Thursday, August 26, 2010

Joey Votto Challenges Pujols' Triple Crown Bid; Napoli Slams Rays

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 25, 2010 National League A few days ago, it was mentioned here that Albert Pujols could be on the way to winning the NL Triple Crown. After what Joey Votto did Wednesday night in Cincinnati's 12-11, 12-inning win at San Francisco, it appears that he has taken notice and has a legitimate shot himself. The Reds had built an 8-1 lead after scoring in the top of the 5th, but began the process of blowing that when the Giants plated two in the bottom of the 5th and two more in the 6th. After a six-run 8th inning, it was the Giants with the 11-10 lead, the Reds' bullpen unable to hold down the Giants after they chased starter, Homer Bailey. Votto, who had helped build the lead with a two-run, first inning homer and a solo blast in the 4th (his 31st), hung in with his teammates, and when Paul Janish singled home Drew Stubbs in the 9th, the game was tied. In the 12th, it was Votto again, with his 4th hit of the night, singling in Miguel Cairo with the go-ahead run. Francicso Cordero nailed down the final three outs in the bottom of the inning, salvaging a much-needed win for the Reds which almost turned into a disaster. Votto finished the night 4-for-7 with two hoers and four RBI. He is leading the league in batting average, at .326, and is two behind Pujols in the other categories. Pujols leads in homers, 33-31 and RBI, 92-90. It is apparent that either man could get hot and take all three departments for the first triple crown since 1967. While the Reds won, the Cardinals lost, so Cincy upped its lead in the division to 3 1/2 games. The Giants remained in a dead heat for the wild card with the Phillies, also losers on the night. American League The LA Angels are probably not going to win the AL West this season. They trail the Rangers by ten full games in the standings. Even the A's have passed them by and are now 1 1/2 games ahead. But that doesn't mean anything to Mike Napoli, who has quietly put together a fine season in the absence of the Angels' main slugger, Kendry Morales. After Morales went down with a broken leg in June, Napoli was called upon to fill the void, and he's responded with 21 homers and 60 RBI, both career-high marks. In the Angels' 12-3 win over Tampa Bay, Napoli led the charge with a run-scoring double in the first inning, a grand slam in the 3rd and a bases-loaded walk in the 4th inning, forcing home another run. He finished the game 2-for-4 with six RBI, helping the Angels avoid being swept after the Rays had won the first two games of the series. The Rays' loss didn't hurt them, as the Yankees also fell, to the Blue Jays, 6-3, in Toronto. Those two remain tied for the AL East lead, with Boston looming, 5 1/2 games back.

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