Manuel’s Words Are Wisdom to Thome
Standing in the batter’s box, Jim Thome could almost hear stricken hitting coach Charlie Manuel’s Southern drawl and homespun advice.
“Don’t jump, Jimmy. Stay back. Drive the ball.”
After a bedside study session with Manuel at the hospital, Thome hit his 24th homer, tripled and scored two runs as the Cleveland Indians ended the Yankees’ 10-game winning streak with a 4-1 victory Monday night at Cleveland.
Manuel, who had successful quadruple bypass surgery on Monday, is Thome’s biggest mentor besides his father.
“And that says a lot,” said Thome.
Thome visited Manuel at the hospital on Sunday, and the gray-haired coach gave him some tips that he came up with as he awaited surgery. They stuck in Thome’s head, like Burgess Meredith’s instructions to Rocky.
“I walked in and he kind of smiled,” said Thome, who has worked on his hitting with Manuel nearly every day since 1989. “Then we just started talking about hitting.”
So did Jaret Wright, the Indians’ antidote for the Bronx Bomber blues that had haunted Cleveland since the 1950s.
Wright (9-5), who defeated the Yankees twice in last year’s division series, became the first pitcher to defeat them twice this season. He allowed one run and eight hits in seven innings, walking two and striking out four.
“As you can tell from the fans, it’s not a typical game when we play New York,” Wright said.
Cleveland kept the Yankees from securing baseball’s best start this century through 86 games. The Yankees are 65-21, still the best start in 86 years.
The New York Giants were also 65-21 through 86 games in 1912, as were the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1902.
The Yankees, chasing the Chicago Cubs’ record of 116 victories in 1906, must figure out how to beat Wright and contain Thome for any of this to matter. New York could meet Cleveland in the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
“There’s no question that the potential is there we might face them in October,” Yankee Manager Joe Torre said. “There’s a great deal of respect on both sides.”
In the Indians’ 7-4 victory over New York on June 19, Wright was the winning pitcher and Thome hit two homers. Wright is 4-1 against the Yankees dating to the division series.
“Anybody can beat anybody three out of five or four out of seven,” Wright said. “If they’re there and we’re there, it’s going to be fun.”
Baltimore 5, Toronto 0--Rookie Nerio Rodriguez didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning and Lenny Webster homered and drove in four runs at Baltimore as the Orioles stretched their winning streak to five games.
B.J. Surhoff went three for four with a homer as Baltimore remained undefeated since the All-Star break. The Orioles’ five-game winning streak is their second-longest of the season behind a seven-game run in early April.
Rodriguez (1-2) retired the first 15 batters before Tony Fernandez lined an opposite-field single to left for his 2,000th career hit. The 36-year-old infielder joins Julio Franco, Felipe Alou and Cesar Cedeno as the only Dominican-born players with 2,000 hits.
Kansas City 6, Detroit 4--Jeff Conine hit a two-run double with two outs in the 10th inning as the Royals defeated the Tigers at Detroit.
Conine’s double off Todd Jones (1-4) followed an intentional walk to Jeff King that put runners at first and second. Shane Mack followed with an RBI double to make it, 6-3.
Jeff Montgomery balked in a run in the 10th, but got three outs for his 21st save.
Chicago 5, Minnesota 2--Albert Belle hit two home runs raising his total to six in his last five games and leading the White Sox at Chicago.
Belle, named AL player of the week earlier in the day, connected for his 23rd homer leading off the fourth inning. He hit his 24th, another solo shot, in the sixth.
It was Belle’s 32nd career multi-homer game and fifth this season. He also hit two home runs July 10 against Kansas City.
John Snyder (2-0) won in his second major league start since being called up June 29. He gave up two runs and 10 hits in seven innings.
Seattle 10, Texas 3--Edgar Martinez homered twice and Ken Griffey Jr. made a spectacular catch with his back to home plate at Seattle.
The Rangers had three errors and remained a half-game behind the first-place Angels in the AL West. The Angels lost at Oakland.
Griffey, who had an RBI fielder’s choice in the fourth when the Mariners scored three runs, made a basket catch of Will Clark’s towering fly ball while running toward the fence in the fifth. He received a standing ovation from 25,170 fans in the Kingdome at the end of the inning.
Griffey, who leads the AL with 37 homers, went three for five, all singles, to raise his batting average to .500 (18 for 36) in 10 July games.