Monday, August 31, 2015

Jake Arrieta Deals No-Hitter Against Dodgers, Cubs Win, 2-0; Derek Holland Blanks O's in 6-0 Texas Win

Players of the Day for Sunday, August 30, 2015

American League

Arrieta: No-Hitter
Holland: 3-Hitter
Hotter than a sizzling plate of barbecued ribs, the Texas Rangers completed the three-game sweep of the Orioles with a superb three-hit shutout from Derek Holland who improved to 2-1 in just his fourth start this season.

Following left knee surgery, Holland missed most of 2014 and went back on the DL after only one inning in the home opener April 10 when he strained his left shoulder, but the effects of 4 1/2 months of rehab have been obvious and the lefty veteran has arrived back in action at an opportune time for the Rangers.

Holland struck out 11 batters in the 6-0 Ranger win, getting sluggers Adam Jones and Chris Davis twice each on strikes and struck out every Oriole player in the lineup.

With 79 of 116 pitches going for strikes, Holland had batters confused. Only Jones, Davis and Dariel Alvarez had base hits off Holland, and Jones double was the only one that went for extra bases.

Texas has won four straight and seven of their last nine, closing to within three games of the Houston Astros, who lead the AL West and who dropped a 7-5 decision to the Twins on Sunday.

The rangers are also in line for the second wild card, leading Minnesota by 1 1/2 games. Texas trails the Yankees by four games in the quest for the #1 wild card spot.

The Rangers go on the road Monday, starting a six-game trip with three at San Diego, followed by three more at the Angels in Anaheim, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

National League

In the midst of a west coast road trip and in need of something to snap them out of a four-game losing streak, the Chicago Cubs got a shot in the arm from the arm of their ace hurler, Jake Arrieta, who tossed the season's sixth no-hitter Sunday in a 2-0 Cubs' victory over the Dodgers.

Having a remarkable season which has helped put the Cubs in position for a wild card in the NL, Arrieta was just a few plays from perfection. Stalin Castro's throwing error in the second inning and a sixth inning walk to Jimmy Rollins were the only flaws in an otherwise sensational mound appearance.

Arrieta fanned 12, including striking out the side in the ninth inning to end the game. Arrieta has 190 strikeouts on the season, ranking him fourth in the league, but his record of 17-6 has him atop the wins column. San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner is second in the majors with 16. No AL hurler has more than 15 wins.

With an ERA of 2.11, Arrieta is a serious contender for NL Cy Young honors. Tossing a no-hitter and having your team vying for a playoff spot certainly won't hurt his chances.

For the Cubs the victory moved them 5 1/2 games ahead of the Giants for the second wild card spot. With San Fran losing to the Cardinals, 7-5, LA's loss kept the two separated by 3 1/2 games in the NL West race.

The Cubs open a six-game homestead with a three-game series against Cincinnati starting Monday night. Also beginning Monday night is a critical three-game series in LA with the Dodgers hosting the Giants.

NOTES: Edwin Encarnacion of Toronto has a hitting streak that reached 25 games on Sunday, the longest in the majors this season.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Toronto's Edwin Incarnation Belts Three HRs, Drives in Nine; Lance Lynn Hurls Cardinals Past Giants

Players of the Day for Saturday, August 29, 2015

American League

Encarnacion: 3HR, 9 RBI
Lynn: 7 Scoreless
Baseball season is roughly 26 weeks long, so, if a player were to drive in nine runs a week, he'd break every RBI record dating back into the 1800s by a long shot, because he'd have somewhere in the neighborhood of 234 RBI at the conclusion of the season.

With that in mind, consider the accomplishment on Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion, who didn't drive in nine runs this week, but did it in just one game, belting three home runs in the Blue Jay's epic 15-1 romp over the Detroit Tigers.

Encarnacion tied Roy Howell for the single-game club record for RBIs and matched another club mark, tying Carlos Delgado (1997) and Darrin Fletcher (2000) with three grand slams in a season, which he did in his final at-bat, in the seventh inning, off Detroit hurler Alex Wilson.

An equal opportunity mauler, Encarnacion hit his other two homers off two other Tiger pitchers. In the first, he smacked a three-run shot off starter Buck Farmer and in the sixth, he ended reliever Guido Knudson's day with a two-run blast.

The big day at the plate added to what's already been a banner year for the Toronto basher. Encarnacion has 29 homers with 90 RBI and a .269 batting average. His RBI total has him tied for third in the AL with KC's Kendrys Morales. Toronto's own Josh Donaldson leads the league with 104. Baltimore's Chris Davis is second, at 92.

Toronto's victory kept them 1 1/2 games up on the Yankees in the AL East as New York topped Atlanta for the second straight day, 3-1. The Blue Jays seek the sweep of the Tigers when they host Detroit in the third game of their series at the Rogers Centre at 1:07 pm EDT Sunday.

National League

For nearly the entire season, the St. Louis Cardinals have had the best record in the majors (83-46), and it hasn't been by accident, though it has served a valuable purpose: keeping them ahead of the volatile Pittsburgh Pirates, who have the second best mark in the National League at 79-49. Only Kansas City, in the AL Central, has a better record than the Pirates, at 80-49.

On Saturday, the Cardinals were the beneficiaries of a gutsy performance by starting pitcher, Lance Lynn, who shut out the Giants into the eighth inning before having to leave the field, twisting his ankle fielding a chopper off the bat of Juan Perez.

Lynn picked up his 11th win against eight losses, allowing six hits in the Cardinals' 6-0 victory.

Lynn suffered only a mild sprain and is expected to make his next scheduled start. The Cardinals kept their edge over the Pirates at 3 1/2 games. Pittsburgh has won four straight after downing Colorado, 4-3, and, if they don't catch the Cardinals in the division race, are looking like a certain lock for the first wild card spot in the post-season.

St. Louis wraps up their three-game series at San Francisco Sunday afternoon at 1:05 PDT. The series is tied at one game apiece.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Didi Gregorius Leads Yankees to 15-4 Rout of Braves; Clayton Kershaw Chills Cubs, Fans 14 in 4-1 Dodger Win

Players of the Day for Friday, August 28, 2015

American League

Gregorius: 6 RBI
Kershaw: 14 Ks
At the outset of the season, there was a good deal of skepticism over how well the new Yankee shortstop, Didi Gregorius, was going to fill in at the position.

After all, it isn't every day that a player is asked to replace a legend and probable Hall of Famer such as Derek Jeter, and, in the heady days of Spring, Gregorius struggled mightily.

But, with experience and support from veterans on the team, the former Arizona Diamondback began playing better in the field and at the plate.

On Friday, Gregorius drove in six runs as the Yankees routed the Braves, 15-4, at Turner Field in Atlanta, with a home run and three singles in six at-bats.

Gregorius and the Yankees struck early, the shortstop delivering a three-run homer in the first inning and following up with a two-run single in the second. Though the Braves came back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first, by the next inning the score was an already out-of-hand, 9-2, and the rout was on.

With a single in the eighth, Gregorius finished up with another RBI and the Yanks tacked on another pair of runs in the ninth, the win keeping them 1 1/2 behind the Blue Jays - 5-3 winners over Detroit - in the AL East.

Game two of the three-game series in Atlanta starts Saturday at 7:10 pm EDT.

National League

Through the first game of their three-game series in San Francisco, the Cubs were 16-4 for the month of August, had won six straight and appeared to have a tight grip on the second wild card spot and a good chance to catch the Pirates for the top wild card position.

Things changed quickly for the Cubs, as the Giants cooled them off with two straight defeats, and the Dodgers picked up where their neighbors to the North left off, whipping Chicago 4-1 behind a masterful pitching performance from Clayton Kershaw, who struck out 14 over eight innings before handing the ball over to closer Kenley Jansen for his 26th save.

Kershaw, the 2014 NL MVP and three-time NL Cy Young award winner (2011, 2013, 2014), allowed just three hits and a walk, giving up the only Cub run in the fourth inning on an Anthony Rizzo solo home run.

Improving to 11-6, Kershaw dropped his ERA to a solid 2.24, third in the league. His strikeout total increase to 236, far outpacing the rest of the league's hurlers. With 209, Washington's Max Scherzer is second in Ks on the season.

More importantly, the Dodgers kept their lead over second-place San Francisco at 2 1/2 games in the NL West as the Giants dropped the Cardinals, 5-4. The loss for the Cubs was their third straight and their lead over the Giants for the second wild card shrunk to 4 1/2 games.

The Cubs will try to get back to their winning ways when they face the Dodgers in the second game of their three-game series, Saturday night at 9:10 pm EDT.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Matt Shoemaker Solid as Angels Down Tigers, 2-0; Zack Greinke Goes to 14-3 as Dodgers Defeat Reds, 1-0

Players of the Day for Thursday, August 27, 2013

American League

Zack Greinke
Matt Shoemaker
With just their second win in the last six games, the LA Angels are still in the race for a wild card, if not the AL West pennant.

LA got 7 1/3 solid innings from starter, Matt Shoemaker, en route to a 2-0 win at Detroit, taking the series two games to one.

Shoemaker (6-9, 4.48) shut down Detroit on one hit, a third inning single with two outs by Anthony Gose, who was promptly erased by the LA hurler, as Shoemaker picked him off to end the inning.

After getting Victor Martinez to fly out opening the eighth inning, Shoemaker was replaced on the mound by Joe Smith, who finished the inning. Huston Street picked up his 31st save with a perfect ninth, striking out two of the three batters he faced.

National League

In the NL West, the race for the division title is heating up as August comes to a close.

On Thursday, Dodger ace, Zack Greinke, cruised through seven innings of shutout ball to lead LA to its third straight win and his 14th against just three losses in a 1-0 win at Cincinnati.

Greinke, who leads the majors with a ridiculous 1.61 ERA, fanned nine, walked two and allowed four hits while his teammates struggled for offense against Reds' hurler, Anthony DiSciafani, who was impressive, also going seven full innings, allowing six hits and the game's only run, which scored not on a hit, but on a second inning double play ball off the bat of Dodger Yasmani Grandal.

There were no extra base hits in the entire game, as 25,529 watched the Reds lose for the 12th time in 13 outings, falling into sole possession of last place in the NL Central, a miserable 29 1/2 games off the pace.

With the win, the Dodgers maintained their 2 1/2 game lead over the Giants, who got another strong performance from Madison Bumgarner, who became the league's second 16-game winner, joining the Cubs' Jake Arrieta. Bumgarner (16-6) gave up two hits and one earned run over six innings, fanning 12, as the Giants knocked off the Cubs, 9-1, taking the series two games to one.

The Dodgers head back to LA on Friday to meet the Cobs for a three-game weekend series, then host the Giants for three starting Monday, August 31.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Justin Verlander One-Hits Angels for 5-0 Tiger Win; Mets Win 6th Straight Behind Michael Cuddyer

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 26, 2015

American League

Verlander: 1-Hitter
This season has not been an especially pretty one for the Detroit Tigers.

Besieged by injuries and spotty play, Detroit harbors slim hopes of reaching the playoffs, currently five games behind fellow AL Central foe, Minnesota, for the last wild card spot.

All doom and gloom aside, Wednesday night at Comerica Park was something special, as Justin Verlander took a no-hitter to the ninth inning, only to have it spoiled by a leadoff double from Chris Iannetta. Verlander, the 2001 AL MVP and Cy Young award winner, retained his composure and finished up the ninth by getting the Angels out in order, completing the one-hit shutout for a 5-0 Tiger victory.

As is the case with many of his teammates, Verlander is not having anything even remotely resembling a championship season. He's 2-6 with a 3.45 ERA, but against the Angels the old magic was back. Throwing 74 of 112 pitches for strikes, Verlander fanned nine and issue just a pair of walks.
Cuddyer: 3-5, 2B, HR

In spite of the two walks - in the third and eighth innings - Verlander faced the minimum heading to the ninth, thanks to a pair of double plays turned by his infielders.

The loss by the Angels was yet another blow to their post-season hopes. Since August 10, LA is 5-11, and they've lost five of their last six, given up the second wild card spot and now trail the Twins by a game and Texas by 1/2 game for the final playoff spot.

The Angels and Tigers conclude their three-game series at 1:08 pm EDT Thursday.

National League

Winners of six straight with a 9-4 win over the Phillies, the Mets are putting it all together at the right time and blowing away the competition in the NL East.

Michael Cuddyer went 3-for-5 with a single, double and a two-run homer (10), driving in three runs to pace the offense. Cutter's blast in the eighth put the Mets up by a 6-0 score. New York's bullpen nearly squandered seven shutout innings from Bartolo Colon, giving up four runs to the Phillies in the bottom of the eighth.

Tyler Clipart quelled the uprising, getting the final out in the eighth and working the ninth for his 18th save of the season and his second as a member of the Mets.

The Mets can complete the four-game sweep of the Phillies when the two teams meet Thursday night at 7:05 pm EDT.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ryan Zimmerman Slam Boosts Nationals over Padres; Evan Gattis Powers Houston to 15-1 Win over Yankees

Players of the Day for Tuesday, August 25, 2015

American League

Evan Gattis
After losing Monday's opener at Yankee Stadium on a walk-off sac fly by Carlos Beltran, 1-0, the Houston Astros exacted their revenge early and often against the Yankees on Tuesday night, smothering the home team by a 15-1 tally.

Houston scored five runs in the first inning off Yankee starter, Ivan Nova, and finally chased the starter in the fifth inning when Evan Gattis belted his 20th homer of the season with one aboard and nobody out.

Ryan Zimmerman
Gattis also singled home a pair of runs in the seventh inning, delivering four RBI on the night, walking twice and scoring three times in four at-bats.

The win helped out the Astros, increasing their lead over Texas in the AL West to 4 1/2 games, while sending the Yankees one game back of Toronto in the AL East. The Blue Jays have won four straight and retaken first place in the division.

Houston and New York play the third - and final - game of the series when they take the field at Yankee Stadium Wednesday afternoon at 1:05 pm EDT.

National League

Ryan Zimmerman had just one hit in five at-bats, but it was a loud one: a sixth inning grand slam that turned a 4-2 Washington lead into an 8-3 victory over the visiting San Diego Padres.

Zimmerman's smash was just his 10th of the season. The All-Star third baseman has been saddled by injuries the past two seasons, playing in just 61 games in 2014 and 82 this season. He has only 15 home runs over the past two years, well below his former production.

Zimmerman's woes mirror those of the rest of the team, riddled with nagging injuries and underperformance that has the Nationals ten games behind the Cubs for the second wild card spot, the chances of making the post-season almost hopeless at this point.

The Nationals have won three straight and gotten back over .500, but the Cubs have won six in a row and have been the hottest team in the National League this month, with a mark of 17 wins and four losses.

Washington will try to keep pace when they play game two of their three-game series with the Padres at 7:05 pm EDT on Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Wilmer Flores Leads Mets' Eight-Homer Barrage; Kansas City Soars Past Orioles on Omar Infante Triple

Players of the Day for Monday, August 24, 2015

American League

Flores: 2B, 2HR, 5RBI
Infante: Key Triple
Kansas City continues to roll on towards the AL Central title with the best record in the American League after dumping the Orioles Monday night, 8-3.

Baltimore led, 3-1, until the Royals erupted for seven run in the sixth inning, highlighted by Omar Infante's triple which plated two runs. Infante continued homeward bound on a bad relay throw from Orioles' second baseman Jonathan Shoop.

With the lead at 6-3, the Royals weren't done, getting another couple of runs on Lorenzo Cain's single, completing the scoring for the game.

Infante tripled again to lead off the KC eighth, but was stranded 90 feet from home.

The loss was the fifth straight for the O's, after being swept at Camden Yards by the Twins over the weekend. Kansas City won their third straight and lead the AL Central by a whopping 13 games.

Game two of the four-game series in Kansas City is slated for an 8:10 pm EDT start.

National League

With their fourth straight win - a 16-7 thumping of the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia - the Mets increased their NL East lead over the idle Nationals to 5 1/2 games.

The Mets pounded out 20 hits, including seven doubles and eight home runs (a franchise record). Second baseman Wilmer Flores was all over it, socking a double and two homers in six at-bats, driving in five runs and scoring three times. A solid hitter in the heart of the Mets' order, Flores is batting .265, with 14 home runs and 54 RBI.

The slaughter was the first of a four-game series in Philadelphia with the first-place Mets meeting the last place Phillies (tied with Miami at 50-75). Game two is schedule for 7:05 pm EDT Tuesday night.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Edwin Encarnacion 4-for-4 as Blue Jays Sweep in 1st Place; Cubs' Kris Bryant Continues Quest of NL ROY

Players of the Day for Sunday, August 23, 2015

American League

Bryant: NL ROY?
Encarnacion: 4-for-4
With the completion of a three-game sweep of the Angels and the Yankees' 4-3 loss to the Indians, the Toronto Blue Jays regained first place in the AL East by 1/2 game on Sunday.

Toronto rocked the Angels with a 12-5 win, outscoring their LA hosts 36-10 over the three-game span.

Leading the barrage of 15 hits was Edwin Encarnacion, who was 4-for-4 with three singles and his 24th home run of the season, a fourth-inning solo shot. with four RBI on the day, Encarnacion raised his RBI total to 74, which is third on the team loaded with hefty bats. Jose Bautista - who also socked a solo homer on Sunday - has 85 RBI on the season. Team leader, Josh Donaldson, is also the major league leader with 100 ribbies.

The Blue Jays lead the AL with 670 runs and 642 RBI. No other team in the league has reached 600 in either category.

Toronto continues to be the hottest team in the majors, racking up a 16-4 record for the month of August. They have seven games remaining in the month, beginning Tuesday with a three-game series at Texas.

National League

Continuing their quest for the post-season, the Chicago Cubs continue to get the most out of rookie third baseman, Kris Bryant, who powered the team to a 9-3 victory over the visiting Braves on Sunday, completing a four-game series sweep.

Bryant belted a pair of home runs and a single in four at-bats, during in three runs and scoring four times. The homers were his 18th and 19th of the season. A strong candidate for NL rookie of the year, Bryant is batting .262 with 74 RBI, 21 doubles and five triples.

While the Cubs continue to trail the Pirates in the wild card hunt by three games, their win put them a full six games ahead of the Giants for the second wild card.

The Cubs end their homestand on Monday with a makeup game against the Indians due to a June 15 rainout before embarking on a six-game West coast swing, with three games in San Francisco and three in LA with the Dodgers.

Game time for Monday's contest at Wrigley is 2:05 pm EDT.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Josh Donaldson - First to 100 RBI - Helps Blue Jays Crush Angels; Paul Goldschmidt Powers Arizona

Players of the Day for Saturday, August 22, 2015

American League

Donaldson: 100 RBI
The American League East appears to be headed for a stretch duel between the Yankees and Blue Jays, both teams winning on Saturday to keep the Yankees up by a mere 1/2 game over the relentless Toronto squad.

Josh Donaldson singled, doubled, crushed a pair of homers, drove in six runs and scored three times in six at-bats as the Blue Jays blistered the Angels, 15-3, in the second of their three-game series at Anaheim.

Donaldson raised his batting average to .301, became the first player in the majors to reach 100 RBI, leading the AL, and his 34 homers have him tied with Baltimore's Chris Davis in second place behind Seattle's Nelson Cruz, who has 37.

Goldschmidt: 4-5 2HR
The Toronto third baseman is having a remarkable season and is one of the prime reasons the Blue Jays are in a contending position. Even if they don't catch the Yankees for the division crown, they appear a lock for the first wild card spot, with a 4 1/2 game edge on the Rangers, who have surged into the second spot with two straight victories.

The Orioles, Angels, Twins, and Rays are all within 1 1/2 games of the Rangers, so the race to the post-season is on, with wings, in the AL.

The Blue Jays seek to sweep the Angels on Sunday when the teams meet at 3:35 pm EDT.

National League

With the NL Wild Card ostensibly looking increasingly like an exclusively Central Division event since the Pirates and Cubs have a substantial lead over the rest of the contenders (the Cubs are five games up on the Giants for the second spot), the most viable option for the Arizona Diamondbacks might be to win the West division.

With an 11-7 win at Cincinnati Saturday, the Diamondbacks find themselves in third place, six games back to the Dodgers, with the second place Giants 1 1/2 out. Chasing the D'Backs - winners of three straight - are the suddenly surging Padres, who have strung together five straight victories.

Arizona's triumph was fueled by one of the league's best hitters and underrated stars, Paul Goldschmidt, who went 4-for-5 with a pair of singles and a pair of two-run homers (23, 24), driving in four and scoring three times.

Goldschmidt is the engine that powers Arizona, his 93 RBI leading the league.

The Diamondbacks will have ample opportunity to catch the Giants and/or Dodgers in September, with a total of 13 games against those two division foes.

Arizona will be seeking the series sweep on Sunday, when they when they meet the Reds at 1:10 pm EDT at Great American Ball Park.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Mike Fiers Fires No-Hitter for Houston Astros; Ben Revere 4-for-5 as Blue Jays Close In On Yankees

Players of the Day for Friday, August 21, 2015

American League
Revere: 4-for-5
Fiers: No-Hitter

Toronto closed to within 1/2 game of the AL East-leading Yankees with a 9-2 win over the Angels Friday night in Los Angeles.

Ben Revere, a recent addition to the already-stoked Blue Jay lineup, went 4-for-5, scored twice and drove in a run to pace Toronto in the first of three-game set against the Angels.

Getting off to a fast start with four runs in the first inning, the Blue Jays kept adding to their advantage while starting pitcher, David Price, mowed down the opposition, allowing two runs on six hits over eight innings, fanning nine.

Earlier, the Yankees lost a 7-3 game at Yankee Stadium, allowing the Jays to gain in the standings.

Game two of the pivotal series for both teams is Saturday at 9:05 pm EDT.

National League

A day after being one-hit by Tampa Bay's Chris Archer, the Houston Astros got an even better performance by one of their own, as Mike Fiers, acquired from Milwaukee prior to the trade deadline, tossed the fifth no-hitter of the season, in a 3-0 Houston win.

The victory was the first for Fiers in a Houston uniform. his previous two starts for the Astros were solid, allowing 10 hits and just one earned run in 12 innings, but he received no decision in either of those games.

Friday night's gem yielded a different result, as he went the distance, throwing 88 of 134 pitches for strikes, getting his first career complete game, shutout and no-hitter.

Astros' right fielder Jake Marisnick staked Fiers to a lead early, socking a second-inning, two-run homer. Fiers made it stand up, striking out 10 and walking three, retiring the last 21 batters in a row after issuing walks in each of the first three innings.

On the season, between Milwaukee and Houston, Fiers is 6-9, with a 3.63 ERA.

The Houston win left them 3 1/2 games up on the Angels in the AL West after LA dropped a 9-2 decision to the Blue Jays. The Dodgers saw their NL West lead shrink to a mere game-and-a-half as the Giants dropped Pittsburgh, 6-4.

Game two of the three-game series between Houston and the Dodgers is Saturday at 7:10 pm EDT.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Tampa Bay's Chris Archer, Detroit's Alfredo Simon Hurl Matching One-Hitters

Players of the Day for Thursday, August 20, 2015

American League

Alfredo Simon
Chris Archer
With Alfredo Simon's 1-Hit shutout of the Rangers, the Detroit Tigers find themselves just 3 1/2 games behind the LA Angels for the second wild card slot in the American League.

Detroit's 4-0 win came in the opener of a four-game series in Detroit and was the Tigers' third straight victory, having taken down the Cubs in a two-game set earlier in the week.

While the wins over the Cubs were largely due to an offensive explosion - of which the Tigers are supremely capable - Thursday's win was the product of Simon's dominance from the mound, in which he did not allow a base hit until Rougned Odor's double with two outs in the fifth inning. After walking Will Venable, putting runners at first and second, Simon got out of trouble by striking out Chris Gimenez, one of five strikeouts on the night.

In the sixth, Simon walked Shin-Soo-Choo, but he was erased by an inning-ending double play, after which Simon completed the game without allowing another hit.

The Tigers made up a game on the Angels, who lost to the White Sox, 8-2. Detroit continues its homestead with game two of the series with the Rangers, Friday at 7:08 pm EDT.

American League

Since there were no notable National League performances on Thursday, Tampa Bay's 1-0 win over Houston deserves notice, as Chris Archer twirled a one-hitter against the Astros.

As solid as he's been most of the season - despite the obvious lack of run support from the light-hitting Rays - Archer improved to 11-9 on the year, walking the first batter he faced, Jose Altuve (eventually thrown out at second trying to steal to end the inning), but not allowing a hit or a baserunner until Colby Rasmus singled to open the fifth inning.

Following the only hit of the game for Houston, Archer set down the next 15 Astros in order to complete his first shutout of the season.

Having a memorable season, Archer's 2.77 ERA is fifth-best in the league, and his 205 strikeouts are second only to Cleveland's Chris Sale, who has 208.

The win left the Rays 8 1/2 out in the AL East, and just three games behind the Angels in the race for the second wild card.

Tampa Bay's ten-game road trip continues Friday when they open a three-game series with the A's. Game time is 7:05 PDT.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Stephen Strasberg Leads Nationals Over Rockies; Nick Castellanos Powers Tigers Past Cubs

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 19, 2015

American League

Nick Castellanos
Strasberg: 7 IP, 0 ER
Simply by out-slugging them, the Detroit Tigers cooled off the Chicago Cubs over a two-game series at Wrigley Field, the Tigers taking Tuesday's game, 10-8, and Wednesday's meeting, 15-8.

Third baseman Nick Castellanos delivered most of the mayhem for Detroit, going 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two home runs, a solo shot and a grand slam.

Castellanos drove in five runs as the Tigers pelted Cubs' starter, Jon Lester, and four relievers with 21 hits, 12 of them going for extra bases.

The pair of losses left the Cubs just three games ahead of the Giants for the second and final wild card spot.

National League

With the Mets falling to Baltimore, 5-4, Washington closed to within 3 1/2 games with a 4-1 victory over the home-standing Colorado Rockies, thanks to an outstanding pitching stint from their ace, Stephen Strasberg.

Strasberg worked seven full innings, allowing two hits, fanning five. The Rockies scored an unearned run in the second inning. Strasberg did not walk any batters, throwing 68 of 93 pitches for strikes.

It was the second win in three starts for Strasberg since returning from the DL on August 8th. Over his past 20 innings, Strasberg has allowed just three earned runs.

The win was Washington's second straight over Colorado. The teams complete their three-game series, with the Nationals seeking the sweep, Thursday night at 8:40 pm EDT.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Ian Kinsler 5-for-5 as Tigers Cool Off Cubs; Yunel Escobar Leads Nationals to 15-6 Win at Colorado

Players of the Day for Tuesday, August 18, 2015

American League
Escobar: HR, 4R, 4RBI
Kinsler: HR, 5-for-5

Detroit may have given up on the post-season, but that doesn't mean the players stop playing.

Case in point: Ian Kinsler went 5-for-5 in the Tigers' 10-8 win over the red-hot Cubs Tuesday night.

Kinsler got off right away, belting his seventh homer of the season - a solo shot - in the top of the first inning. The Tiger second baseman added a double and three singles, scoring three times and driving in a pair of runs.

Upping his average to .304, Kindler is 10th in the league in batting for average. Only 10 American League players have batting averages over .300.

The game was the first of a two-game interrelate series which concludes Wednesday at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Game time is slated for 8:05 pm EDT.

National League

Yunel Escobar helped carry the Washington Nationals to a 15-6 win over Colorado with a 3-for-4 night at the plate.

Escobar got the Nationals on the scoreboard in the top of the first with his ninth home run of the season, a two-run shot.

He added a pair of singles and also walked twice, enabling him to score four times. Escobar drove in four runs as the Nationals belted out 15 hits against a battered Colorado pitching staff. The Rockies used six pitchers in the loss, their eighth in the past ten games. Escobar finished the game with a .305 batting average.

The win kept Washington within 4 1/2 games of the NL East-leading Mets, who took a 5-3 decision in Baltimore over the Orioles.

Colorado hosts Washington in the second of their three-game series Wednesday night at 8:40 pm EDT.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Brian McCann Leads Yankees over Twins, 8-7; Arizona Opens Series in Pittsburgh With Jeremy Hellickson Win

Players of the Day for Monday, August 17, 2015

American League
Jeremy Hellickson
McCann: 3-5, HR, 5RBI

In the opener of a three-game series, the Yankees won a thriller Monday in New York, defeating the visiting Twins, 8-7, in 10 innings.

Catcher Brian McCann was a one-man wrecking crew, going 3-for-5 with five RBI, including a three-run homer in the first inning and a double in the 10th that put runners at second and third with nobody out and set the stage for an intentional walk to Carlos Beltran and the winning run scoring on a Chase Headley ground out.

The win kept the Yankees in first place in the AL East, improving their lead to one game over second place Toronto. Third place belongs to the Orioles, who are four games back after completing a four-game sweep of the Oakland A's with a 4-2 win.

Game two of the series between the Yanks and Twins is slated for Tuesday at 7:05 pm EDT at Yankee Stadium.

National League

Continuing to hang onto hopes of making the post-season, the Arizona Diamondbacks opened an important series at Pittsburgh with a 4-1 triumph over the Pirates.

Starting pitcher, Jeremy Hellickson, made the grade both from the mound and at the plate, improving to 9-8 on the year by holding Pittsburgh to three hits and one earned run over 5 1/3 innings and driving in a run with a third-inning single.

Arizona's win left them 8 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the West and 9 1/2 behind the Cubs for the second wild card slot. Holding onto the first wild card spot, Pittsburgh saw their edge over the idle Cubs (winners of nine of their last ten games) diminish to just two games

Arizona faces Pittsburgh in game two of the three-game series Tuesday at 7:05 pm EDT.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Gerardo Parra Goes 5-for-6 in Orioles' 18-2 Romp; Giants Sweep Nats on Madison Bumgarner's 3-Hit Shutout

Parra: 5-for-6
Players of the Day for Sunday, August 16, 2015

American League

The AL East continues to be the most intriguing race in the majors, with the Yankees failing to sweep the Blue Jays in Toronto on Sunday, dropping a 3-1 decision, and reducing their lead over Toronto to a mere 1/2 game.

While the two leaders were battling, the Orioles were sending baseballs all over and out of Camden Yards, accumulating 26 hits in an 18-2 rout of the visiting Athletics.

Of those hits, seven went for two bases and four for home runs, two of them by center fielder Adam Jones, who contributed three RBI.

Catcher Caleb Joseph was 3-for-4 with a single, double, home run and four ribbies, but, outfielder Gerardo Parra stole the show with a 5-for-6 day at the plate, getting the O's started with a first-inning home run, followed by a double and three singles, scoring three times and driving in three runs.

Bumgarner: 3-Hit Shutout
Parra, acquired by Baltimore just prior to the trading deadline, has been a solid addition to the Orioles' lineup, batting .295 with three homers in 14 games.

The Orioles finished the weekend just four games from the first-place Yankees, and 1/2 game better than the Angels for the final wild card spot. Baltimore can finish off the sweep of Oakland when the two meet on Monday in the finale of their four-game series. Game time is 7:05 pn EDT.

National League

The San Francisco Giants completed their sweep of the visiting Washington Nationals, with a 5-0 victory on Sunday, thanks to another outstanding outing by Madison Bumgarner, who joined the Cubs' Jake Arrieta, Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole and the Cardinals' Michael Wacha as the league's fourth 14-game winner.

Bumgarner notched his third straight win with a superb three-hit shutout of the Nationals, walking one while striking out a 14, matching his season high.

It was Bumgarner's third complete game and first shutout of the season. At 14-6, Bumgarner is well-entrenched in the Cy Young award vote gathering. The shutout lowered his ERA to 2.98 and his strikeout total was upped to 174, third-best in the league behind Clayton Kershaw (205) and Max Scherzer (194).

The Giants kept pace with the Dodgers - winners of three straight - in the NL West, 2 1/2 games back, but 3 1/2 games behind the Cubs for the second wild card spot.

The Giants open a three-game series in St. Louis on Monday, while the Nationals, trailing the Mets by 4 1/2 in the East, opens a series in Colorado on Tuesday.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Jackie Bradley Jr. Leads 26-Hit Boston Assault; Matt Duffy Powers Giants over Nationals, 12-6

Duffy, 2 2B, 4 RBI
Bradley Jr. 5-6, 2HR, 7RBI
Players of the Day for Saturday, August 15, 2015

American League

While the Yankees expanded their lead in the AL East to 1 1/2 games over the Blue Jays with a 4-1 win in Toronto, the Red Sox and Jackie Bradley Jr. were teeing off against the Mariners, to the tune of 26 hits and a 22-10 win.

Bradley was simply amazing, socking a pair of two-run homers and three doubles in six at-bats, scoring five times and driving in seven runs, becoming the first Red Sox to get five extra-base hits in a game.

Batting at the bottom of the lineup, Bradley anchored the last four spots in the Boston order, which was a combined 13-for-19 with 13 RBI and 18 runs.

The score was the most ever against the Mariners and it started with their ace, Felix Hernandez, on the mound. Hernandez lasted just 2 1/3 innings, allowing 12 hits and a whopping 10 earned runs.

On Friday, the Red Sox battered the Mariners, 15-1. Boston will be seeking the series sweep when they take the field at Fenway Park, Sunday, at 1:35 pm EDT.

National League

To the delight of the NY Mets and their fans, the Giants are laying waste to the Washington Nationals, taking three straight in San Francisco, including Saturday's 12-6 mop-up.

The win kept the Giants 2 1/2 back of the Dodgers in pursuit of the top spot in the NL West, simultaneously keeping the Nats 4 1/2 back of New York in the East, as the Mets dropped a 5-3 decision to the Pirates in 14 innings.

Some credit for the Giants' success has to go to rookie third baseman, Matt Duffy, who, on Friday, was 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBI, and on Saturday had a pair of doubles and four RBI in five at-bats.

Duffy's first two-bagger came in the second inning with the Giants down 2-1 and the bases full. All three runners scored, giving the Giants the lead at 4-2. Duffy scored on a single by Brandon Belt as the Giants eventually put up a five-spot in the inning.

Things were already out of hand in the eighth when Duffy doubled again, knocking in Gregor Blanco to make it an 11-5 game. Buster Posey knocked in Duffy later in the frame.

A serious candidate for NL rookie of the year honors, in 103 games, Duffy is batting .310 (7th in NL), with 23 doubles, five triples, 10 homers and 59 RBI.

San Francisco can complete the sweep of the four-game series with a win in Sunday's finale, which starts at 1:05 pm PDT.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Adam Jones, Manny Machado Star as Orioles Outlast A's; Jaime Garcia Pitches Gem for Cardinals

Machado: Walk-Off HR
Jones: HR, 4RBI
Players of the Day for Friday, August 14, 2015

American League

While the Yankees were coming from behind to win at Toronto, 4-3, taking back first place in the AL East from the Jays by 1/2 game and ending an 11-game Toronto win streak, the Orioles were in Baltimore, going into extra innings against the Athletics, eventually coming away with an 8-6 victory in 13 innings.

Manny Machado provided the fireworks in walk-off fashion, socking his 25th home run of the season with one out and one aboard, leaving the Orioles in third place, five games behind the interim leader of the division.

Helping the Baltimore cause in the regular course of the game was Adam Jones, who singled twice, whacked a fifth-inning, three-run homer (his 20th), and drove in four runs. Jones has 60 RBI on the year. Chris Davis also belted his 32nd home run of the year and drove in two runs, tying him with Toronto's Josh Donaldson at 85 RBI.

Garcia: 8 1/3 IP, 0 ER, W
The Yankees and Blue Jays continue their series in Toronto on Saturday while the O's and A's take the field at 7:05 pm EDT at Camden Yards for the second of their four-game series.

National League

While other teams seem to have their winning and losing streaks and various ups-and-downs, the St.Louis Cardinals simply continue to plow ahead like an old mule, leading the NL Central, as they have since nearly the start of the season, by a solid six games.

After taking two of three from the Pirates during the week, the Cardinals entertained the Miami Marlins in the first of a three-game series at Busch Stadium, though the result may have not been exactly what the guests were seeking nor expecting.

Jaime Garcia turned in an outstanding start, nearly going the distance. Working into the ninth, Garcia finally turned the ball over to Trevor Rosental after the Marlins got on the board with an unearned run. Garcia had held Miami to six hits, but with two aboard and only one out, Rosenthal came in to do his job for the 35th time this season, allowing one hit, but getting the final two outs to secure the 3-1 St. Louis victory.

Garcia (5-4) had everything working, fanning six and walking only one batter. He threw 96 pitches, 69 of them for strikes. Having missed almost all of July due to injury, Garcia is back on his best game, lowering his ERA to a ridiculous 1.57.

Earning wins in his last two starts, Garcia has not allowed an earned run over the past 15 1/3 innings.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Mitch Moreland 4-for-4 in Rangers' Win over Twins; Cubs Win 7th Straight Behind Kyle Schwarber Homers

Players of the Day for Thursday, August 13, 2015

American League

Schwarber: 2HR, 4RBI
Moreland: 4-for-4
They may not win the division or make the playoffs, but the Texas Rangers are playing good enough ball of late to stay close in the sub-standard AL West.

Elvis Andrus' eighth inning sac fly provided the winning margin in the Rangers' 6-5 win over the Twins, ending a three-game skid and taking the finale of their three-game series in Minnesota.

Andrew may be given credit for the winning RBI, but Mitch Moreland provided the bulk of the offense, going 4-for-4 and driving in four runs with a two-run homer in the fourth inning and a two-RBI double in the fifth.

One of the silent heroes for the Rangers, Moreland is quietly having a bang-up season, with 17 home runs, 61 RBI and a .295 batting average. Not exactly all-star numbers, but well above the norm for major league players.

The victory left the Rangers just five games out of the lead, held currently by Houston, with the Angels holding onto second place, 1 1/2 games back.

Following their six-game road trip in which they were 2-4, Texas returns to Arlington Friday to host the Rays for three games.

National League

Brimming with confidence, the Chicago Cubs topped the Brewers on Thursday for their seventh straight win, leaving them just 1 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh in the wold card hunt.

Led by a pair of homers off the bat of Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs topped Milwaukee, 9-3, completing the sweep before heading across town for a three-game series with the White Sox, beginning Friday.

Schwarber, a rookie who had played in just 31 major league games, belted a solo homer in the fifth as the Cubs took the lead, then smacked a two-run homer in the seventh, followed by an RBI single in the eighth.

The homers were numbers seven and eight for the left fielder out of Middleton, Ohio.

The Cubs are in the clear - for now - concerning a playoff spot. They currently hold a 4 1/2 game lead on the Giants for the second wild card slot.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Hisashi Iwakuma Throws No-Hitter over O's for Mariners; J.T. Realmuto Slams Red Sox in Marlins Rout

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 12, 2015

American League

Realmuto: Slam, 6RBI
Iwakuma: No-Hitter
The Orioles are fading fast in the AL East, while the Blue Jays suddenly have erased what once was an 8-game Yankee division lead.

On Wednesday, the Orioles were struck a serious blow as Hisashi Iwakuma tossed a no-hitter in the final game of the series in Seattle, with the Mariners taking a 2-1 series edge with the 3-0 victory.

Iwakuma (4-2) was perfect through the first three innings, but walked Manny Machado leading off the fourth inning to end the perfect game bid. He also issued a pass to Chris Davis with two outs, but got Jimmy Paredes on strikes to end the inning.

Iwakuma didn't allow another baserunner until the eighth inning when Jonathan Schoop led off with a base on balls, but Iwakuma once more was up to the task, getting another strikeout - one of seven on the night - before inducing an inning-ending double play.

The Orioles' ninth was as uneventful as the previous eight innings, the O's going down in order as Iwakuma completed the no-hitter.

The win was the first complete game, shutout and no-hitter for the fourth year pro out of Tokyo, Japan. Iwakuma threw 116 pitches, 77 of them for strikes.

While the loss sent the O's five games back of the Jays in the AL East, the win was perhaps less important to the Mariners, who are 54-61, trailing the Astros by eight games in the West.

National League

J.T. Realmuto led a 17-hit assault on Boston pitching, as the Marlins dumped the Red Sox, 14-6, completing a sweep of the two-game series in Miami.

A rookie with the Marlins, Realmuto stroked a sixth inning grand slam, capping a 10-run outburst by Miami. It was his seventh homer of the season. He also singled and tripled, driving in six runs total, in five at-bats.

In 87 games, Realmuto has 35 RBI and is batting .255.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lorenzo Cain Leads Royals over Tigers, 6-1; David Peralta's Grand Slam Boosts Diamondbacks

Players of the Day for Tuesday, August 11, 2013

American League

Peralta: Grand Slam, 5RBI
The races in the two of the three AL divisions can't be much tighter, but Kansas City is making a mockery of the AL Central.

Cain: 4-for-4
With both the Angels and Astros losers on Tuesday, the AL West still has Houston on top, but only a game ahead of LA. In the East, the Yankees lost their fourth straight - 5-4 at Cleveland in 16 innings - while the Blue Jays won their ninth straight and have gotten to within 1/2 game of the division leading New Yorkers.

Meanwhile, in Kansas City, the Royals hold a 12-game lead over the Twins after hammering the Tigers in the second of their three-game series, 6-1.

In support of the six-inning, two-hit pitching of Yordano Ventura, Lorenzo Cain went 4-for-4 with a solo homer, a double and a pair of singles, scoring twice and driving in one.

The 29-year-old who broke into the majors in 2010, but is really in just his third year as a full-time player for the Royals, has rapidly become one of the better hitters for average in the league.

After hitting .251 in 2013, Cain upped his average to .301 last season and is currently fifth, at .316 in the league, just .009 behind league-leader, Prince Fielder (.327).

The Royals look for the sweep of the Tigers Wednesday night, when the two teams tangle at 8:10 pm EDT.

National League

The NL West isn't quite over with yet.

Thought the Dodgers have maintained their lead for most of the season, the Giants continue to keep pace, just 2 1/2 games back, but then there's the Arizona Diamondbacks, which may have the best lineup in the division, 6 1/2 back of LA, but winners of three straight after bombing the Phillies, 13-1, Tuesday night.

Jeremy Hellickson may have had his best outing of the season, allowing no earned runs on seven hits while fanning six over eight innings, but his effort was overshadowed by the 15-hit barrage from the Arizona regulars.

Leading the pack was David Peralta, who highlighted an 11-run second inning for the D-Backs with a grand slam, his 11 homer of the season. Perlata, currently at .301, added a run-scoring single in the fifth, finishing 2-for-4 with five ribbies.

The Diamondbacks are lurking in third place in the division and have six games remaining with the Gaints and seven against the Dodgers, all in September.

A win Wednesday in the series finale would give Arizona a sweep of the series. Game time is 12:40 pm PDT.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Johnny Cueto Tames Tigers with 4-Hit Shutout; Ian Desmond Homers Twice as Nationals Down Dodgers

Players of the Day for Monday, August 10, 2015

American League

Cueto: 4-Hit Shutout
Desmond: 2HR, 3RBI
Seeking another arm for the run to the AL Central title, the Kansas City Royals acquired Johnny Cueto from the Reds in one of the most significant deals prior to the July 31 trading deadline.

By all appearances, the Royals got what they wanted, as Cueto - following two starts in which he pitched well but received a no-decision and a loss - threw a four-hit shutout at the fading Tigers, opening a three-game series at Kansas City with a 4-0 win.

Cueto was on his game, working the entire nine innings, throwing 86 of 116 pitches for strikes, allowing no walks while fanning eight Tiger batters for his first win in the American League.

The Royals got to Detroit starter, Matt Boyd, early, scoring three runs in their initial at-bat, giving Cueto a nice cushion and allowing the hurler to settle in and throw strikes.

Kansas City pushed the Tigers back to 13 1/2 games off the pace, behind Minnesota, which trails the Royals by 12 games, the largest lead in any division of MLB.

The Tigers will try to get one back from the Royals in game two, Tuesday night, at 8:10 pm EDT.

National League

While the Mets snapped a two-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over Colorado to stay in first place in the NL East, the Washington Nationals got a big night from their all-star shortstop, Ian Desmond, to take an 8-3 decision over the Dodgers in LA.

The win was essential to keep pace with the Mets, leaving the Nationals just 1 1/2 games behind the division front-runners.

Desmond smacked a pair of homers and drove in three runs with a two-run blast in the second inning and a solo mash in the eighth. He also singled and scored in the sixth as the Nationals put up a five-spot.

Gio Gonzalez started for Washington and threw eight innings of shutout ball for the Nats. Doug Fister  came on in relief and allowed all three Dodger runs in the ninth, all unearned, ironically, due to an errant throw by Desmond.

The Nationals' victory came in the first game of a three-game series in LA. Game two is Tuesday at 7:10 pm PDT.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Marco Estrada Blanks Yanks, Completing Toronto Sweep; Andrew McCutchen, Francisco Cervelli Power Pirates

Players of the Day for Sunday, August 9, 2015

National League

Francisco Cervelli
Andrew McCutchen
Despite being five games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central, the Pittsburgh Pirates have the second-best record in the league and only St. Louis and Kansas City have better records in the majors.

Pittsburgh dynamism was on display Sunday night, when they banged 16 hits out of their home base, PNC Park, defeating the Dodgers by a 13-6 tally.

As usual, leading the hit parade was Andrew McCutchen, who went 2-for-4 with a home run (17) and four RBI, giving him 74 on the season.

Francisco Cervelli, an off-season addition from the Yankees, contributed a single, triple and home run in four at-bats, driving in three and scoring twice.

The Dodgers held a 5-3 lead until the seventh inning, when the Pirates got into LA's bullpen for nine runs, blowing the game completely wide open and completing the three-game sweep of the Dodgers, who still hold a three-game lead over the Giants in the NL West.

Pittsburgh has won four straight and are 3 1/2 games ahead of the Cubs in the wild card race.

Marco Estrada
The Pirates get a day off Monday prior to opening a critical series in St. Louis on Tuesday. The Dodgers head back to LA where they will host the Nationals starting Monday.

American League

With a 2-0 shutout, the Toronto Blue Jays completed their weekend sweep at Yankee Stadium, and closed to within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Yankees in the AL East.

Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista each sent out solo home runs, which was enough for starting pitcher, Marco Estrada, who held the Yankees scoreless for 6 1/3 innings before turning the ball over to Toronto's effective bullpen.

In the three-game series, the Yankees managed to score just one run, and were shut out for 25 consecutive innings, after Mark Teixeira's solo homer in the series opener.

Estrada (10-6) allowed three hits, walked three and struck out six. He threw just 89 pitches, 56 of them for strikes.

The Jays have now won eight straight and seem to have complete control over their post-season destiny. Besides closing quickly on the Yankees, their win gave them a 1/2 game lead over the Angels in the wild card race.

The Jays head back to Toronto for a series with the A's on Tuesday, as the Yankees head to Cleveland.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Blue Jays Win 7th Straight on Justin Smoak Grand Slam, David Price; Stephen Strasberg Returns for Nationals Win

Players of the Day for Saturday, August 8, 2015

American League

Smoak: Grand Slam
Price: 7 Shutout Innings
New York is in first place in the AL East, but the Toronto Blue Jays are making their stay to the top quite uncomfortable.

Toronto took down the Yankees for the second straight game, blanking them, 6-0, behind stellar pitching from newly-acquired David Price and a grand slam by first baseman, Justin Smoak.

Yankees starter, Ivan Nova, kept the ball game tied at 0-0 through five innings, but got into trouble in the sixth, loading the bases until Smoak unloaded on him for his 10th homer of the season.

Price, confident and dominant throughout, took the four-run advantage and made the best of it, finished after seven complete innings, allowing three hits, three walks, no runs and fanning seven.

Since Price was traded from Detroit to the Blue Jays, he's won both of his starts, allowing six hits and one earned run over 15 innings of work, for an ERA of 0.60.

Strasberg fans 12
Toronto's victory was their seventh straight, and they have closed ranks on the Yankees, now just 2 1/2 games back in the division.

The Blue Jays will have ten more meetings with the Yankees after this series. They look to complete the sweep at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Game time is 1:05 pm EDT.

National League

While the New York Mets overtook the Nationals in the NL East earlier this week, it appears that Washington is not taking matters sitting down.

Stephen Strasberg returned from a stint on the DL on Saturday, turning in a sizzling pitching performance, with seven strong innings in a 6-1 Washington victory.

Strasberg allowed just three hits, one run (a fourth inning solo homer by Nolan Arenado), didn't walk a batter and struck out 12.

It was just what the Nationals needed, coming off a 2-6 slide recently. Meanwhile, the Mets were cooled down by Tampa Bay, taking a 5-4 loss, leaving them a mere 1 1/2 games to the good over the Nationals.

Washington will try to win the rubber game of the series when the two teams meet at Nationals Park, Sunday afternoon at 1:35 pm EDT.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Torii Hunter Saves Twins with 9th-Inning Homer; Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies Dump Nats with Grand Slam

Players of the Day for Friday, August 7, 2015

American League
Gonzalez: GS, 4 RBI
Hunter Leads Twins

A much-needed win was what the Twins got Friday in the opener of a three-game series in Cleveland, when Torii Hunter put Minnesota on top with a ninth-inning solo homer for a 10-9 victory.

Minnesota was coming off being swept four straight in Toronto by the Blue Jays, prior to which they ended a series against Seattle with a 4-1 loss, their Friday night win snapping a five-game losing streak.

Hunter's home run was his 18th of the season. In previous at-bats he singled and doubled, going 3-for-5 with three RBI and three runs. He has 60 RBI on the year.

Minnesota's win left them in second place, 9 1/2 games back of the Royals in the AL Central, the largest lead in any of MLB's six divisions. The Twins are also on the outside looking in at the wild card, where they trail the Angels by 3 1/2 games, but have Toronto and Baltimore ahead of them as well.

The series between the Twins and Indians resumes Saturday night at 7:10 pm EDT.

National League

Carlos Gonzalez lashed a two-out, eighth-inning grand slam, erasing a 4-1 deficit and sending the Colorado Rockies to a 5-4 win over the Washington Nationals.

The 23rd home run of the season for Gonzalez came off reliever Drew Storen, who was saddled with the loss, eclipsing a solid pitching performance by starter Jordan Zimmerman, who allowed the Rockies just four hits and one earned run over 6 2/3 innings. The four RBI gave Gonzalez an even 60 on the year.

The win meant little to the Rockies, who are mired in last place in the NL West, but sent the Nationals to a sixth loss in their last eight games. Since the All-Star break, Washington has been sliding into mediocrity, going 8-13, relinquishing their NL East lead to the Mets, who, following Friday's 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay, hold a 2 1/2 game lead over the Nationals in the division.

Game two of the three-game series at Nationals Park is slated for 7:05 pm EDT, Saturday night.