Thursday, July 9, 2009

Jones' 3 Homers Lift Rangers to 1st Place; Rodriguez Keeps Astros in the Hunt

Players of the Day for Wednesday, July 8, 2009 American League After being sighted knocking baseballs out of the park last week in Arlington, Andruw Jones was at it again, blasting three homers in the Rangers' lopsided 8-1 victory over the Angels. The win completed the second 2-1 series win over the Angels in a week and put the Rangers back on top of the AL West, one game clear of LA and 4 1/2 ahead of third-place Seattle. With recently-returned Josh Hamilton batting third, Jones was in the four spot and cranked out solo homers in the 3rd and 5th innings, after busting a two-run shot in the first. The recent power surge - 5 homers and 11 RBI in his last four games - has been a welcome surprise for Jones and the Rangers, making them a legitimate threat to carry off the division title. National League While the Cardinals, Brewers and Cubs get most of the attention in the wide-open NL Central, dark horses Cincinnati and Houston - both 3 1/2 back - continue to play just well enough to stay in the race. On Wednesday, the Astros finished their three-game series with the Pirates with their second win, a 5-0 gem mastered on the arm of starter Wandy Rodriguez, who allowed five hits and a walk while fanning 11 for his first complete-game shutout of the season. Rodriguez (8-6) matched his season-high in Ks and improved his ERA to a highly respectable 2.96. He ranks 8th in the NL in both ERA and strikeouts (108). With Rodriguez and Roy Oswalt, the Astros have a formidable 1-2 punch in the pitching department. Add another solid arm and some timely hitting and we may see the Astros contending come September.

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