Monday, September 16, 2013

Alex Avila Homers Twice, Drives Detroit to 3-2 Win over Royals; Wilson Ramos Goes 4-for-5 as Nationals Stay Hot

Players of the Day for Sunday, September 15, 2013

American League

Normally, the Detroit Tigers rely on Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder to drive in their runs, but in Sunday's 3-2 win over the Royals, it was catcher, Alex Avila's turn to be hero for a day in Detroit.

Alex Avila
Avila drove in all three of Detroit's runs with a pair of homers - his 10th and 11th of the season - the first, a second-inning bomb of Royals' ace Jeremy Guthrie, staking starter Max Scherzer to a 2-0 lead, the second, an eighth inning solo shot, came in the bottom half of the inning after the Royals had tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the frame.

Both the Royals second run and Detroit's third came after Scherzer had finished his work on the mound, giving up just one run on five hits over seven innings, so he failed again - thanks to the run allowed by reliever Drew Smyly in the eighth - to earn win #20 on the season. Scherzer struck out 13 and walked one batter, but his pitch count of 116 prompted manager Jim Leyland to pull the starter after seven full. Scherzer, the major league leader in wins, has been stuck on 19 his last four starts.

The win kept Detroit's lead in the AL Central at five games over the Indians. The Royals are eight back in the division and 3 1/2 out in the wild card race.

Detroit opens a four-game series at home against the Mariners on Monday. Scherzer will likely get another crack at winning his 20th when the Tigers host the White Sox on Friday, opening a three-game series.

Wild Card Update: The A's completed their sweep of the Rangers, winning, 5-1, sending texas to their sixth straight loss. Tampa Bay also took it on the chin, 6-4, to remain tied with the Rangers for the two playoff spots. Baltimore and Cleveland both won, while Boston took care of the Yankees, sweeping them three straight, 9-2.

AL Wild Card Standings (through 9/15)
Team GB
Texas --
Tampa Bay --
Cleveland -1/2
Baltimore -2 1/2
NY Yankees -3
Kansas City -3 1/2

National League

Wilson Ramos
Wilson Ramos went 4-for-5 and drove in five runs, leading the Washington nations to their eighth win in their last nine, an 11-2 trouncing of the Phillies, a day after the Phillies had broken Washington's seven-game winning streak.

Ramos had three singles and a sixth inning solo homer as the Nationals crept closer to Cincinnati, clinging to the second wild card spot by 4 1/2 games. The Reds dropped a 6-5 decision in Milwaukee and remain 3 1/2 behind St. Louis and Pittsburgh in the NL Central. As it stands now, either the Cardinals or Pirates will take the first wild card spot, and, until recently, the Reds seemed to have the second slot sewn up, but the Nationals refuse to die.

Cincinnati and Washington don't play each other, but it could get dicey. With 12 games left, the Reds play their next six on the road - three at Houston and three at Pittsburgh. Then, they host the Mets for three and finish at home with three more against the Pirates. While the Red play the Mets, September 23-25, the Nationals will be at St. Louis before closing out the regular season at Arizona.

In Sunday's win, Nats' starter, Jordan Zimmermann improved to 18-8, leading the NL in wins. Zimmermann allowed two runs on seven hits over seven inning, striking out seven, with a pair of walks. No other NL pitcher has more than 16 wins.

Washington opens a three-game home series with NL East leading Atlanta on Monday.

Today's Trivia: Between Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb and Jimmie Foxx, which player had the highest career on-base percentage? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Ted Williams is the career leader in on-base percentage, at .4817. Babe Ruth is second, .4739.

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