Pennant Performers of the Night: September 16

The fever is here and the cream of the crop rise to the top. Who rose to the top on Thursday night?

National League:
San Diego Padres right-hander Adam Eaton is doing his part to keep the Padres in the thick of the wildcard race in a five team battle.

Eaton went seven shutout innings on Thursday night, allowing just five hits and a walk in a 3-0 win over division-leading Los Angeles. The Washington State native struck out six and picked up his 10th win of the year.

The win kept San Diego within 3.5 games of San Francisco, who lead the wildcard race and are now just 2.5 games behind the Dodgers for the lead in the NL West.

Eaton, despite an ERA near five for the year, could loom large down the stretch in the NL.


Ah, the long ball. Chicago Cubs third sacker Aramis Ramirez took matters into his own hands Thursday night, belting three home runs to lead the Cubs to a 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

Ramirez got the Cubs on the board with a two-run blast and added a solo shot in the fifth to make the score 3-1 in favor of the hometown Cubbies.

After the Reds took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth, Ramirez stepped into the batter's box in the top of the seventh and launched a two-run blast off Ryan Wagner to give his club the lead for good.

Chicago stayed just a half game behind San Francisco for the lead in the wildcard race, and despite being 14.5 games behind NL Central-leading St. Louis, the Cubs are in good shape. With 18 games remaining, Ramirez and his mates have three more games to play then the Giants, giving them more room to make up the half game that separates the two teams.


American League:
The theme in the AL is a bit different than that of the Senior Circuit. Instead of a couple of individual stars, the standout Pennant Performers include a stable of arms and a group of stick-wielding members of the north land.

The Anaheim Angels relief corps went four scoreless innings Thursday night as the Halos broke a short two-game losing streak and kept pace with the Oakland A's in the race for the AL West division title.

Right-hander Scott Shields took over for starter Aaron Sele in the sixth inning with the game tied at one. Shields went three scoreless innings allowing just one hit and striking out two. Shields preserved the lead that the Angels took in the top of the sixth and handed Sele his ninth victory.

Anaheim closer Troy Percival went the final frame, striking out a batter and getting Randy Winn to fly to center to end the game.

Anaheim remains two games behind Oakland in the AL West and stayed 5.5 games behind Boston for the lead in the wildcard race.


Since the trade deadline the American League Central has been as one-sided as a fist fight between Pebbles and Bam Bam.

The Minnesota Twins have become somewhat of a dominant force in the AL and are torturing the second place Chicago White Sox in the process. For all the pitching the Twins are getting from Cy Young favorite Johan Santana and right-hander Brad Radke, the bats are what has made them the juggernaut they have played like in the second half of the season.

Thursday night the Twins defeated the Sox 10-1 and outscored the Chicago lineup 26-4 in the three-game set. In the final game, Minnesota scored 10 runs on 14 hits and belted out seven extra-base hits, including six doubles and a home run.

Most impressively, the Twins had seven two-out RBI and five different players had two or more hits.

The balanced attack was led by utility-man Michael Cuddyer who had three hits and cracked his 10th home run of the season. Cristian Guzman, Augie Ojeda, and Pat Borders each had two hits apiece. Borders drove in two and 1B Justin Morneau had two hits and three RBI.

Minnesota now leads the division by a whopping 13.5 games over the White Sox.


The Pennant Races

AMERICAN LEAGUE

West
1. Oakland------- 85-61 ---
2. Anaheim------ 83-63 2.0
3. Texas--------- 80-66 5.0


Central
1. Minnesota------- 86-60 ---
2. Chicago---------- 72-73 13.5


East
1. New York------- 92-54 ---
2. Boston---------- 88-57 3.5



Wildcard
1. Boston--------- 88-57 ---
2. Anaheim------- 83-63 5.5


NATIONAL LEAGUE

West
1. Los Angeles--------- 84-62 ---
2. San Francisco------- 82-65 2.5
3. San Diego----------- 79-68 5.5


Central
1. St. Louis------- 95-50 ---
2. Chicago-------- 80-64 14.5


East
1. Atlanta------- 86-61 ---
2. Florida-------- 77-67 7.5


Wildcard
1. San Francisco------- 82-65 ---
2. Chicago-------------- 80-64 0.5
3. Houston------------- 80-67 2.0
4. Florida--------------- 77-57 3.5
5. San Diego----------- 78-68 3.5



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