Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Joc Pederson's Grand Slam Leads Dodgers; Dallas Keuchel Wins Houston Opener

Players of the Day for Monday, April 3, 2017

American League

The AL West is the place to be this season, as the division looks like a battle-to-the-end throw-down between Texas, Houston, and Seattle.

Keuchel: 7 scoreless
Two of those contenders hooked up on opening day in Houston as the Astros hosted the Mariners in the first of a four-game series, featuring an aces match-up between Seattle's Felix Hernandez and Houston's Dallas Keuchel.

In 2010, Hernandez won the AL Cy Young Award; the same was captured by Keuchel in 2015, making the opening day mound meeting something special.

Houton turned out to have the better of it, getting to King Felix for two runs over five innings on a pair of solo homers by George Springer in the first inning and Carlos Correa in the fourth.

Meanwhile, Keuchel was cruising along, allowing just two hits and no runs over seven innings, as the Astros prevailed over the Mariners, 3-0.

After a leadoff single by Segura, Keuchel set down ten straight, getting into a bit of trouble in the fourth, when he gave up his only other hit, to Robinson Cano, and walked two to load the bases. A grounder by Leonys Martin ended the threat, and, except for plunking Kyle Seager to lead off the seventh, Keuchel was perfect the rest of the way, fanning three.

The Astros and Mariners renew rivalries again on Tuesday. Gane two of the four-game set is scheduled for 8:10 pm ET.

Pedereson: Slammin'
National League

In Los Angeles, center field has been generally patrolled by one Joc Pederson the last two seasons. In 2015, Pederson had 101 hits, among them, 26 homers. Last season, he racked up 100 hits (while bringing his strikeout total down to 130, from 170 in 2015) with 25 dingers.

In the Dodgers' opening game of the 2017 season, Pederson got just one hit, but, as suspected, it was a home run, a thrid inning grand slam that put the Dodgers up 5-0 en route to a 14-3 slaughter of the hopeless San Diego Padres.

Played at Dodger Stadium before a crowd of 53,701, the Dodgers showed why they are considered the front-runner in the National League West, while the Padres put on a display that has many believing them to be baseball's worst team.

Pederson, who batted .246 last season, drove in the Dodgers' first run with a sac fly in the first inning, but appears to be making strides toward increasing his home run and RBI total (five on the day) and possibly reducing the number of strikeouts, though he did whiff once in three at-bats on Monday.

The Dodgers and Padres hook up again Tuesday night in the second game of their four-game series.

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