Ordonez Wins Batting Title

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) -- Magglio Ordonez's long hair and jersey were drenched by champagne. The Detroit Tigers were celebrating, just as they did a year ago when they won the AL pennant.
This time, they were enjoying a personal milestone for a well-loved teammate.
Ordonez won the AL batting championship, going 3-for-4 to raise his average to .363 and the Tigers beat the Chicago White Sox 13-3 to end disappointing seasons for both teams.
"It means a lot. To tell you the truth, I don't know how I did it, but I did it," Ordonez said. "I stayed focused and tried to get a hit in every at-bat." You always have your goals, but sometimes you don't get your goals. But this time I surpassed my goal and it was amazing."
As a team the Tigers didn't get where they expected to go. A year after reaching the World Series, they finished 88-74. The 2005 World Series champion White Sox went 72-90.
Ordonez, who sat out Saturday, easily beat out Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki, who finished at .351. He became the first Tigers player to win the batting crown since Norm Cash hit .361 in 1961 and the second Venezuelan to win a batting title. Andres Galarraga won the NL title in 1993 while with the Rockies.
"Second Venezuelan player to win a batting title in the big leagues, it's huge," Ordonez said. "I'm really proud."
His teammates toasted him Sunday on a day when several other Tigers got to personal plateaus. Curtis Granderson finished at .302, Placido Polanco reached 200 hits and Carlos Guillen got 100 RBIs.
"Nobody got foolish. We're not celebrating the big prize. We're not champions this year," manager Jim Leyland said. "We're professionals and out of respect to a teammate who accomplished something extraordinary, we all wanted to pour a glass of champagne and toast Magglio. He earned it."
After getting a single in the eighth, Ordonez was replaced by pinch-runner Ryan Raburn and got a nice ovation, tipping his helmet to the fans and family members in the stands.
"I have my fans here in Detroit and Chicago. I wish it was in Detroit, but fortunately it was here. They came here to support me and it was a really good surprise for me," said Ordonez, who played for the White Sox until 2004.
Ordonez hit an RBI double in the first and added a run-scoring single off Jose Contreras in the fifth. He finished with 139 RBIs, the most by a Tiger since Rocky Colavito's 140 in 1961.
Ordonez broke in with Chicago in 1997 and played there the next seven seasons. He signed as a free agent with the Tigers in 2005 after knee problems the previous year. His highest previous average was .320 with the White Sox in 2002, when he had 38 homers and 135 RBIs.
The White Sox never were in contention and finished 24 games behind AL Central champion Cleveland. Before Sunday's game, Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen offered a candid analysis.
"We failed all the way from the top to the bottom. We failed from (owner) Jerry Reinsdorf all the way to the bat boy," Guillen said. "Everyone failed this year. Hopefully next year we turn around and do a better job."
Guillen said after the game he was glad the "nightmare" was finally over. He commended his team for not quitting.
"There is nothing I have to say against my players. They made me sick, they made me angry, they made me sad -- whatever it is. But they showed up the right way and there is no doubt about it."
The Tigers scored seven runs in the seventh, capped by Mike Rabelo's first major league homer, a two-run shot off the Mike MacDougal -- a fitting end for a wobbly White Sox bullpen whose struggles epitomized the miserable season. Relievers Mike Myers and MacDougal combined to face nine batters and got one out.
Carlos Guillen's two-run homer to right in the third was his 21st of the season and gave him 100 RBIs. It also put the Tigers ahead 3-0. He added a two-run double in the seventh.
Chicago got three singles off Nate Robertson (9-13), the third one by Jermaine Dye, in the fourth to make it 3-1. Ordonez's RBI single put the Tigers up 4-1, but Chicago rookie Josh Fields cut it to 4-3 in the fifth with his 23rd home run.
Detroit erupted in the seventh with Sean Casey delivering a run-scoring single and Marcus Thames a two-run double.
Contreras (10-17) had won his four previous decisions. He gave up nine hits and five runs in 6 1-3 innings and finished tied for the second most losses in the majors.


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