Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Charlie Blackmon Pwoers Rockies Over Phillies, 8-1; Max Kepler Leads Twins' 21-Hit Attack Of Orioles

Players of the Day for Monday, May 22, 2017

American League

Max Kepler
Minnesota has been at or near the top of the Central division all season. After Monday's 14-7 bombing of the Orioles in Baltimore and Cleveland's 5-1 loss, the Twins ended the day with a one game lead over the Indians and a 1-0 lead in their series with the troubled O's.

Baltimore's issue is mainly with their pitching staff. Ubaldo Jimenez, who started for the Orioles, was touched up for six runs on nine hits over four-plus innings, relinquishing a 5-0 lead. Other hurlers didn't fare much better, as the Twins lashed out 21 hits.

Leading the barrage was Max Kepler, who singled, doubled and whacked a solo home run (his 5th) in five at-bats. Kepler drove in four runs, scored three times and reached on an error, which allowed Joe Mauer to score in the Twins' six-run sixth.

Kepler is in his second full season as the Twins' regular right fielder. Last year he hit 17 home runs, drove in 63 runs and batted .235. The nubers are improved this season, with five homers, 20 RBI and a .271 average.

Minnesota will try to hang onto first place in the division when they meet the Orioles at Camden Yards for game two of their three-game series, at 7:05 pm ET Tuesday.

National League

Charlie Blackmon
If Charlie Blackmon keeps playing the way he has so far this season, the Rockies will have to find another spot for him in the lineup. In Colorado's 8-1 torching of the Phillies, Blackmon went 2-for-5, drove in three runs, stole a base and scored twice, raising his average to .321 and upping his RBI total to 36, good for fifth in the National League.

This is not what leadoff hitters ordinarily do. They're supposed to get on base and score runs, not lead the team in RBI. Well, actually, teammate Mark Reynolds leads the Rockies - and the league - in RBI with 39, but Blackmon, who has nine homers as well, is closing in on him.

Not that Blackmon isn't scoring runs. He's crossed the plate 33 times, tied for fifth in the league. Meanwhile, the Rockies are rolling right along, with a 29-17 mark, two games up on Arizona in the NL West. While they're respectable, at 13-10, at home, the Rockies are an amazing 16-7 on the road.

Blackmon and his mates will look to improve on their road raging when they play the Phillies in game two of their four-game series, Tuesday, 7:05 pm ET at Citizens Bank Park.

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