Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Verlander Becomes First 18-Game Winner; Homers by McCutchen, Walker, Jones Fuel Pirate Victory

Players of the Day for Tuesday, August 16, 2011

American League

Verlander: 18 Wins
There was no shortage of runs across the American League on Tuesday, but the Minnesota Twins didn't exactly share in the bounty, as Detroit's Justin Verlander became the first 18-game winner in the majors as the Tigers retained their stranglehold on first place in the Central division with a 7-1 victory over the fading Twins.

Verlander didn't have his best stuff, but pitched well enough to hold Minnesota to one run over 7 1/3 innings of work, throwing 81 of 122 pitches for strikes as his teammates built a huge lead, scoring two in the 4th, three in the 5th and two more runs in the 6th.

The loss dropped Minnesota 11 1/2 back of Detroit and likely out of contention. The Tigers, meanwhile, increased their lead on Cleveland, losers to the White Sox, 8-7 in 14 innings, to 3 games. Chicago remained 3 1/2 out.

McCutchen: 3-run HR
Verlander struck out 8 and allowed seven hits and a walk. Looking more and more like a shoo-in for the AL Cy Young Award, he lowered his ERA to 2.31 and increased his league-leading strikeout total to 204.

National League

Walker tied it
in the 9th
Thanks in part to the Pittsburgh Pirates, life and the pursuit of the NL Central crown got a little bit easier for the first place Milwaukee Brewers.

While the Brewers were winning their fifth straight with a 2-1 win over the Dodgers, the Pirates, trying to remain relevant, took a swipe at second place St. Louis, beating them for the second time in two days, 5-4, in 11 innings.

Jones won it in 11th
Andrew McCutchen continued his impressive season for the Bucs, swatting a three-run homer - his 17th - in the 3rd inning of Cardinal starter Chris Carpenter, but, after Albert Pujols hit his 30th home run and David Freese drove in another, the game was tied at 3-3 in the 6th.

St. Louis took a 4-3 advantage in the top of the ninth, Niel Walker tied it back up with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning, setting the stage for Garrett Jones' game winner in the 11th, a leadoff, walk-off solo blast that left the Pirates 13 games back, but, more importantly for the Brewers, dropped the Cardinals to seven games off the pace.

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