1st Round Picks Locked Up

Francisco Liriano was the latest Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher to conquer an opponent.

Francisco Liriano was the latest Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher to conquer an opponent.

At this point, it appears that every team from the NL Central has signed their first round draft pick.

The St. Louis Cardinals struck first, signing Nick Plummer last Thursday. Plummer even made an appearance at Busch Stadium yesterday, taking part in pregame activities with two other Cardinal draft picks.

Over the weekend, the Cincinnati Reds followed suit by inking Tyler Stephenson.

And yesterday, the Chicago CubsIan Happ, Milwaukee BrewersTrent Clark, and Pittsburgh PiratesKevin Newman all put pen to paper.

Now on to the recaps.

* * *

The Pirates, hooooo boy…, they did things. Terrible things to the Chicago White Sox. An 11-0 dismantling, allowing 2 hits and 1 walk, striking out 13.

That’s not polite.

Pittsburgh put 5 runs on the board in the bottom of the 1st and cruised from there, as Francisco Liriano went 8 shutout innings, striking out 12 to improve to 4-5 on the season.

The top two hitters in the lineup, Josh Harrison and Starling Marte, each had four-hit games. In total, seven Pirates had multi-hit games.

First baseman Sean Rodriguez (0-for-4, SO) must be feeling like a total clown this morning.

That’s five straight wins now for Pittsburgh, who’s trying their best to keep up with the Redbirds. In this winning streak, Pirates’ starting pitchers have gone 4-0 with a 0.25 ERA, the worst start coming by Gerrit Cole. That’s saying something.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Cardinals were 3-2 winners at home against the Minnesota Twins.

Yadier Molina had three hits and homered for the first time in almost a year (6/27/2014), picking up his long-ball on the back end of back-to-back homers with Mark Reynolds in the 4th inning.

John Lackey rebounded from a rough prior start, going 8 innings for the win (5-4), allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and a walk to go along with 6 strikeouts.  Lackey had allowed 12 hits in 4 innings of work last week.  This was his best start since going 7 shutout innings on May 29th and was his longest start since going 9 innings last June 18th, almost exactly a year ago.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Reds were blanked 6-0 by the Detroit Tigers as they were owned by Anibal Sanchez (CG, 0 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 7 SO).

And, hey, why not more bad news for a Reds team that had very little to look forward to in 2015? Starting pitcher Jon Moscot faced just 3 batters before leaving the game with a dislocated shoulder. The injury happened on this play, with Moscot running Anthony Gose back to second base on a rundown. Bad form on that play, by the way. You run straight at the runner. Not sure why he curled around Gose’s right side. He should have never had to dive at Gose if he had just run straight at him.

Moscot becomes the 3rd player the Reds will have put on the disabled list in the last 5 days. This month they have already put down Zack Cozart (knee), Marlon Byrd (wrist), Tony Cingrani (shoulder) and Raul Iglesias (oblique).

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Brewers put together a late rally to result in a final score that made the game appear closer than it was, falling 8-5 to the Kansas City Royals.

K.C. put up 3 in the 1st and 2 in the 5th to open up an eventual 5-0 lead. That lead was 8-2 heading into the bottom of the 9th when the Brew Crew had their first 5 batters reach base to pick up a trio of runs in garbage time.

Enough was enough, so the Royals called on Wade Davis to retire the next three batters in order.

Kyle Lohse (L 3-8) now has a 6.44 ERA for the season and I’m finding it hard to believe any team will be looking to trade for him at the deadline.

Carlos Gomez was out and continues to be day-to-day with a hip injury.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Cubs were rained/flooded/tornadoed out, so their fans stayed home to watch the Chicago Blackhawks win their 3rd Stanley Cup in the last 6 years instead.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo was in attendance. I’m just trying to figure out how he managed to get a ticket for the game…

Rizzo, by the way, slipped out of the lead in batting average (see below); he’s 0-for-14 with 5 strikeouts in his last 3 games.

Probable future National League Designated Hitter, Kyle Schwarber, is getting called up to do just that – play DH – in inter-league games for the next 6 days. The #4 pick of the 2014 draft, Baseball America had Schwarber as the #19 prospect in baseball following the 2014 season. Speaking to the team’s prospects, he was still only ranked 4th in the list of the organization’s prospects. 19th among all 30 teams, but 4th on this team. Unreal.

Drafted as a catcher, Schwarber is hitting .320 with 13 HR and a 1.017 OPS at AA Tennessee.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

AVG
Jhonny Peralta (STL) .316
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .307
Matt Holliday (STL) .303
Joey Votto (CIN) .299
Brandon Phillips (CIN) .296
ERA
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.71
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 1.89
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.45
Jason Hammel (CHC) 2.81
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 2.85

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 42 21 W4
Pittsburgh Pirates 36 27 6.0 W5
Chicago Cubs 34 27 7.0 W2
Cincinnati Reds 28 35 14.0 L3
Milwaukee Brewers 24 41 19.0 L3

* * *

Schedule

34-29 Twins Gibson (4-4, 3.24)
42-21 CARDINALS Wacha (8-2, 2.45)
12:45 PM CT
28-34 White Sox Quintana (3-6, 4.00)
36-27 PIRATES Morton (4-0, 2.05)
6:05 PM CT
28-35 REDS Lorenzen (1-2, 4.01)
34-30 Tigers Ryan (1-0, 2.08)
6:08 PM CT
29-33 Indians Bauer (5-3, 3.53)
34-27 CUBS Arrieta (6-4, 3.16)
7:05 PM CT
35-25 Royals Young (5-2, 2.25)
24-41 BREWERS Garza (4-7, 4.80)
7:10 PM CT
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