Friday, August 31, 2012

Josh Reddick Helps A's Win 6th Straight; Jonathan Lucroy Drives in 7, Rickie Weeks, 5-for-5 in Brewer Loss

Players of the Day for Thursday, August 30, 2011

American League

The Oakland A's won their sixth straight, to remain one game up on Baltimore for the first wild card position, but, more surprisingly, only four back of Texas in the AL West race.

Oakland banged out 13 hits in a 12-7 win at Cleveland, sweeping the four-game series as Cleveland's tailspin continued. The Indians, once leaders in the Central division, have dropped five straight and 14 of their last 15 and are now hopelessly out of contention for any post-season play.
Josh Reddick

Leading the A's assault was Josh Reddick, acquired by the A's in an off-season deal with the Red Sox. Reddick went 3-for-5 with his 27 homer of the season, a two-run, fifth inning blast and drove in three runs.

Reddick is riding a five game hit streak, with multiple knocks in four of those games and has 69 RBI for the A's.

Oakland outscored Cleveland 30-12 in the four game series and now head home to host the Red Sox in a three game set starting Friday.

National League

Lucroy: GS, 7 RBI
Weeks: 5-for-5, 4 R
For Milwaukee, it's been a season of disappointments, so much so that even when a player has a big game the Brewers can't do enough to take advantage of it.

Such was the case in Milwaukee's 12-11 loss to the even-more-despondent Chicago Cubs, as Jonathan Lucroy delivered a monster game, going 3-for-5 with seven RBI.

Lucroy began his batting attack with a grand slam in the third inning that put the Brewers up by a 5-3 score. In the sixth, he singled in a pair of runs and singled again in the eighth, completing the Mulwaukee scoring with another RBI. That put the Brewers up, 11-9, but, the bullpen was unable to hold the lead, allowing the Cubs to plate three in the ninth for the walk-off win.

Lucroy's seven RBI were a career high. On base each time he drove in a run was Rickie Weeks, who went 5-for-5 and scored four times.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A.J. Ellis' Grand Slam Lifts Dodgers over Rockies; Yunel Escobar Wrecks Yankees in 8-5 Win

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 29, 2012

American League

Wednesday at Yankee Stadium featured the Yunel Escobar show, as the Toronto shortstop - one of the most underrated players n the league - put on a hitting display that propelled the Blue Jays to an 8-5 win in the rubber game of their three-game series with the Yankees.

Escobar went 4-for-5 and drove in five runs with a homer and three doubles, scoring twice.

Yunel Escobar
In the third inning, Escobar doubled in a run to put the Jays up 3-2, but that lead was quickly erased when Curtis Ganderson doubled home a pair in the bottom half of the inning. His sixth inning, two-run homer turned a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 lead and Escobar finished off the Yanks with a two-run double in the ninth after the Jays had assumed a 6-5 lead.

The loss left the Yankees with a 3 1/2 game lead over the Orioles, who dropped an 8-1 decision to the White Sox, but, Tampa Bay picked up a game on both, beating Texas, 8-4, finishing the day four games behind New York.

Plagued by injuries to key players, the Blue Jays are hopelessly out of playoff contention, but still possess enough good hitting and pitching to play a spoiler's role in the AL East down the stretch.

The Yankees have Thursday off, but then open a three-game series with the Orioles on Friday at Yankee Stadium in what should be a telling Labor Day weekend set of games. New York leads the season series with the O's, 6-5.

National League

After plating six runs in the third inning, the LA Dodgers thought they had their game in Colorado in the bag.

A.J. Ellis
But, as far too many pitchers can attest, no lead is safe in the mile-high city, where balls carry far and deep into the Rocky Mountain air.

A.J. Ellis socked a grand slam in the top of the eighth for LA, after the Rockies had put a solitary run on the board in the seventh. Just about everyone in attendance thought it was just icing on the Dodger cake-walk.

As it turns out, the Rockies piled up seven runs in the bottom of the inning and got the tying run to the plate, making Ellis the hero of the day with the big fly that sealed the 10-8 Dodger win. He ended the day 2-for-4 with two runs and four RBI.

Despite playing in parts of four seasons prior to 2012, Ellis is still technically a rookie. He's batting .283 in 105 games this season with 11 home runs.

LA's win negated being swept by the Rockies in their three-game series and left the Dodgers 3 1/2 back of the Giants in the NL West. Los Angeles also is 1 1/2 beind St. Louis for the second wild card, after the Pirates dominated the Cardinals in a 5-0 win, shutting out St. Louis over the final two games of the three-game set in Pittsburgh. The Pirates trail St. Louis in the wild card race by one game.

The Dodgers return home to host a four game series with fading Arizona over the holiday weekend, beginning Thursday, then welcome the Padres into town for three games before heading off to a critical showdown with the Giants, September 7, 8 and 9. LA needs to string together some wins, as time is running short if they intend to either catch the Giants or reach the playoffs via the wild card route.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Baltimore's Chris Tillman One-Hits White Sox over Seven; Ricky Nolasco Shuts Out Nationals, Justin Ruggiano 4-for-4

Players of the Day for Tuesday, August 28, 2012

American League

Tuesday was a pitcher's night in the major leagues, with three shutouts in both the AL and NL. Oddly enough, only one of the six shutouts was a complete game effort.

In Cleveland, the A's blanked the Indians, 7-0, using four pitchers, while the Rangers needed three to stop the Rays, 1-0, Ian Kinsler's 4th inning homer accounting for the game's only run.

Tillman: 7 IP, 1 H
Baltimore recorded the most impressive and possibly important win of the evening, blanking AL Central leader, Chicago, 6-0, on two hits, one allowed by starter Chris Tillman, who earned his seventh win against two losses in just ten starts.

Tillman walked four and struck out five over seven innings, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning, which was promptly ended when Dayan Viciedo singled to open the frame. After a walk issued to Alexei Ramirez, Tillman got the next nine outs in order before giving the ball up to Brian Matusz, who fanned two, didn't walk anyone and gave up the only other White Sox hit over the final two innings.

The win allowed Baltimore to keep pace with the Yankees in the AL East race, 3 1/2 games out, and stay tied with Oakland for the top two wild card spots. The A's and O's are followed in the wild card pecking order by the Rays, 1 1/2 behind, Detroit, two out, and the Angels, 3 1/2 back.

The White Sox, losers of the first two of their four-game series in Baltimore, continue to hold a two game edge of the Tigers in the Central.

National League

Ricky Nolasco
In Miami, Ricky Nolasco turned in his finest performance of the season, blanking the Washington Nationals, 9-0, on five hits, striking out six without issuing a walk.

Justin Ruggiano
Nolasco, 10-12, threw 78 of 115 pitches for strikes, tossing his second completegame and first shutout of 2012 while teammates Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Ruggiano accounted for seven of the Marlins' 13 hits and five RBI.

The Marlins got all over Washington starter Stephen Strasburg, scoring seven runs (five earned) off nine hits in five innings, fueling even more speculation that Strasburg will be shut down for the season sooner, rather than later.

Ruggiano went 4-for-4, with three singles and a first inning solo homer off Strasburg, driving in two runs and scoring twice.

The loss by the Nationals, coupled with Atlanta's 2-0 victory over San Diego, reduced Washington's lead in the East to four games. The Braves also improved their lead over St. Louis to 2 1/2 games for the first wild card spot. The Cardinals, dropped a 9-0 decision to the Pirates.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Seattle's Felix Hernandez Wins Third 1-0 Game in August; Brewers' Ryan Braun Having Another MVP Season

Players of the Day for Monday, August 27, 2012

American League

Just go ahead and give the AL Cy Young award to Seattle's Felix Hernandez.

Hernandez: 3rd 1-0
win this month
The guy is 13-5 for a last place team, he's already thrown a perfect game this year and on Monday tossed his fifth shutout of the season in a 1-0 win by the Mariners at Minnesota, the third time this month he's pitched a complete game in a 1-0 win and the fourth time this season.

Although Hernandez has proven that he doesn't need much in the way of run support, it would be amazing to see what he'd do with a high run-producing team like Texas or the Yankees, a thought surely pondered upon by the general managers and coaches of both those and likely, many more.

Hernandez allowed five hits and struck out five, giving up only one walk as he out-dueled Minnesota's Liam Hendricks, the hard-luck, 0-7, rookie loser who gave up three hits, one of them, unfortunately, an eighth inning solo homer off the bat of Eric Thames.

King Felix, as he is known around the league has won seven of his last nine starting assignments, leads all starters in the AL with a 2.43 ERA, is third in strikeouts, at 184, and handily leads the league with 196.2 innings pitched to go with a tiny 1.03 WHIP. Only Justin Verlander is close in innings, with 190.2. No other pitcher has more than 180.

Despite the heroic efforts of Hernandez, Seattle remains last in the AL West, 14 1/2 games behind the Rangers.

National League

Braun's 35 HR
leads NL
The Milwaukee Brewers aren't heading to the playoffs this season, but they took out some of their angst and frustration on a fellow NL Central squad that's going nowhere even faster, hammering seven Chicago Cubs' pitchers for 21 hits in a 15-4 demolition.

Ryan Braun, last year's league MVP, was especially disrespectful to the host hurlers, going 4-for-5 with five RBI and three runs, including two singles, a double and a three-run homer - his 35th - which started a nine-run, ninth-inning outburst which sent the remaining Cubs fans to a slightly early exit.

Braun clearly leads all NL hitters in home runs, his 35 seven better than his closest pursuer, St. Louis' Carlos Beltran. He also tied for the league lead in RBI with the Cardinals' Matt Holliday. Both players have 90 on the year.

Bruan may well earn his second straight MVP award, despite grumbling from baseball writers over alleged use of banned substances that nearly cost Braun a 50-game suspension this season. Braun's appeal was upheld and he's played in 119 of Milwaukee's 127 games, batting .307, the eighth-highest average in the league.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Max Scherzer, Tigers Top Angels; Matt Holliday Leads NL in RBI as Cardinals Down Reds, 8-2

Players of the Day for Sunday, August 26, 2012

American League

Scherzer's 195 Ks
Lead AL
Prince Fielder and Delmon Young each homered in the sixth inning, providing more than enough offense in support of Max Scherzer, who improved to 14-6, holding the visiting Angels to a solitary, first-inning run in Detroit's 5-2 victory.

Scherzer gave up four hits and walked two, getting out of a three-hit first inning with a double play that plated Mike Trout, and a strikeout of Mark Trumbo to end the inning.

After Howie Kendrick singled to open the second inning, Scherzer did not allow another base hit, setting down 14 in a row before walking Trumbo to open the seventh. Setting down the Angels in order after that, his seven innings of work included nine strikeouts, giving him 195, tops in the major leagues and three better than teammate Justin Verlander.

Taking two of three from the Angels, the Tigers remain 2 1/2 back in the AL Central, following the White Sox, and they are in the thick of a four-team scramble for the two wild card spots, trailing Tampa Bay by a full game. Baltimore and Oakland are tied in the #2 slot, 1/2 game behind the Rays. The Angels are 4 1/2 back in the wild card and stuck in third place in the West, trailing the Rangers by 9 1/2 games.

National League

Holliday's 89 RBI
Leads NL
Taking two of three from the Central division-leading Reds, St. Louis crept to within six games of first place, winning the rubber game of the series by an 8-2 score.

Matt Holliday had a sensational afternoon at the plate, going 4-for-5, with two singles a double, triple and four RBI. Holliday scored twice, in the sixth and seventh innings, as the Cards banged out 17 hits off four Cincinnati hurlers.

Holliday leads the league in RBI with 89, four better than teammate Carlos Beltran and the Brewers' Ryan Braun.

Allen Craig cracked his 20th homer off Reds' starter Homer Bailey in the sixth and drove in three runs. He has 71 RBI, but has played in 30 to 40 fewer games than most other players.

St. Louis continues to cling to the second wild card, 2 1/2 behind Atlanta, but 1 1/2 better than the Dodgers and up two on division foe, Pittsburgh.

The Cardinals open a three-game series in Pittsburgh on Monday.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ian Kinsler Leads Rangers over Twins; Andre Ethier Goes 4-for-4 in Second Straight Game

Players of the Day for Saturday, August 25, 2012

American League

Multi-hit and multi-homer games are all the rage in Texas, ever since Adrian Beltre smashed three homers in one game and, two days later, hit for the cycle.

Ian Kinsler
Saturday was Ian Kinsler's turn at the plate, and the scrappy second baseman came within a double of hitting for the cycle himself.

Kinsler led off the Texas half of the first inning with his 15th home run of the season, cleared up a bases-loaded situation in the third with a triple and later singled. He finished 3-for-5 with four RBI and a run scored, giving him 88 runs on the year, good for second in the AL behind LA's amazing rookie, Mike Trout, who leads the league with 99.

Texas won its fourth straight, a 9-3 Ranger romp over Minnesota, and will be looking for the sweep in their four game series with the downcast Twins when they host them in the finale Sunday afternoon. It's been pretty one-sided for the home team. Texas has outscored the Twins 27-9 in the first three games and continue lead the AL West by six games over the A's.

National League

Ethier: 10 straight hits
Seemingly unconcerned about being dropped to sixth in the Dodger lineup, Andre Ethier continued to demonize opposing pitchers, going 4-for-4 in LA's 9-3 win over Miami.

It was the second straight win over the Marlins and the second game in a row in which Ethier was 4-for-4 with a home run. Ethier had two hits in his final two at-bats in Thursday's loss to the Giants, giving him 10 straight, tying a club record set in 1919 by first baseman Ed Konetchy.

Being moved down in the batting order is not a worry for either Ethier or the Dodgers, since he's batting right behind a pair of newcomers: Hanley Ramirez, whom them Dodgers acquired in late July, and Adrian Gonzalez, who was traded to the Dodgers from Boston on Saturday and hit a three-run homer in his first game for LA.

The win allowed LA to pick up a game on the Giants, who lead the NL West by just two games over the Dodgers. LA will be looking for the series sweep Sunday afternoon when they host the Marlins.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Andre Either Goes 4-for-4 in Dodger Win; Chris Davis Belts 3 HR for Orioles; Texas' Adrian Beltre Hits for Cycle

Players of the Day for Friday, August 24, 2012

American League

Beltre Hits for Cycle
Hitting for the cycle is a rarity. Not quite so unusual is belting three home runs in one game, but Adrian Beltre managed to cram both of those feats into a span of just three days, and, on the night Beltre hit for the cycle, the Orioles' Chris Davis homered in three consecutive at-bats.

Davis: 3 HR
After hitting three homers on Wednesday, Beltre continued his hot streak Friday with a 4-for-4 effort which included a first inning triple, a second inning double, a fifth inning home run and a single, to complete the cycle, in the eighth. Texas pounded Minnesota, 8-0, Beltre's cycle overshadowing a fine pitching performance by 15-4 Matt Harrison, who allowed just two hits over eight innings, fanning five and walking two.

Riding a five-game hitting streak, Beltre has 13 hits in his last 22 at-bats, a .591 clip. The Rangers maintained a six game lead over the A's in the West with the victory.

In Baltimore, the Orioles downed Toronto, 6-4, behind Davis' three homers - solo shots in the second and fourth innings, and a two-run knock that put the O's ahead, 5-1. Davis was 3-for-4 with four RBI and the Orioles remained tied with Oakland for the second wild card spot, 1 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay.

National League

Ethier: 4-for-4
With rumors of a blockbuster trade between the Dodgers and Red Sox circulating, Andre Ethier went about his business as a professional, going 4-for-4 with a three-run, first inning homer followed by three straight singles, driving in four runs and scoring three times in LA's 11-4 victory over visiting Miami.

The win allowed the Dodgers to keep pace in the NL West, three games behind the Giants, winners of five straight.

The proposed deal between LA and Boston centered on first baseman Adrian Gonzalez heading to the Dodgers. The players have been known for days, but the trade has to be approved by Major League Baseball before it is finalized. Sources say that approval should come Saturday.

According to the LA Times:
The Red Sox would also send pitcher Josh Beckett, outfielder Carl Crawford and infielder Nick Punto in the deal, while L.A. would give up James Loney, pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster as well as minor leaguers Jerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus Jr.

Friday, August 24, 2012

David Freese, Matt Holliday Lead Cards to Sweep of Astros; Rays Win 5-0 Over A's on Alex Cobb Shutout

Players of the Day for Thursday, August 23, 2012

American League

Tampa Bay just keeps on winning, getting their 14th victory in the last 17 games, courtesy of a four-hit shutout by Alex Cobb - the first shutout of his career - in a 5-0 blanking of the Oakland A's.

Cobb: 4-hit shutout
Cobb struck out eight, walked a pair and didn't allow any runners past second base, throwing 79 of 113 pitches for strikes while getting two double plays from his infield.

Cobb evened his record at 8-8 with his second career complete game, both of them coming this season.

The Rays scored all of their runs in the fifth inning and Cobb continued mowing down A's, as the Rays reached to within 2 1/2 games of the idle Yankees in the AL East, the closest they've been since June 16.

New York, which opens a thee game series at Cleveland Friday, has dropped three straight and five of their last seven.

The Rays opened home series with a win and hope to keep winning when they host the A's Friday and Saturday, followed by a rare Sunday day off.

National League

Matt Holliday
Heating up at the right time, the St. Louis Cardinals won their third straight, sweeping the Houston Astros with a 13-5 trouncing in the series finale Thursday.

David Freese
MVP of last season's World Series, David Freese drove in four runs with a three-run homer and a pair of singles in four at-bats. Matt Holliday also drove in four with a bases-loaded double in the fifth inning and an RBI single in the eighth.

Having taken over second place from the Pirates, St. Louis trails Central division leader, Cincinnati, by seven games, but is in line for the second wild card spot, trailing wild card leader Atlanta by 2 1/2 games.

The Cards begin a tough stretch on Friday, with three games at Cincinnati, three at Pittsburgh, and finally finish the 10-game road trip with four at Washington.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Joaquin Arias Leads Giants to Sweep of LA; Adrian Beltre's 3 HR, Mitch Moreland's Grand Slam Power Rangers Past Baltimore

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 22, 2012

American League

Exactly five years ago, the Rangers embarrassed the Orioles with a ridiculous, 30-3, victory. Wednesday night at home, the Rangers didn't exactly demolish the O's again, though the result was the same: a Texas win and a Baltimore loss.

Adrian Beltre socked three home runs - all within the first four innings - as the Rangers built an insurmountable, 10-1 lead, sending 12 batters to the plate in the fateful fourth, Mitch Moreland smacked a grand slam during the frame, surrounded by two of Beltre's three home runs. Noth Moreland and Beltre finished with five RBI in the 12-3 power display.

Moreland: GS, 5RBI
Beltre: 3 HR, 5 RBI
It was the second time this season that a Ranger had hit three homers in one game. Josh Hamilton stroked four earlier in the season.

The victory kept Texas five games up on Oakland in the AL West; the Orioles, despite the loss, remain in the thick of the wild card hunt, though they dropped out of the #2 slot to third, two games behind Tampa Bay and 1/2 game behind Oakland.

The Rays moved to within three games of the Yankees in the East with the sixth win in their last seven outings, taking two of three in KC with a 5-3 win. The Yankees were swept in Chicago by the White Sox, capped by Wednesday's 2-1 triumph. Chris Sale improved to 15-4 for the Sox, who are two games better than the Tigers in the Central. Sale fanned 13 and allowed just three hits over 7 2/3 innings. Derek Jeter produced the only run for the Yankees with a solo homer in the sixth, his third home run in as many games.

National League

Series sweeps seem to be the agenda this season in the stories rivalry between the Giants and Dodgers.

Joaquin Arias
Back in late June, the Giants took three straight from LA to assume the lead in the NL West. A little more than a month later, the Dodgers returned the favor, sweeping the Giants on their home turf.

With Wednesday's 8-4 win, the Giants completed another sweep of the Dodgers, this time in Los Angeles, to assume a 2 1/2 game lead over LA in the division with the Diamondbacks still lurking, 5 1/2 out.

Joaquin Arias, a 28-year-old utility infield rookie from the Dominican Republic, provided all the runs Matt Cain and the Giants would need with a home run, two doubles and five RBI in four at-bats.

Cain scattered seven hits over seven innings, allowing just one run while whiffing five for his 13th win against five losses.

The Giants head home for a four game series with Atlanta beginning Thursday, while the Dodgers get a day off before opening a three game set with the Marlins on Friday in LA.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kevin Youkilis' Grand Slam Downs Yankees; Adam Wainwright Blanks Astros for 7-0 St. Louis Win

Players of the Day for Tuesday, August 21, 2012

American League

When the Red Sox traded Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox earlier this season, the Yankees were pleased to see a long-time nemesis traded out of their division.

However, as a part of their trip to the Windy City, Youkilis reminded New Yorkers that he remains a Yankee killer no matter where he's playing, smacking a grand slam in the fifth inning to provide the winning margin in Chicago's 7-3 triumph.

The opposite-field smash off starter Ivan Nova broke a 2-2 tie and was the only hit of the night for Youkilis. It was his 15th homer of the season, the 11th as a member of the White Sox, in 46 games with his new team.

Youkilis: Grand Slam
With the Yankees losing their second straight in Chicago, the AL East tightened a little more into a three-way race. Though Tampa Bay lost, 1-0, in 10 innings, to Kansas City, the Orioles dumped Texas, 5-3, and now find themselves just one game behind the Rays and five short of the division-leading Yanks.

The White Sox kept their two-game lead over Detroit - 5-3 winners over Toronto - in the Central, while the A's took a 4-1 decision over Minnesota to creep to within five games of Texas in the West. The wild card, led by the Rays and O's, has the A's 1 1/2 back, Detroit 2 1/2 out and the fading Angels five behind.

The White Sox will be looking for a sweep when they tangle with the Yankees at 8:05 pm EDT on Wednesday.

National League

Wainwright: 7-0 W
As long as the Cardinals keep trotting Adam Wainwright out to the mound every five days they're likely to stay in the wild card race until the very end, posing a significant danger to the rest of the National League teams who have visions of a World Series October.

The Cardinals got red hot in September last year, qualifying for the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, and are 3 1/2 behind Atlanta in the overall wild card race, but just 1/2 game behind Pittsburgh for the second slot after Wainwright tossed a complete game, 7-0, shutout against the Astros.

It was Wainwright's third complete game and second shutout of the season. As he improved to 12-10 on the year, Wainwright needed only 104 pitches for the win, allowing five hits, striking out a season-high 12 while issuing just one walk.

In his last six starts, Wainwright has earned the victory in five, and has four straight wins, helping to keep the Cardinals in the thick of the wild card race.

With the opening game win in their three game series with visiting Houston, the Cards seek to sweep the NL's weakest team. Houston has lost five straight.

Following the series with Houston, the Cards embark on their toughest road trip of the season, a ten-game stretch with three in Cincinnati, three in Pittsburgh and four games at Washington, taking them into September.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Juan Pierre, John Mayberry Help Phils Dominate Reds; Ryan Dempster, Texas Drop Orioles

Players of the Day for Monday, August 20, 2012

American League

Ryan Dempster
Since being acquired by the Rangers in a late July trade with the Chicago Cubs, Ryan Dempster has not always lived up to expectations.

In two key starts - against the Angels and Yankees - Dempster both times allowed nine hits and eight earned runs, evincing considerable consternation among the Texas brass and Ranger fans.

Monday's effort was a bit closer to what was expected: Dempster allowed four hits and only one earned run over eight solid innings, guiding the Rangers to a 5-1 win over the wild card-contending Orioles.

Fanning six while walking two, Dempster picked up his second win as a Texas Ranger, getting the three-game series with the visiting O's off to a strong start.

The win improved the Texas lead in the AL West to six games over Oakland. The A's dropped a 7-2 decision to the Twins.

National League

Sooner or later, somebody was going to cool off the Reds; suitably, the reigning NL East champion Phillies did it with a barrage of 15 hits in a 12-5 stomping to open a four-game series in Philadelphia.

John Mayberry
After Cincinnati opened up a 5-3 lead with three runs in the top of the fifth, the Phillies dashed the hopes of their visitors with four runs in the bottom of the inning and three more in the sixth, putting the game away early.

Juan Pierre
John Mayberry and Juan Pierre were the slugging stars for Philadelphia. Mayberry went 3-for-5 with two singles, and a sixth inning home run, driving in three and touhing the plate three times.

The speedy Pierre was 3-for-4, with a pair of singles and a double, two stolen bases, three runs and an RBI, raising his batting average to .312, though he doesn't have enough at-bats (311) to qualify amongst NL batting leaders.

Despite the loss, the Reds maintained their 6 1/2 game lead over the Pirates in the NL Central as Pittsburgh lost, 3-1, at San Diego.

The Reds, who had won three in a row and eight of their last nine before hitting the road to Philly, will try to get back on track when the series resumes Tuesday night.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Aaron Hill's Two Homers Help D-Backs to 4th Straight; Michael Young Drives in Five to Power Rangers

Players of the Day for Sunday, August 19, 2012

American League

The way the Texas Rangers are going, they're a cinch to make the playoffs, as the AL West champion, or, even if they stumble a bit, as one of the two AL wild cards.

Texas maintained their five game lead over the A's in the division with an 11-2 romp over the Blue Jays, banging out 19 hits, nine of which went for extra bases.

Michael Young
One of the big advantages the Rangers hold over all opposition in the American League is their power-laden lineup. When you can put a former batting champion in the six hole, like Michael Young was on Sunday, you have no holes in your batting order. Young won the AL batting crown in 2005 with a .331 average.

Young delivered five RBI for the Rangers, going 3-for-5 with a single, double and a three-run homer in the five-run fifth inning, which put Texas up 8-1, and, with Matt Harrison tossing bullets from the mound (8 IP, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K), the Rangers cruised to the win, taking two of three from the Jays.

The Rangers return to Arlington Monday for a 10-game home stand, with four games against the lowly Twins sandwiched in between a pair of three-game series with the top two wild card teams from the AL East, Baltimore and the red hot Tampa Bay Rays, who just did the Rangers a big favor over the weekend, taking four straight from the Angels and dropping them nine games behind Texas in the division.

National League

With the Dodgers taking first place in the NL West with a 5-0 win over the Braves, the Arizona Diamondbacks crept a little it closer in their quest to reach the top spot in the division.

Aaron Hill
Arizona won its fourth straight, with an 8-1 rout of the Astros, sweeping the three-game series at Houston by a combined score of 23-6. Houston has the worst record in the majors, a distressing 39-83 mark (.320).

Aaron Hill banged a pair of solo homers for the Diamondbacks, going 3-for-4 with a double, two RBI and three runs. Hills homers were his 16th and 17th of the season, and raised his batting average to a robust .298, which, if he maintains it, would be the best in his eight year pro career.

With the win and the Giants' 7-1 loss to the Padres - which dropped them 1/2 game behind the Dodgers - the Diamondbacks are 4 1/2 off the pace in the division and have a trio of three games series at home against Miami, Chicago and Cincinnati before heading to LA for a four-game showdown with the Dodgers, August 30 through September 2, followed by a three-game set at San Francisco, so the NL West could begin to sort itself out right after Labor Day.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Carlos Pena, Ryan Roberts and Ben Zobrist Key Rays Comeback Win over Angels; Chris Young Powers Arizona over Astros

Players of the Day for Saturday, August 18, 2012

American League

Taking their third straight from the LA Angels, the Tampa Bay Rays strengthend their hold on the top wild card spot with a come-from-behind, 10-8 victory that may have dealt a death blow to the Angels' post-season hopes.

Carlos Pena
Down 8-0 after just three innings, the road-tested Rays used six different pitchers after starter Alex Cobb couldn't get out of the third inning, allowing all eight runs on 12 hits, including home runs by Albert Pujols and Mike Trout.

While the bullpen heroes were blanking the Angels over the final 6 1/3 innings, the Rays' regulars were banging out the hits, scoring seven times in the fifth inning, tying the game in the sixth when Ryan Roberts scooted home on a Jose Lobaton sacrifice fly, and winning the game on Carlos Pena's two-run, pinch hit homer in the eighth.

Ryan Roberts
It was Pena's only at-bat of the game, though a most meaningful one, perhaps the biggest hit for Pena and the Rays of the season. Roberts' contribution was significant, scoring twice on a 2-for-4 night. Ben Zobrist keyed the sixth inning rally with his only hit in five at-bats, a bases-loaded double that sent all three runners home.

Ben Zobrist
A true team effort, nine different Rays scored for the Rays. Roberts was the only player to touch home plate twice.

The Rays have won three straight and eight of their last ten to take the wild card lead by a game over the Orioles and 1 1/2 over the A's, both of which were winners on Saturday. Tampa Bay and Baltimore each picked up a game on the East division leading Yankees, who fell to Boston, 4-1. New York leads the Rays by five and the O's by six games.

The Angels and Rays wrap up their series at 3:35 pm EDT on Sunday with the Rays seeking a four-game sweep. The Angels have fallen eight games behind Texas in the West and 4 1/2 behind the Rays in the wild card, wiht the O's, A's and Tigers ahead of them.

National League

Chris Young singled twice, doubled and socked his 13th home run of the season, driving in three runs with a 4-for-5 effort with two runs scored to lead the Diamondbacks to their third straight win, a 12-4 romp over the hosting Astros that included a nine-run fifth inning.

Chris Young
Houston was leading, 3-1, after four innings until Arizona sent nine men to the plate in the fateful fifth that featured three walks an error and was capped by Aaron Hill's three run homer. Hill had walked and scored earlier in the inning.

Arizona remained five games back in the NL West as the Giants and Dodgers both won on Saturday. San Francisco leads LA by a slim 1/2 game.

The West appears to be an all-or-nothing division, especially for Arizona, with three team vying for the title with little hope of the second place team earning the second wild card slot. Atlanta leads the wild card card chase with the Pirates four games back in the second spot. LA is 1/2 game behind Pittsburgh, the Cardinals another 1/2 game behind LA and the Diamondbacks four games behind St. Louis.

Arizona will be seeking a sweep of the Astros Sunday at 2:25 pm EDT. Following Houston's 82nd loss of the season against just 39 wins - easily the worst record in the majors - the Astros fired manager Brad Mills, hitting coach Mike Barnett and first base coach Bobby Meacham.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Matt Cain, Marco Scutaro, Angel Pagan Lead Giants Back to First Place; Prince Fielder Blasts O's in 5-3 Win

Players of the Day for Friday, August 17, 2012

American League

Fielder: 2HR, 4RBI
Opening a three game series critical to the wild card chase and divisional races in the East and Central, the Baltimore Orioles had a lead at Detroit, but lost it and the game when they failed to keep Prince Fielder in the yard.

Leading 3-1 in the sixth inning, Fielder unloaded for the first of two massive homers - both coming with Miguel Cabrera aboard - to tie the game, then blasted his second in the eighth, completing the 5-3 win.

The victory left the Tigers tied with the Orioles for the second wild card spot, a game behind Tampa Bay, in the #1 wild card position. The Tigers also picked up a game on Central division leader, Chicago, 4-2 losers at Kansas City, leaving Detroit 1 1/2 back in the Central.

Fielder's homers were his 21st and 22nd of the season. The first came off O's starter, Tommy Hunter, the second blow against reliever J. C. Romero. Miguel Cabrera's first inning hoemr - his 31st of the year - provided the only other run for Detroit.

The series resumes Saturday night, with the third game set for Sunday afternoon at Tiger Stadium.

Marco Scutaro
National League

Matt Cain, Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro led the San Francisco Giants back into first place in the NL West, powering the Giants to to a lopsided, 10-1 win over the Padres, in the opener of a three-game weekend series in San Diego.

Angel Pagan
Scutaro got the Giants started in the first inning, staking Matt Cain (12-5) to an early advantage with a solo homer.

In the third inning, the Giants sent 14 men to the plate and scored eight runs to essentially put the game out of reach.

Matt Cain
Pagan drove in the first run of the epic inning with an RBI triple and was singled home by Scutaro, who later scored. Cain aided his own cause with a single in the inning which plated Brandon Belt.

Pagan finished up 3-for-5 with two RBI. Scutaro was 2-for-5 with two runs and two RBI, while Cain, who earlier this season tossed a perfect game, won his second straight start, allowing four hits and a single fifth inning run over eight, fanning six without issuing a walk.

The win gave the Giants a 1/2 game lead over the Dodgers in the West. LA dropped a 4-3 decision at Atlanta.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Chipper Jones Leads Braves in 6-0 Kris Medlen Shutout ; David Price Blanks Angels Over Seven

Players of the Day for Thursday, August 16, 2012

American League

The Tampa Bay Rays are back in the playoff picture in a big way following their 7-0 shutout over the fading LA Angels.

Price: 16-4
The Rays are tied with Baltimore for the two AL wild card spots. Both teams trail the Yankees by six games in the AL East and are a game better than Detroit and 1 1/2 up on Oakland in the wild card race.

The hottest team in the American League, the Rays got seven solid innings from 16-4 David Price, who allowed just three hits, struck out six and issued two walks.

The win was the first of a crucial four game series in Los Angeles. The Angels are third in the AL West, seven games behind the Rangers and are struggling to keep pace in the wild card hunt, 2 1/2 behind the current co-leaders.

Price passed the Angels' Jered Weaver for most wins in the majors with 16 and is second in ERA, at 2.39, behind Weaver (2.22) and ahead of Detroit's ace, Justin Verlander (2.46). His 159 strikeouts is good for fifth place amongst AL whiff leaders.

Game two of the series begins Friday night at 10:05 pm EDT.

Editor's Note: It would be nice if Yahoo could update their stats before noon Eastern time the following day. No wonder the stock has been stuck near the bottom of its range for the last four years. The site often carries outdated erroneous information and is bogged down with unnecessary features that hamper load times and overall performance.

National League

Chipper Jones
When it's bobble-head night and it's your head that's bob-bob-bobbling up and down in the stands, what are you supposed to do?

Maybe, do what Chipper Jones did in Thursday night's 6-0 win over the Padres, crack a pair of home runs and delight the crowd with three RBI as you continue your farewell season.

Kris Medlen
Jones, a certain first ballot hall of famer, has already announced his retirement at the conclusion of the 2012 season, but he's playing like he has a couple more seasons left in his 39-year-old frame. He's batting .315 - keeping his career average of .304 in good shape - with 12 homers and 53 RBI in 76 games, plus he's helped the Braves into a clear lead for the #1 wild card spot, four games better than the Pirates and four games behind Washington in the battle for the NL East.

Jones will retire with some gaudy numbers - all with the Braves - at the conclusion of this season: his two homers on Thursday give him 2700 hits, 466 home runs and 1614 RBI, currently in the #31 spot all-time. By season's end he'll likely pass Harold Baines and Ernie Banks, moving into the 29th slot for career RBI, right behind another stellar third baseman, Tony Perez, who finished with 1652.

Not to be overlooked on Jones' big night at the plate was Kris Medlen's five-hit, complete game shutout, the first of his career, which consists mostly of appearances out of the bullpen. Medlen fanned six and didn't walk a batter, improving to 4-1 on the year.

The Braves took the final three games in their four-game series with the Padres, limiting San Diego to one run over 27 innings.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Felix Hernandez Throws Perfect Game for Mariners; Mike Leake, Todd Frazier Keep Red-Hot Reds Rolling

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 15, 2012

American League

27 up, 27 down.

That's how Felix Hernandez handled the Tampa Bay Rays on a rare sunny afternoon in Seattle, setting down the Rays in order for the third perfect game this season, a 1-0 victory for Seattle, and the first perfect game in the Mariners' 34-year franchise history.

Hernandez joins Philip Humber of the White Sox and the Giants' Matt Cain as perfect hurlers in 2012, a year in which there have also been three other no-hitters.

This is the first time there have been three perfect games in a single season, and the total no-hitters is one off the modern record of seven in a single season, set in 1990 and again, in 1991. In 1884, under rules that differ widely from today's game, pitchers accounted for eight no-hitters.

Hernandez dominated the Rays from start to finish, throwing mostly breaking balls that Tampa hitters desperately flailed at throughout the game. Over the first three innings, Hernandez recorded two outs on strikeouts, three on fly balls and four ground outs.

Hernandez: Perfect
Then he really started to heat up, his breaking ball swerving across and around home plate to the discomfort of Rays' batters. He struck out two in the fourth inning, then got the side out swinging in the sixth. In the seventh, three ground ball outs were all the Rays could muster, and Hernandez fanned the side again in the eighth.

Desmond Jennings swung and missed at strike three to open the ninth, Jeff Keppinger grounded out to short for the second out, and King Felix finished with a flair, getting Sean Rodriguez looking on a fast ball to end the game and enter the history books.

Hernandez struck out 12 overall, all of them swinging except for the final out of the game. The sharp curves had the Rays fooled, as Hernandez threw 115 pitches, of which only 73 went for strikes. His perfect game was the 23rd in MLB history.

Improving to 11-5, Hernandez, the 2010 AL Cy Young award recipient, lowered his ERA to 2.60, tied for fourth best for starters in the league with Chicago's Chris Sale. His 12 Ks upped his total to 174, tying him for second in that department with Justin Verlander. Max Scherzer leads the league with 178.

The Mariners, hopelessly out of the running for the playoffs and en route to their 11th straight losing season, slowed down the Rays, handing them their second straight loss after Tampa Bay had won seven in a row. The Rays dropped back to third place in the AL East, a game behind Baltimore and seven back of the division-leading Yankees. The O's and Rays are the current leaders in the wild card race.

National League

While not quite the effort of Felix Hernandez, Cincinnati's Mike Leake pitched a whale of a game in the Reds' 6-1 win over the Mets, allowing four hits and one earned in his second complete game of the season.

Mike Leake
Leake, 5-7, out-dueled Mets' knuckleballer, R.A. Dickey, striking out four wihtout issuing a walk as the Reds took their second straight at Citi Field. Leake also aided his own cause at the plate, singling home Todd Frazier in the seventh inning.
Todd Frazier

The Mets only run came in the fourth inning, when Leake got into a bit of a jam, giving up consecutive singles with no outs and putting runners at first and third, before inducing a double play hit into by Daniel Murphy and getting David Wright on a line out to end the inning. That tied the game at 1-1, but the Reds responded in the bottom of the frame with back-to-back home runs by Scott Rolen and Todd Frazier, putting Cincinnati on top, 3-1, a lead they would not relinquish.

Frazier, a replacement for injured Joey Votto, has been a godsend to the Reds. He was 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs in the win, and is hitting .286 with 15 homers and 49 RBI in just 290 at-bats.

Since the all star break, the Reds have been absolutely on fire, winning 24 of 32 games, despite a five game losing streak last week. With their win over the Mets they've won five straight and lead the Pirates and Cardinals by seven games in the NL Central.

The series with the Mets wraps up Thursday night at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The Reds will be looking for the sweep.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hiroki Kuroda Blanks Rangers on Two Hits; Madison Bumgarner Cools Off Nationals as Giants Win

Players of the Day for Tuesday, August 14, 2012

American League

With their ace, C.C. Sabathia, on the DL, the Yankees need to get solid efforts from the rest of their starters. On Tuesday in the Bronx, Hiroki Kuroda answered the call, turning in his top performance of the year with a two-hit, 3-0, shutout of the Texas Rangers.

Hiroki Kuroda
Kuroda had a no-hitter through six, but speedy Elvis Andrus broke it up with an infield single to lead off the seventh. Unfazed, Kuroda got the next three batters in order, though Andrus eventually reached third base, tagging from first on Josh Hamilton's fly out to right and taking thrid on a wild pitch.

Michael Young was the only other Ranger to hit safely, leading off the eighth inning with a single up the middle, but he was quickly erased on a double play. Kuroda finished off the final four batters in order for his fourth career complete game, all of them shutouts. Kuroda (11-8) struck out five and walked two.

The Yankees struck for the only runs of the game in the seventh, on back-to-back homers by Nick Swisher - a two run poke - and Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees have taken the first two games of the four-game series with the Rangers which resumes Wednesday night at 7:05 pm EDT. Both the Yankees and Rangers lead their respective divisions by six games.

National League

There were four shutouts in the National League on Tuesday, though none of the pitching performances were complete game wins. The Dodgers topped the Pirates, 11-0; Cincinnati took care of the Mets, 3-0; Atlanta put away the Padres, 6-0; and Philadelphia survived a 1-0 win over Miami.

Madison Bumgarner
In San Francisco, however, Madison Bumgarner went the distance, as the Giants cooled off the Nationals, 6-1.

After the Nationals opened the series by the Bay with a 14-2 trouncing of their hosts, Bumgarner chilled the hot bats of the Nats, allowing just five hits and one earned run in his second complete game of the season. He walked one and didn't allow the lone Washington run until the seventh inning, after the Giants had built a 2-0 lead.

San Francisco added four runs in the eighth, allowing Bumgarner to complete his mound work. Bumgarner improved to 13-7, striking out six and setting down the last nine batters in order.

The win kept the Giants tied with the Dodgers on top of the NL West. Atlanta picked up a game on the Nationals in the East and trail by 4 1/2. The two division leaders will complete the three-game series Wednesday afternoon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Yanks Down Rangers on Nick Swisher Slam; Danny Espinosa Helps Nationals Extend NL East Lead in 14-2 Win over SF

Players of the Day for Monday, August 13, 2012

American League

Nick Swisher
AL West leader, Texas, headed into New York looking to press their advantage in a three game series with the Yankees, but Nick Swisher and the Yankee hitters knocked around starter Ryan Dempster for eight earned runs in six-plus innings, whipping the visiting Rangers, 8-2.

The big blast came in the third inning, when Nick Swisher launched a bases-loaded rocket to right field, the grand slam putting an end to a 2-0 Texas lead, sending the Yankees to a series-opening win.

Swisher also singled home Derek Jeter with the Yankees' final run in the seventh, giving him five RBI on the night. Swisher has 15 homers and 63 RBI this season.

The win kept New York five games ahead of the charging Rays, winners of seven straight, while the Rangers extended their lead over idle Oakland to six games in the West.

The series continues Tuesday night in the Bronx with Scott Feldman on the mound for Texas, facing the Yankees' Freddy Garcia.

National League

Danny Espinosa
East coast, West coast, and anywhere in between, it doesn't seem to matter to the Washington Nationals, they just keep on winning. The Nats are 11-2 for the month of August and have a 40-22 record in road games.

Improving upon their major league-best road record with a 14-2 slaughter of the Giants, the Nationals continued their road trip with a series-opening, 21-hit barrage, knocking out NL ERA leader, Ryan Vogelsong, with nine hits and eight runs in just 2 2/3 innings.

Five different Nationals had three or more hits, led by shortstop Danny Espinosa, who went 4-for-6, socked his 12th homer of the season, scored three times and drove in three runs. Roger Bernadina also slapped out four hits - a double and three singles - and drove in three.

The Nationals extended their lead in the NL East to 5 1/2 games over the Braves; San Francisco's loss, coupled with the Dodgers' 5-4 win over Pittsburgh, left the Giants and Dodgers deadlocked atop the West division at 63-53.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Neil Walker Goes 5-for-5 in Pirate Win; Rajai Davis Helps Jays Down Yanks with 5 RBI

Players of the Day for Sunday, August 12, 2012

American League

Ravaged by injuries, the Toronto Blue Jays found themselves in last place as they welcomed the first place Yankees to the Rodgers Centre for a three game set this weekend, and, after losing their first two, had fallen further off the pace.

Enter Rajai Davis, hero of Toronto's 10-7 sweep-avoiding win the the series finale.

Davis: 5 RBI
Davis, batting from his usual leadoff spot in the order, tied a career-best five RBI in the Blue Jay win with a pair of doubles in five at-bats, leading to a one-sided win that the Toronto relief staff nearly gave away.

Davis doubled in a pair of runs and scored in Toronto's six-run fourth inning, which put the Jays up by a 7-1 score, then cleared the bases with another double an inning later, finishing the scoring by the Blue Jays.

The Yankees fought back, however, with a run in the fifth and three each in the sixth and seventh. Davis made a spectacular catch in the seventh inning, robbing Casey McGehee of a home run as he leapt to make a catch above the 10-foot-high wall in left center.

The Jays still remain in last place, 14 1/2 games out; the Yankees lead the AL East by five games over the Rays and 5 1/2 over Baltimore.

National League

Walker: 5-for-5
Continuing to dog Cincinnati in the NL Central and the Braves in the wild card, the Pittsburgh Pirates got back on track Sunday with an 11-5 win over San Diego, avoiding being swept at home by the lowly Padres, who had taken the first two games of the series.

Neil Walker had a banner day at the plate, going 5-for-5 with a homer, double and three singles. Walker scored twice and drove in a pair of runs as the Pirates erased a 5-0 Padre lead with a run in the third inning (courtesy of a Walker RBI single) and nine runs in the fourth.

Leading off the seventh, Walker sent a blast into the right field stands for his 14th home run of the year, completing the Pirates' scoring.

Pittsburgh picked up a game on Atlanta in the wild card and now trail by two games, but are in line for the #2 wild card spot, ensuring at least a one-game post-season playoff.

With the Reds winning, 3-0, in Chicago, they remain 4 1/2 behind the Reds in the division as they open a four game series with Los Angeles on Monday in Pittsburgh.