Tagged: Javier Baez

Cards Take It To Dodgers

The Redbirds took 3 of 4 against the Dodgers over the weekend.

The Redbirds took 3 of 4 against the Dodgers over the weekend.

Monday means that it’s time for the Weekend Roundup!

* * *

The St. Louis Cardinals made some noise by taking 3 out of 4 in their weekend series against the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. Their only hiccup came Saturday when they were done in by Clayton Kershaw in a 2-0 shutout loss, but who can blame them for that?

After a convincing 7-1 win on Thursday, the final 3 games of the series all felt like October baseball. Quality stuff.

Of course, the Cards weren’t able to really gain any ground in the division because…

* * *

The Pittsburgh Pirates are on an amazing run, winning 13 of their past 16 games after taking 2 of 3 this weekend against the Atlanta Braves. Gerrit Cole pitched another 7 shutout innings on Sunday and picked up another win; he’s had an amazing season thus far.

No disrespect intended here, but the Bucs now have a 9-game home-stand against the Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox. This hot streak might continue for a while…

* * *

After having dropped series to the Brewers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Miami Marlins, I honestly didn’t expect the Chicago Cubs to do what they did this weekend in D.C. But they managed to take 3 of 4 against the Washington Nationals.

They also started a closer controversy of sorts when Hector Rondon was pulled after facing one batter (a walk) in the 9th inning on Saturday. Pedro Strop picked up the save and Jason Motte got it on Sunday after Rondon pitched a perfect 8th.

Oh, and the Javier Baez watch was put off. He suffered a ring finger injury after sliding head-first into a bag.

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds kept doing their thing, losing 2 of 4 against the San Diego Padres. Stopper Johnny Cueto went 7 shutout innings in a 4-0 win yesterday to help avoid the sweep. He also struck out 9.

The talk of Cueto and Mike Leake being trade-bait has been heating up of late. The team is 13 back in the division, with a pair of winnable series (Phillies and Cubs) this week.

* * *

The Brewers took 2 of 3 in the Twin Cities, visiting the Minnesota Twins over the weekend. They travel to Pittsburgh to start a 3-game tilt today before heading home for a 4-game set with the Nats.

* * *

National League Ranks

Batting Pitching
St. Louis 10th 1st
Chicago 9th 6th
Cincinnati 11th 10th
Pittsburgh 6th 2nd
Milwaukee 14th 14th

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 38 19 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 31 25 6.5 W1
Chicago Cubs 30 25 7.0 W2
Cincinnati Reds 24 31 13.0 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 20 37 18.0 L1

* * *

Schedule

20-37 BREWERS Nelson (2-6, 4.41)
31-25 PIRATES Burnett (6-1, 2.20)
6:05 PM CT
22-36 Phillies Hamels (5-4, 2.88)
24-31 REDS Leake (2-4, 4.40)
6:10 PM CT
38-19 CARDINALS Lackey (4-3, 2.93)
25-30 Rockies Hale (1-0, 4.26)
7:40 PM CT

Redbirds Top Dodgers

Michael Wacha wins again - number 8 on the season.

Michael Wacha wins again – number 8 on the season.

The St. Louis Cardinals had no trouble handling the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night as the NL Central leaders took down the top dog in the NL West, 7-1.

Michael Wacha improved to 8-1 with a 2.18 ERA, going 7 innings and allowing 1 run.

On the offensive front, Jhonny Peralta had three safeties while Kolten Wong and Matt Holliday had two hits each.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

Rick Hummel takes a look at Trevor Rosenthal‘s big 2015 season thus far. Read it over at the Post-Dispatch.

* * *

Desperate to get back into some winning ways, the Chicago Cubs came away with a nice 2-1 win over the Washington Nationals.

Jake Arrieta started the season on fire but had cooled off lately. In his last two starts, he had a 4.85 ERA. Last night he allowed 1 run in 6 innings of work, striking out 8 and improving to 5-4, picking up his first W since May 12th.

The game ended bizarrely, with the Nats putting men on 1st and 2nd with one out. After Denard Span flew out to center for the 2nd out, catcher David Ross picked Clint Robinson off of 1st base for the final out. The grey-beard was pumped. Ross later revealed that first baseman Anthony Rizzo had signaled to him that Robinson was taking too big of a lead and to be on the lookout. Nice job by the 25-year old and unofficial captain of the team.

Rizzo also made a nice play in the field, spearing a line drive up and to his left with the bases loaded in the 6th inning to kill a Washington rally.

At the plate, Rizzo and Dexter Fowler each had two hits.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

The word now is that the Cubs will not call up Javier Baez (at least not immediately) and instead may call up Chris Denorfia to help shore up the outfield. Denorfia has been rehabbing an injured hamstring. Regular right fielder Jorge Soler is on the DL for probably three weeks with an ankle injury. Delaying Baez’s call-up also gives him more time to get his feet wet playing third base, something he only just started doing earlier this week.

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds once again took a lead into the late innings against the Philadelphia Phillies, but this time they held on to it for a 6-4 win.

Aroldis Chapman rebounded from a tough game Wednesday night (1 IP, 2 ER, 1 H, 2 BB, 0 SO), striking out all 3 batters he faced in the bottom of the 9th to record his 10th save.

Brandon Phillips had three hits with a double at the top of the order.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

Speaking of Chapman, Craig Edwards at Fangraphs.com had a close look at him yesterday. Check it out.

* * *

Bill Brink at the Post-Gazette profiles Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton, who makes his 3rd start of the season this evening. Read it here.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

WAR (fielders)
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 2.9
Todd Frazier (CIN) 2.5
Jhonny Peralta (STL) 2.2
Kolten Wong (STL) 2.0
Matt Carpenter (STL) 1.9
WAR (pitchers)
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 2.1
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 2.1
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.8
Jason Hammel (CHC) 1.6
3-way tie 1.5

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 36 18 W3
Pittsburgh Pirates 29 24 6.5 W3
Chicago Cubs 28 24 7.0 W1
Cincinnati Reds 23 29 12.0 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 18 36 18.0 L2

* * *

Schedule

28-24 CUBS Wada (0-0, 2.30)
29-25 Nationals Roark (1-2, 2.59)
6:05 PM CT
27-28 Padres Ross, T (2-5, 3.76)
23-29 REDS Iglesias, R (1-1, 5.11)
6:10 PM CT
29-24 PIRATES Morton (2-0, 1.93)
26-27 Braves Perez, W (1-0, 2.66)
6:35 PM CT
18-36 BREWERS Lohse (3-6, 6.50)
32-21 Twins Gibson (4-3, 2.61)
7:10 PM CT
36-18 CARDINALS Martinez, C (5-2, 3.13)
31-23 Dodgers Anderson, B (2-3, 3.42)
9:10 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

Cards Flip Script on Brewers

Trevor Rosenthal has a 0.71 ERA after last night's scoreless inning.

Trevor Rosenthal has a 0.71 ERA after last night’s scoreless inning.

A day after losing 1-0 to the Milwaukee Brewers, the St. Louis Cardinals returned the favor and won by the same score.

Trevor Rosenthal allowed a pair of hits in the 9th, picking up his 16th save. The game ended when Aramis Ramirez, at bat with the tying run at 3rd base and one out, grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. It’s hard to not watch that clip and think “Just about anybody else at bat there and it’s a fielder’s choice with the game being tied up”, but Rammy’s can’t move like he used to. (And he never moved to begin with.) A nice pivot by 2B Kolten Wong on the throw over from Matt Carpenter.

Lance Lynn went 7.2 innings in the shutout, allowing 5 hits and a walk while striking out 5. Lynn lowered his ERA to 3.03 this season and improved to 4-4.

25 year old starting pitcher Tyler Cravy made his MLB debut for the Brew Crew, going 7 innings and allowing 1 run on 4 hits and a pair of walks. He struck out 6.

Matt Holliday saw his run of consecutive games reaching base to start a season ended last night with the 5th best mark in MLB history. 45 games, if you lost count. The streak ended when “Country” Joe West gave Holliday the hook in the 7th inning after arguing a called third strike. The pitch looks pretty good to me. You decide for yourself, but Holliday told West “You’re strike zone’s been huge the whole night” and then kept going. And going. And going. West finally had enough and tossed him. No final chance to extend the streak.

Holliday’s post-game interview in the locker room seemed to indicate that he feels veteran players have a God-given right to continually question an umpire and show them up. West is, y’know, not anybody’s favorite. But Holliday really could’ve let up a little sooner there. One comment would have been enough and then you could have walked off. But his little tirade went on for some time.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * *

The Pittsburgh Pirates game against the San Francisco Giants had a similar feel to their meeting on Monday. The Giants jumped ahead early, the two teams went back and forth, then the Bucs jumped ahead for good in the middle innings. This time they came out 7-4 winners.

Andrew McCutchen continues to put that miserable April behind him. Last night he went 4-for-5 with a triple and a double, driving in a pair of runs. After the games of May 6th, his slash line was .189/.279/.292 with a .571 OPS and his team had just lost their 5th straight game. Since then, he has put up a line of .404/.481/.719 for an unworldly 1.201 OPS across 25 games in which the Pirates went 16-9.

Also removing himself from early-season awfulness is Josh Harrison, who had another multi-hit game last night and is now hitting .263 for the season. Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez and Jordy Mercer also had two hits a piece last night.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * *

Marcell Ozuna‘s base-clearing double in the bottom of the 5th inning led the Miami Marlins to a 5-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.

Kris Bryant – playing left field – went 0-for-4, grounding into a double play and striking out.

Starlin Castro, 25 year old and often maligned for his errors, made a few nice plays in the field and picked up his 900th career hit. Check out those plays here and here and his hit here.

The Cubs recalled Matt Szczur for another go-round at the MLB level. On a related note, RF Jorge Soler (twisted ankle) is expected to head to the DL. An official announcement should be coming sometime today.

Javier Baez (.325-7-26 at AAA) hit a pair of homers, going 4-for-5 last night for Iowa. He’s going 11-for-22 with 4 HR in his last 5 games.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * *

Despite Johnny Cueto‘s comeback, the Cincinnati Reds‘ three-game winning streak came to an end as they fell 5-4 at home against the Philadelphia Phillies.

The big right-hander went 6 innings, allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 5 hits and no walks.

Todd Frazier had a rough night, going 0-for-5 at the plate and committing a pair of errors in the field, one of which led to an unearned run charged against Cueto.

Marlon Byrd, among the division’s top home run hitters (see below), was hit by a pitch in the 6th inning and is out with a fractured wrist. He had nearly homered earlier in the game, but settled for a double off the top of the wall.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * *

The wonderful Dave Cameron at Fangraphs.com took time to dissect one of baseball’s most exciting pitchers, Pirates starter and former #1 draft pick, Gerrit Cole. Cameron’s article is on Cole’s ascendancy to true “ace” status, focusing on his improved numbers against lefties this year, and more particularly on his increased use of the slider – a pitch that is a beautiful thing to watch.

Read the full article over here.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

Home Runs
Todd Frazier (CIN) 16
Ryan Braun (MIL) 12
Marlon Byrd (CIN) 10
Starling Marte (PIT) 10
3-way tie 9
Strikeouts
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 79
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 75
Lance Lynn (STL) 72
Mike Fiers (MIL) 69
Jason Hammel (CHC) 69

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 34 18 W1
Chicago Cubs 27 23 6.0 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 28 24 6.0 W2
Cincinnati Reds 22 28 11.0 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 18 35 16.5 L1

* * *

Schedule

18-35 BREWERS Nelson (2-5, 3.90)
34-18 CARDINALS Lackey (3-3, 2.83)
12:45 PM CT
28-24 PIRATES Liriano, F (2-4, 3.47)
30-24 Giants Hudson, T (3-4, 4.62)
2:45 PM CT
22-28 REDS Leake (2-4, 4.66)
20-33 Phillies Hamels (5-4, 2.91)
6:05 PM CT
27-23 CUBS Lester (4-3, 3.30)
21-32 Marlins Haren (5-2, 3.03)
6:10 PM CT

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

Bucs Run Winning Streak To 7

Jung Ho Kang crushed a 3-run homer in the 1st inning of the Pittsburgh Pirates win last night.

Jung Ho Kang crushed a 3-run homer in the 1st inning of the Pittsburgh Pirates win last night.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have 2nd place in their sights now, moving a half game back of the Chicago Cubs after a 15-hit, 11-5 win over the San Diego Padres.

Starling Marte reached base three times and poked his 10th homer of the season, Andrew McCutchen had three hits with a pair of doubles, and Jung Ho Kang did this, crushing a three-run homer on a slider that didn’t slide and hung in the middle of the plate. Yow.

A.J. Burnett didn’t have his A game, allowing 5 runs (4 earned) and 10 base runners over just 5.2 innings of work, but he still improved to 5-1 on the year.

Ron Cook has a great profile on Pirates’ pitching coach Ray Searage over at the Post-Gazette. Read it over there.

* * *

Speaking of pitcher wins, if you haven’t been following Joe Posnanski‘s recent missives on that statistic, you should. It’s been good stuff. Here’s part 1, 2 and 3. I assume he’s reached his end, but Joe loves words, so I wouldn’t be surprised if more are coming today.

You’ll find Burnett atop the leader board for pitcher’s WAR down below. I had been doing RBI and Wins leaders on Fridays, but I just can’t excuse myself for doing that anymore. I’ll still give you some old school leaders (AVG and ERA) during the week, but I gotta’ mix some things in here a little. WAR isn’t a perfect statistic, of course, and sabermetricians will admit to that, but it’s still an interesting talking point and much more illuminating than RBI or W.

* * *

With the way Matt Adams was struggling, part of me can’t help but feel that his injury might actually lead to the St. Louis Cardinals improving, rather than scrambling to keep things together. You never root for a guy to get hurt, of course, but the team was likely going to commit to using him as their starting first baseman no matter how much he struggled this season. (Sure, there’s a point, like hitting .100 with no extra-base hits for two straight months.) This kind of forces their hand. Now the team has carte blanche for improving the position. Ideally the replacement comes from within the system, but I just don’t see any prospects who are going to do any better than a replacement level player. Let’s see what GM John Mozeliak has up his sleeve.

There are no indications that Matt Holliday would move from left fielder to first base.

* * *

There’s been some talk lately about what the Cubs should do about their prospects. Is it time to deal some of the bigger names in exchange for starting pitching that could really turn the team around? Is it time to call up Javier Baez to shore up problems with their defense up the middle? To the latter, I say perhaps. To the former, I say nay. The plan all along for the Cubs was that 2015 was going to be the year they started to content, but 2016 was kind of the first real push. You had to get a full season of play in the bank for guys like Kris Bryant and Addison Russell. Let them get their feet wet, then strike the free agent market for a big name (or two) this next off-season, and then go full throttle in ’16. Their good start is nice and all, but I think the team should stick to it’s initial vision. Status quo from here on out. Sure, you could net something huge for Dan Vogelbach, who is pretty well blocked from getting called up as long as Anthony Rizzo is putting up MVP numbers at first base. But you could also wait until this upcoming CBA and see whether or not the DH is coming to the National League in the next year or two as most people are predicting. If it is, Theo Epstein comes out clean, Vogelbach is your monster bat at DH, and nobody has to watch Jon Lester bat anymore.

* * *

Todd Rosiak has a nice feature story on Milwaukee Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress over at the Journal Sentinel. You Brewers’ fans should check it out over there.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

WAR (fielders)
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 2.5
Todd Frazier (CIN) 2.3
Kolten Wong (STL) 1.8
Matt Carpenter (STL) 1.8
Jhonny Peralta (STL) 1.6
WAR (pitchers)
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 2.2
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.9
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.7
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 1.4
2-way tie 1.2

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 31 16 W4
Chicago Cubs 25 21 5.5 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 25 22 6.0 W7
Cincinnati Reds 19 27 11.5 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 16 32 15.5 L5

* * *

Schedule

28-18 Royals Volquez (4-3, 2.77)
25-21 CUBS Arrieta (4-4, 2.95)
3:05 PM CT
28-19 Nationals Strasburg (3-5, 6.50)
19-27 REDS DeSclafani (2-4, 3.46)
6:10 PM CT
21-25 Diamondbacks De La Rosa, R (4-2, 4.27)
16-32 BREWERS Nelson (2-5, 3.67)
7:10 PM CT
28-18 Dodgers Bolsinger (3-0, 0.71)
31-16 CARDINALS Lackey (2-3, 3.18)
7:15 PM CT
25-22 PIRATES Liriano, F (2-4, 3.86)
23-26 Padres Shields (6-0, 3.75)
9:10 PM CT

Cardinals, Cubs Distancing Selves From Rest of Division

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

Wada, to his credit, seemed cool with it.

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

* * *

NL Central Leaders

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

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

* * *

Standings

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

* * *

Schedule

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