Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Two Homers By Mike Moustakas Lead Royals to 7th Straight; Atlanta Expands NL East lead as Freddie Freeman Homers Twice

Players of the Day for Tuesday, July 30, 2013

American League

The Kansas City Royals are red hot. Problem is, the two teams in front of them in the Central division - Detroit and Cleveland - are just as hot, having won four and six straight, respectively.

Mike Moustakas
So, despite the Royals taking their seventh straight with a 7-2 victory over the fast-fading Twins, they gained no ground in the race and remain seven games off the Tigers' pace.

Mike Moustakas keyed the win for the Royals, belting a three-run, two-out homer in the third inning, putting the Royals up by a 4-1 score. He homered again in the eighth inning, with the bases empty, driving in four runs in the win.

Despite the Royals having a strong season (52-51), Moustakas' numbers are down. He has only nine homers and a mere 24 RBI in 90 games, with over 300 at-bats.

The Royals will try to make it eight straight when they meet the Twins in game two of their three-game series, Wednesday night at 8:10 pm EDT at Target Field in Minneapolis.

National League

Freddie Freeman
As far as the Atlanta Braves are concerned, it seems like the NL East is clearly their division. Everybody else are just spectators.

The Braves won their fifth in a row Tuesday, taking an 11-3 decision over the Rockies at Turner Field in Atlanta.

Freddie Freeman touched off a pair of homers, belting a solo shot in the first inning and putting the icing on the Braves' cake with a three-run blast in the seventh.

The two home runs gave him 13 on the season and four RBI upped his total to 69, tied for sixth-best in the NL.

Atlanta improved it's already-largest lead in the majors to a full ten games as second place Washington fell to Detroit, 5-1.

The Braves and Rockies meet for game three of their four-game set Wednesday night, at 7:10 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: In their Hall of Fame careers, who had more triples, Lou Brock or Rickey Henderson? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: The most doubles in a single season since Joe Medwick set the mark at 64 in 1936 was achieved by Colorado's Todd Helton, who had 59 in 2000.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Yoenis Cespedes Drives A's Past Jays, 9-4; Pedro Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen Push Pirates to within 1/2 Game of 1st in NL Central

Players of the Day for Monday, July 29, 2013

American League

Yoenis Cespedes
It's no fluke that the Oakland A's are leading the AL West by six games over the Rangers, with the rest of the division fading fast in Oakland's rear-view mirror.

Yoenis Cespedes, he of the All Star Home Run Derby 2013 championship, belted an eighth-inning solo homer to cement Oakland's 9-4 win over the visiting Blue Jays.

Sporting a batting average that is flirting with the Mendoza line at .236, Cespedes has been picking it up of late, going 3-for-5 in the A's victory, with a triple, the homer, and a single, scoring twice while driving in three.

Cespedes is batting a more-robust .333 over his last ten games, with eight RBI during that span, giving him an even 50 on the season. Not by coincidence, the A's are 7-3 in their last ten, while the Rangers have dropped seven of their last ten games.

The win opened a three-game series with the Jays, which continues Tuesday night at 10:05 pm EDT.

National League

Andrew McCutchen
It's tough being on top. Just ask the St. Louis Cardinals.

Pedro Alvarez
Fresh off being swept by the Braves in a three-game series, the Cardinals headed to Pittsburgh to open a five-game series with the second place Pirates, who have been breathing down the back of St. Louis for most of the season.

Pittsburgh pulled to within 1/2 game of St. Louis in the Central division with a 9-2 win, powered by two of the Pirates' biggest stars, Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen.

McCutchen got things started in a hurry for Pittsburgh, singling in the game's first run in the first inning, followed, later in the frame by Alvarez with a three-run homer, as the Pirates build a 4-0 lead off St. Louis starter, Jake Westbrook.

McCutchen singled and scored again in the seventh, the game getting out of hand, as Francisco Liriano (11-4) stifled the Cards on four hits and one earned run over seven, fanning eight.

Today's Trivia: Joe Medwick set the NL mark for doubles in a season with 64 in 1936. Since then only one player has been close, with 59 two-baggers in a season. Who was it and what year was it? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Lance Berkman led the NL in doubles in 2001, with 55, and tied for the lead with Nate McLouth, both with 46, in 2006.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Ian Desmond, Denard Span, Wilson Ramos Lead Nats in 14-1 Rout of Mets; Nick Franklin's Two Homers Power Mariners

Players of the Day for Sunday, July 28, 2013

American League

In the blink of an eye, the Oakland A's have turned a close race in the AL West into a runaway, winning three in a row while the Texas Rangers have lost four straight, opening a six-game lead.

Nick Franklin
Further back, struggling to keep up, are the Seattle Mariners, completing a 2-2 split with the Twins with a 6-4 win on Sunday.

The mariners were fueled by Nick Franklin, their rookie second baseman, who socked a pair of homers and drove in four runs to help turn back the Twins.

After Michael Saunders hit a solo shot to tie the game at two, Franklin's first blast came in the fourth inning, a three-run belt that put the Mariners ahead for good. In the seventh, Franklin launched his second homer of the game, a solo job which completed the scoring after Minnesota had drawn to within a run.

Adding a single, Franklin finished with a 3-for-4 game. Over the last eight games, Franklin has hit safely in six, popped four homers and driven in 12 runs. Now, if the A's would only lose a few games, Seattle might make up some ground in the division.

National League

Ian Desmond
The Mets were getting a little too close for the second-place Washington Nationals, so they took the initiative, taking three of four over the weekend, culminating with a powerful, 18-hit, 14-1 victory on Sunday at Nationals Park.

Denard Span
Beating up on five Mets hurlers, the brunt of the attack came from the six, seven and eight hitters in the lineup who together accounted for ten hits and ten RBI.

In the six hole, Ian Desmond went 4-for-4 with two singles, a pair of doubles, three runs and two RBI. Right behind him, Denard Span was also 4-for-4, rapping out three singles and a two-run homer, scoring three times and driving in three.

Wilson Ramos
Batting in front of the pitcher is usually not a position where one sees a lot of good pitches, but Wilson Ramos saw a few he liked, going 2-for-4, including a third-inning grand slam. Ramos scored twice and had five RBI.

Even with the win, the Nationals have their work cut out for themselves as August rapidly approaches. The Braves completed a three-game sweep of St. Louis with a 5-2 victory Sunday night, leaving Washington 8 1/2 games back, the largest lead in any major league division.

Today's Trivia: Since 2000, who is the only player to lead the NL in doubles for a season more than once? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Ted Williams drove in 1839 runs in a 19-year career, but Stan Musial, who played three more seasons than Williams, tops him with 1951, sixth all-time.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chris Archer Deals Two-Hit Shutout as Rays Down Yanks, 1-0; Pittsburgh's Neil Walker Keeps Pirates Close in NL Central

Players of the Day for Saturday, July 27, 2013

American League

Archer: 2-hit Shutout
On a mid-summer Saturday that produced seven games in which one team did not score a single run, the best performance of the day was turned in by Tampa Bay starter, Chris Archer, who gutted out a 1-0 victory over the Yankees with a two-hit shutout that kept the Rays in first place by a tenuous 1/2 game over the Red Sox.

Archer (6-3) won his fifth straight, and the shutout was the fourth win in his last four starts and second this season at Yankee Stadium. He last beat the Yankees on June 23, giving up one earned run over six innings in a 3-1 Rays win.

In both of his wins against the Yankees, Archer was opposed by Ivan Nova, who also pitched superbly, allowing just one earned run on six hits in seven innings.

Archer was a notch better, however, twirling his second complete game shutout in his last three outings, fanning six without issuing any walks. The North Carolina native threw just 97 pitches - 67 for strikes - to blank the Yanks.

Hitting his marks from the start, Archer set down the first ten batters he faced. Ichiro Suzuki reached on an error with one out in the fourth inning, but was erased by a Rays double play. The Yankees finally got a base hit with one down in the fifth, when Lyle Overbay singled to center. Unfazed after Brett Gardner doubled with two down in the sixth, Archer finished off his shutout by nailing the final ten batters in order.

The loss left the Yankees reeling, eight games behind the Rays in the AL East. With the series tied, 1-1, the teams will settle matters in the rubber game, Sunday at 1:05 pm EDT.

National League

Neil Walker
Much to the dismay of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates will not go away.

Pittsburgh crept to within 1 1/2 games of the NL Central-leading Cards with a 7-4 victory over Miami on Saturday, while Atlanta was issuing a 2-0 blanking of St. Louis.

Neil Walker spearheaded the Pirates' attack, driving in the first run of the game with a first-inning double and later scoring as the Pirates built a 3-0 lead.

After Miami made the score 3-1, Walker singled and scored as part of a two-run third inning and squelched another attempted rally by the Marlins when he doubled in another run in the sixth after Miami had cut the lead to 5-4. Pedro Alvarez drove in Andrew McCutchen with the game's final run in the eighth. Walker finished 3-for-5 with two runs and a pair of ribbies.

Pittsburgh is in a good spot even if they don't catch the Cardinals. They have an eight-game lead over Arizona in the wild card race with a 61-41 mark.

The win got the Pirates even in the three-game series, which finishes up Sunday at 1:10 pm EDT in Miami.

Today's Trivia: OK, so who had more career RBI, Ted Williams or Stan Musial? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: While Ted Williams was racking up six AL batting titles from 1941 to 1958, Stan Musial took the NL crown seven times from 1943 to 1957.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Edwin Encarnacion Belts Two Homers in One Inning as Blue Jays Romp; Mets' Daniel Murphy Blasts Two Homers in 11-0 Rout of Nationals

Players of the Day for Friday, July 26, 2013

American League

It's a shame the Toronto Blue Jays are such an unbalanced team, blessed with great power and hitting, cursed with shoddy pitching. The Jays are second in the AL in home runs, with 128 (Baltimore leads - 141) and are sixth in RBI, but their pitching staff has an ERA of 4.35, better than just one team - Houston - and they are tied for the lowest number of saves in the league, at 21.

Edwin Encarnacion
Then there's Edwin Encarnacion, the sweet-swinging, all-purpose DH, first baseman, third baseman and sometimes outfielder who is having a monster season, despite being overshadowed by Baltimore's Chris Davis and Detroit's Miguel Cabrera. Encarnacion is third behind those two in home runs and RBI, belting a pair Friday to give him 28 on the year, along with five RBI, for 80. The best part is that Encarnacion, who included a double and scored another run to go 3-for-5 with three runs, hit both of his homers in the seventh inning, when the Blue Jays more than batted around, scoring eight runs to turn a 6-4 Astro lead into a 12-8 Toronto victory.

Encarnacion started the offensive explosion with a solo shot in the inning and ended it with a grand slam.

The win was Toronto's second straight over Houston, though both teams remain mired in last place in their respective divisions.

The two cellar-dwellers will play game three of their four-game set on Saturday at 1:07 pm EDT.

National League

Daniel Murphy
Possessing what may be the best pitching staff in the division, the Mets keep gradually creeping closer to second place in the NL East, though on Friday, they might best have saved a few runs for the nightcap as they split a double-header with the Nationals in Washington, DC, winning the first game, 11-0, but dropping the nightcap, 2-1.

In the opener, rookie hurler Jennry Mejia tossed seven innings of shutout ball in his first start of the season (just what the Mets need: another quality starter), though he didn't even need to be that sharp, because Daniel Murphy socked a pair of homers to go with a couple of singles in a 4-for-5 game, scoring three times and driving in five runs.

Murphy hit a solo shot in the first, followed by a two-run belt in the third. He also singled in a run in the seventh and another in the ninth, later scoring, as the Mets piled in six runs in their final at-bat.

Murphy was 2-for-4 in the second game, extending his hitting streak to six games with four straight multiple-hit games.

The results left the Mets 10 1/2 back of Atlanta in the division, with the Phillies nine out and the second-place Nationals 8 1/2 out.

The Nationals host the Mets in game three of four on Saturday, at 3:05 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: who won more league batting championships, Stan Musial or Ted Williams? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Had George Brett not captured the 1976 AL batting championship, Rod Carew might have won it seven straight, having batted .331 to Brett's .333. He was the league top hitter from 1972 to 1975 and again in 1977 and 1978. Along with his 1969 title, he had the AL's highest average seven times.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mark Buerhle Ends Blue Jay Skid with 2-Hit Shutout; Bryce Harper's Walk-Off Homer Sends Nationals to 9-7 Win over Pirates

Players of the Day for Thursday, July 25, 2013

American League

For the Blue Jays, it's been a season of frustration.

A team laden with talent, picked by many to contend in the AL East, Toronto is instead dead last in the division, with time in the 2013 campaign running short.
Mark Buehrle

Mark Buehrle ended the Blue Jays' seven-game losing streak with a two-hit, complete game shutout in a 4-0 win over the Houston Astros.

Buehrle (6-7) needed only 108 pitches to go the distance for his ninth career shutout and 29th complete game, though the nine-inning blanking was the first of this season in both categories.

Walking two while striking out nine, Buehrle didn't allow a hit until there were two outs in the fifth inning, fanning five of the first seven batters he faced.

Nursing a 1-0 lead, Buehrle gave up his second hit of the game in the top of the seventh, a one out double by J.D. Martinez, but that was all he would allow. After the Blue Jays plated three runs in the bottom of the seventh, Buehrle set down the Astros in order over the final two innings for the win.

The game was the first of a four-game set in Toronto. Game two is slated for 7:07 pm EDT at the Rogers Centre.

National League

Bryce Harper
A series which may be of great impact to both teams closed Thursday in Washington, as the Nationals avoided a four-game sweep at the hands of the Pirates with a 9-7 win.

With the Mets dropping the first-place Braves and the Cardinals topping the Phillies, 3-1, Washington re-gained a tie for second place in the NL East with Philadelphia, losers of five straight, while the Pirates fell 2 1/2 behind St. Louis in the Central. The nats and Phils trail Atlanta by egiht games.

Bryce Harper led a 14-hit Washington attack, going 3-for-5 with three runs and two RBI in a game that was always in doubt despite Washington taking a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Harper scored the first Washington run on an error off a sacrifice bunt, after he reached base by being hit by an A.J. Burnett pitch to open the game.

Washington eventually tacked on three more runs in the inning, posting an imposing lead, but the Pirates battled back to tie the game at 7-all in the ninth. After doubling in the sixth and singling and scoring in the eighth, Harper collected his third hit of the game with two down in the bottom of the ninth, launching two-run homer to center for the walk-off victory.

It was Harper's 14th home run of the season, but he's driven in only 31 runs and scored just 42 times, having played in just 64 of a possible 102 games.

Today's Trivia: Brett's 1976 batting title interrupted a string of batting titles by Minnesota's Rod Carew. If Carew had won the batting title that season, how many in a row would he have had?

Yesterday's Answer: George Brett won the 1976 AL batting title, hitting .333 for the Kansas City Royals.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Angels Win, 1-0, as Jered Weaver Dazzles Twins;

Players of the Day for Wednesday, July 24, 2013

American League

Jered Weaver
Jered Weaver gave up two hits over eight innings as the LA Angels defeated the Minnesota Twins, 1-0.

Weaver was on his game, striking out nine while walking just one over eight innings, before handing the ball over to closer, Ernesto Frieri, who picked up his 25th save of the season, though it was not without some nail-biting moments. Frieri put two men aboard via walks, but eventually escaped his own jam, preserving the win for Weaver, a sub-par, 5-5, on the year.

The Angels managed to regain a tie for third place in the AL West, as Seattle dropped a 10-1 decision to Cleveland, ending an eight-game win streak.

National League

Yasiel Puig
Sparked again by rookie Yasiel Puig, the LA Dodgers won their sixth straight with a come-from-behind, 8-3, 10-inning win over the Blue Jays.

Puig - a heavy favorite to capture the NL rookie of the year award - went 3-for-5, with a double and his ninth home run of the season, scored the tying run in the ninth inning off a Colby Rasmus error, adding his homer in the tenth after the Dodgers had already plated two of their five running in the extra frame.

Mark Ellis hit a two-run shot before Puig's solo homer and the Dodgers sent home two more on Andre Ethier's double to the lef-center gap, completing the sweep of the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Today's Trivia: Who won the AL batting title in 1976? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Mike Schmidt led the NL in home runs eight times, including three in a row, from 1974-1976. In 1984, he tied for the league lead with Dale Murphy and in 1980 hit 48, his high mark for a single season.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chris Herrmann Delivers Grand Slam in Twins 10-3 Win over Angels; Zack Cozart's 4-for-4 Lead Reds past Giants, 9-3

Players of the Day for Tuesday, July 23, 2013

American League
Chris Herrmann

Minnesota scored seven runs in the 10th inning to take their second straight on the road from the still-struggling Angels.

The scoring outburst was punctuated by rookie catcher Chris Herrmann's grand slam, leading to the 10-3 victory.

The blast was just the second of Herrmann's brief major league career. Herrmann had two singles prior to the slam, going 3-for-5 for the game. He's played in just nine games, but is batting a brisk .409, with nine hits in 22 at-bats.

The Twins will go for the sweep of the Angels Wednesday afternoon at 12:35 pm PDT.

National League

Zack Cozart
Splitting a double-header with the Giants, the Cincinnati Reds dropped another 1/2 further behind the Central division-leading Cardinals, but are still just five games out, with plenty left to play, including 10 more meetings with St. Louis, seven of which will be played at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

Zack Cozart went 4-for-4 in the opener, a 9-3 win for the Reds, prior to dropping the nightcap, 5-3, an unusual situation due to the game being a make-up, in which the Reds were the home team at San Francisco's AT&T Park.

Cozart got the Reds on the board in the second inning with the first of his four hits, singling home a run and scoring later as Cincinnati plated four runs in the frame. Cozart singled and scored again in the third, belted a solo homer in the fifth and singled again in the seventh to complete his night of plate perfection.

The series wraps up Wednesday night at 7:10 pm PDT in San Francisco.

Today's Trivia: Speaking of Mike Schmidt - a three-time NL MVP, how many times did he lead the NL in home runs? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Even though Mike Schmidt hit many more homers than Brooks Robinson (548-268), the Baltimore hot-corner Hoover played for 23 years - five more than Schmidt - and amassed 2848 hits, to Schmidt's 2234.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tampa Bay Draws to Within 1/2 Game with Matt Moore's 2-Hit Shutout over Boston; A.J. Ellis Leads Dodgers to First Place in NL West

Players of the Day for Monday, July 22, 2013

American League

Moore: 2-hit shutout
If having grace under pressure is key to the making of a champion, the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays will be getting a serious opportunity to show what they're made of this week as a four-game series unfolds in Fenway Park.

The Rays showed poise in winning the opening game Monday night, with Matt Moore tying Detroit's Max Scherzer for the most wins in the majors with his 14th victory, a two-hit, complete game, shutout gem in a 3-0 win for the Rays, pulling them to within 1/2 game of the division-leading Red Sox. The Rays have won six straight, nine of their last ten and 16 of their last 18.

Moore (14-3) gave up just two harmless singles - to David Ortiz and Mike Napoli - and issued one walk while striking out four for his first career shutout and complete game. Behind him, teammates played errorless ball and put up single runs in the first, fifth and ninth innings.

Moore threw 84 of 109 pitches for strikes and faced just two more batters than the minimum as the Rays turned a fifth-inning double played after Moore walked Mike Napoli to lead off the inning.

In the seventh, Ortiz became the only Red Sox to reach second base safely after he singled with two down and took the extra bag on a wild pitch by Moore, who then settled down and retired the next seven straight batters to finish the game.

Boston and Tampa Bay will meet for the second of the four-game series, Tuesday, at 7:10 pm EDT.

National League

A.J. Ellis went 4-for-6 with a home run and three singles, driving in five runs to lead the LA Dodgers to a 14-5 mashing of the Blue Jays in Toronto, sending the Dodgers into first place in the NL West as Arizona dropped a 4-2 decision to the Cubs.
Ellis: 4-6, 5RBI

Ellis socked his fifth home run of the season - a two-run shot - in the second inning as the Dodgers plated four, and it was off to the races for the streaking winners of four straight coming out of the All Star break.

The five RBI were a career high for the LA catcher, giving him 32 on the season.

The Dodgers have surged from last place in the division to a 1/2 lead, going 21-5 since June 22nd. They and the Diamondbacks are the only teams with records above .500 in the NL West.

The win was the first in a three-game series that continues Tuesday at 7:07 pm EDT at the Rogers Centre.

Today's Trivia: Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt were two of the finest ever to play third base, both ending their careers with .267 batting averages. Which of them had more hits?

Yesterday's Answer: The career leader in sac flies is Baltimore's Eddie Murray, with 128, one better than long-time teammate, Cal Ripken Jr.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mike Napoli Ends Boston Win over NY with Walk-Off Homer in 11th; Matt Harvey Tosses Seven Scoreless as Mets Top Phillies

Players of the Day for Sunday, July 21, 2013

American League

C.C. Sabathia andf Ryan Dempster were on the mound and the series was on the line in the finale of the three-game Yankees-Red Sox series Sunday night at Fenway Park, but it was the lack of solid pitching that was most of the story in Boston's 8-7, 11-inning victory, a 2-1 series edge for Beantown.

Mike Napoli
The Red Sox touched up Sabathia for nine hits and seven earned runs over five innings, three runs coming on Mike Napoli's third inning homer, which turned a 3-1 Yankee lead into a 4-3 Red Sox advantage. Boston built the lead to 7-3 by the fifth, but the Yankees came back to tie the game with two runs in each of the sixth and seventh innings.

In the bottom of the 11th, Napoli came through again, this time with the bases empty and two outs, sending a drive over the wall in center field and the largest crowd of the season at Fenway home happy.

The pair of homers were Napoli's 12th and 13th. He finished 2-for-6 with four RBI and a pair of scores including the game-winner.

Laving the Boston area with two losses in three games, the Yankees dropped seven games off the pace in the AL East. Boston remained 1 1/2 ahead of the Rays and 3 1/2 better than the Orioles.

National League

Matt Harvey
Probably not in need of any favors, the Atlanta Braves got a couple from the Mets over the weekend as the New Yorkers took the final two games of their three game series with the visiting Phillies, including Sunday's 5-0 triumph, giving the Mets a 2-1 series win. Keeping the Phillies - who had moved into second place in the NL East right off the All Star break with a 13-8 win over the Mets on Friday - 6 1/2 games behind Atlanta was primarily the doing of rookie hurler, Matt Harvey, who sparkled in seven scoreless innings fresh off his All Star game start.

Harvey allowed just three hits while extending his league lead in strikeouts with 10, without surrendering a walk. The right-hander improved to 8-2 on the year, providing a bright spot in an otherwise up-and-down season for the Mets. Harvey's 157 Ks are 11 more than LA's Clayton Kershaw.

The Mets are still eight games under .500 and 10 games off the pace being set by the Braves, but are now only three games behind the Nationals, who have lost three straight - all to the Dodgers - since the All Star break.

Today's Trivia: Who is the major league career leader in sacrifice flies? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: In 1996, Baltimore's Bobby Bonilla tied the AL record for sacrifice flies in a season, with 17, equalling the mark set in 1971 by the Yankees' Roy White. Sac flies have only been tracked statistically since 1954.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Alex Rios Drives In Five with Grand Slam as White Sox Down Braves; Rockies Pound Cubs, Dexter Fowler Leads Victory

Players of the Day for Saturday, July 20, 2013

American League

With a 4-0 lead over the White Sox in the middle of the third inning and Paul Maholm on the hill, the Atlanta Braves appeared to be on their way to another victory, expanding their lead in the NL East.

Alex Rios
By the bottom of the frame, however, the Braves would find themselves down a run, thanks to a grand slam homer off the bat of Alex Rios, who went 3-for-5, drove in five runs and scored twice as the Sox banged out 13 hits in a 10-6 win.

The White Sox scored five in the third and tacked on four more in the fourth, a single by Rios driving in one of the fourth-inning runs. He and Alexei Ramirez later scored on a single by Jeff Keppinger. The Sox added a final run in the seventh inning.

Jake Peavy (7-4) got the win for Chicago, allowing four runs (two earned) over six innings.

While the Sox are still in last place and seemingly going nowhere in the AL Central, the Braves weren't damaged much as Chicago evened the series at a game apiece. Philadelphia and Washington, both chasing the Braves, also suffered losses on Saturday.

The rubber game of the series will be played at 2:10 pm EDT, Sunday afternoon.

National League

Dexter Fowler
Dexter Fowler's two-run triple broke a 1-1, fourth-inning tie, propelling the Colorado Rockies to a 9-3 win over the visiting Chicago Cubs.

Carlos Gonzalez continued the scoring outburst with his league-leading 26th homer in the fifth. The Rockies scored four runs in the inning, culminated by Fowler's sac fly, driving in Todd Helton. Fowler went 2-for-3 with three RBI, a stolen base and scored a run, helping the Rockies remain in the heat of the NL West race, 3 1/2 games behind Arizona, losers of three straight. The Dodgers beat Washington, 3-1, in 10 innings, to pull to within 1/2 game of the division lead.

Fowler has been very steady in the leadoff spot for the Rockies all season, batting .288 with 53 runs and 14 stolen bases.

Colorado's win evened the series at a game apiece, with game three slated for a 4:10 pm EDT start, Sunday afternoon.

Today's Trivia: In 1996, what AL record did Baltimore's Bobby Bonilla tie? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Probably better at getting out of the way of errant throws, Frank Robinson was hit by 198 pitches, while Don Baylor was plunked 267 times, fourth-most in major league history.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Houston Rookie Brandon Barnes Hits for Cycle in Astros Loss; Ervin Santana Shuts Down Tigers in 1-0 KC Win

Players of the Day for Friday, July 19, 2013

American League

Barnes Hits for Cycle
Here's what happens when you're the worst team in baseball, i.e., the Houston Astros, with an MLB-worst 33-62 record: your number seven hitter goes for the cycle and you still lose the ball game.

That's exactly what happened in Houston Friday night, when center fielder Brandon Barnes went 5-for-5 with all the requisite variety of hits, beginning with a solo homer in the second inning, giving the Astros a 1-0 lead, the only advantage they would enjoy on the night.

In the bottom of the fourth, Barnes tripled in another run, though by then, the Mariners had run in four. In the sixth, Barnes singled, followed by a double in the eighth which completed the cycle, later scoring on a Brett Wallace home run.

Down 10-6 in the ninth, Barnes singled once more, took second on fielder's indifference and scored the Astros' final run on Matt Dominguez's single to complete the 10-7 defeat.

Barmes scored three times and drove in just two runs, though Houston compiled a resume of 16 hits. Seattle's leadoff hitter, Brad Miller, set the pace for the M's with a pair of homers and five RBI.

Game two of the series is set for a 7:10 pm EDT start.

National League
Santana: 7 1/3 scoreless

With one of the more imposing lineups in the majors, it's not easy to keep the Detroit Tigers off the scoreboard, but that's precisely what KC starter Ervin Santana did, hurling 7 1/3 innings of shutout, two-hit ball in the Royals' 1-0 triumph over the current AL Central leaders.

Santana (6-6) walked one and struck out six in his mound stint, relieved in the eighth inning after throwing 106 pitches. The Kansas City win was huge, as the opener of a three-game series in KC with the Tigers. The Royals are still seven games back, but Cleveland is just 1 1/2 behind the Tigers in the divisional race.

The series continues with game two beginning at 7:10 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: It's not the prettiest way to reach base, but who was hit by more pitches, Frank Robinson or Don Baylor?

Wednesday's Answer: Cal Ripken Jr. appeared in 19 All Star games, the most by any infielder.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

AL Wins All-Star Game, 3-0, Earns World Series Home Field Advantage; White Sox Hurler Chris Sale Dominates

Players of the Day for Tuesday, July 16, 2013

ALL STAR GAME

Sale: 2IP, 0H, 2K
As baseball games go, this one didn't provide many thrills for fans, but, in a season in which hitting has been the dominant theme, it was pitching - particularly by American League hurlers - which carried the day, the AL limiting NL batters to just three hits while scoring single runs in the fourth, fifth and eighth innings for the 3-0 win at Citi Field in New York.

Statistically, there were no outstanding performances, but give a nod to the AL lefty, Chris Sale, of the Chicago White Sox, who was completely untouchable in his two innings of work, striking out two while throwing 17 of 24 pitches for strikes without allowing a hit or a walk.

The Mets' Matt Harvey deserves a mention as well. After a rough start - giving up a leadoff double to Mike Trout on the first pitch of the game and then plunking Robinson Cano on the knee to put runners at first and second with no outs, Harvey regrouped and put down the next six batters in order, three of them on swinging strikes.

With the Mid-Summer Classic complete, fans can look forward to the AL team having home field for the World Series in October, having earned it with the All-Star victory.

Regular season play resumes on Friday.

Today's Trivia: Which infielder was named to the most All Star rosters? (answer Friday)

Yesterday's Answer: Reggie Jackson and Johnny Bench each were named to All Star rosters 14 times.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Orioles' Chris Davis Ties pre-All Star AL HR record with 37th; Yadier Molina Leads Cardinals and NL in Batting

Players of the Day for Sunday, July 14, 2013

American League

Chris Davis
If not for Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, Baltimore's Chris Davis would be mentioned singularly in talk of triple crown possibilities. Even still, Davis is having a season unlike any other, one that could be record-breaking.

Davis cracked his 37th home run of the season and drove in four runs in the Orioles' 7-4 victory over the Blue Jays, the final game for both teams prior to the All Star break, giving Baltimore a 2-1 edge in the series and leaving them solidly in third place in the AL East, 4 1/2 behind Boston and two games back of second-place Tampa Bay.

Launching #37 to the opposite field in the third inning, Davis gave the Orioles a 6-0 lead. He already had driven in two runs with a double in the bottom of the first, as Baltimore built a 4-0 advantage, shelling Toronto starter, Josh Johnson, who ended up working six innings and allowing all seven runs.

Davis tied Reggie Jackson for the American League record for home runs by the All Star break. Jackson hit 37 dingers by mid-July in 1969. Only two other players have ever hit so many before the summer classic. Barry Bonds hit 39 homers pre All Star game in 2001. Mark McGwire belted 37 in 1998. Both were National Leaguers suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs.

With four RBI on Sunday, Davis totaled 93, the seventh-highest total in major league history prior to the All Star break, though he is still two behind Cabrera, who has 95, tying him with Josh Hamilton for fifth place all-time, who had that many in 2008.

National League

Yadier Molina
St. Louis' Yadier Molina is having himself a Hall of Fame season, leading the National League in batting at a .341 clip, after going 4-for-6 in the Cardinals' 10-6 hammering of the Cubs at Wrigley Field Sunday night. The Cards dealt out 21 hits.

After the Cubs tied the game at six with a pair of runs in the eighth inning, Molina put the finishing touch on the win with a three-run homer for the final score. Prior to hitting his seventh long ball of the season, Molina had singled three times, driven in a run and scored twice.

The win put St. Louis back into sole possession of first place in the NL Central, a position they've held most of the year, after the Pirates lost a 4-2 decision to the Mets.

At the break, Molina and teammate Allen Craig are 1-2 in batting, Craig checking in at .333. Leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter is not far back at .321, sixth-best in the league.

Molina will be the starting catcher for the National League in the 2013 All Star game, Tuesday night at New York's Citi Field.

Today's Trivia: Who played in more All Star games, Reggie Jackson or Johnny Bench? (answer Wednesday)

Yesterday's Answer: George Foster led the NL in RBI in 1976, 1977 and 1978.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tim Lincecum No-Hits Padres as Giants Triumph, 9-0; Tampa Bay's Luke Scott is Red Hot

Players of the Day for Saturday, July 13, 2013

American League

Who's the hottest team in the American League?

Luke Scott
Why, that would be the Tampa Bay Rays, who keep closing ground on AL East leader, Boston, evening their series with Houston at a game apiece and winners of 13 of their last 15, Saturday, with a 4-3 win over the visiting Astros.

As hot as the Rays have been, breathing down Boston's back, 3 1/2 games out, the hottest player on the Rays has to be Luke Scott, who pretty much won Saturday's game by himself, driving in three of Tampa's four runs with a two-run homer in the fifth inning and an RBI single in the sixth.

Scott's riding a nine-game hitting streak in which he's gone 14-for-32 (.438), with three homers and eight RBI.

The Rays and Astros will settle their three-game series on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.

Tim Lincecum
National League

Hunter Pence drove in five runs to back the no-hit pitching of Tim Lincecum, as the Giants blasted San Diego, 9-0.

Lincecum, having an off year with just five wins against nine losses, came up with by far his best performance of the season when the Giants needed it; San Francisco is in fourth place in the NL West, trailing Arizona by 6 1/2 games.

Fanning a season-high 13 batters, Lincecum issued four bases on balls and hit one batter. San Diego stranded five base-runners, only one of whom reached second base. Everth Cabrera walked, stole second and moved to third on a Lincecum wild pitch, but was left there as the Giants' hurler got Carlos Quentin to line out to short, ending the threat. At one point, between the second and fourth innings, Lincecum struck out six straight potential hitters, fanning the side in the third.

Lincecum threw an astounding 148 pitches, 96 for strikes. The no-hitter was the ninth complete game and sixth shutout of his seven-year baseball career, all with San Francisco.

Today's Trivia: Who was the last National League player to league the league in RBI three straight seasons? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: The last Al player to lead the league in RBI three straight seasons was Cecil Fielder, who led the league in 1990, 1991 and 1992.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Adam Jones Powers Orioles to 8-5 Win over Blue Jays; Giants Top Padres on Buster Posey's Five RBI

Players of the Day for Friday, July 12, 2013

American League

Adam Jones
Chris Davis crashed his 35th home run and Adam Jones went 3-for-4 as the Orioles topped the Blue Jays, 8-5, to open the final three-game series before the All Star break.

Davis' home run came in the second inning - a two-run belt that drove in Jones, who had doubled to lead off the inning - tying the game at two and giving Davis a five-homer lead over Miguel Cabrera for the MLB lead.

Jones continued to assault Blue Jay pitching, driving in three runs in the third inning with a three-run shot that put the O's up by a 5-3 score after Edwin Encarnacion had given Toronto a 3-2 lead with a homer of his own in the top of the frame.

Baltimore finished its scoring in the sixth when J.J. Hardy drove in both Jones and Davis with a three-run homer after both base runners had singled to open the inning.

The Orioles kept pace with the Red Sox, who lead the AL East by 4 1/2 over Tampa Bay and have a 5 1/2 game edge on the O's. Toronto fell to 12 1/2 behind with the loss. Game two of the series is slated for 4:05 pm EDT, Saturday in Baltimore

National League

Buster Posey
The Giants beat San Diego for the second straight time, but the 10-1 mashing was only their third win in the month of July, against eight losses.

Buster Posey was 2-for-5 to lead the Giants while collecting five RBI to give him 56 on the season.

Posey got things started for San Francisco with a sac fly in the third, tying the contest at 1-1, singled in a pair of runs in the sixth and completed the Giants' output with a two-run double in the seventh inning.

His .320 batting average has Posey tied for fifth in the NL with St. Louis' Matt Carpenter and he is 10th in the league in RBI as the season continues to be one in which pitchers are being belted around in both leagues.

The reigning world champions have fallen on hard times of late, however, dropping 6 1/2 games behind NL West-leading Arizona with a 42-50 mark.

The Padres have fallen to last place in the division, 8 1/2 back, and will host the Giants in the third of the four-game set on Saturday at 7:10 pm PDT.

Today's Trivia: Who was the last player to lead the American League in RBI three straight seasons? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: The only players with 2000 or more RBI are Hank Aaron (2297), Babe Ruth (2220) and Cap Anson (2075).

Friday, July 12, 2013

Rookie Danny Salazar Gets Winning Debut for Indians; Freddie Freeman Leads Braves over Reds

Players of the Day for Thursday, July 11, 2013

American League

Danny Salazar
Intent on upending Detroit in the Central division, Cleveland called up rookie pitcher Danny Salazar to close out their three game series with the Blue Jays Thursday and what they got was a performance from the right-hander that exceeded expectations.

Salazar held the Jays to a single run on two hits and a walk through six-plus innings, striking out seven before handing the ball over to the relief staff.

The Indians scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to make the rookie's debut a winning one, coming away with a 4-2 victory and a 2-1 edge in the series.

Salazar displayed quality stuff, throwing 64 of 89 pitches for strikes and getting first strikes on 15 of the 21 batters he faced, holding the Blue Jays hitless through the first five innings, fanning four of the first six batters he faced.

The winning debut helped Cleveland pick up a game on Detroit, the Tigers dropping a 6-3 decision to the White Sox and are just 2 2 1/2 games back in the division.

National League

Freddie Freeman
On the day he was named the last reserve to the NL All Star team, Freddie Freeman showed why he deserved the honor, driving in four of Atlanta's six runs in a 6-5 win over the visiting Reds.

Freeman went 3-for-4 with four RBI, doubling in two runs in the first inning, singling home another in the second to put Atlanta up, 3-2, and singling in another run in the fourth to add to the Braves' lead.

Atlanta made three errors in the game, nearly giving the game away, but Craig Kimbrel came on in the 9th for his 25th save, shutting the door on the Reds in the opener of a four-game series.

Freeman, batting .313 with 60 RBI, out-polled LA's Yasiel Puig for the final roster spot on the All Star team.

Game two of the series is set for Friday at 7:30 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: Name the only three players to drive in more than 2000 runs during their careers. (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: In 1921, none other than Babe Ruth scored 177 runs, the most since 1900, a record that stands to this day.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hanley Ramirez Homers in 14th, Dodgers Sweep D-Backs; Josh Hamilton's 5 RBI Propel Angels Past Cubs, 13-2

Players of the Day for Wednesday, July 10, 2013

American League

Josh Hamilton
In the AL West, the A's have held a 1/2 game edge over the Rangers for a week with the Angels lurking, just below .500, some distance back. On Wednesday, both the A's and Rangers were losers, so the Angels picked up a game on both with their 13-2 clubbing of the Cubs and now are nine games out.

Resurgent Josh Hamilton, who has four homers in his last six games and has hit safely in nine of the past ten, belted a pair of homers to send the Angels home a winner, splitting the two-game series at Wrigley Field.

Hamilton's big blast - a three-run donk - came early, in the first inning, setting the tone for the evening's festivities, which consisted of the Rangers smacking around three Cubs' hurlers for a total of 15 hits, nine of them off starter Jeff Samardzija (5-9), who allowed nine and the same number of earned runs in just 4 2/3 innings.

Hamilton's second homer was a solo shot in the fifth, which pretty much did in Samardzija, coming right after Albert Pujols two-run shot. The Rangers bashed five home runs and had 11 extra base hits in all. Hamilton got his fifth RBI of the evening on a ground out in the eighth. He has 14 HRs and 39 RBI on the year.

LA closes out the first half with a three-game series in Seattle, beginning Friday night.

National League

Hanley Ramirez
Winners of four straight and eight of their last ten, the LA Dodgers closed to within 1 1/2 games of first-place Arizona in the NL West with a 7-5 win in a 14-inning marathon over the Diamondbacks.

Back-to-back home runs by Hanley Ramirez and A.J. Ellis in the top of the final inning produced the victory, with Kenley Jansen working the final two innings in relief, evening his record at 3-3 with two shutout frames.

Ramirez has been lights out since returning from the DL, batting .409 with eight homers and 24 RBI in 35 games. He was 3-for-5 on Wednesday, with the homer, a double and a single, three RBI and two runs.

The victory was the conclusion of a three-game sweep in Arizona for the Dodgers, who will finish out the first half at home with a four-game series against the Rockies, the first game starting at 7:10 pm PDT, Thursday night.

Today's Trivia: In the modern era (since 1900), the single-season record for runs is 177. Who set that mark?

Yesterday's Answer: In his 14-year career, Maury Wills swiped 586 bases and finished with a .281 average. Lou Brock, who broke in two years after Wills, stole 938 bases (2nd all-time) and batted .293 over 19 years.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Alex Rios' 6 Hits, Dayan Viciedo's Two Homers Lead White Sox over Tigers; Wily Peralta Tosses 3-Hit Shutout for Brewers

Players of the Day for Tuesday, July 9, 2013

American League

Rios: 6-for-6
It isn't often that a player gets six hits in a game. So rare is the feat that it's only happened 32 times in the American League, or about once every three years, on average.

It also isn't very often that the Tigers lose big with Justin Verlander on the mound, but that's exactly what happened when Alex Rios knocked out a triple and five singles, leading the White Sox to an 11-4 victory.

Dayan Viciedo
Rios' big night was part of a 23-hit attack, 12 of which came off Verlander, who yielded five runs, working into the eighth. That was when the Sox exploded a 1-1 tie, scoring seven runs in the frame and three more in the ninth.

Rios led off the eighth inning with a single, stole second and scored on Adam Dunn's two-run homer. Later in the inning he singled again, driving in a run, and singled again in the ninth, for another RBI. Riios also stole second in the fifth inning, making his line for the night, 6-for-6, a run, two RBI, two steals.

Dayan Viciedo also had a huge effort, with a single and two homers in four at-bats, four RBI and two runs.

The result left the White Sox still in last place, 13 games out, and Detroit in first, with a 2 1/2 game lead over Cleveland.

Game two of the series is 7:08 pm EDT, Wednesday night.

National League

Wily Peralta
There hasn't been a heck of a lot to cheer about in Milwaukee this season, but starting pitcher, Wily Peralta, gave the home town fans a treat with a three-hit shutout in the Brewers' 2-0 win over the Reds.

Peralta (6-9), a 24-year-old rookie out of the Dominican Republic, notched his first complete game and first shutout of his brief, but promising, major league career, fanning six and walking four.

Shin-Soo Choo led off the game with a single, but was doubled up on a liner. After that, the Reds didn't get another hit until Derrick Robinson tripled in the seventh, but was gunned down at home, trying to stretch the hit into a score.

The Brewers got their two runs on Logan Shafer's home run in the fifth inning, which proved to be all Peralta needed to get the win.

Cincinnati's loss dropped them four back of St. Louis - winners of four straight - in the Central division. The Brewers continue in last place, 17 1/2 games out.

Milwaukee will be looking for the series sweep when they host the Reds at 2:10 pm EDT on Wednesday.

Today's Trivia: Who had a higher lifetime batting average, Lou Brock or Maury Wills? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Tom (Flash) Gordon converted 54 straight save opportunities for the Boston Red Sox in 1998 and 1999. After blowing his first opportunity of the 1998 season, Gordon saved 43 straight, then added 11 in a row to start the 1999 campaign.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Justin Smoak, Michael Saunders Lead Mariners in 11-5 Rout of Red Sox; John Lannan's Eight Scoreless Innings Carries Phils over Nationals

Players of the Day for Monday, July 8, 2013

American League

Michael Saunders
Leading the AL East by 3 1/2 games over Tampa Bay, the Boston Red Sox are in the midst of a 10-game road trip that will take them into the All-Star break.

Justin Smoak
After losing the final two games of their three-game series to the Angels, Boston fared no better when they opened a four-game set in Seattle with an 11-4 defeat.

Mariner batters unloaded for 15 hits off starter Jon Lester and two relievers, Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders each delivering with a pair of doubles apiece, Smoak adding a dingle to finish 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs. Saunders was 2-for-4 with three ribbies and two runs.

The win was the second straight for the Mariners, who are still not a factor in the AL West, 12 1/2 games off the pace being set by Oakland.

Game two of the series begins Tuesday night at 7:10 pm PDT in Seattle.

NOTABLE: In Oakland's 2-1 win over Pittsburgh, A's closer, Grant Balfour, converted his 23rd consecutive save opportunity of the season, and 41st overall, dating back to last year, breaking the A's record of 41 straight set by Dennis Eckersley in 1991-92. It's the third-longest consecutive save streak in MLB history.

National League

John Lannan
The final score of 3-2 in Philadelphia's win over Washington doesn't give a fair indication of just how well Phillies' starter John Lannan pitched against the Nats.

Lannan, who missed two months with injuries between the middle of April and the middle of June, improved to 2-3 on the year with eight shutout innings on four hits and two walks, fanning four.

After 109 pitches, manager Charlie Manual's decision to sit Lannan down for the ninth inning in favor of closer Jonathan Papelbon nearly backfired as Papelbon allowed Washington to score its only two runs of the game in their final at-bat. The shaky closer finally got the job done, dubiously earning his 19th save, while making Lannan, who clearly threw his best game out of eight starts this season, sweat out the victory.

The win moved Philadelphia closer to Washington in the NL East standings, where they both trail the Braves - Washington by five games and Philly by 7 1/2.

The contest was the first of four between the two East division contenders; game two scheduled for Tuesday at 7:05 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: The longest consecutive streak of saves in the major leagues is 54. Which pitcher holds that remarkable distinction?

Yesterday's Answer: Atlanta's Tom Glavine tied for the NL lead in wins in 1991, 1992 and 1993, then led outright in 1998 and 2000, winning 20 games three times, 21 in 2000 and 22 in 1993.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Michael Brantley's Two Homers Power Cleveland Past Detroit; Patrick Corbin Hurls Diamondbacks to 6-1 Win over Rockies

Players of the Day for Sunday, July 7, 2013

American League

Michael Brantley
When Miguel Cabrera homered in the first inning, it looked like the Tigers might be on their way to taking the third straight from the home-standing - and second place - Indians, but Michael Brantley was having none of it.

Brantley doubled in a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame to put Cleveland up 2-1 and proceeded to smash a pair of homers, leading to the Indians' 9-6 victory.

Brantley's solo shot in the sixth made it 6-1, but the Tigers came back, eventually tying the game at 6-all when Torii Hunter smacked a three-run home run in the eighth. Again, Brantley came to the rescue, driving a two-run smash into the right field stands, putting the Indians ahead for good, going 3-for-5 with five RBI.

The win got the Indians back to within 2 1/2 of the division-leading Tigers. The finale of the four-game set will be played Monday night at 7:05 pm EDT inside Progressive Field.

National League

Just a week ago, the NL West was a tightly-packed, five team scramble.

No more. The Arizona Diamondbacks won their fifth straight, completing a three-game sweep of the Rockies, with a 6-1 victory, establishing a commanding 4 1/2 game lead in the division.

Patrick Corbin
Patrick Corbin worked eight sensational innings, allowing one run on just three hits, the Rockies only getting on the board in the eighth inning off Jonathan Herrera's one-out, solo homer.

Corbin (10-1) fanned 10 and threw 67 of 97 pitches for strikes, recording his first win since June 2nd. He had gone five straight games without a decision, then lost to the Mets on July 2nd, his first defeat of the year.

With a 2.40 ERA, Corbin joins Paul Goldschmidt as Diamondback representatives in the All-Star Game, July 16.

Today's Trivia: From 1991 to 2000, one pitcher led or tied for the NL lead in wins five times. Who was this ace? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: As a rookie with Philadelphia in 1883, John Coleman went 12-48, giving up 772 hits and 291 runs in 538 1/3 innings, setting the professional standard for pitching futility.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Torii Hunter Falls a Single Short of Cycle in Tiger Victory; Jay Bruce Rallies Reds to 13-4 Stomping of Mariners

Players of the Day for Saturday, July 6, 2013

American League

On Friday it was Juan Uribe coming up a single short of hitting for the cycle, on Saturday, it was Torii Hunter's turn to do the same thing, though he drove in only three runs as opposed to Uribe's seven.

Torii Hunter
In Detroit's 9-4 win over the Indians, Hunter doubled, tripled and homered in five at-bats, but did not come up with what is considered the "easist" part of the cycle, the single.

Nonetheless, Hunter was an integral part of the Tigers' taking their second straight over their Central division rivals, expanding their lead over Cleveland to 3 1/2 games, with Kansas City six back.

Game three of the four-game series is set for 1:05 pm EDT Sunday in Cleveland.

On Saturday, Hunter was named as a reserve to the American League All-Star roster. The annual showcase event is to be held July 16 at Citi Field in New York.

National League

Jay Bruce singled, doubled, drove in three runs and scored four times as the Cincinnati Reds pummeled the Seattle Mariners, 13-4.

Jay Bruce
The Mariners led early, enjoying a 3-1 bulge entering the fourth inning, but the Reds scored three in the fourth, two in the fifth and three more in the sixth, before finally blowing the game wide open with four eighth-inning runs. Bruce's double in the sixth was a key hit, sending two Reds home for an 8-4 lead, which became 9-4 when Bruce scored on a single by Jack Hannahan.

In his sixth season - all with the Reds - Bruce is quietly having another solid season, with 18 homers and 59 RBI to go with a .274 batting average. He's on pace to better his career-best marks set last season, of 34 HR and 99 RBI.

Winning helped the Reds cut a game off Pittsburgh's lead in the NL Central, where the Pirates hold a one-game advantage over the Cardinals, with the Reds now 3 1/2 back.

Seattle remained 12 1/2 out in the AL West, in fourth place.

The Mariners took Friday's contest, 4-2, so the two teams will meet for the rubber game of the series on Sunday at 1:10 pm EDT in Cincinnati.

Today's Trivia: The all-time record for losses by a pitcher in a season is 48, set way back in 1883. Who holds this dubious distinction? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Ted Williams is actually the all-time career leader in on base percentage, at an incredible .4817. Ty Cobb's .4330 ranks ninth all-time.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Nelson Cruz Grand Slam Lifts Rangers over Astros; Seven RBI by Juan Uribe Send Dodgers to 10-2 Win over Giants

Players of the Day for Friday, July 5, 2013

American League

Over the past five years, few teams have been as successful as the Texas Rangers. One reason for their superior play has been the mainstay of Nelson Cruz in their lineup. Not a superstar, but a quiet, solid everyday player, Cruz has been on the field for Texas throughout their reign in the AL West.

Nelson Cruz
In Friday's 10-5 victory over Houston, Cruz only had one hit, but it was a big one, a second-inning grand slam off Houston starter, Lucas Harrell, which put the Rangers up by a 6-0 score and allowed them to cruise to the series-opening win, keeping them on pace with Oakland, whom they trail by 1/2 game in the division.

The Cruz homer was his 21st of the season and the four RBI gave him 65 on the year, an exceptional total, but hardly recognizable when Detroit's Miguel Cabrera and Chris davis have 86 and 83, respectively, to lead the league. Cruz is tied for fourth in RBI and fifth in homers.

Game two of the home series for the Rangers is Saturday at 7:15 pm EDT.

National League

Juan Uribe
Juan Uribe was lashing the ball all over the AT&T Park field in the Dodgers' 10-2 win over the Giants, but he did not hit for the cycle because in five at-bats he only had a home run, triple and a double, no single.

Despite not putting himself in the MLB record book, Uribe did manage to drive in seven runs, doubling in a pair of runs in the second, tripling with the bases loaded in the third to drive in three more and capping his awesome performance with a two-run homer in the seventh inning.

A veteran of 13 seasons, Uribe is in his third year as a Dodger, the fourth stop on his major league tour, having previously played for the Rockies, White Sox and Giants.

The victory kept the Dodgers locked into second place in the NL West, tied with Colorado, 3 1/2 games behind Arizona. San Diego and San Francisco round out the division, both just 5 1/2 out.

Game two of the storied Dodger-Giants rivalry series is set for 4:15 pm PDT, Saturday in San Francisco.

Today's Trivia: Who had a higher career on-base percentage, Ted Williams or Ty Cobb? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Lefty O'Doul had 254 hits for Philadelphia in 1929, a National League record that was tied by Bill Terry of the NY Giants, just a year later, in 1930. The record still stands.