Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Markakis Spoils Washburn's Detroit Debut; Pujols, Kemp Mash Opponents

Players of the Day for Tuesday, August 4, 2009 American League Jarrod Washburn, acquired by the Tigers from Seattle last week, was supposed to fill out the Tigers' rotation, but, in his first start for Detroit, Washburn was roughed up by the Baltimore Orioles and especially by Nick Markakis, who singled in a run in the first inning and helped send Washburn to the showers with a two-run homer - his 13th - in the top of the 6th which gave the O's a 5-1 lead. The Orioles went on to an 8-2 victory, ruining Washburn's debut and helping to narrow Detroit's tenuous lead in the AL Central. As both the White Sox and Twins were winners on Tuesday, Detroit now holds a 1 game lead over the Sox and a 2 1/2 game edge over Minnesota. As for Markakis, he also doubled in his five at-bats, scoring twice and driving in three runs. He's batting an even .300 with 76 RBI after the nice effort. He's also riding a 7-game hitting streak, which is not unusual for the O's outfielder. He had a 17-game hitting streak earlier in the year which ended May 2. National League The monumental feats of Albert Pujols (left) cannot be understated, but Matt Kemp's (right) night at the plate in LA's 17-4 beating of the Brewers was equally impressive, so the two share Tuesday's POTD honors. Pujols, the leader in practically everything under the sun, tied the National League record for grand slams in a season, previously held jointly by Ernie Banks and Jim Gentile, with his fifth, in the 10th inning of St. Louis' 12-7 victory over the Mets. The Cardinals had taken the lead when Mark DeRosa was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Next up was Albert the Great, who ensured the Cards a win with his 36th home run of the season, clearing the bases with an over-the-wall shot to right-center. Pujols had also homered earlier - a solo shot off Johan Santana in the 8th, as the Cards rallied from a 7-4 deficit. Pujols finished with 4 hits in 5 at-bats, with 3 runs scored and 5 RBI. The major league record for grand slams in a season is 6, held by two AL players, Don Mattingly and Travis Hafner. Pujols will have plenty of opportunities to equal or exceed that as the season grinds on. The win kept St. Louis in a tie for first with Chicago in the NL Central and 5 games clear of both the Astros and Brewers, both losers on the night. Pujols leads the NL in home runs and retook the NL RBI lead from Prince Fielder, upping his total to 97. Fielder has 94. with his .321 batting average - sixth best in the league, Pujols is vying for the very rare triple crown, last accomplished in the NL by another Cardinal, Hall of Famer Joe Medwick, who did it in 1937. The last triple crown winner in the majors was Carl Yastrzemski, who did it in 1967 for the Boston Red Sox. A year earlier, Baltimore's Frank Robinson accomplished the feat. Later, in Los Angeles, Matt Kemp was raking for the Dodgers, matching Pujols in everything but homers, going 4-for-5 with a double, his 15th home run, two singles, 3 runs and 5 RBI. Kemp, who was NL POTD this past Sunday, has been on a legendary tear his last three games, going 9-for-14 with two homers and 11 RBI, raising his batting average to 323. The Dodger win kept them 6 1/2 clear of the Rockies, with the Giants another 1/2 game back. All three NL west leaders were winners on Tuesday. NOTES: In the close-but-no-cigar category, Arizona's Yusmeiro Petit took a no-hitter into the 8th inning, but allowed a single by Ronny Cedeno with no outs in the inning to spoil his bid. He finished the inning, allowing just the one hit and three walks while striking out four. Reliever Leo Rosales mopped up with a perfect ninth inning for the 6-0 win at Pittsburgh.

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