Monday, July 21, 2014

Neil Walker Homers as Pirates Sweep Rockies; Houston's Matt Dominguez Powers Astros

Players of the Day for Sunday, July 20, 2014

Matt Dominguez
American League

No matter which division or league the Houston Astros find themselves in, the result is usually the same: an under-.500 squad with hopes for "next season."

It's the same story for this year's version of the Astros, to a degree. At 41-58 they're a solid 20 1/2 games behind the A's in the West, but, they're still the best major league team in Texas, as the Rangers have managed to fall into last place, at 39-59, in the same division.

What has some Houstonians hopeful is the emergence of 24-year-old third baseman Matt Dominguez, who is following up a successful 2013 campaign with a solid season thus far in 2014 with 12 homes and 43 RBI.

In Sunday's 11-7 victory over the White Sox, Dominguez collected three hits in five at-bats, including a run-scoring single in the third inning, a two-run homer in the fifth and a double in the seventh which brought in another run, giving him four RBI for the game.

The White Sox took two of three in the weekend series, and remain home to start a three-game set with the Royals on Monday. After a day off Monday, the Astros head to Oakland for three.
Neil Walker

National League

Pittsburgh completed its sweep of the visiting Rockies Sunday afternoon with a 5-3 win, moving the Pirates to within 1 1/2 games of the NL Central co-leaders, St. Louis and Milwaukee.

After giving up three runs in the first two frames, Pirate starter Jeff Locke locked down the Rockies for the remainder of his six innings, then turned the ball over the Pittsburgh's capable bullpen, which blanked Colorado through the seventh, eighth and ninth.

Meanwhile, the Pirate bats got busy, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the second, a solo score in the sixth and two more in the seventh, the final score coming off the bat of Neil Walker, his 14th, a solo shot off reliever Matt Belisle. Walker ended up 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and the lone RBI, his 45th on the year.

The Pirates remain home to host the Dodgers, while the Rockies go back to Denver for a series with the Nats. Both series begin Monday and will last three games.

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