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.

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