Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Byrd's Bombs Ground Angels; Marquis Tosses 2-Hit Gem

Players of the Day for Tuesday, June 30, 2009 American League The battle for the AL West is being won by the Angels, but after Tuesday's 9-5 win by the Rangers, there's a palpable feeling that the war has just begun. Having taken the first of their three-game series, 5-2, on Monday, the Angels had assumed a 2 1/2 game lead in the division and was looking to add to it. Enter Marlon Byrd, the unheralded outfielder who's become a regular since Josh Hamilton was sidelined due to injury. All Bryd did was single-handedly smash the Angels' with a pair of home runs - a two-run shot in the first inning and a three-run bomb in the 4th - the latter of which turned a 4-3 Texas lead into an insurmountable 7-3 edge. Byrd, always an asset in the field, has been a solid contributor at the plate for the Rangers, batting .286 with 7 homers and 39 RBI. The win closed the gap on the Angels to 1 1/2 games with the rubber game of the series tonight at Arlington. National League Sooner or later somebody's going to toss a no-hitter, and it will probably come from the National League, where there have been numerous close calls of late. The most current was Tuesday's complete game, two-hit shutout by Jason Marquis, as Colorado topped the Dodgers, 2-0, evening their three-game series at a game apiece and making the NL West race - which looked like a Dodger runaway a month ago - more interesting every day. Marquis (10-5) was a mound model of efficiency, using just 86 pitches (66 strikes) to cut down the Dodgers without issuing a walk. While Marquis fanned just three, he did record 17 outs on ground balls, at one point - between the 2nd and 8th inning - set down 18 straight batters and didn't allow a runner to even reach second base. Becoming the first National League pitcher to reach 10 wins, he bested Dodger ace Chad Billingsley (9-4), who was also seeking the same honor. The Rockies have won 21 of their last 25 games and have drawn to within 7 1/2 games of the front-running Dodgers. The Giants, currently lodged in second place, have won 3 straight, 8 of their last 11, and are just 6 games behind LA. NOTES: While those Western division races are heating up, the AL East is rounding into mid-summer form, thanks to the last place Baltimore Orioles, who battered Boston's bullpen for 10 runs in the largest comeback in O's history. Down 10-1 entering the bottom of the 7th, the O's exploded for 5 runs in each of the 7th and 8th innings to top the BoSox, 11-10. Boston's loss was New York and Tampa Bay's gain, with the Yankees and Rays pulling to within 2 1/2 and 4 games respectively. The Yankees have won 6 straight while the Rays are on a 7 game roll.

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