Players of the Day for Thursday, September 23, 2010
Dallas Braden and the Oakland Athletics apparently aren't ready to cede the AL West to the Texas Rangers.
The second-place A's delayed the Rangers' coronation for a another day at least as Braden shut out the Texas team on one hit over eight innings as the two top teams in the division opened a four-game series in Oakland.
Nelson Cruz singled with two outs in the first inning, but Braden set down the next 22 batters in order, not allowing a baserunner until issuing back-to-back walks in the top of the 8th. Braden got out of that situation and finished the inning, then was lifted for reliever Brad Ziegler, who walked one and hit another, but stuck out two to close out the game for a 5-0 Oakland win, drawing the A's to within seven games of the front-running Rangers.
Texas has the magic number at four, so the A's almost need to sweep the series in order to have any shot at all of catching the Rangers in the final week.
As the pennant race winds into the final stretch of the season, the Giants are finding out what kind of team they've got - apparently one without any quit and plenty of heroes waiting to step up.
On Thursday, it was Juan Uribe donning the super-hero cape, belting a pair of home runs, the second of which a grand slam, to lead the Giants to a 13-0 smothering of the Cubs, vaulting San Francisco back into first place in the NL West by 1/2 game over the Padres.
The Giants and Padres have been swapping first and second place in the division for the better part of two weeks now, neither team able to establish any kind of open space.
Amazingly, Uribe did all his damage in one inning - the 2nd - helping to knock out starter Ryan Dempster with a two run shot and then welcoming his replacement - Thomas Diamond - with the grand slam.
The Giants depart Chicago winning two out of three, while the Padres were losing the last game of their three-game series at Los Angeles, falling to the Dodgers, 3-1, after taking the first two.
The Padres next host Cincinnati for three games as the Giants travel to Colorado for a critical three-game set with the Rockies, losers of four straight, now 3 1/2 games behind the Giants.
PENNANT NOTES: The Yankees dropped a 10-3 decision to the Rays, producing a split in their four-game series in the Bronx and leaving the Yankees with a 1/2 game lead in the division.
With the Reds idle, St. Louis won, reducing the Cincinnati lead to 7 1/2 in the Central, thouh the Reds' magic number is still just three. The Phillies and Braves both had the night off. Philly has a six game lead in the division.