Monday, June 20, 2011

Shields Tosses 5th CG as Marlins Sink Deeper; Arroyo Keeps Reds Close

Players of the Day for Sunday, June 19, 2011

American League

James Shields
Just when it looked like things couldn't get any worse for the Florida Marlins, along came the Tampa Bay Rays and starting pitcher James Shields to put the final nail in the coffin that is the month of June.

Florida had been rolling along in May, but have won just one game in June - and they've been beaten in just about every imaginable way - but Shields and the Rays did it by shutting down the Florida hitters in a 2-1 win, Florida's 10th straight loss.

The Marlins got on the board in the first inning, scoring an unearned run on a Gaby Sanchez sac fly, but that was all they would get off Shields, who tossed his fifth complete game of the season, limiting the Marlins to a mere four hits while fanning 10.

Including the sac fly, Shields didn't allow another base hit until the 5th inning, setting down 12 straight. He issued no walks, and threw 79 of 110 pitches for strikes, extending his record to 7-4. Having an amazing season, Shields is tied for second with Seattle's Felix Hernandez in strikeouts with 108, both trailing Justin Verlander, who has 110. Shields is also third in ERA, at 2.40 and he has the sixth-best WHIP in the AL, at an even 1.00.

The Rays continue to chase Boston and NY in the AL East, trailing the Red Sox by 4 1/2 and the Yankees by three games. As for the Marlins, manager Edwin Rodriguez tendered his resignation before the game, which was the 18th loss in 19 tries in June.

Rumor has it that 80-year-old Jack McKeon will return to manage the Marlins while a full-time manager is sought. McKeon took a struggling Marlins squad all the way to the World Series in 2003, beating the Yankees to claim the world championship.

National League

Bronson Arroyo
Cincinnati keeps hanging around in the NL Central, looking for their opportunity to take over the division they won last season. The Reds trail the Brewers and Cardinals by two games after beating Toronto, 2-1, at home on Sunday.

Getting nine hits but scoring just two runs was all the Reds' hitters could produce, but it was enough for Bronson Arroyo to even his record at 6-6, as he went eight innings, allowing only an Aaron Hill 5th inning solo homer to blemish the scoreboard.

Arroyo gave up five hits total, walked one and struck out five as the Reds avoided the sweep in their interleague series with the Blue Jays. Toronto took the first two games of the series, 3-2 and 4-0.

INTERLEAGUE TALLY: Winning only three games on Sunday, the National League fell well behind the AL, which won 11 out of 14 games to take a 48-36 advantage on the season. Teams will be moving to new locales on Monday, with a few taking a day off. Some of the more interesting match-ups include the Yankees at Cincinnati, the Cubs at the White Sox and Tampa Bay at Milwaukee.

On Tuesday, Minnesota opens a three-game series at San Francisco. The Giants are clining to a 1/2 game advantage in the NL West, while the Twins are finally out of last place in the AL Central, having won seven in a row.

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