Tagged: Francisco Liriano

Power Surge: Yadi Makes History

Yadier Molina homered for the 2nd time in 3 nights.

Yadier Molina homered for the 2nd time in 3 nights.

Yadier Molina‘s 100th career homer lifted the St. Louis Cardinals as they took the rubber game against the San Francisco Giants with a 4-3 win at home.

In the 7th, Tommy Pham sped from 3rd base to score the tying run, getting in ahead of a throw home with the infield playing in.

Molina, batting cleanup for the first time in 2015, hit his 4th homer of the season in the 8th inning, breaking a 3-3 tie. After going much of the season without a homer, the thinner version of Molina homered for the 2nd time in the series. He went 3-for-4 on the night.

Trevor Rosenthal pitched a spotless 9th, striking out a pair for his 38th save.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

J.A. Happ went 6 shutout innings to guide the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Mark Melancon had 3 strikeouts in the 9th (all on curveballs) to collect save number 38.

Sean Rodriguez went 3-for-4 with an RBI out of the #8 spot in the lineup, helping to atone for a big error in last night’s game.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

Make it three straight losses for the Chicago Cubs, who allowed double digit runs for the second straight night – the first time that’s happened to them this season.

If you want to know how bad things went for the Cubs, the Detroit Tigers starting pitcher homered to center field in his first career at bat in the majors.

To be fair, the wind was blowing straight out to center at 15 mph, but still.

The 15-8 loss to the Tigers knocked the Cubs 9 games back in the division, although the Giants’ loss to the Redbirds kept them with the same lead in the Wild Card chase.

Jon Lester (L 8-9) lasted just 2.2 innings, allowing 7 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks, serving up 3 homers.

If you’re a Cubs fan with an eye on the future, it will please you to know that the kids were alright. Kris Bryant hit his 17th homer in a 4-for-4 night and Kyle Schwarber hit his 10th. It was Schwarber’s 2nd straight game with a long ball.

There’s always next year, folks.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

Leaderboard Trends

In his last 12 games, Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli has a .429 on-base percentage.

In 16 August games, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant has a .463 on-base percentage.

In contrast, Pirates infielder Jung-Ho Kang has a .233 OBP in his last 6 games. Since ending a recent 10-game hitting streak, Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter has a .250 OBP in his most recent 5 games.

Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano has a 1.75 WHIP in his last 4 starts. In that timeframe, he has gone 2-0 with a 5.82 ERA, allowing 29 hits in 21.2 innings of work.

* * * * * * * * *

Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 77 43 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 71 47 5.0 W2
Chicago Cubs 67 51 9.0 L3
Cincinnati Reds 51 67 25.0 L5
Milwaukee Brewers 52 70 26.0 W1

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 71 47 +4.0
Chicago Cubs 67 51
San Francisco Giants 65 55 3.0
Washington Nationals 60 59 7.5

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

65-55 Giants Peavy (3-5, 4.18)
71-47 PIRATES Morton (7-4, 4.36)
6:05 PM CT
58-61 Diamondbacks Corbin (3-3, 3.43)
51-67 REDS Lamb (0-1, 7.50)
6:10 PM CT
53-67 Braves Foltynewicz (4-4, 5.61)
67-51 CUBS Arrieta (14-6, 2.39)
7:05 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Joey Votto (CIN) .436
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .401
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .398
Francisco Cervelli (PIT) .375
Kris Bryant (CHC) .367
WHIP
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.93
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 0.99
Jason Hammel (CHC) 1.09
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.11
Dan Haren (CHC) 1.12

Pirates Gain Some Ground Despite Fielding Gaffes

Pedro Florimon's 2nd hit of the season was a big one.

Pedro Florimon’s 2nd hit of the season was a big one.

The Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks went 15 innings last night with the Bucs finally coming out winners.

The Pirates took an 8-3 lead into the 8th inning, only to allow ‘Zona to tie the game up and send it to extras.

Francisco Liriano went 7 innings, allowing 5 runs. He allowed the first two men to reach base in the 8th before turning the game over to the pen.

Mark Melancon entered the 9th with a 2-run lead going for the save, but errors at the corner infield positions (3B Jung Ho Kang and 1B Sean Rodriguez) led to a pair of unearned runs and the tie ballgame.

Pedro Florimon‘s two-out triple in the bottom of the 15th scored Francisco Cervelli to give the Pirates a game gained on the Cardinals in the division. Floimon had entered the game as a pinch-runner in the 8th. It was just his 2nd hit of the season.

Though he has excelled in other metrics, Starling Marte popped his first homer since July 1st.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

The St. Louis Cardinals were shut out for the first time in three weeks, falling 2-0 to the San Francisco Giants.

The Cards managed just four base runners, with the top four in the order accounting for a double, single and pair of walks but nary a run.

The Giants picked up runs in the 6th and 7th, the latter coming in bizarre fashion as Madison Bumgarner was used as a pinch-hitter (and singled) and then Brandon Belt was hit on the knee by Randy Choate with the bases loaded, pushing a run across.

Lance Lynn fell to 9-8 after allowing 2 runs in 6.2 innings of work, striking out 6. Lynn allowed just 4 hits but also walked 5.

In four August starts, Lynn is 1-3 with a 4.58 ERA, walking 12 men in 17.2 innings of work.

Nursing a tight hamstring, Jason Heyward is expecting to return to the lineup for the Cardinals on Friday.

In possible good news for the Pirates and Cubs, the Giants’ Hunter Pence was put on the 15-day DL with an oblique strain. Pence has put up a slash line of .275/.327/.478 this year. After having appeared in every game during the last two seasons, he has played in just 52 games this year.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

The Chicago Cubs played too late for me to pay attention in a rain-soaked suck-fest, losing 10-8 at home to the Detroit Tigers.

Starting pitcher Jason Hammel had a rough outing, allowing 5 runs on 9 hits and a walk in just 3 innings of work. He served up three long balls.

The Cubs trailed 6-2 early on but scratched their way back into a tie game, thanks in large part to rookie Kyle Schwarber‘s 3-run homer (9) in the 5th.

But reliever Pedro Strop imploded, allowing 3 runs in the 8th, and that was it for the Cubs who lost a game in the Wild Card race.

It was the first time the Cubs lost consecutive games since a 3-game skid from July 24th through 26th.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 76 43 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 70 47 5.0 W1
Chicago Cubs 67 50 8.0 L2
Cincinnati Reds 51 66 24.0 L4
Milwaukee Brewers 51 70 26.0 L2

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 70 47 +3.0
Chicago Cubs 67 50
San Francisco Giants 65 54 3.0
Washington Nationals 59 59 8.5

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

49-70 Marlins Koehler (8-10, 3.68)
51-70 BREWERS Peralta (3-7, 4.07)
1:10 PM CT
58-60 Diamondbacks Ray (3-8, 3.29)
70-47 PIRATES Happ (4-7, 4.64)
6:05 PM CT
72-46 Royals Guthrie (8-7, 5.63)
51-66 REDS Sampson (2-1, 3.18)
6:10 PM CT
65-54 Giants Cain (2-3, 6.05)
76-43 CARDINALS Garcia (5-4, 1.57)
6:15 PM CT
57-61 Tigers Norris (2-2, 4.24)
67-50 CUBS Lester (8-8, 3.21)
7:05 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

Home Runs
Todd Frazier (CIN) 29
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 23
Ryan Braun (MIL) 21
Joey Votto (CIN) 21
2-way tie 19
Strikeouts
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 163
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 154
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 154
Jon Lester (CHC) 149
Carlos Martinez (STL) 144

Cubs Sweep Twin-Bill Against Cards

Jake Arrieta pitched strong in the opening game of a double-header sweep for the Chicago Cubs.

Jake Arrieta pitched strong in the opening game of a double-header sweep for the Chicago Cubs.

You disappear for a few days of vacation, come back, and everything looks a little different.

Not hugely different, maybe. Just different.

For example, before heading away for a little rest and relaxation, I fully expected to start focusing more on the National League Wild Card and less on the National League Central.

But things have taken a bit of a turn and the race seems back on. For the moment, anyhow.

We’ll put off bringing the Wild Card into the discussion for just a little bit longer, although your #2 and 3 teams in the division here have pretty decent leads in that race, particularly with the San Francisco Giants having recently lost a whole mess of games.

Let’s dive back in as we usually do here, getting into yesterday’s recaps.

* * * * * * * * *

Coming into yesterday’s day-night double-header, the Chicago Cubs had lost 5 straight to the St. Louis Cardinals and were just 2-8 against them this season.

So it was a bit surprising to see them sweep the Cards, winning 7-4 behind Jake Arrieta‘s 9th win in the afternoon and then 5-3 with a little bit of luck in the night game.

The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo went 2-for-3 with his 16th homer and a pair of walks in the opening game.

The Cards’ Tim Cooney went 5.1 innings, allowing one run on 3 hits and a walk in the second game, leaving with a 2-1 lead. But the Cubs rattled off 3 runs in the bottom of the 7th, en route to the win.

Game two was a wild one, with Dallas Beeler getting called up and starting for Chicago, going 5-plus strong innings. Beeler, a 41st round draft pick, was only ranked the Cubs’ #24 prospect by Baseball America following the 2013 season.

The big play came with Chicago down 2-1 in the bottom of the 7th with 2 men on and 1 out. Addison Russell faced Seth Maness, hitting a grounder down the 1st base line for a game-tying single. Pretty much everybody on the Cards thought the ball went foul. But the umps ruled it fair. Maness was tossed from the game and Mike Matheny came out to argue for a while.

It was a strange play, as Russell’s grounder hit foul just in front of the plate, then appeared to cross just fair (maybe?) as it came over the first base bag, then veered back foul afterwards. Whole lot of English on that ball…

On the next play, Dexter Fowler hit a grounder back to new pitcher Kevin Siegrist, who turned to try to start an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play, instead throwing it into center field for an error that allowed Chicago to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Jason Motte started the 9th with a 3-run lead, putting the first two Cardinals batters on base, eventually allowing a run and putting the tying run on base before retiring Matt Carpenter on a foul pop out to third and Jhonny Peralta on a 6-4 fielder’s choice.

The Cubs have won 7 of their last 9 games.

Game Highlights (MLB.com) – Game 1

Game Highlights (MLB.com) – Game 2

In other Cardinals’ news, left fielder Matt Holliday is hoping to be brought back from the DL for this weekend’s series against the Pirates. Meanwhile, Kolten Wong left the opening game after taking a tumble chasing after a wind-blown pop up, forcing him from the game with signs of a concussion.

* * * * * * * * *

The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the San Diego Padres, 3-2, led by Gregory Polanco‘s tie-breaking RBI triple in the bottom of the 8th inning.

Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless 9th for his 28th save. That’s now 26 straight appearances going back to May 15th without a run allowed. 25.2 innings of work, 16 hits, 4 walks, 20 strikeouts, 1 win, 20 saves.

Francisco Liriano went 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk, striking out 6.

The Bucs have won 7 of their last 8 and 9 of their last 11. On June 28th, they were 9 games back. Now? Half that.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * * * * * * * *

Johnny Cueto continues to look like potential game-changing bait for the upcoming trade deadline, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-0 win over the Washington Nationals while out-dueling Max Scherzer.

Cueto went the distance, striking out 11 while allowing just 2 hits and a walk in a 122-pitch shutout. He’s 6-5 with a 2.61 ERA this season.

His Game Score of 93 tied a career best and the elbow looked just fine, hitting 95 mph routinely with his fastball. Cueto has allowed 1 run in 17 innings of work across his last two starts.

Joey Votto went 3-for-5 with his 15th homer and a double, driving in 3 runs.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * * * * * * * *

The Milwaukee Brewers lost 4-3 at home to the Atlanta Braves.

Khris Davis was brought back from the 15-day DL after having surgery to remove cartilage from his right knee. Davis, who was hitting .250 with 5 HR and 16 RBI in 46 games, took over in left field for Gerardo Parra, who is hitting .309 with 8 HR. Parra also had a stretch of six straight games with multiple hits. Make of that what you will.

Aramis Ramirez went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, also grounding into a double play as his batting average fell to .237 in his farewell season.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * * * * * * * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 54 30 L2
Pittsburgh Pirates 49 34 4.5 W4
Chicago Cubs 46 37 7.5 W2
Cincinnati Reds 38 44 15.0 W2
Milwaukee Brewers 36 50 19.0 L2

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

42-42 Braves Teheran (6-4, 4.60)
36-50 BREWERS Fiers (4-7, 3.83)
1:10 PM CT
38-44 REDS Lorenzen (3-3, 3.58)
46-38 Nationals Gonzalez (6-4, 4.16)
6:05 PM CT
39-47 Padres Cashner (3-9, 4.06)
49-34 PIRATES Morton (6-2, 4.30)
6:05 PM CT
54-30 CARDINALS Wacha (10-3, 2.66)
46-37 CUBS Hammel (5-4, 2.89)
7:05 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

Home Runs
Todd Frazier (CIN) 25
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 16
Ryan Braun (MIL) 15
Adam Lind (MIL) 15
Joey Votto (CIN) 15
Strikeouts
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 119
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 114
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 113
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 111
Carlos Martinez (STL) 105

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

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

Grichuk, Cards Rebound

Randal Grichuk shook off Monday's performance and led the Cardinals Tuesday evening.

Randal Grichuk shook off Monday’s performance and led the Cardinals Tuesday evening.

Randal Grichuk shook off his 0-for-6, 5 strikeouts performance in a 14-inning loss to the New York Mets on Monday and followed through with a 3-hit, 3-RBI game Tuesday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals pounded the Mets, 10-2, behind Grichuk (3B, 2 2B) and Mark Reynolds (3-for-5, HR).

Michael Wacha won again, improving to 6-0 after going 7 innings and allowing 2 runs and 4 hits and a pair of walks. Wacha struck out 5.

The Redbirds blew the game open in the top of the 6th inning, improving on a 4-2 lead by sending 10 men to the plate in a 6-run outburst.

In other news, OF Jon Jay is on target to return from the DL on May 26th. Jay has been out with thumb and wrist injuries.

* * *

The Chicago Cubs couldn’t hold on to a 2-0 lead and let the San Diego Padres come back for a 4-3 win.

Actually, the Cubs’ fielders couldn’t hold on to anything either.

After having had a pretty nice run of error-free games – eight, to be exact – the Baby Bears committed three of them last night and that led to three unearned runs.

In the bottom of the 5th, Justin Upton led off by reaching on a throwing error by 3B Kris Bryant that sailed high over 1B Anthony Rizzo‘s head. He later scored.

In the bottom of the 6th, Matt Kemp also led off by reaching on an error, this time on a grounder that ate up SS Starlin Castro. A 2-out RBI single by Will Venable tied the game by bringing home another unearned run.

And in the bottom of the 8th, with the score tied 2-2, Clint Barmes – yes, this happened three times – led off and reached base on an error. This one was a dropped pop up in shallow center field by 2B Addison Russell. Both Barmes and Cory Spangenberg scored on a 2-RBI double off the bat of Derek Norris. That lead run – unearned.

Jason Hammel had a nice start for the Cubs, going 7 innings and allowing no earned runs on 3 hits and no walks to go along with 8 strikeouts. We’ve been seeing his name pop up on the NL Central Leaderboards under WHIP and ERA, which fell to 2.70 after this start. The Cubs did well to bring him back.

There’s been some talk of Chris Coghlan‘s roster security, but he had a 2-homer night for the Cubs. (He also struck out twice.) Coghlan, who is hitting .205 this year, said he isn’t worried. The former NL Rookie of the Year actually had a pretty decent season for the Cubs last year and there’s still some time to turn things around as we head towards the end of the end of May.

Aside from the costly error, Castro had a rough night at the plate, going 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts.

In light of this Cubs/Padres series, Carlos Portocarrero at Sports on Earth took a look at how the Rizzo-for-Andrew Cashner trade. Read the article here.

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds managed just 4 hits in a 3-0 shutout at the hands of Yordano Ventura (7 IP, 6 SO) and the Kansas City Royals.

It was the 4th straight loss for the Redlegs.

Future trade-bait, Johnny Cueto, fell to 3-4 on the year despite a 3.03 ERA. He continues to get miserable run support when he’s on the mound, further pointing out the ludicrous nature of the Win-Loss statistic for pitchers. You can throw phenomenally, but if you’re team can’t hit a lick, you get hung with the “L”.

* * *

The Minnesota Twins scored 6 in the 2nd inning en route to an 8-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Although this highlight of Pedro Alvarez hitting a ball into a boat on the Allegheny River is pretty damned awesome.

Francisco Liriano went just 2 innings for Pittsburgh, watching his ERA climb from 2.96 to 4.15 in 2015.

Both Gregory Polanco (2 SO) and Andrew McCutchen (1 SO) went 0-for-5 at the plate for the Bucs. I die a little inside every time I point out another bad game for McCutchen.

Pittsburgh has lost 5 of their last 6 games.

On a bright note, Josh Harrison has been heating up. In the last 7 games, he’s hitting .517 with 6 extra-base hits.

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers unpredictably went up 2-0 on the Detroit Tigers in this series with a dominant 8-1 win on the road.

6 continued to be the magic number of the day as the Brew Crew put up a 6-spot of their own in the top of the 3rd inning. The highlight came with 2 outs in the inning when Ryan Braun (9th), Adam Lind (7th) and Aramis Ramirez (5th) hit homers on three consecutive at bats.

Braun also doubled in a 4-RBI night.

Jimmy Nelson (W 2-4) went 8 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and 4 walks. His ERA dropped to 3.73 for the season.

Martin Maldonado went back to being a blight in the lineup, going 0-for-4 and committing an error. He’s putting up a slash line of .154/.204/.220, which is not too far removed from his .215/.279/.339 career slash line. He’s 1-for-25 in his last 7 games.

I get that catchers offer value in ways other than their performance at the plate, but the Brewers have to be dying for Jonathan Lucroy to get back from the DL.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

Home Runs
Todd Frazier (CIN) 12
Ryan Braun (MIL) 9
Marlon Byrd (CIN) 8
Starling Marte (PIT) 8
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 8
Strikeouts
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 60
Lance Lynn (STL) 58
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 55
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 53
2-way tie 52

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 26 13 W1
Chicago Cubs 21 17 4.5 L2
Cincinnati Reds 18 21 8.0 L4
Pittsburgh Pirates 18 21 8.0 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 15 25 11.5 W2

* * *

Schedule

22-17 Twins Pelfrey (3-1, 3.23)
18-21 PIRATES Locke (2-2, 5.40)
6:05 PM CT
15-25 BREWERS Lohse (3-4, 5.85)
23-17 Tigers Greene (4-2, 4.21)
6:08 PM CT
26-13 CARDINALS Martinez, C (3-2, 4.73)
23-17 Mets Colon, B (6-2, 3.86)
6:10 PM CT
18-21 REDS Marquis (3-3, 6.63)
25-14 Royals Guthrie (3-2, 5.44)
7:10 PM CT
21-17 CUBS Wada (NR)
20-20 Padres Ross, T (2-3, 3.94)
9:10 PM CT

Travis Wood, Cubs Shut Out Reds

Travis Wood

Travis Wood

You see guys like Jumbo Diaz and Kevin Gregg in their bullpen and then Jason Marquis starting last night and wonder how the Cincinnati Reds are supposed to win any games.

Marquis last posted an ERA+ of 100 or better in 2009, when he went 15-13 with 4.04 ERA (4.10 FIP) for the Colorado Rockies.

Maybe the Reds were impressed by his 4.05 ERA in pitcher-friendly San Diego last year, but his peripherals tell a very different number.

Anyhow, Marquis was beaten around last night by the Chicago Cubs, allowing 5 runs (4 earned) on 7 hits and 3 walks in 4 innings of work.

Anthony Rizzo had his first homer of the season. Cubs win 5-0, taking their second straight series and re-claiming first place for the time being.

Travis Wood (W 1-1) went 7 shutout innings for the Baby Bears, allowing 3 hits and a pair of walks while striking out 7. He’s got his ERA down to 2.31 after that performance.

Cubs’ reliever Neil Ramirez left the game after 3 pitches with an injury. Cubs skipper Joe Maddon described the right shoulder injury as “nothing real positive” which, for the eternally optimistic Maddon, is really something. Ramirez, who has been a pretty solid pitcher out of the Chicago pen, was throwing his fastball at 90 mph – 5 mph slower than usual.

In 50 appearances, Ramirez had a 1.44 ERA with 10.9 K/9.

* * *

In St. Louis, the Cardinals were 4-2 winners over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Lance Lynn needed 99 pitches to complete 5 innings, allowing 1 run on 6 hits and a walk to go along with 4 strikeouts. He’s 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA.

He used up 4.5 pitches per batter faced, up from 4.0 in his prior game. The National League average this season is 3.8 pitches per batter faced.

Yadier Molina had 3 hits (.240) and Matt Carpenter had 2 (.345), while Jason Heyward picked up his 4th double of the year already. He’s on pace for 93 two-baggers, if you wanted to know. Only 96% more of the season left to play!

We knew this would be a bad season for Milwaukee – put together with a horrible farm system, being in a division with teams that do have good farm systems and are already better than them to boot, it might be a bad decade – but it got a little worse when Center fielder Carlos Gomez went down with a hamstring injury legging out a fielder’s choice in the 9th inning.

Milwaukee already lost Ryan Braun for a couple of games earlier. Through the first week and a half of play, the outfield has been snake-bit.

Gomez was quoted as saying: “I’ll have to wait until the morning and see how it is. Right now, it’s sore. Tomorrow is the day that we know if it’s going to be a couple of days or a lot.”

He’s expected to not play in today’s game.

* * *

Finally, in Pittsburgh, the Pirates lost another close one in inter-league play against the red hot Detroit Tigers, who are now 8-1.

Alfredo Simon improved to 2-0, going 8 shutout innings for Detroit and allowing just 2 hits. He fanned only 2, with the Pirates failing to “hit ’em where they ain’t”.

Francisco Liriano had nothing to show for a good outing – 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 K. He’s 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA.

Rajai Davis’ solo shot in the 6th ended up the game’s only run.

The Bucs have now gone 19 innings without scoring a run and haven’t walked in four straight games.

Andrew McCutchen had one of the two Pittsburgh hits – he’s hitting just .207 this season. No Pirate in the top 5 of their order is currently hitting better than .235.

It’s pretty amazing to look at the league stats right now. The National League as a whole is hitting just .240, with the Pirates’ .207 mark the worst. (The Cardinals, at .248, are 4th in the NL – tops in the Central.)

Things are looking up, however, as Starling Marte has shaved his head in hopes of bringing some change of fortune. I can vouch that bald is beautiful. I think this will work.

* * *

Thank you, Paul Daugherty. Daugherty writes about Reds manager Bryan Price’s misuse of the Reds’ bullpen weapon known as Aroldis Chapman. Price has been driving me a little bonkers all season long. I guess I’m just glad that I’m not the only one.

* * *

Just one game on the scoreboard today, with the Cards and Brew Crew finishing up their 3-game set.

A St. Louis win puts them into a tie for 1st atop the division.

* * *

Schedule

2-6 MILWAUKEE Fiers (0-1, 9.00)
4-3 ST. LOUIS Lackey (0-0, 6.00)
12:45 PM CT

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
Chicago Cubs 5 3 @1
St. Louis Cardinals 4 3 0.5 W1
Cincinnati Reds 5 4 0.5 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 3 6 2.5 L2
Milwaukee Brewers 2 6 3 L1