Sammy Sosa is having a successful comeback after a year away from baseball. The former NL MVP will try to continue that success Monday night when the Texas Rangers visit the Baltimore Orioles, Sosa’s club before taking the time off.
Sosa spent the 2005 season with Baltimore (57-65) after 13 seasons with the Chicago Cubs, during which he excelled as a home run hitter before being dealt to the Orioles after a tumultuous 2004.
With Baltimore—Sosa, a career .273 hitter—struggled with injuries and landed on the disabled list twice while batting just .221. He finished with only 14 home runs and 45 RBIs in 102 games—his lowest totals in all categories since his first season with the Cubs in 1992.
The slugger now returns to Camden Yards for the first time since that difficult 2005 season, sporting a .246 batting average with 16 homers and a team-leading 72 RBIs in 96 games for the Rangers (54-69). The seven-time All-Star appears to be enjoying his return to baseball, during which he finally reached the 600 home-run plateau with his total of 604 ranking him fifth all-time.
“The numbers I have are not the numbers that I wanted to have right now,” Sosa told the Rangers’ official Web site. “I could have better numbers, but I can’t be that greedy because I was out for a year. To come back to baseball and have the numbers I have right now, I can’t ask more of myself.”
Sosa, who has only hit four home runs in 51 contests at Baltimore, went 1-for-7 in two games with the Orioles as Texas took two of three at home July 6-8, 2005.
He now gets a chance to improve on that at Camden after getting the only two hits for the Rangers in a 1-0 loss at Minnesota on Sunday as the Twins’ Johan Santana finished with a franchise-record 17 strikeouts in eight innings.
Daniel Cabrera (9-12, 4.93 ERA) will try to spoil Sosa’s return and build on his last stellar outing.
The wild and hard-throwing right-hander limited New York to two hits Tuesday while striking out five and walking six in 6 2-3 innings of a 12-0 road win. It was in stark contrast to his previous outing on Aug. 9, when he allowed eight runs—three in the first inning—and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 13-8 loss to Seattle.
“With Daniel—as we all know—it’s the first couple of innings that he’s got to get through,” Orioles interim manager Dave Trembley told the team’s official Web site after the win over New York. “I thought after he got through the first inning, he was going to have a chance to be successful tonight.”
Cabrera, though, is 1-5 against with a 5.73 ERA in seven career starts at Texas. He has dropped both outings at home to the Rangers with a 6.10 ERA.
Texas will counter Cabrera with its own fiery and inconsistent right-hander, Vicente Padilla (3-8, 6.30). He is coming off a strong start Wednesday, when he yielded an unearned run and four hits with eight strikeouts in five innings of a 4-3 win over Kansas City in his first game since being activated from the disabled list with triceps inflammation.
Padilla will now try to repeat that performance on the road, where he is a woeful 1-5 with a 9.00 ERA in eight starts.
He will make his first start at Camden, where he won a relief outing for Philadelphia in his only appearance there on June 15, 2001, with two shutout innings.
Padilla was stellar in his last start against the Orioles on July 13, 2006, allowing one run and four hits in seven innings of a 15-1 win.
The Orioles return home, where they have lost five of their last seven, after splitting a six-game road trip following a 3-2, 10-inning loss at Toronto.