Sunday, August 31, 2014

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.

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