Friday, July 30, 2010

Anibal Sanchez 1-Hits Giants, Ends Posey Streak; Carlos Pena Stars as Rays Win 6th Straight

Players of the Day for Thursday, June 29, 2010 American League When the Detroit Tigers traveled to play the Tampa Bay Rays in a four-game series, it was supposed to have been a showdown between two of the top AL contenders. By the time it was all over, some fans were wondering why only one team showed up as the Rays swept the slumping Tigers, finishing them off with a 4-2 win Thursday night. After taking the first three games handily, by scores of 5-0, 3-2 and 7-4, game four was all Carlos Pena, the slugging first baseman who's struggled to keep his batting average over .200 all year. Pena drove in all four runs for the Rays, going 3-for-4, with a solo homer in the 2nd inning, a singled that plated a pair of run in the 3rd and another RBI single in the 8th. Despite the low batting average (.216), Pena is among the league leaders in home runs (23) and RBI (68). The four straight home wins by the Rays bettered the Yankees' output in Cleveland, where they won three of four, keeping the AL East race a tight, 2-game lead for New York. The Tigers, meanwhile, have all but fallen out of contention in the AL Central, dropping four straight and 12 of 15 since the all star break, dropping six games off the pace of the Chicago White Sox, winners of four straight. Minnesota remains comfortably in second place, 1 1/2 games out, having won their last five. National League San Francisco catcher Buster Posey was looking to tie Willie McCovey's franchise mark for rookies of 22 straight games with a hit when he and his Giant teammates ran into Anibal Sanchez and the Florida Marlins. Sanchez (8-6) had all of the Giants' would-be hitters off-balance as he twirled a one-hit shutout, his first complete game of the season, retiring the first 13 in order before Jose Uribe reached with one out in the 5th on an error by first baseman Jorge Cantu and Pablo Sandoval followed that up with a bloop single to center. Sanchez got out of the inning without suffering further damage and didn't allow another hit the rest of the way, finishing with 8 strikeouts and one walk in Florida's 5-0 win. Posey had just three cracks at Sanchez, but he struck out in his first two plate appearances and grounded into a double play after Aubrey Huff had walked to lead off the 7th inning. His piece of immortality will have to wait, though it seems certain to come at some point. Posey is batting .358 and is the leading candidate for NL rookie of the year. For Sanchez, his first shutout and complete game since his rookie season of 2006 has him believing in himself again and adding to the Marlins' hopes of running down the Braves in the NL East. The win put Florida at .500 (51-51), 7 1/2 games behind Atlanta, in 4th place. The Phillies are 2 1/2 back, the Mets trail the Braves by 6 1/2. The Giants lost a game to the Padres, 3-2 winners over LA, but are still alone in second place, 3 1/2 games out.

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