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Archive for Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Indians’ Sizemore sizzling

Leadoff hitter jolts Blue Jays in 6-4 victory

August 29, 2006

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— Grady Sizemore's star isn't merely rising, but hurtling across the sky at warp speed.

Cleveland's leadoff hitter homered, doubled twice and scored three runs to help Paul Byrd bounce back from a brutal outing, lifting the Indians over the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-4, Monday night.

The perpetually hustling Sizemore, who in his second full season has emerged as one of baseball's rising stars, leads the league with 75 extra-base hits, two more than Boston's David Ortiz.

Sizemore also leads the league in runs (107) and doubles (46) and is among the leaders in several other offensive categories. If the center fielder's uniform isn't dirty, then the game probably hasn't started.

"If he's not the best all-around player in the league, he's near the top," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "He's just a great all-around player who works as hard as anyone we have. One thing people don't see is his mental toughness. And just the way he plays the game, and the effect it has on his teammates.

"I'll take him over anybody."

Ryan Garko added a pair of RBI doubles off A.J. Burnett (6-6) as the Indians, who have failed to live up to expectations following a 93-win season in 2005, improved to a major-league-best 14-5 since Aug. 9.

Reed Johnson had three hits for the Blue Jays.

Byrd (9-6) didn't make it out of the first inning of his previous start, getting banged around for nine runs - three earned - and eight hits at Kansas City on Wednesday. He escaped with a no-decision when the Indians, trailing 10-1 after the first, rallied to win, 15-13.

This time, the right-hander stayed around long enough to get a cheap win, allowing three earned runs and 10 hits in five-plus innings.

Sizemore's 20th homer - he hit 22 last year - put the Indians ahead 6-4 in the sixth. The 24-year-old, who plays all out all the time, drilled a 2-1 pitch from Burnett over the wall in center. Six of Sizemore's last seven hits have gone for extra bases, and his hard-nosed style has made an impression on everyone in Cleveland's clubhouse.

"I can't say enough about Grady," said Byrd.

"Whether he goes 0-for-5 or 5-for-5, he plays the same way. He plays hard. He dives, risks injury. He signed a big contract at the beginning of this season, and I don't think it's a secret that some guys, after they get a big contract, get a little too comfortable. Not Grady.

"The way he plays the game, you'd think he was in the last year of his contract, not the first. Everyone on our team should learn from him."

Mariners 2, Angels 0

Seattle - Felix Hernandez pitched a five-hitter for his first career shutout, stopping the Mariners' 20-game losing streak against the AL West.

Hernandez (11-12) threw 95 pitches, struck out four and walked none in his second complete game in 38 major-league starts. All the Angels' hits were singles, and Hernandez retired his last 10 batters. The game took just 1 hour, 51 minutes, the fastest in the history of Safeco Field, which opened in July 1999.

Seattle's streak was the longest against division rivals since the big leagues split into divisions in 1969. It matched the 1969 Montreal Expos' skid against the NL West for the longest slide against teams from any division. Seattle's previous win against an AL West team was June 11, when it completed a three-game sweep of the Angels.

Athletics 9, Red Sox 0

Oakland, Calif. - Frank Thomas hit his 476th home run, Nick Swisher connected three batters later, and Esteban Loaiza completed a perfect August by winning his fourth straight decision.

Pinch-hitter Adam Melhuse hit a two-run homer in the eighth, and Bobby Kielty and Jay Payton each drove in two runs for the AL West-leading A's. Thomas hit his 28th homer of the year leading off the seventh against Keith Foulke, moving past Willie Stargell and Stan Musial for 23rd on the career list.

Swisher also has 28 home runs, tied with Thomas for the team lead.

Melhuse hit his fourth home run of the year, the first pinch-hit homer by an A's player since Scott Hatteberg on July 21, 2004, at Seattle.

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