Jonathan Sanchez takes charge
Lefty throws five scoreless innings in division-clinching win
With the Giants needing a win to make the playoffs and avoid a tie and a 163rd game the following day in San Diego, Jonathan Sanchez never considered losing among the possibilities.
"We aren't going to go to San Diego," Sanchez told his teammates before the game, according to the San Jose Mercury News. "We're going to play here, and we're going to win."
Sanchez pitched five scoreless innings and the bullpen closed out the shutout, with Brian Wilson getting the save, to send San Francisco to the playoffs.
"We didn't ask him to go nine, we asked him to go five as strong as he possibly could, and the bullpen was going to get his back, if we had the lead or not," Wilson said.
Wagner, Cox extend careers: The careers of manager Bobby Cox and reliever Billy Wagner were extended at least through the Braves' National League Division Series against the Giants.
Wagner pitched four innings -- the longest outing of his career -- and struck out the side in the ninth inning for his 37th save in 44 chances this season in Atlanta's 8-7 win over Philadelphia. If the Braves hadn't held the lead, he would have been throwing the last pitches of his career.
"Don't think that didn't run through my head out there," Wagner told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "You screw this up and go home and always be a goat. I was happy to go out there and compete and make some pitches and have another day to go out there and sweat."
"That's the closer's job," Wagner said. "That's my situation."
Stanton has even bigger plans for next season: Mike Stanton hit 22 home runs and notched a .507 slugging mark as a rookie with the Marlins. One of his biggest lessons, however, was about the mental toughness required to play a season in the Major Leagues.
"Just that there's no easy days," Stanton told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "You're not going to feel your best every day, but you're going to have to find something. Because the pitchers don't care. They don't care. They're playing you so they can put food on their family's table. You've got to find that next level to always be at."
"I can't really work on the biggest thing in the offseason, that's approach and plate discipline and stuff, that's going to have to come with games," Stanton said.
Broxton pegged as closer: Don Mattingly, set to take over as Dodgers manager in 2011, all but announced that two-time All-Star Jonathan Broxton would be his closer next season.
"I think we can count on him," Mattingly told the Los Angeles Times. "When he goes home, I want him thinking he'll be the closer when he comes back."
"Get away and enjoy life," Broxton said, when asked how he would spend the offseason.
Bogusevic gets a new look from center field: Brian Bogusevic played all three outfield positions and first base at Triple-A Round Rock but nothing prepared him for his first start in Minute Maid Park's quirky center field.
"I'll probably stay out there a while during BP and see how the ball carries, especially with the roof open," he told MLB.com. "This is only the second day the roof's been open since I've been here, so I want to see how the ball is flying and how it kicks around out there and try to get my bearings."
Gaston sees progress from Snider: Cito Gaston was glad to see the season end well for Travis Snider, who struggled through an injured wrist early in the year.
"It's really important," Gaston told MLB.com. "I know that the kid can go into Spring Training, and not take it easy, but know that, 'Hey, I have a good chance of playing left field on this ballclub.' He should be thinking that right now anyway.
"He can go home and say he had a good year, he had a good time."
For the month of September Snider hit .304 with six home runs and a .543 slugging percentage. Five of those home runs came since Sept. 14, during which time he hit .373 with eight RBIs and 10 runs scored.
Weeks produces from leadoff spot: Rickie Weeks played in 159 games and hit .269 with 32 doubles, 29 home runs, 111 runs scored and 83 RBIs -- as a leadoff hitter.
His homers, RBIs and runs scored were tops among all leadoff hitters and his homers and RBIs are club records for a second baseman.
"You always try to get better," Weeks told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "There's always things you can improve on."
B.J. Upton slotted for No. 2 spot in order: B.J. Upton was in the No. 2 slot in the Rays' batting order for first time all season Saturday, but manager Joe Maddon remembered liking him in that spot during the 2008 postseason.
"That's something that [he] had done a couple years ago and did pretty well," Maddon told the St. Petersburg Times. "B.J. really flourished in the No. 2 hole. You never know; for whatever reason, guys respond to different stimuli."
In the 2008 postseason, he batted second in 15 of the team's 16 games, hitting .287 with seven home runs and 16 RBIs.
Lowell finds a fitting farewell: Mike Lowell went 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a walk in the first game of a doubleheader against the Yankees and the final game of his career.
After hitting a double off the Green Monster in the fifth inning, Lowell left the game to a standing ovation.
"I told Tito [Red Sox manager Terry Francona] if I hit a home run, I'm done," Lowell told the Boston Herald. "I was delighted with the first at-bat, and it was pretty fitting for me to hit one off the wall."
Count Trever Miller as a Musial fan: It was Stand for Stan Day on Saturday at Busch Stadium in honor of Cardinals great Stan Musial. The club gave away cardboard cutouts of the Hall of Famer, which they waved when Stan his wife, Lil, were driven around the stadium's warning track in the sixth inning.
"It doesn't get any better than Stan Musial," Trever Miller told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I think Stan would get that reception no matter what ballpark he was in."
Castro ends with .300 average: Starlin Castro got the two hits he needed Saturday to become the first Cubs rookie to bat .300 or better since Bill Madlock (.313) in 1974.
"I started the game at .298, and tried to get to .300," Castro told MLB.com. "I was looking for a base hit. I wanted to finish at .300. It's good to stay at .300 -- .300 is better than .298."
Manager Mike Quade kept him out of the lineup on Sunday.
Walker plans to come back hungry: Neil Walker isn't taking his role with the Pirates lightly going into 2011.
"I can't go into Spring Training with the mindset that I've got this team made at second base," Walker told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I have to find a way to get better, to be a leader. You have to find a way to stay hungry."
Harang thankful for his ride: Aaron Harang understood it was possible that he was making his last appearance with the Reds on Sunday.
"It's been an enjoyable seven years," Harang told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It's not completely over yet. This city's been good to me, and I'll definitely miss it here."
Matsui ends with a flourish: Hideki Matsui, who had two hits, including a homer, on Sunday, batted .371 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs in his final 116 at-bats dating back to Aug. 14.
"There is no doubt Hideki can hit and produce at the Major League level," Angels manager Mike Scioscia told the Los Angeles Times. "He still has the bat speed, and we're all impressed with how his legs have rebounded. He's run well, and that bodes well for his future."
Josh Hamilton appears ready for playoffs: Josh Hamilton looks ready for the playoffs. Hamilton went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs on Saturday against the Angels and added another hit Sunday. The three RBIs Saturday gave him 100 for the season.
"I said last night I felt good at the plate," Hamilton told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "It was the same thing tonight. I felt good. I felt calm. It's a plus I'm not pushing and trying to go get pitches. It hurts to swing and miss, so I try not to do that."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.