Friday, October 1, 2010

Bautista Making MVP Case; Phillips, Reds Ready to Roll into Playoffs

Players of the Day for Thursday, September 30, 2010

American League

As a team, the Toronto Blue Jays have hit 253 home runs, the fourth-highest total by a team in major league history, and still have a shot to tie or break the record set by the 1997 Seatle Mariners of 264.

The trouble is, their remaining games are being played at spacious Target Field in Minnesota, which has quickly become known as the place where long fly balls go to die. That didn't seem to have an effect on the thundering Blue Jays Thursday night, when they sent six balls out of the park, including two by AL and major league home run leader, Jose Bautista.

Bautista may have cemented himself a 2010 MVP award with a 7th inning grand slam and a 9th inning solo shot to right field, the first opposite field home run of his career. That gave Bautista 54 on the year, quite an accomplishment in the post-steroid era, and 124 RBI, second only to Miguel Cabrera's 126 in the AL.

The Jays pounded the Twins, 13-2, in the first of four games which will conclude the season. The fact that the Twins have already secured the AL Central crown could work to Toronto's advantage as Minnesota will probably empty their bullpen in the remaining three games, meaning that Toronto batters should be swinging for the fences this weekend.

National League

The Cincinnati Reds have a few more days in which to loosen up and get their players ready for the post season.

From all appearances, they're loose and ready, after knocking off the Astros, 9-1, on Thursday night.

Brandon Phillips is surely showing signs that he's geared up for the post-season, as the spunky second baseman slugged a two-run homer, singled in another run and stole a base in the Reds' win.

The home run was Phillips' 18th of the year, to go with 16 steals. He finished the night, 2-for-4 with 3 RBI and scored a run.

PENNANT NOTES: San Francisco took another step closer to winning the NL West with a 4-1 win over Arizona, while the Padres took a heart-breaking 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Cubs, falling three games behind the Giants and ensuring the best they could do is tie for the division lead.

To do so, they'll have to win all of their remaining games, which just happen to be the three they're playing in San Francisco this weekend. The Giants can clinch the division by winning any one of the game, beginning Friday night.

The Padres risk missing the playoffs altogether, as they are two games behind the Braves in the wild card race. Atlanta hosts Philadephia in a three-game, regular season-ending series starting Friday.

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