Friday, June 5, 2009

Big Unit Joins 300-Win Club; Twins' Kubel Hammers Indians

Players of the Day for Thursday, June 4, 2009 American League Jason Kubel moved into the 4-spot behind slugging Justin Morneau and had himself a whale of a night at the plate in the Twins' 11-3 pounding of Cleveland. With the two guys in front of him - Joe Mauer (3-for-4, 4 runs) and Morneau (3-for-3, 3 runs, 3 RBI) - were on base consistently, Kubel did a nice job picking them up, driving in six runs with a three-run homer in the first and another in the second inning. He also added a double, completing a 3-for-4 performance. Not noted for his power - the two homers gave him 7 on the season - Kubel is hitting for average, checking in at .322, which puts him in third place on his team. Mauer is blazing at .436, while Morneau is belting at a .348 clip. The Twins are in second place in the AL Central, trying to chase down the Tigers, 2 1/2 games ahead. Detroit has lost 3 straight. National League The youthful San Francisco Giants swept a double-header from Washington, winning 5-1 and 4-1, the second game a rain-sortened 6 inning affair, but it was the elder statesman on the squad, Randy Johnson, who stole the spotlight, racking up win #300 in the opener. Johnson, 45, was in vintage form, allowing just two hits and an unearned run over 6 innings, walking two and striking out a pair. The Nationals' sole run came in the 6th, with the Giants nursing a 2-0 lead, on a rare throwing error by Edgar Renteria. After the run scored, however, Johnson, unflappable as always, got out of the inning with minimal damage. While the relief corps took over, Johnson had to wait it out, but when the Giants scored 3 more runs in the top of the ninth, the Big Unit's place in baseball history was assured. In 1988, Johnson broke into the majors with the Montreal Expos, but really didn't begin to gain notoriety until 1991 with the Seattle Mariners, when his blazing fastball and diving slider began to baffle batters around the American League. Eventually, Johnson would lead his league in strikeouts 9 times, win 5 Cy Young Awards (1 with Seattle, 4 with Arizona) and put up Hall of Fame stats: 300 wins, 164 losses, 3.28 ERA. 1.17 WHIP, 4845 strikeouts in 4097 1/3 innings. And he's not done yet. With their twin killing of the Nats, the Giants pushed past the .500 mark (27-25) and into sole possession of second place in the NL West, 8 games behind the LA Dodgers. Somewhat of a surprise, the Giants have held their own in the division (13-15), and have winning records against the East (8-5) and Central (5-3)

No comments: