Brian Buscher is taking full advantage of his opportunity with the Twins this season, batting .296 with 44 RBIs in 58 games. The 27-year-old third baseman keeps his focus on scoring runners.
"That's the most important thing, scoring runs," Buscher told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I could care less about hits. When there are guys on base, it just seems like I'm not trying to do too much. I'm just trying to put the ball in play and make something happen."
Manager Ron Gardenhire is among those who are impressed.
"I know he hasn't got as much attention as [Denard] Span and [Alexi] Casilla out there, but Buscher has been very good for us," Gardenhire said. "He gets it done. He's done a very, very good job for this baseball team. He's a gamer, well-liked, plays the game hard and is a good teammate and all those things."
Lindstrom chalks up first save: Matt Lindstrom notched his first save on Friday night for the Florida Marlins. His teammates congratulated Lindstrom with a shower of beverages.
"It got in my eyes and stung a little bit," Lindstrom told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "It was a different feeling trying to shut the door and get a win. I was trying to focus on not letting anyone get on base because that's how big innings start. Fortunately, it worked out."
Dukes 'feels it,' uses double to end game: Elijah Dukes as 0-for-6 when he came up in the 14th inning of Sunday's game. But he helped put an end to the four-hour, 34-minute game with a three-run double that lifted Washington to a 7-4 win over Atlanta.
"I didn't start thinking until the 10th inning," Dukes told The Washington Post of the game's length, "and that's when I realized I'm like dying out there. And I started thinking, 'Man, we've got to do something.' It's like everybody was feeling those 4 1/2 hours. I know I was feeling it. I'll probably be feeling it for the next two days."
Manny brings fun with hard-working approach: Dodgers manager Joe Torre is learning firsthand what "Manny being Manny" is all about. But to Torre's surprise, it's been fun and games sprinkled in with all of the hard work by Manny Ramirez.
"No question, Manny took us to another level here," Torre told the Los Angeles Times. "He just came from a world championship team with an attitude of 'Let's have some fun, guys.' And if you want to watch him prepare every day -- a lot of guys were surprised and so wwas I at the regiment he follows -- then fine."
McClain stirring things up with bat: Scott McClain made headlines when he hit his first Major League home run as a 36-year-old. Saturday night the Giants third baseman delivered his second homer, and it helped the team to a 7-6 win over the Pirates.
"Being 36, who knows how far my future goes in this game?" McClain asked the San Francisco Chronicle. "To contribute like this in a big game, and doing it in San Francisco, it's icing on the cake. Whatever happens from here forward, I'll take it in stride."
Bulger eyes playoff roster spot: Jason Bulger spent most of the season in Triple-A, where he posted a 4-0 record with a 0.63 ERA and 16 saves in 37 games. Now he's trying to convince the Angels he belongs on the playoff roster. He took a big step in that direction on Saturday when he tossed three scoreless innings.
"That's something I'm keeping my eye on," Bulger told the Los Angeles Times. "It's definitely a motivating factor. I want to prove to the coaching staff I can pitch and get guys out consistently, and maybe I'll get a chance to pitch in the postseason. That would be a dream come true."
Mota's pitching success provides options: Brewers manager Ned Yost said he would probably start using Guillermo Mota more in the eighth inning. Mota has been one of the most reliable relievers for the Brewers lately, tossing 13 consecutive scoreless innings.
"I'll probably elevate him and use him in the eighth," Yost told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It's definitely a possibility. Mota's done a really nice job. It all goes on matchups. We've got options."
Playoff race is new territory for Dunn: In only three weeks with Arizona, Adam Dunn has already acknowledged it as a first-class organization. The Diamondbacks, however, offer something Dunn rarely experienced during his playing days in Cincinnati -- a chance to win. The ability to challenge for a division championship every year will be the top factor for Dunn when it comes time to choose which club to sign with as a free agent this offseason. Dunn started his career with the Reds in 2001 and never experienced a winning season.
"I want to put myself in this position that I'm in right now every year," Dunn told The Arizona Republic. "When I do sit down and hopefully narrow down the teams that I'll be able to go to or whatnot, that's going to be No. 1."
Shift to bullpen leads to callup for Ekstrom: When the Minor League season started, Mike Ekstrom was in the starting rotation for Double-A San Antonio. By the end of May, he was in the bullpen after starting the year with a 7.69 ERA in his first 11 starts.
"By May 31, I was a mess," Ekstrom told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "The first two months of the season were as bad as I've ever pitched. I was discouraged. I was feeling for outs and not getting many."
Ekstrom was moved to the bullpen, and, as it turns out, it was the turning point in his season. In 26 games as a reliever, Ekstrom had a 2.57 ERA and went 7-3. In 42 innings, he had 47 strikeouts and only 15 walks while opponents hit only .255 against him. Thanks to those numbers, Ekstrom was called up by the Padres when Major League rosters were expanded at the start of September.
"I'd rather be relieving here than getting killed as a starter in Double-A," Ekstrom said. "I'm a little surprised that I'm getting this opportunity. It's crazy how this game can change. Out of the bullpen, I just let it go. It was simple. I was more aggressive than I was as a starter."
Longoria gets boost with activation from DL: The Tampa Bay Rays got some good news this weekend when Evan Longoria was activated from the disabled list. The Rays' rookie third baseman still is unable to hit, but the team plans to use him as a defensive replacement and as a pinch-runner as he continues his recovery from a broken wrist.
"I'm hoping that I get activated pretty soon just so I can play maybe some late-inning defense or run the bases if we need it -- but now that we've got Fernando [Perez], we might not need that," Longoria told the Tampa Tribune before being activated. "Something, anything, at least to include me in the game, so I can put my spikes on and be ready and start getting myself mentally prepared."
Pujols gets a push for another Gold Glove: Albert Pujols does more than just hit -- as his 2006 Gold Glove Award shows -- and his manager thinks there should be another one on the way.
"Put him down for a Gold Glove," St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa told the Belleville News-Democrat after Pujols scooped a Troy Glaus throw at the end of Saturday's game. "Let the world know this guy plays Gold Glove first base. The one in the last inning was spectacular. And he hits a home run and runs the bases. I say, Gold Glove. He showed it tonight. He is such a good defensive player."
And with a National League-leading batting average of .359, 32 home runs and 95 RBIs, La Russa also believes that another Most Valuable Player award could be headed Pujols' way.
Zambrano gives fans a promise: Carlos Zambrano doesn't enjoy missing starts, and as he's had to do just that this week, he made a vow to Cubs fans that it won't happen again.
"I promise the team and Cub fans I will work hard in the offseason and the rest of this season to [make] my shoulder strong," he told the Chicago Tribune. "It's nothing to be worried about. I have to be strong and work hard for my shoulder."
Wainwright stellar in month since return from injury: Since returning from a finger injury late last month, Adam Wainwright has been nothing short of dominant. Now 9-3 overall on the year, Wainwright is 3-0 with a 1.78 ERA, 19 strikeouts and just four walks in 25 1/3 innings over four starts. He hopes that his latest outing, an eight-inning effort against Florida, will be a step toward more long outings.
"It just proves to me and to everyone else that I'm back ready to be out there pitching until they take the ball from me," Wainwright told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Hopefully after this game everybody has confidence to let me go as long as I can."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.