Tagged: Jason Hammel

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

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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

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

Cards Come Back on Cubs

Jhonny Peralta took advantage of Pedro Strop's belt-high, down-the-middle fastball to give the Cardinals a big win last night.

Jhonny Peralta took advantage of Pedro Strop’s belt-high, down-the-middle fastball to give the Cardinals a big win last night.

For a minute there, it looked like the Chicago Cubs were going to pull within 6.5 games of the St. Louis Cardinals, a number that seemed unexpected about 10 days ago.

But Pedro Strop left a fastball right over the heart of the plate, belt high, and Jhonny Peralta did what Major League hitters tend to do when served up a meatball like that, lining it into the left field basket at Wrigley Field for a 2-run homer that gave the Redbirds a lead they wouldn’t surrender.

One swing of Peralta’s bat turned into a 2-game swing in the division standings.

The Cubs’ rotation took a hit when starting pitcher Jason Hammel left the game with a hamstring injury after pitching a perfect 1st inning. Hammel is among the league’s leaders in WHIP – see the division leader boards below. He received an MRI after the game. With the All-Star break coming up, the Cubs can always retroactively assign Hammel to the disabled list a week from now.

Continuing to trend downwards was Matt Carpenter, who went 0-for-4. In his last 16 games, Carp has hit .145 with a .266 OBP and .164 SLG. A .429 OPS is… not good.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * * * * * * * *

The Pittsburgh Pirates were winners again, this time up-ending the San Diego Padres 5-2 with a late comeback of their own.

The Bucs tailed 2-1 but tied it up after the 7th inning stretch, then put 3 on the board with two out in the bottom of the 8th.

After retiring the first two men, Padres starting pitcher Andrew Cashner walked pinch-hitter Travis Ishikawa who then scored on Gregory Polanco‘s long single off the wall, putting Pitt up 3-2.

Andrew McCutchen and Jung Ho Kang followed up with RBI singles to extend the lead.

In his last 16 games, “Cutch” has a .529 OBP – check him out climbing up the division leader boards below. In that stretch, he’s put up a slash line of .380/.529/.660 for a 1.189 OPS, including 8 doubles and a pair of homers.

That’s 10 wins in their last 12 games, including a current run of five straight victories for the Pirates, who now host the Cards in a four-game series that should be about as exciting as baseball gets heading into the All-Star Break. Can’t wait.

Pedro Alvarez made two more errors in the field while also going 0-for-2 at the plate. His 13 errors at first base are… insane. Nobody else in the National League has more than 5.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

Josh Harrison started off the year awful, then really took off. But his season was sidetracked by Wednesday’s surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. He’s expected to miss the next two months of the season. Harrison has a 94 OPS+ this season, hitting .279/.313/.383 with 9 SB.

* * * * * * * * *

The Milwaukee Brewers continued to play better baseball as of late, particularly when playing against sub-.500 teams, beating the Atlanta Braves 6-5.

Atlanta took a 4-0 lead in the 2nd, only to watch Milwaukee chip away at it, finally taking the lead in the bottom of the 8th on Carlos Gomez‘s 8th home run of the season – a 3-run blast.

Gomez drove in 4 of the Brew Crew’s 6 runs.

Adam Lind went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks, boosting him into the division’s leader boards. And, hey, probably a good trade piece for Milwaukee before month’s end. In his last 18 games, the 31-year old has gotten on base at a .480 clip while posting a 1.218 OPS behind a .377 batting average with 6 homers and 4 doubles.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * * * * * * * *

The Cincinnati Reds were rained out.

* * * * * * * * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 55 30 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 50 34 4.5 W5
Chicago Cubs 46 38 8.5 L1
Cincinnati Reds 38 44 15.5 W2
Milwaukee Brewers 37 50 19.0 W1

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

55-30 CARDINALS Martinez (9-3, 2.70)
50-34 PIRATES Locke (5-4, 4.15)
6:05 PM CT
38-44 REDS TBD
35-50 Marlins Fernandez (1-0, 4.50)
6:10 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .408
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .398
Joey Votto (CIN) .390
Kris Bryant (CHC) .381
Adam Lind (MIL) .378
WHIP
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.87
Jason Hammel (CHC) 0.95
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 1.01
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 1.05
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.10

 

One Big Inning All Pirates Need

Francisco Cervelli has given Pirates fans cause to forget Russell Martin.

Francisco Cervelli has given Pirates fans cause to forget Russell Martin.

Did you know that if you ranked all 15 National League teams by winning percentage, the NL Central has the top 3 teams?

And if you did the same for all 30 Major League teams, the NL Central has 3 of the top 5?

* * *

The Pittsburgh Pirates were 7-6 winners over the visiting Cincinnati Reds, scoring all their runs in the 4th inning.

The Bucs sent 10 men to the plate in the inning, highlighted by Francisco Cervelli‘s 3-run homer that tied the game at 4-4 and Andew McCutchen‘s 2-run tater that put Pittsburgh ahead by 3 runs.

Tony Watson struck out the side in the 8th and Mark Melancon did the same in the 9th to pick up his 24th save. That’s 19 straight appearances now, spanning 19.1 innings, without allowing a run. MM has 16 saves in that stretch.

Starling Marte made a pair of highlight reel plays in left field, helping the Pirates snap a 3-game losing streak, having been swept by the Washington Nationals over the weekend.

Neil Walker made his first start in 5 days, having sat out with hip pain.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Chicago Cubs continued to hold their own against division leaders, this time beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0 in 10 innings on Chris Denorfia‘s walk-off sacrifice fly to deep center field.

The Cubs loaded the bases to start the bottom of the 10th. Addison Russell inside-outed a grounder to Adrian Gonzalez at first base which was nearly muffed, but then recovered for a 3-2 fielder’s choice. Denorfia then followed up by connecting on a 1-1 cutter into center field that carried deep enough for the speedy Matt Szczur to score easily.

No win, but Jason Hammel was solid, throwing 7.2 shutout innings and allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out 6.

The win was Chicago’s 4th straight.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

Another day, another win for the St. Louis Cardinals, who scored 4 unanswered runs in the middle innings to win 4-3 visiting the Miami Marlins.

Jason Heyward put the birds on the board first, picking up his 8th homer of the year in the 4th inning. He’s homered in 3 of his last 5 games now and is hitting .500/.520/.958 in his past 6 games. Heyward was looking like a bust of a signing, batting just .211/.268/.333 through May 3rd. Since then? 42 games in which he’s hit .320/.350/.503 with 15 extra base hits.

A 2-RBI double into the left field corner by Xavier Scruggs tied the game up.

Mark Reynolds‘ base hit off of pitcher Sam Dyson with two out and the bases loaded in the 7th broke the 3-3 tie.

Trevor Rosenthal came on to pitch the 9th, ending the game by getting Dee Gordon to ground into a 4-3 double play.

Jhonny Peralta had a rough night, going 0-for-5, striking out 3 times and grounding into double plays in his other two plate appearances.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers defeated the New York Mets, 3-2, aided by an error in left field by Michael Cuddyer who allowed a carom off the wall to get past him and allow the go-ahead run to score in the 7th.

Mike Fiers went 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and a pair of walks with 7 strikeouts.

Carlos Gomez started in center field for the first time in 9 days, going 1-for-2 with a walk.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 45 24 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 39 30 6.0 L3
Chicago Cubs 38 30 6.5 W3
Cincinnati Reds 32 36 12.5 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 25 46 21.0 L2

* * *

Schedule

32-37 REDS Leake (4-4, 4.01)
40-30 PIRATES Cole (11-2, 1.78)
6:05 PM CT
46-24 CARDINALS Garcia (2-3, 1.76)
30-42 Marlins Latos (2-4, 5.37)
6:10 PM CT
39-33 Dodgers Bolsinger (4-2, 2.87)
39-30 CUBS Hendricks (2-3, 4.28)
7:05 PM CT
36-36 Mets Colon (9-5, 4.81)
26-46 BREWERS Nelson (3-8, 4.64)
7:10 PM CT

* * *

NL Central Leaders

Home Runs
Todd Frazier (CIN) 23
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 15
Ryan Braun (MIL) 14
Joey Votto (CIN) 14
2-way tie 12
Strikeouts
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 105
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 97
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 96
Carlos Martinez (STL) 94
Jason Hammel (CHC) 92

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

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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

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