Sunday, August 31, 2014

Matt Holliday Powers Cards to Top in NL Central; Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence Rip in 15-5 Giants' Win; Clay Buchholz Goes Distance

Players of the Day for Sunday, August 31, 2014

American League
Buchholz: 3-hit ShO

Sadly, Clay Buchholz's 3-hit shutout of the Rays will not be remembered in the annals of great Boston performances, as the Red Sox have long since fallen out of contention, their 60-76 record leaving them 19 1/2 back and in last place in the AL East.

Buchholz did everything right in Boston's 3-0 victory, getting 23 first-pitch strikes on the 29 batters he faced, throwing 69 of 98 pitches for strikes, fanning six without walking a batter.

It hasn't been the best of season for either the Red Sox or Buchholz, who improved to just 6-8 while lowering his ERA to 5.40.

Buchholz allowed hits in the first, fourth and sixth inning, but, after Jose Molina singled, leading off the sixth, Buchholz mowed down the remaining Tampa hitters in order, getting the last 12 in a row, to finish with a flourish.

Elsewhere in the division, Baltimore extended their lead - the largest in the majors - to nine games over the Yankees with a 12-8 win over the Twins while the Bombers were losing to Toronto, 4-3. In case anyone wants to start counting, the Orioles' magic number to clinch the AL East outright is 19.
Hunter Pence

National League

Matt Holliday
It's getting crowded at the top in the NL Central, West and wild card races.

The Giants completed the three-game sweep of the Brewers with a 15-5 trouncing, pounding a parade of weary Milwaukee pitchers for 16 hits and five bases on balls, dropping the Brewers into a tie for first place in the Central division with the Cardinals, 9-2 winners over the Cubs.

Pablo Sandoval
Leading the Giants were Hunter Pence, who singled, doubled twice, tripled, drove in two runs and scored three times in five at-bats, and Pablo Sandoval, who went 3-for-3 with a single, triple and a two-run homer, driving in three. Both players scored three times in the rout, the Giants' sixth straight win, leaving them 2 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the West but atop the wild card race, with a game edge over either the Brewers or Cardinals. Atlanta trails San Francisco by 2 1/2 in the wild card. Pittsburgh is three out.

In St. Louis, the Cardinals rode the bat of red-hot Matt Holliday, who singled, homered, doubled and drove in four runs in the Cardinals second straight win over the Cubs, splitting the series, two games apiece.

Holliday homered twice on Saturday, has four homers in his last five games and has nine RBI in just his last two games. He has 16 homers and 78 RBI on the season. He's hit safely in nine of his last ten games, going 13-for-40 (.325) with 16 RBI.

As the calendar turns to September, on Monday, all NL contenders oen three-game series. St. Louis stays home to host the Pirates, Milwaukee heads to Colorado, the Brewers go to Chicago to play the Cubs, while the Dodgers host NL East-leading Washington.

The Giants could end the day riding an eight-game win streak, as they will be finishing a game with the Rockies that was suspended with the score tied, 2-2, in the bottom of the sixth inning, from May 22, prior to their regularly-scheduled start. The additional game due the Giants could - in the case of a win - put additional pressure on the Dodgers and the teams battling for the wild card.

Tampa's Jake Odorizzi, Toronto's Drew Hutchison Each Throw Seven-Inning 1-Hitters; Matt Holliday Homers Twice as Cardinals Break Losing Streak

Players of the Day for Saturday, August 30, 2014

American League

Drew Hutchison
If any one thing typifies the state of baseball in the 21st century it is the advent - and overuse - of the pitch count, the nearly deified number that skews statistics and has managers scurrying from the dugout to the mound with the diligence of a third grade schoolmarm.

Jake Odorizzi
On Saturday, the dreaded pitch count marred two exceptional performances, both in the AL East and both by pitchers on their separate ways to what could have been - should have been - shutouts.

In Tampa, rookie hurler, Jake Odorizzi quieted the Red Sox on one hit over seven innings, blanking them, while striking out seven and walking three, in a 7-0 Tampa Bay victory.

Other than plunking Yoenis Cespedes in the second inning and walking the bases full in the seventh, Odorizzi was round the plate, allowing only a Will Middlebrooks fourth-inning leadoff single to soil his record. That one hit, did, however, give manager Joe Madden an excuse to take his rookie from the mound ad turn the ball over to relievers for the final two innings. One supposes that had Odorizzi been throwing a no-hitter, Madden might have left him in, even after the alarming 103 pitches he'd thrown.

Jake Beliveau and Kirby Yates mopped up, pitching the eighth and ninth, respectively, preserving the victory.

Earlier in the day, Toronto's Drew Hutchison had set the mark for young hurlers, blanking the visiting Yankees on one hit over seven innings - a fourth-inning double by Mark Teixeira - before being lifted. Hutchison threw (you guessed it) 103 pitches, walking two and striking out nine prior to getting the hook.

Strangely enough, Hutchison also faced a bases-loaded condition, when he plunked Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann with two outs, around Teixeira's double, but got Martin Prado to fly out to center, ending the inning.

Aaron Sanchez came on with a flawless two innings of relief for the 2-0 Toronto win.

Hutchison, who tossed 58 innings in 2013, so is technically not a rookie, has already thrown a shutout this season. Odorizzi has not.

The results of the games did little to affect the standings, except that the Yankees fell further behind the Orioles in the East, now eight games back, and fell 3 1/2 off the pace in the race for the second wild card.

National League

Holliday: 2HR, 5RBI
The Cardinals finally broke out of their funk, winning the back end of a day-night double-headers with the Cubs Saturday night, breaking a four-game losing streak with a 13-2 win.

Matt Holliday led the hitting assault with a pair of homers - his 14th and 15th - a three-run jolt in the fifth inning which unknotted a 1-1 tie and a solo blast in the ninth igniting a nine run Cardinal eruption.

Holliday was also hit by a pitch with the bases loaded later in the inning, accounting for his fifth RBI of the night. He finished 2-for-3.

The victory came at an opportune time for St. Louis, holding onto their status in both the Central division and wild card races. While the Giants were beating Milwaukee, 3-1, for their fifth straight win (and the Brewers' fourth straight loss), the Cardinals had already lost the first half of their double-header to the Cubs, 5-1.

The results leave St. Louis one game behind the Brewers in the division, with Pittsburgh another game back. The Cardinals are a game behind the Giants in the wild card race, leaving them in the #2 slot, with the Pirates, again, one more game back. Atlanta is 1 1/2 behind the Cardinals.

Teams and positions are sure to change as baseball enters September. The Giants trial Los Angeles by just 2 1/2 in the NL West.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Chris Davis Grand Slam Sends O's to 9-1 Win over Twins; Buster Posey 5-for-5 in Giants' 13-2 Rout of Brewers

Players of the Day for Friday, August 29, 2014

American League

Davis: Grand Slam
Baltimore's Chris Davis isn't having the kind of season he had in 2013, when he led the league in home runs (53) and RBI (138), but he's been picking his game up lately and the Orioles are happy to see that.

Davis has hit three homers and driven in seven runs in his last five games, four of which came in Friday's 9-1 mauling of the Twins, the opener of a four-game series at Camden Yards.

With the bases full in the fourth and the O's already up, 1-0, Davis unloaded on Minnesota starter, Trevor May, launching a 415-foot bomb over the right field wall. It was Davis' 24th homer of the season and upped his RBI count to 67 on the season.

Filling in at third base frequently since Many Machado's injury, Davis has helped the Orioles remain in first place in the East, where they currently hold a seven-game edge over the Yankees, who beat Toronto, 6-3, Friday, but are looking more and more like a possible wild card, rather than contenders for the division title.

Game two of the series in Baltimore is Saturday, at 7:05 pm EDT.

National League

Posey: 5-for-5
The meeting between the Giants and Brewers in San Francisco this weekend had more than enough intrigue, but the tenseness was dispelled early by Buster Posey and the San Francisco batters, who hammered Milwaukee starter, Wily Peralta, and scored all of their runs in the first five innings of a 13-2 rout.

Peralta lasted only three innings, giving up the first six runs on nine hits and a pair of walks. The Giants weren't exactly hospitable to the next Brewer hurler either, hammering Marco Estrada for seven more runs over the next two innings.

Buster Posey went 5-for-5 with four singles and a triple, scoring three times and driving in three before heading for the bench after six innings. As a team, the Giants were 19-for-42. Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence each collected three hits. Joe Panik went 4-for-6.

Recently, Posey's been on fire, hitting safely in eight of his last nine games, with multiple hits in six of them. Over that span, he's 20-for-40, with four homers and 13 RBI. Winners of four straight and seven of their last ten, the Giants have moved past St. Louis to claim the #1 wild card position, as the Cardinals fell to the Cubs, 7-2, Friday, their third straight loss.

The NL wild card race is still incredibly tight. St. Louis is 1/2 game behind the Giants, Atlanta, 1/2 back and the Pirates are just two games off the pace.

Game two of the Brewers-Giants three-game series is slated for a 6:05 pm PDT start, Saturday in San Francisco.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Alex Avila Lifts Tigers over Yankees; Jordan Shafer Helps Twins Down Royals in 10; Yusmeiro Petit Sets MLB Mark in Win over Rockies

Players of the Day for Thursday, August 28, 2014

American League

Alex Avila
Tightening the race in the Central division, Alex Avila delivered a walk-off, game-winner for the Tigers, banging one off the wall in right center with two down and two aboard in the bottom of the ninth for a 3-2 Detroit win over the visiting Yankees in an afternoon contest.
Jordan Schafer

Avila, who had just the one hit in three at-bats, did drive in the Tigers' first run, with a second-inning sac fly, scoring Nick Castellanos from third base. The Tigers took two of three from the Yankees on their final visit of the season to Motown.

In the evening, Minnesota scored six runs in the 10th inning to upend the Royals, 11-5, leaving Kansas City just 1 1/2 games up on the Tigers. Left fielder, Jordan Schafer, who spent the first half of the season in Atlanta, playing part-time for the Braves, went 3-for-5 and drove in four runs, including two in the extra inning. He also came around to score in the 10th on Brian Dozier's double.

Riding an eight-game hitting streak, Schafer is blooming with more playing time for the Twins, batting .328 with the Twins while going 12-for-27 (.444) during his hit streak.

Minnesota, in last place in the AL Central, avoided being swept at home with the win. The Royals close out August with three home games with Cleveland, beginning Friday, while the Tigers travel to Chicago for four games with the White Sox, including a double-header on Saturday.

National League

Petit: 46 Straight
Setting a major league record by retiring 46 straight batters, Yusmeiro Petit went six innings, striking out nine, as the Giants took their third straight over the faded Rockies, 4-1.

Petit retired the first eight batters he faced, before allowing a double to the opposing pitcher, Jordan Lyles. The Rockies scored their only run of the game when the next batter, Charlie Blackmon, singled home Lyles from second.

The record (previously set by Mark Buehrle in 2009) out of the way, Petit got back to business, allowing allowing just two more hits while keeping the Rockies off the scoreboard.

Petit's record run covered eight games, six of which were in relief.

The Giants gained a half game on the idle Dodgers in the West, and now trail LA by 4 1/2 games. San Francisco gained to within 1/2 game of the Cardinals in the wild card, and have a 1 1/2 game edge over the Braves for the second spot. Atlanta defeated the Mets, 4-1, Thursday.

On Friday, the Giants open a crucial series with central division-leading Milwaukee, hosting the Brewers for three games at AT&T Park.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Drew Smyly Comes Though Again for Rays in 3-1 Win at Baltimore; LA's Clayton Kershaw is MLB's 1st 16-Game Winner

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 27, 2014

American League

Smyly: Nice trade
About a month ago, Drew Smyly was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays as part of the deal that sent David Price to Detroit. As of Wednesday night, that deal didn't look too bad... for the Rays.

As Price was getting shelled by the Yankees, allowing nine straight hits in the third inning en route to an 8-4 Yankee win, Smyly was setting up and knocking down the Orioles for a 3-1 victory.

Staked to a 3-0 lead after the first two Tampa Bay at-bats, the only run given up by Smyly - and one of just two hits over seven innings - was a two-out, solo homer to Baltimore's Chris Davis in the bottom of the second. After that, Smyly was just about untouchable, getting the next 12 batters in order before Steve Pearce's two-out single in the sixth inning.

After 87 pitches, Smyly was done. Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee pitched hitless eighth and ninth innings, respectively, McGee picking up his 15th save.

So, let's review. Since the trade:

Smyly: 5 starts, 3 wins, 1 loss, 1.50 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, Opp. BA: .150

Price: 5 starts, 1 win, 2 losses, 4.41 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, Opp. BA: .232

And, it gets worse, or better, depending upon which side of the trade you're on. The Rays also got 18-year-old infield prospect Willy Adames from the Tigers. Center fielder Austin Jackson was sent from Detroit to the Mariners, who then sent infielder Nick Franklin to the Rays.

Wednesday's results helped cloud an already murky playoff picture. The O's still lead the Yankees in the AL East by six games. Detroit trails Kansas City by 2 1/2 in the Central and Seattle by 1/2 game for the second wild card. The Yankees are 2 1/2 back of Seattle, with Cleveland 4 1/2 out.

Baltimore has taken two of three from the Rays and will complete the four-game series at Camden Yards on Thursday at 7:10 pm EDT.

Kershaw: 16-3
National League

There's little doubt that Clayton Kershaw is one of the best pitchers to ever don a Dodger uniform, and that list was already pretty impressive beofre Kershaw came along (Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax come to mind).

On Wednesday, Kershaw became the first 16-game winner in either league, tossing eight innings in a 3-1 Dodger win.

Kershaw didn't have his best stuff, but still limited the Diamondbacks to six hits and a pair of walks. The only Arizona run was unearned, coming in the fourth inning on a throwing error by left fielder Steve Van Slyke.

Throwing 106 pitches, Kershaw struck out 10, moving him into third place among NL starters, with 194 Ks. Stephen Strasburg leads the league with 202; Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto is next, with 199.

Kershaw leads the league in wins and has only three losses this season. He sports a 1.73 ERA, lowest in the majors.

LA's win kept them five games up on the Giants, who also won, topping Colorado, 4-2. The Dodgers took both games in Arizona and, after a day off, head to San Diego for a three game series with the Padres. After that, they return home for a nine-game stand to start the month of September.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Giants Prevail on Madison Bumgarner's 1-Hitter; Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox Bury Toronto, 11-7, in 11 Innings

Players of the Day for Tuesday, August 26, 2014

American League

Pedroia: HR, 4RBI
Toronto's season may already have been over, but the Red Sox, languishing in last place in the AL East (58-74), put another nail into the Blue Jays' coffin Tuesday night with an 11-inning, 11-7 defeat.

Dustin Pedroia got the party started for the Sox with a first-inning, two-run homer, his seventh of the season, and his two-run single in the 11th inning ignited a seven-run outburst that eventually buried the Blue Jays. Toronto scored three runs in the bottom of the inning, but could not avoid losing their second straight to the Red Sox and third straight overall, falling back to .500, at 66-66 on the year.

The loss left the Blue Jays 10 games behind Baltimore in the East, and 6 1/2 back of Seattle in the quest for the second wild card spot. Toronto's hopes for the post-season are fading fast, as the Tigers, Indians and Yankees are all ahead of them in the wild card race.

Pedroia finished the game with his two hits and five RBI in five at-bats, but like many of his teammates, his numbers this season are far below his usual output. He has only seven homers and 51 RBI, and a .256 batting average.

Boston will go for the sweep of the three-game series in Toronto starting at 7:07 pm EDT Wednesday.

National League

Bumgarner: 1-Hitter
Trailing the Dodgers by five games in the West, the San Francisco Giants haven't given up hope of winning the division, and enhanced their chances in the wild card race with an outstanding effort from Madison Bumgarner Tuesday night in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Rockies.

After dropping the opener of their four-game series at AT&T Park, 3-2, Monday, Bumgarner got the Giants back on the winning track on Tuesday with a one-hit shutout, his 15th victory of the season, against nine losses.

Perfect through seven, Bumgarner's only mistake was a pitch to Justin Morneau, who laced a double to right field leading off the eighth. Unfazed, Bumgarner struck out the side and proceeded to get the final three outs in the ninth without incident. The lanky lefty fanned a season-high 13 batters, giving him 192 on the season, 10 behind league-leader, Steven Strasburg and seven behind Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto (199). Bumgarner is also tied with Cueto, Adam Wainwright, Clayton Kershaw and Wily Peralta for the NL lead in wins.

The victory was the third this month for Bumgarner and his sixth in his last nine starts. Prospects for a 20-win season are reasonable, given that Bumgerner will likely get seven more starting assignments.

Buster Posey provided more than enough offense with a pair of homers, a two-run shot in the fifth and a solo job in the eighth inning.

With Atlanta losing to the Mets, and Pittsburgh downing St. Louis, the chase for two wild card spots has the Giants in the thick of it. They trail St. Louis by two games, but are two games up on both the Braves and Pirates.

Game three of the series is set for Wednesday at 7:15 pm PDT.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Delmon Young Homers as Orioles Get Back to Winning Ways; Brewers Pound Padres 10-1 as Aramis Ramirez Stars

Players of the Day for Monday, August 25, 2014

American League

After losing three straight in Chicago to the Cubs, the Baltimore Orioles got back on track with a resounding, 9-1 win over Tampa Bay, belting five home runs.
Delmon Young

Delmon Young, who has been getting more playing time since all-star third baseman Manny Machado went down with a season-ending knee injury a few weeks ago, delivered the biggest blow, a three-run blast in a six-run fifth inning, followed by solo homers by J.J. Hardy and Chris Davis, the O's going back-to-back-to-back.

Young also singled and doubled, going 3-for-3 on the night, raising his batting average to a solid .311. Young's played in just 67 games this season, but he's provided a boost for the Orioles, hitting safely in six of his last seven games.

While the O's were knocking balls out of Camden Yards, Chris Tillman was shutting down the Rays, allowing just three hits over seven innings. The Rays' only run was unearned.

Baltimore's victory was timely, keeping the Yankees six games back in the AL East. The Yanks have won five straight and have been slicing into the Orioles' lead in the division.

The four-game series with the Rays continues Tuesday night in Baltimore. Game time is 7:05 pm EDT.

National League

Aramis Ramirez
It's probably safe to say that if the Milwaukee Brewers keep getting 16 hits a game, they'll win the NL Central.

While that may be unlikely, the Brewers are a hitting machine, and they did bang out 16 hits in their 10-1 victory over the Padres, Monday in San Diego.

Milwaukee is tied for third in the NL with a team .256 average, and ranks second to Colorado in runs, RBI and home runs.

Providing a healthy portion of the Milwaukee offense all season, Aramis Ramirez was 3-for-5 in the game, with a single, double, solo homer (14), three RBI and two runs. Ramirez is batting .307 and has driven in 61 runs for the Brewers this season. He's been seeing lots of good pitches this season, as he generally bats fourth, behind Ryan Braun.

The Brewers' win kept them 1 12 ahead of St. Louis in the Central division. The Cardinals scored three runs in the seventh inning to defeat the Pirates 3-2.

Milwauke will play game two of their three-game series in San Diego Tuesday at 10:10 pm EDT.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Victor Martinez Leads Tigers with 3-for-6 effort, HR, 4 RBI; Mets' Lucas Duda Belts a Pair in 11-3 Win over Dodgers

Players of the Day for Sunday, August 24, 2014

American League

Victor Martinez
On Sunday, Detroit earned a split in their four-game series at Minnesota with a 13-4 romp as they continue to battle for the second wild card spot, primarily with Seattle, who leads the Tigers by a game.

Victor Martinez continued his excellent season, smacking his 25th home run, a three-run, sixth-inning belt. Martinez added a pair of singles to go 3-for-6 and had four RBI on the day.

Like a good wine, Martinez seems to be getting better with age. At 35, he's already equaled his best home-run output for a full season and is on pace for over 100 RBI, which would be the fifth time he's reached that mark. His .328 batting average is second in the AL, behind Houston's Jose Altuve (.334). Martinez has never finished higher then fourth in batting, when he hit 330 in 2011.

As far as Tiger hitters are concerned, they probably wouldn't mind a few more games at Minneapolis' Target Field. In the four games just completed, the Tigers and Twins piled up 73 runs. Pitchers from both staffs are relieved to see the series end.

Lucas Duda
The Tigers continue to trail Kansas City in the Central, but picked up a game Sunday, as the Royals dropped a 3-1 decision at Texas and now lead by two games. Detroit will host a three-game series with the Yankees starting Tuesday, then head back on the road for eight games - four each against the White Sox and Indians.

National League

With a 4 1/2 game lead over the Giants in the West, the Dodgers are in control of their post-season destiny, but they failed to complete the sweep oof the Mets Sunday, as Lucas Duda homered twice and drove in four runs for an 11-3 Mets' win.

Duda, in his fourth year as the Mets' full-time first baseman, is having his best year yet, already reaching a career highs in home runs with 26, and on pace for his best year ever driving in runs. He currently has 76, but has been piling them up recently, knocking in 11 in his last six games, along with five home runs.

After his three-run homer in the third inning put the Mets ahead, 5-1, Duda singled in another run in the seventh and put the icing on the cake with a solo shot in the ninth.

Duda is third in the NL in home runs, behind Miami's Giancarlo Stanton (32) and the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo (29).

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kennys Vargas Drives in Five as Twins Spilt Double Bill with Tigers; Pirates Win Third Straight as Pedro Alvarez Socks Two Homers

Players of the Day for Saturday, August 23, 2014

American League

Vargas: 5 RBI
It was quite a day for hitters in Minneapolis, where the Twins and Tigers split a day/night double-header, the hometowners taking the opener by a 12-4 score before falling to the visiting Tigers in the nightcap, 8-6.

What it wasn't a good day for was being a pitcher on either team, as the two squads accounted for a total of 52 hits - 24 in the first game, 28 in the second.

Rookie first baseman, Kennys Vargas, playing in just his 21st and 22nd games since being called up from AA New Britain August 1st, had a nice game in the opener, going 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a sac fly. His bases-clearing two-bagger in the seventh inning completed the scoring for the Twins.

While the Twins have been out of contention for some time, the split didn't particularly help the Tigers, as both the Royals and Mariners were winners on Saturday, leaving the Tigers three games behind Kansas City in the Central division and a game short of Seattle in the wild card race. Even the Yankees - with their 5-3 win over the White Sox - picked up 1/2 game on the Tigers in the wild card, now trailing them by just 2 1/2 games.

The Tigers haven't fared well at all against the last-place Twins, losing the opener of their four-game series, 20-6 Friday night. They wrap up their visit Sunday at 2:10 pm EDT.

National League

Alvarez: 2HR, 4RBI
The Central divisin continues to be the hottest race in the majors, especially since the Pirates have taken two straight from front-running Milwaukee.

After an 8-3 victory Friday, the Pirates doubled their fun with a 10-2 triumph at Miller Park in Milwaukee as Pedro Alvarez led a 12-hit assault with a pair of home runs, both off Milwaukee ace, Wily Peralta, who lasted just five innings and took the loss (15-8).

Alvarez unloaded for his 16th in the fourth inning with a three-run shot, then followed up the next inning with a solo blast right after Russell Martin connected for a three-run jolt.

Coming off a rough patch in mid-month in which they lost seven in a row, the Pirates have rebounded with three straight wins and will be looking for the sweep when they complete their series in Milwaukee Sunday afternoon at 2:10 EDT.

Four games behind the Brewers in the Central, they have helped the Cardinals, who now trail Milwaukee by just 1/2 game. The Pirates are still in the wild card hunt, trailing the Giants by 1 1/2 games and Atlanta by 1/2.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Drew Smyly Tosses Two-Hit Shutout for Rays; Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna Power Marlins over Rockies

Players of the Day for Friday, August 22, 2014

American League

Symly: 2-Hit SHO
When the Rays traded their ace, David Price, to the Tigers in late July, it may have signaled the end of their season, one which started poorly, gained a bit of momentum, but seems eventually to be headed toward the dustbin of baseball history, and out of the playoffs.

The games go on, though, and the Rays can play spoiler while looking ahead to 2015, which was exactly the script in their 8-0 win over AL East division rival, Toronto.

Drew Smyly, one of the Detroit players received in the Price trade, tossed his first major league shutout, blanking the Blue Jays on two hits, fanning four and facing just one over the minimum, thanks to a first-inning double play.

Smyly threw 105 pitches, of which 75 were strikes, and set down the final 19 batters in order. Jose Reyes led off the Toronto first with a single, but was erased one batter later on a double play. After Steve Tolleson's two-out single in the third inning, the Blue Jays went hitless while Tampa Bay piled on the runs.

The win was the first of a three-game series in Toronto. leaving the Blue Jays 4 1/2 games behind Seattle in the race for the second wild card. Tampa Bay is two games further behind. Game two is Saturday, 1:07 pm EDT at the Rogers Center.

National League

Stanton leads NL
with 32 HR, 92 RBI
Ozuna: GS, 5 RBI
Time may be running out on the Miami Marlins in their quest to reach the post-season, but they made the most of their potent offense in a 13-5 win at Colorado Friday, banging out 16 hits off six Rockies' hurlers.

Giancarlo Stanton went 3-for-4, drove in three runs and scored three times. Stanton's 92 RBI leads the National League, as do his 32 home runs.

Second-year center fielder, Marcell Ozuna had the look of a budding star, going 3-for-5 with five RBI, including a ninth inning grand slam. Ozuna has 70 RBI and 19 homers on the year.

Miami picked up a game on East division leader, Washington, but they are still nine games back. The Marlins continue to have their best hope for post-season play in the wild card, where they trail the Cardinals by 4 1/2 games, though they've got plenty of company, as the Giants, Braves and Pirates are all above them in a tight race for two spots.

Game two of the three-game series with the Rockies is set for Saturday at 8:10 pm EDT.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Boster Posey Goes 4-for-4 in Giants' Win over Cubs; Brandon McCarthy Tosses 4-Hit Shutout as Yanks Cling to Wild Card Hope

Players of the Day for Thursday, August 21, 2014

American League

McCarthy: 4-Hitter
While Detroit's David Price was holding the Tampa Bay Rays to one hit over eight innings, and losing, The Yankees' Brandon McCarthy was blanking the Astros on four hits and winning, keeping hopes alive in the Bronx.

McCarthy's complete game shutout resulted in a 3-0 win for the Yankees, who avoided the indignity of being swept at home by the second-worst team in the American League (Texas is four games behind Houston in the AL West) losing two straight before McCarthy came to the rescue.

The four-hitter included eight strikeouts and no walks. McCarthy, added to the Yanks' roster in late July, is 5-2 in New York, after going 3-10 in Arizona. It was his first complete game and first shutout of the season. McCarthy has thrown nine complete games and four shutouts in his eight-year major league career.

Posey: 4 Hits
The win left the Yankees tied with Toronto in second place in the AL East, nine games behind the Orioles. They are both four games behind Detroit in the race for the second wild card, though Seattle is just 1/2 game out. Oakland currently has a stranglehold on the #1 wild card. The A's are 5 1/2 ahead of Detroit.

National League

After winning their protest and getting Tuesday's game rescheduled for completion, the Giants ended up losing it, anyway, to the Cubs, 2-1. Following that, however, they managed to win their regularly-scheduled game, 5-3, as Buster Posey went 4-for-4, maintaining their hold on the #2 wild card spot by a game over the Atlanta Braves.

Posey singled, doubled and hit a solo homer - his 14th - but the light-hitting Giants barely took advantage of his success at the plate. The RBI from the home run was his only one of the game, and he scored just twice.

Having taken two of three from the Cubs, the Giants have been victorious in four of their last five and head to the nation's capitol, where they begin a three-game series with the red-hot Nationals on Friday at 7:05 pm EDT

The Nationals have won ten straight - including Thursday's 1-0, walk-off win over Arizona - and lead the NL East by seven games over the Braves.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Rick Porcello's 3-Hit Shutout, Victor Martinez Grand Slam Lead Tigers past Rays; Travis Ishikawa Powers Giants over Cubs; Giants Win Protest

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 20, 2014

American League

There was nothing but good news for the Tigers on Wednesday, as they clubbed the Rays, 6-0, while their two main rivals were going down to defeat.

Porcello: 3-hitter
Rick Porcello put down 23 straight batters, eventually finishing with a three-hit shutout, his 14th win against eight losess. Porcello gave up a double to Ben Zobrist with one down in the first inning, but didn't allow a hit or a walk until James Loney led off the eighth inning for the Rays with a single. Desmond Jennings' single in the ninth was the only other hit the Rays could muster.

Martinez: GS, 5RBI
Porcello struck out four, didn't allow any bases on balls and threw 76 of 104 pitches for strikes.

Meanwhile, Victor Martinez was taking care of the offense for the Tigers, going 2-for-5 with five RBI on a run-scoring double in the first and a grand slam homer in the seventh inning. It was home run #25 for Martinez, who has amassed 79 RBI thus far in the season.

The win put the Tigers into sole possession of the second wild card spot, as Seattle lost to the Phillies, 4-3, but they also gained on the Royals - 5-2 losers at Colorado - and are just one game behind Kansas City in the AL Central race.

Detroit faces Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field Thursday at 1:10 pm EDT in the finale of their three-game series.

Winners of five of their last seven, the Tigers still appear on track for the AL Central crown. They host Kansas City for three games September 8, 9 and 10, and play at KC on September 19, 20 and 21.

National League

Travis Ishikawa
The Giants topped the Cubs, 8-3, Wednesday and had a loss erased as MLB upheld San Francisco's protest of Tuesday's rain-shortened, 2-0, Cubs victory.

Wednesday's win was powered by the pitching of Jake Peavy, who held the Cubs to two runs over seven innings, and Travis Ishikawa, who went 3-for-5 with a single, two doubles, three RBI and a run scored.

Ishikawa doubled home a pair of runs in the first inning and another in the third, scoring on Andrew Susac's two-run homer. With a four-run lead after one, Peavy relaxed and managed the Chicago hitters, though he did allow 10 hits.

In a rare move, Major League Baseball upheld the Giants' protest over the handling of the tarp in Tuesday's game, agreeing that the Cubs' ground crew did not get the tarp on the infield in time to prevent serious water buildup, leading to the game being called after 4 1/2 innings and awarding the Cubs the win.

The MLB ruling calls for the game to be continued on Thursday, starting at 5:05 pm EDT, prior to game three of the series at Wrigley Field, at 8:05 pm EDT.

With the corrected standings, the Giants trial the Dodgers by three games in the West division, but lead the Braves by 1 1/2 and the Pirates by 2 1/2 in the race for the second wild card.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hisashi Iwakuma Blanks Phillies over 8 for Mariners; Justin Upton Powers Braves Past Pirates, 11-3

Players of the Day for Monday, August 18, 2014

American League

Iwakuma: 11 Ks
Almost imperceptibly, the Seattle Mariners have remained in the wild card race, currently tied with Detroit for the second spot for the post-season.

Seattle topped the Phillies, 5-2, Monday, to keep pace with the Tigers, as Detroit slipped by Tampa Bay, 8-6, in 11 innings.

Hisashi Iwakuma turned in an impressive eight innings of shutout ball for the Mariners, improving to 12-6 on the year with his seventh win over his last 10 starts. Iwakuma struck out a season-high 11 Phillies, allowing four hits without surrendering a walk.

Lifted at the end of the eighth inning after throwing 74 of 96 pitches for strikes, Iwakuma had to sit through a painful ninth inning as two Seattle relievers combined to allow two Philly runs before Fernando Rodney came on to get the final out, picking up his 36th save.

Iwakuma is having a solid season for the contentious Mariners, with a 2.57 ERA and 120 Ks.

The rubber game of the three-game series is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, at 1:05 pm EDT, in Philadelphia.

National League

Upton: 80 RBI
By winning eight straight - beating Arizona, 8-1, Monday night - the Washington Nationals may be leaving no questions about the NL East, but the second-place Braves have proven game, winning five in a row, including Monday's 11-3 slaughter of fading Pittsburgh.

Atlanta is six games out in the division, but their two straight wins over the Pirates have put them into sole possession of the second wild card spot, a game up on the Giants, two games better than the Pirates and 2 1/2 over Miami.

Justin Upton provided nearly half of the Atlanta runs, banging a three-run home run in the third inning - his 24th - and following up with a two-run single in the fifth, as part of a five-run inning that all but sealed the game.

Upton's five RBI gave him 80 on the season, to go with a .287 batting average.

Meanwhile, the Pirates have lost seven in a row. A team that just a few days ago was challenging for the Central division title, now appears to be headed for the golf links come October.

Atlanta will be seeking the sweep when their series at Pittsburgh concludes Tuesday, at 7:05 EDT.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Jason Heyward Leads Streaking Braves Over Slumping Pirates; Nick Markakis Homers, Powers Baltimore to 8-2 Win over ChiSox

Players of the Day for Monday, August 18, 2014

American League

Nick Markakis
Threatening to run away with the AL East title, the Baltimore Orioles won the second straight and are 11-5 in the month of August, winning the opening of a three-game series in Chicago with the White Sox in an 8-2 blowout.

Nick Markakis slugged a two-run homer as part of a five-run eighth inning to blow open the game. Markakis also singled twice, going 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs.

Batting a solid .298, Markakis is one of the primary catalysts for the Orioles' August surge. He's riding a 10-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 15 of Baltimore 16 games this month, with eight multiple-hit games.

The Orioles now have a 7 1/2 game lead over the Yankees in the AL East and lead Toronto by eight games.

Game two of the series is Tuesday, at 8:10 pm EDT.

National League

Jason Heyward
Just a short while ago, Pittsburgh was in a position of a serious contender to capture the NL Central, but, six consecutive losses have put the Pirates at a severe disadvantage and the condition didn't get any better as they opened a three-game series against Atlanta with a 7-3 loss to the Braves.

Atlanta, possibly positioning themselves for the wild card with four straight wins, took the initiative in the opening inning, scoring six runs off Pittsburgh starter Vance Worley.

Moving Jason Heyward into the leadoff spot may have been just the tonic the Braves needed. Heyward led off the game with his 10th home run, collected two more hits in four at-bats, and drove in Atlanta's final run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

The result left Atlanta six back of Washington in the East division, but 2 1/2 behind the Cardinals in the wild card chase, and, just one game behind the Giants for the second wild card.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, slumped six games behind Milwaukee in the Central and now find themselves a game behind the Braves in the wild card, the series pivotal to both teams.

Game two is set for a 7:05 pm EDT start, Tuesday, in Pittsburgh.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Brewers Complete Sweep of Dodgers as Jonathan Lucroy Drive in Five; Alex Gordon, Royals Rule AL Central

Players of the Day for Sunday, August 17, 2014

American League

Alex Gordon
Here's a shocker: The Kansas City Royals are leading the AL Central by 1 1/2 games.

That kind of phrase hasn't been seen in print since the days of George Brett, Willie Wilson, bushy sideburns and pine tar, but, today, that is reality, whether the second-place Tigers want to believe it or not.

On Sunday, the Royals won for the 15th time in their last 18 games, taking the third game of their four-game series in Minnesota by bludgeoning the Twins, 12-6, assuring at least a split.

The middle of their lineup - batters three through six - were a combined 9-for-18, hit three homers and scored eight of the Royals' 12 runs. Alex Gordon tripled and homered, knocking his 13th long ball of the season in the fifth inning with a man aboard and scored three runs in four at-bats. Gordon has hit safely in nine of his last ten games and has had two hits in five of those.

While the Royals were raking, the Tigers were aching, losing to Seattle, 8-1, dropping two of three over the weekend.

Game four of the Twins-Royals series is slated for an 8:10 pm EDT start.

National League

Lucroy: 5 RBI
Milwaukee polished off the Dodgers Sunday, 7-2, completing the three-game sweep of the NL West leaders while maintaining a three-game edge on the Cardinals in the Central division.

Leading the assault was Jonathan Lucroy, who did all his damage early, going 2-for-5 with a two-run homer in the opening frame and a bases-clearing double in the second, for a five-RBI game.

With the big, early lead, Brewer starter, Wily Peralta, cruised through six scoreless innings, allowing five hits and fanning five, tying Adam Wainwright and Johnny Cueto for the major league lead, with 15th victories.

The Brewers have won four straight and have been equally effective on the road as at home. Their home record is 34-28, while they are 36-27 away from home.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

David Ortiz Belts a Pair, Drives in Six for Red Sox; Jedd Gyorko's Slam, Five RBI, Buries Cardinals

Players of the Day for Saturday, August 16, 2014

American League

Ortiz: elite
David Ortiz became a member of an elite club on Saturday, joining Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski as the only players to hit 400 or more homers as a member of the Red Sox.

Ortiz crunched a pair of homers in Boston's 10-7 win over Houston. The man known around Boston as "Big Papi" has a career total of 459 home runs, having begun his career with Minnesota prior to being traded to the Red Sox following the 2002 season.

Both of the Ortiz blasts were two-run shots, one in the third and one in the fifth, but his big blow came in the eighth inning, when he broke open a tight game with a bases-loaded triple, plating two more runs for a 9-6 Boston lead. His six RBI gave him the AL and major league lead, with 91. He's fourth in home runs in the AL with 28.

Yastrzemski had 452 career home runs; Williams hit 521. Both spent their complete careers with the Red Sox. Ortiz, who turns 39 on November 18, has a very good shot at reaching the 500 club, with 28 long balls thus far and 40 more games to play this year, the magical mark is within reach next season. He is currently 36th on the all-time list. Among active players, only Adam Dunn (459), Albert Pujols (514) and Alex Rodriguez (654) have more.

Gyorko: slammin'
National League

St. Louis dropped another game further behind the Central division-leading Brewers on Saturday, dropping a 9-5 decision at home to the San Diego Padres, as Jedd Gyorko lashed a grand slam and drove in another run with a single, giving him five RBI for the game.

The Cardinals slipped to three games behind the Brewers, who were busy taking their second straight from the Dodgers in Los Angeles, 3-2.

Gyorko is in his second season with the Padres, and has eight home runs and 41 RBI in 74 games. The grand slam came in the seventh inning, turning a 5-4 Cardinal lead, into an 8-5 edge for the Padres.

Currently leading the wild card race, St. Louis has company, with the Giants a game back, Pittsburgh 1 1/2 behind and Altanta, 2 1/2 back.

St. Louis leads the series, two games to one. The series finale is scheduled for Sunday at 2:15 pm EDT at Bush Stadium.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Lyle Overbay Delivers for Brewers; Jose Abreu Routing Rookie-of-the-Year Competition

Players of the Day for Friday, August 15, 2014

American League

Jose Abreu
Might as well just etch Jose Abreu's name on the rookie of the year trophy; even if he hit a serious slump now, what he's done already would likely outpace the competition.

Abreu, a .304 hitter, took sole possession of the major league lead in RBI on Friday, driving in three runs with three singles in an 11-5 White Sox victory over Toronto.

Seemingly destined to become a leading run-producer for many years, Abreu was 2-for-2 with runners in scoring position, driving in the first Chicago run in the first and singling home two more in the fifth. He also came around to score in each of those innings.

With 89 RBI, he leads Detroit's Miguel Cabrera by three. Giancarlo Stanton, the NL leader, has 84. Abreu is also in a three way tie with the same two aforementioned players in home runs. Each has 31 on the year.

With the White Sox out of contention for the post-season, Abreu will get to display his talents without pressure. The Sox did help the Orioles - 2-1 losers to Cleveland - maintain their 7 1/2 game lead over the Blue Jays in the East division.

ame two of the three game series between Toronto and Chicago is set for a 7:10 pm EDT start, Saturday in the Windy City.

As for Abreu, rookie of the year may not be the only award he receives in 2004. He's being mentioned as a serious candidate for MVP in the AL.
Lyle Overbay

National League

An NL Central phenomena, the Milwaukee Brewers continue to find ways to win ball games, maintaining their slim lead in the division.

On Friday, the Brewers got an eighth-inning, pinch-hit, bases loaded double from Lyle Overbay that unknotted a 2-2 tie, leading to a 6-3 victory over the home-standing Dodgers in the opener of a three-game series of division leaders.

Overbay, a 12-year veteran of both leagues, cleared the bases with his two-bagger off Dodger reliever, Jamey Wright. Overbay has played for six different teams; this is his second go-round with the Brewers. He last played with them in 2004 and 2005.

The win maintained Milwaukee's 2 1/2 game lead in the Central over the Cardinals, who took a 4-2 decision from San Diego.

The Dodgers host the Brewers in game two of the series, Saturday at 9:10 pm EDT.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Max Scherzer Fans 14, Becomes AL's 1st 14-Game Winner; Milwaukee Tops Cubs, 6-2, as Mike Fiers Ks 14

Players of the Day for Thursday, August 14, 2014

American League

Max Scherzer
It's often been said that good pitching defeats good hitting and that was exactly the case with Max Scherzer earning his 14th win against just four losses in a 5-2 Tiger victory over Pittsburgh, Detroit winning both games of the brief series at home.

Scherzer threw 121 pitches over eight innings, 81 of them for strikes, allowing three hits while fanning 14 Pirate hitters, getting every Pittsburgh starter at least once on strikes. Scherzer left with a 2-0 lead. The Tigers added three runs in the bottom of the eighth, and Pittsburgh got their only two run in the top of the ninth.

Scherzer walked two, lowered his ERA to 2.98, took over second place in the AL strikeout race at 196 (teammate David Price leads with 205), leads the league in innings pitched (185 1/3), became the first 14-game winner in the AL and kept the Tigers 1/2 game behind Kansas City in the AL Central division. The Royals topped Oakland, 7-3.
Mike Fiers

National League

The Milwaukee Brewers earned a 2-2 split in their series at Chicago, topping the Cubs, 6-2, as Mike Fiers struck out 14 over six shutout innings.

Fiers, who spent most of this season at the Brewers' AAA affiliate, Nashville, of the Pacific Coast League, has had just three starts, but has won the last two, beating the Dodgers last week (8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER) before taming the Cubs Thursday afternoon.

Moving down the Cubs, Fiers struck out the side in the second, then got the first two batters on strikes in the third. In the fifth inning, he recorded all three outs on strikeouts, as he did in the sixth. Welling Castillo walked with two outs in the fifth; Anthony Rizzo singled with two down in the sixth.

Fiers left the game after the sixth inning with a 5-0 lead, allowing just three hits and the lone walk. The Cubs scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh, and the Brewers tacked on a run in the eighth.

Milwaukee's win kept them two games up on the Cardinals in the Central division. St. Louis took back second place with a 4-3 win over the Padres, with Pittsburgh losing to Detroit. The Pirates are 2 1/2 back.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Jason Vargas Twirls 3-Hitter in Royals Win; Justin Masterson Keeps Cardinals on Track in NL Central

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 13, 2014

American League

Jason Vargas
After Oakland broke their eight-game winning streak with an 11-3 pounding, the Kansas City Royals bounced right back and held onto first place in the Central division with a 3-0 win over the A's.

Jason Vargas stifled the hard-hitting A's with a complete game shutout, allowing just three hits and no walks over the nine frames. He struck out four and threw 65 of 97 pitches for strikes, improving to 9-5 with a 3.27 ERA on the year. The effort was nothing new for the 31-year-old hurler. He's thrown 11 complete games and six shutouts during the course of his nine-year major league career.

Vargas was in trouble in the first inning, but struck out Derek Norris to end a first-and-third, two out threat. After Jed Lowrie singled to open the second and was erased by a double play, Vargas didn't allow another hit, getting the next 22 batters in order.

The win kept the Royals a half game to the good over Detroit in the division. The Tigers beat Pittsburgh, 8-4.

Games four of the Royals-A's series is slated for an 2:10 pm EDT afternoon start in Kansas City. The Royals lead two games to one.

NOTABLE: Adam Jones' three-run, eighth inning homer, which broke a 2-2 tie and led to a 5-3 Baltimore win over the Yankees, may have been the blast which sealed the deal for the Orioles in the AL East. With a 7 1/2 game lead over Toronto and eight over the Yankees, even if the O's finish up the regular season 20-23, Toronto would have to go 27-13 or the Yankees, 29-14, to beat them. Odds are, since the Yanks and Blue Jays are just barely better than .500 teams, one could contend that the race is over in the division and that Baltimore can coast through the rest of August and September, into the post-season. It may be premature to make that call, but it's a safe bet that the O's are - despite various injuries - the class of the division, and that the two teams chasing them are probably not playoff material.

Presently, the Blue Jays trail Detroit for the second wild card spot by three games; the Yankees are 3 1/2 back.

National League

Justin Masterson
Seeking a sweep of their three-game series with the Cardinals, a win would have gotten the Miami Marlins to 60-60 on the season and made them a viable threat in the NL East.

It wasn't to be, however, as St. Louis hurler, Justin Masterson, silenced Miami's bats for seven innings, allowing three hits and no walks, fanning three, picking up his second win for the Cardinals in three starts since being acquired from the Tigers in late July. St. Louis took the final game of the series, 5-2.

Masterson was lifted for a pinch-hitter after the seventh inning with the Cards on top, 4-0. Daniel Descalso, took a bases-loaded walk in place of Masterson to make the score 5-0 in the top of their eighth.

Miami got its two runs in the ninth, on Jeff Baker's pinch-hit home run off reliever Kevin Siegrist.

The loss left Miami at 59-61, seven games behind the Nationals in the East, while the Cardinals drew to within two games of the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-2 losers to the Cubs on Wednesday. St. Louis trails Pittsburgh by 1/2 game in the red-hot NL Central race and are currently in line for the second wild card spot, though just 1/2 game better than the Giants.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Doug Fister Blanks Mets over Seven as Nationals Take Command in NL East; A's, Josh Donaldson Snap KC Win Streak at Eight

Players of the Day for Tuesday, August 12, 2014

American League
Donaldson: 2HR

Stopping Kansas City's winning streak at eight, the Oakland A's abused KC starter Jeremy Guthrie and reliever Bruce Chen for 20 hits in an 11-3 romp.

After Guthrie had allowed 11 hits and six runs, Aaron Crow came on to get one batter to end the fifth. Chen worked the rest of the game, already out of hand.

Josh Donaldson drove in a pair of runs off Guthrie with a single and a sac fly and made sure to disrespect Chen, hitting solo homers in the seventh and eighth innings. Donaldson went 3-for-5 with four RBI, scoring three times.

The A's maintained their 3 1/2 game lead over the Angels in the West, while KC held onto their slim lead in the Central, holding off the Tigers by 1/2-game, as Detroit lost their second straight at Pittsburgh, 4-2. The Tigers have lost four in a row.

Tied at a game apiece, the four game series between the A's and Royals resumes Wednesday at 8:10 pm in Kansas City.

Fister: 7 scoreless
National League

While the Dodgers were bopping the Braves 4-2, Doug Fister was leaving Mets all over the bases in a 7-1 Nationals win, allowing seven hits and stranding all of them as he shut out the Mets over seven innings for his seventh win in his last nine starts, boosting his season record to 12-3.

Fister, who joined the Nationals this year after two seasons in Seattle and two in Detroit, has been on a roll, allowing just two earned runs in his last four starts, spanning 28 1/3 innings. He's currently on a scoreless streak of 14 1/3 innings.

On Tuesday night, Fister threw 107 pitches and bore down when he had runners on base, stranding single runners in the second, fourth and fifth innings, and leaving two aboard in each of the sixth and seventh.

The Nationals advanced another game on second place Atlanta and now lead the East division by five games. Miami is six back.

Game two of the three-game series at Citi Field in New York starts at 7:10 pm EDT on Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Alcides Escobar Powers Royals to First Place in AL Central; Travis Snider Paces Pirates over Tigers, 11-6

Players of the Day for Monday, August 11, 2014

American League

With a 3-2 win over visiting Oakland, the Kansas City Royals won their eighth straight and took over first place in the Central division by 1/2 game over the slumping Tigers.

Alcides Escobar
Detroit lost the opener of a three game series in Pittsburgh, 11-6. It was Detroit's third straight defeat.

The quiet hero for Kansas City was shortstop Alcides Escobar, usually noted for his slick fielding, who came through with a pair of two-out RBI singles, the last of which put the Royals on top to stay, 3-2.

With two aboard in the second inning, Escobar singled home Alex Gordon, giving the Royals a 2-0 lead. Oakland tied the game in the third inning, but Escobar came through again in the seventh, singling up the middle to plate pinch-runner Norichika Aoki with what proved to be the game winner.

Wade Davis fanned two in the eighth for his 25th hold and Greg Holland picked up his league-leading 35th save with a scoreless ninth.

Despite the loss, the A's still lead the Angels in the AL West by 3 1/2 games.

The two teams play game two of their four-game series Tuesday at 8:10 pm EDT at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

Snider: 2HR 4RBI
National League

Keeping pace in the torrid NL Central is no easy task, but the Pirates appear to be up to it, taking the first of a two-game series over the Tigers by an 11-6 score to retake second place in the division from St. Louis, 6-5 losers to Miami. Milwaukee leads the Pirates by 2 1/2 games with St. Louis another 1/2 game back.

Going 3-for-5 with a double and two home runs, Travis Snider provided the fuel for Pittsburgh's offense, driving in four runs and scoring three times.

Snider's second-inning, two-run blast put the Pittsburgh lead at 8-1. In the ninth, Snider launched a 433-foot solo bomb to straightaway center, completing the scoring.

The two teams combined for 28 hits - 14 apiece - but the Pirates made better use of their at-bats with runners on base.

Game two of the series begins 7:05 pm EDT Tuesday at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Jose Reyes, Chad Jenkins Lead Blue Jays in 19 Innings; Devin Mesoraco's Grand Slam, Two-Run Homer Lifts Reds

Players of the Day for Sunday, August 10, 2014

American League

Jose Reyes
Chad Jenkins
It took the Blue Jays over six-and-a-half hours, 22 players and 19 innings, but they eventually beat the Tigers, 6-5, taking the series two games to one, and back into second place in the AL East.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 19th, Jose Bautista lashed a single down the right field line to bring home Munenori Kawasaki with the walk-off, game winner. It was Bautista's only hit of the game (1-for-8), made possible by Jose Reyes, who went 4-for-9 and was on second base when Bautista delivered the victory blow.

Of Reyes' four singles, one came in the seventh, making the score, 5-3, in favor of Detroit; another was in the bottom of the ninth and drove in Anthony Gose to tie the game at 5-all. The Tigers scored all of their runs by the fourth inning and were shut out for 15 straight frames, the last six by Chad Jenkins, who gave up seven hits and a walk, but kept the Tigers off the scoreboard. Normally a set-up guy, Jenkins has not given up an earned run in his last 14 2/3 innings, a streak dating back to June 26.

It was the second straight day that a game had gone 19 innings, the first time that has occurred in baseball history. On Saturday, the Angels outlasted the Red Sox, winning on a 19th-inning solo homer by Albert Pujols. That game took 6:21, six minutes less than the Blue Jays-Tigers extravaganza.

Mesoraco: 2HR 6RBI
With Baltimore winning and the Yankees losing, the Blue Jays find themselves five games behind the Orioles and a game better than New York. The Tigers, losers of five of their last seven, hold a slim 1/2-game lead over the surging Royals, who won their seventh straight, topping the Giants, 7-4.

National League

The Reds continue to hang on in the NL Central, in fourth place, five game behind Milwaukee, and are among five teams within 2 1/2 games of each other in search of two NL wild card positions.

On Sunday, catcher Devin Mesoraco drove in six runs with a pair of homers - a two-run shot in the first and a grand slam in the fifth - for a 7-2 Cincinnati win over visiting Miami.

The Reds, who slumped badly following the all-star break, losing seven straight and nine of ten, have regained some of their winning ways, going 8-5 since July 29.

Mesoraco has aided in the resurgence, batting .297 with 20 homers and 61 RBI.