Sunday, August 1, 2010

Carlos Gonzalez Homers to Hit for Cycle and Win; Slowey Leads Twins to 7th Straight Win; Zimmerman Blasts Phillies in 9th

Players of the Day for Saturday, July 31, 2010 American League Kevin Slowey threw eight innings of shutout ball at the Seattle Mariners, allowing just three hits, pacing the Minnesota Twins to their 7th straight win, with a 4-0 victory. Slowey (10-4) fanned five and didn't allow a walk, giving up hits in just the 1st, 5th and 8th innings before turning the ball over to reliever Jose Mijares, who allowed a hit and stuck out one in a scoreless, non-save situation 9th. Minnesota is determined not to let the White Sox get too far ahead in the AL Central. Their seven-game win streak has drawn them to within 1/2 game of Chicago while the Detroit Tigers continue to slump, limping along in third place, six games off the pace. National League The Cubs and Rockies have been scuffling along of late, so, the two of them getting together might be a boost for one club or more of the same for both. The Rockies had lost eight straight before a 9-3 over the Pirates and a blasting of the Cubs, 17-2, in the series opener, Friday. With that merciless beating, the Cubs entered Saturday's contest losers of three straight. Colorado opened a 4-0 lead with three runs in the 2nd and another in the 3rd, only to see the Cubs rally back to tie the game with 3 runs in the 8th on a Derrick Lee homer at 5-all. Meanwhile, Carlos Gonzalez had put together a single, double and triple, scored once and driven in a run on a sac fly in the 7th. When Gonzalez came to the plate to lead off the 9th, needing a homer to finish the cycle, the stage was set for unusual drama. All it took was one Sean Marshall fastball, which Gonzalez deposited into the right field seats to send the crowd into a frenzy and the Rockies to their third straight win, 6-5, over the visiting Cubs. The win left the Rockies seven games off the pace set by the Padres in the NL West, while Chicago's loss dropped them 12 behind the Cardinals in the Central.
Being perpetually in last place doesn't seem to matter to most of the players on the Washington Nationals. Sure, they're in a tough division - the NL East - where the other four teams ahead of them are all over .500, but they seem to accept their fate in stride and play on, despite their record. Actually, the Nats' 46-58 record (.442) is the best of all divisional last-place teams, so there's reason for optimism, though not necessarily this season. Still, the Nationals have won three straight including the first two of their three-game series against the visiting Phillies, who are attempting to run down the first place Braves. On Friday, Washington thumped the Phils, 8-1, but on Saturday, it looked like they might give one back, down 5-4 to open the bottom of the 9th. Of course, the Phillies are legendary for their bullpen issues, and Brad Lidge came on to hopefully record the final three outs. All he got was one, and that was a Niger Morgan sacrifice bunt which put Michael Morse, who singled to lead off the inning, on second base. Lidge then managed to walk light-hitting Adam Kennedy, bringing the Nationals' best hitter, Ryan Zimmerman, to the plate. After fouling off a pitch, Zimmerman sent the next one over the center field wall for his 18th homer of the year and stunning 7-5 win for the Nationals and capping a 2-for-4 night at the plate for Zimmerman, who helped the Nats' to a 3-0, 1st inning lead with a single and a run. Lidge quietly made his way back to the clubhouse while the Nationals once again became the happiest last place team in the majors. The Nationals will try for the sweep on Sunday.

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