Friday, September 16, 2011

Pablo Sandoval Hits for Cycle; Rays Club Red Sox, 9-2, to Open 4-Game Series

Players of the Day for Thursday, September 15, 2011

American League

B.J. Upton
Tampa Bay headed into Boston for a four game series with the Red Sox on Thursday, intent on running down the wild card leaders as the weather turned autumn-like while the pennant races were becoming more heated. After one game, the Rays find themselves a little closer to their goal, having dusted the Sox, 9-2, to pull back to within three games.

B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria provided the bulk of the offensive production, each player going 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI. Upton's 3rd inning single plated John Jaso with the Rays' first run and Longoria upped the Tampa lead to 4-0 with his 27th home run, a three-run job that put the Rays well in front and set the tone for the series.

Evan Longoria
Following Casey Kotchman's two-run homer in the 6th, Upton responded with one of his own in the 7th and Kotchman drove in his third run with a single later in the inning to complete the Rays' scoring onslaught. Kotchman was 2-for-4.

Casey Kotchman
The Rays now trail the idle Yankees by 7 1/2, with Boston within their sights, 4 1/2 back. New York 's magic number to clinch the division is 10.

Elsewhere, the Tigers gained a tie for the Central division even though their 12-game win streak ended in Oakland with a 6-1 loss to the A's. Texas beat Cleveland, 7-4, handing the Indians their third straight loss, while the White Sox lost at Kansas City, 7-2, their fifth consecutive defeat.

The Indians would have to win all of their remaining 15 games to tie the Tigers, though the Tigers would have to lose all 12 of the games left on their schedule. The best the White Sox could do is fall a game short.

With Texas winning and the Angles having the night off, the Rangers' lead in the West expanded to 3 1/2 games, though the way Texas has been going, the Angels probably have a better shot at the wild card. They are four back of Boston and one behind the Rays in that race.

National League

Seven games back with just a dozen left to play, the Giants have little hope of catching Arizona in the NL West, but at least Pablo Sandoval gave their fans something to cheer about, hitting for the cycle as San Francisco upended the Rockies, 8-5, in Denver.

Pablo Sandoval
Sandoval homered in the first, doubled in the second, singled in the fifth and legged out a triple in the sixth to become the second player this season to accomplish the batting rarity. Milwaukee catcher George Kottaras did it against Houston less than two weeks ago, on September 3. Sandoval was issued an intentional walk in the eighth.

The Giants have won five straight and hope to catch the Diamondbacks for the division title, though time is running short and the schedule is not kind. The win in Colorado was the start of a ten-game road show for the Giants, which will culminate with a three game series at Arizona next weekend. The Giants close out the regular season with three games against the Rockies in San Francisco.

In the NL East, the Phillies took two from Florida, 3-1 and 2-1, to improve their division lead over Atlanta to 12 games and cut their magic number down to just one. There was no action in the Central, as the Cardinals and Brewers both had the day off.

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