Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mauer Goes 5-6 to Keep Twins on Top; Zito Outshines Wainwright for 2-0 Giants Win

Players of the Day for Saturday, April 24, 2010 American League If you wanted to design a baseball-hitting machine, you'd probably use Minnesota catcher, 3-time AL batting champion and 2009 AL MVP Joe Mauer as a prototype. After spraying out 5 hits in 6 at-bats in Saturday's 12-inning, 9-7 win at Kansas City, Mauer's batting average stands at .381 and the 13-5 Twins have a 3-game lock on first place in the AL Central. Mauer's 5-hit night included a double, triple, three singles and a sac fly in the top of the 12th which added an insurance run for Minnesota. He drove in 2 runs and scored one, in addition to handling 6 different pitchers from behind the plate. Mauer will be hard pressed to repeat as MVP again - his 12 RBI are only third-best on his team, but the potential for another batting title looms large. He's currently third behind KC's Scott Podsednik (.382) and Seattle's Franklin Gutierrez (.397). National League San Francisco still trails San Diego by one game in the NL West, but, after Barry Zito out-dueled Adam Wainwright for a 2-0 win over St. Louis, the Giants have served notice that they almost surely have the best starting rotation in the majors. Zito worked a very strong 8 innings, allowing just 3 hits and 3 walks while fanning a season-high 10 St. Louis hitters, striking out every Cardinal starter except catcher Yadier Molina. Zito, who hasn't had a full-season winning record since his 2006 campaign with the A's, is off to a 3-0 start with a sparkling 1.32 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP. Surrounded by the likes of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jeffrey Sanchez, Zito has responded in the early stages of the season with some of the best pitching of his career. The Giants have taken two straight in their West coast weekend series with the Cards, with Sunday's finale pitting Brad Penny against the Giants' Matt Cain.

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