A few tweaks and turns and it could be these two teams vying for a wild card spot next year. Not only will the Rangers win the A.L. West this season, but they're still on the rise, and so are the Orioles thanks to a former Texas Rangers player. Sure, Hunter (7 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 5 K) has given up some runs the last few starts, but this time, the kid proved he could pitch to a major-league lineup in a home-run park. Haren (5 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) on the other hand had less than his usual stuff. I still think Hunter has a weakness in a lack of pitch selection, but he's earning himself a spot in Orioles camp next spring. At least three hitters from each team (Robert Andino, Valdimir Guerrero, Mark Reynolds, Erick Aybar, Torii Hunter and Alberto Callaspo) had two hit nights, but none better than J.J. Hardy (2-4, 3 RBI).
For an entire season, Rangers fans everywhere have been pre-emptively boasting, 'o yeah, the Cliff Lee deal was well worth the price'. And tonight the irony came around full swing. Beavan (8 IP, 4 H, 3 K), the Rangers former farmhand came back to bite them in the ass. Wilson (6.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, ER, 2 BB, 8 K) pitched solidly, but not nearly as commanding as his inspired rookie counterpart. With the Angels loss, Texas stays 3.5 games up on Los Angeles.
Adron Chambers picked the top of the 11th inning for his first major-league hit and RBI, as the Cardinals went on to score twice in the frame. Albert Pujols, 4-4, with a run scored and two walks. Both Jaime Garcia (7 IP, 5 H, ER, 2 BB, 4 K) and Vance Worley (6 IP, 6 H, ER, 3 BB, 5 K) pitched with a minimal allowance. The Phillies will look to lock up the division with a win tomorrow.
- ESPN Sunday Night Baseball
Javy Vasquez (CGH, 5 H, 7 K) has never been a question of talent, but rather, placement of talent. Well his placement was fantastic against divisional sewer compadre the Nationals. Both teams on the upswing, the Marlins take this one on Vasquez's complete game, five-hitter performance. Lannan (6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, K) wasn't too shabby, but not good enough to stick around.
Despite some late-inning runs by the Reds, it was back-to-back home-runs by Kotsay (2-4, R, 2 RBI) and Braun (2-4) that locked up the win for Wolf (7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 7 K) and the Brew Crew. Joey Votto went 3-4 (K, 3 RBI) in the loss tonight. Prince Fielder went 2-3 (K, BB, R, RBI) for Milwaukee.
Neither, CC Sabathia or Brett Cecil factored in the decision tonight. Sabathia (5.2 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 8 K) brought less than his usual stuff, and Cecil didn't even start. Dustin McGowan (5 IP, 2 BB, 4 K) did however, and gave up only three runs on three hits. Despite the Yankees sixth-inning tying run, the Jays Molina (1-1) managed to single home Brett Lawrie (1-4, K, BB, 2 K) for the winning-run tonight. Kelly Johnson (3-3, BB, R) Adam Lind (2 K, 3 RBI) and Mike McCoy (3-5,2 K, R) were the leaders for the Jays tonight.
Red Sox 4 Rays 3
WP: Josh Beckett (13-5) LP: James Shields (15-11) S: Jonathan Papelbon (30)
HR: Evan Longoria (28), Mike Aviles (6)
SB: Dustin Pedroia (26), Carl Crawford (28), Desmond Jennings 2 (17), B.J. Upton (30), Casey Kotchman (2), Johnny Damon 3 (18)
As entertaining as this game was, it was over by the fifth inning. Aviles' (1-3, K) home-run ends up the winning shot in the bottom of the fourth for the Sawx. Both pitchers yielded seven hits, but Beckett (6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, BB, 7 K) outpitched Shields (7 IP, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) for the win. Desmond Jennings went (3-4 2 R, K, BB). Crawford (2-3, BB), Pedroia (2-4, 2 R, RBI) and David Ortiz (2-4, 2 RBI) chipped in for Boston. All the while, Longoria (BB, K) went 3-4, with two runs scored.
- FOX REGIONAL SATURDAY
Neither Capuano nor Lowe (2.1 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, BB, 2 K) were impressive, but Capuano (5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) did well enough to earn the win. Meanwhile, the Mets, had five hitters with three or more hits tonight, including Lucas Duda's 4-5 (K, BB, 3 R).
- FOX REGIONAL SATURDAY
The ghost of Jim Thome (2-4, BB, 2 R) strikes again. If it wasn't for Thome's home-run in the top of the ninth inning, the two run bottom of the ninth inning might have made a difference for the Twins. Speaking of the Twins, CF, Joe Benson (4-4, 3 R) lead the way in the loss. Lonnie Chisenhall (3-4, 2 R 2 RBI), Jason Kipnis (2-5, K) and Lou Marson (2-4, K, 2 RBI) lead the way for Cleveland.
How close Kansas City can get to Chicago for third place? If tonight was any sign of the times, 2012 will be a different year for the Royals. Finally, it was K.C. coming back in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Royals 4-6 hitters went 9-13 (K, 4 R, 5 RBI) in the game. Both Phil Humber (6 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) and Felipe Paulino (6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) pitched well, but we're long gone before the decision could be made.
A match-up of blue-chip pitching prospects, past and present, this game went as expected, regardless of San Fran's lineup. White (5.2 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) was nowhere near Bumgarner (7 IP, 6 H, ER, BB, 3 K) tonight and the Giants offense (nine runs on 13 hits) backed up Bumgarner. Rockies 1B, Jordan Pacheco (3-4), extended his personal hitting-streak to six games.
Cahill (6.2 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K) finally extended a fairly sharp box score, but Fister (8 IP, 3 H, ER, 5 K) was sharper. Kelly (2-4, K, R, 2 RBI) and Victor Martinez (2-3, BB) were the leaders at the plate for Detroit. Martinez hit his 35th double of the season. The Tigers win their first A.L. Division title since 1987.
Padres 2 Diamondbacks 0
WP: Tim Stauffer (9-12) LP: Wade Miley (3-2) S: Heath Bell (38)
SB: Orlando Hudson (18)
Both SP's were solid, but the more experienced Stauffer (6.2 IP, 4 H, 6 K) outshined Miley (6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K).
As you can see, Wandy Rodriguez (6.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 5 K) and Matt Garza (9 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 4 K) pitched very differently, and their efforts were reflected in the final score. After Lee's (3-5, 2 R, 3 RBI) two-run-shot to tie things up in the top of ninth, the Cubbies win the season opener of the "maybe, next season" teams. Marlon Byrd (1-4, 2 BB) ended things, singling home Starlin Castro (0-4, K, 2 BB, R). Aramis Ramirez (3-5, K, BB, R) had a good night as well.