Thursday, September 25, 2014

Clayton Kershaw, Carl Crawford, Dodgers Reach Playoffs with 9-1 Win over Giants; Toronto's Mark Buehrle Leaves Seattle Sleepless in 1-0 Victory

Players of the Day for Wednesday, September 24, 2014

American League

Strong-armed Mark Buehrle nearly ended Seattle's post-season chances with eight shutout innings in a 1-0 win by Toronto.

Buehrle: 200+ IP
Reaching a milestone of 14 consecutive seasons with 200 or more innings pitched, Wednesday's effort was vintage Buehrle, allowing three hits, fanning ten and issuing one walk before turning over the ball to Aaron Sanchez, who picked up his third save with a perfect ninth inning.

From 1966 to 1980, Don Sutton and Gaylord Perry each had 14 consecutive seasons of 200 innings or more, but the streaks of both pitchers were snapped by the 1981 player's strike.

Buehrle went past the 200-inning mark in the sixth. Now finished for the season, Buehrle logged 202 innings for the Blue Jays with a 13-10 record, an ERA of 3.39. His career mark stands at 199-152, a record achieved over 15 seasons with the White Sox, Marlins and Blue Jays.

Seattle's loss, their fifth in a row, did not officially finish off the Mariners, though it might as well have. Seattle still trails the A's and Kansas City by three games in the wild card race, but there are only four games left to play. Both Kansas City and Oakland lost on Wednesday, putting any celebration of clinching a wild card temporarily on hold. Kansas City lost to Cleveland (also just barely alive in the wild card race, 3 1/2 games behind the co-wild card leaders), 6-4, while the A's fell, 5-4, to the Angels.

Looking ahead, Oakland and Kansas City can each clinch a wild card on Thursday. The A's are at Texas, while the Royals open a four-game series in Chicago with the White Sox.

National League

Kershaw: 21-3
The Dodgers clinched the NL West Wednesday night and did it in style, pounding their fiercest adversary, the San Francisco Giants, 9-1, in the final game of their three-game series, taken by the Dodgers, two games to one.
Carl Crawford

Carl Crawford punished the Giants with a 2-for-2 effort, singling, doubling, driving in two runs, scoring three times with a stolen base. Starter Clayton Kershaw became the major league's only 21-game winner, holding the Giants to one run on eight hits, striking out 11 without issuing any walks.

Kershaw is almost certain to win the league's Cy Young award, which would be his third (2011, 2013). He is 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA. His win over the Giants put the Dodgers into the post-season. In one of the most remarkable seasons ever compiled by a pitcher, Kershaw has won his last seven starts, and has 239 strikeouts, the fifth straight season he's fanned 200 or more.

Kershaw leads the NL in Ks, with four more than Johnny Cueto and Stephen Strasberg. Cueto, who has 19 wins, is slated to pitch on Sunday, while Strasberg is scheduled to start for the Nationals on Saturday, but, with the post-season looming and Washington 2 1/2 games ahead of the Dodgers for the league's best record, Strasburg could be rested.

Adam Wainwright of St. Louis, currently 20-9, could tie Kershaw with wins if he appears as scheduled, on Sunday, at Arizona, in the final game of the season for the Cardinals, but he also could be benched, especially if the Cardinals wrap up the NL Central, which they currently lead by 1 1/2 over the Pirates.

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