Monday, June 6, 2011

Brian Duensing Shuts Out Royals for Minny Sweep; Albert Pujols Does Cubs Again

Players of the Day for Sunday, June 5, 2011

American League

It's definitely June, and we know that because:

Brian Duensing
Your allergies have kicked into a new gear? No. The Rangers took four straight from Cleveland? Getting closer. The Twins swept four from the Royals in Kansas City? Now you've got it.

The Twins, currently holders of the worst record in the majors at 21-37, have awakened from their Spring slumber it seems, but they still have plenty of work to do. The Royals, meanwhile, well, including the four losses to the Twins, are just 5-17 since May 13 and sinking fast.

The latest loss involved eight innings of shutout ball from Twins' hurler, Brian Duensing, paving the way for a 6-0 whitewash. Billy Butler went 3-for-3 against Duensing, but otherwise, he was mowing them down pretty well, allowing six hits and a walk while fanning four.

Definitely not a household name, Duensing is part of a young Minnesota rotation that is still feeling its way through the AL. The win makes him 3-5, while leaving the Twins still 12 1/2 behind the first place Indians, though they are now only 3 1/2 behind the Royals. Baby steps, but the nature of the AL Central is beginning to revert to more recent form.

National League

Eh, would you
pitch to this guy?
The Cubs-Cardinals rivalry is one of the best in baseball, and when the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano and St. Louis' Chris Carpenter went to the mound on Sunday, the fans got their money's worth, the two pitchers dueling to a 2-2 tie after nine innings.

Enter Albert Pujols, who ended Saturday's contest with a 12th-inning solo homer, so one would think that it might be best to pitch around him, right?

Sure, that makes sense, but that wasn't quite how Cubs' manager Mike Quade saw it, figuring Pujols could not do it two days in a row, and that his pitcher, Rodrigo Lopez, would be smart enough to keep the ball away.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Pujols led off the 10th inning, Lopez left a slider up in the zone and the result, was obvious, 466 feet away, in the left field stands where King Albert deposited the ball for the 3-2, extra-inning win.

The win kept St. Louis two games ahead of Milwaukee in the NL Central, where the Cubs have fallen to 5th place, 11 games out and only 1 1/2 ahead of the last place Astros. At a miserable 23-34, and especially after letting Albert Pujols beat you twice - the same way - the clock is now ticking for rookie manager Quade. Tick-tock.

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