Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quick Hits - 9/20/11

Ok, so I spent the last few days up in New England for a wedding and a little vacation time with the wife so once again I find myself with far too much stuff to write about right now. So, similar to last week, here's a quick hit list of what's going on around the sports world and my thoughts in a sentence or two:


1) Why even show up when you're facing Justin Verlander? - The Tigers ace won yet again on Sunday tossing 8 shutout innings against the Oakland A's and improving to 24-5 on the year. Verlander, who now leads the American League in Wins (24), Strikeouts (244) and ERA (2.29) became the first pitcher since 1978 to win at least 24 games and strike out at least 240 hitters. Verlander may just start one more time this season as he's next scheduled to throw against Baltimore on Saturday.
Photo Credit: zimbio.com

2) Mariano All Time Saves Leader - Mariano Rivera struck out Twins rookie Chris Parmelee to cap off a 1-2-3 9th inning and pass Trevor Hoffman to become baseball's all time saves leader on Monday afternoon with the 602nd save of his career. Rivera now has 43 saves on the year and a 1.98 ERA. Don't overlook the importance of his supporting cast though. Setup man David Robertson has been sensational this year. He threw a scoreless 8th inning last night to earn his 34th hold, and lower his ERA to 1.13 in 67 appearances.
Photo Credit: zimbio.com

3) Tigers Clinch First Division Title Since 1987 - The last time the Tigers clinched a division, they had Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Frank Tanana, Matt Nokes and Doyle Alexander. That changed on Friday when Doug Fister helped pitch the Tigers to a 3-1 win over Oakland and they were able to clinch the AL Central joining the Phillies as the only two teams to have clinched a postseason berth thus far.

4) Boston Lead Down to Two - Following Tampa's taking 3 of 4 from Boston this weekend, the Rays were able to knock Boston's lead in the Wild Card down to 2 games as we enter the final week and a half of the regular season. Boston's stretch run got off to a rough start yesterday with a double-header in Boston that saw them lose the opener 6-5 and have to rally to win the nightcap 18-9 to maintain their two game lead over idle Tampa. Neither of Boston's starters got through 5 innings forcing the bullpen to eat 9 more innings between the two games. Tampa starts a 4 game series in New York against the division leading Yankees today. Speaking of collapses...
Photo Credit: zimbio.com

5) Atlanta's Lead is Down to Two and Half - Ex-Atlanta Brave Omar Infante homered off of Craig Kimbrel with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to give the Marlins a 6-5 win over the Atlanta Braves. That loss coupled with the Cardinals 4-3 win over Roy Halladay and Philadelphia means that the Braves lead in the Wild Card is getting uncomfortably small. The Braves have dropped 7 of their last 10 including a 3-game sweep at the hands of surging St. Louis while the Cardinals have won 8 of their last 10 including last night. The Cardinals would appear to have the advantage in schedule down the stretch as they have 3 at home against New York, 3 at home against Chicago, and then 3 on the road against league-worst Houston while Atlanta has 2 in Florida, 3 in Washington and 3 at home against the Phillies.

6) Strasburg Goes Six on Saturday - Stephen Strasburg made his longest start of the season on Saturday going 6 innings against the Marlins and giving up just 1 run on 4 hits. He needed just 61 pitches to get through the 6 innings, striking out only 3, but once again not walking a batter. In 3 starts with the Nationals, Strasburg has a 1.29 ERA and is holding opposing hitters to a batting average of just .188. He's walked none and fanned 11 in 14 innings of work. Strasburg is slated to pitch again on Friday against Tim Hudson and the Braves.

7) Kennedy Wins Number 20 -  Ian Kennedy became the first National Leaguer to reach 20 wins on Monday night tossing 8 shutout innings allowing just 1 hit, a single to opposing pitcher Jeff Karstens, and fanning 12 in a 1-0 victory. The game's only run came on a broken bat home run off the bat of Justin Upton, his 31st of the season.
Photo Credit: zimbio.com


8) Manchester United Wins Again - 5 games into the season, United has a cool 15 points and have outscored their opponents 21-4. Wayne Rooney scored his 9th goal of the season and despite missing a 2nd half penalty, United still cruised to a 3-1 win over rival Chelsea. Manchester City finally failed to match United win for win drawing with Fulham 2-2 to drop to second place at 4-0-1.
Photo Credit: zimbio.com

9) Arsenal Having All Kinds of Problems - While everything is going right for United, Arsenal finds themselves in 17th place 5 games into the Premier League season with a record of 1-3-1 and following Saturday's 4-3 loss to Blackburn Rovers, they have now conceded 14 goals in just 5 matches.

10) Real Madrid Stunned by Levante - Real Madrid lost just 4 games all of last season in Spain while Levante finished in 14th place with a record of 12-17-9. None of that mattered on Sunday as Sami Khedira was sent off in the 40th minute and Arouna Koné scored midway through the second half to give Levante the surprising 1-0 win. Meanwhile Barcelona blew out Osasuna 8-0 behind 3 goals from Lionel Messi and a brace from David Villa.
Photo Credit: thetop.in

11) Stuart Holden Ready to Return - American Stuart Holden will return to the pitch today for Bolton Wanderers in their Carling Cup match against Aston Villa. Holden has been out of the lineup since suffering a brutal knee injury in March against Manchester United.


12) Wambach Scores - USA draws with Canada - In the American women's first match since their crushing shootout loss in the World Cup Final to Japan, the USA drew with Canada 1-1 in Kansas City on Saturday. Abby Wambach converted an early penalty kick, her 123rd goal for the United States, but the Americans couldn't hold on to the lead conceding a late first half goal to Melissa Tancredi, and neither side would score in the second half. The two sides will meet again in Portland, Oregon on Thursday.
Photo Credit: nbcsports.msnbc.com


13) Spain Wins Championship - Juan Carlos Navarro scored 27 points and Pau Gasol had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds as Spain retained the European crown with a 98-85 win over France. France got 11 points and 8 rebounds from Joakim Noah, 26 points and 5 assists from Tony Parker, and 12 points and 7 assists from Boris Diaw, but the Spaniards just had too many weapons. Spain lost just one game the entire tournament, in the first round to Turkey, going 10-1 en route to the title. Russia, who also only lost once the entire tournament, defeated Macedonia 72-68 in the third place game behind 18 points and 7 rebounds from Andrei Kirilenko. Tony Parker led all players in scoring with 22.1 points per game while ex-University of New Orleans point guard Bo McCalebb averaged 21.4 points for Macedonia.
Photo Credit: fibaeurope.com

14) LBBL Finals - My bid at back-to-back championships has fallen short after dropping a 6-4 match to Itchy Buchholz in the semifinals. What's ironic about this is that I'm the one who actually drafted his team since he missed the draft. Last time I'm doing that... Ultimately what killed me though was our inability to hit. Last week the Flying Cave Donkies hit a collective .239 thanks to Joe Mauer (.167), Freddie Freeman (.118), Ian Kinsler (.154), David Wright (.207) and Carlos Gonzalez (.167). Considering that that's half of my starting lineup, it's not hard to see why we lost. It's all right though. I successfully made it through the season with my 'keepers' Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, so if nothing else, at least the future looks bright.


15) Giants Defeat Rams On Monday Night - In a matchup between two teams that have been devastated by injuries, the Giants came away victorious against St. Louis 28-16 last night. Eli Manning threw for 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns including an acrobatic catch by Domenik Hixon as the Giants got their first win of the year. Sam Bradford, despite being without weapons Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola, threw for 331 yards in a losing effort.
Photo Credit: newyork.cbslocal.com

16) Jamaal Charles Injury - The season is over for Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs 24 year old running back, coming off of back-to-back 1000 yard rushing seasons is headed to the injured reserve with a torn ACL sustained in Sunday's loss to Detroit. Charles joins Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry and tight end Tony Moeaki on the IR as the Chiefs' season continues to go from bad to worse. Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster are expected to carry the load at running back in Charles' absence.

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