Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pirates Clinch Playoff Spot as Neil Walker Drives Home 6; Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre Lead Texas over A's

Players of the Day for Wednesday, September 23, 2015

American League

Elvis Andrus
Adrian Beltre
With an assist from division foe, Los Angeles, the Texas Rangers expanded their lead to three games over the Houston Astros, downing the Oakland A's, 10-4, Wednesday night.

Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre led the charge for Texas, Beltre singling and scoring in the fourth inning to tie the game at one, before Elvis Andrus unloaded a three-run shot to put the A's down 4-1. Beltre delivered his 16th homer of the season the following inning, another three-run belt that put the game out of reach.

Texas has a magic number of eight to lock up the AL West. The Angels are 4 1/2 back and still looking to get into the playoffs, likely via the wild card. Houston is currently in line for the second wild card, trailing the Yankees (1st wild card) by four games. Minnesota is also in the mix. The Twins are a game behind Houston, 1/2 game ahead of the Angels.

With the third game of the series in Oakland slated for a 3:35 pm EDT start, the Rangers will be looking for the sweep before heading to Houston for a showdown, three-game series with the Astros. On Monday they return home to finish up: three games with the Tigers, followed by four against the Angels, October 1-4.

National League

Walker: HR, 6 RBI
Neil Walker went 4-for-5 and drove in six runs as the Pittsburgh Pirates hammered the Colorado Rockies, 13-7, the win assuring themselves of another trip to the post-season.

The Pirates are the second National League team to qualify for the playoffs. Pittsburgh is assured of at least a wild card spot, but still are eyeing the NL Central crown. They trail the Cardinals (the other NL team to have already qualified for the playoffs) by four games, with 10 left to play. St. Louis was a 10-2 winner over Cincinnati Wednesday night.

In the wild card, Pittsburgh picked up a game over the Cubs, now leading them by three. By most accounts, the Pirates and Cubs will be the wild card, St. Louis the Central division winner, though things could change as the season winds to a close.

The win was Pittsburgh's fifth straight. St. Louis has won four in a row.

Walker connected for his 15th homer of the season in the third inning, his three-run blast upping Pittsburgh's lead over the host Rockies to 5-0. Walker had put the Pirates on the board in the first with a two-run single. Later, he completed the scoring for Pittsburgh with an RBI single in the ninth as Pittsburgh piled on the runs.

The Pirates will be seeking a sweep of the four-game series at Colorado when they conclude this afternoon. Game time is set for 3:10 pm EDT.

On Friday, the Pirates open a three-game series in Chicago, then head home to host the Cardinals for three which will likely decide the division. Pittsburgh finishes up at home with three games versus the Reds on October 2, 3 and 4.

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