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.

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