06/29/2007 12:11 PM ET
Milestones for Biggio, Thomas
It was a day for milestones on Thursday. Frank Thomas smacked his 500th home run and a few hours later Craig Biggio reached the 3,000-hit plateau in style with a five-hit game.
Craig Biggio acknowledges the crowd after getting his 3,000th career hit on Thursday. (Pat Sullivan/AP)
Biggio had entered the first game of an 11-game homestand needing three hits to become the 27th player to reach 3,000 in a career. He got the job done -- and then some -- in the first as he helped the Astros beat the Rockies 8-5 in an 11-inning game.
"I couldn't have scripted it any better," Biggio said. "As a baseball player, the way the fans treated me. ... I've said for a long time, I love these guys, I love this city, I worked hard here and they appreciated that.
"I'm trying to stay focused, but getting a standing ovation every time up to hit -- it's a pretty nice appreciation. A lot of things have happened to me over the course of my 20-year career but tonight is the best. I'm just glad we finally got it done."
Biggio's 3,000th hit came in the seventh inning, driving in Brad Ausmus from second base with two outs.
His fifth hit, an infield single to shortstop, came with two outs and no one on in the 11th inning to begin a rally that ended with a game-winning grand slam by Carlos Lee.
Thomas should have known his milestone would come in Minnesota, where he has tormented the Twins for years. Ten percent of his career home runs have come against them.
He reached the milestone number when he launched a shot over the fence against Carlos Silva on a 1-2 pitch in the first inning. Thomas hit his first career home run against the Twins as well when he hit a shot off Gary Wayne.
Thomas was especially pleased he was able to hit the home run early in the game so his family could see it.
"My kids had to leave for the airport at 1:45 p.m. and my daughter said 'Dad, you're going to do it in the first couple at-bats,'" Thomas said. "Thank God she was right, I'm happy she was here to see it."
Thomas added that it is an honor to join the group of superstar players who have hit 500 home runs.
"That's an unbelievable class of talent," he said.
Lowe's just happy to be pitching again: The Mariners are sending reliever Mark Lowe on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment, a huge step for a pitcher who underwent micro-fracture surgery to help grow back cartilage in his pitching elbow.
The surgery itself was risky enough, but Dr. Lewis Yocum encountered problems during the procedure and told Lowe not to get his hopes up about pitching again once he completed the operation.
"He just said, 'You might not pitch again,'" Lowe told the Seattle Times. "That was hard to swallow, but that was reality. That was one of the things I needed to hear, because my whole baseball career has been spent proving people wrong."
It's been eight months since the micro-fracture surgery and Lowe underwent another operation in the interim. But all of the hard work he put in is about to pay off, as he gets a chance to pitch in a real game again.
"Everybody was very honest with me," Lowe said about the odds of recovery. "I just kind of hung with it. There's not much more you can do."
Lowe made a splash last season when he got promoted and proceeded to throw 97 miles per hour, which helped him post a 1.93 ERA before elbow problems ended his season. Right now, his velocity is markedly lower. Lowe hopes he can re-gain the missing 10 miles per hour from his fastball, but he knows there are no guarantees.
"Whatever happens, happens," Lowe said. "There's nothing I can do more than I already have to change it."
Petrick's dream-come-true gets even better: Chicago Cubs rookie Billy Petrick, who began the season at Single-A Daytona, has quickly climbed through the ranks and on Wednesday night made his Major League debut in front of almost 40,000 fans -- including many friends and family. In his first inning of work, he struck out Cory Sullivan with a 95-mph fastball.
"I wanted to scream after I struck that last guy out," Petrick told the Chicago Tribune. "It was an awesome feeling."
Despite starting the year far from the Cubs, the organization liked what they saw in the young lefty.
"Our Minor League people felt this kid was throwing the ball better than anybody else we had, and that's exactly who we brought up," said manager Lou Piniella.
And once he was brought up, it was a dream realized for not only the player, but also for his family.
"It felt like just a dream to me, and more for my dad," he said. "He was pumping me up, saying, 'I'm dropping you off at Wrigley Field. First day, dropping you off for your job.' That's a great feeling for him, and I just fed off his feelings."
Mazzone: Bedard could have pitched with Braves: Baltimore Orioles pitcher Erik Bedard is on a roll, his latest gem coming in the Orioles' 4-0 victory over the Yankees on Wednesday night.
Bedard struck out eight while walking only one and giving up just two hits.
"What I saw out of him tonight?" pitching coach Leo Mazzone asked the Baltimore Sun rhetorically. "An all-star pitcher. ... I think he's been this way all year basically. The greatest compliment that I could give Erik Bedard is with some of the great staffs in Atlanta that I had the privilege of coaching, he could have pitched in them."
Now 6-4 on the year with an ERA of 3.36, Bedard leads the American League with 129 strikeouts. Even the opposition can't help but to be impressed.
"He has a much better idea than he had when he was younger," said Yankees veteran Johnny Damon. "The pitches he's throwing kept hitting his spots. He throws a lot of borderline pitches that are either on the corner or balls, and a lot of times we have to chase those because they are too close. He's just putting the balls in good spots."
"Right now, he's an accomplished left-hander, and that's the highest compliment I can pay him," added Yankees manager Joe Torre.
Baltimore skipper Dave Trembley believes that what Bedard is doing now is no fluke.
"Erik is probably about as reserved a young man as you'll ever meet, but he's as competitive a guy as you'll ever come across," said Trembley. "He's pretty composed most of the time, but he's very aware of what the situation is. ... I don't think there's any doubt the guy's a bona fide No. 1 on this club. He's pitched like that all year."
Tigers see bright future for Miller: Detroit Tigers pitcher Andrew Miller is off to quite a start this year, picking up three victories in his four starts with an ERA of just 2.70. And according to teammates, the best may be yet to come.
"Everyone knows he has talent, he's very impressive," Tigers veteran starter Kenny Rogers told the Detroit News. "We talk all the time. He's got a lot of years ahead of him. There are ups and downs no matter how good you are, but he's got so much room to learn, it's scary.
"He's not even probably 30 percent of the pitcher he could be, stuff-wise."
Miller, meanwhile, is just trying to make the most of his opportunity.
"I know that if I pitch well, things will work out well," he said. "But I know that if I don't, I probably won't be here too long.
"I just have to try and do as well as I can. If I start worrying about stuff then my mind is in the wrong spot."
For now, his mind is on listening to the veterans around him. "I'm just trying to listen, take tips and see if those tips will work for me," Miller said. "All these guys here love to talk about pitching, and I love to listen to it. Hopefully I can be around a long time like many who are here."
Manager Jim Leyland isn't about to discourage the youngster's desire to pick up some things from his teammates, but also wants him to be his own man.
"It's good to learn, it's good to listen, but you don't want to get swamped or pattern yourself after someone else," said Leyland. "He is what he is.
"He's good, and he's got a long way to go. I don't know how (this starting role) is going to play out, but it's like a bonus.
"We're getting a chance to see him a little bit, (fans) get to see him, and he's getting valuable experience."
Michaels on a roll: Jason Michaels is just plain on fire.
Now carrying an 11-game hitting streak, Michaels has 11 hits in his last 27 at-bats, including the decisive, three-run home run in the Indians' 4-3 victory on Thursday afternoon.
The ball traveled 415 feet. "I think I got enough of it," Michaels told MLB.com.
Now with six home runs on the year, Michaels doesn't want fans to think he's trying to hit the long ball.
"My junior and senior year at Miami, I had some home runs," he said. "But I went to the Minors, and I've never been a home-run hitter. That's not me. That's not my lane."
Michaels is now hitting .302 on the year with 25 RBIs.
Capuano ready for Tuesday return: After throwing a five-inning simulated game Wednesday without experiencing any problems, Milwaukee pitcher Chris Capuano is on schedule to come off the disabled list and start Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Capuano has been on the disabled list Since June 9 with a strained left groin. During his simulated game, in which he faced Kevin Mench, Gabe Gross, Claudio Vargas and Dave Bush, Capuano threw 75 pitches.
"I thought it went good," said Capuano, who was 5-5 with a 4.35 ERA in 13 starts before going on the DL, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "The leg felt great. I tried to treat it like a regular start day."
In addition to the 75 pitches thrown, Capuano fielded some bunts and also fielded a grounder while sliding on the ground.
-- Red Line Editorial