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.

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