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.

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