Friday, June 18, 2010

Santiago 4-for-4 as Tigers Sweep Nats; Ubaldo Jimenez Beats Twins, Now 13-1

Players of the Day for Thursday, June 17, 2010 American League With the arrival of Stephen Strasburg in Washington, the Nationals felt like they had a legitimate chance to make some noise in the NL East. Interleague play and a trip to Detroit may have tempered their enthusiasm for a while. The Tigers took the measure of the Nats, winning all three games of their series, with none of the games even close. On Tuesday, they took the win by a 7-4 score, and then beat them Wednesday and Thursday by identical 8-3 tallies. The final game of the series wasn't decided by the Tigers' big bats, but by the guy least expected to inflict pain, shortstop Ramon Santiago, who went 4-for-4, plus a sac bunt, scored 3 times and drove in a run. Santiago was in the middle of most of the Tiger run-scoring innings. After being forced out at second following his 1st inning sac bunt, he singled in the 3rd, singled and scored in the 5th, delivered an RBI single and scored in the 6th, and singled and scored again in the 8th. Detroit produced 19 hits, with every starter except center fielder Don Kelly getting at least two knocks, but Santiago seemed to be on base the entire game. Generally a sub, Santiago has seen extended playing time this season. The 4 hits raised his batting average from .241 to .262. The Nats were not amused. National League Rockies fans would do well to save souvenirs from the 2010 campaign. While some players have fine seasons, what Ubaldo Jimenez is doing this year could turn out to be historic - in fact, it already is, as Jimenez tossed the first no-hitter in Rockies' history back on April 17, when he blanked the Braves, 4-0. Jimenez wasn't exactly unhittable in Colorado's 5-1 win at Minnesota Thursday, giving up 8 hits, but he managed to out-duel Twins' ace, Francisco Liriano, for 8 innings, picking up his 13th win against just one loss. Minnesota's only run came in the 8th, after the Rockies had already done all their offensive damage. Jimenez completed the inning by getting Joe Mauer on a line out double play. Manny Corpas came on to work a perfect 9th. Among major league pitchers, Jimenez stands statistically alone. His 13 wins are four better than any other starter in the NL, and only Tampa's David Price has earned double-digit wins, with 10. Jimenez leads the majors in ERA, at a sparkling 1.15. That goes along with his 1.00 WHIP. He's earned a decision in every start and has worked 101 1/3 innings, second only to the Phillies' Roy Halladay. Additionally, he has three complete games, two of them shutouts, and, of course, the one -no-hitter.

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