Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wainwright Wows; Willingham Plows; Pena Pops a Pair

Players of the Day for Tuesday, August 25, 2009 American League Already leading the American League in home runs, Carlos Pena improved his edge with a pair of blasts in Tampa Bay's 7-3 win over Toronto. Sending out two-run bombs in both the 2nd and 3rd innings, Pena helped the Rays build an early 6-1 lead en route to their second straight win at Toronto. With 37 homers in his holster, Pena is well ahead of the pack. Mark Teixeira and Russell Branyan are tied for second place with 31 each. Pena is also challenging for the RBI title. His 4 ribbies pushed him to third place in the league at 91, behind Teixeira (93) and Justin Morneau (95). The Rays kept pace in the wild card chase, 3 behind Boston and 1 1/2 behind the Rangers. Both Texas and the Red Sox have won two straight as well. National League We have a tie for NL POTD. Adam Wainwright (left) shut out the Houston Astros on 3 hits over 8 innings without allowing a walk as the Cardinals won a squeaker, 1-0, the sole run driven in by none other than Mr. Universe, Albert Pujols. Wainwright was pulled for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 8th, after throwing 114 pitches and striking out 5. Closer Ryan Franklin came in for the 9th and slammed the door for his 33rd save, tying Colorado's Huston Street for the league lead. Wainwright (15-7) joined NY's C.C. Sabathia as the only 15-game winners in the majors. The Washington Nationals aren't going to be playing in October, but they're making sure some of their friendly foes aren't making their ways to the post-season. At Wrigley Field Tuesday, the Nats brought their bats, sending the Cubs to their 4th loss in their last 5 games with a 15-6 blowout. Leading the way was Josh Willingham (right), who cranked a couple over the ivy and added two singles in a 4-for-4 effort. Willingham, in one of the most impressive offensive performances of the season, scored 5 times and drove in 6 runs. Breaking out of a 2-for-23 slump, Willingham got his average back up to .301 and improved his home run total to 21, with 56 RBI. NOTES: As well as the Phillies are going - 7 up on the Marlins and Braves in the NL East - they have to be concerned about their ability to close out games, especially after Brad Lidge blew his 9th save opportunity of the season in spectacular fashion Tuesday at Pittsburgh. After the Phillies had built a 4-3 lead with 2 runs in the top of the 9th, Lidge came on in the bottom frame but did not get a single out, surrendering three straight hits, the last of which was a game-winning 2-run homer by Andrew McCutchen (8). As the closer for a World Series contender, Lidge's numbers are appalling, to say the least. Though he has 25 saves, few have been easy. In 46.2 innings, he has allowed 56 hits, 28 walks and 38 earned runs, is 0-6 with a 1.80 WHIP and an astonishing 7.33 ERA. Though the Phillies' brass insists that he's the "man," speculation is high that Brett Myers will assume the closer role, as he has relevant experience with Phillies in that regard. Myers saved 21 games for the Phils in 2007 with just 3 blown saves. Myers is currently on a rehab assignment with Double-A Reading, and is expected to return to the Phillies early next month. It's almost certain that Myers, who is recovering from right hip surgery, will get a couple of chances should Lidge continue to perform poorly.

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