Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pirates and Reds Clinch Playoff Berths; Starling Marte, Shin Soo Choo Provide Heroics; Alex Rios, Derek Holland Leads Rangers' Rout

Players of the Day for Monday, September 23, 2013

American League

Alex Rios
Derek Holland pitched a six-hit shutout and Alex Rios hit for the cycle, as the Texas Rangers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 12-0 pounding of the hapless Houston Astros, losers of 10 straight.

Derek Holland
Holland walked one and struck out nine, going the distance in his second shutout of the season and seventh of his career. The win improved his record to 10-9 on the year.

Rios, acquired from the White Sox earlier this season, got the rangers on the board early, socking a double to left that knocked in a pair of runs. In third inning, Rios reached on an infield single and later scored on a bases-loaded walk to David Murphy. After hitting a solo home run - his 18th - in the fourth inning, Rios ripped a shot to the right-center field gap for a triple to complete the cycle, driving in Elvis Andrus in the process. He finished 4-for-4 with four RBI and three runs.

Rios did not get another at-bat. With the game already out of hand, manager Ron Washington made mass replacements, saving his starters for upcoming games.

It was the third cycle in the majors this year. Mike Trout of the LA Angels on May 21, and the Astros' Brandon Barnes on July 19, both turned the trick against Seattle.

AL Wild Card Standings (through 9/23)
Team GB
Tampa Bay +1
Cleveland --
Texas -1
Kansas City -3
NY Yankees -4
Baltimore -5

National League

Shin Soo Choo
Both the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates clinched playoff spots on Monday as the Cardinals dumped Washington, 4-3, the Reds dropped the Mets, 3-2, in 10 innings and Pittsburgh took down the Cubs, 2-1.
Starling Marte

Pittsburgh's win came by virtue of a ninth-inning, pinch-hit solo homer off the bat of Starling Marte that broke a 1-1 deadlock as the Pirates opened their three-game series in Chicago with a win.

Cincinnati's victory was even more dramatic, as Sin Soo Choo singled home Devin Mesoraco in the bottom of the 10th inning, the walk-off hit Choo's third, in six at-bats. Choo's single in the second got the Reds on the board with a 1-0 lead.

The Reds and Pirates remain tied for the two wild card playoff spots, at 90-67, both two games behind St. louis in the NL Central.

Cincinnati hosts the Mets Tuesday at 7:10 pm EDT in the second game of their three-game series. Pittsburgh plays game two in Chicago at 8:05 pm EDT.

Today's Trivia: What pitcher led the National League in strikeouts four straight years, from 1932 through 1935? (answer tomorrow)

Yesterday's Answer: Five. Reggie Jackson played most of his ball for the A's, Yankees and Angels, but spent a year as a Baltimore Oriole and began his career with the Kansas City Royals.

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