Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Angels Blast Texas Behind Kendrys Morales Two Homers; Arizona Gains in NL West Behind Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Johnson Homers

Players of the Day for Monday, July 30, 2012

American League

The Rangers and Angels opened a crucial four game series in Arlington Monday night, and the result moved the two AL West contenders closer together as the Angels romped in a 15-8 slugfest.

With neither manager willing to deplete their respective bullpens, only five pitchers were employed in the contest, the worst of it taken by Texas starter Roy Oswald, who allowed eight earned runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings.

Kendrys Morales
The biggest blows came in the Angels half of the sixth inning, when LA sent 11 batters to the plate and knocked Oswalt out of the game, scoring nine times. After an Albert Pujols' leadoff double, Kendrys Morales went deep for a two-run homer, and finished the inning off with a grand slam that put the Angels up by a 12-3 score.

Morales's two homers and six RBI gave him 11 and 45, respectively. Mike Trout, who drove in four runs himself, and Maicer Izturis also homered for the Angels.

The result left Texas with a four game lead over the Angels, though Oakland, 4-3 winners in 15 innings over Tampa Bay, is just 3 1/2 behind the Rangers and can benefit from the head-to-head play between their two main rivals.

The series continues Tuesday in Texas, with an 8:05 pm EDT start.

National League

Chris Johnson
For the Arizona Diamondbacks, the time to make a move on the Giants and Dodgers in the NL West is now, as they opened a three game series in LA, 4 1/2 games behind the division co-leaders.

Paul Goldschmidt
It didn't take long for the D'Backs to take advantage of their opportunity. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt hammered a three-run homer in the first inning, and third baseman Chris Johnson banged a grand slam in the fifth, accounting for all of the scoring in a 7-2 victory for the Diamondbacks.

Johnson was playing in his first game for Arizona, having been acquired in a trade from Houston on Sunday. He flied out to right in his first at-bat and grounded into a bases-loaded double play the next time up, but quickly made amends with his 8th homer of the season.

The win, coupled with San Francisco's 8-7, 10-inning loss to the Mets, improved Arizona's position to just 3 1/2 back with a pair of games remaining against the Dodgers.

Arizona has ridden an 8-3 stretch to make up ground in the division and has finally gotten past the .500 mark at 52-51.

The series in LA continues Tuesday with a 7:05 pm PDT start and a 12:05 afternoon contest to close it out.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Jhonny Peralta Leads Tigers with Pair of Homers; LA Ties Giants in NL West on Clayton Kershaw Shutout

Players of the Day for Sunday, July 29, 2012

American League

With Texas blanking the White Sox, 2-0, the Detroit Tigers took advantage to gain a full game in the AL Central standings with a 4-1 win in Toronto.

While Doug Firster was stymying the Blue Jays on seven hits over eight innings, fanning nine, Jhonny Peralta provided a working margin with a pair of home runs, delivering all of the Detroit scoring.

Jhonny Peralta
After the Jays scored in the bottom of the first, Peralta banged his first blast of the game, a three-run shot to left that put the Tigers ahead to stay.

Fister blanked the Blue Jays for the next seven innings, handing the ball over to Jose Valverde, who pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out two, for his 20th save.

Peralta hit his second homer of the game in the top of the ninth, his eighth of the season.

Detroit pulled to within 1 1/2 games of the leading White Sox and head to Boston for a three game series starting Monday. The White Sox are off to Minnesota for a three game set with the Twins, also beginning Monday.

The two top teams in the division don't meet each other until the last day of August, opening a three game series in Detroit, and meet again September 11-13, in Chicago.

National League

5-hit shutout
After giving up the NL West lead earlier in the month, the LA Dodgers have fought back to tie the Giants atop the division afte sweeping a three-game series in San Francisco over the weekend.

The Dodgers got a stellar performance from their ace, Clayton Kershaw, in the series finale Sunday, a five-hit complete game shutout for a 4-0 Dodger win.

Kershaw (8-6) shut down the Giants on five hits, walking one while whiffing seven. It was his second shutout of the season, the sixth of his career and his eighth career complete game. Kershaw's 143 Ks are third in the league behind Stephen Strasburg (151) and the Mets' knuckle-baller, R.A. Dickey (147).

On Monday, the Dodgers return home to host Arizona while the Giants stay by the bay for a series with the Mets. Arizona is just 4 1/2 games behind the division co-leaders.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Yoenis Cespedes Leads Streaking A's over O's; Matt Kemp Goes 4-for-5 as Dodgers Rout Giants, 10-0

Players of the Day for Saturday, July 28, 2012

American League

For the past few months, Mike Trout of the LA Angels looked like a shoo-in for AL rookie of the year, but during July, Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland A's has begun to turn some heads and change opinions as he and the A's have surged into second place in the West division, 3 1/2 games behind the Rangers and now lead the wild card race.

Yoenis Cespedes
Cespedes, an import from Granma, Cuba, belted a two-run homer in the fourth inning and tripled in another run in the eighth, leading the A's to their second straight win over Baltimore, a 6-1 triumph that moved them past the Angels, who lost to Tampa Bay, 3-0.

Completely off the charts for the month of July, the A's won their 18th game in the month, against just three losses. Texas dropped its second straight and sixth of their last nine games, falling to the AL Central leading White Sox, 5-2.

With the Angels four games out, the West is beginning to shape up as a three-team race as the season closes in on its final two months.

As for Cespedes vs. Trout, a case can be made for either player, though Trout still appears to be the choice. Cespedes has raised his average to .302, having hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games. He has 14 homers, 53 RBI and eight steals.

Trout, despite going 0-for-4 against the Rays Saturday, continues to lead the league with a .350 batting average. He has 16 homers, 49 RBI and 31 stolen bases and has been the Angels' spark plug, batting from the leadoff spot. He also leads the league in steals and runs, with 75.

The A's will be looking for the sweep of their three-game series in Baltimore Sunday afternoon at 1:35 pm EDT.

National League

Kemp: 4-5 HR 4RBI
The Dodgers closed to within a game of the Giants in the West with a 10-0 win over their northern California rivals, and will be looking for the sweep in San Francisco and a tie atop the division when the two teams complete their three game series Sunday.

Matt Kemp went 4-for-5 with a single, a pair of doubles and his 15th home run, a first inning, two-run belt off Barry Zito that staked LA starter, Chad Billingsley, to a quick lead. Kemp drove in two more with his 7th and 9th inning doubles as the Dodgers poured on the offense, scoring three runs in each of those innings.

Billingsley (6-9) worked 7 1/3 scoreless, giving up just four hits without walking a batter and struck out two.

Kemp, who started the season red hot but was shelved by injury and missed more than 50 games, is batting .342 with 15 homers and 38 RBI in 50 games. Surrounded in the Dodger lineup by Andre Ethier and the newly-acquired Hanley Ramirez, Kemp should be seeing a truckload of good pitches the remainder of the season.

Game time for the series finale in San Francisco is 1:05 pm PST.

NOTABLE: Ike Davis went 4-for-4 and belted three solo homers, but it was all the offense the Mets could produce, falling to the Diamondbacks, 6-3. The Mets have lost 13 of 15 since the all star break and have fallen to 12 1/2 back of the Nationals in the East.

Houston's losing streak reached a club record 12 straight with their 4-3 loss to the visiting Pirates, suffering the defeat against Wandy Rodriguez, who was traded from the Astros to the Pirates this past Tuesday. Houston has lost 25 of their last 27 and will look to break out of their slide Sunday afternoon against Pittsburgh.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hanley Ramirez Hits Heroic Homer as Dodgers Take Giants; Minnesota's Scott Diamond 3-Hits Indians

Players of the Day for Friday, July 27, 2012

American League

Balls were flying all around and out of stadiums Friday, with Curtis Granderson's grand slam leading the Yankees to a 10-4 win over Boston and Seth Smith driving in five runs as the red-hot Oakland Athletics scored six runs in the ninth to win, 14-9, at Baltimore.

In the Central division, the White Sox increased their lead to 1 1/2 games with a 9-5 win over Texas while the Blue Jays were busy taming the Tigers, 8-3.

Diamond: 3-hit
But, it was the team with the worst record in the league that had the best performance, and it came from the mound, as rookie hurler Scott Diamond set down the first 14 batters he faced en route to his first major league complete game shutout, an 11-0 romp by Minnesota over Cleveland.

Diamond struck out six and didn't issue any walks, but ran into a bit of a jam in the fifth, giving up back-to-back two out singles before striking out Shelley Duncan to end the threat.

The 6'3", 220-pound lefty, who will turn 26 on Monday, allowed just one more hit the rest of the way - an eighth inning, leadoff single by Travis Hafner - as his teammates piled up runs against the weary Indians' pitchers.

Justin Morneau staked the starter to a 3-0 lead with a home run in the top of the first, and Josh Willingham cracked his 26th long ball and drove in four runs.

Since Diamond plays for a last place team, he's flown under the radar this season, but has remarkably put together a 9-4 record with a 2.88 ERA over 15 starts. Diamond was 1-4 in seven starts in 2011 for the Twins, but his 38 innings pitched did not damage his rookie status coming into 2012.

The win got the Twins even with Kansas City, at 41-58, 11 games out in the division, and dropped the Indians to an even 50-50, 4 1/2 behind the first place White Sox.

National League

New Dodger, Hanley
Having been traded from the Marlins to the Dodgers earlier in the week, Hanley Ramirez, who tripled in his first at-bat for LA on Wednesday, made the most of his opportunity to impress his new-found fans when he came to the plate in the top of the 10th with the score tied 3-3 against San Francisco.

Ramirez belted a two-run homer into the seats in left field to put the Giants ahead and Kenley Jansen earned his 20th save despite putting two men aboard in the testy bottom of the 10th, preserving the Dodgers' 5-3 victory.

The win, coming in the opener of a crucial three-game series in San Francisco, left the Dodgers two games back of the Giants in the NL West.

Should the Dodgers sweep, the two California rivals would be tied for the division lead in a race that's shaping up to be a good one, with the Diamondbacks lurking, just 5 1/2 out, after beating up the struggling Mets, 11-5.

Ramirez has hit safely in all three of his games as a Dodger. His extra-inning belt was his only hit of the night, but the 15th of the season.

The series resumes Saturday and Sunday at Petco Park, with both games slated for 1:05 PDT starts.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Starling Marte Homers for Pirates on First Major League Pitch; Chris Davis Leads Orioles Past Rays

Players of the Day for Thursday, July 26, 2012

American League

The chase continues in the AL East, with everyone looking up at the Yankees and their 7 1/2 game lead over the Orioles, who helped themselves out a bit with a 6-2 win over the Rays that avoided the series sweep and kept them alone in second place.

Chris Davis
Chris Davis carried the big bat for the O's in their win, as he socked a bases-loaded double in the fifth inning, breaking open what was a scoreless tie until Adam Jones knocked in a pair earlier in the inning.

Davis' two-bagger upped the lead to 5-0 and he added a solo homer in the seventh - his 16th of the year - as insurance.

With the Yanks cruising along with the biggest lead in the majors, teams like Baltimore and Tampa Bay may be eyeing the wild card race a bit more intently, but that race is very jumbled at present, with seven teams all within four games of each other, the current leader being the LA Angels.

In coming weeks, the situation may change, with one or two teams breaking away, or, the race could just remain tight until the final weeks of the season.

National League

If the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to stay in the NL Central race or vie for a wild card spot - they currently lead the Braves by two games in that department - it's widely accepted that they need a little help on the offensive side.

Starling Marte
That help may have arrived with the addition of Starling Marte, who took the first pitch he saw as a major leaguer deep into the stands beyond left-center field.

Batting in the leadoff spot, Marte gave the Pirates a quick 1-0 lead that promptly grew to 3-0 after Andrew McCutchen singled and Garrett Jones brought him around with his 15th long ball of the season.

Pittsburgh won the game, 5-3, with A.J. Burnett (12-3) picking up the win. Marte singled later in the game to go 2-for-4 in his major league debut.

The win - the first in a four-game series - put the Pirates two games behind the idle Reds in the Central. Houston, mired in one of their typically disappointing seasons, has dropped 23 of their last 25 games, their current losing streak now standing at 10.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Coco Crisp Homers Twice as A's Blast Jays, 16-0; Padres Avoid Sweep, Beat Lincecum, on Jesus Guzman's 2 HR

Players of the Day for Wednesday, July 25, 2012

American League

The Oakland A's won their seventh straight and remained tied for second place in the the AL West with the A's, five games behind Texas, after pounding the Toronto Blue Jays, 16-0, Wednesday night in Oakland.

Coco Crisp
Batting from his usual leadoff spot, Coco Crisp singled and scored in the second inning as the A's sent 12 men to the plate and routed Toronto starter, Randy Romero, scoring eight times in the inning. Romero left with one out in the second, and was credited with allowing eight runs on four hits and six walks.

It was Romero's shortest outing of the year and his sixth straight start in which he earned the loss.

Crisp hit solo homers in the third and fifth innings, going 3-for-6 with two RBI and three runs. The A's scored at least one run in every inning except the fourth and seventh.

Toronto remained tied with the Red Sox in last place in the AL East and will seek to avoid being swept at home when they take the field in the third game of their series with the A's, Thursday afternoon.

National League

Jesus Guzman
Tim Lincecum dropped to 4-11 on the season and the San Diego Padres avoided being swept by the Giants, winning the finale of their three game series in San Francisco by a 6-3 final score.

Jesus Guzman, who spent most of the past three years in the minors, was the main protagonist against Lincecum, singling and scoring in the fourth inning and socking a two-run homer with two down in the fifth, ending Lincecum's day on the mound.

Leading off the eighth, Guzman connected again with a solo shot, his sixth of the season. He finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBI.

The Giants were fortunate in that both Los Angeles and Arizona also lost, so they remain in first place with a 2 1/2 game lead over the Dodgers and six ahead of the Diamondbacks in the NL West.

San Francisco hosts an important three-game weekend series with the Dodgers beginning Friday.

14 games back and hopelessly out of the division and wild card races, rumors that the Padres were looking to trade third baseman Chase Headley were widely circulated.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Drew Stubbs' 9th Inning Homer Gives Reds 6th Straight Win; Adam Dunn Blasts 30th HR in White Sox Romp; A's Streak into Second Place

Players of the Day for Tuesday, July 24, 2012

American League

It's all tied up atop the AL Central, after Detroit lost to Cleveland, 3-2, and Adam Dunn cranked out his 30th home run of the season - he leads the majors - in an 11-4 romp over the last-place Twins.

Dunn: 30 HR leads
The White Sox and Tigers are knotted at 52-45, with the Indians three games back. Each of the trio has been in first place for some part of the 2012 season.

Dunn went 3-for-5 on the night, busting a two-run bomb in the seventh, getting the Sox even at 4-4 after the Twins put up three runs in the sixth. Chicago scored two more in the inning, then tacked on a five-spot in the eighth. Dunn drove in a pair with a double and scored on a single by Alex Rios. Alexei Ramirez finished the scoring with a two-run shot of his own, his third.

Dunn's resurgence is one of the main reasons the White Sox are in the hunt for the playoffs. After hitting a career low 11 homers in 2011, Dunn's hard work in the off-season has produced positive results. His 71 RBI is fourth-best in the AL.

The White Sox will go for the sweep of Minnesota on Wednesday, while the Tigers and Indians sort things out in the second game of their three-game series in Cleveland.

National League

Drew Stubbs
In Houston, the Astros appeared to have the game under control entering the ninth inning with a 2-1 lead over NL East-leader, Cincinnati, looking to even their series at a game apiece and snap their seven-game losing streak.

That was until Drew Stubbs stepped to the plate with one out and one aboard and took an offering from closer Francisco Cordero into the left field seats, turning the game on its head, propelling the Reds to their sixth straight victory, 4-2.

Cincinnati added an insurance run in the frame, then Aroldis Chapman picked up his 16th save, fanning three straight after a leadoff single in the ninth.

Stubbs went 3-for-4, though, besides his game-winning homer, his pair of singles didn't yield any more runs.

The Reds improved their lead in the Central division to 2 1/2 games over the resolute Pirates, who lost their second straight in a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Cubs.

STREAKING: Right out of the "Nobody Saw This Coming" Department, the Oakland A's have won six straight - including a four-game sweep of the Yankees - tying the Angels for second place in the AL West, five games back of the Rangers. The A's have actually played two fewer games than LA and have a one-game edge in the loss column, having won 10 of their last 11, including nine of 10 since the all star break. Their record of 15-2 in July is the best in the majors.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Windy City Winners: Paul Konerko Leads Sox Past Twins; Jeff Samardzija 1-Hits Pirates Over 8

Players of the Day for Monday, July 23, 2012

American League

Paul Konerko
Remaining in the thick of the AL Central race, the Chicago White Sox took a 7-4 decision over the Minnesota Twins to stay one game behind Detroit, which has won five straight.

Chicago's victory was fueled by the long ball, as Adam Dunn and Alex Rios each cracked two run homers in the third inning, turning a 3-2 lead into a 7-2 bulge. Rios hit his 15th, while Dunn's was his 29th, which leads the major leagues.

The initial three runs for the Sox were supplied by Paul Konerko, who socked his 15th home run in the bottom of the first. In the third, Konerko followed Dunn's belt with a single and scored on the Rios big fly.

The game was the first of a three game set which continues Tuesday night in Chicago with a day game on Wednesday.

National League

Samardzija: 8IP, 1H
Somebody had to cool of the Pittsburgh Pirates, winners of five straight, and that somebody turned out to be Cubs' starter, Jeff Samardzija, who allowed only a one-out, fourth inning single to Andrew McCutchen over eight innings in a 2-0 victory.

As he improved to 7-8, Samardzija got support from Alfonso Soriano, who drove in Starlin Castro twice with a pair of doubles. Samardzija issued just one walk - also to McCutchen - in the first inning, struck out five and finished by retiring 13 straight batters after McCutchen was gunned down trying to steal second before turning the ball over to Carlos Marmol, who allowed a hit in the ninth but still managed to earn his 12th save of the season.

Around the plate all night, Samardzija threw 99 pitches, of which 71 were strikes.

The loss by the Pirates dropped them 1 1/2 behind the Reds in the NL Central. Cincinnati has won five straight, including Monday's 8-3 win over Houston.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ryan Zimmerman's Two Homers Give Nats Split with Braves; Bobby Wilson, Albert Pujols Lead Angels Pat Texas

Players of the Day for Sunday, July 22, 2012

American League

In order to pick up some ground on NL West leader Texas, the LA Angels needed to take at least two out of three as they hosted the Rangers over the weekend.

Albert Pujols
After Jered Weaver delivered a 6-1 win in the first game, the Rangers came back to even the series with a 9-2 victory on Saturday, setting up Sunday night's rubber game.

Bobby Wilson
Catcher Bobby Wilson and Albert Pujols combined to drive in five runs as the Angels pulle to within five games in the division with a 7-4 triumph.

Pujols was 2-for-5 with a first inning, RBI double and his 18th home run, a seventh inning, two run blast that put the Angels ahead for good, at 6-2. Wilson had previously homered in the inning, socking a solo shot, his first homer of the season. He also singled in a run in the second and doubled and scored in the eighth, scoring the Angels' last run in a 3-for-4 effort.

As the Angels continue their pursuit of the Rangers, the win also gave them a 1/2 game lead over Baltimore in the wild card standings.

National League

Ryan Zimmerman
Having led the NL East for most of the season, the Washington Nationals were feeling the heat as they dropped the first two games of their home series with Atlanta, the Braves drawing to within 1 1/2 games as of Friday night.

The Nats fought back with a 5-2 win on Saturday and evened the four-game series with a 9-2 thumping Sunday afternoon. pushing their lead back to a more comfortable 3 1/2 games.

Ryan Zimmerman, who's really been heating up of late, extended his hitting streak to six straight with a two-run homer and a pair of singles in five at-bats, driving in three runs and crossing the plate three times to lead the Nationals.

Zimmerman was 9-for-17 through the four game series with the Braves, boosting his batting average from .259 to .274. With four homers in his last five games, he's hit 14, with 50 RBI in just 53 games this season.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jason Kubel Homers Three Times for Arizona; Austin Jackson Delivers First Place for Tigers

Players of the Day for Saturday, July 21, 2012

American League

Austin Jackson
By winning their fourth straight - 7-1 victory over the White Sox - the Detroit Tigers have emerged with a 1/2 game lead over Chicago in the AL Central.

With 11-2 Chris Sale taking the mound for the Sox in the second game of their three game series in Detroit, Chicago hoped to expand their slim lead in the division, but leadoff hitter Austin Jackson was having none of it, doubling home a pair of runs in the fifth and, after Brennan Boesch delivered a three-run shot in the sixth, Jackson followed up with a bases-loaded single, plating two more runs.

Sale took the loss, making him 11-3, while Detroit starter Rick Porcello improved to 7-5.

The Tigers will try for the sweep Sunday afternoon, which would give them another game expansion on their lead. A loss would return division leadership to the White Sox.

National League

Jason Kubel: 3 HR
Catching the San Francisco and Los Angeles - the top two teams in the NL West - is proving to be difficult for the Arizona Diamondbacks, even as they took their second straight from the Astros, 12-3, after taking game one of the series by a 13-8 score.

The D'Backs are getting plenty of offense, especially from their best off-season pick-up, left fielder Jason Kubel, who belted a trio of homers and drove in six runs as the Diamondbacks established an early lead and never looked back.

Kubel socked a two-run shot in the first inning, then added a three-run job in the fourth as Arizona plated five. His bases-empty delivery in the sixth inning gave him 20 home runs (3rd in the NL) and 70 RBI on the season, which currently leads the league.

Nonetheless, the Diamondbacks can't seem to make any headway into the upper echelon of the division, remaining seven games out as LA and San Fran both won on Saturday.

Arizona will look for the series sweep on Sunday and hope that they can make up some ground on their current 10-game home stand, which proceeds with three against Colorado beginning Monday and concludes with four games against the Mets.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Jered Weaver Wins 7th Straight; Brandon Crawford Dives in Five for Giants

Players of the Day for Friday, July 20, 2012

American League

Jered Weaver improved to 12-1 as the LA Angels opened their three game home series with rival Texas with a 6-1 victory, slicing a full game off the Rangers' division lead, which now stands at five.

Weaver: 12-1
Weaver was in complete control for most of the seven innings he worked, allowing six hits and a walk while striking out five. The lanky hurler kept the top of the Texas batting order in check, limiting the first seven batters to a 2-for-27 output.

Only Elvis Andrus did any damage, belting a solo homer in the top of the first inning. After that, Weaver was pretty much lights out.

Weaver won his seventh straight decision, not having lost since being belted around by the Rangers, in Texas, on May 13, a 13-6 Texas win in which Weaver lasted only 3 1/3 innings. It was his only loss of the season.

National League

Crawford: Slammin'
Brandon Crawford untied a 1-1 score with a sixth inning grand slam, propelling the Giants to a 7-2 win over the home-standing Phillies.

Crawford, a second year shortstop, knocked his third homer of the season off Philly starter Vince Worley and followed that up with a run-scoring single in the eighth, giving him five RBI for the game.

Tim Lincecum allowed five hits and two earned runs while fanning six over seven innings to pick up his fourth win of the season against 10 losses.

With the win, the Giants maintained their 2 1/2 game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West, and will look to make it two in a row over the Phillies, Saturday afternoon, with the series concluding Sunday.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Edinson Volquez Tosses One-Hitter for Padres; David Price, B.J. Upton Lead Rays to Win

Players of the Day for Thursday, July 19, 2012

American League

Volquez: 1-hitter
In San Diego, Alexi Amarista opened the Padres' first inning with a double. The next batter, Logan Forsythe, singled him home and that was about it, as Houston hurler, Lucas Harrell, gave up just two more hits over seven full innings, but San Diego starter, Edinson Volquez, proved even better, protecting the slim lead with a complete game one-hitter as the Padres triumphed, 1-0.

Volquez (6-7) allowed the one hit to Matt Downs with two down in the fourth. Other than three walks, Volquez was pretty magnificent, throwing 75 of 117 pitches for strikes and striking out five for his first major league shutout.

Despite playing for a team that's 16 games under .500 and 13 games out in the NL West, Volquez is having a solid year, sporting a 3.34 ERA and striking out 109 batters in 121.1 innings.

The Padres are in fourth place in the division, just 2 1/2 games ahead of last place Colorado. The win was the third straight for the Padres, who lost the opener of their four game series with the Astros, but won the remainder.

National League

B.J. Upton
David Price
Tampa Bay, trailing the Yankees by 9 1/2 games, may not win the AL East, but they are mired in a seven-team shootout for the two wild card slots. Currently, the Angels are leading the pack, but the Rays are just two back after B.J. Upton and David Price led them to a 6-0 victory over Cleveland - another team in the wild card mix - earning a split in their series, two games apiece.

Upton went 3-for-5, two doubles and a single, and plated three in the sixth inning when he doubled with the bases loaded. He later scored, giving Price more than enough runs to support his seven inning, two-hit effort for his league-leading 13th win.

Price, who's suffered defeat only four times this season, walked three and struck out seven, in the process lowering his ERA to a very respectable 2.64, fourth-best among AL starters.

The Rays next host Seattle for three games before embarking on a nine-game road swing that will take them coast-to-coast, from Baltimore to LA and then on to Oakland.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cody Ross Belts a Pair in 10-1 Boston Win; Kubel's Two Homers Lift Arizona over Cincy

Players of the Day for Wednesday, July 18, 2012

American League

Catching the Yankees in the AL East is not going to be easy, but the Boston Red Sox will have that on their minds the rest of the season. While New York was winning their third straight - a rain-shortened, 6-0 win over Toronto - the Red Sox were thumping the White Sox, 10-1, thanks to a couple of homers by Cody Ross.

Cody Ross
Ross belted a pair of three-run shots and added a sixth-inning double and scored to round off a 3-for-5 effort, driving in six runs and scoring three times.

The victory moved Boston into a tie for third place with Tampa Bay, though both teams are 10 1/2 behind the Yankees. Baltimore is 10 out, in second place, making the Yanks' lead the largest in the majors.

The Red Sox have recently gotten a couple of veterans back from injuries. Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury give the Sox needed punch at the top of the lineup, in addition to excellent defense in the outfield. Boston is still awaiting the return of former MVP, Dustin Pedroia, who has been sidelined since July 4 with a jammed right thumb.

Boston plays New York 12 more times, including the final three games of the regular season, in New York. With their full lineup intact, can they make a run at the Bombers?

National League

Jason Kubel
Jason Kubel's two home runs helped lift the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 7-1 triumph over the Cincinnati Reds, to take a 2-1 lead in their four game series.

Kubel got things started with a two-run bomb in the first inning and added a solo shot in the fourth to back the pitching of Ian Kennedy, who scattered eight hits and allowed just one earned run over eight strong innings.

The homers were Kubel's 16th and 17th; the three RBI upped his season's total to 63, the fourth-highest total in the league and just three behind leader Carlos Beltran of St. Louis.

The win kept Arizona seven games behind San Francisco in the West, with the Dodgers in between, three games out. Cincy's loss moved them back into a dead heat in the Central with the Pirates, who topped Colorado, 9-6.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mike Trout, Albert Pujols Lead 13-0 Rout of Tigers; Buster Posey Drives in 5 as Giants Pad NL West Lead

Players of the Day for Tuesday, July 17, 2012

American League

Trout's .355 leads AL
Winning the second game of their four game series at Detroit, the LA Angels banged out 18 hits, including four home runs, for a lopsided, 13-0 win, evening the series at a game apiece.

Albert Pujols
Rookie Mike Trout continues to blaze away, going 4-for-6, including his 13th home run of the year, a second inning, two-run blast. Trout's .355 batting average easily leads the league (Joe Mauer is second at .333), and his three runs scored upped his total to 64, puttin him in fourth place behind a trio of players with 65.

Albert Pujols chipped in with his 16th home run, a solo shot, scored three times and had two RBI, going 3-for-4 in the game.

The Angels continue to chase the Rangers, though it seems every time LA wins, so does Texas, whose lead in the AL West is still 5 1/2 games following their 6-1 win at Oakland.

National League

Outside of Tim Lincecum's problems (he's 3-10 with a 5.93 ERA), everything is going just swimmingly in San Francisco.

Posey: 3-5 5 RBI
The Giants opened a three-game set in Atlanta on Tuesday and quickly cooled off the ret-hot Braves, who had won eight straight, with a 9-0 victory.

While Barry Zito was moving down the Braves, allowing just three hits over seven innings, Buster Posey was busy clearing the bases, going 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a single, driving in five runs.

Posey doubled home the game's first run in the opening inning, drove in another with a single in the third, then busted loose with a bases-loaded double in the fourth inning, driving in three more, as the Giants broke the game open with six runs.

Posey is having a solid season, batting .302 with 52 RBI.

The win was the Giants' fourth straight. At the same time, the Dodgers have lost four in a row and now trail San Francisco by three games in the NL West.

The Braves and Giants will have at each other in the second game of the series, Wednesday night at 7:10 pm EDT.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Yankees Extend AL East Lead on Raul Ibanez Grand Slam: Miguel Montero Leads D'Backs over Reds

Players of the Day for Monday, July 16, 2011

American League

The Yankees keep pouring it on, extending the largest lead in the majors to nine games as they opened a three-game series with the Blue Jays with a 6-3 victory.

Ibanez: Grand Slam
Their win, combined with Baltimore's 19-7 pounding in Minnesota, increased New York's advantage in the AL East to nine games.

Part of the reason the 55-34 Yankees have the best record in baseball is beacuse of their deep bench, which includes players like Raul Ibanez, a professional hitter in his 15th full season.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, Ibanez took a 3-1 offering from Toronto reliever Jason Frasor deep to right field for a grand slam, breaking a 2-2 tie and leading to the the win.

Playing regularly since injury sidelined Brett Gardner early in the season, Ibanez has 12 homers and 40 RBI and has been a key contributor from the middle and bottom of the lineup.

National League

Races in the National League are all close, with the Nationals; 2 1/2 game edge over Atlanta in the East the largest margin.

Montero: 3-4 4RBI
In the West, Arizona has quietly kept itself in contention as the Giants overtook the Dodgers and have forged a two game lead over LA, with Arizona six back after defeating the Reds in the opener of a four game series in Cincinnati by a 5-3 score.

Catcher Miguel Montero led the Diamondback hitters with a 3-for-4 effort, including a three-run double in the first inning and a solo homer - his 9th - off Cincy starter Bronson Arroyo.

Arroyo would last only three innings, allowing all five runs off eight hits.

Montero's four RBI gave him 49 on the season.

The Reds and Diamondbacks continue their series Tuesday at Great American Ball Park.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Freddie Freeman, Ben Sheets Win 7th Straight for Brave; Yoenis Cespedes Drives A's to Sweep of Twins

Players of the Day for Sunday, July 15, 2012

American League

July is turning into a very good month for the Oakland A's.

After losing three in a row to the Rangers to end the month of June, the A's avoided the sweep in that four game series with a 3-1 win on July 1, and have won eight of their last nine since.

Yoenis Cespedes
The latest victory was Sunday's 9-4 win over the helpless Minnesota Twins and a sweep of that series, their second series sweep of the month after taking Boston three straight prior to the all star break.

Leading the charge was Yoenis Cespedes, the rookie center fielder and part time DH who's having a whale of a season. Cespedes went 4-for-5 with his 11th home run - a solo shot in the second inning - and drove in three runs, boosting his RBI total to 42. Cespedes, a .283 hitter, also cashed in runners with singles in the first and sixth innings.

The A's have kept winning while the Rangers and Angels have had their share of struggles and are now eight games behind the Rangers and just three behind the Angels.

National League

Ben Sheets
Freddie Freeman
As hot as the A's are in the American League, the Braves are equally on fire in the NL East, winning their seventh straight with a 6-1 win over the Mets, sweeping the series, three games to none.

Ben Sheets, in his first major league appearance since July 2010, blanked the Mets on two hits over six innings, walking one and striking out five. Sheets threw 57 of 88 pitches for strikes and took a seat after the Braves scored all of their runs in the fifth inning, highlighted by Freddie Freeman's three-run homer, his 12th of the season.

Sheets got the win and Freeman raised his RBI total to 54, the 10th highest total in the league.

Atlanta kept pace with the Nationals, who lead the Braves and the NL East by three games.

Felix Hernandez Fans 12 in 7-0 Shutout; Casey McGehee Helps Pirates Overcome Brewers, 6-4

Players of the Day for Saturday, July 14, 2012

American League

About every five days, Felix Hernandez heads to the mound, and, every time he does, fans are hopeful for something special.

Felic Hernandez
The crowd on hand in Seattle got what they paid for Saturday, as Hernandez - in mid-season form - shut down the Texas Rangers on three hits, fanning 12, in a 7-0 win.

Without walking a batter, Hernandez needed only 107 pitches - 74 for strikes - to win his seventh against five losses and complete his second shutout of the season.

The Rangers' only hits were singles; one in the third, one in the fifth and one in the seventh inning. At one point, in the fourth and fifth innings, Hernandez rung up four straight swinging strikeouts against the heart of the Ranger order, getting Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton, Andrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz to go fishing.

Hopelessly moored in last place, the Mariners - even after the win - are still 16 1/2 games behind Texas in the Wast. The Rangers lead the Angels by five games.

National League

Casey McGehee
With the Reds winning five straight, the Pittsburgh Pirates needed all hands on deck to keep pace and remain tied with Cincinnati atop the NL Central.

After staking the Brewers to 2-0 and 4-2 leads, the Pirates roared back, getting within one run when Casey McGehee singled in a run in the sixth and then took the lead for good by tacking on a pair in the seventh.

MvGehee, who was 3-for-5 with a couple of ribbies, put on the finishing touch with a solo homer in the eighth for the 6-4 victory, evening the series at a game apiece.

The Brewers dropped back another game, remaining in fourth place in the division, eight games back. Pittsburgh and Cincy remained tied for the lead.

The series concludes this afternoon at 2:10 pm EDT in Milwaukee.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mark Teixeira, Russell Martin Lead Comeback Win over Angels; Ryan Braun Powers Brewers past Pirates

Players of the Day for Friday, July 13, 2011

American League

The hits just keep coming for the New York Yankees.

Mark Teixeira
Following a successful first half, the Bombers picked up after the all star break right where they left off with a come-from-behind, 6-5 win over the LA Angels.
Russell Martin

Getting the first five runs off the bat of Mark Teixeira, who socked a two-run homer in the third inning and followed up with a three-run blast in the eighth which turned a 5-2 Angels' lead into a 5-all tie, catcher Russell Martin finished the proceedings with an RBI single later in the inning.

Teixeira managed five RBI on the night, but Martin's only hit was the game-winner, and, in the top of the ninth, the Yankee backstop threw out Howie Kendrick at second to end the game, his third thrown out runner of the game.

The win improved New York's lead in the AL East to eight games, the biggest bulge in the majors, while dropping the Angels five back of Texas in the West.

National League
Ryan Braun

Friday the 13th certainly wasn't unlucky for Ryan Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers, as they opened the second half of the season with a 10-7 win over visiting Pittsburgh.

Braun was 4-for-4 with a pair of solo home runs, a stolen base, three runs and three RBI, helping the Brewers creep to within seven games of the Pirates, who are now tied for first place in the NL Central with the Reds, 5-3 winners over St. Louis.

The Brewers hope to make up more ground as they host the Pirates for the next two games of the three-game series, Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, Pablo Sandoval Lead NL All Star Game Rout

Players of the Day for Tuesday, July 10, 2012

National League

It was all National League in this year's all star classic, as players from the senior circuit showed their American League rivals how to play the game in an 8-0 rout.

Ryan Braun
Melky Cabrera
Led by last season's NL MVP, Ryan Braun, who doubled, tripled scored a run and drove in one in three at-bats, and the unlikely heroics of Pablo Sandoval, the NL put up five big ones in the first inning and three more in the fourth to complete the scoring.

Melky Cabrera brought his .353 average to the game and showed why he'll be one of baseball's most sought-after free agents at the season's conclusion, singling and scoring the game's first run in the first and belting a two-run homer in the fourth to go 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI.

Sandoval, not exactly fleet afoot, with only 12 triples in four-plus seasons in the majors, delivered the biggest blow for the National Leaguers, rapping a bases-loaded triple into the right field corner in the first, plating Braun, Carlos Beltran and teammate Buster Posey for a 4-0 NL lead. Sandoval, who got the starting nod at third base over obvious choice, David Wright, made the most of his opportunity, going 1-for-2 with three RBI. He also scored after his triple, sent home by Dan Uggla's scratch single.

Pablo Sandoval
National League pitchers - all 11 of them - did their part, holding AL batters to just six hits. Only the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw gave up more than one hit. Kershaw loaded the bases on singles by David Ortiz and Mike Napoli and a walk to Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera, but got Ian Kinsler on a fly ball to right to end the only serious scoring threat of the game by the AL.

All of the NL runs came off two pitchers, starter Justin Verlander, who was tagged for four hits, two walks and five earned in his first-inning starting role, and Texas hurler, Matt Harrison, who allowed four hits and three earned runs, working the fourth.

It was the third straight win for the National League, urged on by Chipper Jones' pre-game pep talk in which the future hall of famer told teammates he didn't want his last all star game to be a losing effort.

The win by the NL gives home field advantage to the National League entrant in this season's World Series, an edge which has worked out well for the NL, winning the 2010 and 2011 fall classics, as the Giants and Cardinals respectively captured the title.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Prince Fielder Wins Second Home Run Derby

Player of the Day for Monday, July 9, 2012

American League

Just one player of the day from Monday, and he is Prince Fielder of the Detroit Tigers, who won the 2012 All Star Home Run Derby with an awesome power display in the second and third rounds of the competition.

Fielder: HR King
After hitting five homers in the opening round, Fielder just barely made it to the second round, led by Jose Bautista, who hit 11 and Mark Trumbo and Carlos Beltran, each of whom belted seven.

In the second round, Fielder got into his groove, smashing 11 balls over the walls of Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, splashing a good number of them into the fountains beyond center and right fields, including the longest of the night, a 476-foot blast.

Bautista managed to reach the final round, but was overwhelmed by Fielder's power. The burly Detroit first baseman launched 12 homers in the finals, easily bettering Bautista's effort of seven.

Fielder joins Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players to win the home run derby more than once. Griffey did it three times, while Fielder has won it twice, the first time as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009, making him the only player to win it as a representative of teams from both leagues.

Now in his seventh full season as a major leaguer, Fielder has 245 home runs and led the National League in 2007 with 50 long balls.

Monday, July 9, 2012

White Sox, Alex Rios Fall Short in 11-9 Loss to Blue Jays; Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen Keep Pirates in First Place

Players of the Day for Sunday, July 8, 2012

American League

Leading the Central division, the Chicago White Sox went looking for a sweep of their three-game series with visiting Toronto on Sunday, but, despite their best effort of Alex Rios, ended up falling short in an 11-9 loss to the Blue Jays.

Alex Rios
Rios socked a three-run homer in the first inning, but all that did was put the White Sox a run down, as Jose Bautista and Colby Rasmus has each blasted two-run shots in the top of the inning.

After the Blue Jays scored a run in the second, two in the third and another in the fourth, Rios doubled in a run and scored in the fifth, as the Sox plated four, again trailing the Jays by a run.

In the sixth, Rajai Davis walked, stole second and third (two of his three swipes in the game), and scored on a wild pitch. The Jays added two more runs in the frame, putting them up 11-7 and even though the White Sox scored a run in the sixth and Rios doubled and scored again in the seventh - capping a 3-for-5, three run, four RBI effort - it was still not enough to overcome the ten hit attack of the Blue Jays, which included four doubles and four homers.

Despite the loss, the White Sox head into the break with a three game lead in the division, as Cleveland lost but Detroit won their fifth straight, 7-1, over Kansas City, to get within 3 1/2 of Chicago.

Toronto remained in last place in the AL East, 9 1/2 behind the Yankees, but are now tied with Boston at 43-43, as the Yanks dumped the Red Sox, 7-3, taking three of their four games at Fenway Park.

National League

Walker: 5-for-5 4R
The story the Pittsburgh Pirates are writing is the best one in the National League, and, if they continue playing the way they are, it could be the best story in sports this year.

McCutchen: 2HR 4RBI
Winning for the 10th time in their last 12 games, the Pirates beat up on Tim Lincecum (3-10) and the Giants in a 13-2 blowout at home, ending their three game series with two wins as all teams head to the all star break.

Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker personally accounted for eight of the Pirates' 17 hits, getting to Lincecum early as McCutchen drove in Walker with a two run homer, his first of two fence-clearers on the day.

Walker went 5-for-5 with a double and a home run, scored four times and drove in a pair of runs, while McCutchen was 3-for-5 with two homers, three runs and four RBI. Lincecum, who lasted only 3 1/3 innings, was rocked for six earned runs on seven hits, two of them homers by McCutchen and Walker.

The four RBI gave McCutchen 60 on the year, tied for third in the NL, to go with his league -leading .362 batting average. He's also creeping up on the home run leaders. His two on Sunday gave him 18, tying him with Cincinnati's Jay Bruce for fourth in the league.

The win kept Pittsburgh's hold on first place in the NL Central intact, a game ahead of Cincinnati and St. Louis, both winners on the day. San Francisco remained 1/2 game behind the Dodgers in the West.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pedro Ciriaco Leads Boston Past Yankees; James McDonald Wins 9th for Pirates

Players of the Day for Saturday, July 7, 2012

American League

It's hard to gauge how much the Red Sox were expecting from shortstop/second baseman Pedro Ciriaco when they brought him up from AAA Pawtucket to play in the weekend series against the Yankees.

After playing second and batting second in the first game of Saturday's day/night double header and going 0-for-4 in a 6-1 loss, manager Bobby Valentine inserted Ciriaco into the lineup for the nightcap, playing short and batting ninth.

Pedro Ciriaco
The results were astounding.

Ciriaco went 4-for-5, scored twice, stole a base and drove in four runs, including a bases-loaded double in the sixth inning that turned a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead, one the Red Sox would not relinquish.

Boston added four more in the seventh, with Ciriaco right in the heart of the action again. After reaching on an error by Yankee third baseman Jason Nix, he stole third and scored easily as Russell Martin's throw sailed into left field.

Eric Chavez added a solo homer in the ninth, but it was too little, as the Red Sox went onto victory, 9-5.

Boston will try to even the series after dropping the first two games, Sunday night in a nationally-televised series finale at 8:00 pm EDT on ESPN.

National League

With a 4 1/2 game lead in the East, the Washington Nationals will head into the all star break with the biggest bulge in the NL. In the Central and West, the story is a bit different, with three teams in each division vying for the top spot.

James McDonald
Pittsburgh held onto their one game lead in the Central with a 3-1 win over the Giants, which prevented San Francisco from gaining any ground on the Dodgers, 5-3 losers at Arizona. The Diamondbacks have crept to within five games of LA, while the Giants remained moored in second place, 1/2 game out. In the Central, St. Louis continues to lurk ominously in third place, 2 1/2 back.

Pittsburgh's win was earned on the arm of James McDonald, who tossed seven strong innings, allowing just one run on four hits, fanning 10 without issuing a walk.

McDonald, a converted reliever, has been ultra-consistent for Pittsburgh as they've climbed to the lead in the division, winning his last four starts and notching victories in six of his last eight assignments.

At 9-3, with a 2.37 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP and 100 strikeouts, McDonald is having his finest season since making it to the majors in 2008. His ERA and WHIP both rank third-best in the league.

The Pirates and Giants have split the first two games of their three game series in Pittsburgh, with the rubber game scheduled for 1:35 pm EDT on Sunday.