Friday, May 31, 2013

Freddy Garcia Blanks Nationals as Baltimore Wins; Travis Wood's Grand Slam Completes Cubs' Sweep of White Sox

Players of the Day for Thursday, May 30, 2013

American League

At the ripe, young age of 36, Freddy Garcia knows how to pitch in the majors. A veteran of 14 seasons, the lanky Venezuelan has been around, now with his sixth team, the Baltimore Orioles.

Freddy Garcia
Garcia, who hasn't thrown a complete game since 2006 and hasn't pitched a shutout since 2001 (when he threw three), came pretty close Thursday, blanking the Nationals over eight full innings in Baltimore's 2-0 victory, their second straight over the Nats after splitting a pair of games with Washington down I-95 in the nation's capitol earlier in the week.

Garcia (2-2) allowed just three harmless singles - two in the second inning and one in the sixth - struck out six and didn't issue any free passes before giving way to Jim Johnson, who notched his 17 save of the season.

The win kept Baltimore smack in the heat of the AL East race, just 2 1/2 games behind Boston and 1/2 game behind the Yankees, who were swept four straight by the Mets, the first time the Mets have ever swept a series from the Yanks. Tampa Bay is also within range, just three games out.

Baseball gets back to more traditional in-leauge games after four days of interleague contests. The Yankees host the Red Sox, while Baltimore remains at home to host three with the Detroit Tigers, the first game of the series starting Friday at 7:05 pm EDT.

National League

The Chicago Cubs would probably be perfectly content to play the rest of their games this season against their cross-town AL brethren, the White Sox, after taking four straight from them during this week's interleague play.

Travis Wood
The final nail in the coffin for the White Sox was delivered by starting pitcher Travis Wood, who wasn't all that sharp from the mound, but extended a 2-1 Cubs' lead with a grand slam homer in the fourth inning off Sox starter, Jake Peavy.

Wood went six innings, giving up five hits, two walks and two runs, striking out six to improve to 5-3, but his slam was the telling blow in the Cubs' 8-3 triumph. Wood also singled, going 2-for-3 with 4 RBI. The homer was his second of the season.

Even with the four straight wins, the Cubs are still 12 1/2 games out in the NL Central, but at least they have a three-game edge on last place Milwaukee, who have lost six in a row, including being swept four straight by the Twins.

The Cubs remain home, opening a three game series with Arizona starting Friday afternoon at 2:20 pm EDT. The White Sox - 4 1/2 back of Detroit in the AL Central, travel to Oakland for a three-game series with the A's, starting Friday at 7:10 pm PDT.

Today's Trivia: Who was the last American League pitcher to throw more than five shutouts in a single season?

Yesterday's Answer: Babe Ruth's 119 extra base hits in 1921 still stands as the all-time, single-season record.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dioner Navarro's Three Homers, Six RBI Lifts Cubs; Chris Davis Powers Orioles Past Washington

Players of the Day for Wednesday, May 29, 2013

American League

Ryan Zimmerman clubbed three home runs and drove in four, but the Nationals still dropped a 9-6 decision to the Orioles.

Davis' 19 HR leads MLB
That result was largely due to the 4-for-4 effort from Baltimore's Chris Davis, who hammered his 18th and 19th home runs of the season, stroked a pair of singles, drove in three runs, scored three times and led the Orioles to the comeback win.

Davis lifted a solo shot in the fourth inning after singling and scoring in the second, but by the seventh, the O's found themselves staring at a 6-3 deficit. Baltimore rallied for six runs in the bottom of the inning, capped by Davis' two-run homer, cementing his major league homer run lead (Miguel Cabrera is second with 15) while lifting his RBI total to an even 50, second in the AL behind Cabrera's 59. Davis is also second in the league with a .359 batting average, chasing - you guessed it - Miguel Cabrera, who leads the majors, at .368.

Baltimore's win compressed an already-tight AL East race. Boston and the Yankees both lost on Thursday, while Tampa Bay joined the Orioles in the win column. The Red Sox lead is one over the Yankees. Baltimore is 2 1/2 back with the Rays three out.

The interleague series between the Nationals and Orioles concludes Thursday at 7:05 pm EDT at Camden Yards.

National League

Navarro: 3HR, 6RBI
In Chicago, Dioner Navarro had an even better time of it, smashing three out of Wrigley Field, with six RBI, as the Cubs took their second in a row and third straight overall from the cross-town rival White Sox, 9-3, proving that all three-home-run games are not created equal.

Life just kept getting better for Navarro on his epic day. After socking a solo homer in the first, the Cubs' catcher hit a two-run job in the fourth, followed by a three-run blast in the seventh inning. Adding to his effort, Navarro walked and scored one of his four runs in the sixth.

Navarro's outburst doubled his home run production for the season and nearly doubled his RBI total. He has driven in 13 runs, but he's been to the plate just 53 times in 2013.

The Cubs' mini-winning streak has gotten out of last place, by two games over the Brewers, who have lost five in a row. However, the Cobs are still 13 1/2 games behind Central division leading St. Louis.

The home-and-home series finishes at Wrigley on Thursday, as the Cubs host the White Sox for a 2:20 pm EDT start.

Today's Trivia: Who holds the major league record for extra-base hits in a season?

Yesterday's Answer: The New York Mets won the NL pennant in 1973.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rays Just 4 Back in Al East as Desmond Jennings Delivers in Ninth; Hyun-Jin Ryu Throws Two-Hit Shutout in 3-0 Dodger Win

Players of the Day for Tuesday, May 28, 2013

American League

Tampa Bay has joined the fray in the AL East.

While the Red Sox, Yankees and Orioles were all losing Tuesday night, the Rays won their third straight and second in a row over the Marlins, leaving them four games behind division-leading Boston. With the Yankees a game out and Baltimore 3 1/2 back, it's turned into a true, four-team race.

Desmond Jennings
Tampa's decision was not a foregone conclusion, despite 17 hits against a parade of five Marlin hurlers. The game-winner eventually came with two down in the bottom of the ninth inning, when Desmond Jennings collected his third hit of the night, driving in Kelly Johnson for the 7-6 final.

Jennings finished 3-for-4 with a double and the lone RBI, but had earlier scored twice as the Rays battled back from 4-0 and 5-3 deficits to eventually tie the game in the sixth and again in the eighth before putting it away.

It was a rough night for the American League, which won only three of 13 games played between the leagues.

The interleague match-up shifts to Miami for two games, starting Wednesday night at 7:10 pm EDT.

National League

Ryu: 2-hit shutout
The LA Dodgers continue to wallow in the basement of the NL West, but they are just seven games out after 26-year-old rookie hurler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, threw a two-hit shutout and blanked the Angels, 3-0.

Ryu threw 79 of 113 pitches for strikes, struck out seven and didn't walk any batters, allowing just a second inning single to Howie kendrick and an eighth inning, two out double to Angels' catcher, Chris Ianetta. In between, the feisty lefty set down 19 batters in a row, improving to 6-2 on the season.

The big blow for the Dodgers came in the fifth inning, when Luis Cruz socked a two-run homer to left - his first of the year - bringing home Jose Uribe for a 2-0 lead and some breathing room for Ryu.

The win was the second straight for the Dodgers, both against the Angels, who saw their eight-game winning streak ended Monday at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers are just 1/2 game behind San Diego, while the Angels have clambered into third place in the AL West, but still trail the Rangers by nine games.

Ryu is making a strong bid for rookie of the year, with a 2.89 ERA and 66 Ks in 71 2/3 innings.

Shifting to Anaheim for the next two games, the Dodgers and Angels face off at 10:05 EDT Wednesday night.

Today's Trivia: In the 1970s, the Reds won the NL pennant four times, the Dodgers, three, and the Pirates, twice. Which team was the only other to capture the NL flag in the decade?

Yesterday's Answer: Ivan Rodriguez was the last catcher to capture the AL MVP award when he batted .332 with 35 home runs and 113 RBI for the Texas Rangers in 1999.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Kelly Johnson Homers Twice as Rays Sting Marlins; Cubs' Jeff Samardzija Blanks White Sox on Two Hits

Players of the Day for Monday, May 27, 2013

American League

Johnson: 2HR, 6RBI
Memorial Day kicked off interleague play between regional "rivals," so it was Miami visiting Tampa Bay for the first of two games before the teams head South for two games in the national League city starting Wednesday.

The Rays, desperately chasing Boston, New York and Baltimore in the AL East, took full advantage of their meeting with the sub-par Marlins, topping Miami, 10-6.

While the Marlins actually out-hit the Rays, 11-10, they didn't have Tampa's Kelly Johnson, who had the Rays' only extra-base hits, going 4-for-5 with a double, two home runs and six RBI.

In the second inning, Johnson completed a six-run attack with his first homer of the day, a three run shot to right. Johnson also completed the scoring for the Rays in the eighth with another three-run homer. In between, came a single, double and, for good measure, Johnson's fifth stolen base of the season.

Johnson's been a pleasant surprise for the Rays, with a .298 average, 10 home runs and 32 RBI.

The win left the Rays five games out in the division, nestled snugly into fourth place, but with eyes on moving up as their four straight games against Miami should result in an extended winning streak.

National League

Samardzija: 2-Hitter
The start of Chicago's crosstown rivalry series between the Cubs and White Sox produced a lopsided victory for the visitors as Jeff Samardzija tossed a two-hit shutout for the Cubs in a 7-0 romp.

Samardzija fanned eight and walked two in his first major league complete game, limiting the White Sox to a pair of singles - one in the second inning and one in the ninth. The lanky, 6'5" right-hander was in control throughout, needing just 108 pitches over the nine frames.

The former All-American wide receiver from Notre Dame moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation last season, when he posted a 9-13 mark. Despite his unimpressive 3-6 record this year, Samardzija's other numbers are pretty solid: a 2.85 ERA and 80 Ks in 72 2/3 innings. Opposing hitters are batting just .196 against him.

The win moved the Cubs out of last place in the NL Central, 1/2 game ahead of Milwaukee, losers of three straight. The Cubs still are 13 games behind the Cardinals in the division, but Samardzija gives the Wrigley Field faithful hope that they have a #1 starter for the long haul.

The White Sox fell five games out in the AL Central. The series continues Tuesday at 8:10 pm EDT.

Today's Trvia: Who was the last catcher to win the AL MVP award? Hint: it was 1999.

Yesterday's Answer: Greg Maddux won the NL Cy Young Award four straight years, from 1992-1995 as a starter for the Atlanta Braves; Randy Johnson took home the award each year from 1999-2002 when he was with the Arizona Diammondbacks.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Nate Freiman Lifts A's to Sweep of Astros; Martin Prado Powers Daimondbacks over Padres, 6-5

Players of the Day for Sunday, May 26, 2013

American League

Oakland completed its three-game sweep of the Astros with a 6-2 win in Houston, creeping to within 4 1/2 games of NL West leader, Texas.

Nate Freiman
The A's scored five of their runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by rookie Nate Freiman's double, which sent two Oakland players across the plate.

In the sixth, Freiman added the finishing touch for the A's with his second major league home run, a 425-foot blast to center. Bartolo Colon surrendered nine hits over seven innings, but kept the Astros off the scoreboard, fanning nine. Houston's two runs in the eighth inning were of no consequence.

Winners of eight of their last nine, the A's picked up a game on the Rangers, 4-3 losers in 13 innings at Seattle.

Next stop for the A's is back to the Bay area, where they host the Giants for two games, Monday and Tuesday, before a pair of games across the Bay.

National League

Martin Prado
The NL West continues to be the most-hotly-contested division in baseball, with the Giants, Diamondbacks and Rockies all intent on grabbing an early edge, though none have been particularly successful at establishing themselves as the team to beat.

With San Francisco taking two of three from the Rockies with a 7-3 win and Arizona topping San Diego, 6-5, Sunday, the race is as undecided as ever.

At the end of the day, the Diamondbacks and Giants are deadlocked on top, with the Rockies a game out.

Arizona's win was one of six major league games decided by one run on Sunday, the decisive blow coming off the bat of Martin Prado, who doubled home Jason Kubel in the seventh, giving the D'Backs a 6-4 lead. The Padres countered with a run in the eighth, but that was all she wrote.

Prado finished the day 4-for-4 with two doubles and a pair of singles. He scored once and drove in one, boosting his batting average from .242 to .257. Prado terrorized San Diego pitching, going 8-for-12 in the series, which Arizona took, two games to one.

With interleague play beginning in earnest on Monday, the Diamondbacks play two at home with the Rangers and then head to Arlington, Texas, for a pair of games.

Today's Trivia: From 1992 to 2002, the NL Cy Young Award was hoarded by two pitchers, each of whom won the award four consecutive times. Can you name them?

Yesterday's Answer: White Sox hero, Frank Thomas, was the last AL player to win consecutive MVP awards, in 1993 and 1994.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Josh Donaldson's 4-for-4 Lifts A's over Astros; Mike Minor blanks Mets, Homers as Atlanta Rolls to 8th Straight

Players of the Day for Saturday, May 25, 2013

American League

Maybe this season wasn't exactly the right time for the Houston Astros to switch from the National to the American League. Their few successes have been mere footnotes in an 18-35 start to the season. They trail the Rangers by 18 games in the West division.

Donaldson: HR, 4-4
On Saturday, they dropped their second straight, at home, to Oakland, as the A's battered five Houston pitchers for 18 hits in an 11-5 beat-down.

The A's got off early, scoring six runs in the second inning and four more in the fourth. Pacing Oakland was third baseman, Josh Donaldson, who clubbed his eighth homer of the season in the midst of a 4-for-4 game, adding two singles and a double.

Donaldson scored two of Oakland's runs and drove in a pair, raising his batting average to .322, 10th in the league.

The A's have been the only team in the division to somewhat keep pace with the red-hot Rangers, who have the best record in the majors, at 32-17. Oakland is 5 1/2 back.

Oakland will be seeking a sweep of Houston on Sunday, at 2:10 pm EDT.

National League

Mike Minor
With Mike Minor on the mound, the Braves didn't need much offense to take their second straight from the Mets and eighth in a row, overall.

Minor shut out the Mets on three hits over 7 1/3 innings and broke open a scoreless tie in the fifth with a two-run homer, his first of the season, helping the Braves roll to a 6-0 win.

Minor, 6-2, struck out 10 and walked three, throwing 113 pitches before turning the ball over to the bullpen.

In his fourth year with the Braves, Minor is having his best season, posting a 2.34 ERA and an 0.93 WHIP with 61 strikeouts, having fanned 19 in his last 13 1/3 innings.

The Braves lead the NL East by 5 1/2 over the Nationals, with Philadelphia another game back. The Mets have fallen eight games off the pace and will try to avoid being swept on Sunday, when they conclude their series with the Braves, at 8:00 pm EDT at Citi Field.

STREAKERS: Besides the Braves' eight-game winning streak, other teams have also been on tears. The Angels have won seven straight, but still trail Texas in the AL West by 10 games. In the same division, Seattle has lost eight straight and dropped into fourth place, 12 out. The Cubs are challenging Miami - losers of four in a row - for the worst record in the NL. Chicago has dropped their last six.

Today's Trivia: Who was the last American Leaguer to win the MVP Award in consecutive seasons?

Yesterday's Answer: Starlin Castro, of the Cubs was the only NL player to appear in all 162 games in 2012.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Michael Cuddyer Leads Rockies over Giants in Tight NL West; Anibal Sanchez Hurls One-Hitter as Tigers Take AL Central Lead

Players of the Day for Friday, May 24, 2013

American League

Sanchez: 1-hitter
Joe Mauer can do a lot of things with a bat, but Tiger pitcher, Anibal Sanchez, probably wishes he hadn't been in the lineup Friday night when the Twins played the second of their four-game series in Detroit.

That's because, other than Mauer's one out single in the ninth inning, no other Twin was able to touch Sanchez in Detroit's 6-0 victory. Sanchez fanned 12, walked three and gave up just Mauer's one hit as the Tigers rolled to the top of the standings in the AL Central, 1/2 game up on Cleveland, thanks to Boston's 8-1 win over the Indians.

At 5-4, Sanchez has been a stoic performer for the Tigers after arriving in midseason from the Marlins. His 12 Ks on the night were good enough to get him to second in the AL in strikeouts, with 80, trailing Texas' Yu Darvish (91), but wasn't his best effort of the year. That was back on April 26, when he fanned 17 Braves over eight innings. His 2.38 ERA is fifth-best in the league. Friday's outing was Sanchez's first shutout and complete game of the season.

The Tigers continue their series with the Twins Saturday at 4:08 pm EDT.

National League

Michael Cuddyer
Tyler Chatwood threw six innings of shutout ball and Michael Cuddyer drove in three runs as the Rockies broke up a three-way tie for first place in the NL West with a 5-0 win at San Francisco.

With Arizona taking a 5-2 win over the Padres, the Rockies remained tied with the Diamondbacks in the division, with the Giants dropping one game back.

Chatwood gave up four hits as the Colorado starter, giving way to a parade of three relievers who kept the Giants in check through the final three innings.

Cuddyer socked his eighth homer of the season in the sixth inning of San Francisco starter, Tim Lincecum (3-4), who fanned eight but allowed four runs on seven hits over seven innings.

Victimizing Lincecum in the first inning, Cuddyer got the Rockies on the board with a two-out double, his 2-for-4 performance raising his batting average to .325.

The Rockies have won three straight and will go for their second straight over the Giants when they play the second in their three-game series Saturday at 4:05 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: In 2012, only one National League player - a shortstop - played in all 162 games. Who was this modern-day iron man?

Yesterday's Answer: Jose Reyes led the majors in 2005, 2006, and 2008 with 17, 17 and 19 triples, respectively, and tied Shane Victorino for the major league lead with 16 in 2011.

Friday, May 24, 2013

J.P. Arencibia, Edwin Encarnacion Lead Surging Blue Jays past O's; Andrew McCuthen Drives Pirates to Sweep of Cubs

Players of the Day for Thursday, May 23, 2013

American League

J.P. Arencibia
J.P. Arencibia drove in four runs and Edwin Encarnacion hoisted a grand slam in the fourth inning as the Blue Jays opened an important four-game series against the Orioles with a convincing, 12-6 victory.

Edwin Encarnacion
Arencibia's 11th home run came with a man aboard in the fifth inning. Earlier, the Toronto catcher doubled home a run in the fourth inning. His final RBI came in the eighth, when he grounded out with the bases loaded, bringing home Jose Bautista as the Blue Jays put the game out of sight with four runs in the frame.

Encarnacion's slam was his 13th homer of the season and his only hit of the game, but it gave Toronto an 8-3 lead, which was nearly a necessity, since starter Brandon Morrow allowed six runs on ten hits over seven innings, Despite the poor outing, Morrow (2-3) did notch the win.

The Toronto win was their seventh in their last ten. Still trailing the AL East, the Blue Jays are 8 1/2 back of the Yankees, who lead the division. Baltimore fell to 3 1/2 back of the idle Yanks.

The Jays and Orioles renew their rivalry in the second game of the series at 7:07 pm EDT in Toronto.

National League

Andrew McCutchen
In the only NL game Thursday, Andrew McCutchen carried the Pirates to their fourth straight win, stroking three singles from four at-bats, driving in two runs and stealing a pair of bases as Pittsburgh took their third in a row from the lowly Cubs, 4-2.

Pittsburgh's three-game sweep dropped Chicago into sole possession of last place in the NL Central, a full 12 games behind St. Louis. Winners of eight of their last 10, Pittsburgh continues to put pressure on the first-place Cardinals, the Pirate win tying Cincinnati for second place, 1 1/2 back of St. Louis.

McCutchen didn't get off to a great start of his 2013 campaign, but lately has been making up for lost time, with multiple hits in five of his last six games, raising his batting average to .291. The fleet center fielder has 12 steals (fourth in the NL) and has crossed home plate 33 times, tied for seventh in the league.

The Pirates open a three-game series at Milwaukee Friday night at 8:10 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: Who is the active player that has led or tied for the major league lead in triples four times since 2005?

Yesterday's Answer: The "Big Train," Walter Johnson, threw 110 shutouts, a major league record likely never to be broken.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Jose Bautista Powers Blue Jays over Rays in 10; Cliff Lee Goes the Distance in Phillies' 3-0 Win over Miami

Players of the Day for Wednesday, May 22, 2013

American League

It's still May, so there's plenty of time for the AL East's last-place Toronto Blue Jays to get back into the race; they have too much talent to be written off so early.

4-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI
The best the Jays can hope for is that the teams ahead of them beat each other senseless, and Toronto can do further damage when they play teams in their division head-to-head.

That exact situation arose Wednesday, as the Orioles topped division-leading New York by a 6-3 tally while Toronto did their part, taking down the Rays, 4-2, in 10 innings.

Jose Bautista drove in all of Toronto's runs, going 4-for-4 with a pair of solo homers and singles in the first and last innings to get the Blue Jays both on the board and off the field with a win.

The 2010 and 2011 AL home run champ belted his 10th in the fourth inning and his 11th in the ninth to send the game into an extra inning. With two down and two aboard in the 10th, Bautista delivered a single to right, scoring Colby Rasmus with the game-winner.

Taking two of three from the visiting Rays, Toronto (19-27) is now nine games behind the Yankees in the division.

National League

Lee: CG, 3H, 5Ks
Despite Atlanta winning their sixth straight, the Phillies have managed to stay close to the NL East leaders, just 5 1/2 games back after defeating the Miami Marlins in Miami, 3-0.

Going the distance for the Phillies was Cliff Lee, who improved to 5-2 on the year with his first shutout and complete game of the season.

Lee fanned five and walked two while limiting the Marlins to just three hits - all singles - throwing 85 of his 115 pitches for strikes.

The win was the 12th career shutout and 27th complete game for the 34-year-old hurler, in a major league career which dates back to 2002, when he broke in with the Cleveland Indians.

The Phillies won the last two games of the series after dropping the opener and stand at 23-24, in third place in the division. Washington holds second place, 4 1/2 behind the Braves.

Today's Trivia: Who holds the all-time career record for shutouts?

Yesterday's Answer: St. Louis speedster, Vince Coleman, swiped 109 bases in 1987.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mike Trout, Angels Pound Mariners, 12-0; Daniel Descalo's Five RBI Lead Cardinals over Padres

Players of the Day for Tuesday, May 21, 2013

American League

Mike Trout
The LA Angels got off to a horrible start this season, and, while they're not in last place in the AL West - that happens to be the exclusive province of the Houston Astros - they might as well be, trailing arch-rival Texas by 9 1/2 games.

If the Angels are to get back into contention, a few more games like their 12-0 pasting of Seattle will be needed, both to regain confidence and to boost their record (18-27) closer to something resembling respectability.

Jerome Williams blanked the Mariners on six hits over eight innings, and the Angels regulars cranked out 15 hits, taking the first of their two game home series in blowout fashion.

Mike Trout provided more than enough offense all by himself, singling twice, doubling and smacking his ninth homer of the season, driving in five runs and scoring twice.

Trout, last season's AL rookie of the year, hasn't been all that explosive until lately. He has his batting average up to .293, with nine HRs and 34 RBI.

The quick series concludes Wednesday at 7:05 pm PDT.

National League

Daniel Descalso
After winning the world series in 2011, the Cardinals were expected to have a fall-off, especially with the departure of manager Tony LaRussa and slugger Albert Pujols, but, the team has been resilient, if not surprising, reaching the playoffs in 2012 and currently leading the NL Central by 1 1/2 games over relentless pursuers, Cincinnati, with the Pirates just another 1/2 game back.

One of the reasons the Cardinals have been so competitive is the steady play of second baseman Daniel Descalso. Adroit in the field and trustworthy at the plate, Descalso took on the role of those usually above him in the lineup on Tuesday, powering the Cardinals to a 10-2 victory at San Diego, evening their three-game series at a game apiece.

Descalso was a perfect 3-for-3, with a single, double, home run, three scores and five RBI, enabling starter, Adam Wainwright to relax and allow just one run on four hits over 7 1/3 innings, fanning six.

The Cards continue to cling to the Central division lead and will be seeking a win in the series finale, Wednesday at 7:10 pm PDT.

Today's Trivia: The art of the swipe has been greatly diminished in baseball's recent history. Who was the last player to steal over 100 bases in a season?

Yesterday's Answer: Tony Gwinn's 1994 batting average of .394 led the National League.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cleveland Wins 5th Straight on Yan Gomes' Walk-Off Homer; Patrick Corbin Goes Distance for 1st Place Diamondbacks

Players of the Day for Monday, May 20, 2013

American League

Yan Gomes
Having surged to the lead in the AL Central by winning 12 of their last 15 games and their last five straight, the Cleveland Indians completed a four-game sweep of Seattle with a thrilling, 10-8 victory in 10 innings, capped by Yan Gomes' walk-off, three-run homer in the bottom of the final frame.

A rookie catcher who played 43 games with Toronto in 2012, Gomes elevated his game with two homers (his third and fourth), the first of which was a solo shot in the second inning when the Indians plated four to take an early lead. He also singled, going 3-for-5 on the night.

The Mariners trailed most of the way, but tied the game in the eighth and took a brief lead in the ninth on Endy Chavez's solo homer before Cleveland scored a single run to send it to extra innings.

Seattle re-took the advantage when Justin Smoak belted a 422-foot solo shot with two down in the top of the tenth to lead 8-7.

Batting out of the nine-hole, Gomes appeared at the plate with two aboard and nobody out in the 10th, taking an offering from Seattle reliever, Charlie Furbush, over the wall in left field.

Seattle remained nine game behind the Rangers in the West, while the Indians increased their lead to 2 1/2 games over idle Detroit.

National League

Patrick Corbin
Despite the fact that the season is only 1/4 of the way through, the battle in the NL West has intensified, with three teams within 2 1/2 games of each other and San Diego lurking just 4 1/2 out.

While the Giants were trashing Washington, 8-0, Arizona opened a big, three-game series at Colorado with a 5-1 win in which the Diamondbacks banged out 16 hits, each of the position players getting at least one hit.

The fact that his teammates left 10 runners in scoring position didn't seem to bother starting pitcher Patrick Corbin, who cruised to his seventh win without a loss with his first major league complete game, allowing just three hits, fanning 10 while walking one.

The lone run came in the eighth, after the Diamondbacks had already put up their five runs.

Corbin tied Washington's Jordan Zimmermann for the NL lead in wins, is second in ERA, at 1.44, and upped his strikeout total to 51 with a career-high in the game.

Arizona's win left them a game to the good on the Giants and 2 1/2 ahead of the Rockies. Game two of the series is Tuesday at 8:40 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: Miguel Cabrera's .389 batting average was the highest in the majors since 1994, when the major leagues were led with a .394 average. Who accomplished this hitting marvel?

Yesterday's Answer: The two teammates who had 200 or more hits in 2009 were Derek Jeter (212) and Robinson Cano (204) of the NY Yankees.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Miguel Cabrera's Three Homers Wasted in Tigers' Loss at Texas; Yonder Alonso, Padres Pound Nationals, 13-4

Players of the Day for Sunday, May 19, 2013

American League

Playing in front of a national TV audience on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, Miguel Cabrera put on a power performance, but Adrian Beltre and David Murphy powered Texas to an 11-8 victory, taking their series with the Tigers three games to one.

Miguel Cabrera
Cabrera belted three homers - two solo shots and a two-run bomb - singled in the first inning and walked and scored in the sixth, but his 4-for-4, five RBI effort was for naught as the Rangers rallied from a 4-1 deficit with four runs in the fifth, four more in the sixth and two in the eighth.

David Murphy's three-run homer in the sixth gave Texas a lead they would not relinquish. Beltre had two doubles and went 4-for-5.

The loss for the Tigers left them two games behind Cleveland in the AL Central, while Texas enjoys a 6 1/2 game bulge over Oakland in the West.

Cabrera, who took down the triple crown last season, leads the league in RBI with 47, batting average (.387) and his 11 homers is one behind an AL foursome with 12.

National League

While the Giants, Rockies and Diamondbacks try to sort things out atop the NL West, San Diego continues to make progress on the leaders.
Yonder Alonso

Despite a record of 20-23, the Padres are only 4 1/2 back of Arizona, which held onto a one-game lead despite a 2-1 loss at Miami. Colorado topped the Giants, 6-0, tying the Giants for second place.

San Diego earned a 2-2 split in their home series with the Nationals, banging out 15 hits to take the finale, 13-4.

Unheralded Yonder Alonso singled, doubled and cranked out his sixth homer of the season, scoring three times and driving in a pair of runs. The Padres hammered Washington starter, Dan Haren (4-5), for seven runs on nine hits over five innings.

In his second full year with the Padres, Alonso is having a solid start to his season, batting .289 with 26 RBI.

The loss left Washington 2 1/2 behind the Braves in the East. On Monday, San Diego begins a three-game series with Central division leader, St. Louis.

Today's Trivia: In 2009, Ichiro Suzuki led the majors with 224 hits. He was followed by two players - each with more than 200 hits - who played for the same team. Who were they?

Yesterday's Answer: Albert Pujols took the NL Home Run and RBI titles; his .312 batting average was tied for fifth with teammate Matt Holliday.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

David Ortiz Drives in Six as Boston Keeps Pace with Yankees; Joey Votto Leads Reds to 10-0 Thumping of Phillies

Players of the Day for Saturday, May 18, 2013

American League

Ortiz: 2HR, 6RBI
It's not even June, but the Yankees and Red Sox are playing like it's September.

Robinson Cano cracked a pair of homers as the Yankees topped the Blue Jays, but David Ortiz, who's been hotter than Beyonce in spandex, smashed a couple of his own and added an RBI single to drive in six runs, leading the Red Sox past the Twins, 12-5.

The Red Sox won their fourth straight and took the second in a three-game series at Minnesota which concludes Sunday afternoon at 2:10 pm EDT.

Ortiz got the Sox on the board with a three-run crank in the first inning and singled home another run in the third. With Boston leading 7-5, Ortiz put the game away in the seventh inning, with a two-run blast to right field. For good measure, he also walked and scored on a sac fly in the ninth.

Riding a six-game hitting streak, Ortiz is batting .362, which would be second in the league if he had enough qualifying at-bats. He is 10th in RBI with 29, after driving in six on Saturday.

Boston trails the Yankees by one game in the AL East, and has a 2 1/2 game edge over third place Baltimore, which lost its fourth straight, falling to the Rays, 10-6, when closer Jim Johnson couldn't nail down the save.

National League

Joey Votto
Continuing to close ground on the Cardinals in the NL Central, the Cincinnati Reds won for the eighth time in their last 10 games, evening their series at Philadelphia at a game apiece with a 10-0 plundering of the Phillies.

The Reds are just 1 1/2 back of St. Louis after the Cardinals dropped a 10-inning, 6-4 decision to the Brewers.

Joey Votto raised his batting average to .346 - second-highest in the league - with a 4-for-4 effort, socking his sixth home run of the season along with a double and two singles, driving in two and scoring twice. Votto has hit safely in his last seven games.

Bronson Arroyo shut out the Phillies for 7 2/3 innings on five hits, fanning six, while evening his record at 4-4.

The series concludes Sunday at 1:35 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: In 2010, a National Leaguer almost hit for the triple crown, leading the league in home runs (42) and RBI (118), but finishing tied for fifth in batting with a .312 average. Who was this star?

Yesterday's Answer: Washington's Gio Gonzalez led the majors with 21 wins in 2012.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Kelly Johnson Leads Rays in 12-10 Win over Orioles; Paul Goldschmidt Surging as Arizona Ties for NL West Lead

Players of the Day for Friday, May 17, 2013

American League

Kelly Johnson
Opening an important series at Baltimore Friday night, Tampa Bay took a 12-10 win in a game that nearly got away.

Continuing to lurk just behind the leaders in the AL East, the Rays led 12-4 after six innings and had to hold off a furious Oriole rally as the O's put up six runs in the bottom of the eighth.

With Jeremy Hellickson - who still earned the win - blowing up and reliever Kyle Farnsworth unable to get anybody out (three hits, two earned runs), Joel Peralta came on to get the final out in the eighth and shut down the Orioles in order in the ninth.

Despite the theatrics, the Rays emerged a game above .500, 4 1/2 behind division leading New York. Kelly Johnson delivered for the Rays, socking a three-run homer in the third inning, singling home another in the fifth and doubling and scoring a run in the sixth.

Johnson was 3-for-5 with four RBI, with his sixth home run and 23 RBI.

The Rays and Orioles face off in the second game of the series at 4:05 pm EDT at Camden yards. In third place just 2 1/2 back, the O's lead the Rays by two games in the standings.

National League

Paul Goldschmidt
With their third straight win and a 10-9 loss by the Giants at Colorado, the Diamondbacks regained a tie for first place in the NL West with San Francisco.

Paul Goldschmidt led Arizona's 9-2 win at Miami - the opener of a three-game series - with four hits in five at-bats, his third multi-hit game in his last four.

Goldschmidt blasted his 11th and 12th homers of the season in the first and third innings, both coming off Miami starter Kevin Slowey and both with a man aboard. Later, he singled and doubled, scoring both times, as the Diamondbacks padded their lead.

With his recent surge at the plate, Goldschmidt is challenging in the important statistical categories. His .338 batting average is fourth in the league; his 12 homers second-most and he's second in RBI with 35, one behind Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips.

Arizona and Miami meet again on Saturday at 7:10 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: Which starting pitcher led the majors with 21 wins in 2012?

Yesterday's Answer: Hank Aaron was on 21 All Star rosters, one better than Willie Mays and Stan Musial.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mitch Moreland Lead Rangers in Romp over Tigers; Travis Snider Stars as Pirates Win Third Straight

Players of the Day for Thursday, May 16, 2013

American League

Mitch Moreland
Streaking to a huge lead in the AL West, the Texas Rangers won their third straight on Thursday, opening their four-game series with the Tigers in dominant fashion by pounding ace starter, Justin Verlander, for six hits and eight earned runs en route to a 10-4 thumping.

Verlander didn't make it out of the third inning, lasting just 2 2/3, taken to the woodshed after Mitch Moreland's bases loaded double and Geovany Soto's three-run homer.

Those runs were more than enough for Texas starter Yu Darvish, who improved to 7-1, despite allowing three runs in the third and another in the fourth inning. Darvish cruised after that, going eight full innings.

Moreland doubled again in the fifth to drive in his third run of the game. A mainstay at first base in his third full season with the Rangers, Moreland is on pace for a breakout season. His two hits Thursday upped his average to .298. He's well on his way to shattering his career marks in homers and RBI, with nine and 21. His best was 16 and 51 in 2011.

Seven games up on Seattle in the division, Texas meets Detroit in game two of their series Friday night at 8:05 pm EDT. The series finale will be ESPN's featured Sunday night MLB broadcast.

National League

Travis Snider
While the red-hot Reds won their sixth straight to move to within 1 1/2 of St. Louis in the Central division, the Pirates kept pace with their third straight win, a 7-1 domination of division-rival Milwaukee.

Pittsburgh is just a game behind the Reds, making a serious bid in the NL's most-contentious division.

Francisco Liriano picked up his second win in as many starts, allowing just one run on six hits over 5 2/3 innings. Liriano has just recently come off the DL, but has come back strong, with back-to-back wins.

Travis Snider, who played 50 games with Pittsburgh after his trade from Toronto in 2012, provided solid offense from the two-hole, going 3-for-5 with a two-run homer in the fifth and a run-scoring single in the sixth.

Snider has been in and out of the Pittsburgh lineup as an outfielder and pinch hitter. His three hits upping his average to .292.

The win closed out a four-game series in Pittsburgh. Milwaukee took the opener, but the Pirates prevailed in the next three.

Today's Trivia: Who is the National League outfielder that holds the record for being on an all star game roster 21 times?

Yesterday's Answer: 20-year-old Matt Kilroy of the American Association's Baltimore Orioles set the standard in 1886 with an incredible 513 strikeouts.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Shin Soo Choo Leads Reds to Fifth Straight Win; Raul Ibanez Powers Seattle in Rout of Yankees

Players of the Day for Wednesday, May 15, 2013

American League

Ibanez: 2HR, 6RBI
Well-traveled Raul Ibanez showed the Yankees why they shouldn't have traded him. Fortunately for the pinstripes, they won't have to see much of him for the rest of the season.

Ibanez, who began his career in Seattle and has returned home, has had stints with the Phillies, Royals and Yankees. In the first inning of Wednesday night's 12-2 rout, Ibanez capped a seven-run first inning with a grand slam off starter Phil Hughes, then further victimized Yankee pitching with a two-run homer in the fifth inning, cashing in a season-high six RBI.

Hughes didn't even make it though the first inning; Ibanez's slam sending him to a very early shower with two down in the first inning. Hughes allowed six hits, walked two and gave up seven runs, all earned.

The Mariners cranked out 16 hits, tying Oakland for second place in the AL West, seven behind Texas. Despite the loss, New York still leads Boston and Baltimore by two games in the East.

With a career spanning three decades, Ibanez is a .277 career hitter with 277 homers and 1900 hits.

The Yankees won game one of the series, which concludes Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. Game time is 7:05 pm EDT.

National League

Shin Soo Choo
While Mike Leake and three relievers were scatteing 11 Miami hits in a 4-0 Reds' victory, leadoff hitter Shin Soo Choo was adding and padding his already impressive stats.

Choo accounted for the bulk of Cincinnati's scoring, going 4-for-5 with a pair of homers, two singles, two RBI and three runs, raising his average to .322., tied with Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt for sixth-highest in the National League, right behind teammate Joey Votto (.327).

The homers were numbers eight and nine for Choo, who has tallied 19 RBI, impressive for a leadoff batter. His 33 runs leads the NL and is tied with Detroit's Austin Jackson for most in the majors.

With their fifth straight win and eighth in their last 10, the Reds remained 2 1/2 behind the equally-hot Cardinals in the NL Central race. Tehy'll be looking to sweep the Marlins in Miami at 7:10 pm EDT Thursday night.

Today's Trvia: Here's a really old-school quizzer. Back in 1886, Toad Ramsey struck out 499 batters for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association, but was outdone by a pitcher who fanned 513, a single-season record which likely will never be broken. Who was this flame-thrower?

Yesterday's Answer: As of May 15, 2013, the active strikeout leaders are C.C. Sabathia (2268) and Andy Pettitte (2354), both of the Yankees.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Melky Cabrera Torches Zito, Giants, as Blue Jays Win 3rd Straight; Calos Gonzalez Goes 5-for-5 as Rockies' Belt Cubs

Players of the Day for Tuesday, May 14, 2013

American League

Melky Cabrera
San Francisco may have a 1 1/2 game lead in the NL West, but there are issues, one of which is the effectiveness of starting pitcher, Barry Zito, who was roundly pounded for 12 hits and eight runs (five earned) over 5 1/3 innings in a 10-6 rout at Toronto.

Zito's problems seem to be a function of road weariness. In his prior two road starts, he lasted only 2 2/3 innings in Milwaukee before going 3 2/3 at San Diego, making Tuesday's outing the longest of his last three away starts.

The troubles for Zito started with former teammate and leadoff hitter Melky Cabrera, who reached on an error and eventually scored in the first, then, later in the inning, drove in the last two of Toronto's six first inning runs.

Cabrera continued his assault throughout the game, singling in the fourth, singling and scoring in the sixth and doubling in another run in the seventh, finishing 4-for-5 and reaching base every time he went plate-ward.

Toronto banged out 18 hits in the win, its third straight, though they remain mired in last place in the AL East, 9 1/2 games behind the division-leading Yankees.

The Giants will try to earn a split in the two-game series Wednesday night in Toronto. Game time is 7:07 pm EDT.

National League

5-for-5, 2HR, 3RBI
The Rockies had a brief taste of first place earlier in the season, and, just two games out, appear to have an appetite for a full meal.

Knocking out Cubs starter, Christian Villanueva, on 12 hits and seven runs over five innings, the Rockies accumulated 17 hits in a 9-4 win at Chicago.

In the middle of their offensive assault was Carlos Gonzalez, who went 5-for-5 with a pair of solo home runs, a double, two singles, three RBI and three runs.

Gonzalez was a thorn in the Cubs' side all game long, his Tuesday performance a sign that, after two so-so seasons, he's regained the form from 2010, when he hit .336 with 34 homers and 117 RBI. Gonzalez currently is batting .313 with nine dingers and 22 RBI.

Colorado's win evened the three-game series with the Cubs at a game apiece. The rubber game goes off at 8:05 pm EDT at Wrigley Field.

Today's Trivia: The active strikeout leaders are both lefties and currently play for the same team. Who are they?

Yesterday's Answer: The two lefties in the top four all-time strikeout leaders are Randy Johnson (4875) and Steve Carlton (4136). Nolar Ryan is the all-time leaders with 5714 Ks; Roger Clemens is third, at 4672.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Justin Upton Crunches 13th Homer as Braves Win; Billy Butler Leads Royals with 5-for-5 Effort

Players of the Day for Monday, May 13, 2013

American League

Butler: 5-for-5
With six full seasons already under his belt, Kansas City's Billy Butler may finally be reaching the potential everybody associated with him always knew existed.

In Monday's 11-4 win over the slumping Angels, Butler went to the plate five times, and five times he arrived on base. With three singles, two doubles and five RBI, Butler was a one-man wrecking crew of the Angels' pitching staff. His fellow Royals added 14 more hits, helping KC keep pace in the contentious AL Central, where they trail the Tigers by 1 1/2 games (Cleveland is in second place, 1/2 game out).

Butler hasn't been exactly tearing the leather off the ball this season, but his 5-for-5 effort improved his batting average to a respectable .261 and he's tallied 25 RBI, 12th-best in the league and on pace for another 100+ RBI season, something Butler accomplished for the first time last season.

A .299 career hitter, Butler is becoming a force which should help keep the Royals in the pennant and wild card hurt deep into the season.

The Angels will try to even up the three-game series in game two, at 10:05 EDT, Tuesday in LA.

National League

Upton's 13 HRs
lead MLB
Atlanta continues to cling to a slim lead in the NL East, with Monday's 10-1 win over Arizona keeping them a game clear of the Washington Nationals in the division race.

The Braves got 6 2/3 innings out of Mike Minor, who held the Diamondbacks to a single run, but it took Atlanta until the fifth inning to break through and take the lead, but, after scoring three times in the frame, they poured it on, turning the game into a rout.

Justin Upton provided his fair share of fireworks, going 4-for-5 with two singles, a double and his 13th home run of the season (which leads the majors) - a two-run shot in the Braves' four-run sixth.

While Upton's home run numbers are impressive, what is troubling the Braves is the RBI total, just 23, suggesting that the top of the Atlanta order is not getting on base in sufficient numbers with Upton having a big season at the plate. Andrelton Simmons, who usually leads off, is batting just .243, while brother B.J. Upton - who was in the two-hole Monday - is staggering along with a .151 mark.

Game two of the three-game set in Arizona goes off at 9:40 pm EDT, Tuesday.

Today's Trivia: Two of the top four career lifetime strikeout leaders are left-handers. Who are they? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Phil Neikro is one of 19 pitchers with more Ks than Cy Young (2803). Neikro fanned 3342 in his 24-year career, while Bob Feller had 2581, Warren Spahn, 2583, and David Cone struck out 2668.

Monday, May 13, 2013

White Sox Top Angels on Chris Sale's 1-Hitter; Chase Utley Leads Phillies to Split with Diamondbacks

Players of the Day for Sunday, May 12, 2013

American League

Sale: 1-Hitter
The AL Central was supposed to be the exclusive province of AL champion Detroit, but that has not yet proven out.

The Tigers have been hounded for first place by, first, the Royals, and now, the Indians, who topped them, 4-3, in 10 innings to grab a share of the top division spot.

KC has dropped three straight to fall 1 1/2 off the pace, with the Twins another game back. Bringing up the rear is Chicago, but the White Sox are just five games out and got a boost Sunday night when Chris Sale torched the struggling LA Angels with a one-hit, 3-0 victory.

Sale (4-2) was perfect through six innings, but allowed a single by Mike Trout with one out in the seventh which broke up the no-hit bid. Trout's hit turned out to be the Angels only hit of the contest, and he was the only Angel to reach base other than catcher Chris Ianetta, who reached via a throwing error by White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez.

Sale didn't issue any walks, needed only 98 pitches to go the distance and fanned seven. Chicago scored three times in the bottom of the seventh off Angels' starter, C.J. Wilson (3-2).

It was the first career shutout for the 6'6" lefty and his second complete game. The White Sox win avoided a sweep at the hands of the Angles in the finale of their three-game series.

National League

Utley: 4-for-5
The Phillies (18-20) are scuffling, but, after earning a split with Arizona by taking the final two games of their four-game series, find themselves only four games back in the NL East.

Sunday's 4-2, 10-inning victory over the Diamondbacks was largely due to the 4-for-5 effort from second baseman Chase Utley, who scored the Phillies first run of the game in the ninth inning as Philadelphia rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game. The Phillies scored two more in the extra frame for the win.

In the tenth inning, Utley was again instrumental, doubling with one out to send Jimmy Rollins to third in advance of Ryan Howard's two-run single. Utley had two doubles and two singles, scoring twice.

Jonathan Papelbon came on in the bottom of the ninth for his 7th save of the season.

Utley, who spent most of last season on the DL and played only 83 games, is batting .279 with seven homers and 24 RBI.

Today's Trivia: Cy Young, after whom the award for the leagues' best pitcher is named, had fewer strikeouts in his career than which of the following: Phil Niekro, Bob Feller, Warren Spahn, Tom Glavine? (Answer tomorrow.)

Yesterday's answer: Detroit's Justin Verlander led the majors with 239 strikeouts in 2013. The Mets' R.A. Dickey led the NL with 230.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Adam Wainwright Hurls 2-Hit Shutout over Rockies; Adam Lind's 9th Inning Home Run Downs Red Sox

Players of the Day for Saturday, May 11, 2013

American League

Boston's claim to at least a portion of first place in the AL East is over, ended when the Yankees beat Kansas City, 3-2, and Boston lost to the Blue Jays by the same score on Saturday.

Adam Lind
The Red Sox were defeated for the seventh time in their last nine games as Adam Lind broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the ninth with his second home run of the season, a solo shot to center that ended the Blue Jays' three-game losing streak.

Lind, who went 3-for-4, also singled and scored in the fourth inning, driven home by Colby Rasmus.

The Jays led 2-0 until the eighth, when Boston struck for a pair of runs, but, Lind's homer negated the Red Sox comeback.

The Yankees took a one game lead in the division with their win at KC. Mariano Rivera tied Baltimore's Jim Johnson for the AL saves lead, with his 14th. Baltimore, which was also tied for first at the start of the day, dropped an 8-4 decision to the Twins.

Boston hosts Toronto in the rubber game of their three-game series at 1:35 pm EDT.

National League
Adam Wainwright

After rookie Colby Miller blanked the Rockies on one hit Friday, Cardinal ace Adam Wainwright took the mound for St. Louis on Saturday and dusted the Rockies on two hits for a 3-0 win.

Wainwright was perfect through four innings, and took a no-hitter into the eighth inning after walking Todd Helton with one out in the fifth. Nolan Arenado spoiled the no-hit bid with a one-out single in the eighth. Dexter Fowler has the only other hit off Wainwright, a two-out single in the ninth inning.

It was the Cardinals' third straight win, keeping them three games clear of Cincinnati in the NL Central.

Wainwright issued just one walk while striking out seven as he improved to 5-2 on the year. He has fanned 55 in 58 2/3 innings, fifth-best in the NL, the shutout lowering his ERA to 2.30, the ninth lowest in the league.

The Rockies have been blanked twice straight in St. Louis and will try to put a run on the board Sunday afternoon at 2:15 pm EDT when they meet the Cardinals to wrap up the three-game series.

Today's Trivia: Who lead the major leagues in strikeouts in 2012?

Answer to yesterday's question: Bob Gibson, of the St. Louis Cardinals, threw 13 shutouts in 1968.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Jon Lester Tosses One-Hitter for Boston; Yankees' Lyle Overbay Drives in Five; St. Louis Rookie Shelby Miller Hurls Cards to One-Hit Win

Players of the Day for Friday, May 10, 2013

American League
Lester: 1-hitter

The battle for the AL East has intensified to a point that the three teams tied for the division lead - Yankees, Red Sox and Orioles - all produced victories Friday, two of those games featuring individual performances worth of player of the day recognition.

Overbay: HR, 5RBI
Maicer Izturis was the only Toronto hitter to touch up Boston starter, Jon Lester, his fourth-inning, no-doubt double breaking up the Red Sox lefty's bid for a perfect game. Lester (5-0) struck out five, didn't walk any and threw 79 of 118 pitches for the complete game, 5-0 shutout.

The Yankees, in the midst of a Midwest swing, kept pace by bludgeoning the Royals, 11-6, their third straight win. The Bombers cranked out 16 hits, four of them coming off the bat of first baseman Lyle Overbay, who was 4-for-5 with a homer, two doubles, a single and five RBI.

Baltimore remained in the three-way tie by defeating the Twins in 10 innings, 9-6, getting RBI singles from Manny Machado, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones in the top of the extra frame. Jim Johnson gave up a hit in the bottom of the inning, but still recorded his league-leading 14th save.

All three series continue on Saturday.

National League

Shelby Miller
St. Louis starter, Shelby Miller, didn't get off to a very auspicious start in the Cardinals' 3-0 win over the Rockies, giving up a scratch single to leadoff hitter, Eric Young Jr. - who then stole second base - but Miller was unfazed, getting Dexter Fowler on a pop fly, and then striking out Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, both looking at called third strikes.

As it was, Young's single would be the only hit of the night for Colorado, as Miller set down 27 straight, registering the second one-hitter of the day.

The hard-throwing rookie hurler fanned a career-high 13 without allowing a walk, getting Tulowitzki three times and striking out both Colorado pinch hitters sent to the plate in the sixth and ninth innings. Miller improved to 5-2, lowering his ERA to 1.58 with his magnificent outing.

St. Louis, winners of eight of their last 10, retained their three-game Central division lead over Cincinnati with the win.

The Rockies will attempt to put more bats on balls in game two of the three-game series, Saturday at 2:15 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: In 1964, Dean Chance threw 11 shutouts for the LA Angels. Four years later, which pitcher topped him, with 13 shutouts in 1968, a total which nobody since has come close to matching?

Answer to yesterday's question: 41-year-old Andy Pettitte is the active player wins leader with 248.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Brian McCann Leads Braves over Giants; On a Tear, Evan Longoria Powers Rays past Jays

Players of the Day for Thursday, May 9, 2013

American League

Evan Longoria
With Boston and Baltimore losing, and the Yankees finishing up a three-game series in Colorado with a victory, there's suddenly a three-way tie for first place in the AL East. While the focus will surely be on these three contenders, lurking 4 1/2 games back are the Tampa Bay Rays, who earned a 2-2 split with last place Toronto, beating the Blue Jays, 5-4, in 10 innings.

Evan Longoria has been a force with which to reckon of late, batting a robust .411 over his last eight games. In Thursday's win, Longoria went 3-for-5, with two doubles, an RBI and two runs, the last score being the game-winner, as he trotted home from third base on a bases-loaded walk to Luke Scott issued by Toronto reliever, Brad Lincoln, with two down in the bottom of the 10th.

Longoria got the Rays scoring started with a first inning RBI double, later scoring on Matt Joyce's single to put the Rays up, 2-0.

The Rays begin hosting a three-game series with San Diego on Friday. After that, they welcome in the Red Sox Tuesday through Thursday of next week.

National League

Brian McCann
In San Francisco, the Giants and Braves opened a four-game series between respective division leaders, but the result left the home team in a tie for first place in the West as the Braves took a 6-3 decision.

Catcher Brian McCann, starting in just his third game of the year, went 3-for-5, with his first homer of the season and three RBI.

His tw-run homer in the second inning put the Braves up, 2-1; in the fifth, McCann beat out an infield hit, scoring Freddie Freeman from third to increase the Braves' lead to 5-3.

McCann, who started the season on the disabled list while rehabbing after surgery to his left shoulder, solidifies the already-deep Atlanta lineup with a proven run-producer. He's hit at least 21 homers in six of his seven full seasons with the Braves and has driven in at least 67 runs each season, with a high of 94 in 2009.

A six-time all-star, McCann has five hits in 13 at-bats (.308).

The Braves held their two-game edge in the East over Washington with the win, while the Giants fell into a tie with Arizona, winners of four straight, in the West.

Today's Trivia: Among active players, which pitcher is the career win leader? (answer tomorrow)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Paul Goldschmidt's Two Homers Send Dodgers to 7th Straight Loss; Minnesota Rides Ryan Doumit's Bat to 15-8 Win at Boston

Players of the Day for Wednesday, May 8, 2013

American League

Ryan Doumit
While the Baltimore Orioles were winning their fourth straight - a 5-3 victory over visiting KC - Boston was being pummeled by the Twins, taking a 15-8 beating at Fenway, the end result a tie between the Orioles and Red Sox for first place in the AL East.

After the Twins scored four first inning runs - two of them on Ryan Doumit's home run - the Red Sox came back to take the lead in the bottom half of the frame, putting up a five-spot, but that proved to be short-lived as Minnesota piled on seven more runs in the second inning and were never headed.

Minnesota banged out 20 hits, DH Doumit and right fielder Oswaldo Arcia each going 4-for-5, with four other starters having multiple hits. Doumit singled three times after his first-inning blast, scoring three times to go with his two RBI.

Boston has dropped two of their last three to the Twins and will try to salvage a split of the four-game series Thursday night at 7:10 pm EDT while the Orioles try to sweep their series with the Royals.

National League

Paul Goldschmidt
At the start of the season, the Dodgers were the pundits' pick to contend in the NL West, but after being swept three straight by the Arizona Diamondbacks and extending their losing streak to a season-high seven games, LA has found the cellar of the division, 6 1/2 games behind leading San Francisco.

The Diamondbacks, however, have put together a 19-15 start to their season, Wednesday's 3-2 win in LA getting them to within one game of first place, with the Rockies sandwiched - 1/2 game back - between them and the Giants.

Much of Arizona's success this season has been due to the play of first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt, who accounted for all three of the D'Backs' runs with a pair of home runs - his eighth and ninth of the year.

The Dodgers had taken a 2-0 lead with a pair of fourth-inning runs, but Goldschmidt evened the score, taking Dodger starter, Clayton Kershaw, deep with a man aboard, then won the game in the eighth with a solo shot off reliever Kenley Jansen.

Having an all-star season with a .320 batting average, nine homers and 30 RBI, Goldschmidt has put the Diamondbacks in a position to challenge for a post-season spot. He is 11th in the NL in batting, tied for fourth in home runs and leads the league in RBI.