Monday, July 19, 2010
Paul Maholm Shuts Out Astros, 9-0; Yunel Escobar Slams for Toronto
Players of the Day for Sunday, July 18, 2010 American League As has been their style in recent years, the Toronto Blue Jays fell out of the AL East race as soon as the calendar turned from Spring to Summer, and are now 11 1/2 games out, in 4th place and fading. That the Jays can't compete in the heady division is no shame, though. The top three teams - Yankees, Rays and Red Sox - have the best combined record for any 1-2-3 teams in any division and the Yanks and Rays respectively have the two best records in the majors. Toronto battles on, winning Sunday's series finale in Baltimore with a 10-1 win and a sweep of the three games in Charm City. The Blue Jays lead the majors in home runs (140) by a healthy margin (Boston is second, with 122), and they had one on Sunday, but it came off the bat of the player least likely to send one over the fence, shortstop Yunel Escobar. The shot was not only his first of the year, but it happened with the bases loaded and put the Jays up by a 5-1 count in the second inning, essentially ending the contest right there. It's not like the 6'2", 200 lb. Escobar can't hit homers. He had 14 in 2009 after going yard 10 times in 2008 with the Braves. He was traded just days ago to the Blue Jays for their own starting shortstop, Alex Gonzalez in a five-player deal. In three games with the Jays, Escobar is batting .462, has 5 RBI and now, a homer, something he failed to do in 75 games with Atlanta this year. National League At 32-59, Pittsburgh has the worst record in the National League, but over their past two games - both wins against the Astros - you wouldn't know it. On Saturday, they out-slugged Houston, 12-9, and on Sunday, took the series, 2-1 with a 9-0 win on 19 hits and the arm of Paul Maholm (6-7). Every batter except Maholm had at least one hit, led by Ronnie Cedeno, who went 4-for-4 with three doubles. Paul Maholm tossed his first complete game since 2008 and first shutout since 2007, allowing three hits and no walks. He struck out just one batter, Angel Sanchez, who, oddly enough, had two hits off Maholm. The lefty needed just 102 pitches (70 strikes) to mow down the feckless Astros.