Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Leonys Martin, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus End Rangers' 7-Game Skid; Mike Leake, Jay Bruce Lead Reds' 10-0 Win over Astros

Players of the Day for Tuesday, September 17, 2013

American League

Ian Kinsler
Playoff-style baseball is already being played in ballparks around the country, as the AL wild card race continues to entertain six teams in contention for the two spots.
Leonys Martin

Topping the bill of Tuesdya's slate of games was game two of the four-game series between the Rangers and Rays, the two teams currently in position to capture both wild cards.

Texas snapped a seven-game losing streak and regained a tie with Tampa Bay with a 7-1 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field in Tampa. Two players at the top of the order - Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus - and one at the bottom, rookie center fielder Leonys Martin, together accounted for nearly all of the Ranger runs.

Elvis Andrus
Martin was 3-for-4 with a solo home run, a pair of doubles and three scores. Leadoff batter, Kinsler, was 2-for-5 with a solo homer and three RBI, scoring twice, while #2 hitter, Andrus, went 2-for-3 with three RBI on a two-run homer and a pair of singles.

Texas starter, Alexi Ogando, gave up two hits and the Rays' only run, working five innings. The Rangers used five pitchers, the Rays, seven. With tired arms in both bullpens, Wednesday and Thursday's games could explode into offensive fireworks.

Elsewhere, Baltimore topped Boston, 4-3, Cleveland whipped KC, 5-3 and the Yankees lost their fourth straight, 2-0, at Toronto.

The Rays and Rangrs resume hostilities Wednesday night at 7:00 pm EDT. The series is tied at a game apiece.

AL Wild Card Standings (through 9/17)
Team GB
Tampa Bay --
Texas --
Cleveland -1/2
Baltimore -2
NY Yankees -3 1/2
Kansas City -3 1/2

National League

Leake: 8 scoreless
Bruce: GS, 5 RBI
With the Washington Nationals taking a double-header from the Braves, the Cincinnati Reds might be feeling a little pressure as they maintain a 4-4 1/2 game lead over the Nats in the race for the final wild card, but Jay Bruce made certain that the Reds would keep winning, as he drove in the Reds first run with a single in the opening frame, then added four more with a fourth-inning grand slam.

Bruce's excessive run-producing was more than what starter, Mike Leake, would need as he improved to 14-6 by shutting out the Astros over eight innings, giving up five hits and two walks while fanning six.

With the 10-0 win - Cincinnati's second straight at Houston - the Reds retained the 4 1/2 game bulge over the streaking Nationals while remaining 2 1/2 back of St. Louis in the NL Central. The Cardinals lead Pittsburgh by one game in the division.

NOTABLE: Sidelined since late July, Matt Kemp returned to the Dodgers' starting lineup on Tuesday and has already had an impact, going 4-for-4 with three RBI as the Dodgers hammered Arizona, 9-3, putting Los Angeles within one game of capturing the NL West pennant. LA plays at Arizona Wednesday and Thursday, and a win in either game, which, by default, would also be a Diamondback loss, would clinch the division.

Today's Trivia: Who won the NL batting title in 1975 and 1976, and then won it twice more - in 1981 and 1983 - for a different team? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Boston swept the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series. The next year, the Chicago White Sox beat the Houston Astros, four games to none.

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