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.

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