Friday, April 30, 2010

Burnett Stifles Birds; Freese Powers Cards; LaRoche Leads D-Backs

Players of the Day for Thursday, April 29, 2010 American League Keeping up with the red-hot Rays has become an ongoing task for the rest of the AL East, but A.J. Burnett and the NY Yankees aren't about to let them get too far in front. Burnett improved to 3-0 on the season with 8 innings of shutout ball against the worst team in the majors, the 4-18 Baltimore Orioles, allowing 3 hits and a walk while striking out 4 in a 4-0 Yankee whitewash. The 14-7 Yankees have the second-best record in the American League. Unfortunately, the team that sports the best record in the majors is 2 1/2 games ahead of them. Tampa Bay is 17-5 and has won their last five. Burnett was in control of the weak-hitting O's all night, throwing 77 of 117 pitches for strikes and put down the O's in order in the 1st, 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th innings. Mariano Rivera worked a scoreless non-save ninth. Robinson Cano provided more than enough offense with a pair of solo homers. He also doubled and scored on Marcus Thames' double in the 6th. National League Yesterday, there were two outstanding AL performances. Today, the NL showcases a pair. St. Louis completed a 4-game sweep of the slumbering Atlanta Braves, whose losing streak has now reached crisis proportions: 9 straight, as rookie 3rd baseman David Freese (left) wowed the hometown crowd with his first major league homer - a three-run shot in the 1st inning - and a bases-clearing, 3-RBI double in the 5th for a 6-RBI night. He also added a single and scored twice, his 3-for-3 night at the plate improving his average to .328. Adam Wainwright got his 4th win against just one loss as the Cards won, 10-4. St. Louis has opened up a 4-game lead in the NL Central and, at 15-7, are the only team in the division over .500. The Reds are at 11-11 in second place. Across the field was another rookie, Jason Heyward, who has received tremendous adulation early in the season. Heyward launched his 5th homer of the season and has 17 RBI, but a .237 batting average. Freese has just one homer, but now shows 14 RBI. Let the comparisons for rookie of the year begin. In Chicago, Adam LaRoche (right) doubled and smacked a pair of home runs, driving in 5 runs and scoring 3 times as the Diamondbacks thumped the Cubs, 13-5. His 3-for-4 effort pushed his batting average to .299 and the 5 RBI upped his total to 17. LaRoche, who spent last season playing in Pittsburgh, then Boston and eventually Atlanta, was acquired by the D-Backs in the off-season and has been a steady producer in the 5-spot. Arizona has won 3 straight and is 3 games behind the Padres in the NL West. NOTES: The LA Dodgers have unexpectedly experienced a sudden power outage and are in the throes of a 5-game losing streak, dropping to the bottom of the NL West standings at 8-14, six games out of first place. LA has lost 7 of their last 8 games, were swept by the Mets and have scored just 14 runs in those 7 losses, 3 of them shutouts. It was just a week ago that the Dodgers led the majors with a team batting average over .300. After Thursday's 2-0 loss to the Pirates, they're down to a pedestrian .273.

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