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The Bottom Half

July 08, 2007|Ken Fowler

OFF THE WALL

Looking back

* The Tampa Bay Devil Rays beat the Kansas City Royals, 6-5, Friday to end an 11-game losing streak, the team's sixth slide of 10 games or more since its inception in 1998. The Devil Rays had a 6-1 lead before giving up three runs in the eighth inning and another in the ninth. Tampa Bay reliever Gary Glover put the tying run on base in the ninth but earned his first save in more than five years. "It felt great ... for multiple reasons obviously," Glover said. "That was a real good feeling and one that was big. I am glad I got through it."

Looking ahead

* The National League is looking to end a 10-year winless streak in Tuesday's All-Star game. It has history on its side, with this year's game in San Francisco. The senior circuit is 6-2 in All-Star games held in California. The last NL victory in the Midsummer Classic was a 6-0 win at Philadelphia in 1996, when Mike Piazza, then with the Dodgers, was selected the game's most valuable player.

It's a fact

* The Minnesota Twins scored 32 runs in their day-night doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox on Friday, the most runs scored by a team in a doubleheader since the Boston Red Sox scored 35 against the Philadelphia Athletics on July 4, 1939. Justin Morneau was three for five in each game and had three home runs and drove in six runs in the second game. "Those are just days you put in your memory bank and don't expect them to happen," Morneau said.

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MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

ANGELS IN THE MINORS

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BOBBY WILSON, C

Salt Lake; triple A

Wilson, 24, was promoted to Salt Lake from Arkansas last week. Before heading to Salt Lake, he hit .271 with six home runs and 27 runs batted in in 50 games, despite a back injury that kept him out of the lineup for three weeks. Wilson has been consistent in five seasons in the Angels' system. He hit .290 and had 14 home runs and 77 RBIs with Rancho Cucamonga in 2005. In 2006, Wilson earned a promotion to Arkansas, where he hit .286 with nine home runs and 53 RBIs. Wilson had struggled in drawing walks until this year. From 2004-06, he struck out 163 times and walked only 93 times. This year, Wilson has nearly as many walks (23) as strikeouts (27).

RICH THOMPSON, P

Salt Lake; triple A

Thompson, 23, was also promoted from Arkansas last week, and his 2-3 record belies his effectiveness. The native of Hornsby, Australia, has given up only 38 hits in 52 1/3 innings this year. Signed in 2002 as an undrafted free agent, Thompson has struck out 53 batters and walked only 15, and has a 2.06 earned-run average. His performance marks a drastic turnaround. In 2005, he finished with a 5.27 ERA in Rancho Cucamonga. Splitting time between Arkansas and Salt Lake last year, he was 3-5 with a 5.58 ERA. This is his best stretch since 2003, when he surrendered only one earned run and struck out 54 in 37 2/3 innings.

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ONE UP, ONE DOWN

Who's on the rise, who's slumping:

FIRST BASE

* Up: Ryan Garko, Cleveland -- The sophomore from Stanford has been a steal for the Indians.

* Down: Richie Sexson, Seattle -- Andruw Jones isn't the only one near the Mendoza Line.

SECOND BASE

* Up: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati -- Had four RBIs, three runs, two hits and a walk on Tuesday.

* Down: Dan Uggla, Florida -- Was 0 for 5 twice in the last week.

THIRD BASE

* Up: Chipper Jones, Atlanta -- He's on a roll, and John Smoltz is on the disabled list.

* Down: Nick Punto, Minnesota -- Went six games without a hit.

SHORTSTOP

* Up: Rafael Furcal, Dodgers -- Five multi-hit games in six days can turn around a lackluster season.

* Down: Jose Reyes, Mets -- Forgot the importance of all those walks he got in April and May.

OUTFIELD

* Up: Alfonso Soriano, Cubs -- Finally hitting and stealing bases.

* Down: Manny Ramirez, Boston -- Went back into the funk that earned him a .202 average in April.

CATCHER

* Up: Bengie Molina, San Francisco -- The Plodder is on pace for a career-high 90 RBIs.

* Down: Wil Nieves, Yankees -- Mike Mussina's personal catcher is batting .120, which is 50 points lower than Mussina's career average.

PITCHER

* Up: Chris Young, San Diego -- Pitched his way into the All-Star game and knows when to serve a suspension.

* Down: Andy Pettitte, Yankees -- Had been the team's best pitcher but surrendered eight runs in each of his starts this week.

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