florida State League's top 10: 1. Shane Peterson, OF, .409. 5. Adron Chambers, OF, .375. 7. Jermaine Curtis, 3B, .356. ... Since Chris Perez's promotion to the majors, righthander Jess Todd has handled the closing duties for Class AAA Memphis. Todd moved from the rotation to the bullpen this year because he profiles as a reliever in the majors. He's 3-for-3 in save opportunities with seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings as closer. ... A year ago, lefty Tyler Norrick, dogged by shoulder stiffness, struggled as a starter in High-A. Recast as a reliever the Festus, Mo., native could be a rising lefthander at a thin position for the Cardinals . Norrick has 17 strikeouts and four walks in 10 1/3 innings for Class AA Springfield.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 26, 2009

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