Saturday, July 25, 2009

Verlander Stops Sox Charge; Ramirez Keeps Cubs Close

Players of the Day for Friday, July 24, 2009 American League The Tigers were feeling the heat from the White Sox, who had tied for the AL Central lead on the strength of Mark Buerhle's perfect game on Thursday, so in the first game of Friday's double-dip, the Tigers welcomed the Sox into town with their ace, Justin Verlander, on the mound. After a shaky start, the Detroit righty was throwing fire, finishing with a complete game 5-1 win, the sixth time in his career that he's gone the distance. Verlander (11-5) walked 4 and allowed six hits, but the lonely Chicago run was unearned. The effort dropped his ERA to a very respectable 3.12. After taking the opener, the Tigers wrested back control of the division with a 4-3 win in the second game, putting the Tigers in front by 2 games. while it may not be much of a lead, it was important to take two straight from a key rival. The Sox and Tigers continue their series with single games Saturday and Sunday. National League The St. Louis Cardinals welcomed Matt Holliday back to the National League and into the cleanup spot in their lineup and the former Rockie and A responded with a 4-for-5 night in St. Louis' 8-1 romp at Philadelphia. The Cardinals have bolstered their roster, no doubt because they realize the Cubs, Astros and Brewers aren't exactly going away. The Cubs, in particular, have been on a bit of a tear lately, especially since Aramis Ramirez has gotten back into the lineup after missing most of May and all of June. Since the All Star break, the Cubs are 6-2 and, along with the Astros, have drawn to within 1 1/2 games of the division-leading Cardinals,. In Friday's 8-5 win over the Reds, the Cubs' third baseman was at his best, going 4-for-5 with 3 RBI and a run scored. Ramirez got Chicago going with an RBI double in the first, then singled in another in the 3rd, adding a solo homer (6) in the 6th. His double in the 8th completed a super night at the dish, boosting his average to .325. With Ramirez back at full strength, the Cubs again look like a serious contender in the wide-open NL Central.

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