Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cards Clinch Central; Span Lights Up KC; Escobar, Braves Keep Winning

Players of the Day for Saturday, September 26, 2009 American League The Minnesota Twins continued their heated pursuit of Detroit in the AL Central on Saturday with an 11-6 win at Kansas City, the 11th Twins' win in their last 12 games. Minnesota trails Detroit by 2 games in the division thanks to inspired play from a bevy of young, talented players, such as leadoff hitter and center fielder Denard Span. A second-year player, Span broke open a 2-2 game with a bases-loaded triple in the 3rd inning and was just getting warmed up. He eventually finished his day 4-for-5, with 6 RBI and a run scored. The 6 ribbies are a career best for Span, a .311 hitter this season, who's scored 88 runs and swiped 22 bases. The Twins finish off their series with Kansas City tonight before heading to Detroit for a crucial four-game series that will decide the division. National League The hottest team in the National League over the past three weeks has been the Atlanta Braves, now just 2 1/2 games behind the Colorado Rockies in the wild card race and 5 games behind the Phillies in the NL East. Atlanta won for the 13th time in their last 15 games on Saturday, knocking of the Nats, 11-5 for their 5th straight win. The Braves gained a game in both races as the Rockies and Phillies were losers on the day. Leading the way for the Braves was Yunel Escobar, the slick-fielding shortstop, who singled home the first two runs of the game in the first inning and added an RBI double in the 9th as the Braves erupted for five runs to put the game away. Escobar, a 26-year-old, from Havana, Cuba, is batting a respectable .299 with 14 home runs and 74 RBI. The Braves should manage to keep the wild card race interesting until the final games of the season. After they finish their series with the Nationals on Sunday, they head back to Atlanta for a 7-game stand to close out the season. Three games with the Marlins precede four with the last-place Nationals. NOTES: The St. Louis Cardinals clinched the Central Division with a 6-3 win over Colorado and can now play spoiler as they face the Rockies once more on Sunday. The Cardinals are the first in the majors to clinch a division title, their first since 2006, when they went on to win the World Series. Adam Wainwright took the win, his 19th of the season. He and the Yankees' C.C. Sabathia, who beat the Red Sox, 3-0, each have 19 winas and are the only pitchers with a chance to win 20. Sabathia's effort - 1 hit, 2 walks and 8 Ks over 7 innings - was good enough to put the Yankees within 1 game of clinching the AL East pennant and 100 wins for the season, tops in the majors. The Yanks can do both against their most hated rivals, the Red Sox, tonight in the Bronx. The game was originally scheduled for the afternoon, but was switched to an 8:00 pm start and a national broadcast on ESPN when it appeared to be a game which would draw great interest. The Yankees haven't won their division since 2006.

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