Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Nelson Cruz Homers Twice, Leads Rangers over A's, 8-7; Freddie Freeman Homer Drops Mets, as Braves Extend NL East Lead

Players of the Day for Monday, June 17, 2013

American League

In the war for the AL West, the opening skirmish went to the Texas Rangers, though victory was hardly decisive.

Nelson Cruz
The A's and Rangers opened a four-game series in Texas, Monday night, with the Rangers holding home field for an 8-7 win.

Nelson Cruz struck the decisive blows, going 3-for-4 with a double and a pair of homers, scoring twice and driving in four runs. Cruz's home runs were his 17th and 18th of the season, tying him for third with Adam Dunn and Edwin Encarnacion. Miguel Cabrera is one ahead with 19, but Chris Davis leads the pack, belting a solo shot in Baltimore's 5-1 loss to Detroit, his 24th of the season.

Oakland put up a six-spot in the fourth inning to take a 6-3 lead, but that's when Cruz took matters into his own hands, socking a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth to cut into the lead, then hammering a 428-foot, two-run rip to center, driving in A.J. Pierzynski, who had already doubled home Ian Kinsler. Cruz's blast put Texas up by a 7-6 score.

In the seventh, Cruz struck again, doubling home Adrian Beltre with the Rangers' final run. Cruz has 48 RBI, sixth in the league, one behind Boston's David Ortiz.

The win ended a six-game Texas losing streak and cut Oakland's lead to two games in the division.

The teams engage again on Tuesday night in the second of the four-game series. Game time is 8:05 pm EDT.

National League

Freddie Freeman
New York's Dylan Gee and Atlanta's Tim Hudson locked into a spirited pitcher's duel Monday night in Atlanta, and, through eight full innings, Gee had the better of it, limiting the Braves to no runs on three hits and singling in the Mets' only run of the game in the seventh.

Hudson retired after seven innings of work, turing the ball over to Anthony Vavaro, who held the Mets in check, blanking them for the eighth inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, Gee, attempting to close out the shutout, got the first out, but then gave up a scratch single to Justin Upton, putting the winning run at the plate in the form of Freddie Freeman, who delivered with his third hit of the night, a two-run, walk-off, game-winning homer that crushed Gee's and the Mets' hopes, improving Atlanta's MLB-best home record to an incredible 24-8 with the 2-1 win.

Freeman's homer was his seventh of the season, but none has been bigger, pushing the Braves to a 7 1/2 game lead in the division over Washington, which dropped a 5-4 decision at Philadelphia (8 1/2 back) on Monday.

The Mets, already 14 1/2 game back, will try to recover when the two teams meet again at Turner Field in game two of the five-game series, Tuesday afternoon at 1:10 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: Who had a higher career batting average, Stan Musial or Tony Gwynn?

Yesterday's Answer: The 2011 NL hits leader was Chicago's Starlin Castro, with 207.

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