|Bichette has been a big deal for Baltimore.|
They acquired Dante Bichette prior to the season from the Minnesota Twins, in exchange for RP-Anthony Telford & LF-Alex Ochoa. His great play, so far (.318, 9 HR & 31 RBI) just landed him an 4-year extension on May 24th, for $8.76 million ($2.19 m per year), while his teammate Chris Hoiles (.290, 13 HR & 32 RBI) continues to play like a strong MVP candidate.
The lineup also features team captain Cal Ripken, Jr, Brady Anderson & Jay Buhner (who bats 6th as the designated hitter).
The rotation has took hits of late, with Tim Belcher & Arthur Lee Rhodes' stats going south, while Mike Mussina (3-1, 2.63 ERA), Ben McDonald (8-0, 2.10 ERA) & Jose Mesa (5-0, 2.48 ERA) continue to dazzle. The Orioles' bullpen is led by 4 veterans who are all having superb seasons, led by their closer Steve Farr (12 Saves, 2.81 ERA), along with Mike Fetters (2-0, 1.35 ERA), Storm Davis (2-0, 1.59 ERA) & Steve Bedrosian (3-0, 0.59 ERA).
The Toronto Blue Jays (second place / 6.5 GB) are having a tough time catching Baltimore; The Jays won their 5th straight, only problem Baltimore is currently on a 6-game winning streak.
The A.L. West meanwhile has 5 teams all within 2.5 games of each other, with the Oakland Athletics currently leading with a 24-18 record. Oakland is led by a healthy Mark McGwire, who is batting .291 with 14 HR & 40 RBI, with his numbers up -- while coming off a 1992 OOTP Season, which he hit 26 HR & 80 RBI (compared to real-life's 42 HR & 104 RBI).
The Montreal Expos are 34-11 (.756 pct) while they are ahead with a very comfortable 12-game lead entering June; The team signed free agents Andres Galarraga & Mickey Tettleton (just days prior to the beginning of the regular season), as they are the meat in the center of this lineup. Eric Karros is a bench-player now due to signing of Galarraga & could be trade bait down the line; The player traded for Karros, Mark Gardner, just got hurt & will likely miss the remainder of the season.
In some bizzare Expos news, their starting left fielder Bill Masse (.343, 4 HR, 8 RBI & 1.192 OPS in 35 at-bats) never played in the majors, he got his chance due to the struggling Ivan Calderon; Masse was acquired with a certain-Panama born reliever (Mariano Rivera) in exchange for SS-Spike Owen & $205,000 in cash.
That above, is one of the reasons that I love this game, how moves elsewhere, may effect teams to do acquisitions that will pave new alternate paths for those like Rivera.
My Atlanta Braves are 33-10, with an 8.5 game lead over the Cincinnati Reds, while Houston is in third place, 9 games back. Fred McGriff, two months in, leads all three Triple Crown categories, batting .414 with 19 HR & 56 runs batted in (1.291 OPS is tops)... while his teammate Ron Gant (.341 AVG, 15 HR, 36 RBI & 1.116 OPS with 11 steals) has been excellent as well.
Steve Avery (6-1, 2.10 ERA) & Greg Maddux (6-0, 2.15 ERA) have a combined WAR of 5.1 at the moment, while they are waiting on Tom Glavine & John Smoltz to heat up. Maddux, by the way, pitched a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 14th.
That pretty much wraps up the May report.