Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lincecum Delivers for Giants; Guerrero Leading Rangers to AL West Title

Players of the Day for Friday, September 24, 2010

American League

Is Vladimir Guerrero entirely responsible for the Rangers winning the Al West? It appears that a case could be made that the trade which sent Guerrero from the LA Angels to the Rangers between the 2009 and 2010 season was the magic potion that put the Rangers over the top.

Texas moved closer to clinching the division with a 10-3 win at Oakland, increasing their lead to eight games over the A's, 10 in front of the Angels, dropping their magic number to two.

Here was a win that was largely Guerrero's doing. He hit his 28th home run in the second inning, putting the Rangers ahead, 1-0. After the A's scored to make it a 2-1 game, Guerrero doubled home three runs in the Rangers' 5-run 7th inning to essentially put the game away. He also singled, going 3-for-5 with 4 RBI and 2 runs.

Batting .303 with 28 homers and 111 RBI, one could easily assume that Vlad was responsible for at least five wins - five wins which the Angels did not achieve. If you take Vlad out of the Rangers' equation and plug him instead into the Angels, subtracting five wins from Texas _ turning those into losses - and adding five wins for the Angels, reducing their losses by the same amount, the two teams would be tied right now.

Five wins? Guerrero was probably worth ten, maybe more, turning his off-season trade into what may go down in baseball history as one of the best/worst deals ever made.

National League

Two time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum hasn't produced the kind of season which would have landed him a third straight Cy Young, but he has come through in the clutch, keeping the Giants in the hunt for either the NL West or the wild card spot.

Lincecum (15-10) twirled a 2-hit gem over eight innings, beating the pesky Colorado Rockies, 2-1, while retaining their 1/2 game lead over the Padres. Lincecum outdueled Colorado starter, Jhoulys Chacin, fanning nine without walking a batter, allowing the Rockies' lone run in the bottom of the 6th inning.

The Giants scored their deuce in the top of the 7th, and Lincecum held the lead until turning the ball over to Brian Wilson, who recorded his 45th save with a perfect 9th inning. Wilson leads the majors in saves, but is just one ahead of San Diego's Heath Bell and Tampa Bay's Rafael Soriano.

Lincecum took over the NL strikeout lead with 220. He currently leads St. Louis' Adam Wainwright and Philadelphia's Roy Halladay - the league two 20-game winners - by seven.

PENNANT NOTES: San Diego won on Friday, remaining 1/2 game behind the Giants, but improved to 1/2 game ahead of Atlanta in the wild card race. The Braves lost their 4th straight, an 8-3 loss to the Nationals, nearly conceding the NL East to the Phillies, winners of their 11th straight. The Phillies' magic number is suddenly just two, while the Braves have gone - in the short span of two weeks - from leading their division to on the verge of being eliminated from post-season play.

The Red Sox took down the Yankees in the opener of their three-game series, 10-8, while the Rays beat the Mariners, 5-3, putting Tampa back atop the AL East by 1/2 game. Boston closed to within 6 1/2 of the Yankees in search of the wild card. They have five games remaining with the defending world champions and need to win them all in order to have any kind of chance.

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