Sunday, September 5, 2010

Jenks Closes Two 3-1 White Sox Wins; Thome Passes McGwire; Gonzalez Sends Padres to 9th Straight Loss

Players of the Day for Saturday, September 4, 2010 American League The race for the AL Central yielded two stars on Saturday, one from each of the contending teams. In Boston, the Chicago White Sox continued to keep the pressure on the Twins by beating the Red Sox twice, by identical 3-1 scores. Preservation of the wins was put into the capable hands of closer Bobby Jenks, who worked a combined 2 1/3 innings, picking his 26th and 27th saves of the season. Jenks allowed a leadoff single in the 9th inning of the first game, but after that, it was lights out, as he retired the next three batters in order. In the second game, Jenks was perfect, being called upon in the bottom of the 8th with runners on first and second. He got Darnell McDonald to fly out, ending the inning, then set the side down in order in the 9th. Jenks struck out two without issuing a walk. In Minnesota, the Twins pounded the Rangers, 12-4, on a night slugger Jim Thome will long remember. The burly batsman crashed a pair of home runs, powering the Twins to their second straight win over the Rangers, who lead the AL West by eight games. Thome want 2-for-2 in the game. When he wasn't hitting the ball out of the park, Texas pitchers were giving he free passes, walking him twice. In the third, Thome connected for his 583rd career blast, a solo shot that put the Twins 6-0 and tied him with Mark McGwire for 9th place on the all-time list. In the next inning, he crushed his 20th of the season with two aboard, moving him past McGwire and just two behind Frank Robinson (586). It was the 16th time Thome has hit at least 20 home runs in a season, but this year he's been simply amazing, delivering his 20 homers and 49 RBI in just 237 at-bats. Thome scored three times and had four RBI for the game. Minnesota's win kept them atop the division, 3 1/2 games better than the White Sox. National League Closing out the season with a strong finish has become something of a habit for the Colorado Rockies, and it appears they're at it again, as they beat the NL West-leading Padres for the second straight day, by a 6-1 score. It was the ninth straight loss for San Diego, and left them just two games in front of the Giants and 5 1/2 ahead of the hard-charging Rockies. Leading the way was Carlos Gonzalez, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a pair of doubles and a single in four at-bats, driving in two runs. He's batting .522 (24-for-46) during the streak, raising his batting average from .318 to .335, which leads the league and significantly diminishes the hopes of Albert Pujols or Joey Votto to capture the triple crown. Votto is second in batting, at .324.
This post is dedicated to my father, Nick Gagliano Sr., who would have turned 86 on September 4. He wasn't much of a ball player, but he brought his best every time he stepped to the plate. He is shown at left in a uniform that he wore with pride and dedication, that of his country, with service in the US Army during World War II. A page dedicated to his memory can be found here. Nick passed away in 2009, after a long and fulfilling life, much of it spent as an attorney. In his later years, he built miniature carousels by hand.

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