Sunday, May 31, 2009

Howard Slam Sets Team Mark; Kinsler a Leadoff Leader

Players of the Day for Saturday, May 30, 2009 American League Ian Kinsler singled in a pair of runs in the 5th inning and doubled home two more in the 7th as part of a 17-hit assault in the Rangers' 14-1 trouncing of Oakland. Kinsler's 4 RBI gave him 39 on the season, the best for a leadoff batter in either league. Texas, meanwhile, is mauling the AL West, upping its lead to 5 1/2 games as the Angels lost to Seattle, 4-3, in 10 innings on Saturday. Kinsler, whose batting average is down to a pedestrian 281, has improved his slugging percentage (.561) with 13 homers and 12 doubles among his 55 hits. National League Ryan Howard set a team mark as the Phillies vaulted back into first place in the NL East - 1/2 game over the Mets - topping Washington, 9-6. Howard smacked the eighth grand slam of his career, one better than Phillie legend Mike Schmidt, in the third inning, after delivering a solo shot in the second. The two homers were #s 13 and 14 on the season and the five RBI gave Howard 39. NOTES: Baltimore's Luke Scott continued banging away, homering for the 4th straight game in Baltimore's 6-3 loss to Detroit. The loss snapped a Baltimore five-game win streak, though Scott - who earned back-to-back POTD honors on Thursday and Friday - continued his hitting streak to 7 games. --- The LA Dodgers may be dominating the weakest division in baseball, the NL West, where only LA, at 34-17 (best in the majors), has a record above .500. The Giants are in second place, 9 1/2 games back, at 24-24. The Dodgers have feasted upon their divisional opponents, posting a 23-8 record against NL West teams. They are 8-3 against the NL East, but only 2-4 vs. the NL Central.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Scott Keeps Raking for O's; Marquis Blanks Padres

Players of the Day for Friday, May 30, 2009 American League Baltimore's Luke Scott has broken out in a big way. On Friday, Scott led the O's to their fifth straight win, a 7-2 thumping of Detroit, currently the AL Central Division leader. Scott pounded a grand slam in the 3rd inning and a solo homer in the 5th - both off Tiger starter Dontrelle Willis - to amass five more RBI (27 on the year), adding a single to complete a perfect 3-for-3 night at the plate. Scott's six-game hitting streak includes these numbers: 13-for-19 (.684), 6 home runs, 14 RBI, 10 runs. He's raised his batting average from .264 to .336. Pretty good. National League Things haven't gone very well for the Colorado Rockies in 2009, having won just 19 games this season while losing 28, dropping them to last place in the NL West. Starter Jason Marquis, however, is having a stand-out year, having accounted for more than a third of all Rockies' wins, hiking his record to 7-3 on Friday with an 8-inning shutout performance over the Padres for a 3-0 win. Making efficient use of his 106 pitches, Marquis scattered 6 hits, walked 4 and struck out 6. Now with his 4th team (Atlanta, St. Louis and Chicago were the first three), Marquis retains a winning profile at 86-73 lifetime.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Baltimore's Scott on Tear; Wolf Claws Cubs in 2-1 Dodger Win

Players of the Day for Thursday, May 29, 2009 American League Luke Scott provided all the offense necessary in Baltimore's 5-1 win over Detroit with a first inning solo home run and a three-run blast in the 8th. His 4 RBI were sufficient to support the pitching of rookie David Hernández, who picked up his first major league win in his first start, going 5 2/3 innings, on 5 hits, three walks and one earned run. Scott, who is batting a solid .318 in 31 games this season, launched his 7th and 8th homers, upping his RBI total to 22. Over the past 5 games, Scott has been a fantasy owner's dream, going 10-for-16 with 4 home runs, 9 RBI and 8 runs scored. National League Limited action in the National League, with just two games: the D-Backs topped the Braves, 5-2, while in Chicago, the Cubs lost for the 9th time in their last 11 games, while the Dodgers won the 9th in their last 11, beating the Cubs, 2-1, on the strength of Randy Wolf's 7 innings on the mound. Wolf, one of baseball's aging hurlers, will turn 43 in August, but has proven that he can still bring it on occasion, as he did last night, fanning seven while giving up 6 hits and a walk. The only run came in the 8th inning, on a leadoff solo home run by pinch hitter Bobby Scales, which sent Wolf to the showers. Ramon Troncoso picked up the 2-inning save - his third - but just barely, surrendering 3 hits and two walks during his six-out stint. Wolf improved to 3-1, with a 1.11 WHIP and a 2.84 ERA on the season.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Span's 4 Hits Lead Twins over BoSox; Arroyo, Bruce Lead Reds' 4th Straight

Players of the Day for Wednesday, May 27, 2009 American League The Minnesota Twins helped the Yankees tie Boston for first place in the AL East, knocking off the Red Sox, 4-2, as leadoff hitter Denard Span went 4-for-4 and scored twice. The win was Minnesota's second straight over the Red Sox, who had seized control of the division just days before. Third place Toronto has lost 9 in a row. Meanwhile, the Twins have taken over second place in the AL Central, 3 1/2 behind Detroit. Span, who, in his second year in the majors, has been in the leadoff spot most of the season for the Twins and is batting .316 with 11 steals and a .409 on-base percentage. National League While the Cardinals were taking over first place in the NL Central with a 3-2 win over Milwaukee, the Cincinnati Reds have quietly snuck into second place, just 1/2 behind the Brewers and 1 1/2 back of St. Louis, winning their 4th straight, 6-1 over Houston, as Bronson Arroyo (left) pitched a complete game for his 7th win against 3 losses and Jay Bruce (right) provided the bulk of the offense. Arroyo needed just 92 pitches to put away the inept Astro offense, sending Houston to their 7th straight loss. Allowing just 5 hits and one earned run, Arroyo was in complete control, walking one and striking out three. Bruce was far and away the hitting star of the night, smashing a solo shot in the 4th inning, a 2-run-shot in the 6th and delivering a run-scoring triple in the eighth inning to complete his 3-for-4, 4 RBI night. Bruce, in his second season as the Reds' regular right fielder, is off to a solid start with 14 home runs and 29 RBI, though his batting average is a touch low, at .241. The Reds will have every opportunity to take control of the division over the next week. After a day off Thursday, they travel to Milwaukee for a 3-game weekend series, then, on to St. Louis for a four-game deal with the Cards. NOTES: Randy Johnson (4-4) earned his 299th career victory, holding the Atlanta Braves in check over 6 solid innings, yielding just 3 hits and one earned run without walking anyone and striking out 5, including Chipper Jones three times. The Giants won the game, 6-3, setting up Johnson's chance at 300 for Wednesday in Washington against the punchless Nationals. While the Big Unit would prefer to pitch at home -where all four of his wins this season have come - he couldn't have hoped for a weaker offensive team to go against.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Greinke Gets 8th Win; Lincecum Shuts Out Braves Over 8

Players of the Day for Tuesday, May 26, 2009 American League Kansas City clawed back into second place in the AL Central, 3 games behind the Detroit Tigers, as Zack Greinke improved his record to 8-1, taming the Tigers in a 6-1 Royals win. After allowing a first-inning run on a Placido Polanco double and a Magglio Ordonez run-scoring single, Greinke toyed with the Tigers the rest of the way, hurling his 5th complete game of the season. Over the nine innings, the Royals' rightie allowed six hits while striking out eight. He threw 116 pitches, of which 79 went for strikes and did not issue any walks. Greinke's league-leading ERA stands at 0.84, slightly better than his astounding WHIP of 0.88. National League Tim Lincecum got his first decision in three weeks, shutting out the Atlanta Braves for 8 innings as the Giants beat Atlanta, 4-0, taking the first two games of the series and moving to within one game of .500 at 22-23. Lincecum (4-1) struck out 8, walked two and allowed just 5 hits before giving way to reliever Bob Howry, who pitched a perfect ninth inning. The San Fran ace also walked and scored a run in the Giants' second inning, the only inning in which any runs were produced. In just his third year in the majors, Lincecum, who turns 25 on June 15, has become one of the best pitchers in either league, having compiled a record of 29-11 during his short stay. This season, he's sporting a 3.03 ERA and a WHIP of 1.19. He's struck out 84 batters in 65 innings.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A-Rod 5-for-5; Pittsburgh's Sanchez 6-for-6

Players of the Day for Monday, May 25, 2009 American League The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, better known for home runs or performance-enhancing drugs, managed to come down to earth in New York's 11-1 win over Texas, rapping out three ordinary singles and a couple of doubles, driving in four runs and scoring twice. A-Rod's 5-for-5 night at the plate helped snap the Rangers' 3-game win streak, and moved the Yankees past Toronto, into second place behind Boston in the AL East, 1 1/2 games back. National League While A-Rod was going 5-for-5, Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez one-upped him, going 6-for-6 in the Pirates' wild, 10-8 win over the struggling Cubs, who have now lost 8 straight and are just one game ahead of Pittsburgh in the NL Central standings. Sanchez, who has been hovering around the .300 mark most of the year, had four singles, a double, a two-run homer, a stolen base, three RBI and 4 runs scored. He was a pretty busy guy, boosting his batting average from .297 to .320, while also turning a double play in the field. His 58 hits are tied for fifth with Philadelphia's Raul Ibanez. Washington's Ryan Zimmerman and LA's Orlando Hudson lead the league with 65 hits apiece. NOTES: There was no shortage of offense across the majors on Memorial Day, except in Milwaukee, where Bill Hall singled in the only run of the game in the bottom of the 10th inning for a 1-0 Milwaukee win over the Cardinals. Both starters - St. Louis Chris Carpenter and Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo - both went 8 innings and allowed just 2 hits each, but left the game tied and without a decision. Carpenter had a perfect game through 6 innings and finished without walking a batter while fanning 10. Elsewhere, double digits were the order of the day. The Yankees plated 11 in their win; The White Sox put up 17, Detroit scored 13, the Pirates scored 10 and the Dodgers crossed the plate 16 times, all of them winners. Tampa Bay scored 10 runs in the first four innings, but blew that 10-0 lead to Cleveland, who scored 7 in the bottom of the ninth, beating the Rays, 11-10. The Rays used four pitchers in the ninth inning, but could not get three outs. Eventually, it was Jason Isringhausen's 3 walks and Victor Martinez's 2-run single that ended the debacle.

Monday, May 25, 2009

McCann Leads Sweep of Blue Jays; McCarthy's First Shutout Keeps Rangers on Top

Players of the Day for Sunday, May 24, 2009 American League The Texas Rangers retained their 3-game lead in the AL West, getting everything they could out of starter Brandon McCarthy, who threw 124 pitches his his first complete game, 5-0 shutout over Houston. McCarthy scattered nine hits, including 4 from Miguel Tejada, and issued just one walk, pitching out of jams repeatedly. He struck out six, twice ended an inning with runners on second and third bases, and only got the side out in order in the 4th and 8th, improving his record to 4-2. National League The Toronto Blue Jays said goodbye to first place in the AL East Sunday, losing their sixth straight as the Atlanta Braves completed a three-game sweep with a 10-2 win at Turner Field. The Braves won the first two games by one-run margins, but left no doubt in the finale, as Brian McCann led the attack with a pair of homers and four RBI. McCann smacked a solo shot in the first inning, two outs after leadoff hitter Kelly Johnson left the yard, giving the Braves a 2-0 lead. Toronto battled back to tie the game, but the Braves responded with a 7-run 7th, highlighted by McCann's 3-run blast. McCann also singled, finishing 3-for-4, boosting his batting average to .303. NOTES: The Red Sox took over first place in the AL East with a 12-5 thumping of the Mets. They lead the blue Jays by 1/2 game. San Diego won their ninth straight, topping the Cubs - who have lost 7 in a row - 7-2. Only in the NL West can you win nine in a row and just make it to the .500 mark. That's where the Padres reside, at 22-22, in second place, 7 1/2 behind the runaway Dodgers.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lohse Delivers for Cards; Cruz on a Tear in Texas

Players of the Day for Saturday, May 23, 2009 American League The Texas Rangers have one of the most potent lineups in the majors, but one player who doesn't get much mention is emerging star Nelson Cruz, whose two homers and four RBI led the way to a 7-3 Rangers victory at Houston. Cruz smashed a three-run shot in the 4th inning to give the Rangers the lead, then he and teammate Hank Blaylock hit back-to-back solo homers to complete the scoring in the 6th. Cruz has had limited opportunities the past three seasons, but is playing full time this year and has responded with a .285 batting average, 11 homers and 30 RBI. His contributions are one reason the Rangers lead the Angels in the AL West by 3 games. National League The resurgent St. Louis Cardinals won their fifth straight game on Saturday, tying Milwaukee for the NL Central lead at 26-17. Kyle Lohse (4-3) delivered another strong mound performance, limiting the Royals to 4 hits, no walks and no runs over 8 innings, while striking out 6 for a 5-0 St. Louis win. Lohse's mound mastery was another in a string of outstanding work by the Cardinal starting five, who have allowed a combined 1 earned run during the five-game win streak. Each starter has earned a win as they swept the Cubs and now have taken two straight from the Royals. Lohse, who went 15-6 for St. Louis last season, is off to a solid start, joining Chris Carpenter, Todd Wellemeyer, Adam Wainwright and Jose Pineiro as the starting five.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cuddyer Cycles Twins to Win; Rookie Kawakami Tops Halladay, Jays

Players of the Day for Friday, May 22, 2009 American League Interleague play began Friday, and the Minnesota Twins bats kept booming. Just one night after hammering the White Sox, 20-1, the Twins welcomed the Brewers for the first of a three-game series. While the Twins didn't exactly tear the cover off the ball, they did amass 12 hits in an 11-3 victory, four of those belonging to Michael Cuddyer, who hit for the cycle. Cuddyer began his historic night with a first-inning three-run homer, then doubled and scored in the third, singled in a run in the fourth and completed the cycle by legging out a triple in the sixth, driving in his fifth run of the evening. Cuddyer, having a productive season with a .291 batting average, 9 homers and 30 RBI, has been on a hot streak. He also had four hits in Thursday's romp. National League Roy Halladay doesn't lose often, especially when he pitches like he did in Atlanta Friday, surrendering just five hits and no runs while fanning 6 over 7 innings. Actually, Halladay didn't take the loss, reliever Jesse Carlson did that, as Atlanta rookie Kenshin Kawakami spun a 3-hit gem, striking out 8 without giving up a walk over 8 innings as the Braves topped Toronto, 1-0. Kawakami, who notched his third win against five losses, recorded his longest outing of the season, and easily his best. A native of Japan, Kawakami has registered a decision in each of his 8 starts, carries an ERA of 4.73 and has struck out 42 batters in 45 2/3 innings.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mauer, Twins Maul ChiSox; Utley Stars for Phillies

Players of the Day for Thursday, May 21, 2009 American League After dropping the first two of their three-game series at Chicago, the Minnesota Twins were determined not to be swept, and as starter Nick Blackburn rolled through 7 innings of shutout ball (4 hits, 3 BB, 2 Ks), the Twins set to work building an insurmountable lead. By the time Blackburn had proven his mastery over the White Sox lineup, Joe Mauer and the Twins put up 20 runs, easily their most productive single game of the season. Mauer, taking a break from catching duties at DH, doubled twice, hit a grand slam home run and drove in another run with a sacrifice fly, amassing 6 RBI to up his season total to 24 and boost his major league best batting average to an astonishing .417. The White Sox did finally get a single run in the bottom of the 8th, and even that was unearned, making the 20-1 thumping not much more comforting. Mauer, widely regarded as the AL's best catcher and one of the top hitters in either league, is well on his way to another outstanding season both behind and aside the plate. He's already led the league in batting twice - in 2006 (.347) and 2008 (.328) - and he's well on his way to doing it again in 2009. National League With Florida losing and the Mets getting a night off, Chase Utley and the Philadelphia Phillies made the most of it, battering the Cincinnati pitching staff for 14 hits and 5 walks in a 12-5 road win. Utley, one of the game's most under-appreciated players, singled, doubled and homered in 4 at-bats, driving in 4 runs and scoring twice. Often in the shadow of Jimmy Rollins, Raul Ibanez and Ryan Howard, Utley is quietly hitting a solid .295 with 30 RBI and 11 home runs. The Phillies lead the Mets by 1 1/2 games in the contentious NL East.

Upton's Dual Bombs Down Marlins; Dye's Slam Dumps Twins

Players of the Day for Wednesday, May 20, 2009 American League Detroit is leading the AL Central by two games, but the White Sox are the kind of team likely to be heard from before long. In Wednesday's 7-4 thumping of division rival Minnesota, the Sox not only caught the Twins in the standings, but won their second straight over the Twins, pulling themselves to within 5 1/2 games of the Tigers. After taking the lead in the bottom of the 4th inning, 3-2, Jermaine Dye pretty much sealed the deal with a grand slam off Twins' starter Francisco Liriano, sending him to an early exit. Dye's homer was his 10th of the season for the White Sox, 1/4 of the team's total. National League The Arizona Diamondbacks will have to step it up if they hope to catch the Dodgers in the NL West, the most lopsided division in baseball. Los Angeles, the only team in the division with a winning record, leads San Francisco by 8 1/2 games. The Diamondbacks are in 4th place, 12 games off the pace. The Diamondbacks have been getting improved performance from right fielder Justin Upton, who homered twice in Arizona's 11-9, 13-inning win at Florida on Wednesday. Upton went 4-for-7 in the marathon event, belting a pair of 3-run homers - one in the 3rd inning and one in the 13th, the game winner - driving in 6 runs and scoring 3 times. Besides the homers, Upton delivered a pair of singles and stole his 4th base of the season. Upton's stats are more than solid: 9 Homers, 26 RBI and a .313 batting average.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pineiro 3-Hits Cubs; Wakefield Rebounds for Red Sox

Players of the Day for Tuesday, May 19, 2009 American League Following a rough outing against the Angels, in which he was touched up for 7 runs on 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings, Boston's 42-year-old Tim Wakefield rebounded with his best performance of the season in a key game against the AL East leading Toronto Blue Jays. Wakefield, getting the start in the opener of the three-game set at Fenway, went 8 solid innings, allowing just one earned run - Kevin Millar's 5th inning homer - on 5 hits and two walks. The Boston bats produced just enough runs to down the Jays 2-1 and close to within 2 1/2 games of the division lead. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth to record his 11th save. Wakefield improved to 5-2. National League The St. Louis Cardinals have cooled off after a torrid start, but are still in the thick of the NL Central race. By topping the Cubs, 3-0, on Tuesday, St. Louis pulled into a 2nd place tie with Chicago, 3 games back of Milwaukee. With the Cardinals' bats slumbering, Joel Pineiro went the distance, shutting out the Cubs on 3 hits, allowing no walks and striking out 5. Pineiro, who was expected to solidify the Cardinals' rotation last season, but finished with a 7-7 record, got his fifth win of the season against just two losses. It was Pineiro's 10th complete game and 4th shutout of his 10 year major league career. NOTES: The Yankees and Brewers are each riding 7-game winning streaks. New York has clawed to within 3 1/2 games of the lead in the AL East, but still trail Boston by a game and Toronto. The Brewers have vaulted to the top of the NL Central with their good fortune, establishing a 3-game lead over both St. Louis and Chicago. The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez homered for the 4th straight game. His bat has been instrumental in getting New York back to winning ways.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rays' Bartlett Batters A's; Wilson, Bucs Swat Nats

Players of the Day for Monday, May 18, 2009 American League The reigning AL champs, Tampa Bay, remain mired near the bottom of the AL East, though they are only 6 1/2 games behind division-leader Toronto, and it's still mid-May. By thumping Oakland 13-4 on Monday, the Rays reached the .500 level, at 20 up and 20 down, thinks to a 4-for-4 performance by shortstop Jason Bartlett, who has found his groove this season. Bartlett rapped out a pair of singles and a triple in three at-bats, driving in a season-high 5 runs and crossing the plate himself three times. A career .285 hitter in 4 seasons with Minnesota and one with the Rays (2008), Bartlett is smacking the rawhide at a healthy .384 clip, second in the AL. Bartlett has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games. The Rays have won four straight. National League Pittsburgh won their third straight game, opening a 4-game series at Washington with a 12-7 win. Shortstop Jack Wilson spearheaded the assault with 4 hits in 4 at-bats, including a pair of doubles and a triple. Wilson drove in two in the top of the 6th inning, tying the game at 5-5, and scored moments later to give the Pirates the lead for good. Overall he scored three times and reached base in all five of his plate appearances, as he was issued a base on balls in his final trip to the dish in the ninth inning. Wilson upped his batting average to .293.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Santiago's 4-for-4 Puts Tigers on Top; McLouth Powers Pirates

Players of the Day for Sunday, May 17, 2009 American League The Tigers took a 1-game lead in the AL Central with an 11-7 win over Oakland on Sunday, but it wasn't the usual sluggers at the top of the order who delivered the goods. Down in the #8 spot, utility infielder Ramon Santiago put on a hitting clinic with two singles, a triple and a three-run homer, four RBi and 3 runs. Santiago, who is used as a replacement for second baseman Placido Polanco or shortstop Adam Everett, may be playing his way into a permanent lineup spot. In just 54 at-bats, Santiago has 19 hits, 3 homers, 19 RBi and is hitting a very respectable .352. National League Despite beating up on the Rockies in an 11-4 win Sunday, the Pirates are back where they've spent much of the decade, last place in the NL Central. One bright spot for Pittsburgh is center fielder Nate McLouth, who began his major league career as a leadoff hitter because of his blinding speed. Pirates' management soon discovered that McLouth was much more than just a speedster, and moved him into the power positions in the lineup. He responded with 26 homers and 94 RBI in 2008, and is off to a solid start in 2009, with 7 dingers and 28 ribbies. On Sunday, batting out of the three hole, McLouth hit a solo homer in the third, and then led a 10-run 7th-inning with a single, driving in two, scored, and later doubled, plating the final Pirate tally. McLouth's night was 3-for-5 with 4 RBI and a pair of runs scored. McLouth still has that blazing speed, though he's stolen only 5 bases this season without being caught. In his short career, he's only been thrown out 5 times in 67 steal attempts.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Teixeira Lead Yanks to 11-inning Win; Beltran Takes NL Batting Lead

Players of the Day for Saturday, May 16, 2009 American League The Yankees rallied for a 6-4, 11-inning win over the Twins on Alex Rodriguez's 2-run homer, but it was the man on base that kept the Yankees in the game - slugging Mark Teixeira, who went 4-for-4, cracked a 3-run homer in the 3rd inning, singled home the tying run in the 8th and scored the game-winner after walking to lead off the 11th. Along with the homer, Teixeira added a pair of singles and a double, collected 4 RBI and scored twice. National League Carlos Beltran singled and doubled twice in five at-bats, driving in three runs and scoring three times in the Mets' 9-6 victory at San Francisco. Beltran, hitting the quietest .379 imaginable, currently leads the NL in batting and has helped the Mets gain and maintain their 1 1/2-game lead in the NL East over the Phillies. The Mets remain red-hot on their coastal road trip, taking their third straight from the Giants on Saturday, and will be seeking the four-game sweep on Sunday.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Detroit's Double Slam Crushes A's; Mets Have Mr. Wright

Players of the Day for Friday, May 15, 2009 American League Detroit's Ryan Raburn (left) and Brandon Inge (right) each belted grand slam homers and drove in five runs apiece as the Tigers hammered the punchless A's, 14-1. Raburn hit his homer in the first inning to get the Tigers off to a hot start, while Inge waited until the sixth inning for his bases-loaded blast to pretty much finish things off. Inge singled home Clete Thomas in the 8th for an additional RBI. Thomas and Miguel Cabrera each had 3 hits and 4 runs in the rout. Raburn's homer was his first of the season; for Inge, his 10th. The win kept the Tigers tied for first in the AL Central with Kansas City. National League David Wright remains one of the hottest hitters in the National League, boosting his average to .341 Friday with a 3-for-5 effort (double, 3 singles), a stolen base, 4 RBI and a run scored in New York's 8-6 win over Washington. Wright has hit safely in his last seven games and has been an integral part of New York's rise to the top of the AL East, which they lead by 2 games over Philly and Atlanta. Friday's effort was Wright's 5th multiple-hit game in his last seven.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Martinez Ups Average to .400; Wright's 4 Thefts Lead Mets

Players of the Day for Thursday, May 14, 2009 American League The Cleveland Indians may be in last place in the contentious AL Central, but they are only 4 1/2 games back and showing signs of life. Thursday at Tampa Bay, Cleveland bats boomed in an 11-7 clubbing at Tampa Bay with Victor Martinez leading the way with a 4-for-4 effort, including a pair of doubles, four RBI and a couple of runs scored. Martinez, who has been batting over .300 since the second game of the season, upped his average to a cool .400 with his 14th multiple hit game of the season. National League David Wright had a busy night in the Mets' 7-4 victory at San Francisco. In the 1st inning, he singled and stole second. In the 3rd, he singled home a run and stole second again, while Gary Sheffiled scored on a wild pitch. He was walked in both the 5th and 7th innings, and stole second base for the third time in the 7th. Finally, with the score tied 4-4 in the top of the 9th, Wright singled in Carlos Beltran, then executed a double steal with Sheffield taking third while he took second, tying a club record with 4 thefts in a game. A batter later, he and Sheffield scored insurance runs on Ramon Castro's single to complete the scoring. Wright finished 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI, a run scored, a couple of walks and 4 steals. The Mets' win boosted their lead in the NL East to 2 games over idle Atlanta and Philadelphia, 5-3 losers to the Dodgers.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Crede's Slam Finishes Marathon; Berkman 4-for-4 in Houston Hit-Fest

Players of the Day for May 13, 2009 American League After battling for 12 innings, the situation looked bleak for the Twins when Detroit's Curtis Granderson tripled and scored on Jesse Crain's balk in the top of the 13th. That made the score 10-9 with Minnesota coming to bat in the bottom of the inning. Jason Kubel led off the frame with a single and was replaced by pinch-runner Nick Punto, who was sacrificed to second by Denard Span and scored on Matt Tolbert's scratch single, tying the game again. After a ground out by Joe Mauer and walks to Justin Morneau andMichael Cuddyer loaded the bases, Joe Crede launched his 5th home run of the season, ending the contest with Minnesota on top, 14-10. Crain, who was the goat a half-inning earlier, took home the win. Crede, after nine seasons in the AL Central with the White Sox, is proving his value in his first season as a Twin. It was the Twins' second straight win over Detroit. Minnesota goes for the home sweep on Thursday. The Tigers remain in a tie for first in the division with Kansas City, with Minnesota a game back. National League The hits just kept coming in the second game of Houston's three-game set at Colorado. After being bombed by the Rockies, 12-1 in the first game, Houston came back with a vengeance, knocking out 24 hits in a 15-11 win. Every starter had at least two hits, including starting pitcher Mike Hampton, who singled twice and scored a pair of runs. Miguel Tejada had three hits, scored three times and drove in three, Geoff Blum doubled twice and drove in five, but Lance Berkman topped the hit parade with four singles in four at-bats, scoring 3 times and driving in two runs. Berkman, who has been in a wicked slump since the start of the season, may be finally coming around for the struggling Astros. The four-hit effort raised his batting average from .187 to .216. NOTES: Ryan Zimmerman's hitting streak ended on Wednesday night at San Francisco, as the Nationals' third baseman went hitless in three at-bats with a pair of walks. despite the 0-for-3 effort, Zimmerman's batting average of .357 ranks fifth in the National League. His 51 hits are tops in the league, with LA's Orlando Hudson two back at 49 and a .348 batting average.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Halladay Stymies Yankees; Hawpe, Stewart Crush Astros

Players of the Day for Tuesday, May 12, 2009 American League Roy Halladay continued his dominance over the Yankees, and, ostensibly, the rest of the league, with a 5-hit complete game win as the Blue Jays topped New York, 5-1. Halladay improved to a major league-high 7 wins against just one loss, fanning five while walking none. The only run he allowed came in the 7th inning, when Alex Rodriguez singled home Johnny Damon. Otherwise, he was in complete control, upping his career record against the Yankees is 16-5. Hallady's ERA is a rather pedestrian 2.65, but his WHIP is 1.03 and his strikeout to walk ratio is 7-1 (49-7). Plus, his Blue Jays lead the AL East by a game over the Red Sox. The Yankees are 6 1/2 back. National League The Colorado Rockies pounded Houston 12-1 Tuesday, as Brad Hawpe (left) and Ian Stewart (right) each drove in 5 runs. Hawpe went 4-for-4, singling twice, doubling and knocking a two-run homer while Stewart hit a solo homer and a grand slam. Both players scored twice in the rout, Colorado's second straight win. The Rockies host Houston for two more games at the mile-high launching pad.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Choo Leads Indians Past White Sox; Reds' Taveras Goes 5-for-5

Players of the Day for Monday, May 11, 2009 American League Just one game in the AL on Monday, so the POTD comes from the Cleveland Indians, who pounded the White Sox, 9-4. The guy who got things going for the Indians was Shin-Soo Choo, who singled in a run in the first inning and knocked home two more with a single in the Indians' 4-run 4th inning. With a six-run lead, all the Sox could do was chip away, but it wasn't nearly enough. Choo, Cleveland's regular right fielder this season, is batting .278 with 17 RBI. National League Cincinnati trounced Arizona, 11-5, on Monday, putting the Reds into a second place tie with Milwaukee, 2 games behind the NL Central-leading Cardinals. The Reds have been a pleasant surprise in 2008, with an 18-14 record thus far. In Monday's mashing, the offense was led by leadoff hitter Willy Taveras, who came to the Reds in the off-season after spending a couple of years with the Rockies. Taveras went 5-for-5 (all singles), scored four runs and drove in a pair. He also stole his 8th base of the season and extended his hitting streak to 12 games. NOTES: Speaking of hitting streaks, Washington's Ryan Zimmerman extended the season's longest streak to 28 games with a pair of homers and two singles. Zimmerman's 4 RBI wasn't enough for the Nats, however, as they dropped an 11-7 decision at San Francisco.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cecil Gets 1st ML Win; Tejada, Lee Stone Padres

Players of the Day for Sunday, May 10, 2009 American League Toronto's Brett Cecil got his first major league win with a dandy, 5-hit, 8-inning shutout effort. The Pitching-rich Blue Jays took the final two games of their three-game set at Oakland with an easy 5-0 win. They head back home with the best record in the AL and a 1-game lead over Boston in the heady AL East. Cecil, acquired by the Blue jays in the 2007 supplemental draft, had a solid outing in his first ever major league start on May 5, going 6 innings and giving up 6 hits and 1 earned run, though he didn't receive a decision in the 10-6 Blue Jay win. The rookie left no doubt, however, on Sunday, walking just 2 batters while fanning 6 and getting another 12 outs on ground balls. National League The Houston Astros won their third straight Sunday, with a 12-5 pounding of San Diego - a team with a record worse than Houston's sub-par 14-17. Carlos Lee (left) and Miguel Tejada (right), had nearly identical stats on the night. Both had three hits, including a homer, drove in four runs and scored twice, Lee doing his damage in 4 at-bats, while Tejada took five. Tejada's first-inning, two-run blast was his second of the year, while Lee's 8th-inning, two-run homer was his sixth. Ivan Rodriguez also went 4-for-4 with a solo home run in the rout, which completed a weekend three-game sweep of the Padres, who trail Los Angeles in the NL West by 8 1/2 games. Houston is in 5th place in the Central, 5 1/2 back of St. Louis.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Longoria Rips Red Sox; Saunders Outduels Greinke; LA's Stults Blanks Giants

Players of the Day for Saturday, May 9, 2009 American League In the AL on Saturday, two players exhibited the kind of performance worthy of POTD status, so we present them both: Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria continues to prove that his outstanding rookie season of 2008 was certainly no fluke. Though the Rays are still under .500 (15-17), Longoria brought the wood with him in Tampa's 14-5 plastering at Boston. After starting the Rays' scoring with a two-run homer in the 1st inning, Longoria capped a 6-run uprising in the 5th inning, doubling home another pair and later scoring, walked and scored in the 6th and finished the scoring for the Rays with a sac fly in the 7th inning. 2-for-4, 3 runs, 5 RBI adds up to a pretty good night. Longoria's 44 RBI leads the majors and his 11 home runs leave him two behind teammate Carlos Pena's 13. Across the country in Anaheim, the Angels figured out a way to beat KC's Zack Greinke (6-1). Start with a third inning double by Gary Matthews Jr., a sacrifice bunt moves him to third and a Chone Figgins sac fly gets him home. Oh, and have your starting pitcher, Joe Saunders (5-1), toss a five-hit, complete game shutout, striking out 6 and giving up just one walk. That's what it took, because Greinke, under any other circumstances, wins the game. He went the distance, allowing just 4 hits, no walks and the one earned run. But last night, Saunders was just a little bit better, resulting in a 1-0 Angels win. National League Out in Chavez Ravine, Eric Stults (4-1) was doing his best to keep the Dodgers in first place in the NL West with a 4-hit, complete game shutout over northern rival San Francisco. Stults didn't necessarily have to be a good as he was, getting plenty of plate support in LA's 8-0 win. While Stultz's numbers aren't all that great (3.58 ERA, 1.41 WHIP), he does produce wins, having gotten a positive decision in 4 of his 6 starts this season. Saturday's win evened his lifetime record at 8-8. NOTES: The red-hot NY Mets won their 6th straight Saturday, tying for first place in the NL East with the Marlins, 1/2 game ahead of the Phillies. On the not-so-hot side of the ledger are the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have dropped seven straight, and the Seattle Mariners, who after a hot start have given up their AL West lead to the Rangers and Angels. Texas leads the division by 1/2 game over LA. The Mariners are 1 1/2 back.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Verlander's 2-Hit Gem Strangles Tribe; Delgado Leads Mets to 5th Straight Win

Players of the Day for Friday, May 8, 2009 American League Justin Verlander outdueled Cleveland's Cliff Lee, allowing 2 hits and 2 walks in Detroit's 1-0 squeaker over the Indians. Verlander allowed a single in the first inning, but gave up no more hits until Victor Martinez's 1-out double in the 7th. Martinez was the only Indian baserunner to reach second. Improving his record to 3-2, Verlander punched out 11 batters on strikes and faced just two more than the minimum, in complete command throughout the complete game - the fourth of his career - despite the tight score. The Tigers didn't get on the board until the top of the eighth, but Detroit's ace made it stand up. Verlander has won 3 straight and has allowed just 11 hits and 1 earned run in his last 23 innings, while striking out 31. National League The NY Mets won their fifth straight as Carlos Delgado provided 5 RBI in their 7-3 win over the visiting Pirates. After singling home a pair of runs in the first inning, Delgado delivered the game-changing blow with a three-run homer in the 8th inning, as the mets erupted for 5 runs in the inning. An uneventful single in the 6th rounded out a 3-for-5 night for the All-Star first baseman. New York is now tied with the Marlins, both 1/2 game behind Philadelphia in the NL East. Off to somewhat of a slow start, Delgado's home run was just his 4th of the season. He needs just 27 more long balls to join the 500 club. That would make his eventual entry into the Hall of Fame nearly a certainty. He already has surpassed 2000 hits and 1500 RBI in his exceptional career.