Thursday, September 9, 2010

Scutaro Homers Twice to Drop Rays; Phillies, Howard Retain 1/2-Game Lead

Players of the Day for Wednesday, September 8, 2010 American League After theYankees won on Nick Swisher's 9th inning, walk-off home run, the Tampa Bay Rays knew they needed to beat the Red Sox again in order to keep the Yankees within a game and a half. Tampa didn't quite get the job done, and the Yankees can thank Boston's Marco Scutaro, as the Red Sox downed the Rays, 11-5, improving New York's lead to 2 1/2 games. Scutaro, batting leadoff for the embattled Boston squad, made the most of his five trips to the plate, collecting four hits, including two home runs (numbers 9 and 10), a double and a single. The scrappy shortstop drove in three of Boston's runs and scored three times as the Red Sox scored in six of the eight innings they needed to bat. Winning over the Rays was a bittersweet victory for Boston, which has been destroyed by injuries to a number of key players. They are more than likely out of any pennant race, trailing the Yankees by nine games, though they do play them six more times, including the final three games of the season, October 1-3, at Fenway. The Red Sox still may have a chance of catching the Rays for the wild card slot. They are 6 1/2 games behind them in that race, though they'll need help from other teams. They do not play tampa Bay any more this season. National League Rarely is Ryan Howard not in the lineup for the Phillies, but he missed a number of key games when he went on the Dl earlier this year. He went down on August 1st and returned on the 21st, but it took the big man a little time to get his swing back into a groove. It was ten games - on August 31 - before Howard hit a home run, but that was like throwing a switch. He's banged out four more since then. On Wednesday, with the Phillies having taken a 1/2-game lead in the NL East over the Braves, Howard provided all the power, going 3-for-5 with a two-run single in the first inning, a three-run homer (#28) in the 4th and another run-scoring single in the 7th. Thanks to Howard's six RBI, the Phillies maintained their lead over Atlanta - who won, 9-3, over Washington - with a 10-6 win over the Marlins. Howard is quickly catching up on the leading power hitters in the National League. His 28 home runs are 5th most, and the 95 RBI has him just five behind Carlos Gonzalez. PENNANT NOTES: San Diego and Colorado won, but the Giants lost, so the NL West has the Padres 2 games ahead of the Giants with Colorado 4 1/2 back. The Reds and Cardinals both lost (Cincy has lost four straight), so St. Louis still trails by 6 games. Texas snapped their five-game losing streak with an 8-1 win over Toronto and lead Oakland by 7 games in the AL West. Minnesota won their sixth in a row and the White Sox fell for the second straight day, increasing the Twins' advantage to 5 1/2 games.

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