Saturday, September 10, 2011

Halladay Gets 17th in Win Over Brewers, Howard Homers; Wade Davis Keeps Tampa in Race, Topping Red Sox

Players of the Day for Friday, September 9, 2011

American League

The final three weeks of the regular season are going to be exciting for the LA Angels and Tampa Bay Rays, especially if Boston - currently the wild card leader - continues to lose games and players down the stretch.

Wade Davis
In Tampa, the Rays took the first game of a critical three-game series from the Red Sox, 7-2, getting a complete game from Wade Davis (10-8), the second of his career, and the 15th complete game by Rays' starters this season, tops in either league.

Davis smoked the Sox on six hits, allowing just two runs in the top of the 6th, when Tampa already had built a 5-0 lead. The Rays got the runs back in the bottom of the frame and Davis cruised, striking out 8 Red Sox hitters without issuing any walks.

The win moved the Rays to within 5 1/2 games of Boston in the wild card race. In LA, the Angles got a walk-off sac fly from Maicer Izturis, plating pinch runner Jeremy Moore with the game winner in a 2-1 thriller to move to within five games of Boston and remain 2 1/2 back of Texas in the AL West division. With the Yankees losing, the Red Sox remained 2 1/2 behind them in the East.

Boston is hoping for the return of starters Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett, both of who are making progress with injuries. Third baseman Kevin Youkilis returned to Boston to have his sore hip examined by team doctors and undergo an MRI exam. He is listed as day-to-day, but the Red Sox hope he'll be back in the lineup soon, without having to go onto the DL.

The Rays will have every opportunity to make a late season charge. After the series with the Red Sox concludes in Tampa on Sunday, they fly to Baltimore for a three game series, then head to Boston for four games. After that, it's three games at Yankee stadium before returning home for three with the Blue Jays and three more with the Yanks to close out the regular season.

National League

The Milwaukee Brewers have the best home record in the majors - 50-21 - though the Phillies are trying to see to it that their 49-22 home mark becomes the best as the two battle in a three game series in Milwaukee.

Howard: 111 RBI
Halladay: 17 Wins
In Friday's opener, Roy Halladay stymied the Brewers for eight innings, allowing one run on four hits while striking out eight for his 17th win against five losses in a 5-3 victory. Reliever Antonio Bastardo, who came on in the 9th in a non-save situation, nearly gave the game away, giving up a single and a walk before Ryan Madson came on to clean things up and record his 29th save.

Ryan Howard socked his 29th homer of the season, a three-run blast in the 1st inning, staking Halladay with an early lead. The three RBI gave Howard the lead in the NL with 111, three better than Prince Fielder, who singled and scored in the game, but did not drive in any runs.

Halladay, a Cy Young candidate in a crowded field, is third in the league in wins behind Arizona's Ian Kennedy (19) and LA's Clayton Kershaw, who won his 18th Friday night with a 2-1 win over the Giants.

The Dodger win and San Francisco loss worked out just fine for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who won their 15th straight home game and are 44-26 at home this season. They lead the Giants by a very comfortable 8 1/2 games and are cruising toward the NL West division title.

The Phillies have the smallest magic number in the majors, at nine, as they lead the Braves by 11 games in the East. Milwaukee may not want to look over its shoulder, because the Cardinals have trimmed their lead to seven games in the Central, as they downed Atlanta, 4-3, in 10 innings.

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