Friday, July 21, 2017

Justin Smoak Homers Twice In Toronto Win Over Red Sox; Jake Lamb's 2HR, 6RBI Power Arizona

Players of the Day for Thursday, July 20, 2017

American League

Smoak: 3-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI
It's too late in the season for the Toronto Blue Jays to complain about their poor start to the season. Too many games have been played and the Jays have had ample opportunity to get themselves back into the AL East or wild card race.

The Blue Jays find themselves nine games behind Boston, in last place in the division, even after outlasting the Red Sox at Fenway, 8-6, Thursday, finishing the four-game series tied at two games apiece. That's fine for the Red Sox, but not for Toronto, in need of making up ground.

One bright spot for the Blue Jays is the all-around excellent play of Justin Smoak, the all-star first baseman, who socked a pair of solo homers and drove in another run with a single, going 3-for-5 with three RBI.

Smoak's fifth inning home run padded a 5-3 lead. In the next inning, his single rap put the Jays ahead, 7-3. After the Red Sox plated three on a Dustin Pedroia home run in the seventh, Smoak landed on in the left field stands, giving the Blue Jay relief staff some breathing room.

At .298 with 26 home runs and 62 RBI, Smoak is having a career year. In his eighth year in the majors, Smoak has already surpassed his home run and RBI totals. His batting average is .066 better than his career average.

Roberto Osuna picked up his 24th save, pitching a perfect ninth, fanning two of the three batters he faced.

Toronto opens a three-game series at Cleveland Friday, while the Red Sox - maintaining a 2 1/2 game AL East lead over Tampa Bay - begin a six game westward swing, with three games at the Angels followed by three in Seattle.

National League

Lamb: 2 HR, 6 RBI
Arizona's Jake Lamb is proving to be a hot commodity at the hot corner.

The fourth-year third baseman whacked a pair of three-run homers, driving in six runs in Arizona's 12-2 pounding of Cincinnati Thursday night.

Lamb's power display - his 21st and 22nd home runs - has him trailing just Colorado's Nolan Arenado for the league lead in RBI. Lamb has 76; Arenado leads with 80.

Lamb got the rout started with a first inning blast and ended it with another round-tripper in the ninth inning, giving the Diamondbacks a 2-1 win of the three-game series at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park.

The 26-year-old's stats are no fluke, nor is Arizona's contention in the National League, thanks largely to his contributions. Last season, Lamb belted 29 home runs and drove in 91 runs.

The win left the Diamondbacks tied with Colorado in second place in the NL West. Even though the Dodgers' 11-game winning streak was broken by the Braves in a 6-3 win, LA leads the division by 10 1/2 games. The Rockies and Diamondbacks have a 5 1/2 game edge over the Cubs in the wild card race.

Arizona hosts a three-game series with the Washington Nationals starting Friday.

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