Monday, August 31, 2015

Jake Arrieta Deals No-Hitter Against Dodgers, Cubs Win, 2-0; Derek Holland Blanks O's in 6-0 Texas Win

Players of the Day for Sunday, August 30, 2015

American League

Arrieta: No-Hitter
Holland: 3-Hitter
Hotter than a sizzling plate of barbecued ribs, the Texas Rangers completed the three-game sweep of the Orioles with a superb three-hit shutout from Derek Holland who improved to 2-1 in just his fourth start this season.

Following left knee surgery, Holland missed most of 2014 and went back on the DL after only one inning in the home opener April 10 when he strained his left shoulder, but the effects of 4 1/2 months of rehab have been obvious and the lefty veteran has arrived back in action at an opportune time for the Rangers.

Holland struck out 11 batters in the 6-0 Ranger win, getting sluggers Adam Jones and Chris Davis twice each on strikes and struck out every Oriole player in the lineup.

With 79 of 116 pitches going for strikes, Holland had batters confused. Only Jones, Davis and Dariel Alvarez had base hits off Holland, and Jones double was the only one that went for extra bases.

Texas has won four straight and seven of their last nine, closing to within three games of the Houston Astros, who lead the AL West and who dropped a 7-5 decision to the Twins on Sunday.

The rangers are also in line for the second wild card, leading Minnesota by 1 1/2 games. Texas trails the Yankees by four games in the quest for the #1 wild card spot.

The Rangers go on the road Monday, starting a six-game trip with three at San Diego, followed by three more at the Angels in Anaheim, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

National League

In the midst of a west coast road trip and in need of something to snap them out of a four-game losing streak, the Chicago Cubs got a shot in the arm from the arm of their ace hurler, Jake Arrieta, who tossed the season's sixth no-hitter Sunday in a 2-0 Cubs' victory over the Dodgers.

Having a remarkable season which has helped put the Cubs in position for a wild card in the NL, Arrieta was just a few plays from perfection. Stalin Castro's throwing error in the second inning and a sixth inning walk to Jimmy Rollins were the only flaws in an otherwise sensational mound appearance.

Arrieta fanned 12, including striking out the side in the ninth inning to end the game. Arrieta has 190 strikeouts on the season, ranking him fourth in the league, but his record of 17-6 has him atop the wins column. San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner is second in the majors with 16. No AL hurler has more than 15 wins.

With an ERA of 2.11, Arrieta is a serious contender for NL Cy Young honors. Tossing a no-hitter and having your team vying for a playoff spot certainly won't hurt his chances.

For the Cubs the victory moved them 5 1/2 games ahead of the Giants for the second wild card spot. With San Fran losing to the Cardinals, 7-5, LA's loss kept the two separated by 3 1/2 games in the NL West race.

The Cubs open a six-game homestead with a three-game series against Cincinnati starting Monday night. Also beginning Monday night is a critical three-game series in LA with the Dodgers hosting the Giants.

NOTES: Edwin Encarnacion of Toronto has a hitting streak that reached 25 games on Sunday, the longest in the majors this season.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Toronto's Edwin Incarnation Belts Three HRs, Drives in Nine; Lance Lynn Hurls Cardinals Past Giants

Players of the Day for Saturday, August 29, 2015

American League

Encarnacion: 3HR, 9 RBI
Lynn: 7 Scoreless
Baseball season is roughly 26 weeks long, so, if a player were to drive in nine runs a week, he'd break every RBI record dating back into the 1800s by a long shot, because he'd have somewhere in the neighborhood of 234 RBI at the conclusion of the season.

With that in mind, consider the accomplishment on Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion, who didn't drive in nine runs this week, but did it in just one game, belting three home runs in the Blue Jay's epic 15-1 romp over the Detroit Tigers.

Encarnacion tied Roy Howell for the single-game club record for RBIs and matched another club mark, tying Carlos Delgado (1997) and Darrin Fletcher (2000) with three grand slams in a season, which he did in his final at-bat, in the seventh inning, off Detroit hurler Alex Wilson.

An equal opportunity mauler, Encarnacion hit his other two homers off two other Tiger pitchers. In the first, he smacked a three-run shot off starter Buck Farmer and in the sixth, he ended reliever Guido Knudson's day with a two-run blast.

The big day at the plate added to what's already been a banner year for the Toronto basher. Encarnacion has 29 homers with 90 RBI and a .269 batting average. His RBI total has him tied for third in the AL with KC's Kendrys Morales. Toronto's own Josh Donaldson leads the league with 104. Baltimore's Chris Davis is second, at 92.

Toronto's victory kept them 1 1/2 games up on the Yankees in the AL East as New York topped Atlanta for the second straight day, 3-1. The Blue Jays seek the sweep of the Tigers when they host Detroit in the third game of their series at the Rogers Centre at 1:07 pm EDT Sunday.

National League

For nearly the entire season, the St. Louis Cardinals have had the best record in the majors (83-46), and it hasn't been by accident, though it has served a valuable purpose: keeping them ahead of the volatile Pittsburgh Pirates, who have the second best mark in the National League at 79-49. Only Kansas City, in the AL Central, has a better record than the Pirates, at 80-49.

On Saturday, the Cardinals were the beneficiaries of a gutsy performance by starting pitcher, Lance Lynn, who shut out the Giants into the eighth inning before having to leave the field, twisting his ankle fielding a chopper off the bat of Juan Perez.

Lynn picked up his 11th win against eight losses, allowing six hits in the Cardinals' 6-0 victory.

Lynn suffered only a mild sprain and is expected to make his next scheduled start. The Cardinals kept their edge over the Pirates at 3 1/2 games. Pittsburgh has won four straight after downing Colorado, 4-3, and, if they don't catch the Cardinals in the division race, are looking like a certain lock for the first wild card spot in the post-season.

St. Louis wraps up their three-game series at San Francisco Sunday afternoon at 1:05 PDT. The series is tied at one game apiece.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Didi Gregorius Leads Yankees to 15-4 Rout of Braves; Clayton Kershaw Chills Cubs, Fans 14 in 4-1 Dodger Win

Players of the Day for Friday, August 28, 2015

American League

Gregorius: 6 RBI
Kershaw: 14 Ks
At the outset of the season, there was a good deal of skepticism over how well the new Yankee shortstop, Didi Gregorius, was going to fill in at the position.

After all, it isn't every day that a player is asked to replace a legend and probable Hall of Famer such as Derek Jeter, and, in the heady days of Spring, Gregorius struggled mightily.

But, with experience and support from veterans on the team, the former Arizona Diamondback began playing better in the field and at the plate.

On Friday, Gregorius drove in six runs as the Yankees routed the Braves, 15-4, at Turner Field in Atlanta, with a home run and three singles in six at-bats.

Gregorius and the Yankees struck early, the shortstop delivering a three-run homer in the first inning and following up with a two-run single in the second. Though the Braves came back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first, by the next inning the score was an already out-of-hand, 9-2, and the rout was on.

With a single in the eighth, Gregorius finished up with another RBI and the Yanks tacked on another pair of runs in the ninth, the win keeping them 1 1/2 behind the Blue Jays - 5-3 winners over Detroit - in the AL East.

Game two of the three-game series in Atlanta starts Saturday at 7:10 pm EDT.

National League

Through the first game of their three-game series in San Francisco, the Cubs were 16-4 for the month of August, had won six straight and appeared to have a tight grip on the second wild card spot and a good chance to catch the Pirates for the top wild card position.

Things changed quickly for the Cubs, as the Giants cooled them off with two straight defeats, and the Dodgers picked up where their neighbors to the North left off, whipping Chicago 4-1 behind a masterful pitching performance from Clayton Kershaw, who struck out 14 over eight innings before handing the ball over to closer Kenley Jansen for his 26th save.

Kershaw, the 2014 NL MVP and three-time NL Cy Young award winner (2011, 2013, 2014), allowed just three hits and a walk, giving up the only Cub run in the fourth inning on an Anthony Rizzo solo home run.

Improving to 11-6, Kershaw dropped his ERA to a solid 2.24, third in the league. His strikeout total increase to 236, far outpacing the rest of the league's hurlers. With 209, Washington's Max Scherzer is second in Ks on the season.

More importantly, the Dodgers kept their lead over second-place San Francisco at 2 1/2 games in the NL West as the Giants dropped the Cardinals, 5-4. The loss for the Cubs was their third straight and their lead over the Giants for the second wild card shrunk to 4 1/2 games.

The Cubs will try to get back to their winning ways when they face the Dodgers in the second game of their three-game series, Saturday night at 9:10 pm EDT.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Matt Shoemaker Solid as Angels Down Tigers, 2-0; Zack Greinke Goes to 14-3 as Dodgers Defeat Reds, 1-0

Players of the Day for Thursday, August 27, 2013

American League

Zack Greinke
Matt Shoemaker
With just their second win in the last six games, the LA Angels are still in the race for a wild card, if not the AL West pennant.

LA got 7 1/3 solid innings from starter, Matt Shoemaker, en route to a 2-0 win at Detroit, taking the series two games to one.

Shoemaker (6-9, 4.48) shut down Detroit on one hit, a third inning single with two outs by Anthony Gose, who was promptly erased by the LA hurler, as Shoemaker picked him off to end the inning.

After getting Victor Martinez to fly out opening the eighth inning, Shoemaker was replaced on the mound by Joe Smith, who finished the inning. Huston Street picked up his 31st save with a perfect ninth, striking out two of the three batters he faced.

National League

In the NL West, the race for the division title is heating up as August comes to a close.

On Thursday, Dodger ace, Zack Greinke, cruised through seven innings of shutout ball to lead LA to its third straight win and his 14th against just three losses in a 1-0 win at Cincinnati.

Greinke, who leads the majors with a ridiculous 1.61 ERA, fanned nine, walked two and allowed four hits while his teammates struggled for offense against Reds' hurler, Anthony DiSciafani, who was impressive, also going seven full innings, allowing six hits and the game's only run, which scored not on a hit, but on a second inning double play ball off the bat of Dodger Yasmani Grandal.

There were no extra base hits in the entire game, as 25,529 watched the Reds lose for the 12th time in 13 outings, falling into sole possession of last place in the NL Central, a miserable 29 1/2 games off the pace.

With the win, the Dodgers maintained their 2 1/2 game lead over the Giants, who got another strong performance from Madison Bumgarner, who became the league's second 16-game winner, joining the Cubs' Jake Arrieta. Bumgarner (16-6) gave up two hits and one earned run over six innings, fanning 12, as the Giants knocked off the Cubs, 9-1, taking the series two games to one.

The Dodgers head back to LA on Friday to meet the Cobs for a three-game weekend series, then host the Giants for three starting Monday, August 31.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Justin Verlander One-Hits Angels for 5-0 Tiger Win; Mets Win 6th Straight Behind Michael Cuddyer

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 26, 2015

American League

Verlander: 1-Hitter
This season has not been an especially pretty one for the Detroit Tigers.

Besieged by injuries and spotty play, Detroit harbors slim hopes of reaching the playoffs, currently five games behind fellow AL Central foe, Minnesota, for the last wild card spot.

All doom and gloom aside, Wednesday night at Comerica Park was something special, as Justin Verlander took a no-hitter to the ninth inning, only to have it spoiled by a leadoff double from Chris Iannetta. Verlander, the 2001 AL MVP and Cy Young award winner, retained his composure and finished up the ninth by getting the Angels out in order, completing the one-hit shutout for a 5-0 Tiger victory.

As is the case with many of his teammates, Verlander is not having anything even remotely resembling a championship season. He's 2-6 with a 3.45 ERA, but against the Angels the old magic was back. Throwing 74 of 112 pitches for strikes, Verlander fanned nine and issue just a pair of walks.
Cuddyer: 3-5, 2B, HR

In spite of the two walks - in the third and eighth innings - Verlander faced the minimum heading to the ninth, thanks to a pair of double plays turned by his infielders.

The loss by the Angels was yet another blow to their post-season hopes. Since August 10, LA is 5-11, and they've lost five of their last six, given up the second wild card spot and now trail the Twins by a game and Texas by 1/2 game for the final playoff spot.

The Angels and Tigers conclude their three-game series at 1:08 pm EDT Thursday.

National League

Winners of six straight with a 9-4 win over the Phillies, the Mets are putting it all together at the right time and blowing away the competition in the NL East.

Michael Cuddyer went 3-for-5 with a single, double and a two-run homer (10), driving in three runs to pace the offense. Cutter's blast in the eighth put the Mets up by a 6-0 score. New York's bullpen nearly squandered seven shutout innings from Bartolo Colon, giving up four runs to the Phillies in the bottom of the eighth.

Tyler Clipart quelled the uprising, getting the final out in the eighth and working the ninth for his 18th save of the season and his second as a member of the Mets.

The Mets can complete the four-game sweep of the Phillies when the two teams meet Thursday night at 7:05 pm EDT.