Monday, July 13, 2009

Thames, Thomas Terrifying Tigers; Ludwick Carries the Load for Cards

Players of the Day for Sunday, July 12, 2009 American League At the All-Star break, the Tigers own a 3 1/2 game lead over the white Sox in the AL Central after scuttling the Cleveland Indians, 10-1. Justin Verlander earned his 10th win against 4 losses with 7 innings of shutout ball, but the victory belonged to two part-time players, Clete Thomas (left) and Marcus Thames (right) who victimized Cleveland pitchers all afternoon. Thomas was the most destructive force in the Tiger lineup, going 3-for-4 with a single, triple and home run, five RBI and a pair of runs scored. Thomas has played in just 37 games in 2008, and Sunday's was his most productive. In just 127 at-bats, Thomas has produced: 5 homers and 23 RBI. Thames showed the poise and steadiness that may eventually earn him a starting job in Detroit or elsewhere, knocking 4 hits in 4 at-bats (3 singles, double), scoring three times and driving in one. Like Thomas, Thames has had limited playing time. In 125 at-bats he has 9 homers and 22 RBI. Contributions from these players has been key in Detroit's rise to the top and certainly will be a factor the rest of the season. National League After splitting both their 4-game series and Sunday double-header at Wrigley, the Cardinals retained their 2 1/2 game lead over Milwaukee in the NL Central and stayed 3 1/2 ahead of the third place Cubs. The Cards dropped the first game, 7-3, but came back in the nightcap, winning 4-2, as Adam Wainwright imporved to 10-5 and Ryan Ludwick accounted for all of the Cardinal runs. Ludwick went 2-for-4 in the opener, but neither scored nor drove in any runs. He continued to bear down in the later game, going 3-for-4 with a double and a pair of 2-run homers, his 14th and 15th of the season. That was all the cards needed as Wainwright allowed just 2 earned runs over 8 innings and Ryan Franklin picked up his 21st save by striking out the side in the ninth. NOTES: Division leaders stretched out heading into the mid-season break. The slimmest lead is in the AL West, as the Angels have the Rangers by 1 1/2 games. Boston leads New York by 3 in the East after the Yankees were swept three straight by the Angels; Detroit is 3 1/2 up on Chicago in the Central. In the NL, Philly is up by 4 over the Marlins; the Cards are 2 1/2 to the good over the Brewers and the Dodgers upped their lead in the West to 7 with a win at Milwaukee. Current wild card leaders are the Yankees (51-37) and Giants (49-39). The Red Sox have the best record in the AL at 54-34. The Dodgers lead the majors at 56-32.

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