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.

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