Saturday, September 26, 2009
A-Rod, Yankees Slug Boston; Zambrano Blanks Giants on 2 Hits
Players of the Day for Friday, September 25, 2009 American League Both the Yankees and the Red Sox are pretty much assured of making the playoffs, but the question of which team deserves the AL East title was answered emphatically by Alex Rodriguez, as the two teams opened a three-game series at Yankees Stadium. Rodrguez, seeking to drive in 100 or more runs for the 12th straight season, took some big strides in that direction with one of his best individual efforts of the season. A-Rod started the scoring with a single in the first, driving in Derek Jeter to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead against Boston starter Jon Lester. He started a 4-run third inning with a 2-run homer - his 28th - and added a double in the 6th to plate another run. In his other two trips to the plate, in the 4th and 7th, Rodriguez walked, finishing 3-for-3 with 4 runs and 3 runs scored. He stole three bases, as the Yankees ran off with a 9-5 win. A-Rod now has 93 RBI on the year with 8 games left, two of which are this weekend against the Red Sox. The Yankees, after dropping their first 8 against Boston this season, have responded by winning 7 of the last 8 against their ancient nemesis. A Yankee sweep would clinch the AL East and also give New York 100 wins. With a 6 1/2 game lead, New York's magic number is 3, the same as the Red Sox need to clinch the wild card. National League The Cubs aren't going to the playoffs this season, but they may have gotten some satisfaction Friday night as Carlos Zambrano shut out the Giants on 2 hits, pushing San Francisco further behind the Rockies in the wild card race. Zambrano needed only 96 pitches to earn his 9th win against 6 losses and his first complete game and shutout of the season. Walking just one and striking out 8, Zambrano also drove in two runs on a fielder's choice in the 7th and a double in the top of the 9th. The Cubs took the game, 3-0. Tied with the Marlins, the Giants fell 5 behind Colorado in the wild card race. Atlanta is 3 1/2 back. NOTES: The Cardinals magic number remained stuck at 1 after the Cubs won and St. Louis fell to Colorado. The Cards look to clinch the NL Central tonight in Colorado. Five different teams failed to score runs last night. In addition to Zambrano's complete game, Roy Halladay (16-10) added another shutout to his resume with a 7-hit blanking of Seattle. Kevin Correia also went the distance with a 6-hitter in San Diego's 4-0 win over Arizona. Gio Gonzalez went 6 1/3 as the A's zeroed the Angels, 3-0, and Jake Peavy improved to 2-0 for the White Sox as Chicago shut out the Tigers, 2-0. Peavy allowed 6 hits, struck out 8 and walked 2, keeping the Tigers within hailing distance of the 2nd place Twins, 9-4 winners at Kansas City. The White Sox play 5 more times against the Tigers, plus, Detroit hosts Minnesota for 4 games beginning Monday. The Al Central is the closest race in the majors, and should be decided in the head-to-head series.