Saturday, September 30, 2017

Alex Bregman Provides All RBI In Houston Win; Trevor Story Powers Colorado Over Dodgers

Players of the Day for Friday, September 29, 2017

American League

Bregman: HR, 3 RBI
With the regular season coming to a close on Sunday, the Astros and Indians know they must keep winning if they hope to have the best record in the American League.

Entering Friday's games, the Indians had a one-game edge in that department and took care of business by swatting the White Sox, 10-1. Houston faced a more arduous task, playing at Boston, where the Red Sox are still embroiled in a pennant race with the Yankees for first place in the AL East. Houston, thanks to third baseman, Alex Bregman, was up to it, topping the Red Sox 3-2 at Fenway Park, as Bregman drove in all three Houston runs.

While a parade of five Houston hurlers were limiting the Red Sox to five hits and two earned runs, Bregman was going 3-for-4, with a single, double, home run, and, as mentioned, all three RBI.

Bregman got the Astros on the board in the third inning, singling home the first run of the game.He put the Astros up, 3-0, with a two-run homer over the Green Monster in the fifth inning and the Houston bullpen managed to hold on for the win, leaving the Astros exactly where they were a day before, one game behind the Indians in the overall AL standings.

Bregman has had an excellent season, batting .287, with 19 homers and 71 RBI.

Houston will go for their third straight win over the Red Sox on Saturday, in game three of their four-game series, starting at 1:05 pm ET.

National League

Story: 3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI
The Colorado Rockies reduced their magic number for clinching the second wild card to one with a 9-1 romp over the visiting Dodgers, highlighted by four homers at high-altitude Coors Field.

Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon got things going early for the Rockies, each swatting their 37th home run of the year. Arenado's came in the first with the bases empty. Blackmon's was a second-inning, two-run variety as the Rockies built a 5-0 lead in the first two innings of Dodger starter, Hyun Jin Ryu.

The hitting star was Trevor Story, who went 3-for-4, with a single, triple, and a two-run, fourth inning home run that essentially put the game away. Story has 24 home runs and 82 RBI on the year.

With Milwaukee dogging the Rockies the past month, Colorado has done just enough to stay ahead of the Brewers down the stretch. Since September 7, they are 12-8, while the Brewers have gone 12-7, keeping on the pressure.

Colorado has to win just one more game or Milwaukee lose one to clinch the wild card spot and play the single elimination game at Arizona on Wednesday, October 4. They host the Dodgers Saturday at 8:10 pm ET and Sunday at 3:10 pm ET. Milwaukee plays Saturday and Sunday in St. Louis.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Giancarlo Stanton Belts 2 HR In Miami Win; Carlos Correa, Houston Bomb Boston, 12-2

Players of the Day for Thursday, September 28, 2017

American League
Correa lashes Red Sox

In what very well could be a preview of the ALDS, Houston smashed Boston, 12-2, in the opener of a four-game series at Fenway Park.

The Astros trail Cleveland by one game in the race for the league's best record. The team with the best mark in the regular season has home field advantage throughout the playoffs and will face the wild card team in the opening round of the playoffs. As it stands, Houston would host Boston in a best of five divisional series, so the spanking taken by the Red Sox should prove a warning to the Boston faithful.

With the Yankees losing to the Rays, 9-6, Boston's magic number was reduced to one, the Yankees missing a golden opportunity to close the gap on the Red Sox, who lead the AL East by three games. With three games remaining, a Boston win or a Yankee loss would secure the division title.

Carlos Correa led the Astros' 17-hit assault on seven Boston pitchers with four of his own, scoring three times and driving in three with a pair of singles, a double and a two-run homer - his 24th - in four at-bats.

Correa, who was the 2015 Rookie of the Year and an all star in 2017, is batting .315 with 84 RBI.

Boston hosts Houston Friday at 7:10 pm ET in game two of their season-ending series.

National League

Stanton: 59 HR, 129 RBI
Back home in Miami, Giancarlo Stanton was back in his best groove, swatting a pair of home runs in the Marlins' 7-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

Stanton, chasing Babe Ruth and Roger Maris, has already surpassed all non-steroid-era National Leaguers in the category of most home runs in a single season. His homers on Thursday were his 58th and 59th.

Stanton socked a solo shot in the fourth and followed up with a two-run dinger in the eighth inning. He also singled and scored three times. His total of 129 RBI has him tied with Colorado's Nolan Arenado for the National League and major league lead. Nelson Cruz leads the AL with 117.

Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs for the Yankees in 1927, a record that lasted 34 years, until another Yankee, Roger Maris broke the record with 61 in 1961. It is worth noting when Ruth set the mark, the regular season consisted of 154 games. When Maris did it, teams played 162.

Stanton will have three more chances to hit even more baseballs into the far reaches of Marlins Stadium. Miami hosts the Braves for the final three games of the season. Friday's game is scheduled for 7:10 pm ET.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

John Lackey, Addison Russell Lead Cubs To NL Central Title; Xander Bogaerts Powers Red Sox

Players of the Day for Wednesday, September 27, 2017

American League

Bogaerts: 3-5, HR, 4 RBI
Xander Bogaerts went 3-for-5, scored twice and drove in four runs as the Boston Red Sox outslugged the Toronto Blue Jays, 10-7, taking one step closer to winning the AL East division.

Bogaerts' third inning, three-run homer - his 10th of the season - capped a five-run rally by the Red Sox which largely put the Blue Jays away. In the second inning, Bogaerts singled in the tying run at 3-3, and scored the go-ahead run on Dustin Pedroia's single. The Blue Jays re-tied the game with a run in the top of the third, but the bottom of the frame proved decisive.

Boston's win kept them three games up on the Yankees in the division race. With four left to play, the magic number is two for the Red Sox, who open a four-game series at home with the Houston Astros, who are still fighting with Cleveland for the league's best record. Houston is one game behind the Indians in the race, so the upcoming series at Boston should be hard-fought.

Russell: 3-run homer
National League

John Lackey held St. Louis to one run over six innings and Addison Russell's seventh inning, three-run homer off Cardinal starter, Michael Wacha, led the Cubs back to the post-season.

The 5-1 win in St. Louis clinched the second consecutive NL Central pennant for the Cubs. In 2016, they won the division by 17 1/2 games and rode their wave of success all the way to a World Series championship over Cleveland.

Lackey: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER
Lackey (12-11) has not been consistent all season, but dueled until Russell broke up Wacha's shutout performance. The Cubs added two more runs in the frame, both debited to the S.t Louis starter. Lackey allowed only two hits, the Cardinals scratching out their lone run in the second inning as Paul DeJong doubled home Jedd Gyorko.

Russell's home run was his 12th of the season, but none were bigger than Wednesday's game-winner for the Cubs' third-year shortstop.

The Cubs will enter the post-season with the third-best record of the division winners meaning they'll play the them with the second-best record, the Washington Nationals, and will open the series on the road. The Dodgers - who clinched the league's best record and home field advantage - will face the winner of the wild card game.

Chicago finishes up its series in St. Louis on Thursday and end the regular season with a three-game home stand with Cincinnati.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Brian Dozier Powers Twins Past Indians; Corey Seager Leads Dodgers To Best NL Record

Players of the Day for Tuesday, September 26, 2017

American League

Dozier: 3-5, HR, 3 RBI
With an 8-6 win over the Indians in Cleveland, the Minnesota Twins moved one step closer to clinching the second wild card, clinching at least a tie with the LA Angels. Both the Twins and Angels have five games remaining, so any win by the Twins or loss by the Angels would clinch the position outright for Minnesota.

Brian Dozier continued his season of excellence, going 3-for-5 with a single, double and a three-run, eighth inning home run that rallied the Twins from a 6-4 deficit to a 7-6 lead. Minnesota added another run in the top of the ninth for the final score.

Dozier's home run was his 33rd, the three RBI upping his season total to 80, which is incredible considering Dozier is a leadoff hitter.

Dozier led off the game with a double, and scored the first Minnesota run in the first, then singled leading off the the third, scoring on one of Eddie Rosario's two doubles. Rosario was 4-for-5 with three RBI including his 27th home run, in the first with the bases empty.

Minnesota plays game two at Cleveland Wednesday at 7:10 pm ET. The Twins can clinch the wild card outright with a win. Meanwhile, Cleveland has a tenuous hold on the best record in the league, one game better than the Houston Astros.

National League

Seager: HR, 4 RBI
Corey Seager drove in four runs, leading the LA Dodgers to a 9-2 home victory over the San Diego Padres, securing playoff home field advantage with the best record in the National League.

The Dodgers are 101-57. With five games left, the Washington Nationals, at 95-62, cannot match the Dodgers' mark. Thus, the Dodgers will host the winner of the wild card game, which currently will be either Arizona or Colorado, making for an all-NL West series. Washington will host the winner of the NL Central. The Cubs need one more win or a Milwaukee loss to wrap up the division.

Seager singled in a run to put the Dodgers up, 5-2, in the sixth, then wrapped up the scoring with his 21st home run, a three-run blast, in the seventh inning. Seager is batting .295 with 75 RBI.

LA will be looking to add to their win total and sweep the Padres in game three of the series, Wednesday, at 7:00 pm PT. Los Angeles closes out the regular season with a three-game road series at Colorado.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Yankee's Aaron Judge Sets Rookie Record With 50th HR; Kris Bryant Helps Cubs Crush Cards, 11-2

Players of the Day for Monday, September 25, 2017

American League

Judge sets rookie HR mark
Aaron Judge socked a pair of home runs, leading the Yankees to an 11-3 win over the visiting Kansas City Royals, a make-up game from an earlier rainout.

Judge's two homers increased his total for the season to 50, breaking Mark McGwire's 1987 record of 49. Judge pounded a two-run shot to right field in the third inning to tie the record and a solo homer to left in the seventh, setting the new mark. Judge's performance - 2-for-3, two runs, three RBI - matched that of his previous game, a 9-5 loss at Toronto.

The 6-foot-7, 25-year-old slugger is a leading candidate for rookie of the year and league MVP, a rare double award cache previously captured only by Fred Lynn (1975) and Ichiro Suzuki (2001).

Judge leads the AL in home runs and his 108 RBI are tied for second with LA's Justin Upton, trailing Seattle's Nelson Cruz, who has 115.

The Yankees, having already clinched a wild card, still have the Red Sox in their sights, but are running out of time. Though the Yanks have won 16 of their last 22 games, Boston has also been solid, maintaining a four-game lead in the division despite losing to Toronto on Monday, 6-4.

New York closes out the season at home, hosting Tampa Bay and Toronto in consecutive three-game series starting Tuesday.

National League

Bryant: 3-for-4, HR
Having taken three of four from the Brewers in Milwaukee over the weekend and whacking the Cardinals, 10-2, in the opener of another four-game road series, the Chicago Cubs can practically taste the post-season.

Chicago's win over St. Louis not only eliminated the Cardinals in the division race, it also left them six games ahead of Milwaukee, reducing their magic number for the division title to one.

Kris Bryant continued his red-hot play, socking his 29th home run of the season off Cardinal starter, Luke Weaver, who was rocked for seven hits and eight runs in three innings.

Bryant also singled twice, going 3-for-4 with a pair of runs and an RBI. The 2016 NL MVP has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games, with four homers and 14 RBI over that span.

The Cardinals are seven games out in the division, but still have a chance at the wild card. They trail the Rockies by 2 1/2 games, but Milwaukee is only 1 1/2 back in the race for the second wild card. Arizona, with a six-game lead in the top spot, can clinch that with one win or a Rockies' loss.

The Cubs will be looking to clinch their second straight NL Central title when they take the field in St. Louis, Tuesday at 8:00 pm ET.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber Each Win #18 As The Dodgers And Indians Race Toward The Playoffs

Players of the Day for Sunday, September 24, 2017

American League

Kluber: 18-4
The Cleveland Indians are cruising toward the playoffs with the best record in the league and, arguably, the best pitcher, as well.

Corey Kluber earned his 18th win against four losses in a 4-2 Cleveland win at Seattle, becoming the first pitcher in the American League to reach that plateau. Almost simultaneously, Clayton Kershaw would hit the same mark in the National League.

Kluber was touched up for two unearned runs in the fifth inning, but the Indians scored a run in the sixth for a 3-2 lead. Kluber pitched seven full innings, giving up six hits and two walks, fanning 10.

Cleveland's 98-58 record is 2 1/2 games better than Houston's 95-60. With six games left for the Indians and seven for the Astros, Cleveland looks to hold home field advantage throughout their stay in the playoffs.

The Indians close out the regular season at home, with three games against Minnesota starting Tuesday. After that, they host the White Sox for the final three games.

National League

Clayton Kershaw became the first pitcher in the National League to reach 18 wins as his Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the NL West with a 3-1 win over the San Francisco Giants.

Kershaw: 18-4
A favorite to capture his fourth Cy Young award, Kershaw scattered eight hits over eight innings, allowing the one run on an eighth inning Mac Williamson solo homer. Kershaw struck out six, giving him 200 on the year, the seventh time he's reached that plateau. In 2015, LA's pre-eminent left-hander fanned 301. In 2016, he managed only 172 strikeouts due to an extended stay on the disabled list.

The Dodgers, now 99-57, can look forward to home field advantage throughout their playoff run. They hold a 4 1/2 game edge over the Washington Nationals (94-61) for the league's best record.

Kershaw is 18-4 n 26 starts. He is expected to start one more time prior to the playoffs. The regular season concludes October 1.

Los Angeles has six games left on the regular season schedule. They host the Padres for three games starting Monday and close out the season with three in Colorado beginning Thursday.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Eduardo Rodriguez Hurls Red Sox Closer To Playoffs; Miami's Giancarlo Stanton Racks HR #57

Players of the Day for Saturday, September 23, 2017

American League
Rodriguez: 7 2/3 IP, 0 ER

Boston's 5-0 win at Cincinnati was their fifth consecutive win, keeping them four games ahead of the Yankees in the race for the AL East title, the only division yet to be decided in the American League.

The Red Sox got a terrific performance from starting pitcher, Eduardo Rodriguez (6-6, 3.91), who blanked the Reds for 7 2/3 innings on three hits, all singles.

Rodriguez, who didn't give up a base hit until Joey Votto singled with one out in the fourth, walked two and struck out six.

With one more road game, Sunday, 1:10 pm ET at Cincinnati, Boston returns home to Fenway Park for the final week of the regular season, starting Monday with three games against Toronto, followed by four with Houston.

As both they and the Yankees have eight games left, Boston's magic number to capture the division is five.

National League

With every passing at-bat, Giancarlo Stanton's quest to tie or break Roger Maris' non-steroid-era record of 61 home runs in a season becomes more of a dramatic quest for the 27-year-old slugger.
Stanton: 57 HR, 125 RBI

Stanton has exceeded all expectations despite his Marlins falling out of contention for the post-season early in September. On Saturday, in Miami's 12-6 win at Arizona, Stanton launched number 57, a solo shot in the fourth inning. Earlier, Stanton delivered a third-inning double, driving in tow runs. In the ninth, he grounded into a fielder's choice, sending home the Marlins' final run.

Tallying four RBI on the day, Stanton continues to chase Colorado's Nolan Arenado for the NL RBI lead. Arenado has 126, Stanton closed to within one, at 125.

Miami's win kept the Diamondbacks from clinching a playoff spot, though that is nearly a certainty. With eight games left, Arizona leads Colorado by six games as the first wild card, making their magic number to clinch that coveted spot, three.

Stanton should have ample opportunity to add to his home run and RBI totals. After closing out the series in Arizona Sunday (4:10 pm ET), the Marlins play three in the thin air of Colorado, then return home for the final four games of the season, with Atlanta.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Arizona Downs Miami On Chris Iannetta's Slam, 8 RBI; Justin Verlander Leads 3-0 Houston Win

Players of the Day for Friday, September 22, 2017

American League

Verlander: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER
Having already clinched the AL West, the Houston Astros are still fighting for the best record in the AL, which would give them home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Aiding that cause was their 3-0 win over the Angels Friday, which incidentally left the LA squad with five straight losses and a 3 1/2 game deficit in the race for the second wild card.

Justin Verlander (14-8) had one of his best starts of the season for Houston, tossing seven innings of shutout ball on one hit, walking two and fanning six.

At 34, Verlander has been doing what a veteran hurler should, winning games. Since the all-star break, he's 9-1 and Friday's outing was his fifth straight win. The last four of those wins have come in September, after being traded from the Tigers to the Astros, allowing just two runs in 28 innings, with an ERA of 0.64.

The AL MVP and Cy Young award winner in 2011, Verlander appears ready for the playoffs, regardless of where the games occur. Houston's win and a 3-1 loss by Cleveland to Seattle left the Tribe 1 1/2 games to the good over Houston for the league's best record. The Indians are 96-58; Houston stands at 94-59. The Astros have won eight of their last 10. Both have already clinched their divisions.

The Astros will try to cut into that gap when they meet the Angels in game two of their series in LA, Saturday at 1:05 pm ET.

National League

Iannetta: 2HR, GS, 8RBI
Arizona came closer to clinching the top wild card spot as catcher Chris Iannatta drove in eight runs with a pair of homers and an RBI single for a 13-11 win over the Miami Marlins.

The Diamondbacks lead Colorado by six games in the wild card standings with eight left to play.

In a wild contest that saw seven home runs and the lead change hands five times, Iannatta was at the center of the action, ripping a three-run homer in the first inning, delivering an RBI single in the second and cracking a grand slam in the sixth that put the Diamondbacks ahead for good.

The slam was Iannetta's third in his 12-year major league career, helping him notch a career high with eight RBI. He has 16 homers and 42 RBI in 85 games this season.

Colorado kept pace with a 4-1 win at San Diego and the Cardinals overtook Milwaukee by 1/2 game as they won their fourth straight. St. Louis trails the Rockies by 1 1/2 games for the final wild card.

Arizona can get closer to clinching when they meet the Marlins in game two of their three-game set, Saturday, at 8:10 pm ET in Miami.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Kris Bryant, Wade Davis Lead Cubs Over Brew Crew; Joe Mauer Keeps Twins Alive In Wild Card

Players of the Day for Thursday, September 21, 2018

American League

Mauer: 3-for-4, .311 BA
After dropping three straight to the Yankees in New York, the Minnesota Twins were hoping for better results when they opened a four-game series in Detroit on Thursday.

Getting exactly what they needed from their batsmen - 14 hits - the Twins got back on the winning track with a 12-1 thumping of Detroit.

Leading the assault on Detroit starter Jordan Zimmermann and six relievers was Joe Mauer, resurgent this season as the Twins defied the experts by staying in contention throughout the season. Maueer went 3-for-4 with a double and two singles, driving in two runs and scoring twice. In his 14th year in the majors - all of them with the Twins - he's batting .311 after hitting just .261 last season. His average is the sixth-highest in the American League.

Minnesota also got an assist from Central division rival Cleveland, as the Indians topped the Angels, 4-1, dropping LA into a tie with Texas, 2 1/2 games behind the Twins for the second wild card spot.

Game two of the series is Friday, 7:10 pm ET at Detroit's Comerica Park.

National League

Bryant: game-winning HR
Taking an important step closer to capturing the NL Central division, the Chicago Cubs rallied in the ninth inning and won the opener of a four-game series at Milwaukee in the 10th inning for a 5-3 victory.

Kris Bryant socked a two-run homer in the Cubs' half of the extra inning and Wade Davis (4-1) earned the win with 1 2/3 innings of shutout ball, striking out four, including setting down the Brewers in order, on strikes, in the 10th.

Davis: bullpen ace
For Bryant, the 2016 NL MVP, the home run was his 28th of the season. He has 67 RBI on the year. Davis, called on with a man aboard and one out in the ninth, loaded the bases by hitting a batter and allowing a base hit, but struck out Domingo Santana and got Orlando Arcia on a routine ground ball to end the threat. Davis, the Cubs' closer, has 32 saves, a 1.95 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 55 1/3 inning.

The Cubs entered the ninth down a run, but tied the game on Javier Baez's RBI single.

Chicago's win left them with a 4 1/2 game lead over the Brewers and five over the Cardinals. The Cubs have caught fire at the most opportune time, winning eight of their last nine.

Game two of the series starts Friday at 7:30 pm ET.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Boston's Chris Sale Fans 13, Downs Orioles; Hunter Renfroe Socks 3 HR But Padres Lose To Arizona

Players of the Day for Wednesday, September 20, 2017

American League

Sale: 300 strikeouts
While the Yankees were busy eliminating the competition in the wild card race, sweeping three from the Minnesota Twins and advancing their lead over them to seven games, the Boston Red Sox had the pedal to the metal as well, matching the Yanks with three straight over the fading Orioles, in Baltimore.

Capping the sweep with a 9-0 shutout, starter Chris Sale went eight full innings, didn't allow any walks, gave up just four hits and fanned 13, sending his major-league leading strikeout total to 300, becoming the first American League pitcher to achieve that milestone since Boston's Pedro Martinez did it 1999, when he set a club record with 313.

Sales threw 111 pitches, 77 of them for strikes, improving to 17-7 on the year. With 10 games remaining, and a mere three game lead over the Yankees, it's a good bet that Sale will get to the mound again this season, with the possibility of equalling or breaking Martinez's club record.

Boston's win assured that they will be playing in October, at least as a wild card, though the Sox clearly have higher aims. New York has a magic number of three to clinch a playoff berth, but they too have their eyes on the AL East division title.

The two contenders (Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Toronto have been mathematically eliminated) do not play each other again this season, unless they meet up in the playoffs. After a day off Thursday, Boston will head to Cincinnati for a three-game series with the Reds, then return home for their final seven games, three against the Blue Jays and four with Houston.

New York also opens a three-game road series on Friday, in Toronto. A make-up game with the Royals is slated for September 25 (Monday), prior to back-to-back three-game home series against Tampa Bay and Toronto.

Renfroe: 3 HR, 4 RBI
National League

Arizona increased its lead in the wild card race to 5 1/2 over the Rockies with a 13-7 win at San Diego, despite the best efforts of rookie outfielder, Hunter Renfroe, who became the first Padre to belt three home runs in one game since the inception of the franchise back in 1969.

Renfroe socked his first in the third inning, a two-run blast, followed by solo shots in the fifth and ninth innings. Renfroe has 24 home runs and 54 RBI on the year.

The Padres built a 6-2 lead after five innings, but the Diamondbacks scored four in the sixth, one in the seventh, two in the eighth and four more in the ninth to win going away, avoiding the sweep in the three-game series.

Fortunately for Arizona, which had lost three straight before Wednesday's win, they had built a sizable lead in the wild card race. Below them, the battle is engaged for the #2 position. Colorado leads Milwaukee by one game and St. Louis by 2 1/2.

Looking like a sure thing to clinch the top wild card spot, Arizona has Thursday off, then opens a six-game home stand, playing three with Miami and then the Giants. They close out the regular season with three games at Kansas City.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Dexter Fowler Leads Cardinals Win Over Reds; Austin Jackson 4-for-5, Indians Drop Angels, 6-3

Players of the Day for Tuesday, September 19, 2017

American League

Jackson: 4-for-5
Not only have the Cleveland Indians set an American League record with 22 straight wins and captured the AL Central, now they appear comfortable to play spoiler, as they topped the LA Angels, 6-3, in the opener of a three-game series on the coast.

The Angels have been tailing the Twins for the better part of the last four weeks for the second wild card spot. With Minnesota losing to the Yankees, 5-2, the Angels could have gotten to within 1/2 game of the cherished spot, but Cleveland and Austin Jackson had other ideas.

Jackson singled four times in five at-bats, drove in a run and scored another, helping the Indians to their third straight win after Kansas City ended their record win streak this past Friday. In a season shorted by injury, Jackson, when healthy, has been top-notch, batting .316, with 79 hits in 250 at-bats.

The fleet outfielder who broke in with the Tigers, is in his eighth season, and may be reaching his full potential. With the Indians heading to the playoffs, his timing could not be better.

LA's loss left them 1 1/2 games behind the Twins in the wild card race. The Yankees hold the #1 position, six games to the good over Minnesota.

Game two of the series is Wednesday, 7:00 pm PT.

Fowler: 3-4, HR, 2 RBI
National League

It's not often that a player homers to tie a game, drives in the go-ahead run and then scores what turns out to be the winning run, but that's exactly what Dexter Fowler did to keep the St. Louis hopes alive in an 8-7, 10-inning win over Cincinnati.

Fowler socked his 17 home run of the season in the eighth inning. The solo shot tied the game at six apiece. After a scoreless ninth, Fowler came to the plate again in the 10th with Kolton Wong on base, delivering a double that plated the go-ahead run. Two batters later, Paul DeJong singled Fowler home, putting the Cards by by a 8-6 score.

In the bottom of the 10th, the Reds got closer on a scooter Gennett solo home run, but that was all they could muster, the Cardinals taking the first of three in Cincinnati.

Fowler, taken from the Cubs in the off-season, went 3-for-4 with two RBI and three runs. He has been a welcome addition to the Cardinals this season, batting .266 with 57 RBI in 109 games.

While the Cardinals were successful in staying alive, they remain six games behind the Cubs in the NL Central and trail second place Milwaukee by 2 1/2 games. Both the Cubs and Brewers were winners on Tuesday. Colorado, holding the second wild card, fell to San Francisco, 4-3, leaving them just a game up on Milwaukee with the Cardinals 3 1/2 back.

St. Louis will have opportunity down the stretch as they host Chicago for four games and then Milwaukee for three to close out the regular season, but they have to keep pace in order to have a chance.

Game two of the Cards' series with the Reds is scheduled for Wednesday at 7:10 pm ET in Cincinnati.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mookie Betts Helps Red Sox Overcome Orioles, 10-8; Miami's Giancarlo Stanton Socks 55th Home Run

Players of the Day for Monday, September 18, 2017

American League

Betts: 93 RBI
The two main wild card contenders - the Yankees and the Minnesota Twins - were embroiled in battle resulting in a 2-1 win for New York, the Boston Red Sox held their edge in the AL East over the Yanks with a 11-inning, 10-8 victory at Baltimore over the Orioles.

Baltimore built a 5-0 lead, roughing up Boston starter, Doug Fister, for five runs on four hits and five walks in the first two innings. In the band-box that is Camden Yards, no lead is safe, especially when the game is only two innings old and the opponent is the Red Sox. 19 pitchers would eventually go to the mound - 10 for the Sox; nine for Baltimore - before this event was over, ended by rookie Andrew Benintendi's 11th-inning single that plated the winning runs.

Prior to that climactic conclusion, however, Mookie Betts provided four of the comeback runs for the Red Sox. In the fourth, Betts singled home the first Boston run, then, capping a six-run fifth inning that put the Red Sox up 7-6, Betts delivered a bases-loaded double that sent three teammates across home plate.

Both teams would score more, getting eventually to an 8-8 game in the seventh inning and proceeding to extra frames.

Betts' four RBI gave him 94 on the year, along with 22 homers and a .263 average.

The win kept Boston three games up on the Yankees in the division and they'll try to keep that edge or advance it when they play game two of the three-game series at Baltimore, Tuesday at 7:05 pm ET

National League

Stanton: 55 Home Runs
With many teams having Monday off, the only really meaningful game of the day was Milwaukee's 3-0 win over Pittsburgh, keeping the Brewers within shouting distance of the Cubs in the NL Central and the Rockies in the wild card race. Milwaukee trails the Cubs by 3 1/2 and the Rockies by two games.

In Miami, Giancarlo Stanton was the center of attention as he continued his assault on stadium dimensions with his 55th home run of the year, a massive, 455-foot blast to center that scored three runs.

The homer put the Marlins ahead, 5-1, in the fourth. The Mets had no answers as the game turned into a 13-1 rout for the Marlins.

Stanton singled in another run in the fifth inning, improving his RBI total to 117 on the season, second in the NL to the 125 of Colorado's Nolan Arenado. The Miami slugger also scored three times, upping his run total to 115, second to another Colorado player, Charlie Blackmon, who leads the majors with 131.

Both the Mets and Marlins have been eliminated from playoff contention. They play game two of the series Tuesday, 7:10 pm ET.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Corey Kluber, Indians Clinch AL Central; Detroit's Matthew Boyd Throws 1-Hitter; Travis Shaw Powers Brewers

Players of the Day for Sunday, September 17, 2017

American League

Kluber: 17-4
Even though the Indians had their AL-record-setting win streak stopped at 22 games on Friday night in a 4-3 loss to Kansas City, they were not deterred from their ultimate task: to win the AL Central.

Cleveland came back to win Saturday, 8-4, and clinched the division title behind their ace, Corey Kluber, whipping the Royals 3-2 while taking the series, three games to one.

Possibly cementing his name on the Cy Young award, Kluber tossed seven scoreless innings, backed by a fourth-inning, two-run home run by Edwin Encarnacion and another "small ball" run in the seventh. Kansas City's two runs came off reliever, Bryan Shaw, in the eighth, but the Royals could not come up with another run, giving Kluber his 17th win against a mere four losses.

Kluber allowed three hits, fanned nine and did not issue a walk, throwing 76 of 99 pitches for strikes. With the division in hand and the best record in the league, all the Indians have to do over their remaining 12 games is get in their work, play some prospects in games and stay ahead of Houston, the team with the second-best record. Cleveland is 93-57; Houston's record stands at 91-58. The Astros also clinched their division on Sunday, winning 7-1 over Seattle while the second-place Angels fell to Texas, 4-2.
Boyd throws 1-hitter

Fittingly, the Indians have Monday off, then begin a six-game road trip, starting in LA for three with the Angels followed by a three-game series in Seattle.

Notable Mention: Matthew Boyd came within one out of a no-hitter in Detroit's 12-0 rout of the White Sox Sunday. Tim Anderson doubled with two outs in the ninth inning to break up the bid.

The unlikely hero, Boyd is 6-10 this season with a 5.33 ERA in 23 starts. In just his second year in the majors, Boyd's record is an unassuming 13-21, but on Sunday, he looked as good as Detroit hurlers of old, like Denny McLain or Mickey Lolich. Hats off to him for a fine effort.

National League

With time in the regular season running down, the Milwaukee Brewers continue to play well enough to keep them in the hunt for either a wild card berth or the NL Central crown.
Boyd: 30 HR, 95 RBI

In Sunday's 10-3 victory over the Marlins, Milwaukee put up eight runs in the fourth inning. In the middle of the rally was Travis Shaw, who singled home a run and scored as the Brewers piled on Miami starter, Dillon Peters.

Shaw also knocked in another run in the sixth with a sac fly, and singled home one more in the eighth, going 3-for-4 (all singles) with three RBI, upping his total to 95 on the year. He has 30 homers to his credit off a .275 batting average.

The win left the Brewers four games back of the Cubs in the Central division and 2 1/2 behind Colorado for the second wild card slot. Milwaukee opens a three-game series Monday in Pittsburgh before heading home for a critical four-game series with the division-leading Cubs, Thursday through Sunday.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Josh Donaldson Powers Blue Jays Over Twins, 7-2; Charlie Blackmon Drives Colorado 16-0 Romp

Players of the Day for Saturday, September 16, 2017

American League

Donaldson damages Twins
Despite being eliminated from post-season consideration, Josh Donaldson and the Toronto Blue Jays have played spoiler agains the Minnesota Twins, the current holder of the #2 wild card.

After losing the first game of their four-game series, 4-3, the Jays came back on Friday with a 3-2 victory and Saturday took a 7-2 decision at Minnesota.

Donaldson, who was 1-for-3 with an RBI in the opener, and homered and drove in two in the second game, upped the ante with a pair of solo bombs on Saturday, also singling twice to go 4-for-5 with four runs and two RBI. He has 28 homers and 69 RBI on the year.

The losses for Minnesota have reduced their edge in the wild card race to a mere one game over the Angels, 2-0 winners over Texas Saturday.

The series concludes Sunday at 2:10 pm ET. On Monday, the Twins head to New York for three games with the Yankees, who currently hold a five-game lead as the top wild card.

National League

Blackmon: MVP potential
The Colorado Rockies put on a show Saturday, whacking the Padres 16-0, a subtle reminder to the Arizona Diamondbacks that they are not going to be an easy out in the wild card showdown.

Colorado currently trails Arizona in the wild card by five games and has a 3 1/2 game edge over Milwaukee and 4 1/2 better than St. Louis. If the standing don't change, the single-elimination wild card game would be played in Arizona between the Rockies and Diamondbacks. That appears to be the most likely scenario.

In their rout of San Diego, the Rockies banged out 17 hits, roughing up Padres' starter, Jordan Lyles, for eight hits and seven earned runs over four innings. Charlie Blackmon doubled in a run and scored in the third inning and launched a three run homer - his 35th of the year - in the sixth to lead the assault.

Blackmon should garner quite a few votes for National League MVP. In addition to the outrageous home run numbers (he's a leadoff hitter, after all), Blackmon is carrying a league-leading .333 batting average, has 93 RBI and leads the majors in hits (198) and runs (131).

Colorado has won two straight and eight of their last ten. They'll be looking to sweep the series with the Padres sunday at 3:10 pm ET.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Daniel Mengden Throws 2-Hit Shutout In A's Victory; Alex Wood's Strong Outing Gives Dodgers 3rd Straight Win

Players of the Day for Friday, September 15, 2017

American League

Streaks come and go but the game lives on.

Mengden: 2-hit shutout
Kansas City ended the longest winning streak in the history of the American League Friday, downing the Cleveland Indians, 4-3. The Indians had won 22 straight and lead the AL Central by an enormous 13 1/2 games with 14 left to play. A win on Saturday and a loss by Minnesota will clinch the division, because the Twins still have 15 games left.

In any case, the Indians will clinch the division and probably end the season with the best record in the league, ensuring home field throughout their stay in the playoffs.

Highlighting Friday night's exploits around the league was a meeting between two last place teams, as the Philadelphia Phillies hosted the Oakland A's in the first of three. A 4-0 victory for the Athletics was largely the work of 24-year-old Daniel Mengden, who tossed a two-hit, complete game shutout, evening his record for the season at 1-1.

Mengden spent most of the season at Nashville, the A's AAA affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, and was called up in late May for two starts, resulting in one loss and one no decision. Recalled again September 9, Mengden pitched effectively, allowing two earned runs over six innings against Houston, but did not get a decision.

Finally, against the Phillies, he hit his best stride, throwing 118 pitches over the nine frames for the win, fanning seven and issuing no walks. If not for Phillies' shortstop J.P. Crawford, he would have had a perfect game. Crawford got the only two hits off Mengden, a single in the third and another in the sixth.

After Crawford singled to lead off the sixth, Mengden didn't allow another hit, getting the next batter on a popup, then retiring the side with a double play. He then set down the last nine in order to close out the game.

National League

Wood: 14-3, 2.69 ERA
Continuing the streak-ending narrative, it was the Dodgers who were recently reeling, losing seven straight, but that's ended too, as LA has now won three straight, the latest a 7-0 win over the Washington Nationals, a likely rival in the upcoming playoffs.

Alex Wood was on the mound for the Dodgers, and, having the benefit of seven runs in the first three innings off Washington starter, Edwin Jackson, allowed him to just rear back and fire strikes, throwing 63 of 91 pitches for Ks over six innings, allowing three hits and no runs.

Wood picked up his 14th win against a mere three losses, striking out eight, walking one, dropping his ERA to 2.69.

The Dodger win put them a step closer to winning the NL West, with a 9 1/2 game lead on Arizona, also winners of three straight.

The Dodgers magic number is six; Washington has already clinched the NL East division.

Game two is slated for a 1:05 pm ET start on Saturday.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Aaron Judge Leads Yankees' 13-5 Rout Of Baltimore; Zack Godley Throws 8 Shutout Innings For Arizona

Players of the Day for Thursday, September 14, 2017

American League

Fighting a prolonged mid-season slump, Yankee rookie right fielder, Aaron Judge, seems to have broken out of late.
Judge: 2 HR, 6 RBI

After hitting .230 with seven homers and 11 RBI in July, followed by an unproductive August with just three home runs, seven RBI and a .185 batting average, Judge has rebounded in September in time for the pennant and/or wild card final stretch.

With two home runs and six RBI in New York's 13-5 victory over the slumping Baltimore Orioles, Judge's September totals are solid: six home runs, 14 RBI and a .262 average. He also singled in the game, going 3-for-4, scoring three times.

In the first game of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium, the New Yorkers had their way with the fast-fading Orioles, scoring six runs in the first inning, three in the fourth and four in the sixth. Seven of their 14 hits were for extra bases, including four home runs.

The win put New York in a sweet spot, three games up on the Twins for the top wild card. Baltimore trails Minnesota by 5 1/2 games and is on the verge of elimination from October baseball.

Game two of the series is Friday at 7:05 pm ET.

National League

Godley: 8 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 7 K
Arizona continues headlong through September, en route to what appears to be the #1 wild card, which would supply them with home field advantage in the one-game playoff scenario.

With a 7-0 win at Colorado Thursday, the Diamondbacks hold a five game lead over the Rockies in the wild card standings. There are just 15 games left on Arizona's schedule, so, barring a complete collapse, they should host the wild card game the first week in October.

Starting pitcher, Zack Godley (8-7), picked up the win, tossing eight innings of shutout ball against Colorado. He allowed five hits, fanned seven and did not issue any bases on balls.

The Diamondbacks are 9-4 in September, the last two coming at Colorado's expense. The schedule gets pretty favorable for Arizona as the regular season winds down with six games against the Giants and three with the Padres. They open a three-game series in San Francisco Friday at 7:15 pm PT.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Jay Bruce Powers Indians To Record 21st Straight Win; A.J. Pollock Drives Arizona Win Over Rockies

Players of the Day for Wednesday, September 14, 2017


American League

Bruce: 3-run homer
Picking up Jay Bruce for the Mets was a wise move by the AL defending champion Cleveland Indians. Taken in a deal just prior to the July 31 trade deadline, Bruce has added some punch to the lineup and Wednesday socked a first-inning, three-run home run to set the wheels turning for Cleveland's AL record 21st consecutive victory in a 5-3 win over the Detroit Tigers.

In 27 games this season with the Indians, Bruce has five home runs, 18 RBI and is batting .253.

The first inning homer was Bruce's only hit of the night, in three at-bats, but it was enough to get the Indians the lead in support of starter Mike Clevinger, who worked 5 2/3 innings and got the win, despite some shoddy fielding which allowed two unearned runs of the three attributed to the starter.

Cleveland had added another run in the third inning, putting the Indians up 4-3 following Clevinger's departure and they take don another run in the seventh, the relief staff holding the Tigers scoreless over the final three innings. Cody Allen picked up his 27th save with a perfect ninth.

The 21 wins surpasses the American League record held by the 2002 Oakland A's and ties the 1935 Chicago Cubs as the second-longest streak since 1900. The 1916 New York Giants hold the record, at 26, but that mark includes a tie.

Cleveland will look to extend their streak when they host the Kansas City Royals in the first of four games, Thursday at 7:10 pm ET.

Pollock: 2B, HR, 4 RBI
National League

Colorado took the first two games of a four-game series at Arizona, cutting the Diamondbacks' lead in the wild card race to three games, but Arizona roared back with an 8-2 victory on Wednesday, pushing their advantage back to four.

The Diamondbacks were led to the win by center fielder A.J. Pollock, who went 3-for-4 with a single, double, three-run home run and four RBI.

Pollock had played in 98 games for Arizona this season, and has 30 doubles, 10 homers and 36 RBI.

Arizona trails the Dodgers by 10 games in the NL West, but is in good position as the top wild card. Besides Colorado, there are only two other teams - Milwaukee and St. Louis - with a shot at gaining a wild card. The Brewers and Cardinals are three and 3 1/2 games behind the Rockies, respectively.

Game four of the series is Thursday at 4:05 pm ET.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cory Kluber Goes Distance In Indians' 20th Straight; Paul DeJong Helps Cardinals To 4th Straight Win

Players of the Day for Tuesday, September 12, 2017

American League
Kluber: 2-hit shutout

It was fitting that Cleveland's ace, Corey Kluber, would be on the mound when the Indians tied the American League record for consecutive wins.

Kluber tossed a five-hit shutout over the visiting Tigers, blanking Detroit for a 2-0 win, tying the 2002 Oakland A's of "Moneyball" fame.

Francisco Lindor led off the first inning with his 30th home run, staking Kluber to a 1-0 advantage and tacked on another run in the sixth when Carlos Santana scored off a wild pitch. Kluber fanned eight and didn't issue a walk, improving his record to 16-4, tying teammate Trevor Bauer and Boston's Chris Sale at the top of the AL win chart. Kluber's 2.44 ERA also leads the league, as does his incredible 0.87 WHIP. His 16-4 record is at 80 percent (.800), tops in the league. Boston's Drew Pomeranz is closest, at 15-5, or .750.

The win put the Indians one step closer to history and to clinching the AL Central. With 17 games left on their schedule and a 13 1/2 game lead on the Twins, Cleveland's magic number is four. They've passed the Houston Astros for the best record in the league which would give them home field advantage for the duration of their playoff run.

Cleveland will go for the AL record on Wednesday afternoon, when they host the Tigers in game three of their series, starting at 12:10 pm ET.

The 1935 Chicago Cubs (21) and 1916 New York Giants (26) are the only teams since 1900 to win at least 20 in a row and they are both National League teams.

DeJong is steady at short
National League

With their fourth straight win - a rollicking, 13-4 romp over the Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals are chasing down the Cubs in the NL Central, now just two games behind the defending National League champs.

St. Louis got fuel from rookie shortstop Paul DeJong who singled, doubled and homered in four at-bats, driving in two runs and scoring twice.

DeJong has been very steady all season, batting .292 with 22 home runs and 57 RBI.

The Cardinals were also the beneficiaries of nine walks issued by Cincinnati hurlers and also had seven extra base hits of their 14 total.

St. Louis trails Colorado by 3 1/2 games for the second wild card, mostly because the Rockies have won six straight.

The real race is in the division, however. Milwaukee is just 1/2 game behind the Cardinals in what could end up as a "win or go home" scenario for the division title.

The Cards will seek their fifth straight win when they host the Reds in game two of their three-game series at Busch Stadium, Wednesday at 8:15 pm ET.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Francisco Lindor, Indians Win 19th Straight, 11-0; Denard Span, Giants Hand Dodgers 11th Straight Loss

Players of the Day for Monday, September 11, 2017

American League

Lindor: 3B, 4 RBI
The Indians won their 19th straight in dominant fashion, dumping the Tigers, 11-0, in the opener of a three-game series in Cleveland.

While starter, Carlos Carrasco, was blanking Detroit on seven hits over six innings, fanning nine for his 15th win against six losses, Francisco Lindor was stoking the offense, going 2-for-4 with a single, triple and four RBI.

Lindor's three-bagger came with the bases full in the second inning, clearing the deck en route to a five run frame.

He scored in the fourth after singling when Jose Ramirez socked a two-run homer. His forth RBI came in the fifth inning on a fielder's choice.

Lindor is batting .275, with 29 homers and 77 RBI, astounding for a leadoff hitter. Riding a five-game hitting streak, Lindor is 10-for-21 (.476) with three home runs and seven RBI over that span.

Cleveland's streak has pushed their led in the AL Central out to 13 1/2 games over Minnesota. With 18 games to play, their magic number to clinch the division is five.

The Indians will be looking for their 20th straight win - which would tie the 2002 Oakland A's for the fifth-longest MLB winning streak - on Tuesday in game two (7:10 pm ET). The 1884 St. Louis Maroons and Providence Grays each won 20 games that season. The longest winning streaks of all time are:

1. 1916 NY Giants (26)
2. 1880 Chicago White Stockings (21)
2. (tie) 1935 Chicago Cubs (21)

National League
Span: HR, 3 RBI

The LA Dodgers' losing streak reached 11 straight on Monday with the Giants hosting another loss for the NL West leader in an 8-6 nail-biter.

The Giants took a 4-0 lead into the fourth, but the Dodgers tied the game with four of their own. The game was also tied at five and six before the Giants punched through single runs in the sixth and seventh and the bullpen held the Dodgers off the board in the final three innings.

Denard Span singled, homered, drove in three runs and scored twice, the second time he crossed the plate supplied an insurance run in the seventh inning on a Buster Posey double.

Span's home run was his 14th. He's batting .268 with 41 RBI.

LA's 11th straight loss marked the longest losing streak for the club since moving to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 1958. The first place team has lost 16 of their last 17 after reaching their zenith at 91-36 on August 25th with a 3-1 win over Milwaukee. What was projected to be a 110+ win season has morphed into a titanic struggle for wins down the stretch. Losing to the last place Giants, 36 games off the pace at 57-89, shows the depth of the Dodger desperation.

The Dodgers are still nine games up on Arizona in the division. The Diamondbacks lost to Colorado, 5-4, on Monday.

The streak surpassed a pair of 10-game LA losing streaks in 1961 and 1992. In 1944, Brooklyn lost 16 straight games.

LA will try to end their skid Tuesday in game two of the three-game series at san Francisco's AT&T Park. Game time is 10:10 pm ET.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Yadier Molina Drives In 5 As Cards Sweep Pirates; Nats Clinch; Gary Sanchez Leads Yankees Over Rangers

Players of the Day for Sunday, September 10, 2017

American League

Sanchez: 2HR, 4R, 2RBI
The Yankees have a 3 1/2 game hold on the first wild card spot, but they are clearly intent on gaining a more secure spot in the post-season, taking two of three from the Rangers with a 16-7 thumping in the series finale.

Coupled with Boston's 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay, the Yankees trail the Red Sox by 3 1/2 games in the AL East.

Fueling New York's offense has been a primary focus of Gary Sanchez. The second-year catcher doubled and smacked a pair of home runs in the win, driving in two runs and scoring three times as the Yankees tore up Texas starter A.J. Griffin and three subsequent relievers with 18 hits, including the two bombs by Sanchez and a pair of round-trippers by Aaron Judge, who leads the league with 41.

Sanchez, who missed a month earlier in the season due to injury, has 30 homers and 83 RBI. He hit 12 in August alone and drove in 26 runs last month. Sanchez had to sit out three games recently, serving a suspension for a fight in Detroit a few weeks back. His two homers were his first of September. He has a five-game hitting streak and is batting .400 so far this month.

The Yankees got a break in the schedule thanks to Hurricane Irma. Baseball executives moved the three-game series originally scheduled to be played at Tropicana Field in Tampa to the Mets' Citi Field facility. The series opens Monday at 7:10 pm ET. New York has won six of their last eight.

National League

Molina: HR, 5 RBI
While the Brewers were completing a three-game sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, the St. Louis Cardinals were happy to remain tied for second place with Milwaukee, winning their third straight as well, sweeping the Pirates at Busch Stadium with a 7-0 whitewash.. Both the Brewers and Cardinals trail the Cubs by a mere two games in the NL Central, the one division race that is still wide open.

Michael Wacha blanked Pittsburgh over eight innings on five hits, fanning seven while issuing no walks. More than enough offense was supplied by the incomparable Yadier Molina, who tied a career best with five RBI, driving in three with a home run in the third inning after singling home the first St. Louis run in the first.

Completing his 2-for-3 day at the plate, Molina launched a sac fly in the seventh inning, completing the scoring for the game. Reliever Jon Gant allowed one hit, but held the Pirates scoreless in the ninth.

Having his usual solid season, the 35-year-old veteran catcher is batting .280 with 17 home runs, 72 RBI, and eight stolen bases.

With the race tightening in the division, the Cardinals are having a September to remember, winning eight of their last ten. Milwaukee is 5-4 for the month, the Cubs, 4-6, and in danger of losing their grip on first place.

St. Louis gets a day off Monday before hosting the Reds for three games. After that, the Cubs come to town for three in a series crucial to both teams.

CLINCHER: With a 3-2 victory over Philadelphia and Miami's 10-8, 11-inning loss to Atlanta, the Washington Nationals became the first team in the majors to clinch a post-season berth, clinching the NL East division.

With 19 games remaining and a 20-game lead on the Marlins, the Nationals punched their ticket to October with three weeks left to play.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hernan Perez HR, 5 RBI Leads Brewers Over Cubs; Boston's Chris Sale First To 16 Wins In AL

Players of the Day for Saturday, September 9, 2017

American League

Getting token pressure from second place New York, the Boston Red Sox notched another win off the arm of their ace starter, Chris Sale, who improved to 16-7 with six shutout innings in a 9-0 Boston rout of Tampa Bay.
Chris Sale: 16-7

The victory was Boston's second straight at Fenway over the visiting Rays and fourth straight overall. On Friday, they topped their AL East rivals 9-3.

Sale allowed six hits but no runs, fanned eight and issued one walk on his way to the AL lead in victories, becoming the first AL hurler with 16 wins. Four pitchers - teammate Drew Pomeranz, Minnesota's Ervin Santana, and two Cleveland starters, Cory Kluber and Trevor Bauer - each have 15 wins.

Boston leads the Yankees in the division by 4 1/2 games and has no games left against them this season. The Red Sox will be looking for the sweep when they host the Rays Sunday at 1:35 pm ET.

National League

After taking the opener of a three-game series from the Cubs in Chicago, 2-0, Friday, the Milwaukee Brewers left no doubt that they are in the NL Central pennant race until the end with a 15-2 thrashing of the Cubs at Wrigley Field Saturday.

Perez: HR, 5 RBI
The onslaught didn't begin until the third inning, but the Brewers sent 11 men to the plate, starting with Hernan Perez, who took a leadoff walk and started the scoring on a double by Travis Shaw. Perez also plated the eighth and final run of the inning with a sac fly.

The sac fly accounted for the first of Perez's five RBI on the day. In the fifth, he smacked a two-run home run and he drove in two more runs with a sixth inning single. A utility man who has played every position this year except catcher - he even pitched one inning - this season, Perez played second and third base on Saturday. He has 14 home runs and 48 RBI on the year.

The Cubs managed only six hits off winning pitcher Chase Anderson (9-3) and four Milwaukee relievers. They lead the Brewers and Cardinals in the division by three games with 20 left to play. The NL Central is the closest race in any of the six major league divisions. Milwaukee and St. Louis are also three games out in the wild card, trailing Colorado for the second wild card. The Rockies sent the Dodgers to their ninth straight loss Saturday, with a 6-5 win.

The Brewers will be looking for the sweep when they take the field against the Cubs in the series finale, Sunday at 2:20 pm ET.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Marcus Semian, A's End Houston Win Streak at 7; Michael Taylor Slams As Nats Down Phils, 11-10

Players of the Day for Friday, September 8, 2017

American League
Semien: Grand Slam

Spoiler alert: If the Houston Astros don't finish the regular season with the best record in the American League, it will be due to one of a variety of factors. One, the Cleveland Indians won their 16th straight, downing the Orioles on Friday, 5-0; two, the Houston bullpen hasn't been effective nearly all season; three, Marcus Semien and the last place Oakland A's are letting off some steam.

All of these came into play Friday night in Oakland, as the A's rallied past the Astros for a 9-8 win. Houston's Josh Reddick did his best to get the win for the Astros, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and a homer, driving in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth, putting Houston up, 8-7.

In the bottom half of the inning, Houston closer, Ken Giles, who had registered saves in six of the last eight Houston wins, couldn't get anybody out, giving up a leadoff home run to rookie Boog Powell (no relation to the legendary Baltimore slugger), a single to Semien, a walk to Matt Joyce, and a single by Jed Lowrie which sent Semian home with the game-winner.

Earlier, in the sixth, Semien tied the score at seven when Luke Gregerson served up a gopher ball with the bases full for a grand slam. For Semian, it was his sixth home run of the season and his first since August 16th. Semien spent nearly three months on the DL earlier in the season, but returned in mid-July as the A's regular shortstop and leadoff hitter.

Houston's loss ended a seven-game winning streak, but left them just 1 1/2 ahead of Cleveland for the best record in the league. Winning the division is not a problem for Houston; they lead the Angels by 14 1/2 games.

Game two of the four-game series in Oakland commences Saturday at 1:05 pm PT.

National League

Taylor: 4-5, Slam, 5 RBI
The path to the post-season is speckled with oddities and single-game heroes. On the verge of clinching the NL East division crown, the Washington Nationals can add the name of Michael Taylor to the hero list.

Taylor drove in five runs in the Nationals' 11-10 victory over Philadelphia, going 4-for-5 with two singles, a triple and a grand slam, scoring twice. Taylor's homer came in the third inning with the Nationals down 3-2. After his 15th home run of the season, Washington would not trail again, though the Phillies didn't lack for trying, scoring three times in each of the seventh and ninth innings, both on three-run homers. Taylor tripled in Washington's final run in the bottom of the eighth.

The win put the Nationals a game closer to clinching. With a 19-game lead over Miami and 21 games to play, their magic number is down to three. With the largest lead of any division leader, Washington is likely to be the first to clinch, possibly as early as Sunday.

Winners of five straight, the Nationals will look to extend their streak Saturday at 7:05 pm ET in Washington, DC.