Tagged: Addison Russell

Pirates, Cubs Move Up In Wild Card

Charlie Morton led the Pirates to a shutout of the Giants.

Charlie Morton led the Pirates to a shutout of the Giants.

The Pittsburgh Pirates shut out the outside-looking-in San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs were dominant winners over the Atlanta Braves, giving both teams a bit more room in the National League Wild Card race.

Starting with Pittsburgh, Charlie Morton went 6.2 innings in a 4-0 win over the Giants, improving to 8-4 on the season.

Neil Walker hit his 13th homer of the season and had a pair of hits. Also joining in with multi-hit games were Starling Marte and Jung-Ho Kang.

It was the Bucs’ 7th win in their last 8 games as they moved within 4.5 games of the idle St. Louis Cardinals. That’s the closest Pittsburgh has been since July 29th.

It also gave them a full 8-game lead over the Giants in the Wild Card race. They remain 4 ahead of the Cubs.

Tonight will be tough for the Pirates as they have Jeff Locke going up against Madison Bumgarner (14-6, 2.98) who, besides being a good hitter, is also a decent pitcher.

Both 3B Josh Harrison (thumb) and SS Jordy Mercer (knee) are expected to return from the DL this weekend, with the team having survived thrived while missing the left side of their infield over the last five weeks.

Kang has excelled and 3B Aramis Ramirez looks rejuvenated since coming back to where his career started, so manager Clint Hurdle will have some tough decisions to make.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

Jake Arrieta won his 15th game of the year with 6 shutout innings, striking out 7 as the Cubs pounded the Braves, 7-1.

Anthony Rizzo hit his 24th homer and Addison Russell his 8th as the Cubs scored 4 in the 3rd and came out to a 7-0 lead after 5 innings of play. That tends to hold up when Arrieta is on the bump.

In breaking their 3-game skid, Chicago moved 4 ahead of the Giants for the 2nd Wild Card spot.

The Cubs get a tough draw later this afternoon against Shelby Miller (5-9, 2.43) and the Braves.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

The Cincinnati Reds lost their 6th straight and are now just a half game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers at the bottom of the division.

Or a half game away from tying them up for a higher draft pick, if you’re a “glass half full” kind of person.

* * * * * * * * *

Fangraphs has a Q&A with Brewers starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson. Check it out.

* * * * * * * * *

If you want to know why the NL Central is the most entertaining division in baseball, Anthony Witrado at Bleacher Report has an article explaining that. Go enjoy it.

* * * * * * * * *

Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 77 43 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 72 47 4.5 W3
Chicago Cubs 68 51 8.5 W1
Cincinnati Reds 51 68 25.5 L6
Milwaukee Brewers 52 70 26.0 W1

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 72 47 +4.0
Chicago Cubs 68 51
San Francisco Giants 65 56 4.0
Washington Nationals 60 60 8.5

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

53-68 Braves Miller (5-9, 2.43)
68-51 CUBS Hendricks (6-5, 3.97)
3:05 PM CT
52-70 BREWERS Nelson (9-9, 3.61)
60-60 Nationals Gonzalez (9-5, 3.86)
6:05 PM CT
65-56 Giants Bumgarner (14-6, 2.98)
72-47 PIRATES Locke (6-7, 4.31)
6:05 PM CT
59-61 Diamondbacks De La Rosa (10-5, 4.40)
51-68 REDS Holmberg (1-2, 5.95)
6:10 PM CT
77-43 CARDINALS Lackey (10-7, 2.87)
59-62 Padres Cashner (4-12, 4.20)
9:10 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

WAR (fielders)
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 5.7
Joey Votto (CIN) 5.2
Jason Heyward (STL) 4.0
Starling Marte (PIT) 3.9
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) 3.8
WAR (pitchers)
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 4.9
John Lackey (STL) 3.3
Michael Wacha (STL) 3.3
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 3.2
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 3.1

Bad Day for Bucs

This is what Yadi looks like after breaking a tie score with an RBI triple.

This is what Yadi looks like after breaking a tie score with an RBI triple.

There was quite a list of things that didn’t go well for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night.

First off, they lost to the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals for a second straight day, pushing them 7 games back in the division.

Secondly, outfielder Starling Marte left the game with a hand injury after being plunked for the 3rd time in his last 4 games. He’s hitting .285 with 13 HR and 22 SB this season.

Third, the Chicago Cubs won for the 12th time in their last 13 games to close to within a game and a half of them for the top Wild Card spot.

Pedro Alvarez‘s brick glove at first base cost the Pirates two runs early on.

In the bottom of the 3rd, with the game still scoreless, the Cards had the bases loaded and one out. Jason Heyward hit a bouncer up the middle that looked to be an inning-ending 4-3 double play, but Neil Walker‘s throw to 1st was in the dirt and not only couldn’t Alvarez scoop it, but he also let the ball bounce well enough away from him to allow two Cardinal runners to score.

This play, by the way, came after one in which Alvarez failed to get back to first base in time to cover the bag on a ground ball.

Yadier Molina‘s RBI triple in the 6th inning snapped a 2-2 tie and held up to be the game-winner in a 4-2 St. Louis victory.  Molina’s low liner into center field got past a diving Gregory Polanco, giving the Pirates’ their second questionable defensive play of the night.

Meanwhile, Michael Wacha (W 14-4) struck out 7 Pirates in 6 innings of work, somehow scattering 12 base runners to allow just a pair of runs.

Andrew McCutchen homered (18th) and tripled (3rd) in the Pittsburgh loss.

This is the largest lead St. Louis has had in the division since July 25th. With another win today, it would be their largest lead since June 30th.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, in Chicago, close Hector Rondon again tried to play “Houdini” by putting men at 2nd & 3rd with nobody out and a 1-run lead in the 9th. After striking out the next two batters, however, he bounced a pitch in the dirt that catcher Miguel Montero couldn’t handle, allowing it to get away and giving the Milwaukee Brewers a run to make it a 2-2 tie.

Miggy atoned in the 10th, with a solo home run (11th).

Kris Bryant poked his 16th homer of the year for the Cubs and first baseman Anthony Rizzo made an unbelievable play on a foul ball, jumping up onto the tarp and then stepping out into the crowd to make a catch and retire the much-despised Ryan Braun.

Braun had a nice day at the plate, actually, going 3-for-4 with his 20th homer of the year.

It was the Cubs’ 6th straight win and 12th in their last 13. Amazingly, they’ve only made up 3 games on the Cardinals during this stretch.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

Fielding metrics are a tricky thing and (at this point, anyhow) largely subjective and prone to stringers.

I just want to throw that caveat out there before pointing out some numbers about the Cubs’ shortstop situation.

Much has been made of Addison Russell being the more “natural” or “gifted” shortstop and Starlin Castro being more of a hack.

Well, this is an admittedly small sample size for Russell, but take a look at the numbers so far at short.

Castro: 103 games, 4.43 range factor per 9 innings, .962 fielding percentage
Russell: 14 games, 3.07 range factor per 9 innings, .917 fielding percentage

The subjective data from Baseball Info Solutions has Russell as the better fielder, with a +3 in defensive runs saved already, compared to -7 for Castro.

So the numbers say one thing but the eyes say another.

* * * * * * * * *

In his last 28 games, Cincinnati Reds‘ first baseman Joey Votto has a .563 OBP. He’s also hit .382 with 8 doubles and 5 home runs.

* * * * * * * * *

Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 73 40 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 65 46 7.0 L2
Chicago Cubs 64 48 8.5 W6
Cincinnati Reds 50 62 22.5 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 48 67 26.0 L2

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 65 46 +1.5
Chicago Cubs 64 48
San Francisco Giants 60 53 4.5
Washington Nationals 58 55 6.5

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

48-67 BREWERS Cravy (0-3, 5.40)
64-48 CUBS Lester (7-8, 3.227)
1:20 PM CT
65-46 PIRATES Liriano (7-6, 3.13)
73-40 CARDINALS Lynn (9-6, 2.76)
6:15 PM CT
50-62 REDS Sampson (1-1, 3.00)
64-50 Dodgers Latos (4-8, 4.67)
9:10 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Joey Votto (CIN) .434
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .405
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .395
Jung-Ho Hang (PIT) .371
Matt Carpenter (STL) .367
WHIP
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.93
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 0.99
Jason Hammel (CHC) 1.04
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 1.11
Dan Haren (CHC) 1.12

Wada Bad-ass

Wada Bad-Ass

Wada Bad-Ass

Hard not to lead with the Chicago Cubs, who shutout the Cleveland Indians while scoring a pair of touchdowns and a field goal (17-0).

They received 7 shutout innings of work from starting pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada, who was pretty much on the cusp of losing his spot in the rotation.

Every member of the lineup had a hit, including multi-hit games for the kids: Kyle Schwarber (4 hits including a triple in his first Major League start), Anthony Rizzo (2 hits including his 12th homer, snapping an 0-for-20 stretch), Kris Bryant (2 hits with a grand slam off of outfielder-turned-emergency-pitcher David Murphy), and Addison Russell (2 hits including his 5th homer and a spectacular play in the field).

Chris Denorfia also homered and doubled, driving in 4 runs for the Cubs.

In the post-game press conference, Wada had this to say about his big day:

I am bad-ass.

See the full interview here.

It was the most runs the Cubs had scored in a game since a 19-0 win over the San Diego Padres by that ill-fated 1969 squad.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

If not for a hugely lop-sided game and the ability to include a non-English speaker calling himself “bad-ass”, the lead story would surely be the Pittsburgh Pirates, who ran their winning streak up to 7 with a 3-2 win over the Chicago White Sox.

All 3 Pirate runs scored in the 1st inning – Andrew McCutchen had an RBI single and Jung Ho Kang popped a 2-run homer, his 4th of the season.

Jeff Locke wasn’t able to keep the shutout parade going, allowing 2 runs in 6 innings of work. He struck out 8 against 2 walks and 3 hits allowed.

Mark Melancon collected his 22nd save with a perfect 9th inning.

It wasn’t all sunshine for the Bucs, though, as Starling Marte had to leave the game in the 9th inning. Marte appeared to injure his left ankle while hitting the first base bag in the previous inning.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

Jeff Sullivan wrote about Cutch’s post-April rebound over at Fangraphs. If you like looking at feet, you will probably enjoy it. Check it out over there.

* * *

The St. Louis Cardinals saw their 5-game winning streak end with a 3-1 loss visiting the Minnesota Twins.

Carlos Martinez threw effectively, allowing just 2 runs (1 earned) in 6.2 innings of work, while striking out 6.

The turning point came in the 4th inning when the Twins had men at the corners with one out, down 1-0. Martinez’s pickoff attempt at first went just wide of first baseman Mark Reynolds‘ grasp, glancing off his glove for an E-3 and allowing the tying run to score from 3rd and move the runner from 1st up to 3rd. That runner, Eduardo Nunez, then scored on a sacrifice fly to put Minnesota up 2-1.

But the offense hit 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, not giving Martinez any kind of support.

Jason Heyward had the sole multi-hit day at the plate for the Birds, upping his average to .259 this season.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

Closer Trevor Rosenthal, who hasn’t pitched since June 13th, says he’s ready to resume closing duties but that he’ll be keeping a close eye on some arm fatigue. Rosenthal has 21 saves in 29 appearances this season, posting a sterling 0.59 ERA to go with a 0.96 WHIP, striking out 9.8 men per 9 innings. He hasn’t allowed a run since May 3rd, boasting a perfect 0.00 ERA in his last 17 appearances.

* * *

The Todd Frazier Show continued, leading the Cincinnati Reds to an 8-4 win in 13 innings over the Detroit Tigers.

Fraizer’s walk-off grand slam in the 13th inning was his 2nd of the game and 22nd of the year.

Jay Bruce is hitting just .232 this season, but went 5-for-6 with a pair of doubles last night.

And Twitter-abuser Brayan Pena went 4-for-6 (.302) with his 8th double of the year.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

Devin Mesoraco sounds close to officially ending his season after an aborted attempt to convert from catcher to outfielder. The hip injury isn’t getting any better and it sounds like he’s finally ready to concede the season to surgery.

In other Reds injury news, outfielder Marlon Byrd could be returning soon. Eligible to come off the DL this Thursday, he’s expected to play a pair of rehab games at AA before returning to the big league club for this weekend’s games.  Byrd had been an interesting stick for Cincy before his injury, hitting just .212 but also driving 10 of his 35 hits out of the park.

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers were crushed again by the Kansas City Royals, this time by a 10-2 score that handed them their fifth straight loss.

Carlos Gomez was in the lineup at DH and had a pair of hits including a double. He’s been out of the lineup 5 of the Brewers’ last 7 games.

There is good news ahead for Milwaukee, however. There’s only 95 games left this season.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 43 22 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 38 27 5.0 W7
Chicago Cubs 35 28 7.0 W1
Cincinnati Reds 30 35 13.0 W2
Milwaukee Brewers 24 43 20.0 L5

* * *

Schedule

43-22 CARDINALS Garcia (2-3, 2.06)
35-30 Twins Pelfrey (5-3, 3.18)
12:10 PM CT
35-28 CUBS Hammel (5-2, 2.81)
30-34 Indians Salazar (6-2, 3.54)
6:10 PM CT
34-32 Tigers Verlander (0-0, 3.60)
30-35 REDS Leake (3-4, 4.35)
6:10 PM CT
24-43 BREWERS Nelson (3-7, 4.60)
37-25 Royals Guthrie (4-4, 5.79)
7:10 PM CT
38-27 PIRATES Cole (10-2, 1.71)
28-36 White Sox Samardzija (4-4, 4.84)
7:10 PM CT

* * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .422
Matt Holliday (STL) .417
Kris Bryant (CHC) .398
Joey Votto (CIN) .398
Matt Carpenter (STL) .379
WHIP
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.949
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 0.956
Jason Hammel (CHC) 0.963
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.044
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.083

Reds Lose in Walk-off Fashion (Again)

Ryan Mattheus couldn't handle a throw from Joey Votto, but it was only the straw in an epic Reds collapse.

Ryan Mattheus couldn’t handle a throw from Joey Votto, but it was only the straw in an epic Reds collapse.

The Cincinnati Reds took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the 9th and found a way to lose.

Mike Leake started the 9th, poised to pick up the shutout but allowed leadoff singles to Ben Revere and Jeff Francoeur.

That’s fine, right? You’ve got this left-handed weapon named Aroldis Chapman who throws triple digits like it’s nothing.

In he comes. Chase Utley hit what looked to be a double into left-center, only to have Billy Hamilton make a fantastic diving catch that turned it into a sac fly. Ryan Howard walked, and Maikel Franco hit a three-run homer.

Tie game.

The Philadelphia Phillies ended up winning, 5-4, on an error by pitcher Ryan Mattheus in the bottom of the 11th. After Cody Asche doubled with one out, Freddy Galvis hit a grounder in the hole on the right side. First baseman Joey Votto fielded the ball and tossed to Mattheus, but the throw was a little high and went off the top of his glove, rolling into foul territory while Asche sped home with the winning run.

It’s that kind of season for the Reds, who lost a second straight walk-off game.

In the loss, Votto went 3-for-6 with his 10th homer and a pair of doubles. Brandon Phillips had three hits, including a double, walk and stolen base (7th).

Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart each went 0-for-6.

Leake finished with 2 runs allowed in 8 innings of work, giving up just 3 hits and a pair of walks while whiffing 9 Phils. He had taken a no-hitter into the 7th inning.

The Reds have faced Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels 13 times now and have nothing to show for it. That’s right. 0 wins in 13 chances. Hamels himself is 10-0 with a 1.51 ERA in those 13 starts against Cincinnati.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * *

The Pittsburgh Pirates are on a roll, sweeping the San Francisco Giants with a 5-2 win last night.

The Bucs have won 11 of their last 13 games, finally passing the Cubs and moving into 2nd place in the NL Central.

Francisco Liriano went 7 innings, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and a walk while striking out 6 to improve to 3-4.

Andrew McCutchen stayed hot, reaching base in 2 of his 4 plate appearances.

Jordy Mercer homered for a second straight day. By the way, these were his first two long balls of the season. Quirky.

Mercer, who lost his staring job at shortstop with the combination of himself getting off to a bad start and Jung Ho Kang hitting well, seems to be finding his groove. Although he’s still hitting just .210, he’s hit .370 over his last 9 games.

Mark Melancon, who faced two batters to record his 16th save, now has a 0.47 ERA across his last 19 outings.

Josh Harrison had an off night, going 0-for-5 with 3 strikeouts.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

In other Pirates news, Legendary Pictures – the media company who put together the Jackie Robinson biopic “42” – is reportedly doing the same for Roberto Clemente.

* * *

The St. Louis Cardinals put 5 runs up on Jimmy Nelson and the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1st inning and cruised to a 7-4 win.

Gerardo Parra had a big night for Milwaukee, going 4-for-5 with a HR (3rd).

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

Kevin Modelski at the Post-Dispatch has a feature article on Kolten Wong kick-starting things atop the Cards’ lineup. Go check it out.

* * *

The Chicago Cubs slide continued as Jon Lester was demolished in a 7-3 loss to the Miami Marlins.

Miami took a 6-0 lead and went on from there.

For those who expected the Cubs to compete this season, I’d point out that they’ve now lost series to the Marlins and Brewers this season.

Junior Lake caused a commotion with some unnecessary and misplaced showboating following a homer he hit at a time late in the game when his team trailed 6-0. Acting the fool when you’re team is getting crushed is a really stupid time to be acting that way, Junior. Let’s treat the job with some respect, okay?

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

Gordon Wittenmyer (Sun-Times) had a nice feature article on Addison Russell yesterday that’s worth a read. Read it here.

We wrote a bit yesterday about Javier Baez‘s numbers at Iowa (AAA) and we’ve postulated on how things could be put together were he to get called back up to The Show. Well, add another wrinkle to that story. Baez is getting some work at the hot corner now. So maybe it’s as simple as Kris Bryant moving to left, Starlin Castro and Russell staying where they are, and Chris Coghlan still finding some time in the outfield now that Jorge Soler is expected to miss three weeks with an ankle injury.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .443
Matt Holliday (STL) .430
Matt Carpenter (STL) .396
Joey Votto (CIN) .387
Kris Bryant (CHC) .382
WHIP
Jason Hammel (CHC) 0.896
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.953
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.042
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 1.050
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.085

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 35 18 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 29 24 6.0 W3
Chicago Cubs 27 24 7.0 L2
Cincinnati Reds 22 29 12.0 L2
Milwaukee Brewers 18 36 17.5 L2

* * *

Schedule

27-24 CUBS Arrieta (4-4, 3.18)
29-24 Nationals Gonzalez, G (4-2, 4.73)
6:05 PM CT
22-29 REDS DeSclafani (3-4, 3.41)
21-33 Phillies Harang (4-5, 2.02)
6:05 PM CT
35-18 CARDINALS Wacha (7-1, 2.27)
31-22 Dodgers Frias (4-2, 4.29)
9:10 PM CT

Reds Snap 9-Game Skid

The Cincinnati Reds turned a few double plays and snapped their 9-game losing streak.

The Cincinnati Reds turned a few double plays and snapped their 9-game losing streak.

The 9-game losing streak ended for the Cincinnati Reds last night when Skip Schumaker‘s looper over third base landed just inside the foul line, rolling into the corner for a walk-off double.

Marlon Byrd started the 9th by drawing a walk, moving to 2nd on a sacrifice laid down by Kristopher Negron, then scored on Schumaker’s hit.

Michael Lorenzen went 7 strong innings for Cincy, giving up 1 run on just 2 hits and 3 walks. The rookie is sporting a 3.12 ERA this year.

In other developments, an MRI of Johnny Cueto‘s stiff elbow revealed nothing more than the “standard” inflammation you see in a pitcher. With days off on the schedule both Thursday and Monday, there’s a good chance they’ll just push Cueto’s next start back a week. He’s 3-4 with a 3.03 ERA (3.33 FIP) this season, striking out 8.3 per 9.

Dave Fleming at Bill James Online has a lengthy article on Billy Hamilton, focusing on the Reds’ decline that started when he was dropped from the leadoff spot. Read it over here.

* * *

On the other side of streaks, the Pittsburgh Pirates won their 5th in a row, beating the Miami Marlins 5-1.

Josh Harrison has certainly found his stride and he kept it again last night, with two more hits including a double. After May 10th, he was hitting .173 but has now hit .431 with 7 extra-base hits in the last 12 games.

Also hitting is Jung Ho Kang, who has an 8-game hitting streak (.406) going after picking up a pair of singles.

Jeff Locke (W 3-2) went 5.2 shutout innings for the win, striking out 6.

* * *

Another 1-run win and another walk-off win for the Chicago Cubs, who came back to beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 last night.

The Cubs lead the league in 1-run wins, doing it last night by tying it in the 8th inning on this ridiculous homer by Kris Bryant, Hector Rondon picking off Yunel Escobar on this pretty bad base-running play (by the way, he almost ran himself into an out earlier when he started to go from 2nd to 3rd after a stolen base even though Addison Russell was standing 5 feet away from him with the ball in his hand) and then finally ending it when Russell hit a ball over Denard Span in the bottom of the 9th.

It was a good capper for the 21-year old Russell, who had a 3-hit night to snap an 0-for-10 stretch.

Kyle Hendricks came off strong from the shutout in his prior start, going 7 innings and allowing 1 run.

That snapped a mini losing streak for the Cubs, who go back against the Nats for the rubber game tonight. And it’s a fun one – Jon Lester versus Max Scherzer.

* * *

Jaime Garcia got his first win of 2015 as the St. Louis Cardinals survived a rough start and beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-4.

Matt Adams, limping into 2nd base on a double in the 5th inning, left with a quad injury. A trip to the DL is expected with Mark Reynolds taking over as the regular first baseman.

Matt Belisle and Seth Maness combined for 3 shutout innings of relief work, the latter recording his 3rd save when he entered the game with 2 out and men on 2nd & 3rd. Regular closer Trevor Rosenthal had the night off, barring emergency, after tossing 2 innings Monday night.

Matt Holliday tied a franchise record by reaching base for the 42nd straight time to start the season. That equaled a mark set by Albert Pujols in 2008. Holliday is hitting .322 after picking up a pair of hits Tuesday.

To the friend who I suggested keep an eye on Marco Gonzales as a fantasy baseball sleeper, I truly apologize. The southpaw will be out most of June with a “shoulder impingement” injury. Gonzales was in talks to replace Adam Wainwright in the rotation, but couldn’t take the job because of a pectoral injury at AAA. Garcia, also injured, got better quicker and made a decent showing in the minors, earning his spot. Gonzales had struck out 7 across 6 innings of work in his most recent start.

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers were 6-3 losers at home against the San Francisco Giants.

Aramis Ramirez had a pair of hits and collected his 6th homer of the season.

Matt Garza (L 2-7) continued his nightmare season, escalating his ERA to 6.00 after allowing 5 runs in as many innings of work, surrendering 8 hits and walking 3 to go with 7 punch outs.

Jonathan Lucroy begins a 4-day minor league rehab assignment today and could be on the active roster when the Brew Crew starts a series against the Cards on Monday.

Also returning from the DL is shortstop Jean Segura (broken finger), who should return to action on Friday.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

Home Runs
Todd Frazier (CIN) 13
Ryan Braun (MIL) 12
Marlon Byrd (CIN) 10
3-way tie 9
Strikeouts
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 64
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 63
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 62
Lance Lynn (STL) 62
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 60

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 30 16 W3
Chicago Cubs 25 20 4.5 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 23 22 6.5 W5
Cincinnati Reds 19 26 10.5 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 16 31 14.5 L4

* * *

Schedule

18-26 Rockies Kendrick, K (1-6, 6.58)
19-26 REDS Leake (2-3, 4.14)
11:35 AM CT
18-29 Marlins Hand (0-1, 5.48)
23-22 PIRATES Cole, G (6-2, 2.05)
11:35 AM CT
27-20 Giants Vogelsong (3-2, 4.60)
16-31 BREWERS Fiera (1-4, 4.63)
12:40 PM CT
27-19 Nationals Scherzer (5-3, 1.67)
25-20 CUBS Lester (4-2, 3.56)
7:05 PM CT
21-24 Diamondbacks Collmenter (3-5, 5.19)
30-16 CARDINALS Lynn (3-4, 3.46)
7:15 PM CT

Hendricks Dominant in Cubs Win

Kyle Hendricks picked up his 1st win of the year in an impressive shutout.

Kyle Hendricks picked up his 1st win of the year in an impressive shutout.

He doesn’t throw 100 mph and he doesn’t throw a knee-buckling curve. But Kyle Hendricks is controlled and steady.

The Chicago Cubs had some hope that, despite not having the kind of “stuff” that blows away scouts, he had the makeup of a quality starting pitcher and maybe some sort of intangible “it”.

After a rough start to the 2015 season, Hendricks finally had a shining moment last night against the San Diego Padres, putting up a game score of 84 with a 5-hit, no-walk shutout, striking out 7. Hendricks’ ERA plummeted to 4.14 while picking up his first win of the season, throwing 108 pitches in the process.

A couple of the rookies got it done at the plate, with Kris Bryant (5th) and Addison Russell (3rd) going deep in the 1st and 7th innings, respectively, to account for every run in the 3-0 win.

* * *

Jacob deGrom ruined what could have been a special comeback game for Jaime Garcia, blanking the St. Louis Cardinals in a 5-0 win for the New York Mets.

Garcia – now expected to be the permanent replacement for Adam Wainwright‘s vacated spot in the starting rotation – went 7 strong innings, allowing a pair of runs on 5 hits. He did struggle with his command a bit, walking 5.

But deGrom went 8 shutout innings allowing just a single hit and no walks, striking out 11. At one stretch, he retired 23 consecutive batters. Truly dominant stuff.

The top 5 men in the Cardinals lineup each struck out twice while Kolten Wong and Matt Carpenter combined for the only two times a man reached base.

* * *

The highlight from the Milwaukee Brewers‘ 10-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves was reliever Will Smith getting tossed.

That should tell you something.

Matt Garza took the loss, falling to 2-6 on the season with a 5.71 ERA after allowing 4 runs in 6.1 innings of work.

* * *

There was a nice article at the Post-Gazette with some comments from Pittsburgh Pirates‘ middle infielders Neil Walker and Jordy Mercer on the use of defensive shifts. As I stated earlier this week when the Cards’ John Lackey did a little flip out about a ball being hit where the shortstop would have been had the team not been playing an extreme shift to the right side of the infield, for every one team you get beat by the shift, there are a couple of teams where the shift saved you. The numbers don’t lie – batting average on balls put into play keeps dropping, and the advanced scouting and more widely adopted use of shifts is the reason. In fact, giving the numbers so far this season, teams are on pace to employ the shift 7.5 times more often than they did just 4 seasons ago. Read the article here.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

RBI
Ryan Braun (MIL) 29
Kris Bryant (CHC) 27
Starling Marte (PIT) 27
Matt Carpenter (STL) 24
6-way tie 23
Wins
Michael Wacha (STL) 6
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 5
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 4
Jon Lester (CHC) 4
Carlos Martinez (STL) 4

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 27 14 L1
Chicago Cubs 23 17 3.5 W2
Cincinnati Reds 18 22 8.5 L5
Pittsburgh Pirates 18 22 8.5 L2
Milwaukee Brewers 15 27 12.5 L2

* * *

Schedule

24-18 Mets Syndergaard (1-1, 3.18)
18-22 PIRATES Cole (5-2, 2.40)
6:05 PM CT
18-22 REDS Leake (2-2, 3.62)
17-23 Indians Carrasco (4-4, 4.98)
6:10 PM CT
15-27 BREWERS Peralta, W (1-5, 4.32)
20-20 Braves Wood, A (2-2, 3.83)
6:35 PM CT
27-14 CARDINALS Lynn (3-3, 2.96)
26-14 Mets Young, Cr (3-0, 0.94)
7:10 PM CT
23-17 CUBS Lester (4-2, 3.70)
19-21 Diamondbacks Collmenter (3-5, 5.36)
8:40 PM CT

Cardinals, Cubs Distancing Selves From Rest of Division

Matt Adams helped pace a big offensive evening for the Cardinals.

Matt Adams helped pace a big offensive evening for the Cardinals.

Carlos Martinez had his best Game Score (68) in nearly a month and the St. Louis Cardinals offense put up 14 hits in 9-0 shutout of the New York Mets.

There were many 6-run innings on Tuesday night and we had another one on Wednesday as the Redbirds put a 6 spot up in the 4th, batting around the order.

Jason Heyward and Matt Adams each connected for their 4th home runs of the season in that 6-run outburst.

Martinez went 6.1 innings, striking out 5 and improving to 4-2.

Jaime Garcia makes his return to the Cardinals rotation this evening. He’ll become the third left-handed pitcher to try and plug in the hole left in the rotation since Adam Wainwright went down with a season-ending Achilles injury.

The always entertaining Bernie Miklasz has a nice write-up on Michael Wacha over at the Post-Dispatch. Read it here and thank me later.

* * *

Tsuyoshi Wada made his 2015 MLB debut, striking out 9 over 4.2 innings of work to help get the Chicago Cubs started in a 3-2 win over the San Diego Padres. Not getting the requisite 5 innings to qualify for the win and only having thrown 69 pitches, Wada was pulled after allowing a hit, hitting a batter, and having a few hard-hit outs. Cubs skipper Joe Maddon: “I’m more about the Cubs winning as opposed to any particular pitcher winning.”

Wada, to his credit, seemed cool with it.

Justin Grimm, Zac Rosscup, Jason Motte, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon combined for 4.1 innings of shutout relief work. They got a couple of clutch efforts there, particularly when Motte struck out Matt Kemp in the 7th with two man on and again when Rondon struck out Abraham Almonte to end the game with the tying run on 3rd.

Down 2-1 in the top of the 5th, Dexter Fowler tied it up with an RBI triple and then scored the go-ahead run on a sac fly by Kris Bryant.

There’s talk of Javier Baez getting recalled soon. The question, then, is how the Cubs will make room for him. It would seem the odd man out would be LF Chris Coghlan with Bryant moving out there. But then who plays third? Baez, hitting .296 at AAA, has been splitting time between middle infield positions, so it wouldn’t be him. SS Starlin Castro has said he would prefer to move to second if moved at all. So does all of this mean 2B Addison Russell moves over to the hot corner? A natural shortstop, Russell is already being asked to play a position he’s unfamiliar with and his defensive metrics haven’t looked so good. But my guess is that that’s where the team is headed. Either that or the Cubs are hoping to flip Baez for assets. Baez has made 6 errors in 8 games at short and 1 in 10 games at second, which again points towards the team being influenced to move Russell to the hot corner. I’m interested in seeing how this one plays out.

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds lost their 5th straight, again getting no offense in a 7-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

Jason Marquis (still in the rotation) went 3.2 innings, allowing 4 runs and falling to 3-4 with a 6.91 ERA.

A case can be made that you can live with a starting pitcher who puts up pedestrian numbers provided they are chewing up innings and affording your bullpen some rest when their turn in the rotation comes up. But 6.91 is about 2 runs higher than I think you can ignore. Also, not making it through 4 innings of work (as Marquis has now failed to do in consecutive starts) is inexcusable.

Brandon Phillips had three hits for Cincinnati, upping his season average to .314.

Coming into last night’s game, Devin Mesoraco had a slash line of .400/.438/.600 since May 9th.

* * *

Joe Mauer‘s homer gave the Minnesota Twins a 4-3 win in 13 innings over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pittsburgh was down 3-1 and tied it up by scoring in the 7th and 8th.

Another nice game for Josh Harrison, who went 3-for-6 and is now hitting .514 during his current 8-game hitting streak.

Andrew McCutchen was 3-for-5 with his 5th homer of the year.

Gregory Polanco is mired in an 0-for-18 slump.

When trailing after 7 innings, the Bucs are now 0-17 in 2015.

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers were 5-2 losers against the Detroit Tigers.

Ryan Braun hit his 10th homer of the year. That’s his 2nd tater in as many days and it gives him 6 in May.

If you’re a Brewers fan, you’re desperate for some reason to feel good about the future. 22-year old shortstop Luis Sardinas, who came over in the Yovani Gallardo deal, was hitting .429 through his first 4 games with the team.

Martin Maldonado was 0-for-3 and is hitting .036 in his last 8 games.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .460
Matt Holliday (STL) .442
Kris Bryant (CHC) .416
Joey Votto (CIN) .387
2-way tie

.377
WHIP
Jason Hammel (CHC) 0.919
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.964
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 1.038
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.046
Mike Leake (CIN) 1.098

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 27 13 W2
Chicago Cubs 22 17 4.5 W1
Cincinnati Reds 18 22 9.0 L5
Pittsburgh Pirates 18 22 9.0 L2
Milwaukee Brewers 15 26 12.5 L1

* * *

Schedule

27-13 CARDINALS Garcia, J (NR)
23-18 Mets deGrom (4-4, 3.21)
12:10 PM CT
15-26 BREWERS Garza (2-5, 5.72)
19-20 Braves Teheran (3-1, 4.33)
6:10 PM CT
22-17 CUBS Hendricks (0-1, 5.15)
20-21 Padres Despaigne (2-2, 6.75)
8:10 PM CT