Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Evan Longoria Keeps Rays on Top; Johnny Cueto 1-Hits Pirates

Players of the Day for Tuesday, May 11, 2010 American League Some players get hot; others, like Evan Longoria, simply hit a certain stride and keep on going. After a pretty fair start, which had the 3rd baseman batting .297 with 3 homers and 13 RBI, Longoria has brought it up a notch against opposing pitchers. Over this last 16 games, he's hit .359, with 5 home runs and 16 RBI, getting his 8th home run of the season as the Rays improved their lead over the rained-out Yankees with a 7-3 win at LA. Already leading 2-0 in the 5th inning, Longoria knocked home Jason Bartlett with the Rays' 3rd run of the game. In the 6th, he launched home run #8, with two men aboard, upping his RBI total to 29, good for second place in the AL behind Miguel Cabrera (33). The Rays continue to hold onto the best record in the majors, at 23-10. They also have, by far, the best road record, 14-4, and will put that to the test Wednesday night in their rubber game against the Angels, who took the series opener by a 5-4 score in 11 innings. National League Other than a third inning single to Ronnie Cedeno, Johnny Cueto didn't give the Pittsburgh Pirates anything, twirling a 1-hit gem as the Reds topped their NL Central rivals by a 9-0 score. When Cedeno came to the plate again in the 6th inning, Cueto plunked him, making him not only the only Pirate to reach base, but the only one to do so twice. As luck would have it, Cedeno never made it to second base - nobody did - as he was thrown out attempting to steal by catcher Ramon Hernandez. (No wonder Cueto plunked him; who tries a two-out steal when you're down 3-0?) Cedeno led off the 9th inning, and this time, Cueto wasn't kidding around. The only batter with whom he had an issue, Cueto set him down on strikes, then proceeded to finish off the final two batters without incident. Of his 102 pitches, 67 went for strikes. Cueto was very judicious in getting his men out. He nailed down 8 on strikes, another 8 on ground balls and 11 by air. The win was only Cueto's second of the season, against one loss. He carries a 4.07 ERA, but what's important is that the win was the Reds' 4th straight, quietly inching them to within 2 games of division-leading St. Louis. At 18-15, the Reds join the Cards as the only NL Central teams with winning records. Cincy is 3 games ahead of 3rd place Milwaukee.

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