Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Marcum 1-Hits A's; Tejada Boosts Padres' Post-Season Hopes

Players of the Day for Monday, August 16, 2010 American League It may be too late this year, but the rest of the AL should be wary of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays have a heck of a team, leading the majors in home runs with 183. Even their top power hitter, Jose Bautista, who leads the majors with 37, does it in unconventional ways. On Monday in Oakland, Bautista hit what appeared at first to be an inside-the-park job, but was later ruled a conventional homer. Bautista already has one inside-the-park homer this season; he did it on July 7 against the Twins. But the Jays aren't just about hitting homers. Their pitching staff is loaded with live, young arms, like that of Shaun Marcum, who tossed a 1-hitter in Toronto's 3-1 win, the lone Oakland hit being a 7th inning leadoff homer by Conor Jackson. Marcum retired the final nine batters in order following Jackson's spoiler, for his first complete game in the majors. He walked one and hit a batter, throwing 103 pitches, 73 of which were strikes. While Marcum improved to 11-6, the Blue Jays are still stuck in 4th place in the AL East, nine games behind co-leaders New York and Tampa Bay, but their 63-55 record shows that they have some things working in the right direction. Of course, playing in the same division as the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays makes contending for a division title difficult. National League Just before the trading deadline, the Padres snatched up Miguel Tejada from the Orioles, knowing they were getting a solid veteran with excellent bat skills. Turns out that Tejada may be the best pickup of the season, as the slick-fielding shortstop has settled into the #2 spot in the batting order and has begun hitting the ball all over the place. In his last three games, Tejada is 9-for-14 (.643) after going 4-for-5 in the Padres' 9-5 triumph at Chicago. Tejada doubled and singled three times, drove in a pair of runs and scored twice as the Padres extended their NL West lead to 4 games over the idle Giants. At 70-47, the Padres have the best record in the National League and appear to be on their way to the playoffs. Tejada and Ryan Ludwick, acquired from the Cardinals at the same time, have bolstered the lineup, so now San Diego has multiple ways of winning games, either with their bats or with their stellar pitching staff, which leads the majors with a 3.23 ERA and has allowed the fewest hits in either league, 916. San Diego only has to put away the Giants, as Colorado and Los Angels are respectively 9 and 11 games back, seemingly out of contention.

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