Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Granderson Stings Rays; Hamels on the Money for Phillies

Players of the Day for Monday, September 20, 2010 American League With just two weeks left in the regular season, the Yankees and Rays squared off at Yankee Stadium in the first of a four-game set which will go a long way toward determining playoff seeding in the American League. Carrying a 1/2 game lead into the series, the Yankees struck the first blow with an 8-6 victory over the Rays, powered by a pair of homers by center fielder Curtis Granderson. Getting the Yanks on the board first, Granderson smashed a two-run homer in the bottom of the third, and, after the Rays fought back to tie the score at 4-all in the 6th, he delivered the death blow with a three-run shot to right field that put New York up by four runs. Hitting his 20th and 21st of the season, Granderson was a constant irritant to the Rays, driving in five runs, walking twice and swiping a base late in the game. The Yankee win gives them a 1 1/2 game cushion in the division. Even if the Rays finish second, they will, in all likelihood, take the wild card spot into the playoffs. They currently lead the Red Sox by 6 1/2 games for the final playoff position. National League With every game they play, the Phillies look more and more like they will represent the National League East when the playoffs begin. Opening their crucial three-game set with Atlanta, the Phillies won their 8th straight, stopping the Braves, 3-1, as Cole Hamels continues to impress down the stretch. Hamels kept Atlanta's hitters off balance and off the bases, delivering eight strong innings, allowing one earned run on six hits. Picking up his 12th win against 10 losses, Hamels struck out six and walked just one. The Braves struck first, with a run in the second inning, but hilly quickly tied it in the bottom of the inning. After Placido Polanco and Raul Ianez provided go-ahead runs in the 5th, Hamels set about his job in workmanlike fashion, allowing only a 6th inning walk and a leadoff single in the 7th, retiring the next six batters he faced before turning the ball over to Brad Lidge, who delivered a perfect 9th inning for his 24th save. With a four-game lead, the Phillies are looking to take the next two games from the Braves and build an even larger lead, rendering the final three games of the season - in Atlanta - a moot point. After the series in Philly concludes, the Phils host the mets for three, then travel to D.C. for three games with the Nationals before finishing up in Atlanta. PENNANT NOTES: There was limited action in the majors, with none of the contenders in the NL West seeing action. The Cardinals continued to struggle, losing, 4-0, at Florida, while the Reds whipped Milwaukee, 5-2, giving the Reds a seven-game edge. Texas won, but so did Oakland. The lead in the AL West is eight games. Texas' magic number stands at six. Minnesota can clinch at least a tie on Tuesday with a White Sox loss and a win of their own. On Monday, they smacked the Indians, 9-3, while the Sox were being shut out by Oakland, 3-0. The Giants, currently 1/2 game better than San Diego in the West, open a six-game road trip on Tuesday in Chicago. After three with the Cubs, the team will travel for three with the Rockies, who trail by just 1 1/2.

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