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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Upcoming stretch to test surprising Mariners
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA, Times Staff Writer
Published August 26, 2007
Consider the Mariners the most unlikely of contenders. They have a rookie manager. They have an unfriendly schedule. And in mid June, when it looked as if the Angels were going to run away with the AL West, they were eight games back.
But here they are - led by former Rays bench coach John McLaren, a finalist for the Tampa Bay managerial job that went to Joe Maddon - leading the Yankees and Tigers in the wild-card race and a game behind the now mortal Angels.
And though it's easy to get caught up in the Indians-Tigers battle in the Central and the yearly Red Sox-Yankee chase in the East, the AL West might have the best race down to the wire.
"We all like to grind, and this is definitely going to be a long grind," said McLaren, who is 28-21 through Saturday's game since taking over after Mike Hargrove surprisingly resigned after Game 78. "I take it into a positive. We've got a close-knit group. I look to play good baseball, and they're going to be even closer, because they're going to be together all the time."
If the Mariners (73-54) make the playoffs, they will have earned it. They host the Angels Monday through Wednesday, but those are their only home games in the middle of a three-week span of 20 games in 20 days. The road isn't friendly: After finishing the weekend series in Texas, it includes stops in Cleveland (to make up the final game of their snowed-out series), Toronto, New York and Detroit.
"We know it's ahead of us, we know it's a challenge," McLaren said. "There's no use dwelling on it. It's something we've got to do."
Seattle is nine games into a 20-day stretch without a day off, play 37 games over their next 38 days and have just two off days the rest of the regular season.
"It's going to be very interesting what happens from here on in," hot-hitting DH Jose Vidro said. "We don't have a lot of days off for rest. What we do have is a lot of good guys on the bench, so Mac can give some guys rest. Mac has the cards to play. Hopefully, he shuffles it around pretty good and everyone gets a piece of the action."
SOUND FAMILIAR? The Rays aren't the only team that has been exceptionally careful with its young arms. Giants rookie RHP Tim Lincecum, who had thrown 88 pitches and allowed just two hits through eight shutout innings Tuesday, was pulled in the ninth after allowing three straight hits and one run. Before Tuesday, the 23-year-old - who had won five of his past six starts - twice reached eight innings but was pulled before the ninth because he had exceeded 100 pitches.
UNDER THE RADAR: Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki might be overshadowed in the NL rookie of the year race by slugging Brewers 3B Ryan Braun (.333, 24 HRs, 63 RBIs in 324 at-bats), but Tulowitzki has 17 homers, sixth most for a rookie who has played at least 100 games at shortstop, and leads all shortstops in total chances. His .983 fielding percentage is tied for second among shortstops. Braun has made 20 errors.
AROUND THE HORN: Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols has an NL-high 14 home runs since the All-Star break. ... Twins 1B Justin Morneau ended the longest homerless streak of his career, 106 at-bats dating to July 23, Friday in Baltimore. ... With the demotion of rookie LHP Matt Chico, no member of the Nationals' opening day rotation will make every start this season. ... Tuesday, the Angels' Garret Anderson became the sixth player since 1969 and the 12th in history to drive in 10 or more runs in a game.
By the numbers
The Rangers' 30-3 shellacking of the Orioles Wednesday featured its share of interesting numbers:
65 Plate appearances by the Rangers, tying the AL record for a nine-inning game and one shy of the major-league record set by Philadelphia (NL) in 1922.
30 Runs by the Rangers that weren't scored off Orioles ace Erik Bedard, who has allowed just 31 in his past 17 starts.
24 Runs allowed by the Orioles bullpen.
7 RBIs each by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez, both of whom had four hits and two homers. They entered the game with a combined 13 as Rangers.
4 Rangers batters who had at least four RBIs.
1 Save for Wes Littleton, who entered with a 14-3 lead and pitched the final three innings.
.21 Points the Orioles' team ERA went up after the game, from 4.39 to 4.60.