Monday, August 31, 2009

Greinke 1-Hitter a Gem; Renteria Sends Giants Soaring with Slam

Players of the Day for Sunday, August 30, 2009 American League With most of the attention focused on divisional or wild card races, there wasn't much excitement generated by a matchup between the Royals and the Mariners. Kansas City fell into their usual position in last place months ago and Seattle is struggled to remain relevant. Little did the 30,286 fans in attendance realize that they were about to witness one of the outstanding pitching performances of the season by Royals' ace, Zack Greinke. In the bottom of the second, Greinke issued a walk and then gave up a single, but those were to be the last baserunners Seattle would have all day as the 26-year-old native Floridian set down the final 22 batters in order. The Royals scored all of their runs in the 5th inning for the 3-0 victory. Greinke, who struck out 15 in his prior start - a 6-2 win over Cleveland - fanned five and walked one, improving his record to 13-8, matching his carrer-high for wins in a season, set last year when he went 13-10. His record, considering that he is playing for a last-place team, plus his 2.32 ERA - tops in the AL - make his part of any Cy Young award discussion. National League When the Rockies and Giants hooked up Sunday at AT&T Park in San Francisco, all that mattered was the lead in the wild card standings. Heading into the final month of the season, the Giants and Rockies both wish to lay claim to a post-season berth. Matt Cain started for the Giants, but clearly did not have his best stuff, as, even though he struck out 8, he was dinged for 8 hits, 2 walks and 4 earned runs. Thus, heading into the bottom of the 7th, the Giants found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-2 score, but that all changed, as did the Giants' luck. Jose Uribe walked and went to second on Aaron Rowand's single. When Fred Lewis was hit by a pitch, it loaded the bases for Edgar Renteria with one out. What happened next may be the single most memorable moment of the season. Renteria drove a Rafael Betancourt offering high and deep over the left field wall, giving the Giants their first lead of the game at 6-5. Adding three more in the 8th, San Francisco went on to the 9-5 win, sweeping the three-game series and tying for the wild card lead with the Rockies. Renteria also singled and doubled in his 5 at-bats. His 5 RBI tied has career best. Both teams trail the Dodgers by 6 games in the NL West, though winning the division seems like an afterthought the way these two are pursuing the wild card. They've separated themselves from the rest of the contenders, leading Florida and Atlanta by 3 1/2 and the Cubs by 5 1/2. NOTES: In the NL, the rich got richer on Sunday, as all three division leaders - Philly, St. Louis and the Dodgers - all won while their closest pursuers were losing. For the Phillies, they were the ones beating back Atlanta, opening up an 8-game lead over the Braves and marlins in the East. The Dodgers won their second straight as the Rockies were losing their 5th in a row, and the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright became the first 16-game winner in the majors with a gutsy, 2-1 win over Washington. The Dodgers lead is now 6, while the Cardinals have the largest advantage in the majors, at 10 games. Quietly, the Twins have snuck into second place in the AL Central as the White Sox have lost 3 straight and 7 of their last 8. Minnesota is running out of time, however, as the Tigers are 4 1/2 ahead in the division. New York continues to cling to a 6-game lead in the East, while the Angels hold a 5-game bulge over Texas in the West. Boston has won three straight to command a 3 1/2 game lead in the widl card over the Rangers, and 5 1/2 better than the Rays.

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