Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Jason Hayward Gives Cardinals Win with 10th Inning Homer; Adrian Beltre Leads Rangers to First in AL West

Players of the Day for Tuesday, September 15, 2015

American League

Beltre: 4-for-5, 2 RBI
Texas took over first place in the AL west with a spirited, come-form behind, 6-5, win over the Houston Astros on Mitch Moreland's sac fly in the bottom of the ninth, but, once again, it was the play of third baseman Adrian Beltre that put the Rangers in position to win.

Beltre went 4-for-5 with three singles and a double, scored a run and drove in two, including the game-tying run in the fourth inning, which knotted the score at 5-all.

Starters Derek Holland for Texas and Collin McHugh were both roughed up early, but the relief staffs of both teams kept the score tied until Moreland drove in Drew Stubbs (who was running for Prince Fielder) from third with a fly ball to center with no outs. Fielder led off the inning with a single, and Beltre singled pinch-runner Stubbs to third before Moreland delivered.

The Rangers have taken two straight over the Astros and forged a 1/2 game lead in the division. Houston is now in position for the 2nd wild card, 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees, but just 1 1/2 in front of the Twins and 3 1/2 better than the Angels.

Game three of the four-game series resumes Wednesday night at 8:05 pm EDT.

Heyward: 3-4, 2 2B, HR, SB
National League

For teams vying for playoff spots - be they wild cards or division titles - every game is big this time of year, so St. Louis fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when Jason Hayward delivered a 10th-inning, two-run homer to boost the Cardinals past Milwaukee, 3-1.

It was a timely win, considering that the Pirates have been lately breathing down the backs of the Cardinals, but Pittsburgh lost to Chicago, 2-1, evening their four-game series at a game apiece. Had the Cardinals lost and the Pirates won, the lead in the NL Central would have dropped to just one game, a little too close for comfort, with 18 games remaining in the regular season.

As it turns out, the Cardinals still lead by three over Pittsburgh, and probably don't have to worry about the Cubs, who are likely to be the second wild card, as they are four games behind the Pirates, but 7 1/2 up on the Giants.

Heyward, who's been as steady in right field as the Cardinals could have expected, was 3-for-4.

The Brewers couldn't keep Hayward off the bases, as he doubled in the first inning, walked and stole second in the fourth but was stranded at third, doubled again in the sixth and scored the tying run on Jhonny Peralta's single.

In the eighth, Heyward reached on a fielder's choice and went first-to-third on another Peralta single, but again did not score.

With his fifth plate appearance in the 10th, Heyward belted his 12th home run of the season. Closer Trevor Rosenthal allowed a hit in the bottom of the 10th, but fanned two for his 44th save, second in the majors behind Pittsburgh's Mark Melancon.

Heyward's importance to the Cardinals cannot be understated. Generally batting in the three-hole, he's hitting a solid .296 with 12 homers, 32 doubles, 55 RBI, and 22 stolen bases. He's been caught stealing just three times this season.

The Cardinals play game two of their three-game series at Milwaukee Wednesday, at 8:10 pm EDT.

NL Note: Stephen Strasberg took a no-hitter into the sixth, but allowed a lead-off single, finishing with eight innings of shutout ball, walking one and striking out 14. The Nationals won, 4-0.

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