Sunday, September 30, 2012

Manny Machado, Jon Johnson Help Orioles to Tie for First; Michael Morse's Grand Slam Get Nationals Closer to NL East Title

Players of the Day for Saturday, September 29, 2012

American League

Even though they've scored oly eight more runs than the competition all season, the Baltimore Orioles remain in contention for both the AL East title and the wild card, tying the Yankees for first place in the AL East with a 4-3 win over Boston as the Yanks were losing 3-2, to Toronto.

Manny Machado
Jim Johnson
Manny Machado broke a 3-3 tie with a solo homer in the seventh inning and Baltimore's relievers put the game away with hitless eighth and ninth innings. Jim Johnson earned his AL-best 49th save of the season, putting away the Red Sox in order to end the game.

Machado put the O's on the board with an RBI single in the second inning, going 2-for-3 with two RBI.

The Orioles finish up their series with the Red Sox Sunday afternoon, then head to Tampa for a critical three-game series with the Rays which could impact both the AL East, but, more likely, the wild cards.

National League
Michael Morse

Washington's Michael Morse socked a first-inning grand slam, staking the Nationals to a 4-0 lead in the second of their three-game series with St. Louis, eventually winning in 10 innings on Kurt Suzuki's two-run double, for a 6-4 victory.

The win got the Nationals to within one win of wrapping up the NL East, the only division in the National League yet to be decided. Atlanta topped the Mets, 2-0, but remain four games behind the division leaders.

St. Louis' loss left them two games in front of the Dodgers for the second wild card as LA stopped Colorado, 3-0.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mike Napoli Leads Rangers over A's; Michael Morse Homers Twice as Nats Win

Players of the Day for Thursday, September 27, 2012

American League

Mike Napoli
With a 9-7 win over the A's, the Rangers finished their four-game series with the closest pursuer with a 2-2 split, just fine with the AL West leaders, who once again have opened up a four game ulge in the standings.

Mike Napoli came through with a 2-for-4 effort, as the Rangers scored five in the first and all of their runs in the first four innings. Napoli launched a two-run homer in the first inning and added an RBI single in the third.

Texas has a four-game lead with just six games left. Looks like they'll wrap up their third straight division title in sort order, possibly over the weekend.

National League

Michael Morse
With only the NL East and the second wild card still being contested, the Washington nationals took another step closer to a division title with a 7-3 win over the Phillies.

Michael Morse crushed a pair of homers - his 15th and 16th - and grounded out for another RBI, leading the Nationals to their second straight win over the fading Phils.

Atlanta, winners of five straight, continues in hot pursuit, four game back, but the Braves are running out of time and already have the #1 wild card sewn up. There are just six games left to play for both teams.

St. Louis had the day off, and has a three game lead on the Dodgers for the second wild card after LA topped the Padres, 8-4.

Milwaukee is another game back, losing to the Reds, 2-1.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tigers Go a Game Up on White Sox; Chris Davis Leads 7-HR Baltimore Attack; Matt Kemp Keeps Dodgers' Hopes Alive

Players of the Day for Wednesday, September 26, 2012

American League

Baltimore continues to press on in pursuit of the Yankees, downing Toronto, 12-2, to remain 1 1/2 games behind in the AL East.

Davis: 2HR 5RBI
The Orioles banged out 12 hits, seven of which were of the home run variety. Manny Machado and Chris Davis each belted a pair, with Davis driving in five runs on a three-run fifth inning blast and a two-run job in the seventh.

Trailing Toronto, 2-1, entering the bottom of the fifth inning, the Orioles put up a five spot to break the game open and added two runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

The win earned a split in the four game series, while the Yankees knocked off the Twins, 8-2, taking two of three.

With six games remaining, the Orioles host Boston for three games beginning Friday, then close out the season with three in Tampa with the Rays. New York begins a four game series in Toronto on Thursday and finishes up at home with three games against the Red Sox.

Detroit finally passed up the White Sox and took control of first place in the AL Central with a 5-4 victory over Kansas City while Chicago was losing to the Indians, 6-4.

In the West, Oakland took its second straight over the suddenly-struggling Rangers and have clawed to within three games of the lead. Right behind them, five back, are the Angels, winners of five straight.

Texas has one game remaining with the A's, on Thursday, then begins a critical stretch of three home games against the Angels before ending the season with a three-game series in Oakland. With seven games left, all against their two closest pursuers, there is a chance that the Rangers could miss the playoffs entirely after leading the division for nearly the full season.

Baltimore and Oakland currently hold the wild card spots, but the Angels would have to catch and pass the Rangers for such a situation to develop. It's getting very interesting as baseball heads down the home stretch.

National League

There were four shutouts in the national League on Wednesday, though none of them resulted in complete games. San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston and the Mets each were winners, blanking their opponents, though the only significant games were Atlanta's 3-0 win over Miami and Houston's 2-0 victory over the Cardinals.

Kemp: 4-5 HR 4RBI
Atlanta's win kept them four games behind the Nationals in the NL East, while the Cardinals' loss kept hopes alive for Milwaukee and the Dodgers, chasing St. Louis for the final wild card spot.

Both Los Angeles and the Brewers have slim hopes of reaching the post-season, still 4 1/2 behind the Cardinals. LA got a huge effort from Matt Kemp, who went 4-for-5 with four RBI and two runs, stroking his 20th home run of the season, doubling and singling twice in LA's 8-2 win over San Diego.

The Dodgers evened their series with the Padres at a game apiece and will play the rubber game Thursday night in San Diego. St. Louis needs any combination of four wins or four losses by either the Brewers or Dodgers to clinch the final playoff spot.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Anibal Sanchez Tosses 3-Hit Shutout, Tigers Tied with White Sox; Freddie Freeman's 9th-Inning Blast Propels Braves into Playoffs

Players of the Day for Tuesday, September 25, 2012

American League

Acquired by the Tigers from the Marlins just prior to the July 31 trading deadline,Anibal Sanchez fired a three-hit shutout over the Kansas City Royals, propelling Detroit into a tie for first place in the AL Central division with the Chicago white Sox.

Sanchez, who had not pitched particularly well since coming over to Detroit (11 starts, 4-6, 3.95 ERA), was in complete control throughout his nine innings on the mound, needing only 105 pitches (77 strikes) to shut down the Royals for the 2-0 win.

Sanchez: 3-hit shutout
Only one Royal reached second base, that coming in the sixth inning, when Alcides Escobar reached on a bunt single with two down and stole second. Alex Gordon was issued the only walk by Sanchez in the game, but the inning was ended when Sanzhez fanned Billy Butler.

After that, Sanchez was lights out, putting away the Royals in order through the 7th, 8th and 9th innings, fanning four along the way and finishing with 10 strikeouts, the most he's recorded as a Tiger.

With Cleveland taking down the White Sox, 4-3, earlier in the day, the result has the Tigers and White Sox dead even at 82-72 with eight games remaining. Unless both the Tigers and Sox get red hot down the stretch and either Baltimore or Oakland goes into a funk, only one team from the Central will qualify for the playoffs, that being the division winner. Earning a wild card spot has long been off the table for both squads.

Having won the first two, the Tigers continue their four game series with the Royals Wednesday and Thursday in Detroit while the White Sox play the rubber game of their three game set with the Indians in Chicago before hosting a four game series with the Rays starting Thursday. Chicago's final three games are at Cleveland.

Detroit finishes up the regular season on the road, with three at Minnesota and three at Kansas City. Detroit is 34-41 on the road, but has two of the weaker AL teams ahead, while Chicago will face a stern test from the Rays, who still entertain post-season fantasies, resting three back of Oakland for the second wild card spot.

National League

Freeman: Walk-off HR
Freddie Freeman's ninth inning, two-run homer lifted Atlanta to a 4-3 walk-off win over visiting Miami and into the playoffs, clinching at least a wild card spot, while shaving a game off Washington's lead in the NL East to just four back.

Freeman's blast came with none out in the ninth, after Chipper Jones reached on a leadoff double off reliever Mike Dunn, who has one save but five blown opportunities. Dunn came on to pitch the ninth, but did not retire a batter and took the loss.

Atlanta will most likely earn the first wild card, as Washington's magic number is down to four with just eight games left.

The Braves have two more games with the Marlins in Atlanta, then hosts the Mets for three before finishing the regular season with three in Pittsburgh.

Washington may have a tough time closing out the season atop the division, which they have led for the bulk of the year. With two more games in Philadelphia, where they lost, 6-3, on Tuesday, the Nationals play three at St. Louis, currently in position for the second wild card, before ending the regular season at home with the Phillies, a dangerous team with plenty of pitching and solid hitting, and probably more than a little upset that the first half more or less eliminated them from contention because of injuries to a number of their star players.

Eight games against a playoff contender and and angry bunch of Phillies while Atlanta plays also-rans bodes ill for the Nationals down the stretch.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmermann Lead Nats; Adam Jones Goes 4-for-4 for Baltimore, J.P. Arencibia's Grand Slam Spoils Nightcap for O's

Players of the Day for Monday, September 24, 2011

American League

Adam Jones
Splitting a double header with the Blue Jays at Camden Yards, Baltimore lost a little ground on the Yankees in the AL East race, but actually picked up 1/2 game over the A's, as Oakland lost to Texas, 5-4.

Arencibia: GS 5RBI
Adam Jones was 4-for-4 in the opener, won by Baltimore, 4-1, socking his 32nd home run, a furth-inning, two-run blast that gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead. Jones' three other hits were all singles. In the sixth inning he singled and scored Baltimore's final run of the game.

In the nightcap, Jones went 2-for-5, but failed to drive in any runs or score. He is enjoying his finest season as a pro, batting .292 with 81 RBI. Jones finished 2011 with 25 homers and 83 RBI.

Toronto's 9-5 win in the second game was courtesy of J.P. Arencibia, going 3-for-3 with five RBI on a pair of singles, a sac fly and a seventh inning grand slam that increased Toronto's 5-4 lead to 9-4.

The Yankees topped Minnesota, 6-3, increasing their lead in the division to 1 1/2 games over the O's.

Baltimore and Toronto meet again on Tuesday night with the Yanks playing at Minnesota.

National League

Washington has already qualified for the playoffs, but needs any combination of five wins or five Atlanta losses to secure the NL East, which they currently lead by five games.

Jordan Zimmermann
Ryan Zimmerman
In the meantime, they are seeking home field advantage with the best record in baseball, a game better than the Reds, and playing wild card spoiler with a 12-2 win over Milwaukee.

Ryan Zimmerman provided enough offense - going 3-for-4 with four RBI and two runs - for starter Jordan Zimmermann, who improved to 12-8, allowing one run on four hits, two walks and seven Ks over 6 2/3 innings. The pitcher went 2-for-3 at the dish, driving in a run and scoring once in support of his cause. Ryan Zimmerman belted a three-run homer in the fourth inning as the Nationals put up a six-spot.

Milwaukee's loss dropped the Brewers into a tie with Los Angeles, 3 1/2 games behind the Cardinals for the second wild card. St. Louis bettered Houston, 6-1, behind Lance Lynn's seven innings on the mound. Lynn gave up one run on five hits and two walks, fanning nine as he improved to 17-7.

The Cardinals have eight games left on their regular season schedule. Their closest pursuers, LA and Milwaukee, each have nine remaining.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Two HR, 5 RBI by Carlos Santana Lifts Cleveland; Allen Craig leads Cardinals over Cubs

Players of the Day for Sunday, September 23, 2012

American League

Back in June, the Cleveland Indians were leading the AL Central ad looking like one of the surprise teams of 2012.

Guess again. The Indians went into a tailspin just prior to and after the all star break that sent them plummeting to the bottom of the division, where they currently reside, 18 1/2 games behind the White Sox.

Santana: 2HR, 5RBI
Pitching was the big problem for the Indians, with the second-worst ERA in the majors (4.81, worst in the AL and, in all of MLB, better than only Colorado's 5.30), but they cannot complain about their catcher, Carlos Santana, who, in his second full year in the majors, is having a solid season, batting .257 (19 points above 2011's .239), with 18 homers (tied for fifth in the AL among catchers) and 75 RBI (third among AL catchers) after going 3-for-6 with a pair of long balls and five RBI in Cleveland's 15-4 rout of Kansas City.

Santana scored three times, totaling 69 runs for the season, second most of AL catchers, behind Minnesota's Joe Mauer (78).

In the pennant and wild card races, little changed on Sunday. The Yankees and Orioles both lost, leaving the Yanks with a one game lead. The White Sox lost their fifth straight, but still lead the Tigers in the Central by one, as Detroit dumped both ends of a double header to Minnesota.

Texas continues to lead Oakland in the West by four games, both teams losing on Sunday.

In the wild card, the Orioles are a game up on Oakland for the two spots available. The A's lead the Angels by 2 1/2 and the Rays by 3 1/2.

National League

In the National League, all that remains of the season is determining the winners of the East division, where the Nationals lead Atlanta by 4 1/2 games, and the wild cards, currently Atlanta and St. Louis, with the Braves six up on St. Louis and the Cardinals three ahead of LA and 3 1/2 up on Milwaukee.

Allen Craig
While the Dodgers and Brewers both won on Sunday, so did the Cardinals, knocking off the Cubs, 6-2, taking two of three in their series in Chicago.

First baseman Allen Craig, whose been on a tear of late, went 3-for-4 with a pair of ribbies in the win. Over his last ten games, Craig is batting .372 (16-for-43) with two homers, sixteen runs and 13 RBI.

Just like last season, the Cardinals are heating up at the right time, winning six of their last seven with just nine games left. St. Louis has three series remaining: three at Houston, followed by three games at home with Washington and three home games with the Reds, the final two series providing possible previews to the post-season, as the Reds have already clinched the Central and Washington's magic number is down to just six.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Doug Fister Fires Shutout of Twins, Tigers 1/2 Back; Mat Latos Leads Reds to Clinch in NL Central

Players of the Day for Saturday, September 22, 2012

American League

In the race for the American League Central division, the Detroit Tigers have been on the heels of the White Six for the past two months, but on Saturday, they came as close to first place as they could without actually tying Chicago.

Doug Fister
Doug Fister fired a shut out of the visiting Twins, 8-0, allowing seven hits while striking out seven with no walks, going the distance for the second time this season, throwing the first shutout of his major league career, which began in 2009 with Seattle.

Fister (10-9) needed 117 pitches to finish of the Twins, winning for the third time in his last four starts and getting the Tigers to within 1/2 game of the Sox, who were downed by the Angels, 4-2 for their fourth straight loss.

Having a game in hand (81-70 to 80-70 for Detroit), the Tigers are a win away from getting the lead outright, should Chicago stumble in their series finale at Anahiem Sunday afternoon.

The AL East continued to provide excitement galore as the Yankees won their seventh straight, a 14-inning, 10-9 decision over the A"s that has New York a game in front of the Orioles, winners of six straight.

The O's topped Boston, 9-6, in 12 innings and are two games ahead of the A's in the wild card race. Consequently, the A's are 2 1/2 up on the Angels for the second wild card and 3 1/2 ahead of the Rays.

National League

Mat Latos
The Giants and Red both clinched their respective divisions on Saturday and now can vie for home field advantage in the upcoming National League playoffs

With their magic number down to six, the Washington Nationals lead in the overall standings with a 92-59 record. The Reds, after their 6-0 shutout of the Dodgers, are 1/2 game behind, at 92-60, with the Giants, despite winning six straight, looking like they'll finish with the third-best record in the league. They are currently 89-63.
The Red accomplished the clinching moment off Mat Latos' eight innings of scoreless work from the mound, allowing six hits while fanning seven and walking none. Aroldis Chapman worked a hitless, scoreless ninth to preserve the win.

Latos is having a excellent season, with a 13-4 record, 3.60 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Seth Smith Leads A's over Tigers; Chase Utley, Ryan Howard Help Phils Pound Mets, 16-1

Players of the Day for Thursday, September 20, 2012

American League

Seth Smith
If the Oakland A's make it to the playoffs (and it looks like they will), there will be plenty of players to thank, including Seth Smith, who helped the A's tie the idle Orioles for the top wild card Thursday night with a 12-4 win over Detroit.

Smith tied the game at 2-2 with his 14th homer of the season, singled and scored in the A's four-run sixth, then cleared the bases with a double in the ninth, putting his signature on the victory, going 3-for-4 with three runs and four RBI.

National League

While the Nationals and Reds each clinched playoff spots, the Phillies continue clinging to slim hopes of reaching the post-season, helping themselves with a 21-hit bombing of the Mets Thursday at Citi Field in a 16-1 rout.
Chase Utley

Ryan Howard
Having fallen well off the pace early in the year due to the absence of two of their star players, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, the Phillies have been one of the better teams in the second half, getting both off the DH and into a regular playing regimen.

Utley rapped out four hits in five at-bats (a double and three singles), and drove in four runs while Howard singled in a run as the Phills put up eight in the first inning, then polished off the Mets with his 14th homer of the year, a ninth-inning grand slam as the Phils added seven more runs.

Philadelphia has won three straight, leaving them four games behind St. Louis, winners of four in a row, for the second wild card. Also chasing the Cardinals are LA, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Adam Jones Homers in 11th for Orioles; Pablo Sandoval Leads Giants Closer to NL West Pennant

Players of the Day for Wednesday. September 18, 2012

American League

Adam Jones came through with a two-run homer in the top of the 11th inning, leading Baltimore to a 3-1 victory over Seattle.

Jones, who had earlier singled, drove his 30th home run of the season beyond left field, scoring Nate McLouth ahead of him.

Adam Jones
Seattle's Felix Hernandez and Baltimore's Joe Saunders locked into a pitcher's duel, both starters going eight innings, allowing one run apiece. Hernandez struck out eight, raising his total for theyear to 207, third best in the AL.

Baltimore's win left them 1/2 game behind the Yankees, who took both ends of a double-header over the Blue Jays.

In the wild card, the Orioles passed Oakland by 1/2 game as Detroit topped the A's, 6-2. Detroit is five back of the A's for the second wild card, slipping past Tampa Bay, another 1/2 game back, but the Tigers moved a game closer to Central division-leading Chicago. The White Sox were shut out in Kansas City, 3-0, their lead down to two games over the Tigers.

National League

San Francisco moved closer to wrapping up the NL West, banging out 14 hits in a 7-1 win over the Rockies.

Pablo Sandoval
Pablo Sandoval got the Giants off to a quick start with a three-run, first-inning homer, his ninth of the season. In the fifth, Sandoval singles, stole second and took third on the errant throw, scoring on Brandon Belt's double to right. It was his first steal of the season. Sandoval finished 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBI.

The Giants kept their lead over the Dodgers in the division at nine games, with 13 left to play for both teams, dropping their magic number to clinch at least a tie for the division to four.

San Francisco could clinch as early as this weekend.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Miguel Cabrera in Serious Triple Crown Hunt; Kyle Lohse Goes Seven Scoreless for Cardinals

Players of the Day for Tuesday, September 18, 2012

American League

With 15 games remaining in the regular season, the Detroit Tigers - still three games behind the White Sox in the Central after Chicago beat Kansas City, 3-2, and the Tigers hammered the A's, 12-2 - are running out of time, but Miguel Cabrera hasn't yet run out of hits, homers and RBI.

Cabrera: 2HR 6RBI
Cabrera belted a pair of home runs, including a grand slam, in Detroit's win, going 3-for-4 (the other hit was a double) with six RBI, putting the Tiger slugger in a realistic position to complete the triple crown for the first time since Carl Yazstremski did it in 1967.

Cabrera's .333 average leads the league; he is tied for the RBI lead with Josh Hamilton with 129 and trails Hamilton in homers by two, at 40.

The Tigers either have to catch the White Sox or make up significant ground on the wild card teams, an unlikely occurrence since they trail the A's by six games and Baltimore and New York by 5 1/2, after the Orioles topped the Mariners, 4-2, in 18 innings.

Baltimore's win resulted in a tie atop the AL East with the Yankees, whose scheduled game against the Blue Jays was rained out.

To make up for the postponed game, the Yanks and Jays will play a day-night double-header on Wednesday.

National League

Lohse: 7 scoreless
With the largest lead in any of MLB's divisions at 11 games, the Cincinnati Reds need to win just four more games to capture the flag and be the first team to qualify for the playoffs.

Since there is no plausible reality by which the Cardinals could catch the Reds, St. Louis continues to cling to the second wild card, after beating the Astros, 4-1, Tuesday night, behind seven innings of four-hit, shutout ball by Kyle Lohse (15-3).

Lohse stymied the Astros, fanning five and walking two, while the Cardinals scored a single run in the second, added two in the fifth and another in the seventh. The St. Louis starter has been a godsend for the Cardinals. With just three losses, Lohse has the best winning percentage of any starter in the league, his 2.71 ERA is third in the NL and he is among the leaders in innings, at 199.

The St. Louis win kept the Cardinals 1 1/2 ahead of the Dodgers and 2 1/2 in front of fast-closing Milwaukee, which shut out the Pirates (3 1/2 back), 6-0, for the second wild card spot.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kevin Correia Shuts Down Cubs; Adam Jones, Matt Wieters Power Orioles to 10-4 Win

Players of the Day for Monday, September 17, 2012

American League

Back in July, when the Yankees had opened a sizable lead on the rest of the division, conventional thinking was that the Baltimore Orioles had begun their annual ritual of fading into the the depths and out of contention.

That thinking was incorrect, as August saw a revival of the "birds" and September brought forth the call, "they're not going away."

On Monday, the Orioles got even with the front-running Yankees in the win column and a game worse in the loss column to trail by just 1/2 games, beating the Mariners in Seattle by a 10-4 score.

Matt Wieters
Adam Jones
Beyond the steady managerial hand of Buck Schowalter, the Orioles have been led throughout the season by two of their bright, young stars, 26-year-old Matt Wieters and Adam Jones, 27.

In their win over Seattle, Wieters continued his hot streak with a pair of singles and his 22nd homer - a two-run, fourth-inning blast - three RBI and a couple of runs in five at-bats. Jones went 3-for-4, with a double and two singles, a lone RBI and four runs.

In his last ten games, Wieters has hit safely in seven, with multi-hit games in five, socking four homers with 12 RBI. Over the same span, Jones has batted at a steady .293 clip (12-for-41) and scored ten runs.

The series continues Tuesday in Seattle, where an Oriole win could land them in sole possession of first place, should the Yankees lose their series opener at Toronto.

National League

Having hit a bit of a speed bump in September, the Pittsburgh Pirates remain in the hunt for the wild card after splitting their series in Chicago, 2-2, topping the Cubs in the finale, 3-0.

Correia: 7IP 2H 0ER
Kevin Correia twirled two-hit ball over seven innings for his 11th victory against nine losses, giving way to relievers Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan, who each worked an inning of hitless, scoreless relief, Hanrahan picking up his 36th save, one behind Atlanta's Criag Kimbrel, who leads the league.

Striking out the first four batters he faced, Correia fanned six total, walking only one. Darwin Barney was the only Chicago batter to hit safely, getting two singles off Correia, but erased by double plays both times he reached.

The win left the Pirates still very much alive in the wild card race, tied with Milwaukee, 2 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the second wild card.

Pittsburgh, 4-11 in September, hosts a three game series with the Brewers beginning on Tuesday.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Matt Wieters, Endy Chavez Lead Orioles Over A's; Brewers Keep Closing as Wily Peralta, Ryan Braun Lead 3-0 Win Over Mets

Players of the Day for Sunday, September 16, 2012

American League

Matt Wieters socked a pair of solo homers and Endy Chavez went 4-for-4 as the Baltimore Orioles avoided being swept in Oakland, keeping pace with the Yankees in the AL East pennant race with a 9-5 victory.

Matt Wieters
The win left the O's a game behind New York as the Yanks took two out of three from the visiting Rays, finishing the series with a 6-4 win. Looking more and more like an also-ran, the Rays have fallen five back of the Yankees and four behind Baltimore, currently in line for the second wild card position.

The A's dropped three back of Texas in the West but remain two games up on the Orioles for the first wild card. The Rangers took a 2-1 decision over Seattle on Sunday.
Endy Chavez

Wieters had only three official at-bats, walking twice and scoring a third time in the seventh inning after his solo shots in the second and fourth innings put the Orioles up 3-2. Chavez singled three times and doubled, scoring twice and driving in a pair of runs.

Baltimore begins a three game series in Seattle Monday, while the Yankees get a day off before opening a three game set with Toronto on Tuesday.

The A's hit the road for the next ten games, beginning Tuesday with three in Detroit, then three in New York and four games with the Rangers in Texas, a series that should go a long way toward deciding the AL West and the wild card positions.

National League

Don't look now, but here come the Brewers.

Milwaukee won its second straight over New York, topping the Mets, 3-0, behind the two-hit pitching of rookie Wily Peralta (2-0) and a pair of homers by Ryan Braun.

Braun: 40 HRs
Peralta went eight full innings in his third start of the season, walking one and fanning five while he bamboozled the Mets hitters. Of the three base runners Peralta allowed, two reached second, but none advanced any further. John Axford came on to earn his 29th save with a hitless, scoreless ninth.

Peralta: 8IP 2H 0ER
Braun's homers were both of the solo variety. He went back-to-back with Aramis Ramirez leading off the fourth inning, then sent his league-leading 40th over the left field wall in the sixth.

The result left Milwaukee just 2 1/2 behind the Cardinals in the race for the second wild card spot. St. Louis topped the Dodgers, 5-2, in 12 innings, dropping the Dodgers one game back. Pittsburgh lost and slipped behind the Brewers by 1/2 game.

Atlanta has virtually sewn up the first wild card. The Braves stuck it to the Nats, 5-1, Sunday night, sweeping the series in Atlanta while creeping to within 5 1/2 of Washington in the NL East standings.

The Phillies trail St. Louis by for games. Arizona is 4 1/2 out.

Milwaukee has been on a September tear, winning 11 of 15 games thus far. They face a rugged 10-game road trip beginning Tuesday, taking them to Pittsburgh for three games, Washington for four and finally into Cincinnati for a three game series the middle of next week.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rickie Weeks Keeps Brewers in Contention for Wild Card; Francisco Liriano's 1-Hit Effort Maintains White Sox Lead

Players of the Day for Saturday, September 15, 2012

American League

Pennant races in the American League are all now tighter than they have been all season, down to two main teams in each of the three divisions.

In the East, the Yankees scored a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays while the Orioles were losing at Oakland, 5-2, wresting a one game lead from Baltimore and putting Tampa four back.

The West is now down to a slim two games, after Oakland's win and Texas' 8-6 loss to Seattle.

Francisco Liriano
The White Sox retained their one-game bulge over Detroit as both teams registered identical 5-3 victories on the road, the Tigers topping Cleveland and the Sox knocking off Minnesota.

Chicago got a special performance out of Francisco Liriano, a starter with a world of talent who hasn't had the best of seasons, but who pitched well enough on Saturday to keep the White Sox in front.

Liriano (6-11) took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, walking two and striking out nine, but was tagged by Trevor Plouffe, who launched his 22nd home run off the Chicago starter with two outs, after Liriano had plunked Justin Morneau and put him on base.

The belt made the score 4-2 in favor of Chicago. Liriano struck out the next batter to end the inning and his day on the bump. Both teams added single runs in the ninth to produce the final score.

The Sox have won two straight and will conclude their series, seeking the sweep, Sunday afternoon in Minnesota.

National League

In the National League, the division races are all runaways, but the focus is on the final playoff spot, the second wild card currently being contested by no less than six teams.

Rickie Weeks
While the Phillies made great strides earlier in the week, winning seven straight, they have lost two in a row now, and have been overtaken by Milwaukee, another team which has seemingly come out of nowhere and into contention.

After their 9-6 win over the Mets, the Brewers find themselves just 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals and Dodgers, the two teams currently tied for the last wild card. The Braves have pretty much locked away to first wild card with a seven game lead over LA and St. Louis.

Rickie Weeks led Milwaukee's 12-hit attack, going 2-for-3 with a double and his 20th home run of the season, a fourth-inning, two run blast in a five-run Milwaukee frame, turning a 4-1 deficit into a 6-4 lead that the Brewers would not give away.

Weeks finished with three RBI and two runs.

The Brewers host the Mets in the series' rubber game, Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chris Sale Keeps White Sox in First Place; Giants Keep Rolling on Hunter Pence Grand Slam

Players of the Day for Friday, September 14, 2012

American League

Chris Sale
The battle for the AL Central is reaching epic proportions, a struggle between two teams, the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers.

Friday saw both teams on the road opening three-game series as the number of remaining games dwindles to fewer than 20.

The Tigers got seven innings from their ace, Justin Verlander, in a 4-0 victory over Cleveland.

Not to be outdone, the White Sox invaded Minnesota, coming away with a 6-0 win, thanks to six solid shutout innings from Chris Sale, who improved to 17-6 and kept the Sox a game ahead of the Tigers in the standings.

Sale allowed only three hits, did not walk a batter and fanned five. With a 3-0 lead, Sale was relieved by Brett Myers, who calmly set down the Tigers in order through the seventh and eighth innings. Closer Matt Thornton was called upon for the ninth in a non-save situation and he finished off the whitewash, allowing a solitary hit in the final frame.

Both teams continue their series on Saturday and Sunday. Monday has a scheduled make-up game, with Detroit traveling to Chicago. After that, the two combatants will not play each other head-to-head for the remainder of the season.

National League

At one time, there were actual pennant races in the National League, but the Nationals, Reds and Giants have proven superior to their divisional foes and have pulled away to large leads in the standings.

The only remaining race of interest is for the second wild card spot, but it's a doozy, with six teams within 4 1/2 games of each other.

Pence: 2-3 GS 4RBI
While the likes of the Cardinals, Dodgers, Phillies and Brewers dogfight over one post-season spot, the San Francisco Giants have put their season on cruise control, winning their third straight with a 6-2 road kill at Arizona.

Hunter Pence paced the Giant attack with a single and a grand slam in three at-bats, driving in four and scoring twice. Pence's 21st homer came in the third inning, after the Giants had plated one in a frame.

After leaving the yard and clearing the basepaths, the Giants left it up to Matt Cin and a parade of six relievers to finish the job. After Cain gave up one run over five innings, the San Fran bullpen mopped up, allowing just one more Diamondback to cross the plate.

The win left the Giants with a 7 1/2 game lead over the Dodgers in the West. The Giants continue their series in Arizona on Saturday.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Phil Hughes Keeps Yankees Tied for First; Allen Criag Supplies Cardinals with Boost in Wild Card

Players of the Day for Thursday, September 13, 2012

American League

At a most opportune time, Phil Hughes appears to be rounding into his best form of the season.

The Yankee starter shut out Boston for 7 1/3 innings, helping New York grind its way to a 2-0 win in the series finale.

Phil Hughes
Hughes (15-12) allowed five hits and a walk, striking out seven while his teammates scratched out a pair of runs. It was his second straight win and the first time he hasn't given up an earned run since going seven innings against Boston on August 17, where he also earned the win.

The win kept the Yanks and Orioles tied for first in the AL East, as Baltimore completed their three-game sweep of the Rays with a 3-2 win in 14 innings.

That puts the Rays in a troubling predicament, because they'll have to catch either the O's or Yankees for one of the two wild card spots as the A's are a game up on both Baltimore and New York, but Tampa Bay is four back of them.

National League

There were just two NL games on Thursday, but the results impacted the wild card race.

Allen Craig
The Phillies' seven game win streak came to an end as they were dumped by Houston, 6-4, while in LA, the Cardinals picked up a needed win, topping the Dodgers, 2-1.

Allen Craig went 2-for-5 and drove in the winning run in the top of the seventh with a single after doubling in an earlier at-bat.

Lance Lynn (15-7) allowed the only Dodger run, going six innings for the Cards before giving way to a trio of relievers, ending with Jason Motte picking up his 34th save.

The results left St. Louis five behind Atlanta and in position for the second wild card spot. The Dodgers trail the Cardinals by two games. The Pirates are three back, followed by Milwaukee, 3 1/2 behind, Philly, 4 out, and Arizona, 4 1/2 behind.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A.J. Griffin Slams Door on Angels in 4-1 Win; Cliff Lee Leads Phillies to 7th Straight Win, Tightens Wild Card Race

Players of the Day for Wednesday, September 12, 2012

American League

Divisional and wild card races are heating up in both leagues, but, in the AL, no teams have been more pleasant surprises this season than Baltimore and Oakland.

On Wednesday, both the A's and O's were winners, the Orioles taking their second straight from Tampa Bay, when Nate McLouth drove in rookie Manny Machado with the game-winner in the bottom of the ninth for a 3-2 win.

Baltimore remained tied with the Yankees for the AL East lead and in line for the second wild card spot, dropping the Rays down to three games out.

A.J. Griffin
The A's have severely dimmed the fading post-season hopes of the LA Angels, whipping them for the third straight time after getting eight innings of shutout ball from rookie starter A.J. Griffin (6-0), in a 4-1 victory.

Griffin has been solid since being called up in June, posting a 1.984 ERA in 11 starts. Over his last three games, he's allowed just two earned runs in a span of 20 1/3 innings. His win over the Angels was his best start of the year, allowing six hits while fanning six with no walks issued.

The A's remained three games behind Texas in the West and are in line for the first wild card while sending the Angles 8 1/2 back and virtually out of both the wild card and division races.. In the Central, Detroit has pulled to within one game of division-leading Chicago, taking two straight from the White Sox.

The A's and Angels tangle again in Anaheim on Thursday afternoon, with Oakland seeking the series sweep. Likewise, the Orioles will be looking for their third straight win over the Rays in their series finale, an afternoon contest.

National League

Cliff Lee
With their seventh straight victory, the Philadelphia Phillies have officially risen from the dead, winning for the 15th time in their last 19 games as teams ahead of them stumble in September.

Cliff Lee (5-7) delivered seven solid innings from the mound, allowing four hits and no earned runs as Philadelphia completed their sweep of the Marlins with a 4-1 win.

Jimmy Rollins provided all the support Lee would need, stroking a two-run homer, his 19th bomb of the season. Lee fanned six and walked one as the Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers and Pirates all lost. For Pittsburgh, their losing streak has now run to six games.

Milwaukee and Arizona also won, so the race for the second wild card has St. Louis a game better than LA, the Pirates 2 1/2 back, Philly and Milwaukee closing fast, just three out, and Arizona, waiting in the wings nearly all season long, just four games out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

J.J. Hardy Leads Orioles over Rays, Tie for First with Yankees; Jimmy Rollins Has Phillies Back in Wild Card Race

Players of the Day for Tuesday, September 11, 2011

American League

Tying the Yankees once again for first place in the AL East, the Baltimore Orioles opened their three game home series with Tampa Bay with a resounding 9-2 victory while the Yankees were losing to the Red Sox, 4-3.

J.J. Hardy
Tampa Bay remained two games off the pace, though now they are chasing both the Yanks and O's.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy provided the bulk of the offense for the Orioles, going 4-for-5 with a pair of homers, a double, single, three runs and five RBI.

Hardy's first homer - a two-run shot to left in the third inning - snapped a 1-1 tie, In the fifth, Hardy doubled and scored on Matt Wieters two-run double, then singled in a run in the sixth and finally capped off his night with another two-run homer in the eighth, his 21 of the year.

Baltimore hosts Tampa Bay in the second game of the series Wednesday night and ifnish up with a day game on Friday.

National League

Forgotten after a horrible first half due to injuries to key players, the Philadelphia Phillies have been on a tear and are now threatening to become a key player in the NL wild card race over the final 20 games of the regular season.

Jimmy Rollins
Winning 14 of their last 18 and six in a row, Philadelphia has climbed to within four games of St. Louis, the current holder of the second wild card.

Jimmy Rollins singled and homered in three at-bats, scoring three times, driving in the same number as the, in the second game of their three-game set in Philly.

With the Phillies winning and the Cardinals, Dodgers and Pirates all suffering losses, Philly and the Milwaukee Brewers have both reached the .500 level (71-71).

Atlanta has a 5 1/2 game bulge over St. Louis and are virtually assured of the #1 wild card, but the scramble for the second slot is ongoing and getting crowded. St. Louis leads the Dodgers by one game, Pittsburgh, losers of five straight, is two out with the Phillies and Brewers four behind. Arizona is still in it, five games back after topping the Dodgers, 1-0. Arizona's Ian Kennedy allowed four hits and struck out six over 7 1/3 innings.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Gio Gonzalez Wins 19th as Nats Close in on NL East Crown; Alex Rios leads White Sox over Tigers

Players of the Day for Monday, September 10, 2012

American League

While the Orioles, Rays and Yankees took a day off from the torrid AL East race, the two leaders in the Central opened a head-to-head series in Chicago, with the White Sox taking game one of the critical four-game set by a 6-1 score.

Alex Rios
Starting pitcher Jose Quintana scattered seven hits over 7 1/3 innings, allowing the Tigers their only run of the game in the second inning and Alex Rios continued his outstanding season, driving in three runs with his 23rd homer as the White Sox exploded for four runs in the bottom of the sixth.

Rios added a double and finished the game 2-for-4, upping his average to a solid .294. He's also closing in on his personal best for RBI with 85. He drove in 88 for the Sox in 2010.

The win increased Chicago's lead to three games over Detroit in the division. The Tigers are in danger of missing the playoffs completely, as they trail the A's, O's, Rays and Angels in the wild card race. They are a full seven games behind the A's, who lead all wild card hopefuls, and five behind the Orioles for the second spot.

he series resumes Tuesday night in Chicago at 8:10 pm EDT.

Gonzalez: 19-7
National League

Gio Gonzalez became the first pitcher to reach 19 wins, allowing just three hits over six innings as the Nationals defeated the Mets, 5-1, at Citi Field in New York.

Crafty as ever, Gonzalez surrendered five walks and worked out out of situations with men aboard in four of his six innings, the only Mets' run coming on a leadoff homer by Scott Hairston in the fourth, though by then, the Nats had already put five runs on the board.

Gonzalez fanned six as he improved to 19-7 with a 2.93 ERA, making a strong bid for the Cy Young award in the National League.

Coupled with Atlanta's 4-1 loss in Milwaukee, the Washington lead in the East is back to 6 1/2 games over the Braves. With 20 games left on their schedule, the Nationals' magic number is 15.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Curtis Granderson Puts Yankees Back on Top; B.J. Upton, James Shields Help Rays Keep Pace; Ricky Nolasco Blanks Nationals

Players of the Day for Sunday, September 9, 2012

American League

Curtis Granderson
The concluding game of the four game Yankees-Orioles series went all one way - to the Yankees - courtesy of Curtis Granderson, who entered the game in the sixth inning as a pinch-hitter for Andruw Jones and promptly delivered a solo homer, upping the New York lead from 5-3 to 6-3.

After belting his 35th home run of the season, Granderson singled home a pair in the seventh and doubled in two more, helping the Yanks to a 13-3 win and a one game lead over the Orioles in the AL East, going 3-for-3 with five RBI.
Upton: 3HR

As the Yanks and O's were beating each others brains in, splitting the four games, Tampa Bay was keeping up, taking two of three from the Rangers, culminating in a complete game shutout by James Shields, who had complete control over one of the best-hitting teams in the majors, blanking Texas on two hits.

Shields: 2-hit shutout
Shields (14-8) fanned eight and didn't issue any walks, needing just 101 pitches (71 strikes) to put down the Rangers.

B.J. Upton provided half of the Rays' offense in the 6-0 win, belting a trio of solo home runs, with one each in the first, fourth and sixth innings. Upton has 21 homers on the season.

The result left the Rays very much in the hunt for both the wild card and the AL East pennant, two back of the Yankees and one behind the Orioles in the division. The wild card has evolved into a four-team scramble for the two spots, with Oakland leading the chase and Baltimore, Tampa Bay and the LA Angeles all within 2 1/2 games, setting up what should prove to be an epic struggle through the final three weeks of the regular season. Texas leads the A's by just 3 1/2 in the West, while the White Sox hold a two game bulge over the Tigers in the Central.

National League

Washington's gallop to the NL East pennant was slowed over the weekend by the Miami Marlins, who took two of three from the Nats in the nation's capitol.

Ricky Nolasco
The rubber game of the series was all Miami, as Ricky Nolasco evened his record at 12-12 with a four-hit shutout, the Marlins getting some spoiler revenge in an 8-0 whitewash.

Nibbling at the corners throughout the game, Nolasco threw 82 of 101 pitches for strikes, struck out six and issued one walk. He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. No Washington runner made it past second base.

The Nationals' loss was offset by Atlanta's 3-2, 10-inning win over the Mets, Brian McCann's sac fly in the top of the 10th providing the difference as the Braves swept three from the Nets in New York and extended Atlanta's win streak to five.

That left the Braves just 5 1/2 behind Washington in the East division, and the clear leader - by 5 1/2 over St. Louis - for the first wild card spot.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lew Ford, J.J. Hardy Pace Orioles; Atlanta Wins 4th Straight on Brian McCann's 4 RBI

Players of the Day for Saturday, September 8, 2012

American League

The huge weekend series between the Orioles and Yankees has taken on epic proportions, as the New Yorkers try desperately to stave off the late-season charge of Baltimore.

Lew Ford
After the O's tied New York for the AL East lead on Thursday, the Yankees forged a one-game edge with an 8-5 win on Friday.

Saturday's game went to the Orioles, by a 5-4 score as J.J. Hardy and Lew Ford both homered and went 2-for-4 with two RBI, as the O;s turned back Yankee ace, C.C. Sabathia.

Ford was in to replace Nick Markakis, who left in the fifth inning with a broken thumb after being hit by a Sabathia pitch. He is expected to miss six weeks.

The win put the O's and Yanks back into a flat-footed tie for first place in the division. The fourth and final game of the series is slated for Saturday afternoon at 1:35 pm at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

Brian McCann
National League

Atlanta continues to win, and, with their 11-3 victory over the Mets at Citi Field in New York, hold a 5 1/2 game lead over St. Louis for the #1 wild card spot.

Catcher Brian McCann, a key cog in the Atlanta machinery, went 4-for-5 with a home run, double, two singles, three runs and four RBI to pace the Braves.

The homer, a two-run, fifth inning blast, was McCann's 18th on the year.

Winners of four straight, the Braes will be looking for the sweep of their three game series with the Mets, sunday afternoon.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Mark Reynolds Bomb Yanks, Baltimore Ties for AL East Lead; Kurt Suzuki Leads Nats to 5th Straight Win

Players of the Day for Thursday, September 6, 2012

American League

The Yankees are stumbling. The Orioles are soaring.

Since August 24, the O's have put together a 10-4 record. The Yankees have been not so hot, going 5-8 over the same period, right after being swept by the White Sox in a three-game series at Chicago.

Beginning a four-game series in Baltimore with a slim, one game lead in the AL East, the Yankees were trying desperately to hold off the charging Orioles and retain their edge, which back on July 18 was a ten game bulge.

It didn't happen. Before a sellout crowd at Camden Yards, on a night honoring hall of famer Cal Ripken Jr., the Orioles smashed six homers in a 10-6 win to tie the Yankees for first place in the division.

Adam Jones
Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Mark Reynolds, who has been on a breathtaking tear of late, were the chief antagonists. Weiters got the Orioles on the board quickly, socking a three-run blast in the first inning as Baltimore put up a four-spot after Jones had singled home J.J. Hardy.

Mark Reynolds
In the sixth, Reynolds hit the first of two homers, putting the O's up, 6-1, but the Yanks rallied to tie the game with five runs in the top of the eighth.

Responding in the bottom of the frame, Jones belted a solo shot, Wieters singled and came home on Reynolds' two-run blast and Chris Davis completed the scoring with a solo bomb to right.

Reynolds has hit eight homers in his last seven games and driven in 16 runs as the O's have run down the Yanks.

Matt Wieters
Baltimore has taken three of the last four head-to-head with the Yankees, taking two of three last weekend in New York and there are three games at Camden Yards yet to play this weekend.

The Yankees are walking wounded. Mark Teixeira has been out of the lineup since August 27, nursing a sore left calf, though not on the disabled list. He could return this weekend. Starting pitchers Ivan Nova and Andy Pettitte are also currently out with injuries. Regular outfielder Brett Gardner was lost for the season since April, as was closer Mariano Rivera.

Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup September 3rd after missing 45 games with a broken wrist. He's gone 4-for-16, but has only driven in one run.

Age and injuries are catching up to the Yankees, and the youthful Orioles - and Tampa Bay, just two games back - are taking full advantage.

National League

On Thursday, Atlanta took its second straight 1-0 game from Colorado, winning three of four in the series, but they can't make up any ground on the Nationals, as Washington took four straight from the Cubs, completing the series sweep with a 9-2 victory that left them up 7 1/2 up on the Braves in the NL East.

Kurt Suzuki
The Nats outscored the Cubs, 31-9, over the four games, getting a boost from catcher Kurt Suzuki in the finale. Suzuki went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer, two singles and scored twice.

It was the fifth straight win for Washington, which continues with the best record in the majors, at 85-52, 2 1/2 games better than Central division leader, Cincinnati. If the Nats and Reds finish in that order, the result could mean home field advantage should the top two teams meet in the NL Championship series.

The Nationals open a three-game series with the Marlins on Friday. 15-6 Stephen Strasburg has been penciled in as the starter for Washington, in what could be his final start of the season. The controversial plan to sit the young ace after 160 to 170 innings is on the cusp of completion. Strasburg enters Friday's contest having thrown 156 1/3 innings.

Nationals' management has maintained all along that Strasburg would be shut down for the season at some point whether the team was in a pennant race or not, but has not disclosed exactly when the star would see the mound for the last time.

There is speculation that the Nationals, with their commanding lead in the division, might hedge their position a bit, having Strasburg skip a start or two down the stretch, saving him for the post-season. Players, fans, broadcasters and other managers have been critical of the innings limit, but the Washington front office has been steadfast in their commitment to shut the hurler down at some point.

The situation could become a lot more interesting Friday night, especially if Strasburg goes six innings or more.