Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cabrera, Tigers Keep Hold of 1st; Cain hurls Giants to Wild Card Lead

Players of the Day for Wednesday, July 29, 2009 American League Detroit maintained its 2-game lead in the AL Central, but Minnesota has moved a game ahead of Chicago and into second place with 4 straight wins while the Sox have dropped three in a row. The Tigers have struggled to keep hold of first place, but avoided a sweep in Texas with a 13-5 thumping of the Rangers on Wednesday. Leading the offense was Miguel Cabrera, who went 4-for-6, including a run-producing double in the 5th and a 3-run blast - his 20th - in the 7th as the Tigers banged out 19 hits. Justin Verlander earning his 12th win against 5 losses, allowing 3 earned runs over 7 innings, fanning 13. National League San Francisco's Matt Cain took the mound against the Pirates in search of his 13th win against just two losses and pitched brilliantly - giving up 3 hits and shutting out Pittsburgh over 9 innings - but failed to get the win as Zack Duke (7 innings) and John Grabow (2 innings), matched the zeroes on the scoreboard. In the 10th, Randy Winn singled home Eugenio Velez for the game's only run, and the Giants slipped into the wild card lead with a 1-0 win, 1/2 game past idle Colorado. Cain walked 2 and struck out 4 but remained 12-2. Though Cain's mound brilliance went unrewarded, he managed to improve some already impressive numbers. lowering his ERA to a ridiculous 2.12 while keeping batters in 2009 hitting at a .222 pace. For all the press given to fellow starter Tim Lincecum, Cain is having an equally dominant season. The two have kept the Giants in the heat of the wild card race, though they continue to trail the Dodgers by 7 games. With LA losing four straight, San Fran may be in a position to launch a run at first in the NL West. As July turns to August, the Giants host the Phillies for three games, then head to Houston for three before returning home to face the Reds and then the Dodgers in a three-game series August 10-12. If LA continues to falter and the Giants keep plying quality baseball, that series shapes up as a defining division showdown.

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