Erick Aybar tripled, homered and drove in four runs in four at-bats to lead the LA Angels to an 11-2 beating of the visiting Tampa Bay Rays, sending the Rays to their fifth straight loss.
Opening the four-game series with a resounding win did little for the Angels, already destined to be spectators when the post--season commences, but made the AL wild card race even more contentious. With Oakland beating Texas, 4-2, the A's tied the Rangers atop the AL West, and one of the two lead the wild card. Tampa Bay still holds the #2 spot, but the Orioles are now just two games behind the Rays, the Yankees 2 1/2 back, with Cleveland 3 1/2 out. Even Kansas City has benefitted from the Rays' recent slide, just 4 1/2 games from the second wild card.
The Rays' collapse has been sudden and unexpected, losing not only their last five, but eight of their last nine games, with the defeats coming both at home and away.
Tampa Bay will try to get back on track when they face the Angels in game two of their four-game series, Tuesday, at 7:05 PDT. 14-3 Matt Moore will go to the mound for the Rays. Moore has won six straight but hasn't pitched since July 28.
Atlanta took another step closer to the NL East pennant with a 13-5 clobbering of the Mets on Monday, extending the largest lead in the majors to 15 games over second place Washington.
Freeman, looking more and more like the NL's MVP, added five RBI, totaling 93 on the year, fourth in the league. His homer was #18 for the season, to go with a .307 batting average.
Atlanta hosts the Mets in game two of their three-game series, Tuesday night at 7:10 pm EDT.
Today's Trivia: Ty Cobb held the all-time record for career hits for 62 years. In what year did Pete Rose pass him? (answer tomorrow)
Yesterday's Answer: Larry Walker, of the Colorado Rockies, won the NL batting title in 1998 and 1999, batting .363 and .379, respectively.