Monday, August 1, 2011

Verlander Out-duels Weaver with 1-Hitter; Cueto Hurls Shutout as Reds Sweep Giants

Players of the Day for Sunday, July 31, 2011

American League

Verlander: 1 Hit over 8
Justin Verlander became the second pitcher in the majors - along with the Yankees' C.C. Sabathia - to reach 15 wins this season, out-pitching LA's Jered Weaver (14-5) in a 3-2 Tiger win.

Verlander (15-5), who threw a no-hitter earlier in the year, set down the first 11 Angels in order before giving up a walk to Bobby Abreu, and then retired the next eight batters before walking Abreu again in the 7th inning.

Verlander got the final two outs of the 7th, then ran into problems in the 8th, throwing wildly on Erick Aybar's dribbler, sending the LA shortstop to second base with no outs. After Aybar went to third on Matt Trumbo's ground out and scored on Peter Borjous' fielder's choice, Maicer Izturis finally broke through for a single with two out in the 8th to break up the no-hit bid with Borjous racing around from first to score the Angels' second run.

Finishing up the 8th by striking out Torii Hunter with his 111th pitch, Verlander took a seat to watch Jose Valverde earn his 28th save, walking Abreu for the third time in the game, but getting through the 9th without surrendering a hit.

Verlander allowed the one hit to Izturis and both runs were unearned. He struck out eight, increasing his AL-best strikeout total to 178, topping Sabathia's 156.

The Tigers opened up a 2 1/2 game lead on the Indians, who lost to KC, 5-3, while the Angels remained two games behind the Rangers in the West, as Texas dropped a 7-3 decision to Toronto.

National League

After dropping a four-game series at home to the lowly Mets, it appeared as though the Cincinnati Reds were about to fall completely out of the NL Central race.

Cueto: 3-hit Shutout
That was, until the Giants came to town.

The defending Central division champion Reds completed a three-game sweep of the reigning world champion Giants with a 9-0 whitewash, courtesy of dependable Johnny Cueto, who allowed just three hits - to the first three batters in the Giants' order, though not in the same inning - walked one and struck out six for the complete-game, 9-0, shutout victory.

The blowout came after came on the heels of Friday's nail-biting 4-3 win and Saturday's relaxed 7-2 drilling. Despite picking up Carlos Beltran to bolster their offense, the Giants still have trouble scoring runs and crafty Cueto - on top of his game - made the task all but impossible.

Joey Votto cracked his 17th home run of the season and drove in four runs for the Reds, who remained 6 1/2 behind Milwaukee in the Central but picked up ground on second place St. Louis and third place Pittsburgh, as well as gaining on Atlanta in the wild card race.

The win was Cueto's seventh against four losses, his third complete game of the year and first shutout this season.

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