Sunday, September 24, 2017

Eduardo Rodriguez Hurls Red Sox Closer To Playoffs; Miami's Giancarlo Stanton Racks HR #57

Players of the Day for Saturday, September 23, 2017

American League
Rodriguez: 7 2/3 IP, 0 ER

Boston's 5-0 win at Cincinnati was their fifth consecutive win, keeping them four games ahead of the Yankees in the race for the AL East title, the only division yet to be decided in the American League.

The Red Sox got a terrific performance from starting pitcher, Eduardo Rodriguez (6-6, 3.91), who blanked the Reds for 7 2/3 innings on three hits, all singles.

Rodriguez, who didn't give up a base hit until Joey Votto singled with one out in the fourth, walked two and struck out six.

With one more road game, Sunday, 1:10 pm ET at Cincinnati, Boston returns home to Fenway Park for the final week of the regular season, starting Monday with three games against Toronto, followed by four with Houston.

As both they and the Yankees have eight games left, Boston's magic number to capture the division is five.

National League

With every passing at-bat, Giancarlo Stanton's quest to tie or break Roger Maris' non-steroid-era record of 61 home runs in a season becomes more of a dramatic quest for the 27-year-old slugger.
Stanton: 57 HR, 125 RBI

Stanton has exceeded all expectations despite his Marlins falling out of contention for the post-season early in September. On Saturday, in Miami's 12-6 win at Arizona, Stanton launched number 57, a solo shot in the fourth inning. Earlier, Stanton delivered a third-inning double, driving in tow runs. In the ninth, he grounded into a fielder's choice, sending home the Marlins' final run.

Tallying four RBI on the day, Stanton continues to chase Colorado's Nolan Arenado for the NL RBI lead. Arenado has 126, Stanton closed to within one, at 125.

Miami's win kept the Diamondbacks from clinching a playoff spot, though that is nearly a certainty. With eight games left, Arizona leads Colorado by six games as the first wild card, making their magic number to clinch that coveted spot, three.

Stanton should have ample opportunity to add to his home run and RBI totals. After closing out the series in Arizona Sunday (4:10 pm ET), the Marlins play three in the thin air of Colorado, then return home for the final four games of the season, with Atlanta.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Arizona Downs Miami On Chris Iannetta's Slam, 8 RBI; Justin Verlander Leads 3-0 Houston Win

Players of the Day for Friday, September 22, 2017

American League

Verlander: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER
Having already clinched the AL West, the Houston Astros are still fighting for the best record in the AL, which would give them home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Aiding that cause was their 3-0 win over the Angels Friday, which incidentally left the LA squad with five straight losses and a 3 1/2 game deficit in the race for the second wild card.

Justin Verlander (14-8) had one of his best starts of the season for Houston, tossing seven innings of shutout ball on one hit, walking two and fanning six.

At 34, Verlander has been doing what a veteran hurler should, winning games. Since the all-star break, he's 9-1 and Friday's outing was his fifth straight win. The last four of those wins have come in September, after being traded from the Tigers to the Astros, allowing just two runs in 28 innings, with an ERA of 0.64.

The AL MVP and Cy Young award winner in 2011, Verlander appears ready for the playoffs, regardless of where the games occur. Houston's win and a 3-1 loss by Cleveland to Seattle left the Tribe 1 1/2 games to the good over Houston for the league's best record. The Indians are 96-58; Houston stands at 94-59. The Astros have won eight of their last 10. Both have already clinched their divisions.

The Astros will try to cut into that gap when they meet the Angels in game two of their series in LA, Saturday at 1:05 pm ET.

National League

Iannetta: 2HR, GS, 8RBI
Arizona came closer to clinching the top wild card spot as catcher Chris Iannatta drove in eight runs with a pair of homers and an RBI single for a 13-11 win over the Miami Marlins.

The Diamondbacks lead Colorado by six games in the wild card standings with eight left to play.

In a wild contest that saw seven home runs and the lead change hands five times, Iannatta was at the center of the action, ripping a three-run homer in the first inning, delivering an RBI single in the second and cracking a grand slam in the sixth that put the Diamondbacks ahead for good.

The slam was Iannetta's third in his 12-year major league career, helping him notch a career high with eight RBI. He has 16 homers and 42 RBI in 85 games this season.

Colorado kept pace with a 4-1 win at San Diego and the Cardinals overtook Milwaukee by 1/2 game as they won their fourth straight. St. Louis trails the Rockies by 1 1/2 games for the final wild card.

Arizona can get closer to clinching when they meet the Marlins in game two of their three-game set, Saturday, at 8:10 pm ET in Miami.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Kris Bryant, Wade Davis Lead Cubs Over Brew Crew; Joe Mauer Keeps Twins Alive In Wild Card

Players of the Day for Thursday, September 21, 2018

American League

Mauer: 3-for-4, .311 BA
After dropping three straight to the Yankees in New York, the Minnesota Twins were hoping for better results when they opened a four-game series in Detroit on Thursday.

Getting exactly what they needed from their batsmen - 14 hits - the Twins got back on the winning track with a 12-1 thumping of Detroit.

Leading the assault on Detroit starter Jordan Zimmermann and six relievers was Joe Mauer, resurgent this season as the Twins defied the experts by staying in contention throughout the season. Maueer went 3-for-4 with a double and two singles, driving in two runs and scoring twice. In his 14th year in the majors - all of them with the Twins - he's batting .311 after hitting just .261 last season. His average is the sixth-highest in the American League.

Minnesota also got an assist from Central division rival Cleveland, as the Indians topped the Angels, 4-1, dropping LA into a tie with Texas, 2 1/2 games behind the Twins for the second wild card spot.

Game two of the series is Friday, 7:10 pm ET at Detroit's Comerica Park.

National League

Bryant: game-winning HR
Taking an important step closer to capturing the NL Central division, the Chicago Cubs rallied in the ninth inning and won the opener of a four-game series at Milwaukee in the 10th inning for a 5-3 victory.

Kris Bryant socked a two-run homer in the Cubs' half of the extra inning and Wade Davis (4-1) earned the win with 1 2/3 innings of shutout ball, striking out four, including setting down the Brewers in order, on strikes, in the 10th.

Davis: bullpen ace
For Bryant, the 2016 NL MVP, the home run was his 28th of the season. He has 67 RBI on the year. Davis, called on with a man aboard and one out in the ninth, loaded the bases by hitting a batter and allowing a base hit, but struck out Domingo Santana and got Orlando Arcia on a routine ground ball to end the threat. Davis, the Cubs' closer, has 32 saves, a 1.95 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 55 1/3 inning.

The Cubs entered the ninth down a run, but tied the game on Javier Baez's RBI single.

Chicago's win left them with a 4 1/2 game lead over the Brewers and five over the Cardinals. The Cubs have caught fire at the most opportune time, winning eight of their last nine.

Game two of the series starts Friday at 7:30 pm ET.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Boston's Chris Sale Fans 13, Downs Orioles; Hunter Renfroe Socks 3 HR But Padres Lose To Arizona

Players of the Day for Wednesday, September 20, 2017

American League

Sale: 300 strikeouts
While the Yankees were busy eliminating the competition in the wild card race, sweeping three from the Minnesota Twins and advancing their lead over them to seven games, the Boston Red Sox had the pedal to the metal as well, matching the Yanks with three straight over the fading Orioles, in Baltimore.

Capping the sweep with a 9-0 shutout, starter Chris Sale went eight full innings, didn't allow any walks, gave up just four hits and fanned 13, sending his major-league leading strikeout total to 300, becoming the first American League pitcher to achieve that milestone since Boston's Pedro Martinez did it 1999, when he set a club record with 313.

Sales threw 111 pitches, 77 of them for strikes, improving to 17-7 on the year. With 10 games remaining, and a mere three game lead over the Yankees, it's a good bet that Sale will get to the mound again this season, with the possibility of equalling or breaking Martinez's club record.

Boston's win assured that they will be playing in October, at least as a wild card, though the Sox clearly have higher aims. New York has a magic number of three to clinch a playoff berth, but they too have their eyes on the AL East division title.

The two contenders (Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Toronto have been mathematically eliminated) do not play each other again this season, unless they meet up in the playoffs. After a day off Thursday, Boston will head to Cincinnati for a three-game series with the Reds, then return home for their final seven games, three against the Blue Jays and four with Houston.

New York also opens a three-game road series on Friday, in Toronto. A make-up game with the Royals is slated for September 25 (Monday), prior to back-to-back three-game home series against Tampa Bay and Toronto.

Renfroe: 3 HR, 4 RBI
National League

Arizona increased its lead in the wild card race to 5 1/2 over the Rockies with a 13-7 win at San Diego, despite the best efforts of rookie outfielder, Hunter Renfroe, who became the first Padre to belt three home runs in one game since the inception of the franchise back in 1969.

Renfroe socked his first in the third inning, a two-run blast, followed by solo shots in the fifth and ninth innings. Renfroe has 24 home runs and 54 RBI on the year.

The Padres built a 6-2 lead after five innings, but the Diamondbacks scored four in the sixth, one in the seventh, two in the eighth and four more in the ninth to win going away, avoiding the sweep in the three-game series.

Fortunately for Arizona, which had lost three straight before Wednesday's win, they had built a sizable lead in the wild card race. Below them, the battle is engaged for the #2 position. Colorado leads Milwaukee by one game and St. Louis by 2 1/2.

Looking like a sure thing to clinch the top wild card spot, Arizona has Thursday off, then opens a six-game home stand, playing three with Miami and then the Giants. They close out the regular season with three games at Kansas City.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Dexter Fowler Leads Cardinals Win Over Reds; Austin Jackson 4-for-5, Indians Drop Angels, 6-3

Players of the Day for Tuesday, September 19, 2017

American League

Jackson: 4-for-5
Not only have the Cleveland Indians set an American League record with 22 straight wins and captured the AL Central, now they appear comfortable to play spoiler, as they topped the LA Angels, 6-3, in the opener of a three-game series on the coast.

The Angels have been tailing the Twins for the better part of the last four weeks for the second wild card spot. With Minnesota losing to the Yankees, 5-2, the Angels could have gotten to within 1/2 game of the cherished spot, but Cleveland and Austin Jackson had other ideas.

Jackson singled four times in five at-bats, drove in a run and scored another, helping the Indians to their third straight win after Kansas City ended their record win streak this past Friday. In a season shorted by injury, Jackson, when healthy, has been top-notch, batting .316, with 79 hits in 250 at-bats.

The fleet outfielder who broke in with the Tigers, is in his eighth season, and may be reaching his full potential. With the Indians heading to the playoffs, his timing could not be better.

LA's loss left them 1 1/2 games behind the Twins in the wild card race. The Yankees hold the #1 position, six games to the good over Minnesota.

Game two of the series is Wednesday, 7:00 pm PT.

Fowler: 3-4, HR, 2 RBI
National League

It's not often that a player homers to tie a game, drives in the go-ahead run and then scores what turns out to be the winning run, but that's exactly what Dexter Fowler did to keep the St. Louis hopes alive in an 8-7, 10-inning win over Cincinnati.

Fowler socked his 17 home run of the season in the eighth inning. The solo shot tied the game at six apiece. After a scoreless ninth, Fowler came to the plate again in the 10th with Kolton Wong on base, delivering a double that plated the go-ahead run. Two batters later, Paul DeJong singled Fowler home, putting the Cards by by a 8-6 score.

In the bottom of the 10th, the Reds got closer on a scooter Gennett solo home run, but that was all they could muster, the Cardinals taking the first of three in Cincinnati.

Fowler, taken from the Cubs in the off-season, went 3-for-4 with two RBI and three runs. He has been a welcome addition to the Cardinals this season, batting .266 with 57 RBI in 109 games.

While the Cardinals were successful in staying alive, they remain six games behind the Cubs in the NL Central and trail second place Milwaukee by 2 1/2 games. Both the Cubs and Brewers were winners on Tuesday. Colorado, holding the second wild card, fell to San Francisco, 4-3, leaving them just a game up on Milwaukee with the Cardinals 3 1/2 back.

St. Louis will have opportunity down the stretch as they host Chicago for four games and then Milwaukee for three to close out the regular season, but they have to keep pace in order to have a chance.

Game two of the Cards' series with the Reds is scheduled for Wednesday at 7:10 pm ET in Cincinnati.