Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ichiro Heats Up in Win over Tigers; Josh Johnson Leads Marlins to 6-0 Victory

Players of the Day for Tuesday, April 19, 2011

American League

People who are recognizable by just one name - like Madonna, Gaga, Prince or Michael - are that way because they are unique. Baseball has it's own, a player known to most simply as "Ichiro."

That's the first name of Mariners' outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, the Japanese import who's won two batting titles, led the AL in hits seven times and has had over 200 hits every season - 10 of them - that he's played.

Ichiro got off to something of a slow start this season. Entering last night's game with Detroit, the batting average was just .250, far below his career .331 mark, so Ichiro spent little time correcting that, going 4-for-5 (all singles) in Seattle's 13-3 victory.

The hitting isn't Ichiro's whole game, though. He also averages 38 steals per season. He swiped two in the Seattle win, scored three times and drove in two runs. Not a bad night for him; a good week for lesser players.

National League

Josh Johnson
Being way down at the tip of the Florida panhandle, people forget that Miami is home to the Florida Marlins. The games are sparsely attended, but the Marlins put a solid product out on the field year in, year out.

On Tuesday, they rode the arm of Josh Johnson to a 6-0 win over Pittsburgh, clawing to within 1/2 game of the Phillies in the NL East.

Johnson, who holds a lifetime ERA of 3.02, lowered it a bit with seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits and a walk, fanning nine batters along the way. The pitcher drove in the first two runs of the game with a single in the second; his teammates added four more in the 4th and the bullpen mopped up with two hitless innings in relief.

The win improved the Marlins' record to 9-6 and Johnson's to 3-0 on the season. A Cy young candidate the past two seasons, this could be the one for the 6'7" righty. He won 15 games in 2009, but dropped to 11-6 in 2010, despite a ridiculous 2.30 ERA.

So far this season, he's allowed just 10 hits in 27 innings, holding opposing batters to a .112 batting average. The WHIP is 0.59 and his ERA is an even 1.00. Johnson has rung up 27 strikeouts.

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