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.

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