Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dan Haren Blanks Yankees, 6-0; Anibel Sanchez Tosses One-Hitter; Wild Card Races Tighten

Players of the Day for Saturday, September 10, 2011

American League

The Angels are putting on quite a show in the AL West, clinging to post-season hopes based on catching the Rangers in the division or the Red Sox in the wild card race. With Saturday's 6-0 win over the Yankees, September is working out quite well for them.

Haren: 4-Hit Shutout
Dan Haren turned in another clutch pitching performance, improving his record to 15-8, with a complete game, 6-0, win over the AL East-leading Yankees, denying C.C. Sabathia of his 20th win and getting the Angels one game closer to their desired outcome.

Needing 113 pitches to complete the game, Haren threw 78 strikes, gave up just four hits while fanning seven. He did not walk a batter and at one point retired 18 in a row. Haren got into a little trouble in the 8th, when the Yankees collected a pair of singles with one out, but that threat was quickly quelled wen Edgardo Nunez grounded into an inning-ending double play. It was Haren's fourth complete game and third shutout of the season.

In connection with the Rangers dropping an 8-7 decision to the A's and Boston losing, 6-5, to Tampa Bay in 11 innings, the Angels inched to within 1 1/2 games of the Rangers and are five games behind the Red Sox in the wild card chase. Tampa Bay closed to within 4 1/2 of the Red Sox and are seven back of the Yankees in the AL East.

In the Central, Alex Rios clubbed a walk-off grand slam in the 10th inning for a 7-3 win over Cleveland, securing the White Sox hold on second place. Unfortunately for both the White Sox and Indians, the Tigers won again, topping Minnesota, 3-2, and have a 9 1/2 game edge over Chicago and lead Cleveland by 11 games. The magic number for the Tigers is nine.

National League

Neil Walker stroked a one-out single in the second inning, but that turned out to be the only hit the Pirates could get off Anibal Sanchez, as the Florida hurler tossed his second one-hitter of the season, beating the Pirates, 3-0, Saturday.

Sanchez: 1-Hitter
While both the Marlins and Pirates have no post-season aspirations, Sanchez, who won for just the second time in his last 16 starts, the win was important in terms of looking ahead to next year. Sanchez allowed the lone hit, walked three and struck out 11, tying his personal best for Ks in a game. He was around the plate all game long, throwing 86 of 119 pitches for strikes.

Meanwhile, the pennant races were taking some odd turns. The Phillies took their third straight from the Brewers, who have lost their last five games, with a 3-2, 10 inning victory in Milwaukee. The win, coupled with St. Louis' 4-3 win over the Braves, shrunk Milwaukee's Central division lead to just six games, while the Phillies' magic number for clinching the AL East dropped to just seven.

The Cardinals are closing fast, not only on the Brewers, but on Atlanta in the wild card race. With their second straight win over Atlanta, the Cards are just 4 1/2 games back.

In the West, Arizona won its 15th straight home game, getting back-to-back home runs from Chirs Young and Lyle Overbay to send the game into extra innings, beating the Padres, 6-5, in 10 innings. With the Giants losing, 3-0, to the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks have a commanding 9 1/2 game lead in the the division, with just 16 left to play.

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