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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Molitor Joins Elite, Yankees Streak On

KANSAS CITY -- Paul Molitor recalls reading a magazine piece five or six years ago in which players were handicapped according to their chances of joining the exclusive 3,000-hit club.


His teammate at the time, Milwaukee Brewer outfielder Robin Yount, was given 4-to-1 odds. Kansas City Royal third baseman George Brett was at 8-to-1. Molitor, who had about 1,900 hits at the time, was listed at 1,000-to-1.


"They said I was too injury-prone, and I was getting old," said Molitor, the Minnesota Twins' designated hitter. "I wasn't really thinking about 3,000 hits then. It wasn't like I called Vegas and put down a couple of hundred."


Too bad. Molitor, who turned 40 this summer, hit the Hall of Fame jackpot Monday night, becoming the 21st player in baseball history to reach 3,000 hits, a milestone that is usually accompanied by an automatic ticket to Cooperstown.


And he did it with a flourish, becoming the first of the 21 to do it with a triple. Playing against the Royals at Kansas City, he singled in the first inning for No. 2,999, then flied out in the third. With one out in the fifth, he hit a fly ball to the opposite field against rookie Jose Rosado. Center fielder Rod Myers and right fielder Jon Nunnally both tried to run it down but slowed to avoid colliding and the ball dropped behind them.


The crowd in Kansas City gave Molitor a standing ovation when he came to plate, and another ovation after the milestone hit. In his next at-bat in the seventh, Molitor singled for hit No. 3,001.


The hit was Molitor's American League-leading 211th of the season, and the 105th triple of his 19-year career.


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The New York Yankees couldn't have asked for a better way to come into their biggest series of the season.


If five wins in the first six games of the Yankees' most important road trip so far this year wasn't enough to build confidence against the charging Baltimore Orioles, their 10-0 victory Monday night should have been.


Jimmy Key (12-10) pitched perfect baseball for 5 innings and Tim Raines celebrated his 37th birthday with two three-run homers -- one a monster shot to center -- in a chest-pounding victory over the Blue Jays at SkyDome that increased the Yankees' AL East lead over the second-place Orioles to three full games.


The Yankees take on the O's for three big games starting Tuesday night at the Stadium.


(Newsday, LAT, Reuters)