Carlos Gonzalez credits maturity
Rockies outfielder has emerged as one of NL's top players
Since the 2009 All-Star break, Carlos Gonzalez is hitting .320 with 36 home runs and 98 RBIs and has emerged as one of the National League's top all-around players -- a giant step forward for the talented young left fielder who had only hit .202 with one home run and five RBIs before that.
"I am more mature and I have a better understanding of my swing," Gonzalez told the The Denver Post. "I get into a good position and see the ball better."
He may be more mature, but he is also doing a better job of not swinging at pitches out of the strike zone.
"When I am getting a pitch to hit, I am not missing it very often," Gonzalez said.
Myers is Astros' iron man: Brett Myers pitched another strong game for Houston on Saturday, despite being pegged with the loss to drop to 8-7 this year. Myers extended his club record for consecutive starts of at least six innings to begin a season to 23.
"I like throwing strikes and getting the ball put in play early, and that usually gets you deep in games," Myers told the Houston Chronicle.
Myers is three starts of six innings-plus away from tying Larry Dierker for the longest streak in team history. Dierker's streak spanned the 1969-70 seasons. Myers can tie Darryl Kile for second place with a six-inning outing the next time he takes the mound.
Myers is the first pitcher since Curt Schilling in 2002 to record at least 23 six-plus-inning starts to begin a season; Schilling went 35 with the Diamondbacks.
Morrow focuses on positives after missed no-no: It didn't take long for Toronto's Brandon Morrow to show he was going to be tough Sunday against Tampa Bay. Facing Ben Zobrist, Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria in the first inning, Morrow struck out all three swinging.
"When he struck out those three guys," Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay said, "It was like, 'Well, I guess we're just going to hang out and enjoy the game.'"
Morrow came one out shy of throwing a no-hitter against the Rays, as the Blue Jays won 1-0. Using a fantastic slider and fastball, Morrow struck out a career-high 17 batters, which is also the most by a pitcher this season.
"I was excited," Morrow told MLB.com. "That's my first complete game, first shutout. Those things combined are more than enough to overcome the missed no-hitter. That would've been a great feat, but I'll start at a complete game, one-hit shutout with 17 strikeouts."
Arencibia has dream debut: Catcher J.P. Arencibia had a Major League debut that will be remembered for a long time. The rookie hit the first pitch he saw for a home run and finished the game with two home runs, four hits and three RBIs for the Blue Jays.
"I imagined I would at least have one strikeout in my debut because of my nerves," Arencibia, who also singled and doubled, told the Toronto Star. "I couldn't have written it up any better or dreamed it any better."
Arencibia was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas when John Buck landed on the disabled list. This year in the Minors, he hit .303 with 31 home runs, so his power display on Saturday shouldn't have come as a big surprise. A first-round pick in the 2007 Draft, Arencibia became just the fifth Major Leaguer to belt two homers in his debut and the first player in the modern era whose debut included both four hits and two home runs.
Hall-of-Fame tip boosts Ramirez: A tip from Hall of Famer Tony Perez helped Hanley Ramirez end a drought in which he produced just one extra-base hit since July 2. Perez, a special assistant to the president in the Marlins organization, suggested that Ramirez open his stance and hold his hands higher. Ramirez promptly hit a double and a home run.
"Sometimes you figure it out in a day, sometimes a month, sometimes it takes all season," Ramirez told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
"The season's not over," Ramirez said. "I'll hit better. And we're going to go out and win our next 45 games."
Gibbons completes long road back to the Majors: Looking to improve their lefty bats off the bench, the Dodgers called up Jay Gibbons. The 33-year-old had not played in the Majors since 2007. Gibbons had considered retirement but instead found himself delivering a pinch-hit RBI single in a pennant race.
"I just couldn't give it up," Gibbons told the Los Angeles Times. "I went to play winter ball, and the Dodgers saw me over there. I'm just very grateful that the Dodgers gave me an opportunity to show I can play again."
Barton, teammates take in a little UFC: Daric Barton was one of several members of the Oakland A's to attend Saturday's Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight title bout between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen at Oracle Arena. Barton is a big fan of UFC and has even received an invitation to work out with Randy Couture in the offseason.
"It was awesome," Barton, who sat in the front row with Jerry Blevins and Kevin Kouzmanoff, told the Oakland Tribune. "The fans are into it, you can feel the energy, the dudes are intense as soon as they step up to the octagon. Especially sitting in the front row, it was unbelievable. You couldn't get any closer than we were."
Jay keeps learning, improving: Outfielder Jon Jay, who lives in Miami during the offseason, thoroughly enjoyed the Cardinals' weekend series against the Marlins. With his average continuing to hover around .370, Jay says he's doing as much studying as he can.
"I'm finding as much information [about opposing pitchers] as I can," Jay told MLB.com. "Every day I'm learning something new and working hard."
Soria moves into select company: In Saturday night's 2-1 victory over the Mariners, Joakim Soria got his 24th consecutive save, tying the team record set by Jeff Montgomery in 1993.
"That's really important to me," Soria told the Kansas City Star, "but you have to look at it as just a number, too. You have to keep going. I want to put up a really big mark."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.