Sunday, August 31, 2008
Players of the Day from Saturday, August 30, 2008 American League Dustin Pedroia has been absolutely on fire. In his last four games, he's had 12 hits in 17 at-bats for a sizzling .706 batting average. In Boston's 8-2 win over the White Sox on Saturday, Pedroia was literally unstoppable, going 4-for-4 for the second day in a row, with a walk in his only other plate appearance, scoring twice. Pedroia took over the AL batting lead at .327. The Red Sox kept the pressure on Tampa Bay, who beat Baltimore, 10-9. The Rays remain 4 1/2 in front. In the Central, the Twins also lost, remaining 1/2 behind the White Sox for the division lead. With the Red Sox knocking off Chicago for the second straight game, Boston is beginning to distance themselves in the wild card race, now 3 1/2 ahead of the Twins, who face a tough September. After Sunday's series finale at Oakland, the Twins play 13 of their next 19 games on the road prior to finishing the season with a pair of 3-game series with the White Sox and the Royals. The four series on the road are 3-game sets at Toronto, Baltimore and Cleveland, ending with a 4-gamer at Tampa Bay, Sept. 18-21. Notes: In the West, everything is going just swimmingly for the Angels. On Saturday, they topped the Rangers 4-3, Francisco Rodriguez earned his 53rd save and the team's magic number dropped to 9. They lead the Rangers by 18 games with just 27 left to play. National League So far, Manny Ramirez has enjoyed the change from the East coast to the West, from the Red Sox to the Dodgers, from the AL to the NL. On Saturday, he knocked around Arizona pitching, with a single, double and a pair of solo homers, driving in 2 runs and scoring 3 times as the Dodgers broke their 8-game losing streak and toppled the Diamondbacks, 6-2. In 28 games as a Dodger, Ramirez is hitting .416 with 9 home runs and 25 RBI. One cannot argue with the production, and, despite the prolonged losing streak, the Dodgers are just 3 1/2 behind Arizona with a chance to draw to within 2 1/2 in Sunday's rubber game of their 3-game set in Arizona. Notes: Both the East and Central division races tightened on Saturday, as the Cubs and Mets both lost, while the Phillies and Brewers won. The Phillies are just one game behind the Mets, but the Brewers still trail the Cubs by 5 1/2.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Players of the Day from Friday, August 29, 2008 American League Daisuke Matsuzaka improved to 16-2 as he 2-hit Central-division leader Chicago over 8 innings, leading to an 8-0 rout by the Red Sox. Boston holds a 2 1/2 game lead in the wild card race over Minnesota, now 1/2 behind the White Sox in the Central, so any wins over either of those teams aids Boston's cause greatly. The Red Sox continue to trail Tampa Bay by 4 1/2 in the East. The Rays notched a 14-3 win over Baltimore Friday night. Notes: The Angels have run away in the West, and, despite taking a 3-1 loss to Texas on Friday, still lead the division by 17 games. Their magic number is 11 and the Angels could clinch by next weekend. National League Garrett Atkins socked a three-run homer in the 3rd inning and a two-run shot in the 9th to seal a 9-4 win for Colorado over San Diego and keep the Rockies in the NL West hunt, 6 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. The homers were the 17th and 18th for Atkins. Arizona handed LA their 8th straight loss, 9-3, dropping the Dodgers to 4 1/2 back. Notes: Chicago maintained their 6 1/2 game lead over Milwaukee in the Central, with a 3-2 win over the Phillies, while Milwaukee beat down Pittsburgh, 3-1. The Mets helped themselves as Carlos Beltran drove in all five runs with a grand slam and an RBI single in a 5-4 win over the Marlins. The Mets are 2 games better than Philly and 7 up on Florida.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Players of the Day from Thursday, August 28, 2008 American League The LA Angels got two steps closer to the AL West pennant as they rallied for 5 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to defeat 2nd-place Texas, 7-5, and reduce their magic number to 13. Francisco Rodriguez recorded his 51st save, shutting down the Rangers in the 9th to preserve the win. Rodriguez is just 6 saves shy of the AL and major league record of 57, set by Bobby Thigpen of the White Sox in 1990. Atlanta's John Smoltz (2002) and the Dodgers' Eric Gagne (2003) share the National League single-season saves record at 55. Notes: Tampa Bay beat Toronto and Boston lost at New York, both by 3-2 scores, boosting the Rays back to a 4 1/2 game lead in the AL East. Minnesota lost at Oakland, 3-2, and now trial the White Sox by 1 1/2 in the Central and are 2 1/2 behind Boston for the wild card. National League Manny Ramirez gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead with a home run in the top of the 1st, but Cristian Guzman answered with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning and went on to hit for the cycle as Washington completed a three game sweep of LA with an 11-2 win. Guzman added a 2nd inning single, doubled in the 6th and tripled in the 8th, drove in 3 runs and scored twice in 5 at-bats. LA's 7th straight loss dropped them 3 1/2 behind idle Arizona, which has lost 4 in row themselves. Even the Rockies, at 63-72, are in the mix, 6 games back. Notes: The Mets got help from the Cubs, who beat the Phillies, 6-4, and the Braves, winners over Florida, 4-2, to lead Philly by 1 game and Florida by 6. Chicago has won 6 straight and lead the Brewers by 6 1/2 games.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Players of the Day from Wednesday, August 27, 2008 American League Dustin Pedroia may have finally delivered the blow that ended the Yankees' post-season hopes. With the Red Sox already ahead 7-2 in the and three runs already plated in the 8th inning, Pedroia drove a David Robertson offering to left center, up and over the wall, a grand slam that finally, maybe mercifully, ended New York's season. The Red Sox won, 11-3, the second straight one-sided Boston win over the Yankees, leaving New York 7 games behind Boston in the wild card race with only 30 games left to play. The task seems too gargantuan, the opposition too strong, for the Yankees to do anything except slip quietly into the oblivious off-season. Notes: Tampa Bay got another exceptional performance from Matt Garza (12-7), topping Toronto, 1-0, to remain 3 1/2 ahead of Boston in the East. The Central is still very much up in the air as the White Sox lost and the Twins won, leaving Minnesota a game behind Chicago. The Indians won their 10th straight, a 9-7 win over Detroit, solidifying their hold on third place, 10 1/2 back, but hopelessly out of any kind of playoff contention. In the West, the Angels dropped a 6-5 decision to Oakland, keeping their magic number at 15. National League Carlos Delgado is feeling it. A night after the Mets blew a 7-run lead and lost to the Phillies in extra innings, Delgado stepped up with a pair of solo homers and an RBI single to lead the Mets to a 6-3 win over Philly and back into first place by 1/2 game. Delgado has hit 4 homers (30) and driven in 9 runs (93) in his past 3 games. Notes: The Marlins beat Atlanta, 4-1, and remain 5 1/2 back in the East. The Cubs got some help from the Cardinals, who beat Milwaukee, 5-3, while Chicago was winning, 2-0, over the Pirates. That left Chicago 6 games in front of Milwaukee and the Brewers hanging onto a 3 1/2 game edge over the Cards in the wild card. The Dodgers lost their 6th straight and Arizona lost their 4th straight, as the West race turns into a war of attrition. All of a sudden, the Rockies are just 6 games back. The Diamondbacks are the only team in the West with a winning record, at 68-65.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Players of the Day from Tuesday, August 26, 2008 American League Batting in the leadoff position, Orlando Cabrera went 4-for-5, with two doubles, a triple, 2 RBI and 3 runs, as the White Sox buried the Orioles, 8-3, and took a 2 game lead in the Central division. A steady performer, Cabrera ranks 15th in the AL with 148 hits, despite his rather pedestrian .276 batting average. Notes: The rest of the Central division keeps looking up at the White Sox, who have led the division most of the season. The Twins lost their 4th straight and are two back, while Cleveland hopped past Detroit into 3rd place with their 9th straight win - a 10-4 pasting of the Tigers. Cliff Lee won his 19th, tops in the AL and tied with Arizona's Brandon Webb for best in the majors. In the East, all eyes were on Alex Rodriguez, who went 0-5, grunded into 2 double plays, struck out twice and stranded seven runners as the Red Sox took the first game of the final series between the Sox and Yankees at Yankee stadium, 7-3. With Tampa Bay losing, 6-2, to Toronto, Boston is now just 3 1/2 behind the Rays with the fading Yankees 9 1/2 back. The Angels got a complete game, 7-hit performance from John Lackey, topping the A's, 5-1, reducing their magic number for clinching the West to 15. National League Rookie Geovany Soto has been a solid contributor at the bottom of the Cubs' lineup all year, but on Tuesday, he was incredible, socking his 20th home run and a pair of bases-loaded doubles to drive in 7 runs in Chicago's 14-9 thrashing of Pittsburgh. Soto is batting .285 with 20 homers and 78 RBI, mostly from the #7 or 8 spot in the order. He's the leading candidate for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Notes: Ben Sheets (12-7) shut the Cardinals out for 6 innings and then took a seat as the Brewers clubbed St. Louis, 12-0, keeping Milwaukee 5 games behind the Cubs and solidly in front in the wild card chase. The Cardinals and Mets both trail the Brewers in the wild card by 4 1/2 games. Speaking of the chokers... er, Mets, they seem to be starting their September swoon a week early, blowing a 7-run lead to the Phillies on Tuesday, as Philly won, 8-7, in 13 innings to take over first place in the NL East by 1/2 game. The Mets have had bullpen issues all season, but especially since closer Billy Wagner went on the DL August 3rd. Wagner is expected to be out at least until the middle of September. The Mets used 8 pitchers on Tuesday. In the West, Arizona and the Dodgers both lost, keeping the Diamondbacks 3 games in front. Bandon Webb failed to win his 20th, as the Padres knocked him around in a 9-2 San Diego win.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Players of the Day from Monday, August 25, 2008 American League Grady Sizemore socked a pair of solo home runs to become the latest member of the 30-30 club as the Indians downed the Tigers, 4-3, in 11 innings. Sizemore hit his 30th and 31st homers, along with his 34 stolen bases, puts him in an elite class with 13 other AL players who have hit 30 homers and stolen 30 bases in a season. Notes: The White Sox actually won one and lost one on Monday, losing the completion of an April 28 game which was halted by rain in the 11th inning with the score tied 3-3. The game was finished in the 14th, as the Sox played the role of home team at Camden Yards, with the Orioles coming out on top, 4-3. In the regularly scheduled game, Jim Thome cracked his 535th career home run to give the Sox a 4-3 win and move past Jimmie Foxx into 15th place on the all time home run list. Thome needs one more homer to tie Mickey Mantle. The "split" gave Chicago a 1-game edge over the Twins in the Central division as Minnesota dropped their third straight, losing 4-2, at Seattle. Boston visits the Yankees for three games beginning Tuesday night in the most crucial series of the season, especially for New York. The Yankees have been hanging around, and are 5 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East and wild card standings. Unless the Yankees take at least 2 out of these 3 games, their season may be all but over. National League With just two swings, Carlos Delgado bombed the Houston Astros and kept the NY Mets in first place in the NL East. Delgado unloaded with a pair of three run homers as the Mets toppled Houston, 9-1, and remained 1/2 game in front of the Phillies in the division. The Mets visit Philly for two games beginning Tuesday before a 3-game trip to Florida on Friday. It should prove to be the most important 5-game road trip of the season for the Mets. Florida is only 5 1/2 behind. Notes: The Cubs won their 3rd straight, 12-3, at Pittsburgh, to improve to a 5 game lead over second place Milwaukee, idle on Monday. Philadelphia completed a 4-game sweep of the Dodgers, winning 5-0 on Monday. Arizona also lost, 4-2, at San Diego, to remain 3 games in front of LA.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Players of the Day from Sunday, August 24, 2008 American League Robinson Cano singled, doubled twice and hit a game-winning solo homer in the 7th inning to lead the Yankees to an 8-7 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Cano, who has raised his batting average from .246 to .269 since the All Star break, scored twice and drove in 2 runs as the Yankees remained 5 games behind the Red Sox in the wild card race. The Rays lost, 6-5, to the White Sox, pulling Boston to within 4 1/2. While the Angels were knocking off Minnesota, 5-3, Chicago regained 1st place in the Central by 1/2 game. Notes: Texas lost their third straight and trail the Angels by 17 games. LA's magic number is down to 16. National League Maybe he should have started. Pedro Feliz, who came on as a defensive replacement for 3rd baseman Greg Dobbs with two outs in the top of the 7th, delivered in the clutch as the Phillies knocked off the Dodgers, 5-2, in 11 innings. Feliz singled home the tying run in the bottom of the 9th, then ended the proceedings with a 3-run homer in the 11th. After the Mets lost to Houston in extra innings earlier in the day, Philly's win tightened the NL East race to just 1/2 game. The Marlins won, 5-2, at Arizona, and continue to lurk in third place, 5 games back. Notes: The Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals all won, so the standing remain the same: Chicago leads Milwaukee by 4 1/2 and St. Louis by 8. Arizona leads LA by 3 games in the West.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Players of the Day from Saturday, August 23, 2008 American League Toronto, 12 1/2 back in the AL East, may not catch the Red Sox or the Yankees, but they're certain to add some drama to the pennant proceedings. On Saturday, Vernon Wells led a 16-hit, 11-0 rout of Boston with 4 hits in 5 at-bats, including a solo and 2-run homer, scoring four times and driving in three. Wells has played in only 76 games this season, having spent most of May and July on the DL, but with him playing regularly, the Jays are a threat every time they take the field. They are 8-3 since August 11, taking 3 each from Detroit and Boston and two of three from the Yankees over that span. Notes: With Boston struggling with the Blue Jays, Tampa Bay knocked off the White Sox, 5-3 and improved their lead in the East to 5 1/2 games. The Yankees won, but are still 10 1/2 off the pace. Minnesota lost to the Angels, 7-5, but retained their 1/2 game lead in the Central. LA leads the West by 16 games and has shrunk their magic number to just 18. Boston leads the White Sox by 1/2 game in the wild card. National League The Chicago Cobs have plenty of big bats in their lineup, including the one carried by Aramis Ramirez, who blasted a pair of 3-run homers as the Cubs beat up the Nationals, 9-2. A mainstay in the Chicago lineup since being traded by the Pirates midway through the 2003 season, Ramirez has 22 homers and 90 RBI. He's driven in more than 100 runs five times. With 30+ games remaining, it's a good bet that 2008 will mark the sixth time. The win by Chicago kept them 4 1/2 clear of 2nd place Milwaukee, 6-3 winners over Pittsburgh. St. Louis, desperately chasing in third place, dropped an 8-4 decision to Atlanta and is 8 games back. In the East, Pat Burrell was keeping the Phillies in the hunt, driving in five runs with a single, double and 3-run homer in Philadelphia's 9-2 downing of the Dodgers. With the Mets losing to Houston, 8-4, Philly closed to within 1 1/2 games of the East division leader. Florida continues in third place, 6 games out. Notes: Arizona knocked off Florida, 7-1, and with Philly's help, improved to a 3 game edge over LA in the West. The Diamondbacks and Marlins have split the first two games of their three-game set, with the rubber game tonight at Arizona.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Players of the Day from Friday, August 22, 2008 American League Here's a name you'll likely be hearing more about as the AL Central and wild card race heats up: Denard Span. Span, who has only played in 58 major league games, played 12 games in April before being sent back down to Triple A Rochester, but since returning June 30, he's raised his batting average from a pedestrian .258 to a sparkling .325. On Friday, the Twins played the second of a four-game series with the Angels and won their second straight, crushing LA, 9-0, as Span went 3-for-5 with a run-scoring single in the 4th inning and a three-run homer in the 6th. With the win, the Twins took over first place in the Central, as the White Sox were losing, 9-4, to Tampa Bay. Notes: Speaking of the Rays, they continue to lead the East by 4 1/2 games over the Red Sox and 10 1/2 over the Yankees, both winners on Friday. What's wrong with the Angels? Despite their magic number dropping to 20 on Friday, they've lost 7 of their last 9, including two each to Minnesota and Tampa Bay. Are they just cruising and not taking these games seriously while their opponents are locked into the heat of pennant races? Could be, but the biggest concern is that they're just being overmatched by better teams. They've already lost playoff home field advantage (that now belongs to the Rays) and further deterioration may raise serious concerns about their post-season potential. With a 15-game lead in the West, the Angels can cruise to the division title, but is that the best way to enter the playoffs? National League The Cubs may win the Central division, but Willie Harris made their path to the post-season a little tougher, hammering a pair of home runs - a grand slam and a two-run shot - in Washington's 13-5 pounding of Chicago. While the Cubs were taking their lumps, the Brewers continued their relentless pursuit with a 10-4 win over Pittsburgh. The Cardinals banged out 26 hits, bombing Atlanta, 18-3. Milwaukee is 4 1/2 behind the Cubs; St. Louis is 7 back. Notes: The Mets won their 4th straight and kept a 2 1/2 game edge over Philly and a 6 game lead over Florida in the East. The Phillies beat the Dodgers, 8-1, while the Marlins topped Arizona, 5-4. Those results kept Arizona's 2 game lead over LA in the West intact.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Players of the Day from Thursday, August 21, 2008 American League Cleveland hasn't had a very rewarding season, but Grady Sizemore has put up some amazing numbers from his position atop the Indians' lineup. In Cleveland's 10-3 thumping of the Royals, Sizemore, in 5 at-bats, rapped out a pair of singles, a bases-loaded triple and a three-run homer, driving in 7 runs. Sizemore has 29 homers and 79 RBI. While Sizemore was going off at the plate, starter Cliff Lee was working around it, giving up 6 hits and 2 earned runs over 7 innings while fanning 7. Lee recorded his AL-leading 18th win against just two losses. Lee and Sizemore's feats are all the more incredible considering that Cleveland has been out of the Central division race since before the All Star break. At 59-67, Lee (18-2) has accounted for nearly a third of the Indians' wins. Notes: Minnesota downed the Angels, 2-1, in 12 innings, and moved to within 1/2 game of idle Chicago in the Central. In the East, the Yankees were hammered, 14-3, by Toronto as both the Red Sox and Rays had a day off. That put the Jays just one game behind the Yankees, though NY is 10 1/2 out of first place. The Angels, losers of 4 of their last 5, haven't been bothered by their mini losing streak, still 15 games ahead of Texas in the West. Their magic number is now 21. National League Might as well just give Brandon Webb the NL Cy Young award now. On Thursday, Webb posted his 19th win against 4 losses, shutting out the Padres on 3 hits over 7 innings as the Diamondbacks downed San Diego, 4-1. Webb, sporting a 2.74 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP, leads the majors in wins and has won his last 8 decisions. He ranks third in ERA among qualified starters and 6th in strikeouts with 153. Notes: Arizona maintained their 2 game bulge on the Dodgers in the West as LA dropped the Rockies, 3-1. The Mets won, while the Phillies and Marlins both lost, giving NY a 2 1/2 game lead over Philly and 6 over Florida in the East. Chicago knocked off the Reds, 3-2, and improved by 1/2 game over idle Milwaukee and St. Louis. The Cubs are 5 1/2 in front in the Central.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Players of the Day from Wednesday, August 20, 2008 American League Here's a guy that doesn't get nearly the credit he deserves. Playing for the Baltimore Orioles, Melvin Mora doesn't get much notice, but his 95 RBI are 5th best in the AL. On Wednesday, Mora hit a three run homer (21), drove in another run with a sac fly, stole a base and drove in four runs total as the Orioles knocked down the Red Sox, 11-6. Mora's been on a tear of late, going 20-for-39 (.513) over his last 9 games, with 4 homers and 16 RBI. The loss wasn't a killer for Boston, as the Rays were being beaten by the Angels, 5-4, and remain 4 1/2 in front in the AL East. Notes: The Yankees won, 5-1, over Toronto, and are 10 back of the Rays and 5 1/2 behind the Red Sox in the wild card. There are still people who believe the Yankees have a chance at making the post-season via the wild card route, but unless Boston and either the White Sox or Twins collapse, it's not going to happen. The White Sox and Twins both won on Wednesday, so the Central has Chicago up by one game over the Twins, who are currently 1/2 behind Boston for the wild card. It all adds up to mission impossible for the Yankees. National League Adam Dunn is providing the big bat the Diamondbacks have been seeking. In Wednesday night's 8-6 win over San Diego, Dunn launched his 34th home run of the season, a 3-run, first inning shot off Padres' starter Jake Peavy, which helped as the D-Backs rallied from a 4-0 deficit. By the end of the second, Arizona was ahead 6-4 and never trailed again, adding a game on 2nd place Los Angeles, losers to Colorado, 4-3, now 2 back in the West standings. Dunn's homer was his second in as many nights and gave him the NL lead over Philly's Ryan Howard (33). Notes: The Brewers picked up a game on the Cubs and now trail by 5 in the Central, but have a 2 1/2 game edge over St. Louis in the wild card race. The Mets and Phillies were both winners, so the Mets remain 1 1/2 ahead of Philadelphia in the East. Florida lost to San Francisco, 6-5, and have fallen 5 off the pace.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Players of the Day from Tuesday, August 19, 2008 American League With Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria out for a month, Minnesota's Brian Buscher takes over as the best rokkie third baseman in the AL. On Tuesday, Buscher went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and five RBI in the Twins' 13-2 rout of Oakland. Buscher, who probably won't have enough plate appearances to qualify for any awards, may get more satisfaction if the Twins make it to the post-season. In 45 games, Busher is batting .314 with 4 homers and 38 RBI. Tuesday's win kept the Twins just a game behind the White Sox in the Central division and 1 1/2 behind Boston in the wild card race. Notes: Tampa Bay beat the Angels for the second straight day, winning 4-2 at LA, and remaining 4 1/2 ahead of the Red Sox in the East. In Toronto, A.J. Burnett (16-9) fanned 13 Yankees, including Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi 3 times each. The Blue Jays won, 2-1, dropping the Yankees 11 games behind the first place Rays. National League Ricky Nolasco (12-7) is one of the reasons the Marins are still in the chase for the NL East title or the NL wild card. Nolasco tossed his first career complete game and first shutout as he and the Marlins dropped the Giants, 6-0. Not only did Nolasco hold the Gaints to 2 hits and one walk while striking out 11, but he doubled in a pair of runs in the sixth inning as well. Florida is 4 games behind the Mets in the East and are 6 1/2 behind Milwaukee in the wild card chase. Ahead of them in the wild card are St. Louis (2 1/2 back) and the Phillies (4 back). Notes: The Cubs continue their roll towards destiny. Rich Harden won his 3rd game in a Chicago uniform, allowing 2 hits and no runs over seven innings, striking out 10, as the Cubs dropped the Reds, 5-0. Cruising toward the playoffs, the Cubs are tied with the Rays for the best record in the majors, at 77-48. A virtual lock to win the Central, the Cubs should have no problem securing home field throughout the NL playoffs.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Players of the Day from Monday, August 18, 2008 American League The Tigers are still just barely alive in the AL Central race after squeaking by Texas, 8-7. The spotlight fell on leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson, who tripled twice and drove in four runs, keying the victory. The Tigers, probably the biggest disappointment in the majors, are 10 1/2 behind the White Sox, who retook first place in the AL Central, as Carlos Quentin hit his major league-leading 35th home run in Chicago's 13-5 thumping of Seattle. Minnesota lost to Oakland, 3-2, and are one game behind the Sox. Notes: Tampa Bay held on for a 6-4 win over West leader LA to remain 4 1/2 in front of the Red Sox in the East. The Angels aren't worried, however. Despite their second straight loss, they still lead Texas by 15 1/2 games. National League OK, this is getting a little ridiculous. On Monday, C. C. Sabathia pitched his 8th complete game of the season, recording his 11th straight win as the Brewers dropped Houston, 9-3. With little left to prove about his toughness, Sabathia threw 130 pitches, his season high. Both his win streak and complete game numbers include the early part of the season which he spent with Cleveland, where he was 6-8. He has not lost in 9 starts as a Brewer. Sabathia struck out 9, bringing his full season total to 192. Notes: Milwaukee trails the Cubs by 5 games in the Central. The West remained deadlocked as both Arizona and LA were idle. The Mets lost to Pittsburgh, 5-2, and are 1 1/2 ahead of Philadelphia and 4 up on Florida in the East.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Players of the Day from Sunday, August 17, 2008 American League Alex Rodriguez belted a 3-run, first inning homer (26), then added RBI singles in the 3rd and 7th innings, as the Yankees blew out the Royals, 15-6. A-Rod's 5 RBI were one better than Jason Giambi, who landed a grand slam into the right field stands - his 24th home run of the season. Mike Mussina took the win. he is 16-4. Notes: The Yankees picked up a game on the Red Sox, who were hammered by Toronto, 15-4. The Blue Jays sent Red Sox starter Josh Beckett to his earliest departure of the season. Beckett lasted just 2 1/3 innings, allowing 8 earned runs on 8 hits. Boston is still 5 ahead of New York, but trail the Rays by 4 1/2, after Tampa Bay beat Texas, 7-4. Chicago and Minnesota both won and remain tied atop the Central. The Angels lost, but their magic number is now 25. National League Johan Santana hasn't had the best of times in his first year as a New York Met, but he showed signs Sunday that he may be peaking at the right time. Santana (11-7) tossed a 3-hit complete game shutout against Pittsburgh as the Mets plundered Pittsburgh, 3-0, and maintained their AL East lead of 2 games over the Phillies. Santana faced 31 batters, throwing 113 pitches, 85 for strikes. The lefty struck out seven. It was his second complete game of the season and 6th career shutout. Santana has won his last four decisions. Notes: With the Phillies winning, 2-1, at San Diego and the Marlins dropping a 9-2 decision to the Cubs, the Mets are looking like the team to beat in the East, while the Marlins continue to fade. Florida has lost 4 of their last 5 and are 4 1/2 back. In the Central, the Cubs are beginning to look like they won't be caught, expanding their lead over Milwaukee to 5 1/2 games as the Brewers lost to the Dodgers, 7-5. St. Louis is 7 1/2 behind. The Dodgers tied Arizona atop the West at 64-60. The Diamondbacks fell to Houston, 3-0, as Roy Oswalt (11-8) threw a 1-hitter over 8 innings, fanning 10.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Players of the Day from Saturday, August 16, 2008 American League Joe Mauer is probably the best-hitting catcher in the majors. On Saturday, Mauer singled, doubled, homered, drove in two runs and scored the game winner in Minnesota's 7-6 win at Seattle. That kept the Twins tied with the White Sox for first place in the AL Central, as Chicago won, 2-1, in Oakland. Mauer is hitting .321, second in the AL batting race, behind Boston's Dustin Pedroia, at .322. Notes: The Rays and Red Sox both lost, but the Yankees won, and picked up a game on both. New York beat KC, 3-2, in 13, but are still 9 1/2 behind Tampa Bay and 6 behind the Red Sox. National League Miguel Montero only has 137 at-bats this season, but as Arizona's backup catcher, he and Chris Young came through big as the Diamondbacks hammered Houston, 11-5. Both Young and Montero hit grand slam homers in the win. Montero also doubled and hit a solo home run, totaling 5 RBI. The D-Backs have scored 23 runs in two wins over Houston this weekend, and, coupled with LA's 4-3 loss to Milwaukee on Saturday, have regained a 1-game lead in the NL West. Notes: The Cubs lost, 2-1, to Florida, so Milwaukee is back within 4 1/2 games in the Central. The Cardinals pounded the Reds, 9-3, and are 6 1/2 back in the Central. The Mets won, 7-4, over the Pirates, while Philly was losing at San Diego, 8-3. That puts NY 2 games in front of the Phillies and 3 1/2 to the good past Florida.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Players of the Day from Friday, August 15, 2008 American League Matt Garza is only 10-7, but he's had his fair share of big games this season. On Friday, Garza gunned down the American League's top hitting team, the Texas Rangers, shutting them out on 2 hits to lead the Rays to a 7-0 win. It was Garza's third complete game of the season and second shutout. He struck out 9 and walked just two, facing just three over the minimum. The win kept the Rays on top in the East, improving to a 3 1/2 game lead over Boston, as the Red Sox and Blue Jays were rained out. Notes: It may not be too early to begin wishing the New York Yankees a pleasant off-season, as they look unlikely to reach the playoffs. The Yanks dropped a 4-3 bomb to KC on Friday and are now 10 1/2 off the pace in the division and 7 games behind the Red Sox for the wild card. The Twins won and the White Sox lost, so the two are locked in on top of the Central division, both at 68-53. Horrors! The Angels lost their second straight game. Not to worry, they are 15 1/2 in front of Texas in the West. They should come around soon. National League Call him Mr. Consistency. Brandon Webb snapped Houston's 8-game win streak, holding the Astros to 2 runs on four hits over 8 innings as the Diamondbacks cruised to a 12-2 win. Webb (18-4) fanned 6 and walked just one batter as he became the first pitcher in the majors to reach the 18-win mark. Webb opened the season by winning his first 9 starts, and now has put up wins in his last 7 decisions. His last loss was nearly 2 months ago, on June 22. Notes: The Dodgers remained tied with Arizona atop the West with a 5-3 win over Milwaukee. The Cubs won their fifth straight and 9th consecutive road win, 6-5, at Florida, increasing their advantage in the Central to 5 1/2 games. The Cardinals beat Cincy, 5-3, and are two games behind the Brewers. In the East, the Mets and Phillies were both winners, so New York retains their 1-game edge in the division. The Marlins dropped 3 1/2 back.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Players of the Day from Thursday, August 14, 2008 American League A quiet giant, Jim Thome gave the White Sox a 6-2 lead with a three-run homer in the 6th inning. Little did he know that he was starting the wheels of history in motion, as Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez and Juan Uribe followed him to the plate, each smacking one out of the park to tie a major league record with four consecutive home runs. The White Sox completed a three-game sweep of the Royals with a 9-2 win. Thome, who has 532 career home runs, hit his 25th of the year, driving in Ken Griffey Jr. (who has 608 homers himself) and Carlos Quentin, who leads the AL in home runs with 32. Neither Griffey nor Quentin went yard in Chicago's homer-fest. Notes: With Minnesota idle, the White Sox improved their slim advantage in the AL Central to 1 game over the Twins. In the East, Tampa Bay beat Oakland, 7-6, in 12 innings and Boston downed Texas, 10-0, as Daisuke Matsuzaka improved to 14-2. The Rays lead Boston by 3 games. National League Mark Kotsay had a huge 5-for-5 night at the plate, hitting for the cycle, but it all went for naught as the Braves fell to the Cubs, 11-7, completing their first season sweep of the Braves since the two teams began playing each other in 1876. The Cubs have also won eight straight road games and lead Milwaukee - who had their 8-game win streak broken by Jake Peavy and the San Diego Padres, 3-2 - by 4 1/2 games in the Central division. Notes: The Dodgers completed a sweep of the Phillies with a 3-1 win to stay tied with Arizona (beat Colorado, 6-2) in the West. The Mets took over first place in the East by a game over the Phillies with a 9-3 romp past Washington. The Marlins lost to St. Louis, 3-0, to drop 2 1/2 off the pace. The Cardinals remain 3 behind Milwaukee in the Central and wild card race and are 2 1/2 better than the Phillies for the wild card. With roughly 40 games left to play, it's looking more and more like the second-place finisher in the Central will be the wild card, while the Phillies, Mets and Marlins battle in the East in an all-or-nothing division.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Players of the Day from Wednesday, August 14, 2008 American League If the Red Sox reach post-season play, they can thank slugger Kevin Youkilis for his relentless attitude. On Wednesday, the gritty infielder socked three doubles in four at-bats, scored three times and drove in two runs, leading Boston to an 8-4 win over Texas. Youkilis has been hitting above .300 for most of the season, and now, at .320, is just .002 short of the AL lead, behind Milton Bradley of Texas (.321) and the Yankees' Johnny Damon (.322). One of the toughest outs in the majors, Youkilis may be looking forward to his first batting title. Notes: The Rays won, 3-2, at Oakland, so the Red Sox remain 3 games back, but the Yankees seem to have fallen out of the race, losing 4-2, at Minnesota, which dropped them 9 games behind the Rays. In the Central, the White Sox won 8-0 over KC, to retain their 1/2 game lead over the Twins. The Tigers are another team which doesn't seem to have a post-season future, as they dropped their 3rd straight at home to the Blue Jays, 4-3, to fall 9 1/2 out. The Jay can complete a 4-game sweep of the Tigers Thursday afternoon. The Angels have a 15 game bulge in the AL West. Queue the countdown. LA's magic number is 28. National League The Chicago Cubs have made some good moves to solidify their squad this season, but maybe the best of all was the addition of Jim Edmonds, who has hit 15 home runs and is batting .275 in 60 games since joining the Cubs from San Diego. Edmonds blasted a two-run homer in the 3rd inning and added an RBI double in the 5th, as the Cubs hammered Atlanta, 10-2, in the first game of a double-header. The Cubs also won game two, 8-0. Notes: The Brewers and Cardinals both won Wednesday, so the Cubs only picked up 1/2 game on both, leading Milwaukee by 3 1/2 and St. Louis by 8 1/2 in the Central. The Dodgers beat the Phillies, 7-6, as Philly blew a 6-1 lead. That resulted in ties atop both the NL East and West, with Arizona and LA atop the West and Philly and the Mets locked up in the East, with Florida 1 1/2 back.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Players of the Day from Tuesday, August 13, 2008 American League David Ortiz belted a pair of three run homers - both in an 8-run first inning - and also doubled, walked twice, scored four times and drive in 6 runs as the Red Sox outlasted the Rangers, 19-17 in the season's highest scoring game. Ortiz was not alone on the hit parade. Teammate Kevin Youkilis also cranked out a pair of homers and drove in five runs. For the Rangers, Marlon Byrd went 5-for-6, drove in 3 runs and scored 4 times. Notes: The Red Sox gained on the Rays, 2-1 losers to the A's, as did the Yankees, who topped Minnesota 9-6 in 12 innings. Boston is now 3 behind, the Yanks, 8 back. Meanwhile, the White Sox were blanking KC, 9-0, to retake first place in the Central by 1/2 game over the Twins. The Tigers continue to spike themselves, losing yet again to Toronto, 6-4, to fall 8 1/2 games off the pace. National League Prince Fielder socked a 3-run homer (27) in the 4th inning to snap a 1-1 tie and lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 5-3 win at San Diego, their 7th straight. Milwaukee's winning ways have gotten them to within 3 games of the Central division-leading Cubs, who were idled by rain in Atlanta. St. Louis lost to Florida, 4-3, to drop 7 games off the pace. Notes: The Mets were also winners in the NL East, squeaking past the Nationals, 4-3, to pull to within 1 game of the Phillies, who lost for the second straight day in LA, by the identical, 4-3, score. The Marlins are 1 1/2 back. In the West, LA remained 1 game behind Arizona, as Randy Johnson continued his streak to 300 wins, with #294. Johnson stopped the Rockies on 5 hits and 2 runs over 6 innings in the D-Backs 4-2 win. Johnson has won 6 of the last 7 times he's taken the mound.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Players of the Day from Monday, August 11, 2008 American League Minnesota starter, Glen Perkins (9-3), whose wife, Alisha, gave birth to their second daughter, Lyla, on Sunday, worked over the Yankees for 8 innings en route to a 4-0 Minnesota win Monday night. Perkins is 7-1 over his last 10 starts, but, in addition to basking in the glow of birth, he also beat the Yankees for the first time in three tries. Perkins allowed just 4 hits and 3 walks while fanning 4 before giving way to reliever Joe Nathan, who didn't earn a save, but struck out the middle of the Yankees' order in the ninth, getting Bobby Abreu swinging, Alex Rodriguez looking and Xavier Nady swinging. With the White Sox dropping a critical 5-1 decision to Boston, the Twins reassumed first place in the AL Central by 1/2 game. The Sox and Twins have traded places twice this week atop the division. Notes: Perhaps the biggest loser in the battle for the Central is the Tigers, who continue to lose games they sorely need, on Monday losing to Toronto, 7-2, and dropping 8 games off the pace. The Rays continue to lead the Red Sox by 4 games in the East, but injuries to two of their top players, Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford could make matters interesting. Longoria is expected to miss three to four weeks with a fractured wrist, while Carl Crawford may need surgery to repair a tendon in his right hand. Crawford may miss up to 5 weeks, but could return middle to late September. With two stars sidelined, the race could tighten, benefiting Boston, and maybe even the Yankees, who have fallen 9 games off the pace. National League With Arizona taking a day off, James Loney and his fellow Dodgers started a 4-game series with the Phillies by dumping the AL East leaders, 8-6, gaining to within 1 game of the Diamondbacks. Loney singled home 2 runs in a 6-run third inning, and added insurance with an RBI double in the 8th. Earlier, he had singled in the second inning and went 3-for-4 for the night. Notes: Philly's loss was barely registered because the Phillies got some brotherly love from St. Louis, who dumped the Marlins, 4-2, and the Pirates, who slashed the Mets, 7-5. Consequently, Philadelphia remained 2 ahead of NY and 2 1/2 in front of Florida. In the Central, Milwaukee won their 6th straight to creep to within 3 1/2 of the Cubs with St. Louis 3 games further back.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Players of the Day from Sunday, August 10, 2008 American League Ian Kinsler led a 20-hit attack as Texas grounded the Orioles, 15-7, as rumors persisted that the Rangers were seeking to trade for starting pitching. Kinsler knocked 4 singles and a two-run homer, drove in 3, scored 3 times and helped turn two double plays. The leadoff batter for the Rangers, Kinsler is batting a brisk .319. The Rangers, 14 games behind the Angels in the AL West, still believe they can make the post-season with just a little more pitching. They lead the AL in almost every offensive category. Their .281 batting average, 667 runs and 641 RBI are tops in the majors. They have hit 146 home runs, second only to the White Sox (165). However, their team ERA of 5.33 is the worst in the majors. Texas is currently 6 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the wild card race. Notes: While the Rangers search for arms, the Angels were busy completing their sweep of the Yankees with a 4-3 win. The loss pushed New York 8 1/2 behind the Rays, who won at Seattle and hold a 4 1/2 game edge over Boston. The Red Sox lost to the White Sox, who moved back into first place in the Central by 1/2 game over the Twins, losers to KC in 12 innings. The Rays don't seem to be looking over their shoulder much, and the Yankees are going to be eliminated from post-season contention if they don't get on the stick soon. The Yanks play three in Minnesota and then may be able to make a move as they host KC for 3 games, then play 3-game sets in Tornoto and Baltimore before a critical 3-game series with the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on August 26, 27 and 28. National League San Diego hasn't made much noise this season, mired in the basment of the NL West with one of the least potent offenses in the league, but on Sunday, Brian Giles and his teammates broke out the whippin' sticks at Colorado and thumped the Rockies, 16-7, banging out 20 hits along the way. Giles led the team with a 4-for-6 effort, including two doubles and a two-run homer, 4 RBI and 4 runs scored. Even with the one-day explosion, the Padres are still third from the bottom in runs scored (459). Only the Giants and Nationals have scored fewer. The Padres' team batting average of .248 is better than only Cincinnati, Oakland and Washington. Notes: While the Padres and Rockies were carrying on, Brandon Webb and the Diamondbacks were taking care of business atop the NL West. Webb improved to 17-4, going 6 innings and allowing just the one run. The Dodgers are suffering from bullpen woes, as, for the second straight game, they were unable to close out the Giants, allowing two runs in the bottom of the 9th for a 5-4 loss. That puts them 1 1/2 behind Arizona. The Cubs and Brewers both won, so the margin there is still 4 games, but the Cardinals slipped back to 7 off the pace, losing to Chicago, 6-2. In the East, Philly won as the Marlins topped the Mets, so Philadelphia is 2 games ahead of the Mets and 2 1/2 better than Florida.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Players of the Day from Saturday, August 9, 2008 American League Miguel Cabrera is doing all he can to keep Detroit from falling completely out of the AL Central race, but time is running out on the Tigers. While Cabrera was launching a pair of homers and driving in four runs in Detroit's 10-2 dismantling of Oakland, Francisco Liriano was pitching the Twins to a 7-3 win over the Royals and into first place, a mere 1/2 game ahead of the White Sox, who dropped a 6-2 decision to Boston. The Tigers now trail the Twins by 8 games, and are likely going to have to win the division or go home when the calendar turns to October. Cabrera, in his first season in the AL, leads the Tigers with 23 homers and 89 RBI. Notes: The Rays continued their winning ways with an 11-inning, 8-7 win at Seattle and remain 3 1/2 ahead of the Red Sox. The Angels put another nail into the Yankees' postseason coffin with an 11-4 thumping, sending the Bombers 7 1/2 back. The Angels have a 14 game lead over Texas in the West. National League 6 games behind the Cubs in the Central and 2 behind Milwaukee in the wild card race, the St. Louis Cardinals are still in the hunt for October glory. On Saturday, Troy Glaus blasted a pair of homers and drove in five runs, as the Cardinals blasted Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs, 12-3. Glaus is having a banner year for St. Louis, having already played in one more game than he did last season for Toronto, he's also hit one more homer (21) and driven in 17 more runs (79). While the Cards gained on the Cubs, they couldn't pick up any ground on Milwaukee, as Ben Sheets tossed a complete game 5-hitter at Washington. The Nats haven't scored so far in two games in their current series with the Brewers, having faced C. C. Sabathia and Sheets in succession. Notes: Arizona lost its 4th straight and may have lost 2nd baseman Orlando Husdson for the season with a broken left wrist. According to the Arizona Daily Star, Hudson broke it attempting to tag out the Braves' Brian McCann at second. The Braves won, 11-4 and stayed in first place by just 1/2 game because the Dodgers threw away a 2-1, 10th inning lead, losing to the Giants, 3-2. Jonathan Broxton, who is filling in as the closer for injured Takashi Saito, recorded his 6th blown save. In the East, the Phillies beat the Pirates, 4-2, while the Mets landed the Marlins, 8-6, to stay 1 back of Philly with Florida 2 1/2 behind.