Monday, September 21, 2009
Kendrick, Angels End Rangers' Season; Jimenez Gives Rockies a Boost
Players of the Day for Sunday, September 20, 2009 American League In the rubber game of their three-game weekend series, the LA Angles, led by 2nd baseman Howie Kendrick, put an end to any post-season aspirations that may still have been considered by the Texas Rangers. After splitting the first two games, the Angles blasted their AL West rivals by a 10-5 score, opening up a 7 1/2 game lead in the division. With 13 games left on the schedule (Texas still has 14 to play), the Angels' lead now certainly looks insurmountable. Even if the Rangers were to win all of their games - including 4 at Anaheim at the end of the month - the Angels would only have to win 7 times. That's the magic number now for LA - 7 - to capture their third straight, and 4th in 5 years - divisional crown. Kendrick provided the pivotal hits which led to the Angel win. Trailing 5-3 entering the 6th inning, Kendrick tied the game with his 10th home run of the season, bringing home Vlad Guerrero. One out later Gary Matthews Jr. smashed a solo shot to give the Angels a 6-5 lead. In the next inning, Kendrick came to the plate with the bases full of Angels and drove a ball to the right-center gap that cleared them. Kendrick, one of the key players in LA's success, drove in five runs, tying his season-high, set July 29 against the indians. National League While their three closest pursuers all losing, Ubaldo Jimenez worked a dominant 7 innings for the Rockies, leading them to a 5-1 win over Dan Haren and the Arizona Diamondbacks, and a comfortable 4 1/2 game lead in the wild card race. Jimenez (14-11), allowed five hits and one earned run on Sunday, punching out 8 Arizona batters on strikes. After the Rockies scored three in the top of the 7th for a 3-1 lead, Jimenez worked another scoreless frame in the bottom of the inning. When Colorado added two more to start the 8th, Jimenez was done, and two relievers mopped up. The Rockies are once again proving to be a solid September contender, posting a 13-6 record thus far in the month. Following a 4-game losing streak last week, Colorado has won 3 of 4 to regain command in the race for the last playoff spot. San Francisco lost to LA on Sunday, dropping the Giants 4 1/2 behind the Rockies. The Marlins lost to Cincinnati, putting them 5 back. Atlanta was topped by the Phillies. The Braves are 5 1/2 out. NOTES: It looks as though the divisional races are all but over, except in the AL Central, where the Tigers regained a 3-game edge over the Twins with a 6-2 win over Minnesota on Sunday. The Cardinals are stuck with a magic number of 4 after dropping their Sunday night decision to the Cubs. The Philles lead the East by 8 and the Dodgers are 5 to the good in the West. In the AL, the Red Sox may be the first team to clinch a post-season berth as they have an 8-game bulge over Texas in the wild card, putting their wild magic number at 6. They are still within striking distance of the Yankees, who are just 5 ahead in the AL East. The Sox head to the Bronx this weekend - 9/25-9/27 - for three decisive games with the Yanks.