Thursday, May 31, 2012

Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero Lead Mariners in 21-8 Rout of Rangers; Carlos Gonzalez Belts 3 HR as Rockies Win 3rd Straight

Players of the Day for Wednesday, May 30, 2012

American League
Jesus Montero

Justin Smoak went 3-for-5 and cracked a pair of home runs as the Seattle Mariners decimated Texas pitching in a 21-8 pounding of the Rangers.

Justin Smoak
Smoak was part of an eight-run outburst in the second innings, as he doubled and scored after Jose Montero singled to lead off the inning. In the third, Smoak drilled one of his two three-run blasts as the Mariners sent 13 batters to the plate and tallied another eight runs, putting themselves comfortably ahead 16-0.

With his second homer of the night in the seventh inning - another three-run shot - Smoak finished up with six RBI and three runs. Jesus Montero singled, doubled and homered in four at-bats, driving in four runs and scoring four times.

The Mariners took two of three from the Rangers in Texas. The 21 runs were the most scored in a single fame by one team. The Rangers and Rockies have each put up 18-run totals this season.

National League

Carlos Gonzalez
Colorado continues to be one of the least-balanced teams in either league. Tied for fifth in the National League with San Francisco, with a 2.59 team batting average, they have plenty of offense, but their combined, league-worst 5.18 ERA is primarily what has kept them near or at the bottom of the NL West division.

The Rockies knocked off the Houston Astros, 13-5, Wednesday night for their third straight win, all over the Astros. The series in Colorado concludes Thursday in Colorado.

Carlos Gonzalez demonstrated why he is regarded as one of the best hitters in baseball, powering three home runs as he went 4-for-5 on the night, driving in four runs and scoring three times.

Gonzalez in among the NL leaders in the main offensive categories, batting .323 with 13 homers (tied for third) and 41 RBI (3rd).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Brett Lawrie, Adam Jones Star as Jays Down O's; Homer Bailey Shuts Down Pirates as Reds Cruise

Players of the Day for Tuesday, May 29, 2012

American League

As May slowly turns to June and a long hot summer of baseball commences, it's getting a bit streaky in the American League.

Brett Lawrie
In the West division, the Angels took a 5-1 win over the Yankees to extend the longest current winning streak in the majors to eight games. The Angels now trail Texas by 5 1/2 and are 3 1/2 clear of third place Oakland, losers of seven in a row.

Winners of seven straight, the White Sox have assumed command by 1/2 game over Cleveland in the Central division. In the East, first place Baltimore has lost four straight and are tied with Tampa Bay, though the Rays haven't taken advantage of the Orioles' losses, as they've lost two in a row, but are tied for the top spot. The Yankees have also lost two consecutive games - to the Angels - but, Toronto and Boston have each won their last two, making the Al East baseball's most competitive division, with all teams over .500 and within 3 1/2 games of each other.

Adam Jones
The latest of those two straight Toronto wins came last night, as the Blue Jays held on for an 8-6 win over Baltimore and will look for the sweep Wednesday at the Rogers Centre. Brett Lawrie, recently returned from a suspension, got his bat working with a 3-for-4 effort (two singles and a double). Lawrie, who played in 46 games for the Blue jays last season, so is still technically a rookie, drove in three runs and scored three times, personally accounting for six of Toronto's eight runs.

Toronto scored all of its runs by the fifth inning and had an 8-1 lead, but the O's battled back gamely, getting three in the sixth and two more in the ninth, on Adam Jones' 2-run shot in the ninth, his 16th homer of the year. Jones had a solo homer in the first, but his teammates didn't provide enough extra offense, falling short as Jones went 3-for-3, drove in three and scored three times.

National League

Homer Bailey
Having won nine of their last 11, including Tuesday's 8-1 rout of Pittsburgh, the Reds have taken command in the Central division of the NL, 1 1/2 games up on St. Louis.

The Reds' recent surge has been fueled mostly by exceptional pitching. Reds' hurlers have allowed opponents three or fewer runs in seven of their last nine wins, including a four-game sweep of the Braves in which Atlanta scored just eight runs.

Homer Bailey has picked up three wins during the current hot streak, and was on the bump Tuesday, throwing a complete game - the second of his career - at the Pirates, allowing just four hits and one earned run. Bailey needed only 103 pitches to keep Pittsburgh batters in check, as he fanned five and issued only one walk.

After a rough start to the season, Bailey's three straight wins have him above water, at 4-3. During his personal win streak, Bailey has allowed just six earned runs, over a span of 21 1/3 innings.

Cincinnati will be looking to complete the sweep when they conclude their series in Pittsburgh Wednesday night.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mark Trumbo Leads Angels to 9-8 Win over Yankees; Ty Wigginton Powers Phils Past Mets

Players of the Day for Monday, May 28, 2012

American League

Mark Trumbo
The LA Angles won their seventh straight, defeating the visiting NY Yankees in a wild, 9-8, win getting back to .500 (24-24) for the first time since April 9, when they opened the season with a 2-2 record.

Mark Trumbo ended the marathon, 25-hit jamboree with a walk-off, solo homer off Yankee reliever Cory Wade in the bottom of the ninth.

Earlier, Trumbo stroked an RBI ground rule double and scored in the bottom of the first, helping erase a 3-0 Yankee edge, as the Angels tallied four in the bottom of the frame.

In the third, he tripled and scored again, as the Angels eventually built an 8-5 lead, but gave it up when the Yankees scored three runs in the seventh.

Trumbo finished 3-for-5 with two RBI and three runs and would have hit for the cycle if he had a single, but all of his hits went for extra bases.

The win left the Angels clearly in second place, 6 1/2 behind the Rangers in the AL West, while the Yankees stayed 2 1/2 behind the Rays and Orioles in the East.

National League

Wigginton: 6 RBI
Ty Wigginton has been around. Always a productive hitter, he's been with seven different teams since breaking in, in 2002 with the Mets. During the past off-season, Wigginton went to Philadelphia after spending a season in Colorado with the Rockies, and the Phillies are happy to have him on board, especially since two of their best hitters, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, haven't played yet this season, both sidelined with injuries.

In Monday's game against the Mets in New York, Wigginton boosted his value, going 3-for-3 with six RBI and two runs in an 8-4 Phillies' win. He got things started in the third with a two-run double, broke a 4-all tie in the seventh with an RBI single and put the game away with a three run homer in the top of the ninth.

The result kept the Mets 2 1/2 behind the Nationals in the NL East, tied with Miami for second place. The Phillies are even with Atlanta, four games out. Philly and New York continue their three game series Tuesday and Wednesday at Citi Field.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Ian Kinsler Sends Rangers Past Jays; Yadier Molina Powers Cardinals with Grand Slam

Players of the Day for Sunday, May 27, 2012

American League

Completing the three-game sweep of the Blue Jays with a 12-6 victory, the Texas Rangers have once again powered their way to the best record in the American League with a 30-18 mark, and lead the surging LA Angels - winners of six straight - by 6 1/2 games.

Ian Kinsler
Texas got going in a hurry, scoring seven times in the second inning and two more in the third, while the Jays were only able to muster single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings, clearly not enough to close up the gap.

Ian Kinsler was the driver of the early scoring, doubling and driving in two in the second inning before socking his 6th homer of the season, with a man aboard in the third.

The regular leadoff hitter for the Rangers, Kinsler has touched home plate 41 times this season, four more than teammate Josh Hamilton, who is tied for second with Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez, with 37.

National League

Yadier Molina
After losing three straight at home to the Phillies, the Cardinals finally got a win to avoid a four-game sweep - a no-doubt, 8-3 victory in the series finale, but the poor recent record of 3-7 has dropped St. Louis from the top spot in the Central division, as Reds have surged past, winning eight of their last ten.

The Cardinals were aided by catcher Yadier Molina, who stroked a first-inning grand slam off Philly starter Roy Hallady, who lasted only two innings in the shortest stint of the season.

With Halladay chased from the mound, Adam Wainwright protected the early lead allowing one earned run off of seven hits over six innings, earning his fourth victory against five losses.

The Cardinals trail the Reds by 1 1/2 games in the division. The Phillies, despite better play recently, are still stuck in last place in the East, five games off the pace being set by the Washington Nationals.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Nelson Cruz's 8 RBI Lead Texas Rout of BlueJays; Ryan Zimmerman Doubles Twice as Nats Extend NL East Lead

Players of the Day for Friday, May 25, 2012

American League

The last time Toronto's Brandon Morrow took the mound, he threw a 3-hit, complete game shutout against the Mets. On Friday, Morrow took to the bump against the Texas Rangers and lasted just 2/3 of an innings, as the Rangers blasted him for six runs off five hits and three walks in the shortest outing of his career, en route to a football-like, 14-3, beating in the opener of a three-game set at Arlington.

Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz was at the center of the Rangers' offensive outburst with a grand slam and eight RBI. Crus cleared the bases in the first with a bases-loaded double, singled home Josh Hamilton in the sixth and powered the slam in the eighth. He went 4-for-5 and scored two runs.

With the victory, the Rangers improved their edge in the AL West to six full games over second-place Oakland. Toronto dropped back to fourth place in the AL East, five games behind Baltimore and a 1/2 game behind the Yankees.

The series continues Saturday and Sunday.

National League

Ryan Zimmerman
The race in the NL East loosened up a bit for the Nationals, as they increased their lead over the Braves to two games with a 7-4 win at Atlanta.

Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and drove in three runs for the Nats, helping send the Braes to their fifth straight loss.

The division standings are incredibly compact, with the Mets and Marlins just 2 1/1 out. Philadelphia is four back, though the Phillies have won three straight and are now 24-23, making the NL East the only division in the majors in which all teams are over .500.

Washington's win over Atlanta came in the first game of their three-game weekend series, which continues Saturday.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Melky Cabrera Leads Giants to 14-7 Win at Miami; Albert Pujols, Dan Haren Star in 3-0 LA Win

Players of the Day for Thursday, May 24, 2012

American League

If the LA Angels are going to get hot and back into the race in the AL West, this weekend would be a great opportunity to do so.

Albert Pujols
Dan Haren
The Angels climbed out of last place in the division, taking the first of a four-game series at Seattle with a 3-0 win, highlighted by Dan Haren's four-hit complete game shutout and a 3-for-4 performance by slugger Albert Pujols, who socked his fifth home run of the season to stake Haren to a 2-0, first inning lead and later, singled, stole second and scored on Kendry Morales' single to left field in the sixth.

While Pujols was supplying the bulk of the offense, Haren needed little cushion to pick up his second win against five losses, striking out 14 Mariners without issuing a walk. After a first inning leadoff single, Haren didn't allow another hit until the sixth inning, setting down 15 in a row. He also finished strong, fanning the first two batters in the ninth, before getting the final out on a routine grounder to second.

LA moved 1/2 game ahead of the Mariners and are incredibly only 6 1/2 games behind Texas and 1 1/2 behind second place Oakland in the division. After an 8-15 start to the season, the Angels are 13-10 in May and have won three straight.

National League

Melky Cabrera
The Giants have a solid grip on second place in the NL West after they opened a four game series in Miami with a 14-7 victory over the Marlins. While they are still 6 1/2 games behind division-leading Los Angeles, they are four games clear of Arizona, with Colorado and San Diego well back.

Melky Cabrera spearheaded the 15-hit Giant assault, scoring three times with a single and two doubles in four at-bats, driving in four runs.

Cabrera has been a bright spot in the usually moribund Giants' lineup, leading the majors with 67 hits while carrying a .362 batting average, third best in the NL. Derek Jeter of the Yankees leads the AL with 64 hits.

After batting .305 with the Royals in 2011, Cabrera joined the Giants for the 2012 campaign.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Alex Rodriguez Chasing History with Two HRs in Yankees Win; Troy Tulowitzki Leads Rockies Past Marlins

Players of the Day for Wednesday, May 23, 2012

American League

Alex Rodriguez
The race in the AL East continues to be the one to watch, with all five teams playing at least .500 baseball and the last place Red Sox only 5 1/2 out after beating front-running Baltimore, 6-5, Wednesday.

In New York, the Yankees also picked up a game on the Orioles with an 8-3 win over Kansas City, taking two of three from the visiting Royals. The Yanks are 4 1/2 back, in fourth place.

Andy Pettitte improved to 2-1 off of seven solid innings, allowing two earned while striking out eight, while Alex Rodriguez produced his first multiple home run game of the season by belting a pair, helping stake Pettitte to a 5-0 lead after three innings.

A-Rod launched his sixth of the season with a man aboard in the bottom of the first inning, following up with a solo shot in the third, his seventh homer. He was 2-for-4 with three RBI, giving him 18 ribbies thus far into the season.

Though Rodriguez's seasonal numbers aren't all that dramatic, he is chasing a few historic marks. He stands at 636 homers, 24 shy of tying Willie Mays for fourth all-time. Now 10th all-time in RBI with 1911, he will soon surpass some of baseball's great run producers. Just ahead are Eddie Murray (1917), Jimmie Foxx (1922), Ty Cobb (1938), Stan Musial (1951), Lou Gehrig (1995) and Barry Bonds (1996). Rodriguez would have to tally 107 RBI this season to become only the fourth player in baseball history to drive in 2000 runs, joining Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Cap Anson, some pretty elite company.

National League

Troy Tulowitzki
After downing the Marlins, 8-4, the Colorado Rockies are still only 16-27 and 13 1/2 games out in the NL West, but that doesn't mean they're not hitting. On the contrary, their pitching staff is last in the league with a horrific 5.12 ERA, a number which does not imply a lot of wins.

In Wednesday's win the Rockies were a marvel of efficiency, scoring eight runs on the same number of hits, staving off a sweep in Miami. Troy Tulowitzki doubled and cracked a three-run homer off Marlin starter Carlos Zambrano in four at-bats, to help power the Rockies.

Colorado, as a team, is batting .250, which is right in the middle of the NL team stats, but they are above average in most of the other offensive categories. Their 209 runs is third-best in the league and they are also third in home runs (46) and RBI (202), with a .419 team slugging percentage, second, behind St. Louis, which leads the league at .457.

A little pitching and the Rockies could become dangerous.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

C.J. Wilson One-Hits A's over 8; Adam Wainwright Keeps Cards in NL Central Lead

Players of the Day for Tuesday, May 22, 2012

American League

C.J. Wilson
C.J. Wilson took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, surrendering a one-out single to Cliff Pennington for the A's only hit of the game, as the Angels topped Oakland, 5-0.

Wilson pitched though the eighth, fanning seven with a pair of walks, for his fifth win against four losses, an excellent record, considering the Angles have been mired in last place in the Al West almost the entire season.

After throwing 125 pitches - 75 strikes and 50 balls - Wilson was relieved in the ninth by Ernesto Frieri, who set down the A's in order in the ninth.

Albert Pujols, who is beginning to heat up, drove in the Angels' fist run with a sac fly in the first as LA staked Wilson to a 3-0 lead, and socked his fourth home run of the season in the third inning.

Along with Pujols, Wilson was one of the Angels key acquisitions in the off-season, coming to LA after seven seasons with the Texas Rangers.

National League

A mere 1/2 game separates the Central division front-running Cardinals from the hard-charging Cincinnati Reds as the Cardinals survived a sweep in LA with two consecutive wins over the Padres while the Reds have put together a four game win streak.
Adam Wainwright

Keeping the Cards in first place was largely the result of a sterling performance by Adam Wainwright, who tossed a 4-hit, 4-0, shutout against the Padres Tuesday night in St. Louis.

With the Reds slipping by Atlanta, 4-3, the Cardinals rode Wainwright's arm to victory, and will go for the sweep of the NL West last place Padres Wednesday night.

Wainwright, who has had more than his fair share of rough outings this season, put it all together for his first complete game shutout of the year. Returning from a year off due to injuries, Wainwright is just 3-5 thus far, though his mound work may be turning a corner. He struck out nine - getting each of the Padres' position players on strikes at least once - and issued only one walk.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Royals' Felipe Paulino Shuts Down Yankees; Austin Kearns, Giancarlo Stanton Power Marlins Past Rockies

Players of the Day for Monday, May 21, 2012

American League

All five teams from the AL East were in action Monday, with key match-ups in Baltimore - where the Red Sox rallied past the division-leading Orioles, 8-6 - and Tampa Bay, as the Blue Jays topped the Rays, 6-2.

The story of the night was in New York, however, where the Kansas City Royals took a 6-0 decision over the Yankees, dropping them into a tie with Boston for last place in the division at 21-21.

Kansas City set the tone in the first inning, when Mike Moustakas homered with a man aboard off NY starter Hiroki Kuroda for a 2-0 lead. The Royals scored another pair of runs in the seventh on Jeff Francoeur's two-run blast. In between Billy Butler doubled a run home in the fifth and later, Irving Falu scampered home with the final nail in the coffin on a wild pitch by Freddie Garcia.

While the Royals regulars were putting the Yankee staff through their paces, 29-year-old Dominincan, Felipe Paulino, was setting bombers down quietly and efficiently, throwing shutout ball for 6 2/3 innings on six hits with eight strikeouts and a pair of walks.

Felipe Paulino
Paulino (2-1), making just his fourth start of the year, had runners on base in every inning but the second, working out of jams repeatedly to hold the Yanks off the board. In the third, New York loaded the bases with nobody out, but Paulino cooly struck out Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez before getting Raul Ibanez on a routine fly ball to end the threat.

Besides the third inning Ks, Paulino struck out two of the Yankee deep threats, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira twice each.

Although they're only 17-24 and six games behind the Indians in the Central, the Royals have not been a pushover for the Yankees, having taken two of four from them earlier this month in Kansas City. Game two of the three-game set is scheduled for Tuesday night at 7:05 pm EDT.

The Orioles lead the East by two games over the Rays, with Toronto another game back. New York and Boston are 5 1/2 out. All five teams in the division are at least at .500, a stat unmatched by any other MLB division.

National League

Austin Kearns
The Rockies looked to put away the Marlins early, scoring four first inning runs off Miami starter Mark Buehrle, but their lead would not last long, as Miami powered back for a 7-4 home win that left them just 2 1/2 games off the pace being set in the NL East by Atlanta.

Giancarlo Stanton
Six of Miami's seven runs came off aging starter Jamie Moyer, who dropped to 2-4. Moyer lasted just 3 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season, after Giancarlo Stanton sent him to an early shower with a mammoth grand slam that knocked out a panel on the Marlins' state-of-the-art scoreboard.

Austin Kearns went 4-for-4 with four singles, drove in two runs, scored once and stole a base to pace the Miami hitters who piled up 13 hits and seven walks for the game.

The Rockies have lost five straight and remain tied with San Diego for last place in the NL West while the Marlins have won two in a row.

The second leg of the series is Tuesday, with the finale Wednesday night.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jake Peavy Dominates Cubs; Jonathan Lucroy Leads Brewers' 16-4 Rout of Twins

Players of the Day for Sunday, May 20, 2012

American League

Jake Peavy
The Chicago White Sox have had their ups and downs this season, obviously, since the Windy City boys evened their record at 21 up and 21 down after starter Jake Peavy (who's been more consistent, at 5-1) shut out the crosstown Cubs over 6 1/2 innings on three hits in a 6-0 Whit Sox win.

Though the outing was one of Peavy's shortest of the season, he was able to keep the Cubs off the board while his teammates forged a lead. He also helped by scoring on a sac fly in the top of the seventh inning to make it a 5-0 score. Walking two and striking out seven, Peavy upped his seasonal total to 55 Ks, among the top ten in the league.

While the White Sox have won four straight - three at the Cubs' expense as they swept the three-game, in-city weekend series - they sent the Cubs to their sixth consecutive defeat, currently the longest such streak in the majors.

Chicago trails the Indians by 2 1/2 games in the AL Central.

National League
Jonathan Lucroy

The the Central division-leading Cardinals losing four straight, the Brewers haven't done much to improve their position, until they blasted Minnesota, 16-4, on Sunday.

Jonathan Lucroy led the offensive assault with a pair of homers, a single and seven RBI, socking a three-run job in the first inning, singling and scoring in the second and finishing off the Brewers' scoring with a grand slam in the seventh.

His seven RBI were a career high, coming in his first ever start as the cleanup hitter, giving the Milwaukee catcher 27 on the year.

Even with the victory, the Brewers are still in fifth place in the division, at 17-24, five games out. They snapped a string of four straight losses and defeats in six of their last seven games.

The Twins remain the worst team in the majors with a record of 14-27

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Brandon Morrow Stops Mets with 3-Hit Shutout; Dodgers 6 Games Up as Clayton Kershaw Dazzles Cardinals

Players of the Day for Saturday, May 19, 2012

American League

Morrow: 3-Hit
The race in the AL East continues to heat up, with a couple of unlikely teams - Baltimore and Toronto - and one solid contender, Tampa Bay chasing an elusive crown.

Baltimore won its fifth straight, downing Washington, 6-5, in interleague play on Saturday, while Tampa Bay kept pace, two games back, with a 5-2 victory over Atlanta.

Lurking just four games out are the Toronto Blue Jays, winners of their fourth straight as they rode the arm of Brandon Morrow for a 2-0 win over the Mets. Improving to 5-2, Morrow tossed a sensational, 3-hit masterpiece, striking out eight Mets' batters, at one point setting down 13 in a row.

Morrow didn't allow any runner past second base, walked one, and threw 76 of 107 pitches for strikes. The win was Morrow's third career complete game shutout and second of this season. On May 5, he blanked the Angels in LA on three hits.

The Blue Jays can complete the sweep with a win Sunday in Toronto.

National League

Kershaw has Dodgers
6 Games up after
6-0 victory
In the only non-interleague game of the day, Clayton Kershaw buzzed through the St. Louis lineup with a 6-hit, complete game shutout for a 6-0 Dodger win over the Cardinals. It was the third straight win for LA, and the third consecutive loss for the Cardinals, both teams atop their respective divisions, though the Dodgers hold the largest lead in the majors, six games to the good over San Francisco in the NL West.

The Dodgers scored two runs in the fourth inning and put the game away in the seventh with a four-run outburst. Kershaw improved to 4-1 with the outing and didn't walk a single batter. He's walked only 12 this season, in nine starts over 61 1/3 innings. Saturday's victory was Kershaw's seventh career complete game and fourth shutout.

The Dodgers will be looking for a sweep of the three-game series Sunday in Los Angeles when the two division leaders square off in the featured Sunday night game on ESPN at 8:00 pm EDT.

Friday, May 18, 2012

JP Arencibia Leads Jays Rout of Mets; Justin Verlander Tosses 1-Hitter at Pirates; Martin Prado Helps Braves Retain NL East Edge

Players of the Day for Friday, May 18, 2012

American League

Verlander: 1-hitter
Arencibia: 2HR 6RBI
Friday kicked off a weekend of interleague games, some of which were outright mismatches, such as Toronto's 14-5 home victory over the Mets in which JP Arencibia cracked a pair of home runs and drove in a career high six RBI, going 3-for-5.

In Detroit, Justin Verlander held the Pirates hitless until one out in the eighth inning, when Josh Harrison broke up the no-hit bid with a single up the middle. Verlander finished with a one-hitter, striking out 12 and walking a pair in a 6-0 Tiger win. Verlander threw 76 of 109 pitches for strikes, improved to 5-1 and took over the AL strikeout lead with 68.

Martin Prado
National League

Atlanta's Martin Prado went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run, drove in one and scored three times as the Braves padded their NL East lead over Washington to 1 1/2 games with a 5-3 win at Tampa Bay. The Nationals lost a tight, 2-1, extra-inning contest to the Orioles in D.C. on Nick Markakis' solo homer with one out in the top of the 11th inning. The O's lead the AL East by two full games over the Rays.

Interleague play continues through the weekend, except for one NL series between St. Louis and the LA Dodgers due to the imbalance in the number of teams between the two leagues.

Jose Bautista Leads Blue Jays to Sweep of Yankees; Brandon Beachy Shuts Out Miami as Atlanta Takes First in NL East

Players of the Day for Thursday, May 17, 2012

American League

Jose Bautista socked his 10th home run of the season, a two-run shot in the third inning that erased an early 1-0 Yankee lead, and scored on J.P. Arencibia's seventh inning homer, as the Blue Jays took both of their two game series against New York in Toronto with a 4-1 win.

Jose Bautista
Bautista went 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI, singling with one out in the seventh inning before Arencibia's homer to left field off Yankee reliever Corey Wade put the game out of reach.

The Blue Jays took over third place from the Yankees by 1/2 game. They are four games behind the Orioles, who lead the division with the best record in the AL at 25-14 after defeating Kansas City, 5-3, Thursday. The O's are a game ahead of the Rays, who lost to the Red Sox by the same 5-3 score.

The Blue Jays, if they are to make up any ground on the Orioles and Rays, will have their work cut out for them over their next four series. The play three interleague games against the Mets in Toronto this weekend, then head on the road for a pair of three-game sets with Tampa Bay and the Texas Rangers before returning home for three with the Orioles.

National League

Atlanta's in first place and Brandon Beachy appears headed straight to July's All Star Game.

Brandon Beachy
The Braves earned a split in the their two game series against Miami with a 7-0 victory over the Marlins, vaulted past the Nationals - 5-3 losers to Pittsburgh - into the top spot in the NL East and have won five of their last seven.

Beachy, the second year starter who is quickly becoming the ace of the staff, notched his first major league complete game and first shutout, breezing through the Marlins lineup without allowing a walk, setting down the last nine batters he faced in order.

Beachy allowed just five his, fanning eight, as he earned his fifth victory against one loss. He's tied for second in the league in wins and his 1.33 ERA leads all NL starters. Beachy threw a season high 122 pitches, locating 80 of them for strikes.

The Braves head to Tampa Bay Friday for a three game series with the Rays.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Adam LaRoche Leads Nationals Back to First in NL East; Edwin Encarnacion Wrecks Yankees

Players of the Day for Wednesday, May 16, 2012

American League

Edwin Encarnacion
Edwin Encarnacion belted a monstrous three-run homer to dead center field in the third inning off Yankee starter Hiroki Kuroda to put Tornoto up 5-0 en route to an 8-1 win in the first of a two game series at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

The belt was Encarnacion's 13th of the season, which leads the team and is tied for second in the AL, as he went 3-for-4 in the game with a pair of singles and three RBI. He also is second in RBI with 34. Texas Ranger, Josh Hamilton, leads both power categories.

Toronto's win helped tighten up the contentious AL East, as both Tampa Bay and Baltimore won, expanding to a 3 1/2 game lead over the Yanks with the Blue Jays another 1/2 game back.

All four teams are above .500, the only AL division with such a stat. Boston is 6 1/2 games out with an 18-20 record. The Yankees will try to get even Thursday night. Game time is 7:05 pm EDT.

National League

Adam LaRoche
The Washington Nationals took back first place in the NL East, forging a 1/2 game lead over Atlanta, with a 7-4 win over Pittsburgh while the Marlins ran the Braves ragged, in an 8-4 victory.

Washington has accomplished the majority of their 23 wins (14 losses) because of their superior pitching, though, on a team in which more than half of their position players are batting under .250, first baseman Adam Laroche has been carrying the most productive bat, and Wednesday's win was no exception.

LaRoche singles, doubled and homered in four at-bats, driving in four runs, the key hit coming in the bottom of the seventh inning, when he cleared a bases-loaded situation with a double that broke open the game after the Pirates had scored two runs in the top of the frame to trail 4-3.

LaRoche leads the team in the three important categories, with a .339 batting average, seven home runs and 29 RBI.

The Nationals will try to maintain their slender lead when they complete their two-game series with the Pirates Thursday night before the weekend's interleague games.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Zack Greinke, Travis Ishikawa Lead Brewers Past Mets; AJ Pierzynski Goes 5-for-5 in Loss to Tigers

Players of the Day for Tuesday, May 15, 2012

American League

The AL Central has turned into quite the dogfight, with all teams, except the underperforming Twins, within 4 1/2 games of Cleveland, which leads by two games over the Tigers.

While the Indians were shutting out the Twins, 5-0, on Tuesday, the Tigers and White Sox were doing their best to keep fans interested, banging out a combined 27 hits in a 10-8 Detroit triumph.

AJ Pierzynski
The Tigers rocked starter Jake Peavy for nine hits and six runs as they rebounded from a 6-0 deficit with an eight run sixth inning, hitting three homers in the frame, two off Peavy who retired only one batter in the inning before heading to the clubhouse.

While the Tigers won the game and evened the two game series, White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski was the hitting star of the game, going 5-for-5 with a double, four singles, three RBI and two runs.

At 35, Pierzynski has put together an solid career spanning 15 seasons, including a .285 batting average.

The White Sox head to LA for a two-game set with the Angels starting Wednesday, while the Tigers host the Twins, who have the worst record in the majors, at 10-26, for a pair of games.

National League

Zack Greinke
Milwaukee earned a split in their two-game series at Citi Field with an 8-0 romp over the Mets, as Zack Grienke tossed seven shutout innings and Travis Ishikawa delivered five RBI from the bottom of the lineup.

Travis Ishikawa
Greinke allowed five hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out seven as he improved to 4-1 on the season. while he was mowing down the Mets - at one point retiring eight in a row - Ishikawa was having a blast playing fisrt base and right field, going 3-for-4 out of the seven hole with a single and a pair of home runs - both of Mets' starter, Dylan Gee.

Not known for his power stroke, Ishikawa socked a pair of bombs to center field - a solo shot in the fifth and a three-run bomb in the sixth that essentially put the game away.

The win left the Brewers in fourth place in the Central, five ames back of the Cardinals, while the Mets remained in third place in the East, 2 1/2 games behind the Braves, winners of four of their last five.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mets' Miguel Batista Shuts Down Brewers Over Seven; Dayan Viciedo Leads White Sox Past Tigers

Players of the Day for Monday, May 14, 2012

American League

Dayan Viciedo
It's been a steady start to the season for the White Sox, thanks in part to a resurgent Adam Dunn, who socked his 12th home run in Chicago's 7-5 win over Detroit, but also because of key contributions from new starters, like outfielder Dayan Viciedo, who drove in four key runs.

With the Sox down 5-2, Viciedo launched his fourth home run of the season in the fifth inning, a two-run job that got Chicago to within a run, and followed up in the sixth inning with a two run single that put the White Sox ahead for good.

Viciedo's 2-for-3, four RBI night was enough to keep the White Sox in the hunt, 2 1/2 games behind surprising Cleveland in the AL Central. The win also shaved Detroit's second place lead over Chicago to a slim 1/2 game.

The Tigers and White Sox will complete their two-game series in Chicago Tuesday afternoon.

National League

Miguel Batista
Keeping pace with NL East front-running Washington, the NY Mets turned to well-traveled,42-year-old Miguel Batista in the first of a two-game series with the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.

Now with his 11th major league team, Batista turned in seven scoreless innings against the Brew Crew, helping the Mets to a hard-earned 3-1 victory.

Milwaukee starter Yovani Gallardo gave up just two hits, but also allowed six walks and a pair of runs over six innings as the Mets played a little small ball, including a suicide squeeze play in the bottom of the sixth which provided the two-run cushion.

Batista was masterful from the hill, throwing 64 of 108 pitches for strikes in just his second start of the season. He fanned six batters and walked only one, picking up his first win of the season.

A pair of Mets relievers worked a perfect eighth innings, and closer Frank francisco made things interesting, allowing a run in the ninth while picking up his ninth save.

The Mets trail the Nationals by two games and Atlanta by 1 1/2 in the division.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Joey Votto's Grand Slam a Game-Winner; Nelson Cruz Goes 4-for-4 with Grand Slam as Rangers Rout Angels

Players of the Day for Sunday, May 13, 2012

American League

With a five game lead in the AL West after bombing the Angels in front of a national TV audience (ESPN), 13-6, the Texas Rangers have the best record in the league and are essentially steamrolling their way toward what seems a probable third consecutive World Series appearance.

Nelson Cruz
As the Angels have been dealt to the West cellar, the Rangers should have few issues disposing of the A's and Mariners, running away with the division.

In Sunday's slug-fest, the Rangers banged out 19 base hits, eight of them for extra bases, and, even though Josh Hamilton didn't hit a home run, Nelson Cruz - who hasn't gotten off to a very great start - did, and it was one which blew the game wide open, a third inning grand slam of Angel ace, Jered Weaver, that made the score 6-2 and sent the starter to the showers only 3 1/3 innings into the game.

The Rangers continued to pile up the hits and runs; Cruz went 4-for-4 - a double and two singles - and scored three runs to go with his four RBI. Texas took two of three in the series and remain home for a pair of two-game series against the Royals and A's before next weekend's interleague play at Houston.

National League

Joey Votto
Thanks in part to the Braves sweeping a three game series from the Cardinals, Joey Votto's three home runs - including a game-ending grand slam - have the Reds in second place in the NL Central, having trimmed St. Louis' lead to just 2 1/2 games.

Votto's 4-for-5 effort included a double, three homers, six RBI and four runs, as the Reds' first baseman nearly single-handedly kept the Reds from being swept by the Nationals with a 9-6 victory.

Votto belted a solo job in the first and another in the fourth inning, which tied the game briefly at two, but the Nats eventually held a 6-5 edge heading into the bottom of the ninth. With HVVV Rodriguez in to close out the contest, the Reds loaded the bases on a single, sacrifice, foul out and a pair of walks, setting up Votto for his specialty, the long ball, which he delivered to straightaway center to the delight of the home crowd.

The Reds pursuit will become more difficult starting Monday as they travel to red-hot Atlanta while the Cardinals host the Cubs. Both are two-game series.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

David Wright Leads Mets, NL with .402 Average: Adam Jones Helps Orioles Forge 2-Game AL East Lead

Players of the Day for Saturday, May 12, 2012

American League

While shocking to some, Buck Schowalter's Orioles are two games ahead in the AL East, the division normally dominated by the Yankees and Red Sox, but the youthful Baltimore team has put together good pitching, timely hitting and opponent's miscues to forge to the front with a 22-12 record, tied with Texas as the best in the league.

Adam Jones
The O's took their second straight from Tampa Bay, winning, 5-3, after taking the opener at Camden Yards, 4-3, Friday night.

The Rays committed five errors in the game and Adam Jones singled twice in four at-bats, including a bases-loaded hit in the fifth inning that plated two teammates and put the Orioles up 4-1. The Rays struck back for two runs in the sixth, but the 4-3 deficit was the closest they would get. Bill Hall added an insurance run in the eighth with a solo home run, his first homer of the season.

The Rays are in danger of being swept and dropping out of second place on Sunday when the two teams finish up their three-game series. The Yankees are 2 1/2 out, with Toronto another 1/2 game behind.

National League

The tightest race in the National League is in the East, where Washington leads Atlanta by 1/2 game. Lurking just two games out are the Mets, who separated themselves from fourth-place Miami with a 9-3 road win over the Marlins.

David Wright
RA Dickey's knuckleball was effective enough to get him out of jams, surrendering two runs on nine hits over six innings without striking out anyone and David Wright took his league-leading batting average up to .402 with a 4-for-6 effort, including a solo homer, three RBI and two runs.

The win evened the tree-game series at a game apiece as Dickey improved to 5-1 and Wright hit safely in his sixth straight game. With 45 hits, Wright is tied for third in that category with San Francisco's Melky Cabrera. St. Louis' Rafael Furcal has 48 hits, one behind Atlanta's Michael Bourne.

The Mets and Marlins conclude the series Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Josh Reddick's Homers, Five RBI Lead A's Rout of Tigers; Corey Hart Serves Up Highlights for Brewers

Players of the Day for Friday, May 11, 2012

American League

Josh Reddick
The Oakland A's are doing their nest to keep the Rangers from running away with the AL West, but the effort seems futile as 20-11 Texas has the best record in the league and leads the A's by five full games.

Oakland evened their home series with the Tigers at a game apiece as Josh Reddick cracked a pair of home runs to go with a couple of singles, going 4-for-4, scoring four times while driving in five runs in the A's 11-4 romp.

Reddick scored the A's first run in the opening frame, then knocked a solo shot to right center in the third, putting the A;s ahead, 3-2. In the sixth, he singled in a run and scored, capping his perfect night at the plate with a three-run homer in the seventh which put the game completely out of reach.

Having been a part time player in Boston from 2009 through last season, the A's snatched up Reddick and made him their starting right fielder in 2012. He's responded with a .292 batting average, eight homers and 18 RBI. Over his last ten games, he's been red hot, batting .350 (14-for-40) with five dingers and 13 ribbies.

National League

Corey Hart
Brewers fans got more than their money's worth as the Cubs opened a three-game series against Milwaukee at Miller Park - a 13-inning come-from-behind thriller that kick-started the Brewer home stand with an 8-7 win that sent the Cubs reeling into last place in the NL Central division.

David DeJesus tripled and homered for the Cubs, driving in five runs, but Corey hart outdid him, launching a two-run, one out homer in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings.

Hart had singled twice and scored an earlier run to keep the Brewers close, and finished the game 4-for-7 when he singled in the winning run with no outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 13th.

The homer was Hart's seventh of the season and his three RBI upped his total to 17.

The win helped the Brewers avoid being in the division cellar, though they still trail the Cardinals by six games with the Reds and Astros in second and third place, respectively.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Andy Dirks, Miguel Cabrera Drive Detroit Past A's; Stephen Strasburg fans 13 in Washington Win

Players of the Day for Thursday, May 10, 2012

American League

With their minds set on repeating as champions of the Central division, the Detroit Tigers remained two games behind Cleveland with a 10-6 win at Oakland in the opener of a four game series, while the Indians took care of business with an 8-3 victory over the bumbling Boston Red Sox.

Andy Dirks
Miguel Cabrera went 4-for-5 with a double, three singles, three RBI and a run scored, driving in a pair as part of an eight-run third inning, in which the Tigers sent 13 batters to the plate.

Miguel Cabrera
Andy Dirks got the Tigers off to a fast start with a solo homer in the first, one of four hits in four at-bats on the night for the second-year outfielder. His other three hits all singles, Dirks scored twice and leads the Tigers with a .383 batting average and is hitting .455 with three homers and nine RBI over his last 10 games.

The eight hits by Dirks and Cabrera were part of a 17-hit barrage by the bat-happy Tigers.

At 16-15, Detroit hasn't exactly dominated the division, though they are 7-6 as a road team. They'll have three more opportunities to improve their road record in Oakland over the weekend.

National League

Stephen Strasburg
In the only National League game of the day, the Washington Nationals regained sole possession of first place in the East division with a 4-2 victory at Pittsburgh.

Stephen Strasburg worked his magic from the mound, fanning 13 over six innings, while allowing one earned run off five hits and three walks. Having to battle with men on in four of his six innings of work, Strasburg, the NL strikeout leader (51), baffled hitters with teammates on the bases with strikeouts, and, at one point fanned seven straight Pirates.

Improving to 3-0 on the season, Strasburg helped the Nats avoid a sweep in the three-game series and back to a 1/2 game lead over idle Atlanta in the division, with the surprising Mets - winners of five straight - a game back and resurgent Miami three out. Philadelphia remained in the cellar, 5 1/2 back.

The Nationals head straight to Cincinnati for a three game weekend set, starting on Friday.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Matt Joyce Homers to Put Rays into First; Ike Davis Helps Mets Sweep Phillies

Players of the Day for Wednesday, May 9, 2012

American League

Tampa Bay's Matt Joyce experienced exhilaration and pain on one swing, belting a three-run, ninth inning home run off Yankee closer David Robertson, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 game winner, evening the three game series in the Bronx at a game apiece.

Matt Joyce
Joyce delivered a line shot to the right field stands, but twisted his left ankle on the swing, falling over home plate before getting up to limp around the bases. The pain was evident on his face, and his teammates treated him with kid gloves as he made his triumphant return to the dugout.

After taping up the ankle while on the bench, Joyce returned to the outfield for the bottom of the ninth, switching from left to right, where he watched Fernando Rodney pick up his second win of the season with two innings of relief. Jeff Neimann turned in seven solid innings for the Rays, allowing only a run in the first, when Robbie Cano doubled home Derek Jeter from first.

The blown save was the first for Robertson, in his second closer appearance since replacing injured Mariano Rivera.

With the win - and Baltimore's rainout with Texas - the Rays took sole possession of first place in the AL East by 1/2 game. The Blue Jays are three back, the Yanks, 3 1/2 behind with the Red Sox mired in last place, 7 1/2 out.

National League

Ike Davis
Back in 1969, when they captured the World Series, the Mets were called "the Amazing Mets," or, simply, "the Amazin's." The current crop of New Yorkers has the kind of chemistry that could rekindle the kind of fan attention that made the Big Apple crazy back in the day.

Completing a sweep of reigning NL East champion Philadelphia with a 10-6 win, the Mets find themselves in the thick of the division battle, 1/2 game back of Washington and Atlanta, who share the lead, though the Nationals hold a slim .006 percentage edge.

It was the first sweep in Philadelphia by the Mets of a three-game series since June of 2006, the unlikely star, first baseman Ike Davis and his .167 batting average. Davis blasted a three-run homer in the 8th inning that broke open a contentious ball game, after singling and scoring the go-ahead run in the seventh. He finished 2-for-4, raising his batting average 12 points, to .179. The breakout homer could mark the low point for Davis, who batted .264 in 2010, and hit .303 in an injury-shortened 2011.

The Mets came from behind in each of the three games, taking advantage of the Phillies' struggling relief staff, sending them into last place in the division, five games out.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Josh Hamilton Hits Historic Four Homers vs. Orioles; Jake Westbrook, Carlos Beltran Lead Cards over Arizona

Players of the Day for Tuesday, May 8, 2012

American League

Josh Hamilton belted four home runs and added a double, going 5-for-5 with eight RBI and four runs scored as the Rangers blasted the Orioles, 10-3, their second straight win at Camden Yards and 12th road win against five losses.

Hamilton's shots were all of the two-run variety; Elvis Andrus was on base for each of his towering shots. Three went to straightaway center, with one lifted over the wall in left.

It was the first time any player had hit four homers in one game since Carlos Delgado did it for Toronto on September 25, 2003, in a win over Tampa Bay. He becomes the 16th player to hit four homers in a game. With his double in the fifth inning, Hamilton's 18 total bases are a new American League record. The eight RBI are a career best for the Texas center fielder. He had never hit more than two homers in a game prior to Tuesday's prodigious, historic feat.

Hamilton: 4HR 8RBI
Hamilton homered off Jake Arrieta in the first and third innings, socked another off Zach Phillips in the seventh and finished with a blast against Darren O'Day. He now leads all of baseball with 14 dingers, four ahead of the Yankees' Curtis Granderson and two better than Dodger Matt Kemp, who leads the NL with 12.

With a .406 batting average and 36 RBI, Hamilton leads the three batting triple crown categories.

The 20-10 Rangers have the best record in the majors, leading Oakland by four games in the West. They've outscored the Orioles 23-6 in the first two games of the series and on Wednesday will go for the sweep.

Despite the loss, the Orioles remained tied for first place in the AL East with Tampa Bay, 5-3 losers to the Yankees on Tuesday.

National League

Beltran: 2HR GS 6RBI
Apparently not having lost much - besides Albert Pujols and manager Tony LaRussa - St. Louis continues to run roughshod over the National League, their 19-11 record now tied with the Dodgers as the bast in the league.

The Cardinals took their second straight from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, as Jake Westbrook turned in another valuable performance from the mound and Carlos Beltran provided more than enough offense in the 6-1 victory.
Jake Westbrook

Westbrook shut down the D'Backs on four hits over seven innings before turning the ball over to the relief staff with a healthy 6-0 lead. Fanning eight and walking two, Westbrook improved to 4-2, dropping his ERA to 1.76, 8th-best among NL starters.

For Beltran, both of his hits came in the first two innings and both were home runs. The Cardinal right fielder socked his 9th homer in the first inning, then smacked a grand slam in the second for his 10th, his six RBI all the Cards needed for the win. Beltran is tied for second in the league with the Reds' Jay Bruce. Matt Kemp leads with 12. Beltran's slam was the 10th of his career.

St. Louis leads the NL Central by 3 1/2 games over Cincinnati and look for the sweep in Arizona Wednesday night.