Tagged: Carlos Martinez

Tired Yet?

Michael Wacha is one of the young arms to keep an eye on in September.

Michael Wacha is one of the young arms to keep an eye on in September.

The final month of the 2015 season is upon us and I can’t believe it’s here already.

I’ve frequently written about a young pitcher who has struggled down the stretch and wondered if it didn’t have something to do with them hitting new career highs in terms of the number of innings they’ve pitched in any given professional season.

Here’s a look at some young arms who may be taxed in these last four weeks, not to mention the playoffs.

All Innings Pitched totals are rounded off and include totals from all professional leagues – Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, and International Leagues.

St. Louis Cardinals

86-47, 6.5 Games Ahead, 29 Games Remaining

Name Age 2015 IP 2014 IP High IP
Michael Wacha 23 157 109 150 (2013)
Carlos Martinez 23 155 112 114 (2013)
Jaime Garcia 28 107 51 195 (2011)

The Cardinals, it seems, might want to consider pumping the breaks a bit here. With 29 games left in their schedule, they have an 11 game lead on the #2 team in the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

ELEVEN GAMES!!!

Even if the Cards go 14-15 in their final 29 games – and there’s little reason to believe they won’t do better than that – the Dodgers would need to go 25-4 to tie them.

Let that sink in.

Marinating…

Okay, now look at those innings pitched totals again.

Why would you put Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez or Jaime Garcia out there? It’s always a tricky thing, of course. You don’t want to use them so infrequently that they head into the playoffs rusty. But it’s also hard to justify putting them out there for long starts.

If I’m the Cardinals, I’m considering something like a 6- or 7-man rotation in this final month of the season. Rosters are expanded. There’s just no call for using those three guys named above in more than, say, 5 or 6 innings per week.

Keep an eye on them, for sure.

Pittsburgh Pirates

79-53, 6.5 GB, 4.0 Games Ahead for #1 Wild Card, 30 Games Remaining

Name Age 2015 IP 2014 IP High IP
Gerrit Cole 24 174 160 185 (2013)
Jeff Locke 27 145 187 187 (2014)

For the Bucs and Cubs, things are a bit different. They don’t have anything locked up yet. But they also have pretty nice leads and are pretty much fighting it out only to see who gets home field advantage in the NL Wild Card game. Which, of course, accounts for a swing of no more than 2% in your chance of winning, such is home field “advantage” in professional baseball…

Gerrit Cole has had less on his stuff, overall, in the second half. He’s 11 innings shy of his professional high (185), set in 2014. And he’s already 14 over his mark from last season. Again, this is tough, but I think you ease off on the 24-year old. He’s a power pitcher and I want to see that gas in the Wild Card game.

I admit I was surprised to see that Jeff Locke had thrown 187 last year. He’s been a bit up and down this season, having stretches of awful and stretches of really good.

Chicago Cubs

75-57, 10.5 GB, 4.0 GB #1 Wild Card, 7.0 GA for #2 Wild Card, 30 Games Remaining

Name Age 2015 IP 2014 IP High IP
Jake Arrieta 29 183 177 177 (2014)
Kyle Hendricks 25 147 183 183 (2014)

In Chicago, Jake Arrieta has hit his career high, with 6 more innings thrown than he did combined last season between the Majors and Minors. He’s obviously showing no signs of a tired arm yet, after a brilliant August. I know he’s also really gone crazy with conditioning this season and seemed headed into 2015 with a goal of proving that last season was no fluke. So who knows… Still, another guy worth keeping an eye on.

Kyle Hendricks is a bit like Locke, above, in that I was surprised to see how many innings he had put up last season at various levels of pro ball. He’s still 36 innings shy of last year’s total, so he should have plenty left in the tank. How much value he brings to the team is questionable right now, as he’s had an overall down year. But the Cubs need some help from the back end of their rotation if they’re going to hold on to the Wild Card spot.

* * * * * * * * *

Big Series this weekend between the Cardinals and Pirates.

Looking forward to that!

Game One Friday, 7:15 PM CT
(PIT) Happ: 7-7, 4.10
(STL) Martinez: 13-6, 2.91

Game Two Saturday, 3:05 PM CT
(PIT) Morton: 8-6, 4.22
(STL) Garcia: 7-4, 2.03

Game Three Sunday, 7:05 PM CT
(PIT) Cole: 15-8, 2.64
(STL) Lackey: 11-8, 2.87

Top Three Winners Again

Kris Bryant hit another walk-off for the Cubs in a 2-1 win yesterday.

Kris Bryant hit another walk-off for the Cubs in a 2-1 win yesterday.

Well, this is starting to become quite routine, isn’t it?

I guess it shouldn’t surprise us, given that the top 3 in the division make up 3 of the top 4 teams in all of Major League Baseball, but still. Sometimes it seems ridiculous, but yet again we have The Big Three all coming out winners yesterday.

You start to wonder if the only time these teams lose is when they play each other.

Tell you what, let’s just throw the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs into the playoffs by themselves.

They can each play a 3-game home series against each other, making up a 12-game schedule. Whoever finishes with the best record advances to the World Series. We cool with that?

Sorry, I realize there’s no definite way any of these three teams even makes the National League Championship Series, let alone wins it.

The playoffs are such a crap-shoot. This is why you’ll hear folks who are a bit longer in the tooth complain about the de-valuing of the 162-game regular season that comes about by introducing more teams into the postseason.

Also, the fact that I just used the phrase “long in the tooth” should tell you something about my own age and feelings on the matter.

But I digress.

What I’m really trying to say is that it would be immeasurably fun to watch these three teams go at it, head-to-head, in the playoffs.

What we may very well end up with instead is one of them being eliminated immediately in a best-of-1 Wild Card game. And then the two survivors could get swept in a best-of-5 National League Divisional Series because, hey, it’s three games. That’s a small sample size. Even the 1927 New York Yankees had a pair of 3-game losing streaks. It happens.

I just don’t want this season to end, that’s all.

RESULTS!

* * * * * * * * *

The Cardinals scored 3 in the 7th to snap a 2-2 tie, ending the Arizona Diamondbacks winning streak with a 5-3 victory.

Tommy Pham inside-outed a single through the right side with men on the corners to put the Cards ahead. Yadier Molina brought two more home with a base hit into right and the Cards didn’t look back.

Trevor Rosenthal picked up his 39th save while Lance Lynn improved to 10-8 on the season.

Lynn got some help on defense, turning 4 double plays to help limit the damage that could have been done by Arizona.

Injured first baseman Matt Adams (remember him?) is possible to return from the disabled list next week. He wasn’t exactly tearing it up when he was healthy (.243/.281/.375), so it will be interesting to see how the Cardinals handle his return, particularly when rosters are going to be expanding to 40-man soon anyhow. Then there’s still Matt Holiday, Randal Grichuk, Jordan Walden, Jon Jay

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

Jon Lester pitched brilliantly for 8.2 innings, only to be undone by his inability to field a ground ball as the Cleveland Indians tied up the Cubs 1-1 in the top of the 9th.

No matter.

Kris Bryant stepped up and hit the walk-off to right with two out in the bottom of the 9th. It was the highly-touted rookie’s 20th long ball of the season.

Also, props to Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo who seems to make a highlight-reel fielding play every week. Yesterday afternoon, with a man on 1st, he sprinted in on a bunt in front of the plate down the first base line. Seeing the ball was going to roll foul, he slid along the line, stopping it from rolling foul so that he could scoop it up in fair territory and start a 3-6-4 double play. Amazing.

At the plate, Rizzo also had an RBI triple.

The Cubs also got some pretty slick fielding up the middle on other double plays, with Starlin Castro getting a start at short.

Chicago put right fielder Jorge Soler on the DL.  He’s expected back before the playoffs start, should the Cubs get there.  Soler has hit .265 with 7 HR and 42 RBI, striking out 111 times in 378 plate appearances.  It’s been a disappointing season, though he’s shown signs at times of snapping out of it.

It’s go time for the Cubs now, with a chance to really put some distance between themselves and the San Francisco Giants – they start a 3-game series in ‘Frisco this evening.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

The Pirates beat the Miami Marlins 5-2 with J.A. Happ putting up another strong outing since coming over at the trade deadline.

Happ (W 6-7) went 6 shutout innings, allowing 4 hits and a walk while striking out 6.

Gregory Polanco had a four-hit game, including a pair of doubles.

Mark Melancon notched his 40th save with a perfect 9th.

Things got a bit tense with Miami pitchers coming up and in on Pirate batters no fewer than 6 times. An ejection was eventually made with no apparent retaliation on the part of Pittsburgh’s pitchers. Just win, I guess.

It’s hard to know where to start when looking at the Pirates recent trends. They’ve won 6 of 7, 10 of 12, 14 of 18… Anyway you look at it over the past month or so, they’ve been hot.

Injured starting pitcher A.J. Burnett was scheduled to throw off a mound in a bullpen session yesterday in hopes of returning to the rotation.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

The Cincinnati Reds snapped a 9-game losing streak and are back in a virtual tie with the idle Milwaukee Brewers for last place in the division.

* * * * * * * * *

Some Leaderboard trends for you today.

Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli is up there now for the division batting title. Not so much that he’s been suddenly hitting the tar out of the ball. More that he’s playing so regularly that he now qualifies for the batting title. He has 382 plate appearances, exactly one more than he currently needs to qualify.

Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is on a 9-game hitting streak during which he’s hitting .375 with 6 extra-base hits.

And in his last 7 games, Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen has had five 2-hit games. He’s batting .357 over that time frame with 3 extra-base hits.

Those guys have been hot enough to push Rizzo, Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward and Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips down in the leader board, but all three have actually hit well over the past week.

In his last two starts (small sample size alert!), Cardinals starting pitcher Carlos Martinez has a 5.56 ERA, allowing 14 hits in 11.1 innings of work. Martinez is at 148.2 innings this season, quite a bit more than last year’s mark of 112. Could he be starting to fray at the edges a bit? Something to keep an eye on during this stretch run, for sure.

* * * * * * * * *

Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 79 45 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 75 48 3.5 W3
Chicago Cubs 72 51 6.5 W5
Milwaukee Brewers 53 72 26.5 L2
Cincinnati Reds 52 71 26.5 W1

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 75 48 +3.0
Chicago Cubs 72 51
San Francisco Giants 66 58 6.5
Washington Nationals 62 61 10.0
Arizona Diamondbacks 62 62 10.5

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

67-56 Dodgers Wood (8-8, 3.79)
52-71 REDS Lamb (0-1, 6.35)
6:10 PM CT
53-72 BREWERS Peralta (4-7, 4.48)
58-66 Indians Tomlin (1-1, 2.03)
6:10 PM CT
75-48 PIRATES Morton (8-4, 4.06)
50-75 Marlins Hand (3-3, 4.46)
6:10 PM CT
79-45 CARDINALS Garcia (5-4, 1.79)
62-62 Diamondbacks Ray (3-9, 3.38)
9:10 PM CT
72-51 CUBS Arrieta (15-6, 2.30)
66-58 Giants Cain (2-3, 5.66)
9:15 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

AVG
Joey Votto (CIN) .309
Francisco Cervelli (PIT) .303
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .297
Starling Marte (PIT) .292
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .291
ERA
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 2.30
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 2.49
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 2.62
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.80
Carlos Martinez (STL) 2.85

Martinez, Cardinals Strike Pirates; Cubs Win Again

Carlos Martinez fanned 8 Pirates last night

Carlos Martinez fanned 8 Pirates last night

The St. Louis Cardinals took game 1 of their 3-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates, coming off as 4-3 winners at home.

The Bucs took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the 5th only to have the Cards peck away – two walks, an RBI single, a ground out that moved runners up, a sac fly, an RBI single.

Small-ball.

Carlos Martinez struck out 8 men in as many innings of work, improving to 12-4 with a 2.62 ERA for the Redbirds.

Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side in the 9th for his 34th save.

All’s well in the Cardinals’ world, where they now lead Pittsburgh by 6 games in the Central.

They go at it again tonight, with Gerrit Cole (14-5, 2.39) squaring off against Michael Wacha (13-4, 2.92). Great match-up.

Game Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

Though not competing for the division anytime soon, the Chicago Cubs won for the 11th time in their last 12 contests, beating the Milwaukee Brewers 6-3 in relatively easy fashion.

Anthony Rizzo had a pair of hits, including his 29th double, driving in a pair of runs.

Jorge Soler had two RBI as well.

Starlin Castro continued to ride the bench, but did come in to the game as defensive replacement – at second base. He made a nice catch in foul ground in the 9th inning.

Game Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs.com takes a look at Jung-Ho Kang. Read it over there.

* * * * * * * * *

Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 72 40 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 65 45 6.0 L1
Chicago Cubs 63 48 8.5 W5
Cincinnati Reds 49 62 22.5 L3
Milwaukee Brewers 48 66 25.0 L1

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 65 45 +2.5
Chicago Cubs 63 48
San Francisco Giants 60 52 3.5
Washington Nationals 58 54 5.5

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

49-62 REDS Iglesias (2-4, 4.73)
54-60 Padres Shields (8-4, 3.75)
2:40 PM CT
48-66 BREWERS Garza (6-12, 4.95)
63-48 CUBS Hammel (6-5, 3.17)
7:05 PM CT
65-45 PIRATES Cole (14-5, 2.39)
72-40 CARDINALS Wacha (13-3, 2.92)
7:15 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

Home Runs
Todd Frazier (CIN) 28
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 21
Ryan Braun (MIL) 19
Marlon Byrd (CIN) 19
Joey Votto (CIN) 19
Strikeouts
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 158
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 144
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 143
Jon Lester (CHC) 139
Carlos Martinez (STL) 139

Martinez, Cards Take it to Bucs

It looked bad early, but Carlos Martinez rebounded to pitch 7.1 shutout innings in a Cardinals win.

It looked bad early, but Carlos Martinez rebounded to pitch 7.1 shutout innings in a Cardinals win.

Game 1 of the big four-game weekend series went the St. Louis Cardinals‘ way as they soundly defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-1.

Cards starting pitcher Carlos Martinez wriggled out of several early jams to throw 7.1 shutout innings.

Martinez was assisted by key double plays early in the game that got him and the Redbirds out of trouble.

In the bottom of the 1st, Pittsburgh put men at the corners to start the inning off, only to ground into a bizarre 5-4-2 double play that cut the runner down at the plate. Gregory Polanco, the man on 3rd, couldn’t decide whether to hold on the soft grounder to third base or go for home on contact, likely being thrown out but giving the batter and runner a chance to move up to 2nd and 3rd. Instead, he waffled, running towards home only after the throw went to 2nd base for the force out there and then getting pegged at the plate.

In the bottom of the 4th, with the game still scoreless, the Bucs had men at 2nd and 3rd with nobody out only to watch Martinez snare a line drive up the middle off the bat of Pedro Alvarez, then double Jung Ho Kang off of 3rd base.

That started a run of 12 straight batters retired by Martinez, who overcame some early control troubles to put in a great line.

St. Louis batted around in the top of the 5th, scoring a quartet of runs behind three singles, an error by shortstop Jordy Mercer, a walk, and a hit batter.

Andrew McCutchen homered in the 9th inning to break up the shutout and extend his hitting streak to 16 games.

The Pirates’ loss snapped a five-game winning streak.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

Both the Cardinals’ Kolten Wong (concussion) and Matt Holliday (15-day DL, torn quadricep) could be back in action today – the former possibly getting the start and the latter as a pinch-hitter.

* * * * * * * * *

The Cincinnati Reds were shut out on the road, falling to Jose Fernandez and the Miami Marlins, 2-0.

Marlon Byrd had a pair of hits in the loss.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * * * * * * * *

The Chicago Cubs are expected to release the results of an MRI on starting pitcher Jason Hammel‘s hamstring sometime today.

* * * * * * * * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 56 30 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 50 35 5.5 L1
Chicago Cubs 46 38 9.0 L1
Cincinnati Reds 38 45 16.5 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 37 50 19.5 W1

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

39-44 White Sox Rodon (3-2, 4.18)
46-38 CUBS Hendricks (4-4, 3.82)
3:05 PM CT
56-30 CARDINALS Lynn (6-4, 2.52)
50-35 PIRATES Cole (12-3, 2.28)
6:05 PM CT
38-45 REDS Leake (5-5, 4.39)
36-50 Marlins Phelps (4-4, 4.03)
6:10 PM CT
37-50 BREWERS Nelson (6-8, 4.50)
49-38 Dodgers Bolsinger (4-3, 3.09)
9:10 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

WAR (fielders)
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 3.8
Todd Frazier (CIN) 3.7
Kris Bryant (CHC) 3.0
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) 3.0
Joey Votto (CIN) 3.0
WAR (pitchers)
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 3.5
Carlos Martinez (STL) 3.0
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 2.9
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 2.6
Trevor Rosenthal (STL) 2.4

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

Cubs Unload on Bengals

Miguel Montero was seeing the ball well last night, as were most of the Chicago Cubs.

Miguel Montero was seeing the ball well last night, as were most of the Chicago Cubs.

NL Central Hub was out yesterday but is back today for our regular weekday posts.

* * *

The Chicago Cubs picked up a pair of big innings (4 in the 3rd, 6 in the 7th) en route to a 12-3 dismantling of the Detroit Tigers.

Miguel Montero and Chris Coghlan each drove in three runs. Miggy had three hits including a 3-run homer in the 7th and Coghlan picked up his 8th homer of the year in the 3rd.

Six Cubs had a multi-hit game.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

You may have missed this article on Jake Arrieta‘s curveball over at Sports on Earth. If so, JAKE ARRIETA HAS A DANGEROUS CURVE. Opponents are hitting .135 against Arrieta’s curve, swinging and missing at 38.5% of those offerings, which is 6th best in the National League.

Also, while we were away, the Cubs picked up free agent closer Rafael Soriano. Something to keep an eye on with the Cubs volatile closer situation. Soriano is probably a month or so out from being able to contribute to the team, not having pitched since last year’s disastrous second half (6.48 ERA in 27 appearances).

* * *

The St. Louis Cardinals came out 4-2 winners against the Colorado Rockies.

Carlos Martinez improved to 7-2, carrying a shutout into the 7th inning until he allowed a 2-run homer which chased him from the contest.

Trevor Rosenthal notched his 20th save.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

Jeff Sullivan has a nice article on Martinez’s emergence as a starting pitcher over at Fangraphs.com. Sully’s focus is on Martinez’s change-up and it shows some pretty impressive differences in the amount of run he gets on that pitch, comparing 2014 data to 2015. Really shines some light on why Martinez has had a breakout year. Read the article now.

The Matt Holliday quad tear isn’t as severe as that which struck down Matt Adams a few weeks ago. It doesn’t appear that the Cardinals starting left fielder will require surgery, and he’ll probably miss about a month of play.

* * *

The Pittsburgh Pirates shut out the Milwaukee Brewers, 2-0, as Charlie Morton continued to be a bright spot in his return to an already impressive rotation.

Morton improved to 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA, going 7.1 shutout innings while allowing 6 base runners and striking out 6.

Mark Melancon picked up his 19th save with a perfect 9th.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

From Gene Collier’s column at the Post-Gazette, here are numbers from the Bucs’ relievers in recent games:
Tony Watson: 0.79 ERA in last 21 games
Melancon: 0.40 ERA in last 22 games

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds won their 4th straight, taking a 5-2 game at home against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Brayan Pena was 4-for-4 at the plate with a pair of RBI while Ivan De Jesus Junior picked up another homer on a 3-run shot that was part of a 4-run 1st inning.

The Reds have won 8 of their last 12 games, but keep in mind that the combined winning percentage of opponents in those games was .434. The most impressive part of this stretch was a 3-game sweep of the Washington Nationals, but they’re only 31-28, hardly performing like the world-beaters they appear to be on paper.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .443
Matt Holliday (STL) .417
Joey Votto (CIN) .403
Kris Bryant (CHC) .392
Matt Carpenter (STL) .385
WHIP
Jason Hammel (CHC) 0.893
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.945
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 1.018
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.078
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.103

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 39 21 W1
Chicago Cubs 31 26 6.5 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 32 27 6.5 W1
Cincinnati Reds 27 31 11.0 W4
Milwaukee Brewers 22 38 17.0 L1

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Schedule

27-31 REDS Lorenzen (1-1, 3.29)
31-26 CUBS Wada (0-1, 4.19)
7:05 PM CT
31-28 Nationals Roark (2-2, 3.16)
22-38 BREWERS Garza (4-7, 5.09)
7:10 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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