Jeremy Guthrie– With all the laudatory talk surrounding Kansas City’s pitching staff lately, Guthrie proved all the newly-found believers correct. In a stellar complete-game performance, the number-three rotation starter punched out seven Twin batters, and yielded a mere five baserunners. This bumps the Roayls up to five games above .500, and though a playoff bid is optimistic at this point, stout pitching displays like Guthrie’s will key a late-season push.
Zach Greinke– By no means was it pretty, but against one of the best offensive lineups in the league, Greinke did enough to lengthen the Dodger’s hot streak (notably a 15th straight road win). With a WHIP well over 1.00 for the game, Greinke had to escape dangerous jams in the 3rd and 4th innings. And in containing the Cardinals’ offense during that time, LA was finally able to strike in the top of the 4th (smack in the middle of Greinke’s most pressing innings).
Justin Upton– The Braves outfielder is still trying to shake off some rust and return to early-season form. On Monday night, the moment of resurgence could not have come at a more suitable time. After hitting a 2-out single, stealing his way into scoring position, and then crossing home plate in the 5th inning, Upton’s true heroics came in the top of the 8th. Just a pitcher removed from facing Stephen Strasburg, Upton zipped a 382-foot home run into the leftfield bleachers off reliever Tyler Clippard as the first batter in the inning. This clinched the game for Atlanta, as well as enlarging its NL East lead to a cozy 13.5 games.
Mike Napoli– The Red Sox first baseman continues his recent horrid stretch, going hitless in 4 at-bats. And what makes him leaving 6 on base even worse is that it came against the lowly Astros. If any series would present a great opportunity for Napoli to get back on track, it would be the ongoing three-game set in Houston. Had Napoli delivered in such promising situations as seen in the 6th and 8th innings, the Red Sox could have potentially snatched a vital win as well.
Chris Perez– There’s simply no excuse for Perez’s 9th-inning debacle–especially in the comfort of his home field–and no way to soften the damage he has done. As a fairly reliable and established closer, Perez had the duty to close the deal in an all-important divisional game against the Tigers. Instead, in a span of 13 gruesome pitches, the Indian closer recorded no outs, and instead allowed Detroit to log in 4 runs on the scoreboard en route to stealing a victory. Cleveland could–and should–have been down only two games in the AL Central standings after tonight, as well as a tentative hold on an AL wild card spot. But Perez’s costly disaster proved otherwise: the division deficit is now four games, with no current grip on a playoff slot.
Andy Pettitte– How about a rude welcoming party for his fellow PED-user? In a game the villainous Alex Rodriguez shouldn’t morally be playing, his fellow drug policy-violator in Andy Pettitte did not exactly provide the best support from the mound: Pettitte allowed 7 earned runs on 11 hits and a walk, while failing to pass the three-inning mark. The grief keeps piling on in the Bronx (I mean they deserve it, right?), as a postseason push by the Yanks would require consistently efficient outputs from starters–what Pettitte put on display on Monday is the antithesis to their need.