Tagged: Jaime Garcia

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

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Cards Lose; Everybody Else Wins?

It was Randal Grichuk day at the Post-Dispatch last night.

It was Randal Grichuk day at the Post-Dispatch last night.

If only one team were to lose in the division last night, you wouldn’t have guessed it would be the team with the best record in baseball playing against one of the worst teams.

Indeed, it was the St. Louis Cardinals who were 7-1 losers at home against the Chicago White Sox last night after another rain-soaked evening.

It was a close, 2-1 ballgame until the 9th when the ChiSox went off on the Cardinals bullpen.

Seth Maness faced three batters, all of whom picked up hits and scored. Randy Choate faced two batters and hit both of them – they scored as well.

Matt Carpenter went 0-for-4 with an error as hit batting average slipped to .275. That call I put out early in the season for him to break the all-time record for most doubles in a season? It’s on hold. In his last 9 games – dating back to June 20th – Carpenter is hitting .100/.250/.133 for a .383 OPS across 36 plate appearances.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

Tyler Cooney (0-0, 11.57) gets the start tonight for Saint Louie, subbing for Jaime Garcia‘s groin. Garcia won’t go on the DL and is expected to start on Tuesday.

Bernie Miklasz got all stat-happy on Randal Grichuk at the Post-Dispatch yesterday. Go check it out.

It wasn’t stat-focused, but Dan O’Neill was also all over Grichuk last night. Check his work out here.

With Grichuk’s improvement and Jason Heyward‘s awakening, Jon Jay (.223) is going to find himself on the bench when Matt Holliday is healthy and back in the lineup.

* * * *

The Pittsburgh Pirates were 9-3 winners over the Detroit Tigers, led by a 5-run 3rd inning.

He hadn’t homered in four weeks, but you wouldn’t have known it when Neil Walker went 4-for-6 with a pair of homers (6) and 3 RBI. Oh, and in case you him on your fantasy baseball team, he also swiped a base for you. Nice job!

Starling Marte also had a four-hit game, including a homer (13) and double.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * * *

For a second straight night, neither the Chicago Cubs nor the New York Mets appeared interested in scoring any runs.

Ultimately the Cubs prevailed, pulling out a 2-0 win in 11 innings.

The Cubs are 6-0 against the Mets this year. Five of those six games have been one-run victories.

Jon Lester went 7 shutout innings, allowing 5 hits and a walk while striking out 7.

Sure, it was because of the circumstances of an extra-inning game, but Justin Grimm became the 5th Cubs pitcher to record a save in 2015. Joe Maddon has said he has no defined closer and is instead going “by committee”. Sabermetric fans around the world are rejoicing.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

Injured right fielder Jorge Soler is expected back to the major league clubhouse this weekend.

* * * *

Johnny Cueto led the Cincinnati Reds to a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Twins.

Hard to not always wonder if every start he makes will be his last with the team, but nothing official yet.

Cueto went 8 innings, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and a walk, striking out 8. He improved to 5-5 on the season.

Concerns over the elbow that caused him to miss a few starts? Since coming back, he’s 2-1 with a 2.52 in 6 GS.

Would be really interesting to watch him pitch for a contending team.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * * *

It must be nice playing the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Milwaukee Brewers won for the 7th time in their last 9 games, putting 17 hits on the board in a 9-5 win over Philly.

Scooter Gennett was 3-for-5 with a triple and a pair of doubles, driving in 3 runs.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 51 26 L2
Pittsburgh Pirates 44 33 7.0 W2
Chicago Cubs 41 35 9.5 W2
Cincinnati Reds 36 41 15.0 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 32 48 20.5 W4

* * *

Schedule

44-33 PIRATES Liriano (4-6, 3.21)
39-38 Tigers Ryan (1-1, 4.56)
12:08 PM CT
41-35 CUBS Arrieta (7-5, 2.94)
40-39 Mets deGrom (8-5, 2.15)
12:10 PM CT
32-48 BREWERS Garza (4-10, 5.52)
27-53 Phillies Billingsley (0-2, 6.75)
5:35 PM CT
37-44 Padres Ross (5-7, 3.57)
51-26 CARDINALS Cooney (0-0, 11.57)
6:15 PM CT

* * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .405
Joey Votto (CIN) .396
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .386
Kris Bryant (CHC) .378
Matt Carpenter (STL) .373
WHIP
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.92
Jason Hammel (CHC) 0.97
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 1.01
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 1.06
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.10

Cards Streak Snapped At Six By Sox

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina appears to be in disbelief that Tyler Flowers just homered.

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina appears to be in disbelief that Tyler Flowers just homered.

The St. Louis Cardinals‘ six-game winning streak was ended last night when their offense was shut down by Chris Sale (8 IP, 1 ER) and the rest of the Chicago White Sox pitching staff, losing 2-1 in 11 innings.

Chicago took the lead with two outs in the top of the 11th when Tyler Flowers, hitting just above the Mendoza line this year, homered off of Miguel Socolovich.

The Birds put two men on in with two outs the bottom of the inning, but Xavier Scruggs grounded out to third, ending the rally.

Randal Grichuk had three hits with a homer (7th) and double for St. Louis, but the rest of the lineup combined to go 5-for-35, hitting .143 with no extra base hits.

Lance Lynn‘s second start since returning from the DL was solid, allowing 1 run in 6 innings of work, striking out 6. But he never seems to pick up the W, even when he’s on his game, does he?

Game Highlights from MLB.com

In other pitching staff, it’s a new month today, so it’s about time for another injury to the rotation. And who better to volunteer than Jaime Garcia? Garcia came up with a groin injury last week and skipped Monday’s bullpen session. There’s a chance he misses his next start.

* * *

Also going extra innings last evening were the Pittsburgh Pirates, who outlasted the Detroit Tigers to win 5-4 in 14 innings.

Josh Harrison doubled off of center fielder Rajai Davis‘ glove, then scored on a Neil Walker double down the right field line to put Pittsburgh up a run in the top of the 14th.

Detroit put men on 1st & 2nd with one out in the bottom of the inning, but grounded into a 6-3 double play to erase the threat, ending the game.

Gorkys Hernandez was nearly the goat of the game, entering as a pinch runner in the 14th but then making a few base-running blunders. Funny that a pinch-runner would do that, but there you have it. On Harrison’s deep fly into center, Hernandez sprinted around 2nd, then thought that Davis had caught the ball so headed back around 2nd and towards 1st, then ran back towards 3rd but failed to step back on 2nd base on his way there. He was ruled out on an appeal play after the fact.

Andrew McCutchen had two hits and drew three walks for the Bucs.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

Kyle Hendricks tossed 6 shutout innings and the Chicago Cubs bullpen threw 3 more perfect innings as they blanked the New York Mets in a 1-0 win, snapping a 5-game losing streak.

Chicago’s sole run came in the 6th when Matt Szczur doubled in Kris Bryant.

Jason Motte picked up his 3rd save.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds fell 8-5 at home to the Minnesota Twins.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers held off the Philadelphia Phillies for a 4-3 win.

In the 8th inning, the Crew were down 3-2 with 2 out and nobody on. Then Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez singled. Aramis Ramirez tied it with a single. Gerardo Parra walked to load the bases. Adam Lind pinch hit and drew a bases-loaded walk, pushing Gomez home to put Milwaukee ahead.

Milwaukee has now won 6 of their last 8 games.

Braun went 4-for-5 with a double. In a 5-game hitting streak, he is hitting 11-for-17 (.647) with 3 doubles and a homer. Since June 21st, Braun is hitting an even .500 (16-for-32) with 6 extra-base hits. That’s a .500/.556/.781 slash line for an absurd 1.337 OPS.

Jean Segura went 0-for-5 with an error.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 51 25 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 43 33 8.0 W1
Chicago Cubs 40 35 10.5 W1
Cincinnati Reds 35 41 16.0 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 31 48 21.5 W3

* * *

Schedule

41-36 Twins May (4-6, 4.62)
35-41 REDS Cueto (4-5, 2.98)
11:35 AM CT
31-48 BREWERS Lohse (4-9, 6.28)
27-52 Phillies Harang (4-10, 3.56)
6:05 PM CT
43-33 PIRATES Burnett (6-3, 2.01)
39-37 Tigers Simon (7-4, 3.57)
6:08 PM CT
40-35 CUBS Lester (4-6, 4.03)
40-38 Mets Colon (9-6, 4.89)
6:10 PM CT
33-42 White Sox Quintana (3-7, 3.95)
51-25 CARDINALS Lackey (6-4, 3.35)
7:15 PM CT

* * *

NL Central Leaders

Home Runs
Todd Frazier (CIN) 25
Ryan Braun (MIL) 15
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 15
Joey Votto (CIN) 14
Marlon Byrd (CIN) 13
Strikeouts
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 108
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 108
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 103
Carlos Martinez (STL) 100
Jason Hammel (CHC) 99

Garcia Latest Cardinal Bit By Injury Bug?

Jaime Garcia was solid again

Jaime Garcia was solid again

The St. Louis Cardinals were 6-1 winners over the Miami Marlins.

Another nice start for Jaime Garcia, who went 7 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits and no walks. He’s 3-3 with a 1.69 ERA now.

Not all good news for Jaime, however, as he left the game with a cramp near his left groin while rounding 3rd base.

Kolten Wong went 2-for-4 with a 2-run homer in the 3rd inning, put the Cards up 2-1.

Jason Heyward homered for the 3rd straight game.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

Cardinals Notes: Lance Lynn returns to the rotation tonight, having missed his last two starts with a forearm strain…

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds put 4 runs up on Gerrit Cole in the 1st inning en route to a surprising 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

J.J. Hoover got the save for the Reds with Aroldis Chapman out on paternity leave. Hoover threw a spotless 9th, ending with a pair of strikeouts. Chapman is available for tonight’s game.

Cole went 4.2 innings, allowing 5 runs on 8 hits and 3 walks, falling to 11-3 with a 2.16 ERA this season.

Marlon Byrd went 2-for-4 with his 12th homer of the year, driving in 3 runs.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

Reds Notes: Raul Iglesias did some bullpen work as he starts the road to returning to the Reds’ rotation, tossing 30-plus pitches in the bullpen as he recovers from an oblique injury. Iglesias is due back before the All-Star break… Brandon Phillips sat out last night with a jammed thumb…

* * *

The Chicago Cubs‘ winning streak was ended with a 5-2 loss at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Another rough start for Kyle Hendricks, who has allowed 10 earned runs in 10 innings across his last two starts.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

Cubs Notes: Still no word from the Cubs on whether or not Tsuyoshi Wada will be available to make his scheduled start on Saturday. Seems they’d rather not go to Edwin Jackson or Travis Wood, each of whom has fared well since being put in the bullpen. The top 3 of the Cubs’ rotation has been solid. After that, things are fragile…

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers were 4-1 winners over the New York Mets.

Jimmy Nelson improved to 4-8, going 8 innings and allowing 1 run on 2 hits and a walk.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 47 24 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 40 31 7.0 L1
Chicago Cubs 39 31 7.5 L1
Cincinnati Reds 33 37 13.5 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 27 46 21.0 W2

* * *

Schedule

36-37 Mets deGrom (7-5, 2.34)
27-46 BREWERS Jungmann (2-1, 3.50)
1:10 PM CT
39-34 Dodgers Frias (4-5, 4.68)
39-31 CUBS Lester (4-5, 3.80)
1:20 PM CT
33-37 REDS DeSclafani (5-5, 3.48)
40-31 PIRATES Burnett (6-3, 2.05)
6:05 PM CT
47-24 CARDINALS Lynn (4-4, 3.07)
30-43 Marlins Haren (6-4, 3.19)
6:10 PM CT

* * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .417
Joey Votto (CIN) .405
Matt Carpenter (STL) .387
Kris Bryant (CHC) .384
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .376
WHIP
Jason Hammel (CHC) 0.938
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.949
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 0.985
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.087
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 1.088

Pirates Run Win Streak To 8

Mark Melancon has been lights out.

Mark Melancon has been lights out.

Sure, it’s only beating up on the Chicago White Sox – a team that has struggled mightily in 2015 and has now lost seven straight games – but the Pittsburgh Pirates will still take it.

The Bucs’ winning streak was extended to 8 games after a 3-2 win last night, led once again by ace Gerrit Cole.

Cole improved to 11-2 on the year with a 1.78 ERA, allowing 2 runs in 7 innings of work on 3 hits and 3 walks.

Five Pirates had multi-hit games, including a 3-for-3 night by Corey Hart at DH.

Another spotless inning for closer Mark Melancon, who picked up his 23rd save, striking out a pair in the 9th. He has not allowed a run since May 11th, posting a 0.00 ERA in his last 18 appearances (18.1 IP); if you bump that back to games from April 23rd onwards, his ERA is 0.33 across his last 27 games (27.1 IP).

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The St. Louis Cardinals offense continued to stall as they dropped their second in a row, losing 2-1 against the Minnesota Twins.

All three runs in the game came on solo homers, with Jason Heyward (6th) putting the Cards up 1-0 in the top of the 7th, only to have Joe Mauer tie it up in the bottom of the 8th and Kennys Vargas win it in the 9th.

The homers were allowed by Kevin Siegrist and Carlos Villanueva, respectively.

The Cards have gone 12 straight games scoring 4 or fewer runs. Of course, they’ve also gone 7 straight games allowing 3 or fewer.

Jaime Garcia went 6 shutout innings as he continues to pitch lights out since getting called up to the rotation. He’s sporting a 1.76 ERA in 6 starts thus far, though has just a 2-3 record to show for it. In fact, the St. Louis offense has been shut out in three of Garcia’s six starts. Consider his numbers on a high-powered team – he’d likely be more like 5-0 right now.

Mark Reynolds has some pop in his bat, but his obscene strike out rates really hurt the Cardinals in Thursday night’s contest. In the top of the 9th of a tie game with Matt Carpenter on 3rd base and one out, Reynolds struck out flailing at a pitch well off the plate.  Yadier Molina then flew out routinely to right field to end the inning.

Carpenter had a pair of doubles and is 5-for-11 during a 3-game hitting streak.

The second straight loss for the Redbirds coupled with the Bucs’ winning streak means their lead in the NL Central is down to 4 games heading into Friday.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Chicago Cubs were 4-3 losers against the Cleveland Indians in a game with multiple rain delays.

Hammel lasted just 4 innings, having run his pitch count up to 86 already. He allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 2 hits and a pair of walks, striking out 6.  An hour-long rain delay in the top of the 5th led to a shortened night of work.

Kyle Schwarber had another great night at the plate, showing some hustle on the bases that is unexpected for a guy who looks like a tank. He also popped an opposite-field homer; the first of his MLB career.

Without a position he can really play regularly with any aptitude at the Major League level, he’s still getting sent down after inter-league play is over. But he’s definitely shown he can mash with the big boys. He has a nice short swing and the ball comes off his bat like it’s shot out of a cannon. He’ll head to AAA after this weekend.

The Cubs loaded the bases with two outs after the Schwarber homer, and then the rain fell.  When the game resumed, Cody Allen came on to pitch and got Miguel Montero to fly out to left, erasing the threat.

Kris Bryant extended his hitting streak to 14 games.  He’s batting .351 with 5 doubles during this stretch of games.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds game against the visiting Detroit Tigers was called on account of rain sweeping across Ohio.

Recently injured starting pitcher Jon Moscot is undergoing surgery to repair his dislocated left (non-throwing) shoulder. Having gone 1-1 with a 4.63 ERA across three starts, Moscot should be out the rest of the season and good to go for 2016.

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers lost their 6th straight (ho hum), defeated 3-2 to the Kansas City Royals.

K.C. took an early 3-0 lead on starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson (L 3-8, 5 IP, 3 ER, 11 H, 2 BB, 0 SO), then allowed Milwaukee to creep back into the game, only to come up short.

Down by one, Milwaukee loaded the bases in the top of the 8th inning, only to have Aramis Ramirez pop out and Scooter Gennett strike out looking at a Wade Davis curveball in the middle of the plate.

Carlos Gomez (hip) was out of the lineup again. He’s played in only 3 of the Brew Crew’s last 9 games.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 43 23 L2
Pittsburgh Pirates 39 27 4.0 W8
Chicago Cubs 35 29 7.0 L1
Cincinnati Reds 30 35 12.5 W2
Milwaukee Brewers 24 44 20.0 L6

* * *

Schedule

39-27 PIRATES Burnett (6-2, 1.89)
34-33 Nationals Ross (1-1, 3.46)
6:05 PM CT
43-23 CARDINALS Lyons (1-0, 5.00)
23-45 Phillies Aumont (NR)
6:05 PM CT
29-39 Marlins Haren (6-3, 3.22)
30-35 REDS Leake (3-4, 4.35)
6:10 PM CT
35-29 CUBS Hendricks (2-2, 3.80)
36-30 Twins Hughes (4-6, 4.79)
7:10 PM CT
24-44 BREWERS Jungmann (1-1, 2.25)
28-38 Rockies De La Rosa (4-2, 4.91)
7:40 PM CT

* * *

NL Central Leaders

WAR (fielders)
Todd Frazier (CIN) 3.7
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 2.8
Joey Votto (CIN) 2.7
Jhonny Peralta (CIN) 2.4
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) 2.2
WAR (pitchers)
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 2.7
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 2.5
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.3
Carlos Martinez (STL) 2.0
2-way tie 1.8

Fiers, Brewers Shut Out Cards

Mike Fiers helped the Brewers shut down the Cardinals on Monday night.

Mike Fiers helped the Brewers shut down the Cardinals on Monday night.

I didn’t expect to be writing that headline this morning.

Mike Fiers (W 2-5) went 6 shutout innings, while a quartet of Milwaukee Brewers relievers finished the job, blanking the St. Louis Cardinals on the road, 1-0.

Francisco Rodriguez got Kolten Wong on a ground out to first with men at 1st & 2nd to notch his 9th save of the year.

Fiers finished with 6 strikeouts, allowing 4 hits and a pair of walks while lowering his ERA to 4.06 this season.

Jean Segura led off the contest with a base hit and later scored on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Carlos Gomez. It turned out to be the only run of the evening.

The Cardinals had their share of chances, bringing a batter to the plate with a runner in scoring position on 7 occasions. However, they failed to get the ball out of the infield in any of those chances.

Jaime Garcia pitched well again for the Redbirds, going 7 innings and allowing just the one run on 3 hits and not a single walk. He’s a tough luck 1-2 across 3 starts with a 2.70 ERA.

Jonathan Lucroy returned to the Brewers’ lineup, which was good to see. On the flip side, back troubles sidelined first baseman Adam Lind for a second straight game. They’ll need him back and healthy if they’re going to flip him for a prospect. He’s expected back at first for tonight’s game.

Reliever Will Smith (24 G, 1.93 ERA) is expected to get the final results on his appeal of an 8-game suspension this Friday. Smith got in trouble for not clearing a giant glob of sunscreen off of his arm.

In Cardinals news, if you think Jhonny Peralta is underrated, you will find a kindred spirit in Bernie Miklasz today. Read his article at the Post-DispatchMatt Holliday extended his season-opening on-base streak to 45 games. That put him past Harry Heilmann‘s mark of 44 with the 1923 Detroit Tigers and is good for 5th best of all-time. Next up is 47, accomplished by Alvin Davis of the 1984 Seattle Mariners.

* * *

Jason Hammel continues to reward the Chicago Cubs faith in bringing him back, striking out 11 Miami Marlins in a 5-1 win.

Hammel went 6.2 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits and no walks, dropping his ERA to 2.82 and improving to 4-2 this year. His 0.9 walks per 9 are 2nd best in the National League, trailing only the New York MetsBartolo Colon (0.7). Here’s a video recap of Hammel’s night as he did a really nice job of moving the ball up and down all game long.

Starlin Castro hit a solo homer (4th) in garbage time, while Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant each had RBI doubles.

Miguel Montero had a rough game for the Cubs, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout and an error in the field.

With a stretch of 7 games in 13 days that will call for a designated hitter, the Cubs are considering a possible call-up of either 22-year-olds Javier Baez or left-handed masher Kyle Schwarber to fill the role. Baez is hitting .306-5-21 at AAA while Schwarber is .327-12-31 at AA. Not sure the call-up of Baez as a DH makes sense, when he might make a better fielder than he does a hitter. Call him up, sure, but find a way to get him in the field where he’s an even more valuable asset. Not sure how Castro would handle the move to DH, but worth consideration if you go the Baez route.

Castro made his 12th error of the season in last night’s win, giving him 6 flubs in his last 11 games.

* * *

In fact, all four NL Central starting pitchers had great games last night. Gerrit Cole is the only one we haven’t mentioned yet, so let’s notify you now that he went 7 innings, allowing 2 unearned runs and striking out 9, improving to 8-2 as the Pittsburgh Pirates bested the San Francisco Giants, 4-3.

An error by Jung Ho Kang (0-for-4, 2 SO) in the 1st inning led to a pair of unearned runs on a 2-RBI single by Brandon Belt, giving an early lead to the Giants.

A pair of sac flies off the bat of Andrew McCutchen tied the game, and Neil Walker‘s 2-RBI double in the 5th gave the Pirates a 4-2 lead.

Mark Melancon threw a spotless 9th inning to record his 12th save.

Cutch had the 2 sac flies but could have done a lot more damage. Hunter Pence made a sliding catch on the sac fly in the 5th, which was nice and all, but check out Angel Pagan robbing him in the 3rd inning. Both plate appearances came with the bases loaded. He was close to a 6-RBI game.

Cole’s 1.90 ERA is 2nd best in the division – see below. Want to see some impressive pitching? Here’s a video recap of Cole’s evening. Check out the movement on that strike out of Pagan in the 7th. Filthy.

Also impressive, this post from the Bucs’ Twitter feed.

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds had Monday off. Johnny Cueto is back on the mound tonight as he starts the push towards becoming a valuable trade asset bringing the Reds back to the playoff race.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

AVG
Matt Holliday (STL) .318
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .316
Kolten Wong (STL) .312
Matt Carpenter (STL) .311
Jhonny Peralta (STL) .311
ERA
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 1.81
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.90
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.27
Jason Hammel (CHC) 2.82
John Lackey (STL) 2.83

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 33 18 L1
Chicago Cubs 27 22 5.0 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 27 24 6.0 W1
Cincinnati Reds 22 27 10.0 W3
Milwaukee Brewers 18 34 15.5 W2

* * *

Schedule

22-27 REDS Cueto (3-4, 3.03)
19-33 Phillies O’Sullivan (1-4, 4.81)
6:05 PM CT
27-22 CUBS Hendricks (1-1, 3.76)
20-32 Marlins Hand (0-1, 4.50)
6:10 PM CT
18-34 BREWERS Cravy (NR)
33-18 CARDINALS Lynn (3-4, 3.41)
7:15 PM CT
27-24 PIRATES Burnett (5-1, 1.81)
30-22 Giants Heston (5-3, 3.82)
9:15 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