Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rays Close Gap on Yankees; Carlos Gonzalez on Triple Crown Tear

Players of the Day for Tuesday, September 7, 2010 American League The Slugging Schowalters, otherwise known as the Baltimore Orioles, kept Yankee ace C.C. Sabathia from winning his 20th and the Tampa Bay Rays took advantage, blasting the Red Sox, 14-5, to pull to within 1 1/2 games of the Yanks in the AL East. Belting five homers, the Rays scored two runs in the 3rd inning, four in the 4th, six in the 5th and two more in the 6th inning, crushing Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka and two relievers that followed. Carl Crawford, who did not hit one of the five homers, went 4-for-4 at the plate, with three doubles, scoring a run and driving in two. Crawford has been on fire of late, raising his batting average from .294 to .307 with a six-game hitting streak in which he's gone 13-for-22 (.591), including four doubles and two triples. Despite his hot play, the Rays have only gone 3-3, though Tuesday's win has the Yankees looking over their collective shoulders. National League Matt Latos, scratched from his scheduled start on Monday, came back Tuesday with seven strong innings against the LA Dodgers, allowing one run on four hits, fanning ten without walking a batter as the Padres won their second straight, 2-1. The win kept San Diego a game ahead of the Giants, who beat the Diamondbacks, 6-3, and 4 1/2 in front of the charging Colorado Rockies, who topped the Reds, 4-3. Getting the big hit in the first inning was Carlos Gonzalez, who belted a three-run homer off Reds' starter, Johnny Cueto. It was the only hit of the game for Gonzalez, but it was enough for the Rockies to prevail. The three RBI gave Gonzalez 100 for the year, vaulting him past Albert Pujols (97) and Joey Votto (98) into the NL lead. Gonzalez has been nothing short of spectacular of late, riding a 15-game hitting streak to the NL batting average lead at .340. While sportswriters were pondering whether Votto or Pujols could capture the triple crown, it now appears that Gonzalez may beat them both to it. The only category he doesn't lead is homer runs, though, with 32, he's now just three behind Pujols, who has sputtered and hasn't clear the fences since August 27th. The Cardinals have suffered along with their slugger, dropping seven of ten since his last homer. They trail the Reds by six games in the Central. Besides catching the Giants and Padres, all Gonzalez seemingly has to worry about is Atlanta's Omar Infante, who is batting .339, but doesn't have the required plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, though he is expected to achieve that level soon. PENNANT NOTES: With the Braves losing to Pittsburgh, 4-0, and Philadelphia topping Florida, 8-7, the Phillies have finally caught and overtaken Atlanta to lead the NL East by 1/2 game. Minnesota pounded Kansas City, 10-3, and the Tigers hammered the White Sox, 9-1, which upped the Twins' lead in the AL Central to 4 1/2 games. In Minnesota's win, Jim Thome hit his 22nd homer of the season, tying Frank Robinson for 8th place on the career list at 586. Texas lost their 5th straight, but both Oakland and the LA Angels lost, so the Rangres still lead the A's by 7 games and LA by 9 1/2. Their magic number is 18.

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