Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gio Gonzalez, Mark Ellis Lead Athletics; Kuroda Blanks Brewers; Harmon Killebrew Gone at 74

Players of the Day for Tuesday, May 17, 2011

American League

Gio Gonzalez
Rain washed out four games on Tuesday, but the weather was just fine as the Oakland A's hosted the LA Angels in Northern California. While the Angels and Rangers are the favorites to win the AL West division, Oakland keeps hanging around and their 14-0 victory proves they are a contender with plenty to offer.

Mark Ellis
Gio Gonzalez kept LA in check, giving up one solitary hit over seven scoreless innings. Perfect through the first three innings, Gonzalez walked Macias Izturis in the 4th and surrendered a leadoff single in the 5th to Howie Kendrick, but that was it. No Angel even made it to second base the entire game as reliever Craig Breslow worked a perfect 8th inning and Trystan Magnuson gave up a hit in the 9th, but turned a pair of fielder's choices and a strikeout into a fitting closing.

While Gonzalez and his bullpen mates were baffling the LA batters, Oakland hitters knocked out 15 hits. Mark Ellis collected three of them, doubling in Oakland's first run in the second inning, singling in two more in the 3rd and singling another run home in the 6th. Ellis finished the game 3-for-4 with four RBI, scoring three times.

The win put the A's 1/2 game behind the Rangers and Angels, who are tied for the division lead.

National League

Hiroki Kuroda
Working his second straight strong outing, Hiroki Kuroda blanked the Milwaukee Brewers over 7 2/3 innings Tuesday in LA, helping the Dodgers remain relevant in the NL West.

Kuroda (5-3) last stymied Pittsburgh on May 11, holding the Pirates to three hits over seven innings. With the conclusion of the Milwaukee win, Kuroda has not allowed a run in 14 2/3 innings and has dropped his ERA to 2.80.

Scattering six Brewer hits and giving up a couple of walks, Kuroda was effective in tight situations, getting seven hitters on strikes.

The 3-0 win put the Dodgers 3 1/2 games behind the Rockies in the division. Colorado took their second straight from the Giants, 5-3, to reclaim the division lead by 1/2 game.

Harmon Killebrew
This One is Gone: The baseball world mourns the loss of one of the all-time greats as Harmon Killebrew passed away at the age of 74 on Tuesday. Killebrew began his playing career with the Washington Senators in 1954, but was best known for his 14 seasons with the Minnesota Twins. He finished his major league career in 1975, playing one season with the Kansas City Royals.

One of the top players of all time, Killebrew was a slugger with extraordinary power. A 13-time All Star, he led the American League in home runs six times and finished with 573 homers and 1584 RBI. He ranks 11th in career home runs and will forever remain tied with Rogers Hornsby in RBI, currently 36th all-time.

In 1969, Killebrew earned the AL MVP award, belting 49 home runs and driving in 140 runs.

Killebrew was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985. His #3 uniform was retired by the Minnesota Twins in 1975. Known as "Killer" at the plate, Killebrew was nothing like his nickname, a mild-mannered gentleman who commanded respect wherever he went.

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