Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pujols, Franklin Seal 2-1 Cards' Win; Konerko Sends BoSox to 2nd Straight Loss

Players of the Day for Saturday, September 5, 2009 American League Paul Konerko singled home two runs in the first inning and cranked out his 25th home run of the season - a solo shot in the 9th, as the Chicago White Sox took down the Red Sox for the second straight day, 5-1. Konerko provided more than enough power for starter Gavin Floyd (11-8), who baffled Boston on 3 hits over 8 innings, striking out 11, including getting David Ortiz 3 times. Boston's only run came on Jason Bay's 31st homer in the 8th. The loss didn't hurt Boston's chances in the wild card as both Texas and Tampa Bay went down to defeat. Texas has pulled to within just 2 games of the Red Sox, while the Rays have stumbled badly over the past two weeks and are 6 games off the pace and nearing elimination. The Red Sox and Rangers are both inning their post-season hopes on the wild card, even though the Rangers are only 4 1/2 behind the Angels in the West. Boston trails the Yankees in the East by 8 1/2 games and the Yanks have begun the pennant countdown, with a magic number of 19. Chicago's only hope is to keep on winning and hope that the Tigers and Twins fall apart late. The Pale Hose trail the Tigers by 7 games in the Central and are one behind the Twinkies. They have no chance of winning the wild card, as they are 11 games behind Boston there. National League St. Louis took another step closer to the post-season, with a 2-1, 10-inning victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday, in a game that featured two of their most important players: superstar Albert Pujols (left) and intense closer, Ryan Franklin (right). Deadlocked at 1-1 after regulation, Pujols was inserted as a pinch-hitter to lead off the 10th, and with one stroke made the score 2-1, launching his 44th homer (leads majors) to center field. Following Albert the Great's stunning blast, Franklin came on to record his 37th save, securing the Cardinals' 7th win in their last 8 games, reducing their magic number to clinch the Central division to 16. Franklin has converted 37 of 39 save opportunities for a team loaded with starting pitching. The top closer in the National League, Franklin is right behind the top closers in the AL, the Angels' Brian Fuentes (39) and the Yankees' Mariano Rivera (38). His WHIP (0.99) and ERA (1.34) are near the top for closers. He is holding opposing hitters to a meager .186 batting average. NOTES: The NL wild card continues to be the closest race in the majors. All three contenders - Colorado, San Fran and Florida - all won on Saturday, so the standings remain the same. Colorado leads the Giants by one game and Florida by 4. The Braves have fallen 6 off the wild card pace.

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