Thursday, September 16, 2010

Johnson Belts Yankees; Tampa Back on Top; Tulowitzki Has 7 RBI in Rockies Win

Players of the Day for Wednesday, September 15, 2010 American League Concluding their three-game series in Tampa, the Rays and Yankees set out to determine which of them would be the AL East leader heading into the final two weeks of the season. In a see-saw battle that had the Yankees ahead twice - 1-0 and 3-2) - the final outcome was determined not by any veteran player with pennant race experience, but a free-swinging DH who had played in just 25 games this season and wasn't even in the majors all of 2009. Dan Johnson answered the Yankee leads both times with a pair of two run homers, providing all of Tampa Bay's runs as the Rays took temporary possession of the top divisional spot in a 4-3 thriller. The Yankees scored quickly, getting Derek Jeter home on a Robbie Cano single in the first. The lead would last until the 5th inning, when Johnson stepped to the plate with Evan Longoria aboard and deposited Phil Hughes' offering into the right field seats. After Curtis Granderson put the Yankees back on top in the 7th, 3-2, with a two-run shot of his own, Johnson did it again, crushing another ball deep to right field. Tampa's bullpen managed the rest of the game, with Rafael Soriano picking up his 43rd save of the season. The two teams won't get much rest before meeting again. They begin a four-game series in New York on Tuesday, the 21st. Each of the three games in this series was decided by a single run, so there's likely to be more drama next week as the Yankees attempt to re-take the lead. National League Colorado just keeps coming after NL West leader San Diego. Finishing up their three-game series, the Rockies took the final two games, including Wednesday's 9-6 triumph, a tour de force by Troy Tulowitzki. The Padres hardly knew what hit them before Tulowitzki tied his own career high with seven RBI. The Rockies' star shortstop singled home a run in the first inning, then cracked a three-run homer in the 3rd and another in the 4th, putting the Rockies up 9-2. The Padres' Adrian Gonzalez tried to bring the Padres back with two homers and five RBI of his own, but it proved to be not enough, as Colorado crawled to within 2 1/2 of the division leaders. Later in the evening, the Giants took a 2-1 decision over the Dodgers, closing their gap to just 1/2 game behind San Diego. PENNANT NOTES: Roy Halladay won his NL-best 19th game as Phillies' batters broke out for a 10-5 win over the Marlins, their 4th straight win. With Atlanta losing their second in a row to the lowly Nationals, 4-2, Philadelphia nw appears to be in control of the NL East with a 3-game lead and just 15 games remaining. The Reds won and the Cardinals lost, sending St. Louis 8 games behind Cincy in the NL Central. The Cards have played their way out of contention for either the division or the wild card, dropped 7 1/2 behind Atlanta. Minnesota continued to put an exclamation point on their season, whipping the White Sox again, by a 9-3 score. The Twins now hold a commanding eight game lead in the AL Central and conclude their three-game set at Chicago on Thursday. Texas pushed its magic number down to 8, beating Detroit, 11-7, while the A's were losing, 6-3, in Kansas City. Texas has assumed their largest lead of the season, at 10 games in front.

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