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Outfielder lifts Tampa out of offensive slump

By BOB PUTNAM

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 22, 2001


With an offense that has a league-worst .242 team batting average and has collected a league-low 760 hits, the Tampa Yankees needed some spark on offense.

Mike Vento provided it last week.

The outfielder hit .684 (13-for-19) and had a 1.316 slugging percentage in six games from July 9-15. He hit three homers, a double and a triple, scored six runs and drove in six during that span.

For his efforts, Vento was named Florida State League Player of the Week, the first time since the opening week a Yankee received the honor.

Vento's hot streak helped him move into third in the league in home runs (14). He also leads the league in triples (nine) and is second in slugging percentage (.519) and fifth in RBI (53).

Another Yankee has shown some pop, too. Mitch Jones leads the league in home runs (16) and extra-base hits (45) and is second in doubles (26) and third in RBI (54).

Vento and Jones have been part of an offense that has become a stabilizing force for Tampa as the pitching staff has undergone changes due to promotions and trades.

The turnaround has helped the Yankees to a 19-12 record in the second half, good for second place in the Western Division, a half-game behind Fort Myers.

RUBBER ARM: Miguel Asencio has been the workhorse for Clearwater.

The right-hander is second in the league in wins (nine), third in innings pitched (110 1/3) and fifth in strikeouts (93).

TEAM AUCTION: The Dunedin Blue Jays Booster Club will hold an auction Friday, selling autographed memorabilia from minor league and major league players.

Friday also is Scout Night. Cub scouts, boy scouts and girl scouts in uniform will be admitted free and can pitch tents after the game and camp overnight at the stadium.

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