Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Alexi Ogando Shutout Keeps Rangers in Front; Corey Hart Blasts Three Homers for Surging Brewers

Players of the Day for Monday, May 23, 2011

American League

Alexi Ogando
Missing two of their biggest and best bats for the past month, the Texas Rangers had not given up much in the AL West. In fact, heading into Monday's game with the White Sox, they still held a 1/2 game lead in the division with Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz both returning to the lineup.

Hamilton and Cruz pitched right in, with both players hitting home runs in support of Alexi Ogando's five-hit shutout, the first of his major league career. Ogando improved to 5-0 with the effort, and the Rangers maintained their slim lead in the tightly-packed division where all four teams are separated by just three games.

A first-year starter, Ogando has given the Rangers a boost in the pitching department. After going 4-1 with a 1.30 ERA in 41 2/3 innings last season - all in relief - Ogando replaced injured Tommy Hunter in the rotation and has delivered, compiling his perfect record along with a stunning 1.81 ERA and WHIP of 0.87. He struck out six and walked three in the 4-0 win.

National League

Corey Hart
Milwaukee didn't spend last weekend playing interleague games; they were busy taking three straight from the Rockies instead and moving up in the standings.

With their 11-3 home win over the Nationals, they've now won four straight and have caught the Reds for second place in the NL Central. Both teams trail St. Louis by 3 1/2 games, but the Brewers seem to be headed in the right direction.

Monday's win featured the usual performance by ace hurler Yovani Galardo, who cruised through seven innings, allowing just one run on five hits while fanning nine. The unusual came off the bat of Corey Hart, who went 3-for-5, all of his hits being of the over-the-fence variety, and drove in seven runs.

What made Hart's feat even more sensational, was the fact that he hadn't homered since September 28th of last season. And it's not like he doesn't hit homers with regularity; he smashed 31 dingers in 2010 and has averaged 25 per year since 2007.

With Hart heating up in the #2 hole, the Brewers are already on a roll that may take them to the top of the division before long.

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