Thursday, September 22, 2011

Yankees Take Two from Rays, Clinch AL East; Cardinals Creep Closer in NL Wild Card

Players of the Day for Wednesday, September 21, 2011

American League

Robinson Cano
Once again, the New York Yankees are heading into the playoffs as champions of the AL East.

After taking two games in a day-night double-header, coupled with a 6-4 loss by Boston to Baltimore the Yankees openly celebrated on-field, capturing their 11th divisional championship since 1996 and coming out of the double win day with the best record in the league, at 95-60, which would give them home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Texas and Detroit are tied for second-best, at 90-65.

The Yanks got key contributions in the 8th innings of both games. In the opener, after Eduardo Nunez tied the game in the 8th with a solo homer, Robinson Cano followed a single by Brett Gardner and a walk to Derek Jeter with a double to center, plating both base runners and setting up Mariano Rivera with his 44th save of the season and 603rd career save. Rivera was flawless in the 9th, setting down the Rays in order for the first of two 4-2 wins on the day.

Robertson threw
one pitch for pennant
Jorge Posada
The nightcap took on a similar feel as the C.C. Sabathia and Jeremy Hellickson dueled to a 2-2 tie through seven innings. Sabathia was the first to find relief, being lifted in the top of the 8th inning with one out after loading the bases. David Robertson, the Yankees' best middle reliever in a pinch, induced a double play with one pitch, and when the Yankees scored two in the bottom of the inning on Jorge Posada's pinch-hit single, became the winning pitcher.

Robertson can someday regale folks with the tale of how he once captured the AL East pennant with one pitch while the veteran Posada should be assured of a spot on the post-season roster after his clinching single in the Yankees' second 4-3 win of the day.

With the Rays losing twice, the Red Sox dropping their 16th of 21 games thus far in September, the beneficiary was the LA Angels, who continued their recent winning ways with a 7-2 win at Toronto. The Angels are unlikely to catch the Rangers, who lead the West by five games, but they are now tied with Tampa Bay, 2 1/2 games behind Boston in the wild card. The Red Sox head to New York next for a three-game series beginning Friday.

National League

David Freese
The Cardinals just keep winning and getting closer in both the divisional and wild card races.

Their 6-5 win over the Mets was their 12th in their last 14 games, cutting the Braves lead in the wild card race to a mere 1 1/2 games after Atlanta was shut out by the Marlins, 4-0. The Cardinals also cut Milwaukee's lead in the NL Central to 4 1/2 games, with the Brewers stumbling against the Cubs. 7-1.

Cardinal third baseman David Freese got the key hits for St. Louis, doubling home Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman in the first inning with a two-out triple, and bringing around Pujols and Berkman again with a three-run homer in the seventh, bringing the Cardinals from a 4-3 deficit to a 6-4 lead.

Freese finished 2-for-4 with five RBI.

Atlanta, which has lost three of their last four, get a day off Thursday before heading to Washington for a three-game series. They finish the regular season at home with three games against the Phillies.

In the West, the Giants remained 5 1/2 behind the Diamondbacks, with an 8-5 win over the Dodgers. Arizona topped Pittsburgh by the same score. The Giants trail Atlanta by 3 1/2 games in the wild card.

No comments: