Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cliff Lee Drops A's; Wainwright Shuts Out Marlins on Two Hits

Players of the Day for Friday, August 6, 2010 American League When the Texas Rangers snatched up Cliff Lee from the Mariners a month ago, there was nobody who thought the move might backfire on the AL West leaders. Even when he bombed in his Texas debut - a 6-1 complete game loss to the lowly Orioles - there was nary a negative word and no skeptics to be found. That's because the Rangers did make the right move. Since his nine-inning debacle against the O's, Lee has taken the mound five more times, chewed up 42 1/3 innings, allowed 10 runs (for a 2.13 ERA), struck out 35, collecting two wins and a loss in the process. The Rangers have won three of the five games he started, including Friday's 5-1 win over the A's. Oakland has moved into second place past the sliding Angels, but they're still not making up ground on the Rangers. Lee snuffed out their post-season hopes on seven hits over eight innings, fanning eight, to take the first of the three-game series in Oakland and drop the A's 9 1/2 back. With Lee cementing an already-solid staff, the race for the AL West flag appears to be over. If Oakland can't win both of the remaining games in this series, they'll allow the Rangers to get out of town with either a 9 1/2 or 10 1/2 game lead, and, with just over 50 games left on the schedule, would have to hope for a pretty complete collapse in Texas. It's not going to happen. Crown the Rangers kings of the West. National League There are those who believe Ubaldo Jimenez is the best pitcher in the National League, but this season's Cy Young award is probably going to belong to the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright. After blowing away the Florida Marlins, 7-0, for his 5th complete game and second shutout this season, Wainwright's record stands at 16-6, as he appears to be well on his way to his first 20-win season (19-8 in 2009). Wainwright shut down the Marlins on two hits and three walks, while striking out seven, getting 11 more outs on grounders and seven on fly balls. The win kept the Cardinals a 1/2-game behind the Reds, who continue to paralyze the NL Central. As far as post-season awards are concerned, Wainwright has the credentials in all the important categories. His 2.07 is second among starters, the 1.00 WHIP is also second (by .01 to Matt Latos of the Padres), He's third in strikeouts with 154 and his 16 wins are just one behind Colorado's Jimenez. Only Philadelphia's Roy Halladay has more innings, shutouts or complete games. Wainwright's keeping good company and he's kept the Cardinals in the hunt all season.

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