Saturday, August 31, 2013

Victor Martinez Leads Tigers to 7-2 Win over Indians; Francisco Liriano, Garrett Jones Power Pirates Past St. Louis, 5-0

Players of the Day for Friday, August 30, 2013

American League

Victor Martinez
Victor Martinez doubled in a pair of runs in the third inning and scored Detroit's final run in the seventh, as the Tigers took another step closer to the AL Central championship with a rain-shortened, 7-2 win over second-place Cleveland.

Opening the three-game series in Detroit, the Tigers took a leg up on their closest pursuer with the win, extending their lead in the division to 7 1/2 games. Cleveland has lost four in a row and has fallen five games behind Oakland in the race for the final wild card spot.

Third baseman Miguel Cabrera left the game in the second inning with an abdominal injury. His status remains day-to-day.

The Tigers will look to further their advantage when they host the Indians in game two, Saturday at 7:08 pm EDT.

Liriano: 15-6
National League

Even though Francisco Liriano didn't get his first start until May 11, his eight innings of two-hit, shutout ball against the St. Louis Cardinals was good enough for his 15th win of the season, tying him for the lead in the National League, as the Pirates downed the Cardinals, 5-0.

Garrett Jones
Liriano (15-6) was in complete control throughout, walking two and striking out six. No Cardinal runner reached second base while he was on the mound, as the lefty baffled St. Louis hitters with sliders and cut fastballs. It was Liriano's third straight win over the Cardinals in the last 30 days. on July 29, he allowed four hits and one earned run and on August 14, he tossed a complete game against them, again allowing four hits and one earned.

Friday's performance showed just how well Liriano has mastered the St. Louis lineup, the victory earning the Pirates a tie with St. Louis in the NL Central, the two teams having identical, 78-56 records.

Garrett Jones accounted for four of the five Pirate runs, doubling in two in the opening inning, socking a solo homer in the fourth and driving in the final Pittsburgh run with a single in the fifth, going 3-for-4 with four RBI.

The two teams will undo the knot atop the division when they meet for game two of the three-game series at 7:05 pm Saturday night in Pittsburgh.

Today's Trivia: True or False: Johnny Bench never led the National League in home runs for a single season. (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Mike Schmidt led the National League in home runs eight times from 1974 through 1986.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Torii Hunter's Three-Run Blast Lifts Tigers over A's; Danile Murphy Goes 4-for-5 as Mets Crush Phillies, 11-3

Players of the Day for Thursday, August 29, 2013

American League

Torii Hunter
The Detroit Tigers just barely kept themselves from being swept at home by the A's, when Torii Hunter lifted a Grant Balfour offering into the left center field stands, giving the Tigers a 6-7 win in the finale of the four-game series.

Hunter who watched from the bench most of the game, came on as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning and remained in the game, replacing Andy Dirks in right field. Detroit erased a 6-1 deficit with a pair of runs in the sixth and four in the ninth, capped by Hunter's walk-off, game-winner.

Victor Martinez drove in the first run of the final frame, singling home Austin Jackson. Hunter was the Tigers' last chance, coming to the plate with two on and two out. It was his 16th home run of the season, helping to increase Detroit's lead over the Indians in the AL Central to 6 1/2 games, as the Indians fell prey to the Braves, 3-1.

Oakland fell three games behind idle Texas in the West division, but still hold the second wild card spot. They are 1/2 game behind Tampa Bay in the wild card standings and lead Baltimore by 3 1/2 for the final playoff spot.

The A's return to Oakland to open a three-game series with the Rays on Friday. Happy to see the A's depart, the Tigers host a three-game series with second place Cleveland, starting Friday night at 7:08 pm EDT.

National League

Daniel Murphy
Not that it matters much in the larger scheme of things, but the NY Mets regained a tie for third place in the NL East with the Phillies, downing their neighbors to the South with an 11-3 beating, finishing their four-game series with a 2-2 tie in games.

Mets' second baseman, Daniel Murphy, went 4-for-5, with a double three singles a stolen base, two RBI and a run scored, as the Mets banged out 11 hits, nine of them shared by the 1-2-3 hitters in the lineup.

While both teams are technically 20 1/2 games behind the Braves in the division, the Phillies have a slight percentage advantage, at 61-73, though the Mets have one fewer loss. Their record is 60-72.

On Friday, both teams open three-game series on the road. The mets are at Washington, while the Phillies travel to Chicago to take on the Cubs.

Today's Trivia: Babe Ruth lead the AL in home runs a record 12 times. Who won the most home run titles in the National League? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: In 1927, Babe Ruth led the majors with 60 home runs and teammate Lou Gehrig mashed 52 doubles, also tops in the majors.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A's Thump Tigers, 14-4, as Brandon Moss Homers Twice; Jay Bruce Drives in Five as Reds Dismantle Cardinals, 10-0

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 28, 2013

American League

Moss: 2HR, 6RBI
It's not even September, yet the Detroit Tigers may already be thinking about the playoffs and what might happen to them if they run into the Oakland A's.

The A's took their third straight in Detroit, hammering four pitchers for 21 hits, drilling the Tigers, 14-4, and generally putting a scare into the AL Central leaders.

Brandon Moss led the hit parade, going 4-for-5 with six RBI and three runs. Moss, singled, doubled, belted a two-run homer in the sixth inning and finished off his night with a three-run blast in the eighth. Moss, who is about as close as any A's player to superstar status, has 24 home runs on the year, with 66 RBI.

Oakland never trailed, scoring three runs in the second inning, four more in the fifth and three in the sixth, touching up Detroit starter, Doug Fisterfor 15 hits and seven earned runs. The 2-3-4-5 hitters in the A's lineup were a combined 12-for-19, with 10 runs and 10 RBI.

With the win, the A's remained 2 1/2 games behind Texas in the West, while the Tigers continued to lead the Central by 5 1/2 games over the Indians, 3-2 losers to Atlanta.

Game four of the series gets started at 1:08 pm EDT, the A's looking for the sweep.

National League

Bruce: 2-4, HR, 5RBI
After dropping the first two games of their series in St. Louis with the first-place Cardinals, the Cincinnati Reds were looking to salvage a win in game three. To do so, they'd have to beat Cardinal ace, Adam Wainwright.

The Reds not only beat Wainwright, they sent him back to the clubhouse after only two innings, ripping him for eight hits and nine runs en route to a 10-0 blowout.

Jay Bruce was Wainwright's main antagonist, driving in the first two runs for the Reds with a single in the first and sending the Cardinal hurler to an early exit with a three-run bomb in the second inning.

With the huge, 9-0 lead, Reds' starter, Homer Bailey (9-10), cruised through 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball, allowing just five hits and two walks while fanning seven. Chris Heisey finished the scoring for the Reds with a solo homer in the ninth.

The result left the Cardinals with a slim 1/2 game lead over Pittsburgh in the division, with the Reds 3 1/2 games back. While it would be nice, Cincinnati has the luxury of not needing to worry about winning the division, as they are currently six games clear of Arizona for the second wild card spot.

The Reds head next to Colorado, where they open a three-game series with the Rockies on Friday. St. Louis also gets Thursday off, as they travel to Pittsburgh for a critical three-game series with the Pirates.

Today's Trivia: Baltimore's Chris Davis and Manny Machado currently lead the majors in home runs and doubles, respectively. Who were the last two teammates to lead the majors in those categories and in what year did they do it? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: The Pittsburgh Pirates won the 1971 World Series, beating the Orioles, four games to three.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Shane Victorino Drives in Seven as Red Sox Rout O's, 13-2; Mets' Jon Niese Stops Phillies on 3-Hit Shutout

Players of the Day for Tuesday, August 27, 2013

American League

The reasons for Boston's success this season are plentiful, but three of them are right at the top of their lineup, in Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia. These three accounted for nine of the 14 Red Sox hits - three apiece - in their 13-2 thrashing of the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday night at Fenway Park.

Victorino: 3HR, 7RBI
Victorino had by far the most productive night, going 3-for-3 with a pair of home runs and seven RBI, scoring four times. Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the third, Victorino put Boston up 3-2 with his first belt over the Green Monster in left. In the fourth, he was hit by a pitch and came around to score as the Red Sox plated five. In the fifth, Victorino blasted a three-run shot over the wall, and finished off his night with a two-run double in the seventh inning.

The win pushed the Red Sox lead over Tampa Bay to 2 1/2 games in the AL East, dropping the Orioles 6 1/2 off the pace. Tampa Bay lost to the Angels, 6-5. The Yankees continue to hang on in fourth place, topping the Blue Jays, 7-1, though they remain 7 1/2 behind the Red Sox.

Boston will try to make it two straight over the Orioles when the two teams meet at 7:00 pm EDT Wednesday night.

National League

Niese: 3-Hitter
Though the Mets and Phillies are completely out of contention for any post-season spoils, they still have to play the games and the Mets came through with a 5-0 win off the arm of starter Jon Neise, tying the Phillies for third place in the NL East, albeit 19 1/2 games behind the runaway Braves.

Niese improved to 6-6, hurling a three-hit shutout, covering the nine innings with 115 pitches, walking one while striking out five. Niese gave up two hits to the first four batters he faced, but after Michael Young led off the second inning with a single, the 6'4" lefty was virtually untouchable, getting 18 straight outs before Young doubled to lead off the eighth inning.

That didn't faze Niese in the least, setting the side down in order, and getting the first two outs in the ninth before issuing his only walk of the game, to Jimmy Rollins. Chase Utley flied out to center to finish the game.

It was Niese's first complete game shutout of the season and the second in his fourth year as a full-time starter for the Mets, evening the four game series at one apiece. Game three is scheduled for 7:10 pm Wednesday night at Citi Field in New York.

Today's Trivia: After Baltimore's fabulous 1971 season, who beat them, four games to three, in the World Series? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: The four Baltimore hurlers on the 1971 AL championship team who were 20-game winners were Mike Cuellar (20-9), Pat Dobson (20-8), Dave McNally (21-5) and Jim Palmer (20-9). Between them they threw 70 complete games and 12 shutouts.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Billy Butler Leads Royals in 11-1 Rout of Rays; Allen Craig's Grand Slam Lifts Cardinals over Reds, 8-6

Players of the Day for Monday, August 26, 2013

American League

On what would have normally been a day off, the Tampa Bay Rays instead flew out to Kansas City to make up a May snow-out on Monday.

Billy Butler
Following the resulting 11-1 rout by the Royals, and, dropping 1 1/2 behind the idle Red Sox, the Rays probably wish it had snowed in August as well.

The Royals pounded Tampa starter, Jeremy Hellickson, for seven hits and five earned runs in just 2 2/3rd innings, then scored six more runs off a pair of Tampa bay relievers.

Leading the 13-hit assault was Billy Butler, who singled twice and homered in three at-bats, driving in three runs and scoring three times.

The game left the Royals 10 1/2 games behind the Tigers, in third place in the Central division. At 66-64, the Royals are having their best year in a long time, but still are looking up at five teams ahead of them in the hunt for two wild card positions with the number of games remaining dwindling quickly.

With the make-up game out of the way, the Royals head to Minnesota for a three-game series with the Twins. At the top of the wild card heap, the Rays return to Tropicana Field for three games with the Angels. Both series start Tuesday night.

National League

Allen Craig
Allen Craig's first career grand slam capped a five-run seventh inning that propelled the St. Louis Cardinals to an 8-6 win over the Cincinnati Reds in the opener of a three-game series in St. Louis.

Trailing 5-3 entering the frame, the Cardinals put runners on second and third with one out off Reds' starter, Mike Leake and then loaded the bases when reliever Manny Parra walked Matt Carpenter. Jon Jay grounded out to first, pushing across the first run of the inning. J.J. Hoover relieved Parra, walking Matt Holliday to re-load the bases, setting up Craig's opposite-field blast into the right field seats.

The Reds retaliated with a solo shot by Jay Bruce in the eighth, but could get no closer. Edward Mujica slammed the door shut, setting the Reds down in order in the ninth for his 35th save.

Craig also had a single and double in his for at-bats, his four RBI giving him 95 on the year, tying him with Brandon Phillips for second place in that department. Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt leads the league with 103.

The win gave St. Louis sole possession of first place in the NL Central, 1/2 game better than the idle Pirates. Game two of the series with the Reds begins at 8:15 pm EDT on Tuesday.

Today's Trivia: Who were the four Baltimore pitchers who each won 20 games in the 1971 season? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: The pitcher who went 26-9 with 30 complete games (no, that's not a typo) was Juan Marichal of the San Francisco Giants. Despite his stellar season, Marichal did not receive the NL Cy Young award. That went to St; Louis hurler, Bob Gibson, who, like Denny McLain in the AL, was also the league's MVP.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Tigers Sweep Mets, Cabrera Hits 42nd Homer; Giants' Ryan Vogelsong Humbles Pirates, 4-0

Players of the Day for Sunday, August 25, 2013

American League

Miguel Cabrera
If it wasn't for Baltimore's Chris Davis, Miguel Cabrera would be cruising toward his second straight triple crown, unprecedented in major league baseball history.

He may do it despite the outstanding season Davis is having.

The Tigers completed their three-game sweep of the Mets, thumping their hosts, 11-3, banging out 18 hits against six sore-armed Mets' hurlers. Cabrera has three of those hits, including his 42nd home run of the season, a first-inning, two-run job, and added a pair of singles in a 3-for-4 effort.

Detroit has the best record in the league, which, if they continue to hold that distinction through the end of the season, would give them home field advantage for the duration of the playoffs. Meanwhile, Cabrera leads the league with a .360 average, 128 RBI and is second to Davis with 42 home runs. Davis has 46.

The Tigers lead the Indians by six games in the Central division, and return to Detroit Monday to open a seven game home stand - four against the A's, beginning Monday at 7:08 pm, followed by three games with Cleveland, which will be the final regular season meeting of the Central's two top teams.

National League

Ryan Vogelsong
With St. Louis losing the finale of their series against Atlanta, 5-2, the Pittsburgh Pirates had the opportunity to break their first-place tie with the Cardinals in the Central division, but found Ryan Vogelsong and the San Francisco Giants too good on Sunday.

Vogelsong (3-4) allowed just two hits over eight innings as the Giants downed the Pirates, 5-2, whiffing five while issuing one walk. The Giants scored a run in the third and three more in the eighth inning, all off Pittsburgh starter, A.J. Burnett.

Lifted for a reliever after eight innings, the outing for Vogelsong was his best since returning from the DL in early August, resulting in his first win in four starts. He had been sidelined since late May.

The Giants and Pirates split the series, two games apiece. San Francisco is completely out of the playoff picture, but the Pirates return to Pittsburgh for a six-game home stand, with three each against Milwaukee - starting Tuesday at 7:05 pm - and St. Louis, coming in on Friday.

Today's Trivia: Again in 1968, McLain won the AL Cy Young award. In the National League, which pitcher was 26-9, threw 30 complete games, led the league in innings pitched and did NOT win the NL Cy Young award? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Philadelphia's Steve Carlton had 27 wins in 1972; as did Oakland's Bob Welch in 1990.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Max Scherzer Throttles Mets in 3-0 Tiger Win; Carlos Beltran, Shelby Miller Lead Cardinals to 1st Place in Central with 6-2 Win over Braves

Players of the Day for Saturday, August 24, 2013

American League

If there's any debate about who should receive the AL Cy Young award this season, Max Scherzer did a pretty good job of making his case in Detroit's 3-0 victory over the Mets on Saturday.
Scherzer: 19-1

Scherzer improved to 19-1, going six innings without surrendering a run, walking four, but fanning 11.

Having to work exceptionally hard for the win, Scherzer threw 118 pitches (76 for strikes) but also doubled in the first run for the Tigers in the second inning, his first RBI since 2009.

After Ike Davis singled to lead off the second for the Mets, Scherzer struck out the next three batters to end the inning, then fanned four of the next five, prior to walking Davis with two outs in the fourth, recording eight straight outs, seven of them via the K.

Scherzer allowed just three hits before turning the ball over to a trio of Tiger relievers, who set the Mets down in order through the final three innings.

As for the Cy Young talk, Scherzer's 19 wins are five better than any other pitcher in the league, he's struck out 198 batters, second in the league, and his 2.73 ERA is fifth-best in the AL. With the Tigers leading the AL Central by six games with just 33 games left in the regular season, Scherzer may get five, maybe six starts and is likely to be the only pitcher in the majors to win 20 games this year. Adam Wainwright and Jordan Zimmrmann - both National Leaguers - have 15.

Scherzer's last defeat was a 7-1 loss to Texas, on July 13. He's since won six of his seven starts.

The Tigers and Mets wrap up their three-game series in New York at 1:10 pm EDT Sunday. Detroit leads, two games to none.

National League

Shelby Miller
Carlos Beltran belted his 23rd home run of the season and Shelby Miller allowed just one earned run over seven innings, as the Cardinals tied the Pirates for first place in the NL Central with a 6-2 win over NL East-leading Atlanta.

Carlos Beltran
Freddie Freeman touched off a long ball in the first inning off Miller, but Matt Carpenter quickly tied the game, leading off the bottom of the first with one of his own. After Freeman's bomb, Miller was virtually untouchable, the rookie allowing just two more hits before heading for the showers after seven, walking none while fanning six for his 12th win against eight losses.

Beltran's homer came in the third and gave the Cards the lead for good. The Cardinals tallied three more in the seventh and Beltran delivered another run with the second of two singles in the eighth, finishing the day 3-for-5 with a .311 average on a six-game hitting streak.

Later in the evening, Pittsburgh dropped a 6-3 decision in San Francisco, dropping them into a tie with the Cardinals, who have taken three straight from the Braves.

St. Louis will be looking for the sweep when they face the Braves on Sunday at 2:15 pm at Busch Stadium.

Today's Trivia: Since Denny McLain won 31 games in 1968, what pitcher had the most wins in a single season? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Don Mattingly led the AL in total bases in 1985 with 370, and again in 1986, with 388.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rays Top Yankees on Jose Lobaton's HR, 4 RBI; Rickey Nolasco Blanks Red Sox for 2-0 Win

Players of the Day for Friday, August 23, 2013

American League

With the Red Sox being shut out by the Dodgers in LA, 2-0, Tampa Bay's 7-2 victory over Hiroki Kuroda and the NY Yankees put the Rays back into a tie for first place in the AL EAst with Boston, sending the Yankees six games back.

Jose Lobaton
Kuroda, a Yankee stalwart all season, was rocked for nine hits and seven runs over six innings of work, the big blow coming in the second inning when Tampa catcher, Jose Lobaton, unleashed a three-run homer, his sixth of the year, erasing a 1-0 Yankee lead.

The Rays added two more in the third on back-to-back bombs from Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce, and single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, with Lobaton chipping in again with a fourth-inning RBI single, giving him four ribbies in a 2-for-3 night at the plate.

After suffering a six-game losing streak ending on August 13, the Rays have gotten their fire back, winning seven of their last nine, including two of three at Baltimore. The Orioles currently occupy third place, 4 1/2 games back.

The Yankees will try to even the series Saturday night in game two, starting at 7:10 pm EDT at Tropicana Field.

National League

Nolasco: 8IP, 2H, 0ER
Streaking toward the NL West title, the LA Dodgers are finding ways to win, even when the bats aren't banging out the hits. In the opener of their three-game series with the visiting Red Sox, LA managed only three hits over eight innings off Boston starter, John Lackey, but one of those hits was a two-run homer from Hanley Ramirez, who, since returning from the DL in June, has energized the team.

The two-run stroke in the fourth by Ramirez was all Ricky Nolasco needed to blank the Sox over eight innings, giving them just two hits for the 2-0 win.

Nolasco didn't walk a batter and struck out six. After a double play ended the fifth, Nolasco set down the final nine batters he faced, then turned the ball over to closer Kenley Jansen, who fanned two of three in a perfect ninth inning for his 22nd save.

Since joining the Dodgers mid-season, Nolasco (10-9) is 5-1 with a 2.53 ERA.

LA leads the NL West by 10 1/2 games over Arizona. Game two of their series with Boston starts at 4:05 EDT Saturday.

Today's Trivia: Playing for the Cincinnati Reds, Dave Parker led the NL in total bases in 1985 and 1986. Who led the AL in total bases those two years? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Lou Brock had 3023 hits in his MLB career, Rickey Henderson, 3055. Barry Bonds fell short of 3000, with 2935 hits.

Friday, August 23, 2013

White Sox Sweep Royals on Conor Gillaspie's 12th-Inning Homer; Jose Tabata Leads Pittsburgh Over San Francisco

Players of the Day for Thursday, August 22, 2013

American League

Conor Gillaspie
When it's late August, you're the home team, and you're playing the last-place team in your division while you are in the heat of a pennant race, the thing not to do is get swept in a three-game series, but, that's exactly what the kansas City Royals did, losing their third straight - and fifth straight overall - to the White Sox.

The 4-3, 12-inning final was capped off in the top of the last inning, when Conor Gillaspie, the White Sox's rookie third baseman, socked his 12th home run of the season, a solo shot that landed in the seats beyond right field in Kauffman Stadium.

In the seventh inning, Gillaspie singled and scored the tying run. He was 2-for-5 for the game.

The Royals failed to score in the bottom of the 12th. A thumbs up to the six Chicago relievers who held the Royals scoreless on two hits over the final five innings.

The Royals are 9 1/2 out in the AL Central and seven back of Oakland for the second wild card spot. The 52-74 White Sox have won six straight.

National League

Jose Tabata
Opening a four-game series with the Giants in San Francisco, with a 10-5 victory, the Pittsburgh Pirates continued to cling to their slim lead over the relentless Cardinals and Reds.

Jose Tabata led the Pirates with a 3-for-4 effort, scoring twice and driving in three runs with two singles and a double from his leadoff position in the order.

Tabata got things started for Pittsbugh with a first-inning single, scoring on Andrew McCutchen's single later in the inning. Pittsburgh scored two more in the second off solo home runs by Garrett Jones and Jordy Mercer, but the Giants tied the game at 3-3 with a run in the third and two more in the fourth.

Pittsburgh put the game away in the fifth, when they sent 11 men to the plate and scored seven runs. Tabata led off the inning at first base after being plunked by Giants' hurler, Guillermo Moscoso, scoring the first run of the inning and driving in the last two with a two-out double.

Pittsburgh maintained their one-game lead over St. Louis and the 2 1/2 game bulge over the Reds, both winners on Thursday.

The Giants host the Pirates in game two of the series, Friday night at 7:15 PDT.

Today's Trivia: Which of these three players did NOT reach 3000 hits in his career: Lou Brock, Rickey Henderson or Barry Bonds? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Hank Aaron is third all-time in hits, with 3771, behind Ty Cobb (4189) and Pete Rose (4256).

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Reeling Royals Downed by Dayan Viciedo Slam in White Sox Win; Ichiro Gets 4,000th Hit; Shin-Soo Choo Leads Reds Rout of Arizona

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 21, 2013

American League

Dayan Viciedo
Now is not the time for a contending team to go into a funk, but it seems that is just what is happening to the Kansas City Royals, who have hung around the upper echelons of the AL most of the year, but have now lost four straight, dropping 6 1/2 games back from the second wild card.

That wild card slot is held currently by Oakland, Tampa Bay in control of the first wild card, 1 1/2 better than the A's. In front of the Royals are the Indians, Orioles and Yankees, so, it's going to be an uphill battle.

The latest loss for Kansas City came against the lowly White Sox, who have the worst record in the AL Central division. Chicago has taken the first two games of the three-game series in KC, winning Wednesday's event by a 5-2 score, fueled mainly by a grand slam homer by Dayan Viciedo. The blast came in the fifth inning, when the Sox scored all five of their runs.

Viciedo's homer was his 11th on the year. He also singled twice, going 3-for-4 on the night.

Kansas City and Chicago wrap up their series with the White Sox seeking the sweep, Thursday night at 8:10 pm EDT.

NOTABLE: "Omedetou" to Ichiro Suzuki, who had his 4,000th hit as a professional ball player with a single in the first inning off Toronto starter, R.A. Dickey. Ichiro had previously been 0-for-10 against Dickey. Pete Rose, with 4,256 hits, and Ty Cobb, with 4,191, are the only two players that have reached 4,000 hits in the major leagues. With the single, Suzuki broke a tie with Lou Gehrig for 59th all-time, his his 2,722nd major league hit coming in his 13th season. The speedy outfielder amassed 1,278 hits in Japan's Pacific League, where he played nine seasons with Orix.

National League

Shin-Soo Choo
En route to a 10-7 win over Arizona, the Reds built an 8-0 lead through the first four innings, powered by leadoff hitter, Shin-Soo Choo, who led off the game with his 16th homer of the season and proceeded to go 4-for-5, adding two singles and a double, scoring three runs and driving in three.

Choo is batting .281 on the year, with 83 runs, third in the league behind teammate Joey Votto (84) and league leader Matt Carpenter (92) of the Cardinals.

Cincinnati starter Mike Leake took the win (11-5), cruising through the first four innings, but was tagged for four runs in the fifth.

The Reds took a 2-1 lead in the four-game series with the Diamondbacks and have a secure hold on the second wild card position, six games ahead of Arizona. Cincinnati is still in the midst of the best race in the majors, trailing the Pirates by 2 1/2 games. St. Louis is in second place, a single game behind Pittsburgh.

Arizona closes out their series in Cincinnati, Thursday afternoon. Game time is 12:35 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: With Ichiro reaching the career 4,000 milestone, which player was next-closest to that mark, Hank Aaron, Tris Speaker or Honus Wagner? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Willie Mays and Hank Aaron each led the National League in home runs four times. The two dominated from 1962 through 1967, each leading the league three times. In 1963, Aaron tied with Mays' teammate, Willie McCovey, each hitting 44 homers.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Robinson Cano, Jayson Nix Power Yankees to DH Win over Blue Jays; Patrick Corbin, Paul Goldschmidt Lead Arizona's 5-2 Win at Cincinnati

Players of the Day for Tuesday, August 20, 2013

American League

Robinson Cano
Jayson Nix
The Yankees have gotten hot at an opportune time, taking a double-header from the Blue Jays on Tuesday to creep to within 6 1/2 games of the new leader in the AL East, Tampa Bay.

Robinson Cano has been a mainstay for the Yanks, one of the few regulars that hasn't missed time due to injury, and he was the catalyst for the 8-4 win the afternoon contest, going 4-for-4 with his 200th career homer, his 23rd of the year, a three-run, third inning blast. He also singled twice and doubled in a run in the seventh inning. Cano is hitting .307, seventh in the AL, with 81 RBI, also seventh in the league.

Cano also went 2-for-4 in the nightcap, driving in the Yankees' first run with a single in the third inning, but game two turned into a personal highlight reel for Jayson Nix, filling in at shortstop for the injured Derek Jeter. Nix tied the score at 2-2 with a solo homer in the seventh, then delivered the game-winner in the bottom of the ninth, singling home Ichiro Suzuki for the 3-2, walk-off win.

The Yankees resume their four-game series with the Jays on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm EDT.

National League

Patrick Corbin
Right now, the Arizona Cardinals are on the outside looking in, trailing the Dodgers by 7 1/2 games in the NL West and five games behind the Reds for the second wild card spot, but they are still in contention with the month of September coming up fast.

In Tuesday's 5-2 win at Cincinnati, Patrick Corbin handled all the mound requirements, going the distance for his second complete game of the season, fanning ten without issuing a walk.

Paul Goldschmidt
Corbin didn't allow a run until the eighth inning, after Paul Goldschmidt's grand slam put the Diamondbacks up, 5-0. Chris Heisey socked a two-run homer off Corbin in the bottom of the frame, but that was all the Reds could muster as Corbin held them to six hits.

Making a quiet case for the Cy Young award in just his second season, Corbin has a 13-3 record with a 2.45 ERA and 150 strikeouts, all those figures among the leaders in the National League, tied for fourth in wins, fourth in ERA and 16th in strikeouts.

Goldschmidt tied the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez at 31 home runs, extending his RBI lead to eight over Brandon Phillips, the four ribbies giving him an even 100 on the year.

The four-game series is tied at 1-1, with game three scheduled for 7:10 pm EDT at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

Today's Trivia: Who led the National League in home runs more times, Hank Aaron or Willie Mays? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: While Mickey Mantle led the AL in home runs four times, Harmon Killebrew did it six times, leading three in a row from 1962-64 and tying for the league lead twice, in 1959 (Rocky Colavito, 42) and in 1967 (Carl Yazstremski, 44). Killebrew won it for his final time in 1969, when he belted 49.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rangers Hammer Astros, 16-5, AJ Pierzynski 4-for-5; Nate Schierholtz Homers Twice as Cubs Skewer Nationals, 11-1

Players of the Day for Monday, August 19, 2013

American League

A.J. Pierzynski
Texas retained its slim 1/2 game lead over the A's in the NL West, pounding the helpless Astros, 16-5.

Texas catcher, A.J. Pierzynski, drove in four runs and scored twice, going 4-for-5 with a double, home run and a pair of singles.

The Rangers blew the game open early, scoring 11 runs in the third inning in the opener of the three-game series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.

Game two gets underway Tuesday at 8:05 pm EDT.

National League

Who better to put an end to the disastrous season for the Washington Nationals than the Chicago Cubs?

Schierholtz:
3-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI
The perennial NL Central laggards ripped the Nats, 11-1, to open a three-game series at Wrigley Field, hounding Washington starter, Jordan Zimmermann for seven hits and eight earned runs over five innings.

Nate Schierholtz led the assault with a three-run, first-inning homer, a run-scoring double in the third and a two-run blast in the seventh inning, totaling six RBI in a 3-for-4 performance.

With Milwaukee's 8-5 loss to the Cardinals, the Cubs are 1/2 game out of last place in the Central, while the Nationals - although technically still in second place in the NL East - are 16 games behind the runaway Braves, 24-35 on the road with just 38 games left on the 2013 slate.

Maybe they should have let Steven Strasburg pitch down the stretch and in the playoffs last season. Teams don't make it into the post-season every year. Roster micro-management is rarely forgiven.

Today's Trivia: who led the American League in home runs more times, Harmon Killebrew or Mickey Mantle? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: While Roger Clemens led the AL in Ks five times, the Big Unit, Randy Johnson led the AL four straight years (1992-1995) with Boston and did the same in the NL with Arizona from 1999-2002, leading the league in strikeouts for his ninth and final time with the Diamondbacks in 2004. His best year was 2001, when Johnson fanned 372 batters, the most in the NL since Sandy Koufax whiffed 382 in 1965.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Homer Bailey Shuts Down Brewers as Reds Roll, 9-1; Chris Davis Belts #45, Goes 4-for-5 in Oriole Victory

Players of the Day for Sunday, August 18, 2013

American League

Chris Davis
It wasn't until just after midnight Sunday that the Boston Red Sox fell to the Yankees, 9-6, but earlier in the day, the Orioles had topped the Rockies, 7-2, the net result a full game pick-up in the standings for Baltimore, still in third place, 4 1/2 games behind front-running Boston.

Chris Davis had another MVP-like game, going 4-for-5 with two singles, a double, his 45th home run of the season, three runs and two RBI, staying five ahead of Detroit Miguel Cabrera in home runs and five behind him in RBI, at 115.

The Orioles wrapped up their home series, winning two games to one, and prepare for their crucial series with second place Tampa, starting Monday at 7:05 pm EDT in Baltimore.

National League

Homer Bailey
Cincinnati is making some serious noise in the NL Central division, winning nine of their last 12 to pull to within 2 1/2 games of division leading Pittsburgh, their latest triumph a 9-1 stomping of the Brewers to complete their four-game series in Milwaukee with a 2-2 split.

Reds' starter, Homer Bailey, was in top form, allowing three hits over eight innings of work, walking one and striking out eight, the Brewers only run coming on a solo homer in the fifth off the bat of left fielder Khris Davis.

The win was the third straight for Bailey, from four starts, throwing 82 of 118 pitches for strikes, improving his record to 8-10.

Heading back home, the Reds open a four game series with Arizona starting Monday night at 7:10 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: Who lead their league in strikeouts more times, Randy Johnson or Roger Clemens? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Babe Ruth set the mark for most total bases in a season at 457 in 1921.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Clayton Kershaw Throws Eight Scoreless as Dodgers Win 10th Straight; Miguel Cabrera Downs KC with Walk-Off HR in Detroit Victory

Players of the Day for Saturday, August 17, 2013

American League

Miguel Cabrera made all the difference in Detroit's 6-5 win over the Royals on Saturday with a walk-off homer leading off the bottom of the ninth.

Miguel Cabrera
After dropping both ends of a double-header to Kansas City on Friday, the Tigers needed a lift, and it was provided by the game's biggest star.

Cabrera rocked an offering from Royal reliever, Aaron Crow, into the right field stands, his 39th on the year producing his 117th RBI. In the fourth inning, Cabrera drove in a go-ahead run with a double. He finished 2-for-5 with two RBI. Cabrera is second in the league in homers to Baltimore's Chris Davis (44) and leads the league in batting average (.361) and RBI.

Detroit's win kept them six games up on second place Cleveland, 7-1 winners at Oakland, and left KC 7 1/2 off the pace in third.

The finale of the five-game series - now tied at two games apiece - concludes Sunday at 1:08 pm EDT at Comerica Park in the Motor City.

National League

Clayton Kershaw
It's beginning to get a bit hopeless for the rest of the teams in the NL West, as the Dodgers won their 10th in a row, topping the Phillies, 4-0, as Clayton Kershaw blanked the home team over eight innings en route to his 12th win against seven losses.

Kershaw scattered three hits over his eight frames on the mound, striking out eight while walking only one. The Dodger ace threw 71 of 100 pitches for strikes and got first-pitch strikes over on 20 of the 27 batters he faced. Kershaw lowered his ERA to 1.80, lowest in the major leagues.

Brandon League came in to mop up in the ninth in the non-save situation, retiring the Phillies in order to end the game.

The Dodgers lead Arizona by 8 1/2 games with the rest of the division completely out of contention. The Diamondbacks are the only team within hailing distance of LA, and even that's a long shot with just 40 games remaining.

LA tied a major league record by going 42-8 over their last 50 games, tying the record set by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1942. A win over the Phillies on Sunday would set a new major league mark for any 50-game stretch.

The Dodgers will go for the sweep - and the record - when they face the Phillies in the three-game series finale, Saturday at 1:35 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: The record for total bases in a single season is an impressive 457. Who holds that mark? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: In 2001, Juan Pierre led the NL by being caught stealing 17 times for the Colorado Rockies. Pierre would lead the league in the same category in 2003, 2004 and 2005 with the Florida marlins, in 2006 with the Cubs and lead the AL in 20010 and 2001 with the White Sox.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Eric Hosmer's Two Homers Lead Royals to DH Sweep of Tigers; Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence Power Giants to 14-10 Win over Marlins

Players of the Day for Friday, August 16, 2013

American League

Eric Hosmer
Combine exceptional pitching with a couple of home runs from Eric Hosmer and you get a double-header sweep of the Detroit Tigers by the unflappable Kansas City Royals.

Hosmer's solo rome run in the fourth inning of game one staked KC starter, Danny Duffy, to an early lead in his duel with Detroit's Justin Verlander. Duffy, a third year pro recalled this week from AAA affiliate Omaha, allowed just one hit over six innings to pick up his first win of the 2013 campaign.

Verlander gave up another run in the seventh that proved the game-winner. Ramon Santiago socked a pinch-hit home run off Royal reliever Aaron Crow to cut the lead in half, but closer Greg Holland slammed the door on the Tigers in the ninth for his 33rd save and a 2-1 Royals win.

In the nightcap, Hosmer homered early again, this time in the third inning, launching a two-run homer into the right field stands of Comerica Park in support of James Shields' seven innings of shutout ball. Shields allowed three hits, walked four and fanned one, evening his record at 8-8 as the Royals produced a 3-0 victory and a double-header sweep of first place Detroit.

The twin killing left the Royals 6 1/2 games back, in third place in the AL Central, just 1/2 game behind second place Cleveland. The Royals lead the five-game series, two games to one, with the next meeting slated for Saturday evening at 7:08 pn EDT.

National League

Hunter Pence
Brandon Belt
With both teams scraping the bottom of their respective divisions, there isn't much happening for either the Giants or the Marlins, so what better way to pass through a Friday night's contest than by bruising a few pitcher's egos.

The two teams combined for 35 hits and 24 runs as the Giants prevailed at Marlins Park by a 14-10 margin.

Pablo Sandoval went 4-for-4, Brandon Belt singled twice, doubled, tripled, scored four times and drove in a run, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. Hunter Pence went 3-for-6 with two doubles and a triple, scoring three times and driving in five.

The Giants (54-67) are 1/2 game out of last place in the NL West, while the 46-74 Marlins have the worst record in the league and have last place in the NL East virtually wrapped up.

The two teams will slug out game two of their three-game series Saturday night, starting at 7:10 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: Some guys just out to go straight. Which player led his league seven different times, for four different teams - from 2001 to 2011 - in being caught stealing? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: While Babe Ruth hit more homers than teammate Lou Gehrig, Gehrig was the leader in doubles, amassing 534 to the Bambino's 508.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sonny Gray, Nate Freiman Lead A's Past Astros, 5-0; Matt Carpenter 4-for-5 as Cardinals Top Pirates in 12, 6-5

Players of the Day for Thursday, August 15, 2013

American League

Gray: 1st MLB Win
By no means are the A's going to allow Texas to run away from them in the AL West.
Nate Freiman

Sonny Gray threw eight scoreless innings to earn his first major league win and Nate Freiman went 4-for-4 at the plate as the A's topped the Astros, 5-0, cutting the Rangers' lead in the division to 1 1/2 games.

Gray (1-1) fanned nine, walked one and allowed just four hits, handing the ball over to reliever Dan Otero after throwing 118 pitches. Otero had an eventful ninth, giving up a hit and walking a batter, but allowed no runs.

Freiman doubled home a pair of runs in the first and stroked a two-run homer in the third inning, staking Gray to a healthy lead. He added a pair of singles later in the game and finished with four of the A's five RBI.

The A's win avoided a sweep by the Astros in the three-game series. Oakland 's home stand continues on Friday when they host the Cleveland Indians at 7:10 pm PDT.

National League

Matt Carpenter went 4-for-5 and scored the game winner when matt Holliday singled to center in the bottom of the 12th as the Cardinals won the finale of their series with Pittsburgh, 6-5.

Matt Carpenter
St. Louis won two of three at home to cut Pittsburgh's lead in the NL Central to two games. Cincinnati won their fifth straight, beating Milwaukee, 2-1, drawing to within 2 1/2 of the division lead.

Carpenter doubled, tripled, singled twice, scored two runs and drove in one, raising his batting average to .315, fifth-best in the National League.

St. Louis travels to Chicago to open a three-game series with the Cubs on Friday; the Pirates, losers of five of their last six, look to right the ship when they host the Diamondbacks for three games, beginning Friday.

Today's Trivia: In their legendary careers, who hit more doubles, Babe Ruth or Lou Gerhig? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: The NL single-season stolen base leader from 2005 through 2007 was Jose Reyes.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Alfonso Soriano Drives in Seven as Yankees Crush Angels; Pirates Down Cardinals on Francisco Liriano's Complete Game

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 14, 2013

American League

Soriano: 2HR, 7RBI
The Yankees have been hampered by injuries this season, but to say that Jared Weaver and the LA Angels are having a rough year would be putting it lightly.

Weaver (6-7, 3.49) and the Angels were blown out by the Yankees, 11-3, as Alfonso Soriano and his teammates torched the LA starter for eight runs in the first two innings.

Soriano was 3-for-3, with two homers a double and seven RBI. After a first inning grand slam put the Yankees up 4-0, Soriano doubled in a pair of runs in the second inning as the Yanks plated four more. In the fifth, Soriano launched a solo shot for RBI number seven and in the seventh, the Angels wisely walked him, though he did come around to score on Chris Stewart's double.

The win was the fourth straight for the Yankees and third straight over the visiting Angels, now 16 games behind Texas in the AL West and hopelessly out of playoff contention. New York will try to finish off the series sweep Thursday at 1:05 pm EDT at Yankee Stadium.

National League

Liriano: CG, 4H, 1ER
After handing the Pirates their fourth straight loss and drawing to within two games of the NL Central leaders, the St. Louis Cardinals thought they might have Pittsburgh on the ropes before game two of their three-game series in the gateway city.

Enter Francisco Liriano to put an end to the speculation that the Pirates were about to fold.

With a complete game four-hitter, Liriano won for the eighth time in his last ten starts, sending the Pirates back to a three-game lead in the division with a crucial 5-1 road win.

Staked to an early 5-0 lead, Liriano throttled the Cardinals over the first eight innings, holding them scoreless until the ninth, when Carlos Beltran cashed in Matt Carpenter's double with a ground out to third for the lone St. Louis run of the game.

Otherwise, Liriano (13-5, 2.68) was in complete control, fanning six and walking one, needing just 94 pitches for the complete game win, his second of the season.

The Pirates and Cardinals will complete their three-game series Thursday afternoon at 1:45 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: Who led the National League in steals three straight years, from 2005 through 2007? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: KC's Dan Quisenberry led the AL in saves four straight years, from 1982 through 1985.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Yankees Trip Up Angels, 14-7 on Alfonso Soriano's Two Homers, Six RBI; Paul Goldschmidt's Two Homers Lead D'Backs over Orioles in 11

Players of the Day for Tuesday, August 13, 2013

American League

On a day which saw six games go into extra innings, the New York Yankees needed only 8 1/2 to tear up the LA Angels, 14-7, taking the second straight in the four-game series in the Big Apple.

Alfonso Soriano
Alfonso Soriano, picked up from the Cubs by the Yankees, just prior to the trading deadline, provided the bulk of the offense, smashing a pair of home runs and a single in six at-bats. Soriano's first homer came in the fifth inning, his two-run blast turning a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 Yankee advantage, one they would not relinquish, as they put up four runs in the sixth, four more in the seventh and two in the eighth.

Soriano singled in another run in the sixth and scored on Alex Rodriguez's double, then launched a three-run shot in the seventh to give the Yanks a commanding, 12-3 lead.

Adding some punch and variety to the injury-riddled Yankee lineup, Soriano has 10 RBI in eight games in pinstripes this season. He was originally brought up to the majors by the Yankees in 1999 and played full time for the Bombers from 2001 to 2003.

Trailing the Red Sox by 9 1/2 in the AL East, New York is also 5 1/2 behind Tampa Bay for the final wild card spot. The series with the Angels continues Wednesday night at 7:05 pm EDT in the Bronx.

National League

Paul Goldschmidt
It was home run derby in Arizona's 4-3, 11th-inning win over visiting Baltimore Tuesday, all of the runs save one coming off long balls.

Baltimore's Chris Davis belted his major league-leading 44th of the year in the fourth inning, to put Baltimore up 2-0. An inning later, J.J. Hardy made it 3-0 with his 22nd of the season.

Arizona didn't respond until the seventh, when Martin Prado got a run in on a ground-out and Gerardo Parra homered to cut the Orioles' lead to one.

After that, Paul Goldschmidt took over, making his case for NL MVP by hitting a solo homer leading off the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, then winning it in walk-off fashion with another solo belt leading off the 11th inning.

Goldschmidt earlier had a single to go 3-for-5 on the night, raising his average to .297. His two homers moved him past Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez to the NL lead, with 29 on the season. Goldschmidt also leads the league in RBI, with 93.

The Diamondbacks need every win they can muster as they try to run down the Dodgers in the West. LA leads them by 7 1/2 games. Arizona is also 5 1/2 behind Cincinnati for the second wild card slot. The Orioles have lost two straight and find themselves in thrid place in the AL East, six games behind Boston and two games behind Tampa Bay for the last wild card. The AL Wild Card race has six teams all within 5 1/2 games of each other, vying for two spots.

Arizona has taken two straight from the O's and will be seeking the series sweep at 3:40 pm EDT on Wednesday.

Today's Trivia: Who led the AL in saves each season from 1982 to 1985? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: The major league record of 1252 games by a pitcher is held by Jesse Orosco, who played 24 seasons on eight different teams. Eight of them were with the Mets and five with the Orioles.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rangers Win Eighth Straight on Yu Darvish One-Hitter; Dexter Fowler Leads Rockies in 14-2 Win over Padres

Players of the Day for Monday, August 12, 2013

American League

Holding onto their one-game lead in the AL West over Oakland, the Texas Rangers scored all of their runs in the first inning of their 2-1 win over Houston; starting pitcher, Yu Darvish, made sure those runs stood up.

Darvish: 1-hitter
Darvish (12-5), who leads the AL in strikeouts, didn't allow a hit until the eighth inning, when Carlos Corporan took him deep for Houston's only run. Unhittable until then, Darvish fanned 15 Astros, upping his total to 207, well ahead of Seattle's Felix Hernandez, who is second, with 178.

Perfect into the sixth inning, Darvish fanned the side in the first and fifth innings, but gave up a walk to Jonathan Villar with one out in the sixth, after striking out five in a row. Catcher A.J. Pierzynsky was ejected for arguing the call and replaced by Giovani Soto, who finished the game behind the plate.

After Corporan's one-out homer in the eighth, Darvish dispatched the next two batters to end the inning and his night, with a one-hitter, having thrown 115 pitches.

Joe Nathan came on to complete the win, getting the Astros in order in the ninth for his 35th save, tying him with Mariano Rivera for second in the league. Baltimore's Jim Johnson leads, with 39 saves.

Having completed the sweep at Houston, the Rangers return home for eight games, beginning Tuesday with a two-game set with the Brewers. Game one is set for an 8:05 pm EDT start. Texas has won 13 of their last 14 games.

National League

Dexter Fowler
Having one of the bumpiest seasons in their history, the Colorado Rockies certainly aren't short on hitting when they have a pitcher - or a whole staff - on the ropes, and that starts with their leadoff man, Dexter Fowler, who is having a solid season, despite Colorado being out of the NL West and wild card races.

In four at-bats in the Rockies' 14-2 Monday mauling of the Padres, Fowler rapped out three singles, driving in four runs and scoring twice as the Rockies pounded starter Edinson Volquez and a pair of relievers for 17 hits.

The Rockies are 56-64, good for third place in the NL West, where they trail the Dodgers by 13 games. They are nearly as distant in the wild card race, where St. Louis and Cincinnati seem to have a hammer-lock on the two wild card slots.

The win was the fourth straight for Colorado, but they've been uneven since the All Star break going 10-14 over that span.

Game two of their three-game series with the visiting Padres is set for 8:40 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: The career record for games (or appearances) by a pitcher is 1252. Who holds that mark? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: The AL single-season record for walks allowed is held by Bob Feller, who issued 208 bases on balls in 1938.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Martin Perez Pitches Texas past Houston, 6-1; Nationals' Stephen Strasburg Throws 1st Career Shutout

Players of the Day for Sunday, August 11, 2013

American League

Martin Perez
Texas took a one-game lead in the AL West on Saturday when they beat Houston, 5-4, and Toronto topped Oakland by the same score.

On Sunday, the Rangers kept their advantage, thanks to a complete game win from rookie starter, Martin Perez, who went the distance in a 6-1 win.

The victory was the first complete game of Perez's brief career. He threw 38 innings in 12 games in 2012, short of the 50 innings which would have used up his rookie status.

This season, he's filled in as needed, racking up a 5-3 record from 11 starts.

Perez had a shutout going until that was spoiled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, when Chris Carter smashed a solo homer for the Astros' only run of the game. Perez was unfazed, getting the next batter, Matt Dominguez, to ground back to the mound for the game's final out.

Perez yielded only four hits, walking two and striking out eight. He threw 80 of 115 pitches for strikes, getting first-pitch strikes on 25 of the 32 batters he faced.

The Rangers have taken three straight from Houston and won five straight overall. They will be going for a sweep of the four-game series Monday at 2:10 pm EDT, at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

NOTABLE: Yankee Alex Rodriguez hit his first home run of the year - a solo shot in the second inning off Detroit's Justin Verlander - to tie Stan Musial for sixth place all-time in career RBI, with 1951. He passed Musial in his next at-bat, when he delivered Robinson Cano to the plate with a single in the third inning. The Yankees beat the Tigers, 5-4.

National League

Stephen Strasburg
This has not been the kind of season the Washington Nationals were expected to have. Favored by many to win the NL East, Washington has disappointed with a record that is three games under .500 (57-60) and dwindling prospects for the post-season.

Sunday's complete game shutout by Stephen Strasburg may erase some of the regrets.

Strasburg threw his first career shutout as the Nationals completed a three-game sweep of the Phillies with a 6-0 win. Needing only 99 pitches (66 for strikes), Strasburgh allowed just four hits, walked one and fanned 10, improving his record to 6-9 on the year.

Despite his poor record, Strasburg has put up good numbers, with a 2.83 ERA in 23 starting assignments and 153 Ks in 146.1 innings of work.

Even with the win, the Nationals still trail the runaway Braves by 14 1/2 games in the NL East.

Today's Trivia: The AL record for walks allowed by a pitcher in a single season is 208. Who holds that dubious distinction? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: None other than the Big Unit, Randy Johnson, led the AL in walks each season from 1990 to 1992.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Torii Hunter Leads Tigers' 8-3 Win over Yankees; Nathan Eovaldi, Marlins Stop Atlanta's 14-Game Streak

Players of the Day for Saturday, August 10, 2013

American League

Make no doubt about it. The Tigers are the most dangerous team heading down the stretch and likely into the playoffs in the American League.
Torii Hunter

After having their 12-game winning streak broken by the Yankees on Friday, Detroit came back with a vengeance with a 9-3 triumph over New York Saturday, extending their record after the All Star break to 17-4.

Miguel Cabrera socked his 35th home run of the year, while Torii Hunter supplied four RBI with a sac fly in the first and a three-run, sixth-inning homer, going 3-for-4 and scoring twice, a double and single his other hits.

Hunter has been the ideal #2 hitter for the Tigers all season, consistently supplying key hits at opportune moments. He's batting .312 with 13 homers and 60 RBI. He's also scored 70 runs, ninth-most in the AL. Cabrera leads the league with 84.

The loss sent the Yankees 11 games behind AL East-leading Boston, while the Tigers improved their lead to eight games over Cleveland in the Central division, with Kansas City another 1/2 game back. On Sunday, the Tigers and Yankees will complete their three-game series at 1:05 pm EDT at Yankee Stadium.

National League

Eovaldi: 7IP,1H,0ER
Not having much to crow about this season, the Miami Marlins can at least relish the fact that they can, at times, beat the best team in the league.

Miami halted Atlanta's 14-game winning streak - one shy of the record 15 straight since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966 - with a 1-0 win on Saturday, thanks to seven shutout innings from starter Nathan Eovaldi and a bit of timely hitting and heads-up base-running by shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.

Eovaldi (2-2, 2.82) allowed one hit - a first-inning single by Freddie Freeman - over his seven frames, walking three and fanning eight, but did not receive a decision as Atlanta starter, Alex Wood, kept Miami off the scoreboard for six innings.

Miami didn't break through until the top of the ninth, when Hechavarria tripled to lead off the inning and scored on Jordan Walden's wild pitch for the only run of the game.

The Miami win didn't change much in the NL East. The Marlins still have a secure hold on last place, 26 games out, while Atlanta retains a firm grip on the division lead, with a 14 1/2 game bulge over second-place Washington, the largest lead in the majors.

The two teams will finish up their three-game series Sunday at 1:35 pm EDT at Turner Field in Atlanta.

Today's Trivia: A stat no pitcher can be proud of, who led the AL in bases on balls allowed three straight years, from 1900-1992? )answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: With 1950 career RBI, Alex Rodriguez needs one more to tie Stan Musial for sixth place all-time.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Josh Reddick, Jed Lowrie Help A's Blast Jays, 14-6; Braves Streak at 14 After Brandon Beachy Fires 8 Shutout Innings

Players of the Day for Friday, August 9, 2013

American League

Josh Reddick
Opening a four-game series in Toronto with a 14-6 mashing of the Blue Jays, the Oakland A's remained tied for first place in the AL West with the Rangers, 9-5 winners over Houston.

Jed Lowrie
Josh Reddick, who entered the game on an 0-for-13 slide, belted three homers for the A's, driving in five runs to power the offense. Shortstop, Jed Lowrie, went 4-for-4 - two singles, a double and a three-run, first-inning home run - with four RBI, as the A's rapped out 17 hits and scored in six of the nine available innings.

Reddick, who had 32 home runs last season, has just eight this year, while Lowrie, a career .262 hitter, has his average at a healthy .295.

The A's and Rangers are embroiled in the closest race in the majors. Okland will try to make it two straight in Toronto when they meet the Blue Jays in game two, Saturday afternoon at 1:07 pm EDT.

National League

Beachy: 8IP, 0ER
Atlanta's incredible season just keeps getting better.

Brandon Beachy, in his third start back from Tommy John surgery, fired eight innings of shutout ball in a 5-0 win over the Miami Marlins.

Beachy was roughed up in his previous two outings, allowing seven earned runs to the Rockies in 3 2/3 innings on July 29 and giving up three runs in 6 1/3 at Philadelphia, August 3rd. Despite the poor outings, Beachy did not receive a decision in either of those starts. On Friday, however, the 6'3" righty had command and control, giving up just three hits, walking one, while fanning six.

After yielding a leadoff single to Christian Yelich to open the contest, Beachy retired the next 11 batters he faced, capped off by striking out the side in the fourth inning. Beachy (1-0) threw 67 of 99 pitches for strikes.

The win was the 14th straight for the Braves, leaving them one game short of their longest winning streak since relocating to Atlanta in 1966. The Braves won 15 straight in the 2000 season.

Atlanta will have the opportunity to tie that mark Saturday, at 7:10 pm EDT, when they host the Marlins in game two of their three-game series.

Today's Trivia: Alex Rodriguez needs one RBI to tie whom for sixth all-time in career RBI? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: The 1953 AL MVP award went to Cleveland's Al Rosen, who batted .336 and led the league with 43 home runs, 145 RBI and 115 runs.