Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mariano Rivera Sets Saves Record; Ian Kennedy Allows One Hit in 20th Win; Cardinals Within 2 1/2 of Braves in NL Wild Card

Players of the Day for Monday, September 19, 2011

American League

Rivera: 602 Saves
It wasn't a very pretty game, but the Yankees left Toronto with a 6-4 win and save number 602 for Mariano Rivera, making the Yankee closer the all-time leader, passing Trevor Hoffman, who retired last season with 601.

Rivera came on in the ninth as the sixth Yankee pitcher of the day, but his work was, as usual, nearly flawless. Striking out Chris Parmelee to end the game, Rivera didn't allow a hit or a walk in recording his 43rd save of the season, second best in the AL behind Detroit's Jose Valverde.

Better yet for Rivera, who has been on a roll lately with 10 saves in the past three weeks, the Yankee win coincided with a Red Sox split of a double-header against Baltimore, padding the Yankees' lead to five games over Boston and seven over Tampa Bay.

The Rays did not play on Monday, but are headed to New York for a three game series starting Tuesday.

With the Central division already decided in favor of the Tigers, the LA Angels are letting their season slip away with their third loss in four games, a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Blue Jays in ten innings. The Rangers' lead in the West is now five games, and though the Angles finish the regular season with three home games against Texas, they'll have to do better in their next three games at Toronto followed by three at home with the A's.

National League

Arizona strengthened its case for winning the West with a 1-0 victory at Pittsburgh Monday, increasing their lead in the division to 5 1/2 games over the idled Giants.

Ian Kennedy: 20-5
Diamondback bats weren't exactly booming, getting just five hits off Pittsburg starter Jeff Karstens and their only run coming on a Justin Upton broken bat solo homer in the 6th, but they didn't need much, as ace Ian Kennedy racked up his 20th win, stifling Pittsburgh on one hit over eight innings, walking one and matching his career high with 12 Ks.

Kennedy, 20-4, dominated the middle of the Pirate order, striking out their 3, 4 and 5 hitters a total of seven times. He became the first 20-game winner in the National League. Justin Verlander (24-5) is the sole AL 20-game winner.

The wild card race tightened up a little more, as the Cardinals downed the Phillies, 4-3, and the Marlins topped the Braves, 6-5, when Omar Infante launched a two-run homer off Braves' closer, Craig Kimbrel.

The Braves have seen their big wild card lead dwindle to just 2 1/2 games. Atlanta has gone just 6-12 in September. Meanwhile the Cardinals have won eight of their last 10 and have nine games left - all at home - against some of the weaklings of the National League, with consecutive three game series against the Mets, Cubs and Astros.

Atlanta has two more games in Florida, three in Washington, but then return home for a season-ending, three game series with the Phillies.

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