Friday, July 9, 2010
Danks Blanks Angels on 2-Hitter; Oswalt in Form with 1-Hit Win over Pirates
Players of the Day for Thursday, July 8, 2010 American League The Tigers had the day off, so the Chicago White Sox knew they could not vault into first place in the AL Central, but they did the next best thing by sweeping the LA Angels four straight with a 1-0 win on the strength of John Danks' 2-hitter. Winning four in a row over the defending AL West champs was tribute to just how well the Sox are playing these days, and getting a complete game, two-hit shutout from Danks was simply icing on the cake. Danks (8-7) threw 81 of 111 pitches for strikes, meaning he was off the plate on 30 times as he sliced through the LA lineup without allowing a walk, fanning seven. Danks took a no-hitter to the seventh inning, the only frame in which he gave up a hit - actually two - as Reggie Willits and Howie Kendrick opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Undaunted, Danks got the following three outs in order and was perfect through the 8th and 9th, all the time protecting a one-run lead provided by Paul Konerko's first inning sac fly which plated Juan Pierre. The White sox have been the best team in baseball since mid-June. since June 15, they've gone 18-4, including a major-league best (tied with Texas) 11-game win streak last month. They currently are riding five straight wins and have closed to within 1/2 game of Detroit. The Twins, former holders of the division's top slot, have faded to third place, though only two games back. They lost their second straight to Toronto, on the wrong end of an 8-1 score, Thursday. National League At 35-51, and 13 1/2 games out in the NL Central, the Houston Astros seem to be going nowhere fast this season and that means they might just lose a few good men to trades before the month of July is out. One such man is starter Roy Oswalt, who has spent all of his 10-year career in a Houston uniform. Just to prove he's ready to go anywhere and perform, Oswalt fired off a one-hitter against the Pirates, his first complete game of the season and first shutout since 2008. Not that Roy hasn't been pitching well, despite his 6-10 record, he's toting around a 3.08 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP, the kind of numbers that get starters into the Hall of Fame. Oswalt had his no-hit bid spoiled in the first inning, when Neil Walker singled to right with two outs. After that, Oswalt just set down 25 of the next 28 batters, giving up just two walks and plunking one, striking out 8 en route to his best performance of the season. Providing support was Lance Berkman, another player who could be traded shortly, who belted a pair of solo homers for the 2-0 winning margin. Oswalt needs 4 more wins without a loss to get his record back to .500. A trade to a contender would virtually guarantee that he'd avoid the first losing season of his career. The Angles, Rangers, Tigers, Red Sox, Reds, Dodgers and Braves all could use his services down the stretch. Oswalt is 143-80 with 19 complete games and 7 shutouts over the course of his career. He's a two-time 20-game winner and maybe the best 10-year starter who's never won a Cy Young award. Stay tuned.