Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lidge Wastes Howard's Heroics; Guillen, Tigers Rock Cleveland

Players of the Day for Wednesday, September 23, 2009 American League The Detroit Tigers don't seem too concerned about Minnesota being only 2 1/2 games back in the AL Central race, as long as they're playing the pushover Cleveland Indians. Detroit maintained their lead in the division with their second straight win ovr the Indians, a lopsided 11-3 victory which the Tigers led from start to finish. Leading the hit parade was Carlos Guillen, who had 3 of the Tigers' 15 hits. Guillen's knocks were all of the extra-base variety - a double and two homers in four at-bats. After reaching on an error in the Tigers' four-run 1st, Guillen cracked a two-run homer in the 3rd, balted a solo shot in the 5th and doubled in another run in the 6th, finishing with 4 RBI and a pair of runs. Guillen, who played in only 12 games from may through July due to injury, has been a fairly steady bat in the Tiger lineup, hitting 9 homers and driving in 24 runs since returning to regular play August 1st. National League As long as Ryan Howard is anchoring the lineup, it's very likely that the Phillies will clinch the NL East before the calendar flips over to October, though the slugger and Philadelphia's starting pitchers surey aren't getting any help from the bullpen. Howard doubled and homered in 4 at-bats Wednesday at Florida, driving in 4 runs, but his heroics were overshadowed and wasted by the continuing saga of 0-8 closer Brad Lidge, who blew his 11th save in Philadephia's 7-6 loss to the Marlins. After Cole Hamels left the game in the 7th with a 6-4 lead, thanks to Howard's 3rd inning 2-run double and 7th inning 2-run homer (his 42nd), the Phillies' bullpen once again managed to give away the game. Ryan Madsen allowed a run in the 8th and Lidge managed to get just 2 outs in the 9th while allowing a walk and 3 hits, the last of which - Brett Carroll's single to left - plated Hanley Ramirez with the winning run. Howard moved into 2nd place in the RBI race with 130, sandwiched in between Prince Fielder (131) and Albert Pujols (129). His 42 homers are third behind Pujols (47) and Arizona's Mark Reynolds who has hit 43 bombs this season. The Florida win meant that Phialdephia's magic number remained stuck at 5. They have a 6 1/2 game lead on the Marlins as the number of remaining games dwindles down to single digits. NOTES: The Cardinals lost, 3-0, to Houston, but the Cubs also were on the wrong end of the score in a 3-2 loss to the Brewers, so St. Louis can clinch the NL Central with a win tonight or a Cubs loss. The Yankees won their first series in Anaheim since 2004, taking two of three from the Angels and improving to 97-56. The Wednesday 3-2 win puts the Yankees in position for home field advantage throughout the playoffs as their record is the best in the AL. Should the Yankees make the World Series, they would also have the home edge, since the AL won the All-Star game. Even though Colorado lost and the Marlins, Giants and Braves all won, the Rockies still hold a 4-game edge on San Fran and Atlanta, with Florida another half game back.

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