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.

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