Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Corey Kluber Notches 20th Win As Indians Down White Sox; Jon Gray Hurls Rockies To Victory

Players of the Day for Monday, September 24, 2018

Kluber: 20-7, 2.83 ERA
American League

Corey Kluber became the second 20-game winner in the majors, hurling seven scoreless innings at the Chicago White Sox in a 4-0 Cleveland road win. Tampa Bay's Blake Snell leads all starters with 21 wins.

Just in time for the post-season, Kluber displayed his winning form, allowing four hits while fanning 11 and walking one.

Cleveland's win didn't change anything concerning the playoffs, as they are locked in with the lowest win percentage of any division winner. Thus, they will likely face the #2 seed in the playoffs, at this juncture, looking like Houston.

The Astros won, 5-3, at Toronto, maintaining their 4 1/2 game lead over the A's in the West division. Oakland topped Seattle, 7-3, while the Yankees beat Tampa Bay, 4-1, so there was no change in any of the standings. The Yankees continue to lead Oakland by 1 1/2 in the wild card race. Houston needs just two more wins or Oakland losses to wrap up the division.

National League

Gray: Seven solid
While Colorado hitters were piling on the runs - five in the third inning and three more in the fourth - Jon Gray was keeping the Phillies off the basepaths and off the scoreboard.

Gray turned in one of his best performances of the season, allowing one run on four hits over seven complete innings. Improving to 12-8, Gray struck out seven, walked three, and was done after throwing 105 pitches. His work and the Rockies' onslaught at the plate produced a 10-1 victory in the first of three against the visiting Phillies.

In his fourth year in the majors - all with the Rockies - Gray has compiled a record of 32-24 and may be looking forward to some post-season play as the Rockies picked up a game on St. Louis in the wild card chase. They now trail St. Louis by 1/2-game for the second spot as the Cards dropped a 6-4 decision to the Brewers.

Colorado also trails the Dodgers by 1 1/2 in the West division. Los Angeles has five games left, matching their magic number, while the Rockies have six games remaining on the schedule.

The Rockies play game two of their series with the Phillies at 8:40 pm on Tuesday. Colorado has won four straight; the Phillies are losers of five in a row.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Miles Mikolas Fans 8 In Cardinals' Win; Tim Beckham Homers Twice, Orioles Dump Yankees

Players of the Day for Sunday, September 23, 2018

American League

Beckham: 2 HR, 3 RBI
Tim Beckham, power hitter. Who knew?

After the Yankees scored three first-inning runs, the Orioles looked to be on their way to their 111th loss of the season, but as Mike Wright Jr. and four Baltimore relievers held the Yankees scoreless for the final eight innings, Beckham got the O's even with a solo shot in the second inning and a two-run dinger in the sixth.

After Renato Nunez put the Orioles ahead with a solo homer of his own in the sixth, D.J. Stewart, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter, delivered the final two runs with a sixth-inning sac fly and an eighth-inning RBI single for the 6-3 win.

While the game didn't mean much to the Orioles, it could have been big for New York, which remains locked into a wild card struggle with the Oakland A's, leading by 1 1/2 games. The A's dropped a 5-1 decision to the Twins on Sunday, so the Yankees could have expanded their lead, but didn't.

The Yankees and A's are certain to play in the single-elimination wild card game. All that remains to be determined is where the game will be played. New York found out that shortstop Didi Gregorious will not be available for that game, suffering torn cartilage in his right wrist when he scored the winning run in Saturday's 3-2, 11-inning win.

The Yankees head to Tampa Monday for a four game series with the Rays and close out the season this coming weekend at Boston, where they will play three with the Red Sox. The A's also finish on the road, with three at Seattle and three in LA with the Angels.

The wild card game is Wednesday, October 3.

Mikolas: 17-4, 2.94 ERA
National League

With the Cardinals clinging to a slim, 1 1/2-game edge over Colorado for the final wild card spot, Miles Mikolas has come through down the stretch to keep St. Louis' playoff hopes alive and well.

Mikolas won his fourth straight September start, holding the visiting Giants to two hits and one earned run over seven innings as his teammates wrecked Giants' pitching for a 9-2 victory. Mikolas contributed a fourth-inning RBI single to further his the cause.

Mikolas (17-4) fanned eight and didn't walk any batters, throwing 72 of 96 pitches for strikes. His 17 wins are tied for the NL lead with Jon Lester and Max Scherzer and his quality numbers - 140 strikeouts, 29 walks, a 2.88 ERA and 1.09 WHIP - make him a potential choice for the Cy Young award.

More importantly, the win was the sixth in their last seven for the Cardinals, keeping their margin over the Rockies at 1 1/2-games. Colorado scored a 2-0 win over Arizona Sunday.

The Cardinals will have to earn their way into the playoffs if they intend to make it. They close out the season this week with three home games against the Brewers, current holders of the top wild card, followed by three games at the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs, who hold a 2 1/2-game edge on Milwaukee. The Cubs are 2 1/2 up on Milwaukee, 4 1/2 over the Cards.

St. Louis opens their series with the Brewers on Monday.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Braves Clinch NL East On Mike Foltynewicz Gem; Jose Altuve's HR Caps 9-Run Inning For Astros

Players of the Day for Saturday, September 22, 2018

American League
Altuve's HR caps rally

Houston topped the Angels for the second straight time, pounding out a 10-5 win after whipping LA 11-3 on Friday.

Three time batting champion and 2017 AL MVP, Jose Altuve, socked his 13th home run and singled twice in four at-bats, to lead the Astros in their pursuit of another AL West pennant.

Altuve's 8th inning home run came as part of a nine-run inning, which turned a 5-1 Angel lead into a 10-5 Houston advantage. Altuve's blast provided the final two runs.

The win kept Houston's lead over the A's at 3 1/2 games as Oakland topped Minnesota, 3-2. Houston has eight games left in the regular season, Oakland, seven, so the magic number for the Astros to clinch their second straight division crown is five.

Houston closes out the weekend with game three against the Angels. If they are to capture he division flag, Houston will need to do it on the road. They travel first to Toronto next week for three games, followed by a final four-game series in Baltimore.

National League

Foltynewicz hurls clincher
Atlanta's Mike Foltynewicz hurled a no-hitter through six innings en route to the Braves' 5-3 win over the visiting Phillies and the NL East pennant.

The Braves backed their starter by building a 4-0 lead heading into the seventh when the Phillies finally broke through. Odubel Herrera led off with a single, but he was erased on a fielder's choice and Atlanta converted a double play to end the inning. In the eighth, however, Foltynewicz ran out of gas, surrendering a second hit and a walk - his third - before being lifted. Jesse Biddle walked Jose Bautista to load the bases, and Cesar Hernandez came through with a single, plating two runs. Rhys singled in another run, cutting the Braves' lead down to 4-3.

After Kurt Suzuki drove in Ender Inciarte for a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth, Arodys Vizcainoclosed out the game with a hitless ninth, prompting an on-field celebration in Atlanta followed by the requisite locker room mayhem.

Foltynewicz was tagged with two earned runs, but still took the win, the 12th for Foltynewicz, against 10 lesses, though the record doesn't aptly indicate the 26-year-old's importance to Atlanta's rise to division winner this season nor his emergence as a top line starter. His 2.88 ERA is fourth in the NL; he's struck out 193, walking 68 in 30 starts comprising 178 innings. He's recorded two complete games this season, one a shutout.

The division crown in hand, Atlanta's ongoing task is to keep winning, in hopes of catching the Cubs for the best record in the league, which would ensure home field through the playoffs. Chicago leads the Central at 90-64. Atlanta is at 87-68, and the Dodgers top the West with a record of 86-69.

Winners of four straight, the Braves wrap up their series against the Phillies on Sunday, looking for the sweep. They close out the season next week with three games in New York with the Mets and three at Philadelphia.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A's Khris Davis Bangs Two Homers, Walks Off Twins In 10; Yuli Gurriel Pounds 7 RBI For Houston; Matt Adams Delivers For Cardinals

Players of the Day for Friday, September 21, 2018

Davis: 45 HR leads majors
American League

Relentless in their pursuit of both the Yankees in the wild card and the Astros in the West division, the Oakland A's have won 12 of 18 September games, the latest triumph a 7-6, 10th-inning victory over Minnesota in the opener of a three-game series at the Oakland Coliseum.

Leading off the 10th, Khris Davis cracked his league-leading 45th home run to end the game in the bottom frame. Hours earlier, Davis launched his 44th, a two-run shot in the first with Jed Lowrie aboard.

Davis has 119 RBI on the year and is closing the gap on Boston's J.D. Martinez, who leads the majors with 124. Martinez trails Davis in the HR department, with 41.

Gurriel: 2 HR, 7 RBI
The win kept Oakland on pace with the Yankees in the wild card hunt. New York holds a 1 1/2-game edge after slipping by the Orioles, 10-8, Friday night. Oakland also kept pace in the division, as the Astros got a pair of home runs and seven RBI from Yuli Gurriel in their 11-3 stomping of the Angels.

Gurriel got Houston started with a first-inning grand slam, followed by a two-run belt in the third. In the fifth, he singled home another run, which put the Astros up, 7-0, all of the runs delivered by the Houston first baseman.

On the season, Gurriel has 12 homers, 83 RBI and a .283 batting average.

The A's host Minnesota Saturday night in game two of their three-game series. Game time is set for 9:05 pm EDT.

National League

With Matt Carpenter a regular at first base, Matt Adams doesn't get much playing time for St. Louis since being acquired from the Nationals earlier this season, but he was ready when called upon in the Cardinals' 5-3 victory over the visiting Giants.

Adams: clutch double
Pinch-hitting for reliever John Brebbia in the eighth inning with the scored tied 3-all, Adams lashed a two-out double down the left field line, plating Harrison Bader from second and Yairo Munoz all the way around from first with the go-ahead runs.

Carlos Martinez gave up a hit in the Giants' ninth but struck out two, earning his fourth save. Martinez has only recently become the Cards' closer, after a recent spate of blown save opportunities by Bud Norris.

Adams has had just nine hits in 54 at-bats (.167) since joining St. Louis, but his clutch double kept the Cardinals 1 1/2 games ahead of Colorado in the race for the second wild card. The Rockies were 6-2 winners at Arizona. St. Louis trails Milwaukee - holder of the top wild card - by three games. The teams have either eight or nine games left in the regular season and the division races are far from being decided. The Dodgers lead Colorado by 1 1/2 in the West and the Cubs hold the same margin over the Brewers in the Central.

Winners of four of their last five, the Cardinals host the Giants in game two of their their three-game series Saturday at 1:05 pm EDT.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Scooter Gennet Stays Hot, Leads Reds Past Miami; Mookie Betts Powers Red Sox To AL East Crown

Players of the Day for Thursday, September 20, 2018

American League
Betts: 4-for-5, HR, 5 RBI

Clinching the AL East at the home of their long-standing rival, the Boston Red Sox took charge late in the concluding game of their series in New York, topping the Yankees, 11-6.

Mookie Betts was at his very best after the Red Sox dropped the first two games of the series. Betts, who leads the AL in batting with a .339 average. Teammate J.D. Martinez is second at .331. The two are the leading candidates for AL MVP.

The Red Sox leadoff hitter singled, doubled twice and concluded a 4-for-5 effort by rapping his 30th home run with two aboard off Yankee reliever Aroldis Chapman in the seventh inning. Betts scored three times and drove in five runs.

With the best record in the majors (104-49), the Red Sox are assured of home field advantage throughout their playoff run. The 104 wins ties the franchise record, but Boston still has nine games left to play. It's the third straight division title for Boston, which has held onto first place in the division since July 2.

For the Yankees, the loss hurt. They're clinging to a 1 1/2-game lead over the Oakland A's in the wild card after the A's banged out 22 hits in a 21-3 win over the Angles (no, that's not a football score).

In a potential league championship preview, Boston heads to Cleveland Friday for a three-game series. The Yankees host Baltimore and Oakland welcomes in the Twins. Houston, with a 3 1/2 game lead over the A's in the West, is home for a three-game series with the Angels.

National League

Gennett: 2-for-3, HR, 4RBI
There was limited action in the National League on Thursday, the only impactful game being Atlanta's 8-3 victory at Philadelphia and the Mets' 5-4, 12-inning triumph over Washington.

Those results left the Braves with a seemingly unassailable 6 1/2-game lead in the NL East over the Phillies, with the Nationals nearly eliminated, eight games out with just nine to play. The magic number for the Braves to clinch the division is four. Theirs is the largest lead in the National League.

In Miami, Scooter Gennett did his part to keep heat on Milwaukee's Christian Yelich as the two vie for the batting title. Gennett drove in all four runs in the Reds' 4-2 victory with a double and home run in three at-bats.

The Cincy second baseman drove in a pair of runs in the second with his double to left field and knocked in two more in the seventh inning with his 23rd home run. Like Yelich, Gennett is much more than a high-average singles hitter. His 92 RBI is among the league's leaders. He's tied at #10 with Atlanta's Freddie Freeman and Philadelphia's Rhys Hoskins. Yelich has 93.

Gennett trails Yelich by the barest of margins. He's at .318, Yelich has a .319 average.

All 15 NL teams will be in action Friday through Sunday with pennant races in each division and wild cards still up for grabs.