Sunday, September 22, 2013

Ivan Nova Hurls Complete Game as Yanks Down Giants; A.J. Burnett Throws Seven Strong as Pirates Drop Reds

Players of the Day for Saturday, September 21, 2013

American League

It's a little strange to have interleague games so close to the end of the season, and maybe the people who make up the schedules should reconsider this for future years, being that interleague contests will have an impact on pennant races.

Ivan Nova
The Yankees aren't complaining, however, taking their second straight from the Giants, who are a half game out of last place in the NL West. Ivan Nova pitched his second complete game in less than a month, his third of the season, regaining the form he displayed when he went 16-4 for the Yanks as a rookie in 2011.

Nova blanked the punchless Giants on six hits over the nine frames, walking one and fanning seven. He needed just 108 pitches to put away the visitors while his teammates collected six runs on seven hits for the 6-0 victory.

Nova improved to 9-5 on the year, more importantly, keeping the Yankees three games behind the Indians in the quest for the second wild card berth. New York bypassed both Baltimore and Kansas City. The O's lost their third straight in a 5-1 defeat at Tampa Bay; the Royals dropped a 3-1 decision to Texas, who remains 1/2 behind Cleveland.

The Yankees will be seeking the series split when they take the field against the Giants at 1:05 pm EDT, Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

AL Wild Card Standings (through 9/21)
Team GB
Tampa Bay +1/2
Cleveland --
Texas -1/2
NY Yankees -3
Kansas City -3 1/2
Baltimore -3 1/2

National League

A.J. Burnett
A.J. Burnett gave the Reds a run in each of the first two innings - the second on a solo homer leading off the second by Zack Cozart - but after that he was nearly untouchable, allowing just one more hit over the subsequent six innings, to lead the Pirates to a 4-2 win over visiting Cincinnati.

Following Cozart's homer, Burnett sandwiched a walk to Ryan Hanigan between three strikeouts, en route to fanning 12 on the day. The Pirates responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning on Russell Martin's 15th homer of the season, then took the lead in the bottom of the sixth, when they got to Reds' starter, Homer Bailey, for another pair of runs.

The win moved Pittsburgh back to a one-game lead over the Reds in the wild card race. The Pirates are two games behind St. Louis in the NL Central; the Reds, three back. The team with the best record gets home field for the one-game playoff between the two wild cards, so the Pirates, for the moment have the upper hand.

The two teams settle up on Sunday at 1:35 pm EDT in Pittsburgh. The series is tied at a game apiece.

Today's Trivia: How many times did "Mr. October," Reggie Jackson, hit 40 or more home runs in a season? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: The .301 batting average that won the batting title for Carl Yastrzemski in 1968 came a year after he won the triple crown and was also the only average above .300 in the AL that season.

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