Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Lester Blanks Rays, Red Sox Close; Lincecum Stymies Diamondbacks

Players of the Day from Monday, September 8, 2008 American League Jon Lester already has two complete game shutouts this season, and he almost had a third Monday, stopping the Tampa Bay Rays over 7 2/3 innings for a 3-0 Red Sox win. When he ran into some trouble in the 8th, Jonathan Papelbon came on to put the Rays away and pick up his 36th save. Lester (14-6) allowed 6 hits, two walks and fanned 9 as the Red Sox closed to within 1/2 game of the Rays and the AL East lead. Tampa Bay has lost 4 straight and is in danger of surrendering the division to the Sox. In the Central, Chicago and Toronto were rained out and the Twins were idle, so the White Sox still lead Minnesota by 2 1/2 games. Notes: The Angels moved to within 2 games of clinching the AL West with a 12-1 thumping of the now-dead Yankees. The Angles could clinch today or tomorrow, a fitting conclusion if they do it at home against New York, a team they've owned all season. National League Maybe nobody really wants to win the NL West, or maybe the talent pool is just spread so thin, no team has an outright advantage. On Monday, both of the leaders - LA and Arizona - were taken down by teams at the bottom of the division. While the Dodgers were being shut out 4-0, Tim Lincecum was cruising to his 16th win against just 3 losses as the Giants bettered the Diamondbacks, 6-2, leaving the standings unchanged, with the Dodgers up by 1 1/2 games. Lincecum is having a Cy Young-worthy season. Working 8 1/3 innings against Arizona, he allowed 7 hits and one earned run, walking 2 and striking out 9. That effort lowered his ERA to a league-leading 2.60 and boosted his strikeout total to 216, also best in the NL. Maybe Arizona's Brandon Webb isn't the only Cy Young candidate out there.

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