Thursday, September 30, 2010

A-Rod Gets His 30; Lincecum Brilliant as Giants Approach Pennant

Players of the Day for Wednesday, September 29, 2010

American League

The Yankees lost, 8-4, at Toronto, and Alex Rodriguez only had one hit in five at-bats, but it was the accomplishment that mattered. The lone hit by A-Rod happened to be his 30th home run of the season, a 6th-inning solo blast to left, making him the only player ever to hit at least 30 homers and drive in at least 100 runs for 13 consecutive seasons.

He also tied Barry Bonds for the most seasons with 30 homers at 14. The pair are right behind Hammerin' Hank Aaron, who holds the all-time record with 15 seasons with 30 or more dingers.

The accomplishment was somewhat in doubt just a week ago, when Rodriguez was stock on 25, but he smacked five in his last six games to reach the historic milestone. His 123 RBI are second-most in the American League, behind Detroit's Miguel Cabrera's 126.

The Yankees' loss was somewhat inconsequential, as they remained 1/2 game behind the Rays, 2-0 losers to Baltimore, though the Yankees would certainly like to take the division, ensuring home field for at least the first playoff round.

Both the Yankees and Rays have already qualified for the playoffs. The only thing left to determine is which team takes the division and which will be the wild card. They are currently locked in a battle for the best record in the league with Minnesota. The Rays are 94-64; the Yankees, 94-65; Minnesota's record is 93-65. One game separates all three.

National League

Tim Lincecum struck out 11 Diamondback batters, crafting a 3-1 win for the Giants as he improved to 16-10 on the season. The win kept the Giants two games in front of the Padres, 3-0 winners over the Cubs.

After giving up a first-inning run on steven Drew's leadoff homer, Lincecum kept Arizona off the scoreboard the rest of the night, allowing six hits and four walks in seven innings. Brian Wilson worked the 9th, giving up one hit, for his 47th save, tops in the majors. San Diego's Heath Bell is second with 45.

With just four games left to be played, the Giants are in the driver's seat for the NL West crown. San Diego trails Atlanta in the wild card by 1 1/2 games. Atlanta, winners of three straight, has only three games left, but they are all with the Phillies, who have already clinched the East.

Should the Padres miss the playoffs, it will be a monumental collapse for the team that led the NL west for most of the season, but fell apart in late August, embarking on a ten-game losing streak that extended into the first week of September and allowed the Giants to gain.

The Padres and Giants exchanged the lead a number of times down the stretch, but the Giants have wrested control with outstanding pitching and timely hitting.

The Giants play Arizona again on Thursday while the Padres host the Cubs in their series finale. The two teams will decide the NL West in a 3-game series beginning Friday in San Francisco.

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