Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rays Win Despite Two Bautista Homers; Tulowitzki, Rockies Win 9th Straight

Players of the Day for Friday, September 10, 2010 American League Against most teams, a seven-run lead is usually safe, but the Toronto Blue Jays are not like most teams, as Tampa Bay found out Friday night. The Blue Jays rallied from an 8-1 deficit on the strength of four long balls, two by AL home run leader Jose Bautista, whose second two-run blast of the contest tied the game in the bottom of the 7th inning. Bautista hit his 45th in the 5th inning after Adam Lind belted a two-run job in the 4th. Catcher John Buck sent a solo shot out in the 7th before Bautista crushed #46. The Jays lead the majors in home runs and continue to play solid baseball. They are, however, stuck in the wrong division, trailing the Yankees by 15 games with both Tampa Bay and Boston also in front of them. Despite the power display by the Blue Jays, Tampa Bay came back to win the game as even Longoria scored the winning run in the top of the 9th, when Yunel Escobar threw wildly to first base, attempting to complete a double play. Longoria had advanced from second to third on the play, and scooted home when the ball sailed into foul ground for the 9-8 victory. Hours later, the Yankees would lose to the Rangers, 6-5, in 16 innings, to lead the Rays by 1 1/2 in the AL East. The Rays are virtually assured of reaching the playoffs for the second time in three years as they hold a 7 1/2 game lead over Boston and Chicago in the wild card race. Toronto added to their home run total, which now stands at 222. With 141 games already in the books, they still need to hit two per game, on average, the rest of the way to tie the 1997 Seattle Mariners for the major league record of 264 home runs by a team in one season. National League Making up for lost time, Troy Tulowitzki has been hammering baseballs all over National League parks. The Colorado shortstop spent the latter half of June and most of July on the DL, but since returning to full health, he's raised his batting average from .306 to .327, challenging teammate Carlos Gonzalez for the batting title. The rest of the Rockies couldn't be happier, as they've won eight straight and now trail the co-leaders in the NL West - San Diego and San Francisco - by just 2 1/2 games. The Giants finally caught the Padres, beating them for the second straight game. The Giants used six pitchers to complete a 1-0 shutout and tie up the division. While those two battled, Tulowitzki was leading the Rockies, going 3-for-3, with a pair of home runs, one of the traditional variety and another an inside-the-park kind. His other hit was a run-producing double. He finished with three RBI and scored four times as the Rockies trampled the Diamondbacks, 13-4. "Tulo" has hit safely in nine of his last ten games, going 16-36 (.444) with 8 home runs and 17 RBI. Gonzalez went hitless for the second straight game following a 16-game hitting streak that led him to the league's batting lead. He was up to .340, but has since fallen to .335. PENNANT NOTES: In the AL Central, the Twins lost and the White Sox won, to Minnesota's lead is back to an even five games. Texas beat the Yankees, lowering their magic number to clinch to AL West to 15. The Phillies and Braves each won, so Philadelphia remains one game in front in the NL East. St. Louis lost to Atlanta while the Reds beat Pittsburgh, 4-3, so Cincinnati's lead in the Central is back up to six games. While the Rays or Yankees will almost surely be the AL wild card, the NL is a bit more complicated. St. Louis looks like the odd team out, as they will probably have to catch the Reds to reach the post-season at all. They trail the Braves - currently the wild card leader - by 6 1/2 games, but San Francisco and San Diego are both a game behind the Braves, with Colorado 3 1/2 back.

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