Friday, September 2, 2011

Kinsler, Wilson Lead Rangers Past Rays; Pujols Slams as Cardinals Sweep Brewers

Players of the Day for Thursday, September 1, 2011

American League

Wilson: 14-6
The Texas Rangers keep finding new ways to fend off the LA Angels as the pursue their second straight AL West title and a possible return trip to the World Series.

Kinsler: 94 runs
In their latest exploit, a 7-2 win over Tampa Bay, the Rangers got a solid six innings from starting pitcher C.J. Wilson (14-6), who allowed two hits, a walk and two runs while striking out nine, and a pair of solo homers from leadoff hitter Ian Kinsler.

The victory allowed the Rangers to maintain their 3 1/2 games of breathing room over the Angles, 4-3 winners over Seattle Thursday night.

Wilson and Kinsler have been integral to the Rangers' success this season. Wilson, winner of four of his last five starts, is the Rangers' workhorse, logging 192 innings and registering 173 Ks, good for sixth in the AL. Kinsler, despite his sub-standard .243 batting average leads all second baseman and is fourth in the league with 94 runs. He also has 23 homers, 61 RBI and has swiped 23 bases, including one in Thursday's win.

National League

Pujols: 34 HRs
Losing three straight at home to the team chasing you in the division does not inspire confidence as the calendar turns to September, but that's exactly what happened to the Milwaukee Brewers - who have the major league's best home record at 50-19 - when the Cardinals came to town and swept the series, winning 2-1, 8-3 and 8-4 on Thursday.

The Brewers may want to laugh it all off, being that the Cards are still 7 1/2 games back in the NL Central, but nobody was chuckling when Albert Pujols cracked the second of his two home runs in the 3rd inning, a grand slam smash to right that put the Cardinals up 6-0 on Milwaukee starter Yovani Gallardo, who was pounded for eight runs on nine hits, lasting just 4 1/3 innings.

Pujols, who followed Rafael Furcal's leadoff homer in the first inning with one of his own, added a couple of singles later to go 4-for-5 with three runs and five RBI. Pujols leads the NL with 34 home runs, out in front of a host of pursuers with 31 and 30.

Now that they've cooled off the Brewers, the Cardinals are just looking for a path to the playoffs, and the best route seems to be through the Brewers. The two teams meet again in St. Louis - for the final time this season - next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. St. Louis has three home games against the Reds before that, while the Brewers travel to play a trio in Houston.

Bad luck? The Brewers were featured on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated. Like the appearance of the grim reaper, the SI cover jinx seems to work every time.

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