Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lester, Martinez Keep Red Sox in Hunt; Bruce Blasts Three Homers for Reds

Players of the Day for Friday, August 27, 2010 American League Injuries have piled up for the Boston Red Sox, but that hasn't kept them from winning and staying in the Al East race. Jacoby Ellesberry, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis all have gone down and probably are lost for the season. On top of that, their ace, Josh Beckett, hasn't been himself, with a 4-3 record and a 6.50 ERA. A couple of guys who've managed to remain healthy have been carrying the team of late, and in Friday's 3-1 win at Tampa Bay, Victor Martinez (left) and Jon Lester (right) got the better of the Rays and crept to within 4 1/2 games of co-leading Tampa and New York. Lester (14-8) tossed seven innings of 2-hit ball, striking out 10 while walking five. The only run the Rays were able to produce was unearned. Lester has produced wins in three of his last four starts. Martinez got in a couple of good swings, going 3-for-4 with two solo homers, giving the Red Sox just enough offense to get the win. Having missed some time himself this season, Martinez is heating up, batting .385 (9-for-24) and driving in seven runs over his last six games. National League Manager Dusty Baker has tried a lot of different players in the leadoff spot since Orlando Cabrera was sidelined earlier this month, but his latest maneuver proved to be a stroke of genius. Baker put outfielder Jay Bruce at the top of the lineup card in Friday's contest with the Cubs, as the Reds sought to expand their lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central. Bruce was an unlikely fit for the leadoff spot. In his three-year major league career, he's only swiped 12 bases and been thrown out 13 times. So, since Bruce probably wasn't going to be a basepath threat, he took it upon himself to just hit the ball over the fences - three times - pounding three homers into the right field stands at the Great American Ball Park. His first was a solo shot in the 3rd, followed by a three-run blast in the 5th and another solo jack in the 7th, which proved to be more than enough for Johnny Cueto to record his 12th win against 4 losses as the Reds cruised to a 7-1 win. With the Cardinals winning 4-2 over Washington, Cincinnati didn't increase its lead, but remained a relatively comfortable four games ahead of the redbirds.

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