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.

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