Five Cuts: Rays survive another close encounter with Yankees
Tampa Bay has scored the third-most runs in the majors -- 736, just one behind the Red Sox for second -- with only a moderate amount of power (147 homers, fifth in the AL) and not very many base hits (1,215, only 12th out of 14 AL teams). What the Rays do well is draw walks (607) and steal bases (160) -- both numbers lead the majors -- but they didn't do either of those while beating the Yankees for the second time in the three-game series.
Instead, the Rays relied on a pair of two-run homers from
But somehow the Rays managed to get runners home. They score a major league-leading 34 percent of all baserunners and only left two men on base on Wednesday. Usually that's because of their aggressiveness on the basepaths, such as Tuesday night when
It's a fickle offense that so far has worked, as the Rays have the best record in the majors and survived the three-game set with the Yankees in which each game was decided by one run. Tampa Bay keeps finding ways to make each runner count.
Cain delivered again, shutting out Los Angeles over seven innings, allowing three hits and no walks while striking out five en route to
Cain was just whom the Giants wanted on the mound. He has outpitched his more celebratead rotation-mate,
Only since mid-July have the Giants started taking advantage of Cain's good pitching, as they've won 10 of his last 12 starts, though Cain himself is just 6-2 despite a 2.71 ERA. Amidst that stretch was, remarkably, his first career victory in 16 starts against the Dodgers back on Aug. 1, a feat he duplicated on Wednesday.
Barring any radical rotation reshuffling, Cain ought to have three more starts this season, the third of which will come in one of the season's final two games -- at home against the division-leading Padres, another foe in which run support has failed Cain. He is 5-8 in his career against San Diego and 1-2 this season despite a 3.13 career ERA in those 22 starts. But just like he finally conquered the Dodgers, so too has Cain had recent success against the Padres, throwing a eight innings of three-run ball for a win in his last start on Sept. 9.
In the first 15 days of September, Tulowitzki is batting .361 (22-for-61) with 11 home runs and 27 RBIs. No other player has more than six homers or 16 RBIs. Of the eight games in which he's homered -- three times he's had two in the same game -- Colorado is 7-1.
Tulowitzki missed 33 games in June and July with a broken wrist and has returned with even more power. In 62 games before the fracture, he had nine homers and slugged .502; in 45 games since his rejoining the lineup he has 12 homers and has slugged .672.
How important has his return been? The Rockies were 17-16 in his absence and 30-18 since.
The question then comes down to whether voters will side with the player who has the more spectacular stats (
But one other area in which CarGo gets the edge is in his performance against better competition. They both played well in this week's key series -- Adrian Gonzalez was 5-for-11 with two home runs, five RBIs and two walks while Carlos Gonzalez was 7-for-13 with six RBIs, four runs and one walk -- but the Rockies' outfielder has the edge against baseball's best. He is hitting .330 with 16 home runs, 57 RBIs and a .938 OPS against opponents with a winning percentage of .500 or better in 70 games; Adrian Gonzalez is batting .276 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs and a .823 OPS in 66 such games.
The opportunities were there: The Braves had 13 runners reach base but batted 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and managed only two runs. Twice they grounded into a double play. And they only gave up one run-scoring play to Washington, but it was a grand slam from No. 8 hitter
Atlanta is just 31-41 as the visiting team and now begins a nine-game road trip to New York, Philadelphia and Washington. The Mets and Phillies hold the third- and fifth-best home records in the NL. The Braves need their starters to pick up the slack. While losing nine of their last 14, the rotation has a 5.54 ERA and .298 average against.