Monday, September 20, 2010
Guillen Grand Slam Boosts Giants; Lester Keeps Red Sox in Hunt
Players of the Day for Sunday, September 19, 2010 American League Seven games out with just two weeks left to play, the Boston Red Sox figure to still have a chance at either the AL East pennant or the wild card. The schedule says they have a shot, and the Sox are certain to make the best of it. On Sunday, Boston got past the Blue Jays - a thorn in their collective sides - on the arm of their best pitcher, Jon Lester, who tossed seven innings of shutout ball in a 6-0 Boston win. Lester allowed four hits, walked four and stuck out four, earning his 18th win against eight losses. Both the Yankees and Rays lost, giving the Red Sox a leg up as they prepare for the Orioles, who come into Boston for three games beginning Monday. After a day off Thursday, Boston heads to New York for a weekend three-game series with the Yankees, then on to Chicago for four with the White Sox before returning to Fenway to close out the season with three more against the Yankees. If either the Yankees or Tampa falter this week - Tampa plays four games in New York beginning Monday - the Red Sox will find themselves in the thick of it come October. National League When the Giants went looking for more hitting before the August 1 trade deadline, they didn't find much, but afterwards, they picked up Jose Guillen from the Royals, figuring that if he got healthy, he could provide some spark down the stretch. On Sunday, their gambit paid off in spades, as Guillen smacked a first-inning grand slam and drove in two more with a single in the fifth, sending the Giants to a 9-2 win over Milwaukee and back into first place in the NL West, a spot they've shared alternately with the Padres for much of the past week. Guillen hasn't been carting as robust a bat as they'd like, but he is showing signs of getting into a groove at the right time. His six RBI upped his seasonal total to 77, to go with his 19 homers. San Francisco is looking at a favorable schedule over the final two weeks of the season. They have each of the next two Mondays off, allowing them to adjust their rotation as they see fit. They travel, for three games each in Chicago and then Colorado, before returning home for their final six games - three against Arizona and three with San Diego. If all goes well, with the best pitching staff in the division, and some hitting from Guillen and others, the pennant is theirs for the taking. PENNANT NOTES: While the Giants were victorious, the Padres and Rockies both lost, though it only gives the Giants a slender 1/2 game lead. Colorado has dropped 1 1/2 games back. The Central is still in play. The Reds lost and the Cards won, so Cincinnati's lead is down to 6 games. In the East, both the Braves and Phillies won, making it appear that even if Atlanta can't catch the Phillies, who have a three game lead after winning their 7th straight, they would still be the wild card. Currently, Atlanta's lead is 2 1/2 games over the Padres. The Yankees and Rays both lost, so New York retains a 1/2 game lead in the AL East as the two open a critical four-game set in New York on Monday. Even though both Minnesota and Texas lost on Sunday, it's only a matter of time before they both clinch their respective divisions. The Twins' magic number is four. For the Rangers, six.