Friday, September 26, 2008

Twins Overtake White Sox; Dodgers Clinch; Braun Slams for Brewers

Players of the Day from Thursday, September 25, 2008 American League Alexi Casilla singled home Nick Punto in the bottom of the 10th inning as the Minnesota Twins completed a comeback and three-game sweep of the White Sox with a 7-6 win. Minnesota began the series trailing Chicago by 2 1/2 games and ended it, rallying from a 4th-inning 6-1 deficit to complete the sweep and take the lead in the AL Central by 1/2 game. With the regular season ending on Sunday, no matter what the Twins do, they will need Chicago to lose one of their three weekend games with Cleveland. That's because the White Sox still have unfinished business with the Detroit Tigers. In the event that the two teams are still separated by 1/2 game, either way, the Tigers will play at Chicago on Monday, Sept. 29. If the two are tied after that game, Minnesota would travel to Chicago for a one-game showdown. In the interim, the Twins host a three-game series with Kansas City. Minnesota has handled the Royals well throughout the season, compiling an 11-4 record. Notes: Jon Lester allowed just 2 hits and one run over 6 innings and Kevin Youkilis homered and collected two RBI as the Red Sox inched closer to the East division-leading Rays, who lost at Detroit, 7-5. Tampa's magic number remains at 1, with three games remaining. The New York Yankees, who've already played their final game at Yankee Stadium, may have the last laugh in determining the eventual AL East winner. They travel to Boston to take on the Red Sox in the final three-game series of the season. Tampa Bay will finish up with three games at Detroit. National League Ryan Braun shattered a 1-1, 10th inning tie with his 36th home run of the season, a grand slam that gave Milwaukee a 5-1 win over Pittsburgh and kept them tied with the Mets in the wild card race. New York won, 7-6, over the Cubs, as Jose Reyes raced home with the winning run on Carlos Beltran's 2-out, 9th inning single. The Mets had been down 6-3 in the 7th inning, but the bullpen held up as the batters rallied for the win. With the Phillies idle, the Mets are now 1 game behind them in the NL East. In the West, the LA Dodgers backed into clinching the division when Albert Pujols led the St. Louis Cardinals to a 12-3 win over Arizona. It was Arizona's third straight loss at St. Louis after taking the opener of their 4-game series on Monday. Pujols went 3-for-3 with his 35th home run and 4 RBI, giving him 112 on the year. Pujols is desperately chasing Atlanta's Chipper Jones for the NL batting title. Jones leads at .365. Pujols is second at .353. Since Jones already has the requisite 502 plate appearances and has been limited lately to pinch-hitting due to an ailing back, Pujols is unlikely to run him down in the final three days. The Dodgers lost to San Diego, 7-5, but don't even have to win another game. They hold a 4-game lead over Arizona with 3 left to play. Notes: As the final weekend is played out, the Phillies host the Nationals, the Mets have the Florida Marlins in town and the Brewers host the Cubs. All are three-game series ending Sunday. In the case of ties, one-game playoffs would determine either the winner of the NL East or wild card. If all three teams are tied at the end of play on Sunday, there would be multiple playoff scenarios. The Mets and Phillies would play one game for the East division title, then the loser of that game would play Milwaukee for the wild card spot on Tuesday.

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