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.

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