Monday, May 16, 2011

Bautista Socks Three Homers in Blue Jay Win;

Players of the Day for Sunday, May 15, 2011

American League

Jose Bautista
Prior to last season, Jose Bautista had never hit more than 16 home runs in a season, yet he shocked the baseball world in 2010 by leading the majors in homers.

A subtle change in his stance and approach at the plate turned Bautista into a wall-crashing dynamo, making a shambles of the home run "race." By the time he was done, there was a huge gulf between Bautista and his nearest competitor. In the AL, Paul Konerko finished second in homers with 39. Albert Pujols led the NL with 42, both well short of Bautista's 54.

To the surprise of many, Bautista is at it again, socking three more long flies to up his MLB-best total to 16, as the Blue Jays topped the Twins, 11-3.

Bautista went 3-for-5 - all homers - drove in four runs and scored three times. His lead in the AL home run race is three better than the Yankees' Curtis Granderson, who also seems to have found his power stroke later in life.

Riding a seven-game hitting streak, Bautista is hitting .462 (12-for-26) with six dingers and 12 RBI over that span.

With Boston taking three straight from the Yankees, Toronto has benefitted. The Blue Jays are tied with Baltimore, just three games behind division-leading Tampa Bay and a game behind New York. Boston trails the division, but the Red Sox are only 3 1/2 off the pace.

National League
Ryan Braun

Over the weekend, the Cincinnati Reds swept three games from the St. Louis Cardinals, reclaiming first place in the NL Central.

With the Reds tearing up the top of the division, Milwaukee kept pace with a three-game sweep over the Pirates, culminating in Sunday's 9-6 win.

At the center of the action, as usual, was the Brewers' slugging left fielder, Ryan Braun, who socked his league-leading 13th home run and also tripled in three at-bats. Braun's first inning, three run homer got the Brewers off to a fast start and his triple in the second extended the early lead.

Milwaukee was up 6-0 before the Pirates rallied for five run in the 5th inning, but the Brewers notched two more in the bottom half of the frame and cruised to victory. Braun is batting .309 with 13 home runs and 33 RBI (3rd in the NL). The Brewers are in third place, four games behind the Reds, who lead the Cardinals by 1 1/2.

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