Player of the week: Alex Rodriguez 

Not just the Player of the Week, but the Player of the Month, A-Rod has answered all his critics in the Bronx by responding with an April for the ages. In the New York Yankees’ key meeting with the Boston Red Sox last weekend, the much-maligned third baseman went 7-for-13 with two home runs and five RBIs. Monday against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, A-Rod smashed two more home runs to tie Albert Pujols’ record of 14 bombs in April, putting him on pace for 100-plus homers for the season. Now, if only manager Joe Torre could find a way to get A-Rod to pitch for the struggling Yanks.

BASEBALL STORYLINES

With a $198 million roster and a lineup loaded with offensive stars, the New York Yankees were expected to run away with their 10th straight AL East title. But with injuries ruining their already-shaky pitching staff, the Yanks have slipped into last place in the AL East. Heck, they have just one more win than the Kansas City Royals. Unless the Bronx Bombers find some decent arms to put on the mound — Phil Hughes debuted Thursday — they may be sitting at home in October for the first time since 1995 — and it can be guaranteed George Steinbrenner will not be happy with that result.

On the other end of the scale from the Yanks are the Milwaukee Brewers, who are tied for the NL’s second-best record (13-8) with a payroll topping out at a scant $50.5 million. The youth movement the Brewers have been trying to establish the past decade has finally paid dividends, with young pups Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy and Bill Hall forming the core behind Milwaukee’s pleasantly surprising start to 2007.

After three seasons with just one no-hitter in the majors, the legendary pitching feat seems to be back en vogue in 2007. With the Giants’ Matt Cain, Milwaukee’s Ben Sheets and Seattle phenom Felix Hernandez already coming close, the Chicago White Sox’s Mark Buehrle completed the rare accomplishment April 18 when he went nine innings without surrendering a hit against Texas. He walked one, Sammy Sosa, but still only faced the minimum after picking off Sosa at first. With a slew of talented young pitchers cropping up everywhere in the majors, the no-hitter could return to prominence in 2007.

— Will Reisman

KEY SERIES

Orioles at Tigers (Monday-Wednesday): The Orioles have played surprisingly well to open the season, led by young, talented fireballers Daniel Cabrera and Erik Bedard. The Tigers, who proved last year that winning with an inexperienced pitching staff was possible, have hovered near the top of the tough AL Central so far.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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