Sunday, September 03, 2006

AL Batting Title Race

While Derek Jeter says he's not paying attention to the American League batting title race, the matchup between Jeter and Minnesota's Joe Mauer has been hot news around Yankee Stadium.
The two hitters entered the series with 10 points separating their season averages, but that has been trimmed to seven over the past two games.

Jeter is 9-for-17 on the homestand -- 4-for-7 in the series against the Twins -- and has a season-high 13-game hit streak. He is now hitting .343 on the season.

Mauer is 2-for-5 against the Yankees and is at .350, the same average with which he entered the series. While Jeter's average has been climbing, Mauer's has fallen significantly over the past two months. He was hitting .392 as of July 1.

But Yankees manager Joe Torre isn't counting Mauer out of the title.

"He's a big, strong kid, and I think it's gone far beyond the fact that, 'Oh, wait until the dog days come,' because the dog days have come and gone and this kid is still standing tall," Torre said, adding that being a catcher makes Mauer's season more impressive.

Mauer said playing shortstop can also be a demanding position. Mauer was surprised the batting title was the hot topic when the Twins are in a playoff run, but said he can't imagine what it's like for Jeter.

"He's doing it on a bigger scale, media wise," Mauer said. "From everything I've seen -- and I got to play with him on his team in Pittsburgh [for the All-Star game] -- he's everything as advertised. He handles everything really well."

While Jeter says the batting title isn't on his mind, Torre said he believes Jeter would care more about winning AL MVP.

"I think Derek would appreciate that more than a batting title, because it's connected to the team and that's what he's about," Torre said.

Jeter is certainly a candidate for the award, as is Boston's David Ortiz, who Torre thought was the other player with the best bid. Johnny Damon, who played with Ortiz in Boston, said he felt Jeter deserves the award.

"I always appreciated what Derek did, even from afar [while with Boston]," Damon said. "On any given day, he can go out and beat you, and it doesn't have to be the long ball. It can be a number of things."

While Ortiz's 47 homers, 121 RBIs and clutch hits make him a more than legitimate MVP contender, Jeter's consistency is what Torre and his teammates laud.

That consistency reached a new high Sunday as Jeter tied legendary Yankee Phil Rizzuto for most games played at the shortstop in franchise history, with 1,647.

"The fact of what this youngster has done in a short period of time is pretty remarkable," Torre said. "His consistency has been unparalleled, in my mind, especially from age 20 right through to the present time."

"I think it just means I've been here for a long time," Jeter said with a laugh. "It's flying by, but then it does seem like it's not flying by. So it's a little bit of both."

Coming up: The Yankees will hit the road to open a three-game series with the Royals on Monday. Chien-Ming Wang will face Kansas City's Luke Hudson in the 8:10 p.m. ET start.

You can check on the race for the title on the top of the left sidebar.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 8:42 PM


  • Blogger James Willis posted at 10:30 AM  
    Thought you might want to know which NY Yankee Mcfarlanes were coming out...Cano and a new 3 pack cut and paste link below...
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