Victorino breaks out of batting slump

April 15, 2010, 6:48 AM HST · Updated April 15, 6:48 AM
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By Fred Guzman

MauiNow.com

Memo to Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel: Shane Victorino sure seems more comfortable hitting higher up in the batting order.

The centerfielder from Maui got off to a very slow start this season, laboring under the Mendoza line – that’s under .200 for the uninitiated – after being relegated to the No. 7 spot in lineup instead of No. 2 as he has for most of his productive stint in Philly.

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You can’t fault Manuel for putting off-season pickup Placido Polanco in the No. 2 spot. The veteran, after all, is leading the the National League in batting, with a blistering .487 average, and in runs, with 12. He’s also tied for fifth in RBI with 11.

But Victorino’s numbers plunged with his demotion.

That all changed yesterday. When All-Star shortstop Jimmy Rollins was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained calf, Victorino replaced Rollins atop the lineup. Shane delivered in a huge way.

He went 4-for-5, including a two-run homer and a bases-loaded triple, for a career-high five RBI, helping power the Phillies to a 14-7 romp past the Washington Nationals. Going into the game, Shane was hitting .161 with just five hits in 31 at-bats.

Oakland catcher Kurt Suzuki went 1-for-4 for Oakland in a 4-2 loss to Seattle, which did not call on the services of reliever Kanekoa Texeira, the third of Maui’s big-leaguers.

MIL ROUNDUP: So it comes down to this, as it usually does, when something important is at stake in MIL baseball: Perennial powers Baldwin and Maui High will open a huge three-game series today at Iron Maehara Stadium. The first pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

On the line is the Division-I regular-season title and an automatic berth the state tournament, which will be held on Maui on May 6-9.

Both teams come into today’s game with 8-1 league marks. Baldwin is ranked sixth in the state; the Sabers are tied for seventh.

Kamehamea faces Lahinaluna in the 6 o’clock nightcap of today’s double-header at Maehara Stadium.

The Baldwin-Maui High series continues with 6 p.m. games on Friday and Saturday. All three games can be heard on ESPN 550 or via the internet at ESPN550.com.

While on the topic of state rankings, the Seabury Hall boys are ranked fourth in volleyball, trailing only ILH powers Punahou, Kamehameha and Iolani. The Spartans are projected to battle defending champion Hawaii Baptist for the D-II state title.

Baldwin is ranked ninth in softball. Mid-Pac is first, followed by Campbell. In MIL action yesterday, second-place Lahainaluna beat Maui High 7-3.

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