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.

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