Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bengie Molina Slams, Hits for Cycle; Zito Shuts Out Mets on 2 Hits

Players of the Day for Friday, July 16, 2010 American League When Bengie Molina was traded by Seattle to Texas - making room on the Giants' roster for super prospect Buster Posey - nobody made much of the deal. Like his two brothers, Yadier and Jose, Bengie is a solid defensive catcher, but hardly a bog-time threat at the plate. Since joining the Rangers, Molina has proven to be just what he's supposed to be, an experienced receiver with limited plate potential, until Friday's 8-4 win at Boston, when he helped the Rangers maintain their 4 1/2 game lead over the Angels by hitting for the cycle. Molina's 4-for-4 night included the requisite single, double and triple, all of which proved inconsequential, but his 5th inning grand slam turned a 3-3 tie into a Ranger rout. It was only the 8th time in major league history that a player hit for the cycle and had a grand slam in the same game. The triple, completing the feat, didn't come until Molina's last at-bat, in the 8th inning. Slow of foot, Molina legged out onlythe 6th three-bagger of his 11-year career. National League Barry Zito had it going on Friday night. After striking out five of the first nine batters he faced - retiring all of them - Zito surrendered a leadoff single to Mets' shortstop Ruben Tejada, but only allowed one more hit for the remainder of his 8 stellar innings, a 7th-inning double by Carlos Beltran. Brian Wilson came on for the save in the 9th, and the Giants shut the Mets out for the second straight night, 1-0. On Thursday, Tim Lincecum twirled a six-hit complete game in a 2-0 win. It was the third time the Mets have been shut out in the last four games. Zito fanned 10 overall, walked two and allowed just the two hits, improving his record to 8-4 while keeping the Giants nestled snugly in third place in the torrid NL West. San Diego leads Colorado by 3 games, with the Giants and Dodgers both 3 1/2 back. In terms of the wild card, the Cardinals, Giants and Dodgers all trail the Rockies by 1/2 game. Notable: In their first game back after the All Star break, the NY Yankees paid tribute to deceased owner George Steinbrenner and public address announced Bob Sheppard, both of whom passed away in the past week, Nick Swisher paid tribute in his own special way. Swisher clubbed an 8th-inning solo homer to right field, tying the game with the Rays at 4-4, then singled home Curtis Granderson with two outs in the 9th for the 5-4 walk-off win. The Yankees improved their lead over the Rays to 3 games. The two teams play Saturday and Sunday and Yankee stadium. Minnesota slowed down the first place White Sox, ending their 9-game win streak with a 7-4 win. The Tigers could have tied the Sox for first place in the AL Central with a win, but dropped an 8-2 decision in Cleveland. Chicago leads the Tigers by a single game, and Minnesota by 3 1/2. Miguel Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 20 games with a single in three at-bats.

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