Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bautista Busts Yanks with Two Homers; Pujols Approaching Triple Crown

Players of the Day for Monday, August 23, 2010 American League Jose Bautista is having a career year at the plate, but the NY Yankees aren't very happy for him. In the opener of their three-game series in Toronto, Bautista provided all the runs the Blue Jays would need to down the New Yorkers, 3-2. The major-league leader in home runs, Bautista upped the ante by belting a pair of bombs to left field, the first a two-run shot in the 3rd inning and the second a game-winning solo jack in the 8th, his 39th and 40th of the season. Brandon Morrow, the Toronto starter, struck out 12 over six innings and allowed the only Yankee runs but received no decision. Bautista added three RBI to his total, giving him 95, putting him in a position to possibly challenge for league leadership in that category. Detroit's Miguel Cabrera leads the majors with 102 and Alex Rodriguez is second with 97, though A-Rod is currently doing a stint on the disabled list. That gives Bautista the opportunity to pass him by while Alex can only sit in the dugout and watch. By beating the Yankees, the Blue Jays picked up a game, but are still trailing both New York and Tampa Bay by 11 1/2 games. Tampa Bay gutted out a 4-3 win at the LA Angels to tie the Yanks for AL East leadership. National League If there was just one player in the majors you could choose as a possible candidate for earning a triple crown, that player would most likely be Albert Pujols, the slugging first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, and this season, you might be right. Pujols launched his NL-leading 33rd home run in the first inning of St. Louis' 10-2 slashing of the Pirates. The blast was good for 3 RBI as well, upping Pujols' total to 92 on the year, six better than Cincinnati's Joey Votto. In the 5th inning, Pujols hit a ground rule double and later scored, and singled in the 6th as part of a 3-for-5 night at the plate, raising his batting average to .319, third in the league behind Votto (.323) and Atlanta's Martin Prado (.320). With less than 50 games and six weeks remaining in the season, Pujols appears to have everything going his way. The win was the Cardinals' third straight, trimming Cincy's lead in the NL Central to 2 1/2 games, as the Reds were hammered 11-2 in San Francisco. Currently riding a 9-game hit streak in which he's gone 15-for-35 (.429), Pujols has belted five homers and driven in eight runs. The Monday night smash was #399 in his 10-year career. The ultimate mark of the all-purpose hitter, the triple crown was last achieved in the American League in back-to-back seasons by Frank Robinson in 1966 and Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. American Leaguers have accomplished the feat nine times. Six National League triple crowns have been recorded, the last in 1937 by another Cardinal great, Joe Medwick. Hall of Famer, Rogers Hornsby, who played second base on the great "Gas House Gang" in St. Louis, did it twice, in 1922 and again in 1925. The only other player to accomplish the feat twice was Boston's Ted Williams, in 1942 and 1947. For Pujols, his chance to join the elite list of triple crown champs is there for the taking.

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