Thursday, May 3, 2018

Edwin Encarnacion's 3 HR, 6 RBI Leads Indians Over Texas; Nolan Arenado, Rockies Rout Cubs, 11-2

Players of the Day for Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Encarnacion: 3HR, 6RBI

American League

There were plenty of game performances in the AL on Wednesday, including a complete game shutout by Luis Severino (5-1, 2.11), who allowed five hits and struck out 10 in the Yankees' 4-0 win over the Astros, all of the New York runs accounted for by Giancarlo Stanton, who socked a solo homer, a two-run homer and drove in the other Yankee run with a double.

In Boston, Mookie Betts ripped three solo home runs, helping the Red Sox take down Kansas City, 5-4.

While those performances certainly were considered POTD material, they fell short of Edwin Encarnacion's three home run, six RBI game in Cleveland's 12-4 rout of the Rangers.

Encarnacion victimized Texas starter, Matt Moore, with a three run blast in the opening frame, followed by a two-run dinger in the second inning. With a 9-1 lead after two innings and Corey Kluber throwing for the Indians, the final result was never in doubt. Kluber improved to 5-1 and Encarnacion capped off his big game with a solo home run in the eighth, a tape-measure shot of 425 feet. He has nine homers but just 16 RBI on the season.

The win gave Cleveland a 2-1 split in the series, dropping the 12-20 Rangers deeper into the AL West cellar. At 16-13, Cleveland is the only team in the Central division with a better-than-.500 record. They lead the Tigers by three games and remain home to open a weekend series with Toronto, starting at 1:10 pm EDT.

National League

Arenado: 2HR, 5RBI
Arizona leads the NL West by five games after taking a 2-1 loss to the Dodgers in LA as the Rockies topped the Cubs for the second straight day, their 11-2 road win resulting in a 2-1 series win.

Chicago sent Yu Darvish to the mound on Wednesday, but the Chicago ace didn't last long, as the Rockies put up four runs in the first three innings, and sent the 0-3 hurler to the showers with one out in the fifth after he allowed solo homers to Trevor Story and Chris Iannetta.

Colorado began to build its lead on Nolan Arenado's two-run bomb in the first inning, but Arenado was hardly finished. He added a double and a three-run home run in the eighth, going 3-for-5 with five RBI.

The up-and-down Rockies, now 17-15, likely have the most potent offense in the division, if no the entire league. Consider that Arenado, who would have been the 2017 MVP if not for Giancarlo Stanton's banner season, has seven homers and 19 RBI, is only tied for second on the team in RBI, with leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon. Story leads the team with 20, all of this despite the league's second-worst batting average (.226). Arenado is batting a brisk .320.

If Arenado (.309, 37, 130 in 2017) continues to lead, expect his teammates to follow. Colorado should be in the heat of the NL West race for the duration. The team gets a day off Thursday prior to opening a series with the Mets in New York on Friday.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Matt Adams Belts A Pair In Washington's Rout Of Pittsburgh; Dee Gordon Leading Seattle's Surge

Players of the Day for Tuesday, May 1, 2018

American League

Gordon: 5-for-5, 2 SB
Dee Gordon went 5-for-5 in Seattle's 6-3 win over Oakland, stroking four singles and a double for his customary leadoff spot.

Gordon also swiped a pair of bases and scored a run, on Nelson Cruz's decisive three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning.

With 12 steals thus far on the year, Gordon leads the league in the thefts, and his .339 batting average is third-best in the AL.

The swift center fielder has been instrumental in Seattle's surge into second place in the AL West. They've won six of their last seven and trail the Astros by two games after Houston fell to the Yankees, 4-0, on Tuesday. Gordon is 11-for-14 (.786) in his last three games.

A career .295 hitter, Gordon was acquired by the Mariners, from Miami, in the off-season and has added some needed punch to the top of the batting order.

Game two of the three-game series is scheduled to start at 7:10 pm PDT in Seattle.

National League

Adams: 3-for-3, 2HR, 3RBI
Still under .500 and 4 1/2 games behind the Mets in the NL East, the Washington Nationals appear to be awakening, winning their third straight with a 12-4 victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday.

Contributing to the Nationals' rise, first baseman Matt Adams continued his assault on major league pitchers with another big effort, going 3-for-3 with a pair of solo homers and an RBI single in the rout.

Adams scored three runs, and has been on a tear since getting more playing time. In his the last four games in which Adams has started, he's 9-for-16 (.563) with three home runs, nine RBI and six runs.

At 14-16, the Nationals are closing in on the magic break-even mark, but remain in fourth place in the division, behind the Mets, Braves and Phillies.

At 7:05 pm EDT on Wednesday, the Nationals will be looking to take their third straight from Pittsburgh. Game four of the series is Thursday.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Xander Bogaerts Slams Royals In Boston Win; Brian Anderson Leads Marlins Past Phillies

Players of the Day for Monday, April 30, 2018

American League

Returning to the friendly confines of Fenway Park on Monday, the Red Sox opened their three-game series against the Royals in typical Boston fashion, banging out 13 hits in a 10-6 victory, highlighted by Xander Bogaerts' third inning grand slam.
Bogaerts: Grand Slam

The Royals thought they were looking good after scoring three runs in the first inning, but the Sox took little time getting to starter Jason Hammels. After Mitch Moreland socked a solo homer in the second inning and walked with the bases-loaded in the third, Bogaerts unloaded, with a tape-measure, 430-foot blast over the Green Monster in left field.

That put the Red Sox up 6-3, and, for all intents and purposes, sealed the victory early in the affair.

Bogaerts added a couple of singles, finishing 3-for-5 with four RBI. He's batting a brisk .412 in 51 at-bats, his playing time limited to just 12 games this season due to an early injury that set him down for three weeks.

In his third game back from the DL, Bogaerts is 7-for-13 (.518) and the Red Sox have won their last two games, leaving them three in front of the Yankees in the LA East, after Houston downed the Bombers, who had won nine straight, 2-1, Monday night.

Game two of the series starts Tuesday at 7:10 pm EDT.

National League

Anderson: 3-4, HR, 4 RBI
Off to their best start in many years, the high-flying Phillies would have figured to do well on a trip to Miami, engaging the lowly Marlins in a three-game series which began on Monday.

The Phillies had taken two of three from the Marlins in Philadelphia earlier in the season, one of them a humiliating 20-1 rout, but Monday's outcome would be different, as Brian Anderson led the Marlins to an 8-4 decision.

A rookie right fielder, Anderson singled, doubled and homered in four at-bats, driving in four runs and scoring twice.

In the third inning, Anderson laced a double to right center, breaking a 2-2 tie by driving in a pair of runners. He would score later in the inning on a ground out by Miguel Rojas.

By the end of the fourth inning, the Phillies had closed to gap to 6-4, but Anderson's wo-run homer in the seventh put the game out of reach as relievers Tayron Guerrero and Brad Ziegler held the Phillies hitless and scoreless over the final two innings.

The win was the 10th of the season for Miami, the Phillies loss dropping them two games behind the Mets, who are leading the NL East. The Braves hold second place, 1 1/2 out.

Game two of the series is scheduled for Tuesday, 7:10 pm EDT.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Pirates' Nick Kingham Nearly Perfect In Debut Win Over St. Louis; Ryan Healy's 2 HRs Lead Seattle Over Cleveland, 10-4

Players of the Day for Sunday, April 29, 2018

American League

Healy is heating up
Winning their second straight, the Seattle Mariners took three of four in Cleveland with a 10-4 win the in series finale Sunday.

Cleveland might have kept the game closer if they had only been able to get out leadoff hitter Dee Gordon and the guy in the nine hole, first baseman Ryon Healy.

Gordon Lashed four singles, drove in a Healy with a run and scored another, while Healy doubled and homered twice, driving in four runs and scoring three to lead the Mariners' offense.

Activated off the DL just four days ago, Healy has hit safely in all four of his starts, and has homered in the last two, with six RBI.

Healy got things going in Seattle's second, driving in a run with his two-bagger and scoring on Gordon's single. His solo shot in the sixth put Seattle up, 6-4, and his two-run belt in the eighth put the game away.

The win left the Mariners tied with the Angels - who play the late Sunday game against the Yankees - two games back of Houston, in second place in the LA West.

The Mariners get a day off Monday as they return home to host a series with the A's, beginning Tuesday.

National League

Kingham: Impressive debut
Pittsburgh's Nick Kingham made his major league debut a memorable one, accomplishing a feat only one other pitcher in the past 100 years had done.

Kingham carried a perfect game into the seventh inning to lead the Pirates to a 5-0 home win over the St. Louis Cardinals. He joined Johnny Cueto in 2008 as the only pitchers in the past 100 years with one hit allowed, at least nine strikeouts and no walks in an MLB pitching debut.

Paul DeJong ended Kingham's bid at absolute baseball immortality when he singled with two outs in the seventh. Getting Marcel Ozuna on a groundout to third finished the inning and Kingham's first assault on major league hitters.

A week ago, Kingham was throwing in AAA for Indianapolis, where he had put together a 2-1 record with a 1.59 ERA in four starts, but the Pirates thought it was time to bring him up to the big club.

They were right. Kingham fanned seven and didn't walk a batter, throwing 72 of 98 pitches for strikes.

The Pirates maintained their slim lead in the contentious NL Central, holding off the Cubs by 1/2 game. St. Louis and Milwaukee are a joint 1 1/2 off the lead.

The Pirates head out of town, to Washington, opening a series with the Nationals at 7:05 pm EDT on Monday.

Houston's Lance McCullers Jr. Blanks A's Over 7 Innings; Chase Utley's 3 Doubles Lead Dodgers Past Giants

Players of the Day for Saturday, April 28, 2018

American League

McCullers Jr.: 7IP, 2H 0ER
Obviously, the Houston Astros are one of the best hitting teams in the majors - their combined batting average of .258 is fifth in the AL - but it's their pitching that makes them a serious consideration for a second straight trip to the World Series.

Houston's 2.54 team ERA is easily the best in the league. It's more than a full run better than all but two teams, Boston (3.25) and Cleveland (3.28).

One reason why Houston is so dominant - other than Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel - is Lance McCullers Jr., who improved to 4-1 with seven innings of shutout ball in the Astros' 11-0 laugher over the visiting Oakland A's.

McCullers took a perfect game into the sixth inning, but allowed back-to-back singles to open the inning. As it turned out, those were the only hits the A's would get off McCullers, who induced a double play and a fly ball out to escape the threat. Completing his stint by putting down the A's in order in the seventh, McCullers threw exactly 100 pitches, striking out seven without issuing a walk.

With the Angels losing to the Yankees, 11-1, Houston's lead in the AL West division increased to 1 1/2 games.

The win evened the series at a game apiece, with the rubber game scheduled for Sunday, 2:10 pm EDT.

National League

Utley: 4-5, 32B, 4R, 2RBI
Traded to the Dodgers from the Phillies mid-2015, 39-year-old Chase Utley has been playing in the majors since 2003. Proving he still has what it takes, Utely ripped three doubles and a single in five at-bats in LA's 15-6 romp at San Francisco in the first game of their Saturday double-header.

The Dodgers collected 20 hits overall, scoring early and often, building an 8-2 lead by the third inning. Utley walked and scored in the first, doubled and scored in the second, doubled in a run and scored in the third, doubled in another run in the sixth inning, and singled and scored in the eighth.

San Francisco came back to take the nightcap, 8-3, maintaining their 1/2-game edge over the Dodgers in the struggle that is the NL West.

Arizona has thus far been the best in the division, leading Colorado by five games. The Giants are 6 1/2 out, the Dodgers, seven back. It being still April, the Diamondbacks' big lead means little, and both the Giants and Dodgers will be looking to get a little closer when they finish their series on Sunday, at 2:05 pm PDT.