Pirates Notebook: Sanchez's lead falls, but status climbs
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CINCINNATI -- Freddy Sanchez's lead in the National League batting race is down to a single point over Florida's Miguel Cabrera.
Sanchez (.340) went 1 for 3 yesterday, while Cabrera (.339) was 2 for 2 against Philadelphia.
Sanchez, who has led the league since July 3, is in a 2-for-16 slide.
"That's baseball," he said. "Sometimes they fall in. Sometimes they don't."
Sanchez winning -- or not winning -- the National League batting championship is immaterial relative to what the infielder has accomplished this season.
"He's made a believer out of me," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "He fits here. With what he's done for this club and what he's going to do for this club, he fits big-time.
"And I think if you can get him completely settled in at [one position], you can make the path even a little easier for him."
When might Sanchez be "settled in"?
"Prior to opening day next year," Tracy said.
Duffy front and center
Chris Duffy, playing his usual stellar center field, is 11 for 24 over his past seven games. In that span, he had four walks, four stolen bases and seven runs scored.
"He's been a prototypical leadoff hitter for this club," Tracy said. "He's played with energy, conviction, commitment and a thought process."
"The last few days have been pretty fun," Duffy said. "When you're playing good from an individual standpoint -- scoring runs, getting on base, stealing bases, getting a few extra-base hits, saving some runs [defensively], making things happen -- and winning ballgames, it can't do anything but make you feel really good.
"The last few days I feel like I'm playing a pretty complete game of baseball."
Bay has extra punch
Through Saturday's games -- since the start of the 2005 season -- Jason Bay's extra-base hit total of 143 ranked third in the National League behind Albert Pujols (153) and Cabrera (152).
"You can't argue with what the guy's done," Tracy said. "And I'd venture to say he's going to get better. He's finishing the package. He'll be a complete package. I firmly believe that."
"Obviously I'm pleased with where the numbers line up," Bay said, "but I still have a lot of room to improve in all aspects."
For the most part, the teams involved in the National League wild-card race each have about 20 games left.
"Twenty games is not a lot of games," Tracy said, "but there's still a lot that can happen in those 20 games.
"What you're banking on is that the [teams ahead of you will] stumble at the same time. At some point, we all step in potholes. But when you get to this point with 20 games left, the reality that all the teams in front of you will stub their toes at the same time [is] not a real logical thought process."
Pirates pay tribute
The Pirates tonight will honor those whose lives were lost in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 in a ceremony before they play Milwaukee at 7:05.
More than 50 Flight 93 family members will be in attendance and participate in the ceremony.
Before the game monetary donations will be collected on Federal Street. The money will go to the Flight 93 National Memorial Fund.
In addition, the Pirates will honor the memory of Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor. The Pirates will wear official uniform patches marked "BOB" on the left chest of their home and road uniforms for the remainder of the season.
The Pirates are 3-15 in the rubber game of three-game series this season.
A rare homerless game
Yesterday's contest was just the fourth homerless game of the season at Great American Ball Park, which leads the major leagues this season with 226 home runs produced.
In 318 games in the history of the stadium, only 25 games have been played without a home run being hit.
ALTOONA lost at Akron, 5-2, in the fifth game of the best-of-five Eastern League playoff semifinal. Akron advanced to face Portland in the league championship. RHP Nerio Rodriguez (0-1, 7.20) allowed four runs and four hits -- including a three-run home run -- in five innings. LHP Dave Davidson (2.45) allowed one run in 1 2/3 innings of relief. RF Ray Sadler (.267) went 2 for 4 with his second home run. 2B Javier Guzman (.476) went 3 for 5 with an RBI. CF Andrew McCutchen (.181) went 2 for 5. DH Neil Walker (.300) went 1 for 4.
First Published September 11, 2006 12:00 am