Monday, September 8, 2014

Bird Is the Word: Orioles, Cardinals Cruising as Nelson Cruz, Adam Wainwright Dominate

Players of the Day for Sunday, September 7, 2014

American League

Look in any recent dictionary and under the word "streaky," you're likely to find a photo of one Nelson Cruz, the standout DH and left fielder for the Baltimore Orioles.

7 RBI, Streaky
With a history of huge games and runs of brilliance, Cruz fortified his image on Sunday, driving in all of the Orioles runs in a 7-5, 11-inning victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Baltimore's win avoided the indignity of being swept in Tampa's air-conditioned Tropicana Field; Cruz's mastery of the art of hitting assuring that the Orioles would improve upon their lead in the AL East, as the Yankees - on Derek Jeter Day, no less - dropped a 2-0 decision to the Kansas City Royals. Baltimore's lead is back to 9 1/2 games, their magic number reduced to 12.

Cruz provided the power to boost the O's with a 4-for-5 effort, including a two-run homer in the sixth inning, a bases-loaded double in the ninth, which gave the Orioles a 5-4 lead (only to see Tampa tie it in the bottom of the frame) and another two-run homer in the 11th, which proved to be game-winning. The two home runs increased Cruz's major league leading figure to 39, the seven RBI giving him 101 on the season, leaving him one behind league leader, Mike Trout, and one head of Detroit's Miguel Cabrera.

Including Sunday's performance, Cruz has five home runs and 13 RBI in his last eight games. Over that span, he's 12-for-31, for a .387 average.
Wainwright: 17-9


National League

Adam Wainwright threw his fourth complete game of the season, improving his record to 17-9 in a 9-1 win over fading Milwaukee.

The win put the Cardinals in a commanding position in the NL Central, with a 4 1/2 game lead over the Pirates, dropping the Brewers into third place, 1/2 game behind Pittsburgh. Pleased with the Cardinals' win, the Pirates socked four homers in their 10-4 victory of the Cubs, putting them in sole possession of the second wild card spot, 1/2 game to the good over both Atlanta and Milwaukee.

Wainwright allowed only a ninth-inning run, spoiling what could have been his third shoutout of the season, instead setting for the single run and complete game, dropping his ERA to 2.62, fourth-best amongst NL starters.

Striking out three and issuing just one walk, Wainwright threw 71 of 100 pitches for strikes and got first-pitch strikes on 22 of the 32 batters he faced. The Cardinals turned three double plays, one of which was started by Wainwright.

His 17 wins tied Wainwright with Johnny Cueto, Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner for the NL and major league lead.

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