Thursday, April 30, 2009

Greinke, Butler Lead Royals; Volquez Paces NL Whitewash Trio

Players of the Day for Wednesday, April 29, 2009 American League There haven't been many household names coming out of Kansas City lately, but here are a couple you may want to put on a short list. Zack Greinke (left) earned his major league best 5th win - without a loss - going 7 strong innings in KC's 11-3 win over Toronto. First baseman Billy Butler (right) did a good deal of the damage at the plate, going 4-for-5 with a single, double and pair of homers, 4 RBI and 4 runs scored. Greinke allowed 5 hits and two earned run in his outing, fanning 8. He leads the majors in ERA (0.50), wins (5) and is tied with Mets' starter Johan Santana in strikeouts with 44. The Royals remain tied for first place in the AL Central with Detroit and the White Sox at 11-10. National League Three teams were held scoreless in the NL on Wednesday, the result of some exceptional mound work around the league. In Cincinnati, Edinson Volquez (right) allowed just one hit and one walk over 8 innings, striking out 6, as the Reds topped Houston, 3-0. Volquez improved to 3-2. The Cubs clobbered Arizona, 10-0, as Doug Davis (2-3) allowed 2 hits and 3 walks over 7 innings, and Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo (3-1) allowed two hits and a walk while striking out 11 in Milwaukee's 1-0 win over Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cantu Slays Mets; Betancourt Drives Mariners Past White Sox

Players of the Day for Tuesday, April 28, 2009 American League After dropping the first half of their double-header at Chicago, 2-1, the Mariners took revenge on the White Sox with a 9-1 triumph in the nightcap as shortstop Yunieski Betancourt took matters into his own hands from his #8 slot in the lineup, going 4-for-5, with 3 singles and a three-run homer, a stolen base and 5 RBI. The Mariners banged out 19 hits in the slaughter, with Russell Branyan going 5-for-5 with two doubles and three singles. Betancourt's power surge was not all that unusual, as he averages 8 home runs per season. National League The Florida Marlins snapped their seven-game losing streak with a 7-4 victory over the NY Mets who conitnue to chase them in the NL East standings. The Mets are still 3 games behind, Atlanta trails Florida by 2, and the Phillies are just 1/2-game back. Jorge Cantu unloaded a pair of homers - a two-run blast in the 4th and a 3-run shot in the 7th inning which broke a 4-4 tie and decided the game in favor of the Marlins. Cantu, who also singled and walked, finished 3-for-3, with 2 runs and 5 RBI. He has 5 homers and 17 RBI on the year to go with a .357 batting average. Last year, Cantu knocked 29 homers and collected 95 RBI. NOTES: The Cubs' Carlos Zambrano took personal delight in his team's 11-3 win at Arizona on Tuesday. The starter not only worked 7 quality innings, allowing 3 runs on 8 hits, he also singled, doubled, homered, scored three times and drove in a pair of runs in support of his own cause.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Howard, Ibanez Slam Nats; Verlander Blanks Yanks

Players of the Day for Monday, April 27, 2009 American League It took him 5 starts, but Detroit's Justin Verlander finally got his first win of 2009 and regained some of the form he displayed in 2006 and 2007, when he was a combined 35-15. Verlander blanked the Yankees for 7 innings, handing them their 4th straight loss, in a 4-2 win at Detroit. The 6'5" righty allowed 7 hits, but did not walk a batter, while punching out 9 on strikes. His pitch count of 110 was punctuated with 79 being thrown for strikes. The win kept Detroit in sole possession of first place in the AL Central. NOTES: Cliff Lee and Tim Wakefield went toe-to-toe Monday night in Cleveland, with Wakefield allowing just one hit and 4 walks over 7 innings and Lee giving up 4 hits and one walk over 8. Both pitchers kept the opponent off the scoreboard, but Cleveland closer Kerry Wood was touched up for 3 runs in the 9th, which produced the 3-1 Red Sox win, their 11th straight. The Sox lead the AL East by one game over Toronto. National League The game was a hit-fest, and Philly's Ryan Howard (left) and Raul Ibanez (right) made the most of it, smacking grand slam homers to lead the Phillies from behind twice to top the Nationals, 13-11. Howard struck first, erasing a 6-2 Washington lead in the 5th with his blast. Ibanez, who also singled and doubled, waited until the 8th inning. After the Phillies had already scored twice, cutting the Nats' lead to 11-9, Ibanez delivered with a bases-loaded blow to right field. The Phillies are sharing the run-production democratically. Chase Utley lead the team with 17 RBI, followed by Ibanez with 16, Howard with 15 and Shane Victorio's 14. Philadelphia trails the Marlins by 1/2 game in the NL East. The Marlins, after their 11-1 start, have dropped 7 straight.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fukudome Cuts Cards; Weaver Sinks Mariners

Players of the Day for Sunday, April 26, 2009 American League After losing the first two of their three-game series with Seattle, the LA Angels needed a big performance and they got one from starter Jered Weaver, who shut out the Mariners on three hits over seven innings while his teammates were piling up 8 runs for an 8-0 thumping. Weaver walked two while striking out 5 as he earned his second win against one loss. Weaver, who had an off year in 2009 with a 10-11 record, dropped his ERA down to 2.45. His WHIP is a very solid 1.17. National League The Cubs dropped the first two of their series at St. Louis, but came back to take the finale, as Kosuke Fukudome powered them to a 10-3 win with a pair of singles and an 8th-inning, 3-run homer and 5 RBI. Fukudome, who hit 10 homers in all of 2008, already has put four out of the park this season. The Cubs are looking for more power from the second year outfielder, currently batting in the #3 spot in the lineup. The numbers are encouraging: .371 average, 4 HR, 15 RBI.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Escobar Powers Braves past Reds; Lowell's Late-Inning Heroics Lift Red Sox

Apologies for the delay in today's post. There was a major outage in Time Warner's system, and I did not have access much of the day. Players of the Day for Saturday, April 25, 2009 American League The game took 4 hours and 21 minutes to play. There were 28 hits and 27 runs scored off of 12 pitchers. When it was all over, the Red Sox had outslugged the Yankees, 16-11, and were one game away from a three-game sweep of their arch-rivals. Striking the key blows for Boston was Mike Lowell, who turned a 10-9, 7th-inning Yankee advantage into a 12-10 Boston lead with a three run homer just inside the foul pole and over the Green Monster in left field. An inning later, Lowell again delivered, this time with a bases-loaded double, plating three more runs. In five at-bats, those were Lowell's only two hits, but they were good for 6 RBI, giving him 22 and the AL lead, by one, over Tampa's Carlos Pena. National League Atlanta shortstop Yunel Escobar singled, doubled and homered in four at-bats, driving in four runs and scoring three times as the Braves dealt the Reds their second straight home loss, by a 10-2 score. In his third year with the Braves, Escobar is looking to have a breakout season, after hitting 10 homer and driving in 60 runs in 2008. Batting second in the order may not give him too many RBI opportunities, but the Braves are also counting on him to improve on the 71 runs he scored in 136 games last year.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pena's Pair Crushes A's; Victorino Slams Marlins in 9th

Players of the Day for Friday, April 24, 2009 American League Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena socked a pair of homers - a three-run shot in the 3rd and a solo blast in the 6th - to lead the last-place Rays to an 8-2 victory at Oakland. Pena leads the majors with 8 home runs and is tied with St. Louis' Albert Pujols for the major league RBI lead with 21. The Rays, last season's AL champions, are struggling, however, with a 7-10 record at the bottom of the AL East standings, already 5 1/2 games back of the surprising Blue Jays, who have the best record in baseball at 13-5. National League Blanked by Florida starter Josh Johnson for 7 innings and another by reliever Leo Nunez, the Phillies entered the top of the 9th trailing the Marlins by a 3-0 score. Florida closer Matt Lindstom melted down in the final inning, allowing a double to Jayson Werth and three walks, producing the Phillies' first run. With the bases still loaded, Shane Victorino then launched a grand slam into the right field stands, and Chase Utley finished the job with a solo homer for a 7-3 Philly win. Victorino's homer was his only hit of the game and just his second long ball of the season, but, as he did in last fall's World Series, he made the most of his moment. The last-inning eruption brought the Phillies to within 3 1/2 games of the NL East-leading Marlins, who, after a torrid 11-1 start, have now lost 4 straight, including being swept at Pittsburgh earlier this week. The Phillies have two more games at Florida, Saturday and Sunday, and hope to tighten the divisional race even further.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pujols' Pair Completes Sweep of Mets; Fernandez Sets Course for Mariners

Players of the Day for Thursday, April 23, 2009 American League The Seattle Mariners were easily the worst-performing team in the AL last year, checking in with a 61-101 record at season's end, but they are quickly putting 2008 behind them with a hot start and a 3 1/2 game lead in the AL West. One reason the Mariners have found success is the pitching of Felix Hernandez, who improved to 3-0 Thursday with a 1-0 win over Tampa Bay in which he went 7 innings, allowing 4 hits and 3 walks while fanning 7. The numbers Hernandez is posting are not remarkable (3.12 ERA, 1.23 WHIP), but his 3-1 strikeout to walk ratio is excellent and he's allowed just one home run over 26 innings pitched. If Hernandez and the rest of Seattle's staff stays focused, who knows how far the plucky Mariners may go? with the Angels banged up, the Rangers still short on pitching, and the A's still trying to prove they can win with marginal players, the division is up for grabs. National League There's that man again. Thanks to the amazing Albert Pujols, the Cardinals swept the Mets in their mid-week three-game series at St. Louis. Pujols went yard twice on Thursday, with a solo shot in the 1st inning and a 2-run blast in the 4th. After that, both sides piled on for a St. Louis 12-8 win. Pujols also singled, stole a base and scored four runs. After 16 games, Pujols has 6 dingers, 21 RBI, a .345 average and has St. Louis sitting atop the NL Central at 11-5, 1 1/2-games to the good. Can you spell M-V-P?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Haren's Solid Seven Leads D-Backs; Bannister Keeps Royals Tied for 1st

Players of the Day for Wednesday, April 22, 2009 American League Kansas City's Brian Bannister made his first start of the season a good one, blanking the Cleveland Indians for 6 innings on 4 hits and 2 walks for a 2-0 Royals win. The 6'2" righty out of USC is in his 4th season in the majors and the Royals are looking forward to many more outings like Wednesday night's. Bannister's excellent six inning stint and 3 innings of 1-hit relief behind him helped the Royals stay tied with the White Sox and Tigers atop the AL Central at 8-6. National League Dan Haren earned his first win of the season with a solid seven innings of shutout ball against the visiting Colorado Rockies. The Arizona ace allowed 6 hits and a pair of walks while tying his season-high 9 whiffs. Relievers Tony Pena and Chad Qualls worked the eighth and ninth innings, Qualls picking up his 4th save of the season, as the Diamondbacks slipped past the Rockies by a 2-0 score. Haren has been espeically prone to tough luck and a lack of support, taking losses in his first three outings, even though allowing just 4 earned runs over 19 innings. The starts for Haren prior to Wednesday produced losses of 3-0, 2-1 and 2-0. Dan Haren has the oddest stats of any starter in either league: an ERA of 1.38, WHIP at 0.88 and a 1-3 record.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Braun's 5-for-5 Night Wasted; Markakis Goes 4-for-4 in O's Win

Players of the Day for Tuesday, April 21, 2009 American League The Baltimore Orioles have a bevy of good, young hitters, but maybe none better than Nick Markakis, who went 4-for-4 (double, 3 singles), drove in a pair of runs - giving him 18 RBI on the season - and scored three times as the Orioles soiled the White Sox, 10-3, Tuesday night. Markakis, in his 4th season as an Oriole regular, has a .302 lifetime average and is batting .389 in 2009, tops on the team. His 18 RBI put him at the top of the major league leaders. National League Why are the Milwaukee Brewers in last place in the NL Central with a 4-9 record - the second-worst in the league? Much of the problem has to do with the lack of hitting, and not just in situations, but overall. The Brewers are not putting men on base, thus, they are not scoring many runs. Shortstop J.J. Hardy is the most obvious example, with his .125 batting average. The Brewers' master masher, Prince Fielder is batting an unimpressive .163. In Tuesday's 11-4 loss at Philadelphia, the Brewers managed 11 hits, but 5 of them came off the bat of Ryan Braun, who hit a solo homer in the first inning, added a 2-run shot in the 5th and singled home another run in the 7th, accounting of all of Milwaukee's runs. His 5-for-5 performance was largely wasted as Milwaukee failed to capitalize in numerous situations with men on base, stranding 9. Braun, who regularly bats third in the order, increased his RBI total to 9, an indicator of the team's total inefficiency, and upped his batting average to .300.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pedroia Leads Red Sox to 5weep; Pirates, Ohlendorf Shut Out Marlins

Players of the Day for Monday, April 20, 2009 American League Baltimore and Boston entered the finale of their four game series with identical 6-6 records, though the teams were going in opposite directions. Boston had already won the first three games and were riding a four-game winning streak. By the time it was over, the Red Sox left no unanswered questions with a 12-1 smack-down of the Orioles and a sweep of the series, led by Dustin Pedroia's 4-for-6 performance. Pedroia singled three times and doubled, driving in three runs and scoring three times. The BoSox second baseman hit safely in each of the four wins over the Orioles, going 9-for-18 and raising his batting average from .233 to .281, delighting Red Sox fans and fantasy owners alike. National League There haven't been many down nights for the Florida Marlins as they raced off to a 11-1 record to open the 2009 campaign, but on Monday, they ran into one of the hotter teams in the NL, the Pittsburgh Pirates, who spanked them, 8-0, on the strength of 7 shutout innings from starter Ross Ohlendorf, who allowed just 2 hits and a walk while striking out five. Ohlendorf, who came up with the Yankees in 2007 and was traded to the Pirates in 2008, won for just the second time in 8 career starts. While the Pirates improved to 7-6, a game back in the crowded NL Central, the Marlins, losers for just the second time this season, maintained their lead in the NL East at 4 1/2 games over the Mets.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Johnson Gets Win #296; Lester's 7 Shutout Innings Lift BoSox

Players of the Day for Sunday, April 19, 2009 American League Jon Lester (1-2) earned his first win of 2009, hurling 7 shutout innings at the Baltimore Orioles, leading to a 2-1 Boston win. The win was Boston's 4th straight, evening their record at 6-6, in the upside-down AL East, where the Blue Jays are in first and the reigning AL champion Tampa Bay Rays are last. Lester was in complete control during his outing, allowing four hits, two walks and striking out 9. The lefty was a bright spot for the Red Sox last season with a 16-6 record, a 3.21 ERA and two complete game shutouts, one of which was a no-hitter. National League Randy Johnson picked up his 296th career win with a 7-inning 1-hit performance over his former team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Johnson, who will turn 46 on September 10, is seeking the magical 300-win plateau, got just enough support from his San Francisco teammates in a 2-0 triumph. The 8th and 9th innings were worked - in perfect order, not allowing a baserunner - by 36-year-old Bob Howry and 27-year-old Brian Wilson (no, not the Beach Boy), who earned his second save of the season. Johnson, who walked 2 and struck out 7, allowed only a 6th inning double by Augie Ojeda.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Monroe Hammers a Pair for Pirates; DeRosa Helps Tribe Ambush Yanks, 22-4

Players of the Day for Saturday, April 18, 2009 American League The Cleveland Indians have made a farce of the Yankees' celebration of the opening of their new stadium, winning two out of three games by wide margins. On Saturday, the indians put up 14 runs in the second inning, en route to a 22-4 thrashing. Key among the offensive assault was Mark DeRosa, who contributed with two singles, a double and a three run homer in 7 at-bats, driving in six runs and scoring twice. Six different players homered for the Indians, as they cranked out 26 hits. National League Craig Monroe hasn't had much playing time over the past few seasons. In fact, after being traded from Detroit to the Cubs in 2007, and then to Minnesota in 2008, he's only seen action in a total of 87 games. On Saturday, he got the start for the Pirates in right field and the hard-hitting veteran smacked a pair of three-run homers, driving in six runs in support of Ian Snell's seven shutout innings as the Pirates cruised past Atlanta, 10-0. When playing regularly, Monroe can mash. From 2003-2006, when platooning and playing nearly full time, he averaged 22 homers and 81 RBI. If he continues to produce at the plate, he could fit in nicely for Pittsburgh. NOTES: Maybe we'll be calling them the Amazin' Marlins before long. The Florida Marlins continue their hot start to the 2009 season with a 10-1 record - the best in baseball - and a 4-game lead over the Mets in the inept NL East. The Marlins are on a 6-game winning streak and all ten wins thus far have come against division foes. While the standings in the NL East are a surprise, the AL is simply shocking with Toronto, Kansas City and Seattle leading the divisional races. Those three teams compiled a combined record of 222-262. Only the Blue Jays had a winning record (86-76).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kubel Slams, Hits for Cycle; Ludwick Blasts a Pair as Cards Fold

Players of the Day for Friday, April 17, 2009 American League Just a few days ago, Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers accomplished the rare feat of hitting for the cycle. As of Friday night, he became ancient history as Minnesota's Jason Kubel turned the trick in the Twins' 11-9 slugfest over the LA Angels. Kubel got things going early with an RBI double in the 1st inning. In the third, he singled and moved to second on Justin Morneau's ground out, but was gunned out at the plate trying to score. Kubel tripled and scored in the 6th inning, tying the score at 3, but the best was yet to come. After the Angels scored 5 in the 7th and one more in the 8th to take a 9-4 lead, the Twins cut the lead to 9-7 when Kubel appeared at the plate with the bases loaded and the game on the line. Kubel launched his second homer of the season deep to right, giving him the game-winning grand slam, the cycle, 5 RBI and a pair of runs scored. National League It's easy to overlook some of the players on St. Louis' roster as most of them pale by comparison to the incomparable Albert Pujols, but Ryan Ludwick, who routinely bats behind Pujols, is making a name for himself in his third year in a Cardinal uniform. After hitting 14 homers in limited action in 2007, he followed that up with 37 for a full season in 2008. This year, he's off to a grand beginning, and in Friday's 9-8 loss to the Cubs, he belted a pair of bombs along with a single in five at-bats, drove in 4 runs and boosted his batting average to .405. Ludwick has 4 homers and 10 RBI thus far in 2009.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sizemore's Slam Ruins Yankee Opener; Berkman Blasts Pirates

Players of the Day for Thursday, April 16, 2009 American League The NY Yankees opened an new chapter in their storied history with the first home game at the new Yankee Stadium, but the Cleveland Indians put a damper on the festivities, pounding New York, 10-2. With the game tied at 1-1 in the top of the seventh inning, Cleveland struck for 9 runs off the Yankees' suspect relief corps, capped by Grady Sizemore's grand slam, which put the game hopelessly out of reach. Sizemore's bomb was his only hit of the game, and it occurred after the Indians had already scored four runs in the inning. Victor Martinez completed the scoring with a solo shot in the same inning. Both homers came off reliever Damaso Marte. The grand slam was Sizemore's third homer of the season and upped his RBI total to 10. National League Astro fans haven't had much to cheer about this season, but after taking 2 of 3 at Pittsburgh with a 6-3 win Thursday night, spirits may be rising. Lance Berkman, who hasn't exactly gotten off to a scorching start, broke open a 3-3 game with his second home run of the season, a three-run shot in the sixth inning which sealed the deal for Houston. The Pirates struck for 2 runs in the first and another in the second inning, but were unable to get any more runners across home plate after that. Notes: The Florida Marlins keep winning, leading the NL East with a major league-best record of 8-1, maybe the most astonishing development is a continent away, in the AL West, where the Seattle Mariners lead the division by 2 1/2 games with a 7-3 record. The Mariners finished last in the division last year and were pretty much ruled out of contention by the end of May. This season may be different, owing to the overall weakness in the division. Texas, Oakland and the LA Angels are all 4-5.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Kinsler's Cycle, 6 Hits Lead Rangers; Cameron Unloads on Reds

Players of the Day for Wednesday, April 15, 2009 American League There are outstanding single-game performances and then there's the truly extraordinary, like the one Texas Ranger Ian Kinsler had in Texas' 19-6 win over Baltimore. Kinsler went 6-for-6, hit for the cycle with 2 singles, 2 doubles a triple and a home run, scored 5 times, drove in 4 runs and stole a base. It was the kind of game that players usually only dream of, but for Kinsler, leadoff hitter for the power-packed Rangers, multiple hit games are the norm rather than the exception. After 9 games, Kinsler leads the AL in hits (18), RBI (13) and is second in batting average at .474. National League Some guys get lost in the shuffle, but often deserve more credit than they get. Such is the case with 15-year veteran Mike Cameron, who has bolstered the rosters of six different teams, the latest being the Milwaukee Brewers. On Wednesday, Cameron was more than a tough out, he was impossible to get out, mashing two solo homers and a double in three official at-bats. He scored 3 times and drove in the same number of runs as the Brewers topped the Reds, 9-3, taking two of three games at Milwaukee. In his only other plate appearance, he was wisely issued a free pass to first base. Mike is batting .370 thus far in 2009, with an on-base percentage of .500.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Burnett Takes No-No Into 7th; Volstad Solid for Marlins

Players of the Day for Tuesday, April 14, 2009 American League A.J. Burnett (2-0) took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in New York's 7-2 victory at Tampa Bay. Burnett eventually allowed a pair of runs by the Rays in the 7th, briefly tying the game, but the Yankees rallied for a run in the top of the 8th, after which Burnett finished off the inning with a 3-2 lead. when the Yankees scored four more in the 9th, Burnett was relieved for the bottom of the inning. Brian Bruney came on to strike out the side, completing the win. Burnett finished with 8 innings of work, allowing 3 hits and 2 earned runs with 9 strikeouts. The win evened the series at a game apiece with the rubber to be played Wednesday night. National League The Florida Marlins improved to 6-1 - the best record in the majors - as Chris Volstad delivered a strong seven-inning outing, allowing just 3 hits and one earned run in Florida's 5-1 win over Atlanta. Volstad struck out 4 and issued two walks, with the only run against him coming via a 4th inning Kelly Johnson solo homer. The second year starter upped his record to 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pena Blasts Yankees; Duke Humbles Struggling Astros

Players of the Day for Monday, April 13, 2009 American League The Yankees sure miss Alex Rodriguez, but their pitching staff better figure out what to do with Carlos Pena, as the Tampa Bay first baseman went 3-for-6 last night with a pair of doubles, a grand slam and 6 RBI as the Rays stunned the Yanks, 15-5. Pena already has three homers on the year, to go with his 9 RBI. He's only walked 3 times, which seems like an option for Yankee hurlers as they continue with the second of their three-game series at Tampa, Tuesday. National League Pittsburgh's Zach Duke blanked the helpless Astros on 4 hits for a complete-game win, his second of the season, in a 7-0 Pirate win. The Astros have not scored a run since putting up a pair in the 9th inning of an 11-2 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday. Since then, Houston is 0-for-the-last-18-innings, and are 1-6 overall. Duke allowed just one run in his first 2009 start, going 6 1/3 against the Cardinals, which puts him in elite company, having an ERA (0.59) lower than his WHIP (0.89). Duke went 5-14 last season for Pittsburgh, but looks much improved in 2009.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mound Masters: Bedard, Harang, Lohse Dominant

Players of the Day for Sunday, April 12, 2009 American League Acquired from Baltimore following the 2007 season, Seattle's Erik Bedard was part of a 2008 season chock full of disappointment, spending much of the season on the DL, while still going 6-4 with a 3.67 ERA. Now recovered from shoulder issues, the left-hander worked 8 1/3 innings of shutout ball in his second start of the season, helping the punchless Mariners slip past Oakland, 1-0. Bedard, who allowed only 3 hits and one walk, struck out 7 for his first win of 2009. National League Two starters tossed complete-game shutouts on Sunday, so they both get a share of player of the day honors. Kyle Lohse (left) earned his second win of the season with a 3-hit gem against Houston, leading to a 3-0 St. Louis win. Lohse didn't walk anyone and struck out 4 batters. His ERA dropped to 1.13, while the WHIP came down to a minuscule 0.56. In Cincinnati, the Reds scored two first inning runs and starter Aaron Harang (right) made them stand up, blanking the Pirates for the duration and the 2-0 Reds' win. Harang evened his record at 1-1, allowing 3 hits without a walk while fanning 9 Pirates, including Nate McLouth 3 times. The 6'7" San Diegan threw 80 of 108 pitches for strikes, lowered his ERA to 0.64 and is just 8 Ks away from 1000 for his career.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sabathia Blanks Royals for 7 2/3; Pujols Slam, 3-Run Shot Grounds Astros

Players of the Day for Saturday, April 11, 2009 American League Following an opening day disaster (4.1 innings, 8 hits, 6 runs in a 10-5 loss to Baltimore), C.C. Sabathia quickly dispelled all doubts about his ability, delivering an impressive 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball and a 6-1 Yankee win at Kansas City. Sabathia threw 108 pitches (71 for strikes), allowed six hits while striking out six to even his record at 1-1. Aided by a pair of double plays, Sabathia got into a little bit of trouble in the fourth and fifth innings, but managed to get the third out with runners on base each time. He also plunked a pair of batters, helping to keep those in the batter's box off balance and leery of inside pitches. The Yankees improved to 3-2 and are 1 1/2 games behind Toronto, the AL East leaders. National League There are only a few players in major league baseball who can turn games around with one swing of the bat, but possibly the most polished and deadly is St. Louis' Albert Pujols, who actually did his damage with two swings in Saturday's 11-2 thrashing of Houston. With a grand slam in the 5th and a three-run shot in the 7th, Pujols vaulted into ties for both the NL home run and RBI leads and kept the Cardinals in first place in the NL Central, 1/2 game ahead of the Pirates and Cubs. Pujols (maybe we can just start calling him "Albert") has knocked out 3 homers and has 9 RBI, which tied him with Florida's Hanley Ramirez.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cabrera Drives in 6 as Tigers Roll; Werth 4-for-4

Players of the Day for Friday, April 10, 2009 American League There's that man again. Detroit's Miguel Cabrera is off to an incredibly hot start. On Friday, he hit his third homer of the season, a 4th inning grand slam, and doubled in a couple more in a 6-run 7th, as the Tigers walloped the Rangers, 15-2. Cabrera also singled, going 3-for-5 with 6 RBI, putting his batting average at .611 and his RBI total at 10. National League The Philadelphia Phillies aren't off to a very good start in defense of their 2008 championship, having won just once in four tries. Last night, ace starter Cole Hamels was roughed up at Colorado, allowing 11 hits and 7 runs in just 3 2/3 innings. On the bright side, Jayson Werth rapped out 4 hits in four at-bats, including a pair of singles, a double and a ninth-inning solo homer run. Werth scored all three of Philadelphia's runs in the 10-3 Colorado rout.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Swisher Leads Yanks to 1st Win; Carpenter Gets 1st Win Since '06

Players of the Day for Thursday, April 9, 2009 American League The Yankees avoided being swept by the Orioles and got their first win of the season Thursday, pounding out 13 hits in an 11-2 win at Baltimore. Three of those hits came off Nick Swisher's bat, as he mashed a two-run homer in the 4th, singled in another in the 6th and, for good measure, doubled in two more in the 9th, giving him 5 RBI while upping his batting average to .667. Swisher, who started his major league career with Oakland, spent a somewhat disappointing season - batting just .219 - with the White Sox in 2008 before coming over to New York. National League The St. Louis Cardinals evened their record at 2-2 with a 2-1 win over Pittsburgh and may have something cooking in the NL Central if Chris Carpenter stays healthy and returns to the form of 2004-2006, when he went a combined 51-18. Carpenter pitched only 21 innings in 2006 and 2007, but had everything working in his seven innings of work Thursday, allowing just one hit while walking 2 and fanning 7. The run allowed was unearned, making Carpenter's first win in two years about as good as anyone could have expected.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ramirez Drives in 4 for Cubs; Cabrera Bangs 2 Homers in Tiger Win

Players of the Day for Wednesday, April 8 American League It's a good thing the Detroit Tigers picked up Miguel Cabrera last season, because he was one of the few bright spots on this aging roster. Last season, Cabrera batted .292 with 37 homers and 127 RBI, the homers and ribbies were tops for the team. Cabrera is picking right up where he left off, blasting a pair of homers in Wednesday's 5-1 win over Toronto, accounting for all but one of the Tigers' runs. With a three run shot in the first inning and a solo blast in the 5th, Cabrera single-handedly grounded the Blue Jays, and got the Tigers their first win in three tries this season. He also added a single, going 3-for-4, upping his batting average to .700, with 7 hits in 10 at-bats. National League Scoring 4 runs in each of the first two innings, the Chicago Cubs were well on their way to an 11-6 win over Houston and a 2-1 record in the NL Central, tied for first with the Pirates (you won't see that very often this year). Aramis Ramirez, who contributed to the outburst with RBI singles in the first and second, added a couple more in the 5th, when he doubled home Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome, making the score 10-4. Ramirez added another single, going 4-for-5 with 4 RBI on the night.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Beckett, BoSox Top Rays; Jimenez Shuts Out D-Backs

Players of the Day for Tuesday, April 7 American League Josh Beckett is back and in mid-season form, or so it would seem to the reigning AL champions, Tampa Bay. Beckett stymied the Rays on 2 hits over 7 innings, fanning 10 while allowing just one run. Boston won their home opener, 5-3, with Jonathan Papelbon picking up the save. Beckett was able to relax after his teammates built a 4-1 lead in the 3rd inning and he had all of his stuff working including a nice moving fastball. Boston's burly starter struck out Tampa strongman, Carlos Pena, three times and was ahead in the count on almost every batter he faced. National League When the season started, Ubaldo Jiménez was a .500 starter, with 16 wins and 16 losses, but, following his 7 shutout innings in Colorado's 3-0 win over Arizona, he looks to become better than that as the 2009 season progresses. Jimenez was in complete control Tuesday night, allowing 4 hits and 3 walks over 7 strong innings, striking out 8 D-Backs in the process. The Rockies' rightie reached the upper limit of his pitch count, throwing 107 pitches, 61 for strikes, but the Colorado relief corps of Manny Corpas and Huston Street mopped up with an inning of work each.

Lind's 6 RBI Powers Jays; Ramirez Slam Lifts Marlins

Players of the Day, Monday, April 6 American League Not known for amazing power, Tornoto's Adam Lind put on a little bit of a show in the Blue Jays' opening day, 12-5 win over visiting Detroit. The 3rd-year outfielder was in the starting lineup as DH, and he came through with 4 hits, one of them a 3-run, 4th inning blast which put the Blue Jays ahead 9-1. Lind singled in the first, driving in a pair of runs, and drove in another in the 8th inning to give his 6 RBI on the day. National League Hanley Ramirez picked right up where he left off last season, leading the Florida Marlins to a 12-6 home opening victory of the Nationals with a double and grand slam homer. Ramirez doubled in a run and scored in the 3rd inning, then finished off Florida's scoring with his slam in the 6th inning. Last season, Ramirez batted .301, with 33 homers and 67 RBI. Looking to improve on those numbers, he's off to a great start this season.