Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pena, Rays Sting Twins; Jacobs Keeps Florida Hopes Alive

Players of the Day from Friday, September 19, 2008 American League Carlos Pena doubled, homered and drove in four runs in Tampa Bay's 11-1 rout of the fading Minnesota Twins. With Boston beating Toronto, 4-3, and the White Sox creaming KC, 9-4, the Rays remain 1 1/2 to the good atop the AL East, but the Twins dropped 2 1/2 behind Chicago in the Central and are close to being eliminated from wild card consideration, 7 1/2 behind Boston. Notes: The Angels, having already clinched the AL West, keep playing hard to maintain their overall lead for home field throughout the playoffs. After a wild 15-12 win at Texas on Friday, the Angels are 94-59 and with 9 games remaining may be the only team in the majors to reach 100 wins this season. 100-62 may be good enough to capture AL home field rights. The Rays, being the only team within striking distance at 91-61, would have to win nine of their last ten to match that mark. No matter the outcome, the AL will have home field advantage in the World Series after winning the All Star game in this past July. National League The Phillies came into Miami sporting a seven-game winning streak. Trouble was, their hosts, the Florida Marlins, were ready and waiting with an 8-game streak of their own on the line. Mike Jacobs helped settle the matter with a 2-run double in the 1st and a 2-run single in the 6th, helping the Marlins to their 9th straight in a 14-8 slugfest over the Phillies. Pretty much written off a few weeks ago, the Marlins never gave up and have roared back to within 4 1/2 of the Phillies, who currently are the wild card leader. Florida is also just 5 games back of the Mets in the NL East race. The Mets downed Atlanta, 9-5, on Friday, to retake the lead in the division. In between the Phillies and Marlins in the wild card race are the Milwaukee Brewers, who took another step backwards on Friday in an embarrassing 11-2 loss at Cincinnati. Milwaukee is this season's September swooner, compiling a horrific 4-14 record so far this month. While still in contention for the wild card, they face the Cubs in the final three games of the season, Sept. 26, 27 and 28. Chicago's magic number to clinch the division title is down to 1, despite being hammered by the Cardinals, Friday night. Notes: In the West, the Dodgers look to be the class of the division, but they'll have to prove it to their upstate rivals, the Giants, who ham-strung them 7-1 in the opener of their 3-game series in LA. Following the weekend series, LA hosts the Padres for three and closes out the season next weekend at San Francisco. The Dodgers lead the NL West by 3 1/2 games over Arizona. Their magic number is 6.

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