Thursday, April 29, 2010

Clippard Holds for Nats; Hunter Dusts Indians; Lester Fans 11 for BoSox

Players of the Day for Wednesday, April 28, 2010 American League Two players turned in outstanding AL performances Wednesday night, both instrumental to their team's victory. In Toronto, the Boston Red Sox completed their three-game sweep of the Blue Jays, as Jon Lester (left) picked up his first win of the season. After allowing a leadoff walk to start the game and a leadoff double in the second inning, Lester settled in and set down the next 14 straight batters and 18 of 19 before retiring after 7 full innings. It was Lester's longest outing of the season and by far his best. In four previous starts he had allowed 25 hits and 15 earned runs over 21 2/3 innings. Lester was in complete control, allowing only the 2nd inning double by Vernon Wells and a pair of walks to leadoff hitter, Mike McCoy, while fanning 11. The Red Sox managed to score a couple of runs for the 2-0 win, moving past the Blue Jays into 3rd place in the AL East. The 11-11 Sox are 5 1/2 games behind the division-leading Rays and trail 2nd place New York by 3 games. Torii Hunter (right) made sure the Angels kept the heat on the A's in the AL West, as he drove in 3 runs and scored the game-winner as LA topped Cleveland, 4-3. Hunter, who was 3-for-4 for the game, tied the score with his 2nd home run of the year, a 3-run shot in the 6th. He doubled to lead off the bottom of the 9th for the Angels, and advanced to third after an intentional walk to Hideki Matsui and a double play. Another intentional walk to Juan Rivera set the stage for Howie Kendrick, who, with the Cleveland infield playing back, laid down a perfect bunt which sent Hunter homeward with the game-winner. The Angels are now just 1/2 game behind the A's, who have led the division most of the season. National League You won't see him doing endorsements for major brands, and you probably won't hear his named mentioned by many sportscasters, but Washington reliever Tyler Clippard may be the best set-up man and long reliever in the business. Clippard came on in the 8th inning of Washington's 3-2 win over the Cubs, holding Chicago scoreless despite allowing a hit and a walk. Matt Capps came on in the 9th to record his league-leading 10th save of the season for the surprising Nationals, who are 12-10 and just a game behind the Mets in the NL East. Clippard's numbers have been mind-blowing so far in 2010. He's appeared in 11 games, working 16 2/3 innings. He's allowed just one earned run on 7 hits overall, striking out 20 while walking 7. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 7 appearances, a span of 9 1/3 innings. Hitters are batting just .132 against him. Amazingly, his 0.54 ERA is better than his impressive 0.84 WHIP. With Clippard (3-0, 5 Holds) and Capps at the back end of the Nationals' bullpen, if they're ahead after 7 innings, it's usually game over.

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