Sunday, August 2, 2009

Podsednik Keeps Sox in Contention; McCutchen Belts 3 for Pirates

Players of the Day for Saturday, August 1, 2009 American League When the Yankees left Tampa Bay for Chicago on Wednesday, they were riding high, an 11-2 record since the all star break having given them the AL East lead. Following three games against the White Sox, they're not feeling so giddy, their 3-game lead having now shrunk to just 1/2 game over the Red Sox after the Sox took their third straight from the Bombers, by a 14-4 score. The first game of the series was a close, 3-2 win for Chicago, but Friday's 10-5 beat down preceded the big blowout as the Sox roughed up starter A. J. Burnett for 10 hits and 7 earned runs in 4 2/3 short innings. Scott Podsednik spearheaded the Chicago onslaught, going 3-for-5 with 4 RBI and a pair of runs scored. The effort raised Podsednik's batting average to .303, just what the Sox need to continue contending in the Central division. Chicago continues to dog leader Detroit by 1 1/2 games, with Minnesota 3 games out. The loss narrowed New York's lead to 1/2 game over Boston, with Tampa Bay 5 back. The Sox and Yankees conclude their series Sunday. National League Rookie Andrew McCutchen is a speedy 175 lb. leadoff hitter for Pittsburgh, who, in 50 games, had hit exactly 3 home runs, but the diminutive center fielder doubled his total by launching a trio of bombs in Saturday's 11-5 Pirate win over Washington. McCutchen started with a solo shot in the Pittsburgh half of the first inning, then cracked a two-run shot in the 4th to give the Pirates a 7-2 lead, and then completed the scoring with a 3-run blast in the 6th. He also bunted for a single and scored in the third, leading to a 4-for-6, 6 RBI, 4 run performance. NOTES: While the races in the two other divisions tightened up on Saturday, the Angels bought themselves some breathing room in the AL West with another dominating win over the Twins, winning 11-6, after beating Minnesota 11-5 on Friday. Their 4th straight win gave the Angels a 4-game lead over Texas, who lost, 7-2, to Seattle. In the NL, the only close race is in the Central, though it's now down to just two teams, as the Cardinals lead the Cubs by 1/2 game. Milwaukee and Houston have fallen 5 1/2 back and Cincinnati continues to slide, losing their fifth straight and 12th of their last 15 since the all star break. The Reds are now tied with the Pirates for last place, 11 games back. The Phillies have a 6-game lead over the Marlins in the East, and appear to be on their way to another divisional crown. In the West, Los Angeles continues to lead by 7 games over the pesky Giants and Rockies, and the Dodger lead just doesn't seem to be all that secure. Just 8-8 since the break, the Dodgers prepare for a 7-game home stand against Milwaukee (3 games) and Atlanta (4 games) this coming week. In what could be a watershed stretch for the Giants, the week includes three games each against the Astros and Reds. The Giants play in Houston and then return to the Bay for Cincy while Colorado plays three at Philly and then returns home for three games with the Cubs. A good showing could separate the Giants from the Rockies and put them closer to the Dodgers, whom they host on August 10, 11 and 12.

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