The Detoit Tigers welcomed the Chicago White Sox into the Motor City on Friday with a sole purpose: sweep the series and move into a first place tie with the pale hose. Well, here on Monday…mission accomplished. The Tigers completed the sweep on Sunday night, beating the White Sox 4-2 behind another fantastic performance from Justin Verlander. He allowed a solo homer to Alejandro de Aza to lead the game off, and then nothing over the rest of his eight innings. He made a solid White Sox lineup look like little leaguers…which is what he tends to do. Meanwhile, Chris Sale started out strong for Chicago, but faltered near the end of his outing. He allowed a solo homer to Brennan Boesch to tie the game, and a three-run homer to Delmon Young in the sixth to send Detroit to a 4-1 lead. The White Sox actually threatened in the ninth, scoring one run off of Jose Valverde and bringing the go-ahead run to the plate….in the form of Orlando Hudson. Oh. Hudson lined out to center to end the game and deadlock the AL Central with 29 games to go. Both teams get an easy go of it this week, with the Tigers welcoming the Indians to Comerica Park, and the White Sox heading back home to Chicago to take on the Twins.
Game of the Day: Braves 8, Phillies 7. This wasn't much of a game in the early going. The Phillies battered Paul Maholm for seven runs, and the former Pirates and Cubs starter just got six outs before ceding to the Atlanta bullpen. Atlanta's relief corps threw seven shutout frames though, and silenced the Phillies bats…a big thing at the end of the day. The Braves got one in the second inning on a Reed Johnson RBI double, but still trailed 7-1 going into the sixth with Cole Hamels on the mound. Johnson struck again, singling in a pair to make it 7-3 and give the Braves a glimmer of hope. But, they failed to score over the next two innings, and Jeremy Horst looked to close the game out. Jason Heyward led off with a flyout, and Johnson (again!) reached on a single. Paul Janish walked, and that brought out Horst and brought in Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon struck out Lyle Overbay for the second out, and walked Michael Bourn somehwat controversially to load the bases for Martin Prado. Prado hit a ball that went off the glove of third baseman Kevin Frandsen that was scored a double and brought two runs in to make it a 7-5 game. That brought up Chipper Jones with two on and first base open and Jones…well, he went yicketty to give the Braves a completely necessary victory and give them a little breathing room in the NL Wild Card race.
Pitching Lines of the Day: Justin Verlander's awesomeness bears repeating: eight innings, four hits, one run, two walks, and 11 strikeouts. Yowza. Stephen Strasburg, who will be shut down after his September 12th start, pitched the Nationals to a 4-3 win over the Cardinals. He threw six shutout innings and allowed only two hits, walking one and striking out nine. Hisashi Iwakuma turned in another good start in the Mariners 2-1 win over the Angels, throwing 7 1/3 shutout innings and allowing five hits and seven strikeouts without a walk. Bud Norris gave the Astros a glimmer of hope in a 5-3 loss to the Reds, pitching six shutout innings and allowing only three hits, walking one and striking out six.
Hitting Lines of the Day: The Orioles smashed the Yankees 8-3 to move to two games out in the AL East, and Mark Reynolds once again led their offensive barrage, going 3/5 with three runs, four RBI, and a pair of homers. The Padres fell to the Rockies 11-10, but you can't blame Chase Headley or Alexi Amarista. Headley went 4/5 with six RBI, his 23rd homer of the year, and a stolen base, while Amarista went 5/5 with two runs, two RBI, and a double. Rickie Weeks led the Brewers to a 12-8 win over the Pirates, going 3/4 with four runs, two RBI, a walk, a homer, and two stolen bases. Garrett Jones helped the Bucco caues by going 3/3 with three runs, two walks, and his 23rd homer of the year. David Murphy had a good day for the Rangers in their 8-3 win in Cleveland, going 3/4 with three RBI, a walk, and a homer. Stephen Drew continued to be an improvement at short for the A's as they finished a sweep of the Red Sox with a 6-2 victory, going 3/4 with two RBI, a double, and his first homer of the year with the A's.
Other Games: Jason Bay's grand slam was the difference in a 5-1 Mets win in Miami. David Price matched Johnny Cueto with 17 wins, as the Rays smashed the Blue Jays and a terrible Ricky Romero 9-4. The Royals slogged their way to a 6-4 win over the Twins, avoiding a sweep. Two ninth inning runs off of Carlos Marmol (who else?) gave the Giants a 7-5 win over the Cubs. Adrian Gonzalez hit a walk-off single in the Dodgers' 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks.
Today's Games: Full slate on a Monday, PLUS all but two games today start in the daytime in the eastern time zone. YEAH! The untouchable Kris Medlen starts for the Braves, hosting the Rockies. Joe Saunders goes for round two for the Orioles against the Blue Jays. CC Sabathia and the Yankees travel to St. Pete to take on James Shields and the Rays in a suddenly tight AL East race. Tyler Cloyd's second career start for the Phillies won't be an easy one, as they take on Johnny Cueto and the Reds. Yu Darvish takes on Bruce Chen in Kansas City. Mike Fiers will start for Milwaukee against Ricky Nolasco in Miami. CJ Wilson and Tom Milone will battle in Oakland, and this series is a must-win for the fading Angels, now 5.5 behind the A's (and 3.5 behind the Orioles) in the AL Wild Card race.
Happy Labor Day, and enjoy your day of baseball everyone.