Thursday, August 21, 2014

Rick Porcello's 3-Hit Shutout, Victor Martinez Grand Slam Lead Tigers past Rays; Travis Ishikawa Powers Giants over Cubs; Giants Win Protest

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 20, 2014

American League

There was nothing but good news for the Tigers on Wednesday, as they clubbed the Rays, 6-0, while their two main rivals were going down to defeat.

Porcello: 3-hitter
Rick Porcello put down 23 straight batters, eventually finishing with a three-hit shutout, his 14th win against eight losess. Porcello gave up a double to Ben Zobrist with one down in the first inning, but didn't allow a hit or a walk until James Loney led off the eighth inning for the Rays with a single. Desmond Jennings' single in the ninth was the only other hit the Rays could muster.

Martinez: GS, 5RBI
Porcello struck out four, didn't allow any bases on balls and threw 76 of 104 pitches for strikes.

Meanwhile, Victor Martinez was taking care of the offense for the Tigers, going 2-for-5 with five RBI on a run-scoring double in the first and a grand slam homer in the seventh inning. It was home run #25 for Martinez, who has amassed 79 RBI thus far in the season.

The win put the Tigers into sole possession of the second wild card spot, as Seattle lost to the Phillies, 4-3, but they also gained on the Royals - 5-2 losers at Colorado - and are just one game behind Kansas City in the AL Central race.

Detroit faces Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field Thursday at 1:10 pm EDT in the finale of their three-game series.

Winners of five of their last seven, the Tigers still appear on track for the AL Central crown. They host Kansas City for three games September 8, 9 and 10, and play at KC on September 19, 20 and 21.

National League

Travis Ishikawa
The Giants topped the Cubs, 8-3, Wednesday and had a loss erased as MLB upheld San Francisco's protest of Tuesday's rain-shortened, 2-0, Cubs victory.

Wednesday's win was powered by the pitching of Jake Peavy, who held the Cubs to two runs over seven innings, and Travis Ishikawa, who went 3-for-5 with a single, two doubles, three RBI and a run scored.

Ishikawa doubled home a pair of runs in the first inning and another in the third, scoring on Andrew Susac's two-run homer. With a four-run lead after one, Peavy relaxed and managed the Chicago hitters, though he did allow 10 hits.

In a rare move, Major League Baseball upheld the Giants' protest over the handling of the tarp in Tuesday's game, agreeing that the Cubs' ground crew did not get the tarp on the infield in time to prevent serious water buildup, leading to the game being called after 4 1/2 innings and awarding the Cubs the win.

The MLB ruling calls for the game to be continued on Thursday, starting at 5:05 pm EDT, prior to game three of the series at Wrigley Field, at 8:05 pm EDT.

With the corrected standings, the Giants trial the Dodgers by three games in the West division, but lead the Braves by 1 1/2 and the Pirates by 2 1/2 in the race for the second wild card.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hisashi Iwakuma Blanks Phillies over 8 for Mariners; Justin Upton Powers Braves Past Pirates, 11-3

Players of the Day for Monday, August 18, 2014

American League

Iwakuma: 11 Ks
Almost imperceptibly, the Seattle Mariners have remained in the wild card race, currently tied with Detroit for the second spot for the post-season.

Seattle topped the Phillies, 5-2, Monday, to keep pace with the Tigers, as Detroit slipped by Tampa Bay, 8-6, in 11 innings.

Hisashi Iwakuma turned in an impressive eight innings of shutout ball for the Mariners, improving to 12-6 on the year with his seventh win over his last 10 starts. Iwakuma struck out a season-high 11 Phillies, allowing four hits without surrendering a walk.

Lifted at the end of the eighth inning after throwing 74 of 96 pitches for strikes, Iwakuma had to sit through a painful ninth inning as two Seattle relievers combined to allow two Philly runs before Fernando Rodney came on to get the final out, picking up his 36th save.

Iwakuma is having a solid season for the contentious Mariners, with a 2.57 ERA and 120 Ks.

The rubber game of the three-game series is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, at 1:05 pm EDT, in Philadelphia.

National League

Upton: 80 RBI
By winning eight straight - beating Arizona, 8-1, Monday night - the Washington Nationals may be leaving no questions about the NL East, but the second-place Braves have proven game, winning five in a row, including Monday's 11-3 slaughter of fading Pittsburgh.

Atlanta is six games out in the division, but their two straight wins over the Pirates have put them into sole possession of the second wild card spot, a game up on the Giants, two games better than the Pirates and 2 1/2 over Miami.

Justin Upton provided nearly half of the Atlanta runs, banging a three-run home run in the third inning - his 24th - and following up with a two-run single in the fifth, as part of a five-run inning that all but sealed the game.

Upton's five RBI gave him 80 on the season, to go with a .287 batting average.

Meanwhile, the Pirates have lost seven in a row. A team that just a few days ago was challenging for the Central division title, now appears to be headed for the golf links come October.

Atlanta will be seeking the sweep when their series at Pittsburgh concludes Tuesday, at 7:05 EDT.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Jason Heyward Leads Streaking Braves Over Slumping Pirates; Nick Markakis Homers, Powers Baltimore to 8-2 Win over ChiSox

Players of the Day for Monday, August 18, 2014

American League

Nick Markakis
Threatening to run away with the AL East title, the Baltimore Orioles won the second straight and are 11-5 in the month of August, winning the opening of a three-game series in Chicago with the White Sox in an 8-2 blowout.

Nick Markakis slugged a two-run homer as part of a five-run eighth inning to blow open the game. Markakis also singled twice, going 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs.

Batting a solid .298, Markakis is one of the primary catalysts for the Orioles' August surge. He's riding a 10-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 15 of Baltimore 16 games this month, with eight multiple-hit games.

The Orioles now have a 7 1/2 game lead over the Yankees in the AL East and lead Toronto by eight games.

Game two of the series is Tuesday, at 8:10 pm EDT.

National League

Jason Heyward
Just a short while ago, Pittsburgh was in a position of a serious contender to capture the NL Central, but, six consecutive losses have put the Pirates at a severe disadvantage and the condition didn't get any better as they opened a three-game series against Atlanta with a 7-3 loss to the Braves.

Atlanta, possibly positioning themselves for the wild card with four straight wins, took the initiative in the opening inning, scoring six runs off Pittsburgh starter Vance Worley.

Moving Jason Heyward into the leadoff spot may have been just the tonic the Braves needed. Heyward led off the game with his 10th home run, collected two more hits in four at-bats, and drove in Atlanta's final run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

The result left Atlanta six back of Washington in the East division, but 2 1/2 behind the Cardinals in the wild card chase, and, just one game behind the Giants for the second wild card.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, slumped six games behind Milwaukee in the Central and now find themselves a game behind the Braves in the wild card, the series pivotal to both teams.

Game two is set for a 7:05 pm EDT start, Tuesday, in Pittsburgh.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Brewers Complete Sweep of Dodgers as Jonathan Lucroy Drive in Five; Alex Gordon, Royals Rule AL Central

Players of the Day for Sunday, August 17, 2014

American League

Alex Gordon
Here's a shocker: The Kansas City Royals are leading the AL Central by 1 1/2 games.

That kind of phrase hasn't been seen in print since the days of George Brett, Willie Wilson, bushy sideburns and pine tar, but, today, that is reality, whether the second-place Tigers want to believe it or not.

On Sunday, the Royals won for the 15th time in their last 18 games, taking the third game of their four-game series in Minnesota by bludgeoning the Twins, 12-6, assuring at least a split.

The middle of their lineup - batters three through six - were a combined 9-for-18, hit three homers and scored eight of the Royals' 12 runs. Alex Gordon tripled and homered, knocking his 13th long ball of the season in the fifth inning with a man aboard and scored three runs in four at-bats. Gordon has hit safely in nine of his last ten games and has had two hits in five of those.

While the Royals were raking, the Tigers were aching, losing to Seattle, 8-1, dropping two of three over the weekend.

Game four of the Twins-Royals series is slated for an 8:10 pm EDT start.

National League

Lucroy: 5 RBI
Milwaukee polished off the Dodgers Sunday, 7-2, completing the three-game sweep of the NL West leaders while maintaining a three-game edge on the Cardinals in the Central division.

Leading the assault was Jonathan Lucroy, who did all his damage early, going 2-for-5 with a two-run homer in the opening frame and a bases-clearing double in the second, for a five-RBI game.

With the big, early lead, Brewer starter, Wily Peralta, cruised through six scoreless innings, allowing five hits and fanning five, tying Adam Wainwright and Johnny Cueto for the major league lead, with 15th victories.

The Brewers have won four straight and have been equally effective on the road as at home. Their home record is 34-28, while they are 36-27 away from home.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

David Ortiz Belts a Pair, Drives in Six for Red Sox; Jedd Gyorko's Slam, Five RBI, Buries Cardinals

Players of the Day for Saturday, August 16, 2014

American League

Ortiz: elite
David Ortiz became a member of an elite club on Saturday, joining Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski as the only players to hit 400 or more homers as a member of the Red Sox.

Ortiz crunched a pair of homers in Boston's 10-7 win over Houston. The man known around Boston as "Big Papi" has a career total of 459 home runs, having begun his career with Minnesota prior to being traded to the Red Sox following the 2002 season.

Both of the Ortiz blasts were two-run shots, one in the third and one in the fifth, but his big blow came in the eighth inning, when he broke open a tight game with a bases-loaded triple, plating two more runs for a 9-6 Boston lead. His six RBI gave him the AL and major league lead, with 91. He's fourth in home runs in the AL with 28.

Yastrzemski had 452 career home runs; Williams hit 521. Both spent their complete careers with the Red Sox. Ortiz, who turns 39 on November 18, has a very good shot at reaching the 500 club, with 28 long balls thus far and 40 more games to play this year, the magical mark is within reach next season. He is currently 36th on the all-time list. Among active players, only Adam Dunn (459), Albert Pujols (514) and Alex Rodriguez (654) have more.

Gyorko: slammin'
National League

St. Louis dropped another game further behind the Central division-leading Brewers on Saturday, dropping a 9-5 decision at home to the San Diego Padres, as Jedd Gyorko lashed a grand slam and drove in another run with a single, giving him five RBI for the game.

The Cardinals slipped to three games behind the Brewers, who were busy taking their second straight from the Dodgers in Los Angeles, 3-2.

Gyorko is in his second season with the Padres, and has eight home runs and 41 RBI in 74 games. The grand slam came in the seventh inning, turning a 5-4 Cardinal lead, into an 8-5 edge for the Padres.

Currently leading the wild card race, St. Louis has company, with the Giants a game back, Pittsburgh 1 1/2 behind and Altanta, 2 1/2 back.

St. Louis leads the series, two games to one. The series finale is scheduled for Sunday at 2:15 pm EDT at Bush Stadium.