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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Marlins pound Mets as Vasquez dominates

MIAMI — Javier Vazquez has given strong indication that this will be his final major-league season. If that proves to be the case, the Marlins might wish for him to reconsider. After all, Vazquez has been their best pitcher for a couple of months.

On Monday, Vazquez passed the great Christy Mathewson on the all-time strikeout list in the Marlins’ 9-3 victory over the New York Mets at Sun Life Stadium. Vazquez rode the wave of a 15-hit attack as the Marlins recorded their first three-game winning streak since the second week of August.

“If I do go out, that’s actually how I want to go out, pitching good,” Vazquez said. “I wouldn’t want to go out pitching poorly.”
Vazquez improved to 9-11 after holding the Mets to a run over seven innings.

Over his past 14 starts, dating to June 21, Vazquez has gone 6-4 with a 2.47 ERA. It’s a stunning reversal from his early season woes. On June 16, his rescord stood at 3-7, his ERA was a robust 6.85, and there was whispering that he might be finished.

“I feel good that I was able, after my struggles early in the year, to get it back,” he said.

Said catcher John Buck: “There’s a reason why he pitched so long.”
Vazquez not only proved the doubters wrong, but helped to validate the $7 million deal the Marlins gave to him over the winter.

He was sharp on Monday, just as he has been on many an occasion of late. He held the Mets to only six hits, struck out seven, and did not walk a batter. He has walked only three batters over his past five starts, covering 34 innings.

When he struck out Josh Thole in the second, Vazquez passed Mathewson on the all-time list. Vazquez now has 2,507 strikeouts, ranking him 29th on the all-time list. Vazquez struck out the side in the second.

“It’s amazing when you go back and look at guys you passed,” Vazquez said.

Howard sizzles with late-season surge

PHILADELPHIA — It hurts when he runs. It hurts when he fields his position at first base. Nonetheless, when Ryan Howard steps into the batter’s box and uncoils his dangerous swing these days, opposing pitchers end up hurting just as much.

Howard is on the kind of late-season surge that has characterized his career. He had five home runs and 11 RBIs in nine games before Tuesday’s rain-delayed matchup with the Atlanta Braves, but he is likely to get a few days off before the playoffs because of his sore left foot.

“His foot is bothering him, yes,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We’ll monitor it, and as soon as we get a chance, we’ll get him off his foot.”

Howard said he’s not sure what’s causing the pain, but he knows it’s not going away anytime soon.

“Just have to play through it,” he said. “It’s not going anywhere. We’ll just continue to treat it, stretch it, keep it loose.”

Last season, Howard suffered a badly sprained left ankle scrambling to get back to second base in a game at Washington. He missed the next three weeks. He’s not certain the bursitis, which is in his left heel and Achilles tendon, is related to that injury.

“This is something different than last year,” he said, “but they say those things can linger.”

Angels turn back Mariners, pull closer to Rangers

ANAHEIM, Calif. — There are still many back payments due, but the Angels’ offense has at least started to make some amends to the team’s starting pitchers.

Dan Haren was not at his best Monday night, allowing 10 hits in six innings that stretched the definition of “quality start,” but the Angels took advantage of the deficiencies that have made the Seattle Mariners a last-place team this year to defeat them, 7-3, at Angel Stadium.

The victory and a Texas Rangers loss in Tampa Bay allowed the Angels to shave a game off the Rangers’ lead in the AL West, cutting it down to 21/2games, the closest the Angels have been since losing two of three in Texas just more than a week ago.

“Every time it looks like we’ve slipped a little too far back, we win a few and they lose a few,” Haren said. “We’re going to need to put on a little bit of a run here with 20 games or so left.

“The offense has picked it up lately even though the pitching hasn’t been as good. If we put those two things together for the last three weeks, hopefully we can win a lot of games.”

A big part of the Angels’ plan to put on that run down the stretch is to keep rolling out the “Big Three” in their starting rotation and let the victories pile up. It’s working — if not the way anyone expected.

Over their past three starts, Haren, Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana have combined to allow 12 runs on 22 hits and 10 walks in 172/3 innings (a 6.11 ERA) but go 3-0.

“We don’t want these guys to have to hold teams to one run or less. They’ve had to do that pretty much all season,” said Angels outfielder Vernon Wells who hit one of the Angels’ two home runs.

“After all those nail-biters, they probably deserve to have a few easy ones,” said rookie first baseman Mark Trumbo, who hit the other home run.

Lack of durability hurts Twins

MINNEAPOLIS — Bud Grant liked to say that a player’s greatest ability was his “durability.”

When tutoring young quarterbacks, Rich Gannon, the former Viking who became an NFL MVP with the Raiders, alters the message slightly. “I tell them,” Gannon said Tuesday, “that their greatest ability is their availability.”

The arrival of Donovan McNabb and Christian Ponder means Minnesotans never again will search the skies for a private jet bearing Brett Favre. His indecisiveness won’t be missed, nor will his unique form of interpersonal communication.

With the NFL season about to start, though, there is one reason to celebrate Favre, now and forever.

In an era during which too many athletes think of the disabled list as paid vacation, Favre treated games as sacred.

As Twins players regard the whirlpool like a finish line instead of a pit stop, and as Peyton Manning’s amazing streak appears to be coming to an end, Favre’s durability and availability made him rarer than an eclipse.

A neck injury likely will stop Manning’s streak of consecutive NFL starts at 208, or 227 including playoff games. Favre holds the NFL record for most consecutive games started, at 297, or 321 including playoffs.

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