Morneau Edges Teammate Mauer for AL MVP


Morneau Edges Teammate Mauer for AL MVPA defensive replacement has one simple job to do, but White Sox center fielder DeWayne Wise went above and beyond the call of duty to preserve a piece of history.

In the ninth inning of Mark Buehrle?s no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays, Gabe Kapler blasted a towering shot to deep left-center, sending Wise on a dead sprint toward the warning track. The ball was easily a foot over the eight-foot fence when Wise leaped and stole a home run from Kapler, saving the perfect game, no-hitter and shutout all in one extraordinary play.

?It was kind of crazy, man, because when I jumped, the ball hit my glove at the same time I was hitting the wall,? Wise told The Associated Press. ?So I didn?t realize I had caught it until I fell down and the ball was coming out of my glove, so I reached out and grabbed it.?

It was the 18th perfect game in baseball history and the first since Randy Johnson accomplished the feat in 2004. It was Buehrle?s second no-hitter in his career but first perfect game. In fact, Johnson and Buehrle are the only two active pitchers to have thrown two no-no?s in their careers.

?Never thought I?d throw a no-hitter, never thought I?d throw a perfect game, never thought I?d hit a home run,? said Buehrle, who has done all three. ?Never say never in this game, because crazy stuff can happen.?

Playoff picture
AL East: New York Yankees (60-38)
AL Central: Detroit Tigers (52-45)
AL West: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (58-39)
AL Wild Card: Boston Red Sox (57-40)

Breakdown:  The Yankees went 6-1 last week to leapfrog the Red Sox, who limped down to second place by going 2-4. The Bronx Bombers became the American League?s first 60-game winners and are 9-1 in their last 10 thanks to an incredible homestand — one that would have featured a 10-game winning streak if not for a 6-4 loss to the A?s on July 25. The Red Sox dropped five of six on the road following the All-Star break and are 24-25 on the road this season.

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies (56-40)
NL Central: Chicago Cubs (51-45)
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers (62-36)
AL Wild Card: Colorado Rockies (54-44)

Breakdown: Here come the Cubbies! Chicago?s lovable losers have stormed out of the gate in the second half to take a lead in the NL Central. By winning eight of their last 10, the Cubs have picked up a half-game on the Cardinals, who have dropped six of their last nine. Thanks to eight wins in their last 11 games, the Rockies have taken ownership of the NL wild card, holding a two-game lead over the Giants, who previously owned the fourth and final playoff spot.

American League: Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins

Morneau stepped on the gas a little harder this past week, creating even more room between himself and other worthy candidates vying for MVP votes. The Twins? first baseman smacked five home runs and drove in 11 RBIs while scoring eight runs in seven contests. He leads the AL in RBIs (82) and homers (26), is tied for games played (98), and is second behind teammate Joe Mauer in slugging percentage (.597) and OPS (.995).

National League: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
Pujols has missed just a pair of games for the Cards this season, but the Machine has struggled in his last six games, lowering his batting average from .333 to .325 by getting just five hits in 24 at-bats. After spanking a pair of dingers in his first game back from the All-Star break, Pujols has just two RBIs and no extra-base hits. Despite the drought, he is still the NL leader in RBIs (91), homers (34), OPS (1.138) and slugging percentage (.693).

Cy Young
American League: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

There?s a six-pitcher logjam of 11-game winners atop the American League, but M?s right-hander Felix Hernandez owns the lowest ERA (2.45) among those hurlers, which includes Mark Buehrle, Josh Beckett, Justin Verlander, Tim Wakefield and Roy Halladay. Seattle?s ace is also holding opponents to a .225 BA and has struck out 137 batters in 139 2/3 innings.

National League: Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants
Cain became the NL?s second 12-game winner last week, joining Colorado?s Jason Marquis. The Giants? righty owns a 2.27 ERA and has allowed more than one earned run in just two of 13 starts since May 12.

Rookie of the Year
American League: Matt Palmer, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Despite getting a win in his last start, Matt Palmer will be heading back to the bullpen, where he?s spent half of the 2009 campaign. Making his 12th start of the year, Palmer picked up his eighth win by holding the Twins to just two runs on four hits in seven innings. In doing so, he was able to lower his ERA to 4.68, the lowest it has been in over a month.

National League: Tommy Hanson, Atlanta Braves

Hanson suffered his first major league loss over the weekend ? a 4-0 shutout by the Brewers in Milwaukee. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak to start his career but lowered his ERA from 3.00 to 2.95.

Weekly Wonders
American League: Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals

In the past week, Holliday has not only hit .556, the Cards? new outfielder has scored 10 runs, hit two homers and drove in 10 RBIs. He did so with both the  A?s and Cardinals, as he was sent off to St. Louis halfway through the week.

National League: Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks
Drew notched 15 hits in 30 at-bats (.500 BA) last week while scoring 10 runs and driving in five after moving into Arizona's leadoff spot. Drew also had 27 total bases thanks in part to five doubles, two triples and one homer.

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