Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Greg Bird Lifts Yanks over Jays as Yogi Berra Passes Away; Cubs' Jake Arrieta Becomes 1st 20-Game Winner

Players of the Day for Tuesday, September 22, 2015

American League

Arrieta: 20-6, 1.88 ERA
Bird: Game winning HR
With two on and nobody out in the top of the 10th inning, Greg Bird, who's been playing in place of Mark Teixeira after the all-star first baseman suffered a season-ending injury in August, socked a three-run home run that propelled the NY Yankees to a 6-4 victory over the first place Toronto Blue Jays.

Bird's second hit of the night in five at-bats was the blow that kept the Yanks from falling further behind the Jays in the race for the AL East division crown. New York trails Toronto by 2 1/2 games, with the rubber game of the three-game series in Toronto slated for a 7:00 pm EDT start, Wednesday night.

The Yankees jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but were tied by the Jays, who scored single runs in the third and fourth. New York seemed to have the game in hand after scoring a run n the eighth, but closer Andrew Miller gave up a solo homer to Toronto catcher, Dioner Navarro, sending the contest to extra innings and setting up Bird's dramatic moment.

Wednesday night's game will be the last time the Ynaks play the Blue Jays this season unless they meet in the playoffs. Both teams are virtual locks for the post-season. What still needs to be settled is which will be the AL East champ and which will be a wild card.

NOTE: A sad note, on a night of Yankee exuberance, was learned after the game that Yogi Berra, the three time MVP and hero of many Yankee triumphs - including being on the winning side in 10 World Series - had passed away. The Yankee legend, famous for odd and amusing one-liners, was 90.

National League

Chicago's Jake Arrieta became the first 20-game winner in the majors with a three-hit shutout over Milwaukee, the Cubs taking their second straight from the Brew Crew, 4-0.

Arrieta (20-6) gave up a game-opening double to Milwaukee leadoff hitter, Scotter Gennett, but settled in and set down the next 14 batters in order until Hernan Perez singled in the fifth inning. From there, he allowed just one more hit - a single by Khris Davis - and a walk to Martin Maldonado, twirling his fourth complete game and third shutout of the season.

A strong candidate for the Cy Young Award, not only does Arrieta lead the majors in wins, he's also second in the majors in ERA, at 1.88, trailing LA's Zack Greinke's 1.65, and third in the NL in strikeouts (6th in the majors), with 220, including the 11 he fanned in Tuesday's victory.

The Cubs didn't gain any ground, as both the Cardinal and Pirates both won, but, with 11 games left to play in the regular season, Chicago is close to clinching a playoff spot. They trail the Cardinals by six in the NL Central and the Pirates by two in both the division ad the wild card hunt.

Chicago will look for a sweep of the Brewers when the teams take the field for game three, Wednesday night at Wrigley Field (8:05 pn EDT).

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