Monday, July 27, 2009

Morneau a Quiet Superstar; Harden Hurls Cubs Into First

Players of the Day for Sunday, July 26, 2009 American League Some players make a lot of noise and others, like Minnesota's Justin Morneau, just quietly do their job, racking up huge stats. On Sunday, Morneau was at his best again, smacking a pair of home runs to lead the Twins to a 10-1 win over the Angels, avoiding being swept and halting a four-game skid. Morneau launched a two-run shot in the 1st inning and added a solo blast in the 7th, retaking the AL lead from Tampa's Carlos Pena, with his 25th and 26th. Now in his 7th season in the majors - all with Minnesota - Morneau is on track to have his best season yet. Having already won the MVP award in 2006 with a .321 batting average, 34 homers and 134 RBI, Morneau numbers after 98 games - .315, 26, 82 - stack up very favorably. With the win, Minnesota moved to within 4 games of the Tigers in the AL Central as the White Sox won, 5-1, at Detroit. The Sox avoided a four-game sweep and clawed to within 2 games of Detroit. LA leads Texas by 3 1/2 in the West. National League While St. Louis was dropping a 9-2 decision to the Phillies, Rich Harden was pitching the Cubs into first place in the NL Central. Harden allowed a two-out solo homer to Joey Votto in the first inning and then proceeded to set down the next 16 batters he faced before leaving after six innings. The Cubs managed a 5-2 win over the Reds for their 4th straight victory and a 1/2 game lead in the division. Harden fanned 8 and didn't walk a batter, improving to 7-6 on the year, throwing 61 of 90 pitches for strikes. NOTES: Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice were inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, Sunday; Henderson on his first ballot and Rice on his 15th and final chance. Henderson is baseball's all-time theft leader, with 1406, and also the all-time runs leader, with 2295. Rice, who played his entire career in a Red Sox uniform, is the only player in MLB history with at least 35 homers and 200 hits in three consecutive seasons, accomplishing the feat from 1977 to 1979. Rice batted .298 with 382 homers and 1451 RBI over a 16-year career.

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