Player of the week: Bobby Abreu

No player typified the New York Yankees’ early-season disappointment more than high-priced right fielder Bobby Abreu, who suffered through a series of hitting slumps during the Yankees’ horrible start. But after seeing his average dip to .228 by the end of May, Abreu has woken up in June, opening the month with a 10-game hitting streak. Abreu has gone 14-for-32 with 12 RBIs and 14 runs in the past eight games for the Yankees, who, not coincidentally, won all eight games and now appear to be a threat for the AL wild card.

BASEBALL STORYLINES

Detroit Tigers second-year stud Justin Verlander entered his name in the history books with a masterful no-hitter in the 4-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday. Verlander walked four and struck out 12 with a fastball topping out at 102 mph in the ninth inning, becoming the first Tiger to toss a no-hitter since 1984 and the first from any team to achieve the feat in Detroit since Nolan Ryan did so in 1979. Verlander (7-2) tossed his gem five days after Boston’s Curt Schilling lost his no-hit bid against the A’s with just one out left in the game. The 24-year-old Verlander became the second pitcher to toss a no-hitter, following Chicago White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle, who broke a five-year drought in the AL when he held Texas hitless in a 6-0 victory April 18.

There is a team in turmoil in New York — and for the first time this season, we’re not talking about the Yankees. As their cross-town brethren in the Bronx have found new life, the Mets have broken down, losing nine of their past 10 games to see their lead sliced to two games in the NL East. Particularly troubling for the Mets has been their play at home, where they have lost five of their last seven and failed to score more than three runs in any of those defeats. With a matchup this weekend against the Yankees, we could see a major power shift in the Big Apple by Monday.

Maybe it’s his .247 batting average that’s making him irritable or his team’s dismal overall record. Whatever it is, Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Barrett has been awfully ornery with his pitching staff. Just two weeks after he was seen engaging in a physical altercation with the excitable Carlos Zambrano, Barrett again jawed at one of his pitchers — this time, left-hander Rich Hill, who apparently was upset with some of the catcher’s calls during a 5-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday. Barrett put the altercations beside him, saying “it was the heat of the moment.” But the apparent battery disharmony is just one more reason the Cubbies have been one of the more disappointing teams this year.

— Will Reisman

KEY SERIES

ANGELS AT DODGERS (Today-Sunday): Could this SoCal interleague matchup be a World Series preview? The Angels, led by free-swinging slugger Vladimir Guerrero, have run ahead of the pack in the AL West after a slow start, while the Dodgers have lost some recent showdowns, but are still tied for the NL West lead.

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