Thursday, September 25, 2014

Clayton Kershaw, Carl Crawford, Dodgers Reach Playoffs with 9-1 Win over Giants; Toronto's Mark Buehrle Leaves Seattle Sleepless in 1-0 Victory

Players of the Day for Wednesday, September 24, 2014

American League

Strong-armed Mark Buehrle nearly ended Seattle's post-season chances with eight shutout innings in a 1-0 win by Toronto.

Buehrle: 200+ IP
Reaching a milestone of 14 consecutive seasons with 200 or more innings pitched, Wednesday's effort was vintage Buehrle, allowing three hits, fanning ten and issuing one walk before turning over the ball to Aaron Sanchez, who picked up his third save with a perfect ninth inning.

From 1966 to 1980, Don Sutton and Gaylord Perry each had 14 consecutive seasons of 200 innings or more, but the streaks of both pitchers were snapped by the 1981 player's strike.

Buehrle went past the 200-inning mark in the sixth. Now finished for the season, Buehrle logged 202 innings for the Blue Jays with a 13-10 record, an ERA of 3.39. His career mark stands at 199-152, a record achieved over 15 seasons with the White Sox, Marlins and Blue Jays.

Seattle's loss, their fifth in a row, did not officially finish off the Mariners, though it might as well have. Seattle still trails the A's and Kansas City by three games in the wild card race, but there are only four games left to play. Both Kansas City and Oakland lost on Wednesday, putting any celebration of clinching a wild card temporarily on hold. Kansas City lost to Cleveland (also just barely alive in the wild card race, 3 1/2 games behind the co-wild card leaders), 6-4, while the A's fell, 5-4, to the Angels.

Looking ahead, Oakland and Kansas City can each clinch a wild card on Thursday. The A's are at Texas, while the Royals open a four-game series in Chicago with the White Sox.

National League

Kershaw: 21-3
The Dodgers clinched the NL West Wednesday night and did it in style, pounding their fiercest adversary, the San Francisco Giants, 9-1, in the final game of their three-game series, taken by the Dodgers, two games to one.
Carl Crawford

Carl Crawford punished the Giants with a 2-for-2 effort, singling, doubling, driving in two runs, scoring three times with a stolen base. Starter Clayton Kershaw became the major league's only 21-game winner, holding the Giants to one run on eight hits, striking out 11 without issuing any walks.

Kershaw is almost certain to win the league's Cy Young award, which would be his third (2011, 2013). He is 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA. His win over the Giants put the Dodgers into the post-season. In one of the most remarkable seasons ever compiled by a pitcher, Kershaw has won his last seven starts, and has 239 strikeouts, the fifth straight season he's fanned 200 or more.

Kershaw leads the NL in Ks, with four more than Johnny Cueto and Stephen Strasberg. Cueto, who has 19 wins, is slated to pitch on Sunday, while Strasberg is scheduled to start for the Nationals on Saturday, but, with the post-season looming and Washington 2 1/2 games ahead of the Dodgers for the league's best record, Strasburg could be rested.

Adam Wainwright of St. Louis, currently 20-9, could tie Kershaw with wins if he appears as scheduled, on Sunday, at Arizona, in the final game of the season for the Cardinals, but he also could be benched, especially if the Cardinals wrap up the NL Central, which they currently lead by 1 1/2 over the Pirates.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Nick Markakis, Orioles Eliminate Yankees; KC, Oakland Even in Wild Card; Justin Turner Gets Dodgers Closer to NL West Title

Players of the Day for Tuesday, September 23, 2013

American League

The race in the Central division and AL wild card got a whole lot more interesting Tuesday night, except for the Yankees, who were eliminated from post-season contention in a 5-4 loss to the Orioles.

Nick Markakis
The Orioles banged out 17 hits against five New York hurlers, including 11 off starter Brandon McCarthy. Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz and Kelly Johnson each homered for the O's. Cruz's solo shot in the fifth inning was his 40th of the season, which lead the majors. Houston's Chris Carter has 37; Miami's Giancarlo Stanton lead the National league with 37.

Markakis was the slugging star of the night, though, with a two-run, fourth-inning blast that put the Orioles up, 4-0. In the second inning, he singled home a run and later added two more singles to go 4-for-5 with three RBI. Other than the home runs, all of the other Oriole hits were singles, 14 of them.

The important action elsewhere in the league took place in Detroit, where the Tigers held their one-game lead in the Central with a 4-3 win over the White Sox; in Cleveland, the Royals topped Cleveland 7-1 to reach a tie for the wild card spots with Oakland, 2-0 losers to the Angels.

In Toronto, the Blue Jays walloped the Mariners for the second straight night, with a 10-2 win. Seattle is just three games behind the wild card leaders, but there are only five games left to play. Cleveland is 4 1/2 back and could be eliminated as early as Wednesday night, when they meet the Royals in the conclusion of their three-game series.
Justin Turner

National League

With a 4-2 win over second place San Francisco, the LA Dodgers are within a hairs-breath of capturing the NL West division.

LA leadoff hitter, Justin Turner, belted a pair of solo homers off Giants' starter Madison Bumgarner (18-10) to propel the Dodgers to victory, their 90th of the season, against 68 losses. Turner led off the game with his first belt, then finished Bumgarner's night on the mound with his second solo with one down in the eighth. Zack Greinke (16-8) went eight innings for the Dodgers to earn the win.

Kenley Jansen worked the ninth to pick up the save, his 44th, tying him with St. Louis' Trevor Rosenthal and Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel for the league lead.

LA can wrap up the division with a win Wednesday night in the final of their three-game series with the Giants. They may meet their Norther California rival again in the playoffs, however, as the Giants and Pirates both have qualified for the playoffs, and are the likely wild card teams. Pittsburgh holds a one-game edge over San Francisco in the wild card and are 1 1/2 behind St. Louis in the NL Central.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jose Bautista, Toronto Put Dent in Seattle Post-Season Hope in 14-4 Win; Francisco Liriano Wins 4th Straight for Pirates

Players of the Day for Monday, September 22, 2014

American League

Bautista: 35 HRs
Denied a chance at the post-season, the Toronto Blue Jays - an offensive juggernaut - may be putting an end to the hopes of the Seattle mariners, one of the weakest-hitting teams in the league, and still in contention for a wild card spot.

Jose Bautista and his Toronto teammates combined for 16 hits in a 14-4 rousting of the Mariners in the opener of a four-game series north of the border.

Bautista went 3-for-3 with two singles, scored three times, drove in two, and stroked his 35th home run of the season.

Seattle's loss left them two games behind Kansas City for the final wild card position, with just six games left in the regular season. Unless the Mariners can find some runs and stop the Blue Jays from scoring at will, the season may be over sooner than they wish. Toronto is fifth in RBI (2231) in the league and fourth in runs (699). Seattle is 13th in RBI (1971) and 12th in runs (615).

National League

Liriano wins 4th
straight
After a 3-10 start, Francisco Liriano has found his good stuff and the rest of the league simply can't hit it. The resurgence of Liriano in the Pittsburgh rotation has come at the most opportune time, as the Pirates are putting it all together, and, with a combination of two more wins or two Milwaukee losses will qualify for the post season as a wild card.

Following Monday's 1-0 win over the Braves, Pittsburgh is tied with the Giants for the two wild card spots. Milwaukee is a fading five games back.

Giving up three hits, Lirano tossed six innings of shutout ball in the game for his fourth straight win, lifted when Andrew McCutchen launched his 24th home run of the season off loser Aaron Harang in the top of the frame for the game's only run.

In his last four starts, Liriano has been nothing short of electric, allowing 13 hits and just one earned run over 26 innings.

Pittsburgh plays at Atlanta in the second game of their four-game series Tuesday at 7:10 pm EDT.

In related news, the NY Mets won their third straight and tied Atlanta for second place in the East division. Atlanta has lost four in a row and nine of their last 10.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Josh Donaldson Crushes 2-Run Walk-Off Homer in 10th; Matt Kemp Tearing It Up as Dodgers Seek NL West Pennant

Players of the Day for Sunday, September 21, 2014

American League

Josh Donaldson cracked a two-run homer in Oakland's 8-6, 10-inning, walk off win over the Phillies.

Donaldson: MVP?
The game-winner came with one out off Philly reliever Miguel Gonzalez (0-1), after Nate Freiman singled and was replaced by pinch runner Billy Burns. Donaldson's blast was a no-doubter, traveling 444 feet, over the center field wall.

Donaldson finished the game 3-for-5 with three runs and the two RBI from the homer, giving him 97 ribbies on the season, to go with his 28 home runs and .255 batting average. Should Oakland make the playoffs - a distinct possibility - Donaldson would be a viable MVP candidate.

Oakland's win put them 1/2 game in front of Kansas City in the wild card race. The A's are in line for the top wild card spot as Kansas City beat Detroit, 5-2.

On Monday, the A's open a three-game home series against the Angels, who need just a few more wins to wrap up the best record in the American League. Oakland closes out the season with a four-game series at Texas on September 25-28.

Kemp: 4-5, HR, 4RBI
National League

Matt Kemp has been on a tear as the Dodgers streak toward the NL West division title.

Including Sunday's 4-for-5 effort, Kemp has stroked four homers and driven in 15 runs in his last nine games, securing his spot in the Dodgers' crowded outfield roster.

In the 8-5 Dodger win over the Cubs, Kemp singled three times and smacked a two-run homer in the third inning - his 23rd - driving in four runs to give him 84 on the year.

LA scored 37 runs in the four-game series at Chicago, winning three of four, the lone loss an 8-7 decision for the Cubs on Saturday.

The Dodgers have a 4 1/2 game lead over the Giants, who have lost three straight. LA has six games remaining in the regular season; San Francisco has seven, making the Dodgers' magic number to clinch the division, three.

Finishing out the season at home, the Dodgers host the Giants in a three-game series starting Monday, before finishing up against Colorado on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chris Coghlan, Cubs Drop Dodgers, 8-7; Baltimore Beats Boston, 7-2, as Adam Jones Belts a Pair of Homers

Players of the Day for Saturday, September 20, 2014

American League

Adam Jones
Increasingly, it appears that the Baltimore Orioles will finish with the second-best record in the American League and wind up hosting a first-round playoff series with the winner of the Central division, presumably the Detroit Tigers.

This is all falling into place as the Angels continue to hold a 2 1/2 game edge on the O's for the league's best record. Even after dropping a few games to the Mariners and the first game of their weekend series with the Rangers, the Angels rebounded with an 8-5 win over Texas on Saturday, while the Orioles punished the Red Sox, 7-2.

Adam Jones socked a pair of two run homers - one in the third and another in the fifth inning - for the win, with just eight games left on the regular season schedule.

Elsewhere, the Tigers extended their lead in the Central division with a 3-2 win over Kansas City, their second straight in the three-game series, giving Detroit a 2 1/2 game edge. All three of the main contenders for the two wild card spots lost, as the A's and Mariners also were losers on Saturday, giving Cleveland a boost with a 7-3 win over the Twins. The Indians trail Kansas City by 3 1/2 games.

Chris Coghlan
National League

In the first two games of the four-game series between the Dodgers and Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, the two teams combined to score 29 runs in a pair of Dodger wins. On Saturday, they added 15 more, as the Cubs took the win, 8-7, as Chris Coghlan went 4-for-4 with a pair of homers, a single, double, three RBI and three runs, topping the two-homer, five RBI output of LA's Adrian Gonzalez.

The Dodger loss had little affect on the NL West race, as the Giants were downed by San Diego, 3-2, keeping LA's lead in the division at 3 1/2 games.

The Cubs and Dodgers wrap up the series Sunday afternoon at Wrigley. Game time is 2:20 pm EDT.

In the Central, the Pirates were cooled off by the Brewers, 1-0, while the Cardinals took an 8-4 decision from the Reds and lead the division by 3 1/2 games with eight left to play.