Thursday, July 31, 2008

Shoppach: 5-for-6, 2 HR, 3 doubles; Billingsley Shuts Out Giants on 5 Hits

Players of the Day from Wednesday, July 30, 2008 American League Some days, even your best effort isn't enough. Just ask Kelly Shoppach how he felt after going 5-for-6 with three doubles, two homers - the second of which was a solo shot which tied the game in the ninth inning at 12-12 - driving in 3 runs and scoring 4 times, only see his Indians lose, 14-13, to the Tigers in 13 innings. While it was easily the best performance of Shoppach's career, the Tigers needed the game to remain 5 1/2 behind the White Sox in the AL Central. The Sox were busy beating up on the 2nd place Twins, 8-3, over which they hold a 1 1/2 game advantage. In the East, the Red Sox ended up getting swept by the Angels, 9-2, while the Rays were winning, 3-2, over Toronto and the the Yankees crushed the O's, 13-3. That leaves Boston 3 behind Tampa and the Yankees 4 games out. Notes: After the Angels picked up Mark Teixeira from Atlanta on Tuesday, the scramble began for AL teams seeking more bats in their lineups. On Wednesday, the Yankees snatched up Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez from the Tigers - an important move, considering that regular catcher Jorge Posada is out for the season, needing surgery on his right shoulder. was reporting early Thursday morning that Ken Griffey Jr. had been acquired from the Reds by the White Sox, though Griffey has the right to void the deal. It seems likely that Griffey will accept and move over to the AL, where he can either play outfield or DH. The big question, to be answered by the 4:00 pm deadline today, is where Manny Ramirez is headed. The Red Sox would like to get Jason Bay from Pittsburgh, but Manny certainly would refuse to go there, so a three-team deal, possibly involving Florida or the New York Mets, has been at the top of the rumor heap. If the Mets can get Manny and the Red Sox pick up Bay, look for this deal to make all parties happy, even the Pirates. National League The LA Dodgers remained a game behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West race as Chad Billingsley (11-9, 3.05) twirled a 5-hit shutout at the Giants, for a 4-0 Dodger win. It was the second straight game the Dodgers shut out San Fran, one of the least productive teams in the majors. Easily the worst home run team in the majors, the Giants have hit just 61, and only the Nationals have fewer RBI (373) than the Giants' 396. Still, Billingsley's effort was solid, as he fanned 8, didn't walk a batter and recorded 13 ground ball outs. He did get some help in the field, as the Dodgers infield turned a double play in the 5th inning and Andre Ethier threw out Jose Castillo at the plate in the 9th inning to end the game. Notes: The Phillies took a 1/2 game lead over the Mets, as Florida beat New York, 7-5, and Philly topped Washington, 8-5. The Marlins are 1 1/2 back. In the Central, the Cubs took out the Brewers for the third day in a row, 7-2, establishing a 4-game lead over both Milwaukee and St. Louis. The Brewers take one last shot at the Cubs on Thursday afternoon in Milwaukee.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Garza Stops Jays on 5 Hits; Zambrano Chills Brewers

Players of the Day from Tuesday, July 29, 2008 American League The Rays upped their lead in the AL East as Matt Garza twirled a 5-hit shutout at Toronto, topping the Blue Jays by a 3-0 score.
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Garza (9-6) outdueled Toronto's Roy Halladay (12-8), who allowed three runs on six hits over 8 innings, striking out 9. Garza fanned 5 and walked just one batter, allowing only one runner to second base as the Rays' infield turned three double plays. Notes: In Boston, the Angels took their second straight from the Red Sox, 6-2, as John Lackey (9-2) pitched a no-hitter for 8 1/3 innings before yielding a two-run homer to Kevin Youkilis in the 9th. The Sox have dropped 4 of their last 5 and will try to avoid being swept on Wednesday night. The Angels swept Boston in Anahiem just prior to the All Star break. Still, the Red Sox remain in close pursuit of the Rays, just 2 games behind. The Yankees lost their second straight at Baltimore, 7-6, as Aubrey Huff went 4-for-5, including his 32nd double and 22 home run, a solo shot. Huff drove in 4 runs, upping his season total to 71. In the Central, the Twins crept to within 1/2 game of the White Sox with a 8-5 win in Minnesota, topping the Sox for the second straight day. Jason Morneau delivered the key blow, a bases-loaded double in the 5th which plated 3 and gave the Twins a 5-4 lead. Morneau has 82 RBI on the season. National League Carlos Zambrano improved to 12-4, and the Cubs extended their NL Central lead to 3 games with a 7-1 win over Milwaukee. Zambrano gave up 5 hits and no runs over 8 innings, striking out 9 Brewers while walking just 2. The win was the second straight for the Cubs over Milwaukee, who are now 3 games behind in the standings, with St. Louis 4 back. The Brewers can make amends, as they host the Cubs on Wednesday and Thursday. Notes: In the East, the Mets topped Florida, 4-1, while the Phillies beat Washington, 2-1. New York holds a 1/2 game lead over Philly with the Marlins 2 games behind. Arizona and the Dodgers both won on exceptional pitching to keep the Diamondbacks one game to the good over LA. Jason Johnson stopped the Giants on 5 hits over 6 innings, leading the Dodgers to a 2-0 home win. In San Diego, Doug Davis allowed 2 hits while fanning 8 over 7 2/3 in a 3-0 Arizona win.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Slowey Shuts Out Sox; Lee's Bat Keys Cubs Win

Players of the Day from Monday, July 27, 2008 American League Minnesota's Kevin Slowey (7-7) tossed his third complete game and second shutout of the season, downing the first place White Sox, 7-0. Slowey allowed just 6 hits and one walk, striking out 5. The Twins' win tightened the race in the AL Central to 1 1/2 games, with the Tigers lurking, 6 1/2 back, as they dropped a 5-0 decision at Cleveland.
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Notes: The Rays, Red Sox and Yankees all lost, so the AL East standing stayed the same as on Sunday, with the Rays 1 up on Boston and 3 ahead of the Yankees. California's lead in the West bulged to 11 1/2 games as they topped Boston, 7-5, and both the Rangers and A's lost. National League Derrek Lee made the most of his 5 at-bats on Monday, rapping two singles and a go-ahead double in the 9th, driving in three runs as the Cubs topped the Brewers, 6-4, in the opener of their 4-game series at Milwaukee. Lee and the Cubs have been aided by the return of leadoff hitter Alfonso Soriano, winning four of six since he came off the DL, July 23. Soriano was 2-for-4 with a double and a solo homer. He scored three runs. The Cubs earned some breathing room with the win, upping their lead over the Brewers to 2 games with St. Louis 4 games back. Notes: Florida topped the Mets, 7-3, while the Phillies were idle, leaving New York with a 1/2 game lead over the Phillies and 1 ahead of the Marlins. Arizona, LA and Colorado all lost on Monday, leaving the standings unchanged.

Monday, July 28, 2008

David Ortiz Bombs Yankees; Florida's Jacobs Launches a Pair

Players of the Day from Sunday, July 27, 2008 American League After spending nearly 2 months on the DL, David Ortiz returned for the weekend series with the Yankees and came through big time on Sunday with his 14th home run of the season as Boston pummeled New York, 9-2, avoiding a sweep of their 3-game series at Fenway Park. Ortiz singled and scored in Boston's 3-run first inning, then broke the game wide open with a two-run homer in the 5th, which increased Boston's lead to 7-0. Later, "Big Papi" drove in Jacoby Ellsbury with a sac fly for his third RBI of the evening. With the Rays losing, Boston got back to within 1 game of first place in the AL East, with the Yankees 3 games out. Notes: In the Central, the Tigers got one back against the White Sox with a 6-4 win which kept them from being swept at home. Chicago still leads Minnesota by 2 1/2 and Detroit by 6 1/2. National League The Florida Marlins are one of the more surprising teams of this season, thanks to players like Mike Jacobs, who went 3-for-5 in a 9-6 loss at Chicago on Sunday. Jacobs hit a three-run homer in the 2nd inning and a two-run shot in the 3rd, driving in five of Florida's 6 runs. The loss dropped the Marlins 2 games behind the Mets and a game back of the Phillies in the NL East. Jacobs is batting .245 with 22 home runs and 60 RBI. The Cubs, who split a 4-game set with Florida over the weekend, regained sole control of first place in the NL Central, as Milwaukee and St. Louis both lost. Chicago is a game in front of the Brewers and 4 to the good over the Cardinals. The Cubs begin a four game series at Milwaukee on Monday. Notes: Randy Johnson notched win #292, going 7 innings without allowing a run on 9 hits in a 7-2 win at San Francisco. Johnson should get 11 or 12 more starts and could reach the 300 win plateau by season's end. After losing six straight decisions, Johnson (8-7) has won four in a row. Arizona remains 1 game ahead of LA in the West.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pujols Decks Mets in 14th; Hunter Perfect at the Plate

Players of the Day from Saturday, July 26, 2008 American League The Angels keep rolling right along, already looking forward to the post-season with a 10 1/2 game lead in the AL West. On Saturday, Baltimore hurlers could not keep Torii Hunter off the base paths, as he walked twice, went 3-for-3, scored four runs and drove in five with a pair of homers and a 2-run single as the Angels pummeled the Orioles, 11-6. The Angels have the best record in the majors, at 64-39. Notes: The Yankees topped the Red Sox for the second straight day, winning 10-3. The Tampa Bay Rays said, "thank you very much" as they were beating KC, 5-3, to improve their lead to 2 games over the Sox and 3 over the Yanks. New York will go for the sweep and a tie for second place on Sunday at Fenway. In the Central, the White Sox topped the Tigers again, 7-6. With Minnesota winning 11-4, at Cleveland, Chicago retained their 3 1/2 game edge while the Tigers dropped 7 1/2 off the pace. National League Albert Pujols is not the kind of hitter to whom you would want to give extra at-bats, but that's what happened in St. Louis' 10-8, 14-inning win over New York, as Pujols, who had singled four times already, stepped to the plate for the 8th time. The result was a two-run homer and a win for the Cardinals as Pujols upped his batting average to .351 with a 5-for-8 effort and three RBI. The win ended a five-game St. Louis losing streak and kept them in the NL Central race, three games behind Milwaukee and Chicago. Notes: The Cubs lost to Florida, 3-2, while the Brewers were beating Houston, 6-4, to draw even for first place in the Central. Despite their loss, the Mets stayed 1 game ahead of both Florida and Philly, 10-9 winners over Atlanta. The Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Rockies all won, keeping the West standings static. Arizona is one up on LA and 6 ahead of Colorado.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hamilton Reaches 100 RBI Mark; Thieving Taveras Swipes Three

Players of the Day from Friday, July 25, 2008 American League Josh Hamilton smacked his 23rd home run and drove in two runs to make him the first player in the majors to reach the 100 RBI plateau as the Rangers drubbed the A's, 14-6, at Oakland. The win gave the Rangers a 1/2 game edge over the A's for second place in the AL West, though the main beneficiaries are the LA Angels, who hold a 10 1/2 game lead over the Rangers. The Angels won their 3rd straight - and 8th of their last 9 - a 6-5 win at Baltimore. Notes: In Boston, Joba Chamberlain outdueled Josh Beckett to give the Yankees a 1-0 win over the Red Sox in the opener of their 3-game series. Tampa Bay took a 1-game lead in the AL East standings, topping Kansas City, 5-3. In Detroit, Jermaine Dye's 2-run homer in the 9th gave the White Sox a 6-5 win over the Tigers in the first of their 3-game series. With the Twins losing at Cleveland, 5-4, The Sox improved their lead to 3 1/2 games over the Twins and dropped the Tigers 6 1/2 back. Streaks: The Twins have lost 5 straight; the Yankees won their 7th in a row. National League The Colorado Rockies continue to look like they're ready for another run at the NL West title after knocking off Cincinnati, 7-2, on Friday. Leadoff hitter Willy Taveras went 3-for-4, scored a run, drove in another and stole three bases to boost his major league leading total to 45. His closest pursuers in the theft category are LA's Juan Pierre in the NL and Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury in the AL. Both have 35. The Rockies have won three straight and seven of eight since the All Star break. They remain 6 games back of the Diamondbacks and 5 behind the Dodgers. Notes: The Mets took a 2-game lead in the NL East with a 7-1 win over the Cardinals, who have lost 5 straight. The Phillies lost, 8-2, to Atlanta. In the Central, the Cubs kept their slim 1-game lead intact despite losing to Florida, 3-2, as the Brewers had their 8-game win streak halted by Houston, 3-1.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Meche Stops Rays; Braun Goes 4-for-4 as Brewers Sweep Cards

Players of the Day from Thursday, July 24, 2008 American League On their day off, the Boston Red Sox received an unexpected treat from Kansas City starter Gil Meche, who shut out the Rays over 7 innings to lead the Royals to a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay and put the Sox and Rays into a virtual tie for first place in the AL East. While the Rays are actually .001 better in the standings, the two teams are even on a games behind basis. Meche (8-9) allowed five hits and a walk in his seven shutout innings. The Rays managed a run in each of the 8th and 9th innings, but it wasn't enough to avoid dropping the opener of the four-game series at Kansas City. Notes: While the Rays will be dealing with the Royals the next three days, the Red Sox will have their hands full with the red-hot Yankees, who visit Fenway for a three-game weekend set beginning Friday. It should be an interesting weekend in the AL East, as the Yankees have won 6 in a row and are just 3 games back. National League Ryan Braun was an absolute nightmare for St. Louis pitchers over the past two days. On Wednesday, he went 4-for-5 with a triple, a homer and an RBI in Milwaukee's 3-0 win. Thursday, he followed up with a 4-for-4 effort - three singles and a 9th inning, 2 run homer - leading the Brewers to a 4-3 win and a 4-game sweep at St. Louis.
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The win was Milwaukee's 8th straight and leaves them a single game behind the Cubs in the NL Central. The Cubs beat Florida, 6-3, to stay barely ahead of the Brewers, who host Houston for three weekend games. The Cubs will complete a four-game series with the Marlins through Sunday. Notes: Being swept by the Brewers left the Cardinals reeling, four games behind the Cubs in the Central division standings, but odd man out in the wild card race. The Cards will need to get past either the Cubs or Brewers to reach the post-season, and that looks like a very uphill climb.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mathis Drives in 6 as Angels Up Lead to 10; Sabathia 3-Hits Cards

Players of the Day from Wednesday, July 23, 2008 American League News Flash: The AL West race is over. On Wednesday, Jeff Mathis singled twice, doubled and hit a grand slam in 5 at-bats, driving in 6 runs as the Angels outlasted the Indians, 14-11. The win, coupled with losses by the A's and Rangers, gave the Angels 10 and 10 1/2 game leads over their closest competition. Seriously. It's over. LA could play less than .500 for the rest of the season and still finish with more than 90 wins. See you in the playoffs. Notes: The Yankees won their 10th straight at home and 6th overall, remaining 3 1/2 off the pace in the AL East as the Rays and second place Boston (1/2 game back) both won. In the Central, Carlos Quentin crushed a pair of homers and drove in 4 runs in the White Sox's 10-8 win over Texas. Chicago is 2 1/2 to the good over Minnesota. Detroit, 7-1 winners at KC, have won 4 straight and are 5 1/2 out. National League If the Brewers win the Central division and maybe more, they can point to one mid-season move that brought the magic to Milwaukee - the trade that brought C. C. Sabathia over from the Cleveland Indians. Since joining the Brewers, Sabathia has been nothing but special. He is 4-0 with a 1.36 ERA and last night tossed his third straight complete game, a 3-hit, 3-0 shutout of St. Louis, their third straight over the Cardinals and 7th straight win overall. Sabathia struck out 7 and walked two, at one point - from the 1st through 6th innings - setting down 17 consecutive victims at the plate. Notes: The Cubs remain in first place in the Central after winning 10-6 at Arizona, but the Brewers are hot on their heels, 1 game back, with the Cardinals now reeling, 3 off the pace. The Mets re-tied the race in the East with a 6-3 win over the Phillies on Jose Reyes' 3-run homer in the 7th. Arizona stayed a game better than LA in the West, but the Rockies continue to close the gap - now 6 games - by beating the Dodgers, 5-3.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Abreu Helps Yanks to 5th Straight; Jackson, D-Backs Bomb Cubs

Players of the Day from Tuesday, July 22, 2008 American League Down 2-1 in the bottom of the 6th, Bobby Abreu crushed a 2-run homer off Minnesota Kevin Slowey to give the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish in an 8-2 win over the Twins. Abreu came up big again the following inning, doubling home Derek Jeter and scoring his second run of the night. The 2-for-4 performance helped New York draw to within 3 1/2 games of the first-place Rays, who were being hammered, 8-1, by the Oakland A's. New York has won 5 straight since the All Star break and has one more game left with the Twins on Wednesday, seeking the 3-game series sweep. After a day off Thursday, they travel to Boston for three games. Boston beat Seattle, 4-2, on Tuesday, and are just 1/2 game behind the Rays in the AL East. Notes: By beating up on the Twins, the Yankees are helping the White Sox maintain their lead in the Central division. Chicago downed Texas, 10-2, on Tuesday, and are now 1 1/2 ahead of Minnesota and 5 1/2 clear of Detroit. The Sox may need help to stay on top. They are just 9-8 in July. National League Conor Jackson singled, doubled and knocked his 10th home run of the season in Arizona's 9-2 rout of the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. Jackson drove in three runs and scored twice, helping the Diamondbacks back into sole possession of first place - and a .500 record at 50-50 - in the NL West. While the D-Backs were sending the Cubs to their 5th loss in the last 6 games, the Dodgers were being hammered, 10-1, at Colorado, now 7 games off the pace. The defending NL champion Rockies, who surprised everyone with a late-season run last year, will have to do better against teams in their own division if they are to repeat. They are a miserable 14-24 vs. the NL West.
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Notes: Milwaukee won for the 6th straight time, beating St. Louis, 4-3, to slip into second place, just a game behind the Cubs in the Central. Philly took one away from the Mets with a 6-run 9th inning rally and an 8-6 win in the first of their 3-game series. The mound meltdown was typical Mets. Without closer Billy Wagner, New York had nobody capable of shutting down the Phillies and saw Johan Santana's 8 innings - in which he allowed just 2 earned runs - wasted. The Phillies have a 1-game edge over the Mets and Marlins, 4-0 winners over Atlanta, as 4 pitchers combined for a one-hitter.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Joyce, Cabrera Clobber KC; Loney Leads LA Past Rockies

Players of the Day from Monday, July 21, 2008 American League Miguel Cabrera went 5-for-6 with a pair of doubles and 6 RBI and rookie Matt Joyce knocked a pair of singles, a triple and a homer in six at-bats, driving in 5 and scoring three times as the Tigers humiliated the Royals, 19-4. Coupled with losses by both Minnesota and Chicago, the Tigers stalked to within 5 1/2 games of first place in the Central division, the closest they've been since early April. Minnesota trails the White Sox by 1/2 game. Notes: The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays were all winners on Monday, so nothing changed in the East standings. In the West, the Angels were beaten by Cleveland, 5-2, but the A's lost their 6th straight and fell 1/2 behind Texas, 6-1 winners over Chicago. The now-2nd-place Rangers trail the Angels by 8 1/2 games. National League The Dodgers kept pace with the Diamondbacks as James Loney drove in five runs helping Los Angeles outlast Colorado, 16-10. The game was never close, as the Dodgers scored 8 times in the first inning and made the lead 11-0 by the third. Going 3-for-6, Loney singled in a pair in the first, drove in another with a single in the 2nd, and drove in two more with a triple in the 5th inning. Notes: Tied for first place with the Dodgers in the West, Arizona knocked off the Cubs, 2-0, as Randy Johnson worked 7 strong innings, allowing just 2 hits. Chicago hurler Rich Harden allowed only one hit in his seven inning stint, but it was a solo homer by Alex Romero, and it proved to be the difference-maker. The Cubs' loss allowed Milwaukee, 6-3 victors over St. Louis, to tie the Cardinals just 2 games behind Chicago in the Central. The Brewers, winners of 6 in a row, are percentage points ahead of St. Louis with their sights clearly set on the Cubs, whom they next meet on July 28-31, in a four-game series at Milwaukee. The Mets and Phillies remained tied for the NL East lead as both had the night off in advance of their three-game set which begins Tuesday at Shea Stadium.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cards Win on Miles' Walk-off Slam; KC's German Drops Sox

Players of the Day from Sunday, July 20, 2008 American League Esteban German had an eventful day for the Kansas City Royals, In four trips to the plate, German singled, doubled twice, walked, stole a base, scored a run and drove in the tying and winning runs in the 8th innings as the Royals topped the White Sox, 8-7. German also contributed in the field, playing both 3rd base and left field. Notes:Chicago's loss was their second straight, but Minnesota also lost, 1-0, as Vicente Padilla limited the Twins to 3 hits over seven innings. The Twins are 1/2 game back. Detroit finally picked up a game with a 5-1 win at Baltimore and are 6 1/2 back.
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The battle between potential post-season combatants Boston and LA ended in a lopsided fashion, with the Angels completing the sweep of the three-game series with a 5-3 comeback win. That result gave the Angels a 9-game bulge in the West over the A's, who were themselves being swept by the Yankees. In the East, Tampa Bay retained its 1 1/2 game lead over Boston, but New York continues to gain. The Yankees are just 4 1/2 out. National League Aaron Miles played a huge part in St. Louis' 9-5 win over the Padres on Saturday. Miles went 3-for-4 and scored three times, but his biggest hit came with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning and the score tied at five all. Miles unloaded for just his third homer of the year, a walk-off grand slam that kept the Cardinals just two behind the Cubs in the tightening NL Central race. The Cardinals have won 5 straight. Notes: Milwaukee remained a game behind the Cardinals with a 7-4 win at San Fran. In the East, as well as the West, there are first-place ties. The Mets and Phillies hold a 1/2 game edge over the Marlins in the East, while Arizona and the Dodgers are knotted at 48-50 in the West. Colorado, winners of 4 straight, lurks just 6 games back.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pujols Powers Cardinals, Morneau's 5 RBI Crushes Rangers

Players of the Day from Saturday, July 19 2008 American League Justin Morneau hit a bases-clearing double in the fifth inning, driving in three runs, then blasted a two-run homer (15) in the 6th to lead the Twins to a 14-2 rout of the Texas Rangers. Morneau is second in the AL in both batting and RBI, at .325, with 73 driven in. With the White Sox being belted, 9-1, by Kansas City, the Twins closed the gap to 1/2 game in the Central division race. The Tigers continue to taunt their fans, losing an 11-10, 10-inning game to the Orioles - their second straight loss to the O's - to drop 7 1/2 off the pace. Notes: The Angels knocked off Boston for the second straight day, handing Josh Beckett his 6th loss against 9 wins. The key blow was pinch-hitter Erick Aybar's bases-loaded triple in the 7th inning that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead, which is how the game ended. Beckett, who had been cruising, was stung for all four runs in the 7th. Vladimir Guerrero led off the inning with his 16th homer before the Angels loaded them up for Aybar's heroics. Both the Rays and Yankees won, so Tampa Bay now has a 1 1/2 game lead on Boston, with the Yankees 5 1/2 back. New York's 4-3, 12-inning win over the A's was a small favor to the Angels, improving their AL West lead to 8 games. If the Angels can bring in guys off the bench who hit 3-run triples off one of the game's best pitchers, just how good are these guys? National League St. Louis crept to within 2 games of Central division-leading Chicago with a come-from-behind 6-5 win over San Diego. Cardinals' starter Todd Wellemeyer allowed five runs over the first three innings, but gave the Padres no more, as he and four relievers blanked San Diego's hitters on five hits the rest of the way. In the fifth inning, Albert Pujols smacked a bases-loaded double to get the Cards back to within 5-3 and then scored on Rick Ankiel's single. An inning later, Pujols knocked in what would prove to be the game winner with a single that plated Brendan Ryan.
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Continuing to close in on league-leader Chipper Jones (.374), Pujols went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI, upping his batting average to .359. Houston's Lance Berkman is third at .343. Notes: With the Cubs losing their third straight, 4-1, at Houston, and Milwaukee winning their fourth straight, 8-5, at San Francisco, the Brewers are also closing in, now just 3 games back.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Nomar Hits His Stride; Angels' Anderson Still an RBI Machine

Players of the Day from Friday, July 18, 2008 American League Garret Anderson stroked three singles and whacked his 9th home run of the season as his five RBI night boosted the Angels to an 11-3 stomping of Boston in a battle of division leaders on Friday. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the loss dropped them out of first place in the AL East as Anderson went 4-for-4. The Tampa Bay Rays stopped their 7-game skid, knocking off Toronto, 2-1, and moved 1/2-game ahead of Boston. The Angels are continuing to separate from the crowd. At 58-38, they have the best record in the majors, a 7-game lead over 2nd place Oakland, and a winning record in every category: home, away, against each division and 10-8 in interleague play. Notes: The battle for first place between the Red Sox and the Rays seems to suit the Yankees just fine, thank you. With a 7-1 win over the A's on Friday, New York has snuck to within 5 1/2 games of the lead. National League After missing most of the season due to injuryNomar Garciaparra played in his 11th game since being sidelined April 25 and a fresh Nomar may be just what the Dodgers need to surge past the Arizona Diamondbacks. The timing couldn't have been better for Garciaparra to go 3-for-5 with a pair of homers and a single, driving in 3 runs in an 8-7, 11-inning win over Arizona which tied the two teams for first place in the NL West. While Garciaparra's effort was noteworthy, James Loney's 8th home run of the season - a solo shot in the top of the 11th - proved to be the game winner. Notes: The other divisional races in the NL are also tightening. With the Cubs losing and St. Louis and Milwaukee both winners on Friday, Chicago holds a 3 game edge over the Cardinals, with the Brewers a game further back. In the East, Philly knocked down the Marlins, 4-2, while the Reds ended the Mets' 10-game win streak with a 5-2 win. That leaves the Phillies on top with the Mets 1 back and the Marlins 2 1/2 games out.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

National League 2nd Half Outlook

Predictions for Post-Season Play EAST: This division is probably the most contentious of the three NL races. At the break, the Phillies hold a slim, 1/2-game lead over the Mets, with Florida just 1 1/2 back. If the Mets (winners of 9 straight) continue playing well, they could easily take this division by storm, though memories of last year's late season meltdown are still rather fresh. Meanwhile, the Braves, who used to dominate this division, are in 4th place, 6 1/2 out, and will most likely end up being on the outside, looking in. The Marlins have youth, but little depth and not much in the pitching department past Ricky Nolasco and Scott Olson. Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla and Mike Jacobs will have to extend their solid first halves through September if the Marlins expect to stay in the race. This is a hungry bunch, but the lack of experience is likely to lead to a run at the wild card instead of the division title. The race should boil down to whether the Mets pitching proves superior to that of Philadelphia, and it should. While the Phillies have arguably the most potent lineup in the majors with Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard providing a lethal dose of speed and power, the Mets are right up there with them. Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado can do damage to any pitching staff. But when it comes to pitching, the Mets have a solid rotation. Johan Santana is a proven big-game hurler, and the emergence of Jon Maine, Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfrey has solidified the staff. If Pedro Martinez can provide any of the old fire, the Mets have a huge edge, because in Philly, after Cole Hamels and aging Jamie Moyer, there isn't much there. The Mets made the right move when they fired manager Willie Randolph. For whatever reason, he was simply not the right fit for this squad. New York should capture the crown while the Marlins and Phillies battle for the wild card. The Mets end their season at home with four against the Cubs and three vs. the Marlins. The Phillies close out at home with 3 vs. Atlanta and 3 against the Nationals, an easier task. The two play each other on three times in September, on the 5th, 6th and 7th, at New York. CENTRAL: While the Cardinals (my sentimental boyhood team) have hung in well, this race should come down to the Brewers and the Cubs, both of which have acquired additional starting pitching within the past two weeks. The Brewers picked up stud starter C. C. Sabathia (also a threat at the plate) from the Indians, while the Cubs got Rich Harden from Oakland. Those two will complement Ben Sheets (Milwaukee) and Carlos Zambrano (Chicago) at the top of solid rotations. The return of Alfonso Soriano will be a huge benefit to the Cubs. Having their leadoff man back in action will be a real boost to the rest of the lineup, which is genuine, with plenty of excellent contact hitters. The Brewers also have a superior batting order with a little more power than that of the Cubs, especially in the personae of Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. It may come down to middle relief and closers, and, if that's the case, the Cubs have an edge. Kerry Wood has developed into one of the NL's best finishers. As for the Cardinals, their contention is a testament to the ability of manager Tony Larussa. The Cards have a patchwork lineup and pitching staff, but Tony has gotten the best out of them. Troy Glaus has been a pleasant surprise, along with Ryan Ludwick and sensational Albert Pujols. If the Cards stay in this, they could be the surprise team of the season, but even a wild card seems to be out of their reach. The Cubs and Brewers should battle to the bitter end, the loser possibly getting the wild card. The schedule has two late-September matchups of these two teams and the division could come down to the final three-game series of the season, with the Cubs at Milwaukee. WEST: The Arizona Diamondbacks and LA Dodgers are the best of this sad bunch. Currently, no team in the division is even .500, and the D-Backs hold a 1-game edge over the Dodgers. Both teams get the most from their pitching staffs, and the battle may really heat up in the second half. LA has an edge in the hitting department with Matt Kemp, James Loney and Russell Martin leading the charge. Arizona's starting pitching is superior, with Brandon Webb, Dan Haren and Doug Davis the 1-2-3 punch. Randy Johnson needs 10 more wins to reach 300. He probably won't get there, but he'll be trying hard. Both teams have pretty soft schedules in September, and play each other only three times, early in the month. The Dodgers have 9 games against the Padres, 6 against the Giants, 3 vs. Colorado and 4 at Pittsburgh. It doesn't get any softer than that, and the light workload should lead LA to the division crown. Arizona will be close, but not even mentioned in the wild card race.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

AL Wins All Star Game and Home Field Again

The American League won the annual mid-season classic for the 11th time in the last 12 years (2002 ended in a tie), with a 4-3, 15-inning baseball-fest at Yankee Stadium. The "House the Ruth Built" was the perfect backdrop for yet another NL collapse, and the last time the stadium - built in 1923 - will host an All Star game as it will be torn down following the 2008 season.
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For the record, the AL and NL have split four All Star games at Yankee Stadium, with the American League winning in 1939 and 2008, and the Nationals taking the prize in 1960 and 1977. The win gives the AL pennant winner home field advantage in this season's World Series, which has proven to be a nice edge of late. American League clubs have won eight of the last ten fall classics. The game itself highlighted some very solid pitching and timely hitting, especially Michael Young's game-winning sac fly and J. D. Drew's 2-run homer in the 7th inning which erased a 2-0 NL lead. The Nationals had held the AL scoreless through the first six innings, but, as has been the case so often, they could not hold them down in the final critical innings. The teams traded runs in the 8th and then treated the assembled throng and millions of TV viewers to 6 1/2 shutout innings. It was a tough night for Florida Marlins players in the field. Second baseman Dan Uggla made three errors, while shortstop Hanley Ramirez booted a ball in the 4th inning. None of the Florida errors resulted in unearned runs. J. D. Drew took home the MVP Award, going 2-for-4 with two RBI and the only Al home run. Matt Holliday hit a solo homer for the Nationals, who stole just one base while the AL swiped six. Tomorrow: NL 2nd-half Outlook

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mid-Season Outlook: AL Divisional Races

At The Break: Mid-Season Musings American League EAST: Boston is still the team to beat in this division, but the team making life interesting is Tampa Bay, not the Yankees. While New York is still lurking just 6 games back, they're going to have a tough time in September, with 6 games against the Rays, three at LA, four against the White Sox, and then closing out the season on the road, at Toronto and Boston. Don't expect the new Joe (Girardi) to have the same magic as the old Joe (Torre). Alex Rodriguez's personal issues are going to be a major distraction, so making the playoffs may not be part of the agenda in New York this time around. Of course, by then, the Red Sox could be long gone. After a July that concludes with a 6-game road trip to LA and Seattle, then 3 each at Fenway against the Yankees and Angels, August is quite a bit easier. The Red Sox have the most talent in the division and should be clear by the time the next host the Yankees, the final three days of August. The youthful Rays should get back on track in the second half, but face a tough beginning of September with 6 games each against the Yankees and Red Sox through the 17th. After that, it gets interesting, with four games at home vs. Minnesota, dour at Baltimore and four at Detroit. With the either or both the Tigers and Twins fighting for the wild card spot, these games could be critical. CENTRAL: The White Sox have plenty of experienced players with power in Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko, Jim Thome and Joe Crede, but Carlos Quentin has provided the big bat needed to fill out the lineup. The addition of Quentin is already one of the best off-season moves in the majors. Pitching has been somewhat of a project for manager Ozzie Guillen. A patchwork starting staff has been complemented by solid middle relief from Matt Thornton, Scott Linebrink and Octavio Dotel, all with ERAs under 3.00. If closer Bobby Jenks comes back as expected, the Sox may look to add another starter, but could cruise through the second half. The currently-second Minnesota Twins have been a pleasant surprise, but they are a very young team, and the book on youth is that it folds under the pressure in August. The story has been solid work by starters Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker. With Francisco Liriano pitching well for AAA Rochester, he's expected back before August, but he'll be under pressure to keep the Twins in the hunt. Detroit is still recovering from their 2-10 start, but they've played solidly since then and are finally at .500 (47-47). With a team this loaded with talent and experience, it would be a surprise if the Tigers don't at least get the wild card spot and they could get hot and make a run at the White Sox. Those final four games in September, at Comerica Park in Detroit against the Rays, loom large if it's a close race. WEST: This division is already settled. The Angels are clearly the most balanced team in the division and should win another title with relative ease. Their addition of Torii Hunter has paid large dividends and no other team in the West can match their pitching. Texas may well contend for a wild card, though their pitching is a real weakness. With Vicente Padilla and Kevin Millwood as their best starters, the Rangers will have to score 6-8 runs in order to win most games. The A's are going to hang around, but they're a couple of notches below the Angels on the power scale and will continue to be looking up at LA in the standings for the rest of the season. They are scrappers, but as the season grows long, the A's will be a shadow of their first-half selves. Wednesday: All Star report. Thursday: National League Outlook

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sabathia Homers in Complete Game Win; Rodriguez Earns 38th Save

Players of the Day from Sunday, July 13, 2008 American League Leaving the bases loaded with Oakland A's in the bottom of the ninth, Francisco Rodriguez earned his major league best 38th save on Sunday as the Angels topped the A's, 4-3. The win gave the Angels the best record in the American League (57-38) and a 6-game lead over Oakland in the AL West. After the Angels scored twice in the top of the 9th to take the lead, Rodriguez gave up a single and a walk to start the bottom frame, and loaded the bases after a sacrifice and an intentional walk. That was all the A's would get, however, as K-Rod fanned the last two batters for his 7th straight save against the A's in seven tries.
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Rodriguez had a career-high 47 saves in 2006. He already has 38 this season. The major league record for saves in a season is 57 by White Sox closer Bobby Thigpen in 1990. Rodriguez is on pace for 63. Notes: Boston retook first place in the AL East with a 2-1 win over the Orioles on Sunday as the Tampa Bay Rays lost their seventh straight. They were swept four straight by the Indians over the weekend. Cleveland had lost 10 in a row before the Rays came to town. National League C. C. Sabathia is one tough stud. Not only did he earn his first National League complete game win as the Brewers slipped past the Reds, 3-2, he also became the first pitcher since 1970 to homer in both leagues in the same season. Sabathia gave up single runs in the second and third, but got the Brewers on the board with a solo homer in the bottom of the 3rd, his second home run of the season. He then shut out the Reds the rest of the way, finishing with a flourish by striking out the final four batters he faced and was rewarded with the win when Craig Counsel got Bill Hall home from third with a sac fly in the bottom of the 9th. Sabathia is 2-0 since moving from Cleveland and the American League to the Brewers and the NL. He struck out 9, walked one, hit two batters and allowed 8 hits and two earned runs in a gritty outing. Notes: According the Yahoo Sports and the Elias Sports Bureau, Earl Wilson was the last pitcher to homer in both leagues in the same season. He did it in 1970 with Detroit and San Diego. The Brewers are still in 3rd place, 1/2 game behind St. Louis, but both teams gained on the Cubs in the NL Central, as Chicago lost to the Giants, 4-2. In the East, the Mets won their 9th straight as Mike Pelfrey shut out the Rockies for 8 innings in a 7-0 win. Philly topped Arizona 6-3, keeping the Mets 1/2 game out of first. Arizona's loss was the Dodgers' gain, as LA beat Florida 9-1 and moved to within 1 game of the Diamondbacks in the NL West race.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dunn Crashes a Pair in Cincy Win; Youkilis Slams for Sox

Players of the Day from Saturday, July 12, 2008 American League A week ago, it appeared that the Tampa Bay Rays would run away with the AL East title. That's not such a given, now that the Rays have lost six straight. On Saturday, Kevin Youkilis and his Red Sox teammates closed the gap to a mere 1/2 game, as Boston pounded Baltimore, 12-1, while the Rays were dropping their third straight at Cleveland, 8-4. Youkilis accounted for 6 RBI with a grand slam in the third inning, a sac fly in the 4th and a run-scoring single in the 8th. Notes: The Yankees also won, 9-4, over Toronto, putting them 5 1/2 behind the Rays. The AL East looks to be far from a done deal. National League Adam Dunn socked a three-run homer and a solo shot, and Jerry Hairston Jr. went 4-for-4 and scored three times as the Reds tapped the Brewers, 8-2, dropping Milwaukee 6 games behind the NL Central-leading Cubs.
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Dunn's blasts gave him 26 on the season, two behind league leader Ryan Howard, Notes: With both St. Louis and Milwaukee losing, the Cubs squeaked by San Fran, 8-7 in 11 innings, and have a 5 1/2 game lead over the Cards. The Mets extended their winning streak to eight with a 3-0 win over the Rockies, while the Phillies were losing, 10-4, to Arizona and Florida dropped the Dodgers, 5-3. Both the Mets and Marlins are now just 1/2-game behind the Phillies in the AL East. Arizona has re-established a 2-game lead over LA in the West. Mets pitching has been particularly effective of late. Over the past five games, Mets' pitchers have allowed just 13 hits and 4 runs. The bullpen hasn't allowed a run in 18 1/3 consecutive innings. Of course, they're doing this against a couple of the weaker NL West teams, San Francisco and Colorado, but their accomplishments are noteworthy.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Halladay 2-Hits Yankees; Lohse Strong on Comeback Trail

Players of the Day from Friday, July 11, 2008 American League The New York Yankees would probably prefer that Roy Halladay pitch in another league, or at least another division, because even though the Blue Jays aren't usually part of the pennant race picture, Halladay seems to think he is every time he takes the mound. For the second time in three tries this season, Halladay shut down the Yankees, allowing just two hits in a complete game, as the Blue Jays won, 5-0. Ever the workhorse, Halladay threw 117 pitches, struck out 8 while walking only one batter. The only hits were a single by Alex Rodriguez in the 4th inning and Derek Jeter's 9th inning ground rule double. Notes: Fortunately for the Yankees, the Red Sox and Rays both lost on Friday, so they didn't lose any ground in the standings, currently 6 1/2 behind Tampa Bay and 5 back of Boston. National League Here's a solid candidate for comeback player of the year. In 2007, Kyle Lohse went 9-12 pitching for Cincinnati and Philadelphia, but has found a new home in St. Louis, where he's now 11-2, after shutting out Pittsburgh for 7 innings in the Cardinals' 6-0 win over the Pirates on Friday. Lohse gave up 6 hits and a lone walk while striking out 3, lowering his ERA to a very solid 3.39 and helping the Cardinals retake second place from Milwaukee in the Central. With the Brewers losing and the Cubs winning on Friday, the Cards are 1/2 game better than Milwaukee and 4 1/2 behind Chicago. Notes: The Met won their 7th straight, topping Colorado, 2-1, but Florida and Philly both won, so New York remains tied with the Marlins, 1 1/2 games behind the Phillies.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Morneau's 5th Hit Tames Tigers; Howard Decks Cards with a Pair

Players of the Day from Thursday, July 10, 2008 American League Justin Morneau went 5-for-5 on Thursday, and though his big night at the plate didn't add up to much in the boxscore, his last hit, a solo homer in the 11th inning, provided the winning margin as the Twins topped the Tigers, 7-6. Morneau had three singles, a double and the game-winning homer, but only drove in one run and scored twice as the Twins nearly squandered a 15-hit attack. The win was huge for Minnesota, as the White Sox were losing, 4-1, at Kansas City. Those results left the Sox with a 2 1/2 game lead over the Twins and 7 over the Tigers in the Central. Notes: The Cleveland Indians ended their 10-game losing streak with a 13-2 breakout against the suddenly struggling Rays, losers of 4 straight. While the Indians are out of the AL Central race, Tampa Bay's lead over Boston has shrunk to 1 1/2 games, with the Yankees lurking, 6 1/2 back. National League Ryan Howard took over the NL home run lead with a couple of bombs (#s 26 and 27) in Philly's 4-1 win over St. Louis. Howard also increased his lead in the RBI column, driving in 3, to give him 83. Houston's Carlos Lee is second with 72.
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The Phillies haven't exactly been a model of consistency lately, going 9-15 since June 14, and with the Mets and Florida both winners on Thursday, their lead remains at a slim 1 1/2 games over both. Notes: With the Cardinals losing, Milwaukee took over second place in the Central with an 11-1 win over Colorado. The Brewers are 4 games behind the Cubs, with the Cardinals 4 1/2 back. In the West, Arizona got to .500 (46-46) with an 11-inning, 7-5 win over Washington and established a 1-game lead over LA as the Dodgers dropped an 11-inning, 5-4 decision to the Marlins.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Chicago's Night of the Carlos: Quentin, Zambrano Lead Sox, Cubs

Players of the Day from Wednesday, July 9, 2008 American League Carlos Quentin belted a pair of homer runs, drove in 4 and scored 3 runs in a 7-6 White Sox win over Kansas City, but it was his 8th inning trot down the third baseline after a balk by KC reliever Ramon Ramirez that provided the winning margin. Quentin has walked earlier in the inning, and wound up at third base when Jim Thome singled home Orlando Cabrera to tie the game. Going first to third proved to be a winning move by Quentin. Quentin has 21 home runs, one less than league leader Grady Sizemore. The White Sox have won 4 straight, improving their advantage over the Twins to 3 1/2 games. Detroit is 7 back. Notes: Drama night in the AL... Josh Hamilton belted a 2-run, walk-off homer off ace reliever Francisco Rodriguez, who leads the AL - and the majors - in saves with 35, as the Rangers topped the Angels, 6-5. It was his third blown save of the season. Hamilton leads the majors with 89 RBI, and his 20 homers has him in third place in the AL. In Detroit, Miguel Cabrera hit his 3rd homer in the past two games, a two-run shot in the bottom of the 9th to give the Tigers a 8-6 win over the hopeless Indians, who have now lost 10 in a row. It was the Tigers' 3rd straight win. Bobby Abreu doubled home Derek Jeter in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Yankees a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay, beating them for the second straight game. With Boston pounding the Twins, 18-5, the Rays are just 2 up on the Red Sox and 6 1/2 better than the Yankees. National League Why are the Cubs sailing along in first place in the NL Central? Maybe because Carlos Zambrano (10-3) has incredible stuff. On Wednesday, Zambrano put that stuff on display for 8 innings of one-hit ball, as the Cubs downed the Reds, 5-1. The Chicago ace struck out 5, walked none, and the only hit was a 2nd inning solo homer by Adam Dunn, who has 23, third in the NL behind Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, both of whom have 25. Following Dunn's blast, it was Carlos in charge, as he set down the next 23 batters in order, mostly on harmless dribblers and pop-ups. It doesn't get much better than that. It was the third straight win for the Cubs, and with both St. Louis and Milwaukee losing, upped their lead to 4 1/2 and 5 games, respectively, over their two main rivals in the division. Notes: Close, but no cigar... The Phillies snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over the Cardinals while Florida and the Mets both won (5 straight for NY), but the Phillies still lead by 1 1/2 in the NL East. In the West, it's a dead heat between Arizona and LA, both at 45-46.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Duchscherer 2-Hits Mariners; Pelfrey Goes 7 as Mets Blank SF, 7-0

Players of the Day from Tuesday, July 8, 2008 American League The Oakland A's traded away their top starter, sending pitchers Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin to the Cubs in exchange for four young prospects. But Harden will barely be missed if Justin Duchscherer (10-5) continues to pitch like he did on Tuesday, blanking the Mariners on 2 hits in a 2-0 Oakland win. Of 105 pitches, Duchscherer threw 72 for strikes, recording 4 strikeouts without walking a batter. The only hits allowed were a Richie Sexson double in the 5th inning and Miguel Cairo's single to lead off the 6th. Duchscherer retired the final 12 batters in order, striking out of Raul Ibanez to end the game.
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Notes: Will Cleveland ever win another game? The Indians' losing streak stretched to 9 games Tuesday, dropping a 9-2 decision at Detroit. Miguel Cabrera went 4-for-4, with a pair of homers and 3 RBI. Rays of hope... Just when the Rays were getting comfortable in first place, along comes Andy Pettitte and the NY Yankees to spoil the party. Pettitte shut out Tampa Bay over eight innings as the Yanks won 5-0, moving to within 7 1/2 games of first. Boston was out beating Minnesota, 6-5, to pull to within 3 games of the Rays. National League Mike Pelfrey (7-6) allowed just 3 hits over 7 innings as the Mets blanked the Giants, 7-0 to move into a tie for second place in the NL East with Florida, 1 1/2 behind slumping Philadelphia. Pelfrey was in complete control, fanning five, while getting 10 of 16 other outs via grounders. The Mets have won four straight while the Phillies lost their 4th in a row, losing 2-0 to St. Louis. Notes: In the escalating NL Central arms race, recently-acquired C. C. Sabathia won his first start for Milwaukee, allowing 2 earned runs over 6 innings as the Brewers topped Colorado, 7-3. LA's flirtation with first place in the NL West didn't last long. A day after tying the Diamondbacks for top honors, the Dodgers lost 9-3 to Atlanta, while Brandon Webb was recording his 13th win in a 2-0 Arizona win at Washington. The D-Backs have re-established a 1-game cushion in the division.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hunter Homers Twice for Halos; Kuroda Near Perfect as Dodgers Tie D-Backs

Players of the Day from Monday, July 7, 2008 American League Throughout their lineup, the Texas Rangers have plenty of big bats, but Ervin Santana, Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter put the game out of reach before most of them even made it to the plate. After 1 1/2 innings, the Angels had already put up 8 runs and Santana was on his way to his 10th win against 3 losses. Hunter singled home a run in the first, and after Guerrero smacked a two-run homer, Hunter followed with a solo shot, adding another in the 7th. Hunter finished 3-for-5, with 3 RBI and 2 runs as the Angels outlasted the Rangers, 9-6. The Angels have a 6-game lead over the A's and are 8 1/2 better than the Rangers in the AL West. Notes:Kansas City avoided being swept, winning the last of their 4-game series with Tampa Bay, 7-4, ending the Rays' 7-game winning streak. The Red Sox won, 1-0, over NY, leaving them 4 back with the Yanks 8 1/2 out. National League The LA Dodgers spent the first half of the season chasing the Arizona Diamondbacks, and on Monday night, rookie starter Hiroki Kuroda finally got them into a tie for first place in the NL West with a sparkling one-hitter as the Dodgers blanked Atlanta, 3-0. Kuroda, who has had flashes of brilliance to offset some truly ugly outings, allowed only a Mark Tiexiera double to open the 8th inning, as he struck out 6 and didn't walk a batter, using just 91 pitches for the complete game shutout. Only six Atlanta batters got the ball into the air, as Kuroda retired 15 on ground outs. Notes: The outing was the second complete game shutout in just over a month for Kuroda. On June 6, he blanked the Cubs on 4 hits. He followed that up with his shortest outing of the season, 2 1/3 innings at San Diego, in which he walked four and allowed 5 hits and six earned runs. His last outing, July 1 at Houston, he worked 7 shutout innings in a 4-1 win. Kuroda is 5-6 with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Garland Stops Blue Jays, 7-1; Hardy Helps Brewers into 2nd

Garland Stops Blue Jays, 7-1; Hardy Helps Brewers into 2nd Players of the Day from Sunday, July 6, 2008 American League The LA Angels continue to press their edge in the AL West, getting a complete game out of starter Jon Garland as they stopped the sputtering Blue Jays, 7-1. Garland (8-5) allowed just 6 hits, with the only run a solo homer by Rod Barajas in the 5th inning. Garland threw 98 pitches, struck out 3 and didn't walk a batter. With the A's losing 4-3 at Chicago, the Angels now have a 6-game bulge in the standings and are the only team in the AL with winning records at home, on the road and against all three divisions. Notes: Tampa Bay won their 7th straight, 9-2 over KC, while the Yankees downed the Red Sox, 5-4 in extra innings, giving the Rays a 5-game lead in the AL East. In the Central, the White Sox, Twins and Tigers were all winners, but the season looks to be over in Cleveland, as the Indians lost their 8th straight and are apparently sending C. C. Sabathia to Milwaukee in a trade. National League After a slow start, the Milwaukee Brewers have finally caught St. Louis and are in second place with the Cardinals, 3 1/2 behind the Cubs. On Sunday, J. J. Hardy led the Brewers to an 11-6 thrashing of Pittsburgh and a sweep of the 3-game series.
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Hardy spearheaded a 16-hit attack by going 3-for-4 with a double and a pair of homers, 4 RBI and 2 runs. The shortstop has been on a tear of late. Over his last 7 games, he's gone 18-for-28 with 6 homers and 12 RBI, with multiple hits in 6 of those 7 games. Notes: Despite dropping their last two, the Phillies still maintain a 2 1/2 game lead over the Marlins in the East. They and the Cardinals are the only teams in the NL with winning records at home, on the road and against each division.