Tagged: Jhonny Peralta

All-Star Game Results

Andrew McCutchen hit a line drive over the left field wall for a solo homer in last night's All-Star Game.

Andrew McCutchen hit a line drive over the left field wall for a solo homer in last night’s All-Star Game.

The American League was a 6-3 winner over the National League in the All-Star Game.

Here are the lines for players from the NL Central:

Chicago Cubs
Kris Bryant: 0-for-1, BB
Anthony Rizzo: 0-for-2

Cincinnati Reds
Aroldis Chapman: 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 SO
Todd Frazier: 0-for-3

Milwaukee Brewers
Ryan Braun: 1-for-1, 3B, R
Francisco Rodriguez: 1 IP, 2 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 SO

Pittsburgh Pirates
Gerrit Cole: 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 1 BB, 1 SO
Andrew McCutchen: 1-for-3, HR, R, RBI, SO
Mark Melancon: 1 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 2 SO

St. Louis Cardinals
Yadier Molina: 1-for-1
Jhonny Peralta: 1-for-1, RBI, BB

Your highlights were McCutchen with a solo homer in the 6th inning and Chapman striking out the side in the 9th. The American League bench’s reaction to Chapman’s 103 mph fastball was pretty great.

Back to business on Thursday!

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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

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

Cards Slump Continues, Fall in 14 to Mets

Eric Campbell slid in ahead of the throw home as the New York Mets handed the St. Louis Cardinals a 14-inning loss.

Eric Campbell slid in ahead of the throw home as the New York Mets handed the St. Louis Cardinals a 14-inning loss.

For 8 innings, the St. Louis Cardinals were shut down by Matt Harvey and the New York Mets.

Harvey went 8 shutout innings, allowing 6 hits and a walk to go along with 9 strikeouts.

Thankfully for the Cards, John Lackey had done pretty well himself – 7 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 6 SO.

And so the door was left open for them to tie the game up in the top of the 9th.

With one out, Matt Adams singled and was replaced by pinch-runner Pete Kozma. The move paid off when Koz moved to third on Yadier Molina‘s base hit into right and then scored on Jason Heyward‘s sac fly to right, tying the game up.

From there it was all up to the bullpens.

In the bottom of the 9th, the Mets had Curtis Granderson on 2nd with one out – couldn’t score him.

In the top of the 11th, the Cardinals had Jhonny Peralta on 2nd with two out – couldn’t score him.

In the top of the 14th, the Cardinals had Heyward on 2nd with one out – couldn’t score him.

The game finally ended in the bottom of the 14th when the Cardinals’ Sam Tuivailala walked the first two men he faced, one of whom scored when pinch-hitter John Mayberry hit a walk-off, bases-loaded single off of Trevor Rosenthal.

With five infielders, Mayberry hit a ball to Peralta’s right from shortstop. Peralta dove to knock the ball down, recovered, and threw home but it was too late as Eric Campbell scored well ahead of the throw.

The two teams combined for 32 strikeouts in 27.1 innings of pitching, allowing 3 runs.

So are all the injuries catching up to the Cardinals? Or it just a matter of facing tougher teams as of late? They’ve now lost 6 of their last 9.

Randal Grichuk (5 strikeouts) and Matt Carpenter (3 strikeouts) were each 0-for-6.

Lackey, by the way, did not want to speak to the media post-game and appeared very upset about the one run he allowed – an RBI base hit by Lucas Duda to the left side of second base with the Cards playing three infielders on the right side and one of the left with Carpenter holding a runner on third.

There have been numerous studies that show that the data leading to more shifts has been largely successful, but when it fails (as it did in that particular at bat) it’s more magnified because of the peculiarity of the situation. I think this sort of thing will become increasingly normal, more acceptable and less cause for a hissy-fit from a pitcher like Lackey or the anti-shift tirade from the Pirates’ A.J. Burnett a couple of years ago. For every one time the shift burns you, there are a couple more times where it has saved you. It’s been working. Everybody relax.

* * *

I did a double take when I received my notification that the Milwaukee Brewers had beaten the Detroit Tigers, 3-2. How can this be?

Carlos Gomez went 2-for-5 with a homer (4th) in the first plate appearance of the game and RBI single to break a 2-2 tie in the top of the 7th.

Martin Maldonado snapped an 0-for-19 stretch.

Khris Davis was 0-for-4 and grounded into a double play.

* * *

The Chicago Cubs optioned lefty reliever Phil Coke, moved fellow lefty Travis Wood to the bullpen, and recalled a third lefty – Tsuyoshi Wada – to join the rotation.

In 16 appearances, Coke had a 6.30 ERA this season, allowing 17 of the 45 batters he faced to reach base for a 1.700 WHIP.

Wood is carrying a 5.45 ERA to go with a 1.263 WHIP in 8 appearances, including 7 starts.

The 34-year old Wada went 4-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 13 starts for the Cubs last season. While rehabbing from a groin injury, he went 1-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 6 starts.

The Cubs feel more confident with other left-handed relief options in Zac Rosscup (16 G, 1.02 WHIP) and James Russell (7 G, 1.25 WHIP).

In other Cubs news, their 3-headed catcher experiment officially ended just a few moments ago as Welington Castillo was traded to the Seattle Mariners for relief pitcher Yoervis Medina.

Castillo was expected to be the odd man out from the beginning and the Cubs had been seeking trade partners since Spring Training. When none were found, they opened the season with Castillo, Miguel Montero and David Ross. Castillo was hitting .163 in 43 AB this year, although he did seem to square up the ball pretty well on some of the outs that I saw.

In 12 appearances this season, the right-handed Medina had a horrid 1.500 WHIP. His ERA was just 3.00, but for relief pitchers (who can enter games mid-inning and therefore create artificially low ERAs), that WHIP is a real killer. 18 of 54 batters faced had reached base. The 26-year old has a career 9.2 K/9 in 141 relief appearances to go along with a 1.336 WHIP and 2.82 ERA.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

AVG
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .344
Matt Holliday (STL) .320
Matt Carpenter (STL) .314
Brandon Phillips (CIN) .310
Kolten Wong (STL) .304
ERA
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 1.38
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.06
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 2.40
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 2.77
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 2.93

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 25 13 L1
Chicago Cubs 21 16 3.5 L1
Cincinnati Reds 18 20 7.0 L3
Pittsburgh Pirates 18 20 7.0 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 14 25 11.5 W1

* * *

Schedule

21-17 Twins Nolasco (3-1, 6.38)
18-20 PIRATES Liriano, F (1-3, 2.96)
6:05 PM CT
14-25 BREWERS Nelson (1-4, 4.22)
23-16 Tigers Sanchez, An (3-4, 4.76)
6:08 PM CT
25-13 CARDINALS Wacha (5-0, 2.06)
23-16 Mets Niese (3-3, 2.49)
6:10 PM CT
18-20 REDS Cueto (3-3, 2.93)
24-14 Royals Ventura (2-3, 5.36)
7:10 PM CT
21-16 CUBS Hammel (3-1, 3.11)
19-20 Padres Shields (5-0, 3.91)
9:10 PM CT

Cards Shut Down by Kluber, Indians

We usually use a player from the NL Central as our featured image, but DAMN! Can't ignore last night's performance by Cleveland Indians' starting pitcher Corey Kluber.

We usually use a player from the NL Central as our featured image, but DAMN! Can’t ignore last night’s performance by Cleveland Indians’ starting pitcher Corey Kluber.

Corey Kluber did this to the St. Louis Cardinals last night, erasing his 0-5 start to the season: 8 shutout innings with 1 hit allowed, no walks and 18 strikeouts.

18!!!

Kluber, the defending AL Cy Young winner, joined Bob Feller as the only Cleveland pitchers to strike out 18 men in a game. That’s good company.

John Lackey (L 2-2) allowed 2 runs in 5.1 innings, which seems like a small miracle considering he allowed 5 hits and walked 5 as well. The Indians went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Jhonny Peralta had the sole Cardinal hit – a single with two out in the 7th.

Mark Reynolds and Peter Bourjos each struck out in all three plate appearances.

Dominant stuff.

Matt Holliday took a 94-mph Kluber fastball to the left elbow in the 1st inning and had to be pulled from the game. A scan revealed a “deep contusion” and he’ll likely be out at least a few days. With Jon Jay already nursing an injury (left thumb bruise) and Randal Grichuk‘s back injury keeping him off the team, the Cards’ outfield situation is pretty grim right now.

* * *

A walk-off walk for Chris Coghlan and the Comeback Cubs as they take their 3rd straight game against the visiting New York Mets.

Jason Hammel held his own against Matt Harvey, leaving the Chicago Cubs trailing 1-0 headed into the bottom of the 8th. Addison Russell singled with one out, moved to second on a wild pitch, then scored on a base hit by Dexter Fowler to tie it up.

In the bottom of the 9th, Anthony Rizzo led off with a hard single into right. Starlin Castro roped one through the left side for another hit, moving pinch-runner Matt Szczur to 3rd. After Miguel Montero was intentionally walked, reliever Jeurys Familia entered the game. He struck out Jorge Soler, who swung at some pitches that he really shouldn’t have. But then Coghlan stepped up with the bases loaded and left the bat on his shoulders on a 3-1 pitch that wasn’t close.

Hammel went 8 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits and a walk, striking out 6. Check him out on the division’s WHIP leader boards below.

A rough night for Soler, who couldn’t possibly look more miserable about playing in weather below 50 degrees. The entire field will be full of guys in short sleeves and there’s Soler with a parka on. He might have signed up for the wrong team. His plate appearances tonight: 4-6-3 double play, strike out, 4-6-3 double play, strike out with the bases loaded.

* * *

Jeff Francoeur can still throw the ball and his arm helped save the Philadelphia Phillies in a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Jordy Mercer‘s fly ball into right field was caught in foul territory by Francouer for the 2nd out. Steve Lombardozzi then attempted to tag up from 3rd but was thrown out at the plate by a good 5 feet, giving Francouer his 123rd career outfield assist. That’s 3rd best among active outfielders behind only Carlos Beltran (135) and Torii Hunter (125). For reference, the career leader is “The Grey Eagle”, Tris Speaker, who had 449.

Cole Hamels was impressive against Pittsburgh, going 7 innings for the win while allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and a walk, striking out 9.

Andrew McCutchen is still only hitting .231 this season, but he had a 2-RBI single last night and is hitting .293 with 6 extra-base hits in his last 14 games.

Sean Rodriguez, who my wife finds exceptionally handsome for a hirsute man, struck out twice and also grounded into a double play.

The loss ended the Bucs’ four-game winning streak.

Some exciting news for Pirates prospects as the #2 pick of the 2010 draft, starting pitcher Jameson Taillon, is slated to throw his first inning of work since undergoing Tommy John surgery last April.

Also recovering is Charlie Morton, scheduled to start in the minor today in his rehab from hip surgery. Morton is among the front-runners to replace Vance Worley in the bullpen.

* * *

Raul Iglesias made his second career start an impressive win, firing 5+ innings of no-hit ball to lead the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-1 win over the Atlanta Braves.

Iglesias finished with 8 innings of work, allowing 1 run on 2 hits and 3 walks, striking out 5.

Zack Cozart returned to the Cincy lineup and had a double and sac fly. He also made this pretty sweet play in the field. The shortstop is hitting .321 this season.

On the other side of the middle infielders, Kristopher Negron is hitting just .111 after an 0-for-2 day – he filled in for Brandon Phillips and his injured toe at second.

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers tried to come back but couldn’t overcome the 3 runs they allowed in the 1st inning, falling to the Chicago White Sox 4-2.

The Journal Sentinel has a nice short article on Elian Herrera. Herrera signed as an amateur free agent in 2003 and didn’t see action in the big leagues until 2012 when he was already 27 years old. Read the full article here.

Herrera has been filling in at third base while Aramis Ramirez sits out with back problems. Rami, who has missed the last six games, is expected to return to the lineup Friday.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

OBP
Matt Holliday (STL) .466
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .463
Kris Bryant (CHC) .411
Joey Votto (CIN) .408
Matt Carpenter (STL) .391
WHIP
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.877
Mike Leake (CIN) 0.966
Jason Hammel (CHC) 0.993
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 1.007
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.034

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 23 10 L1
Chicago Cubs 18 15 5.0 W3
Cincinnati Reds 17 17 6.5 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 17 17 6.5 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 12 23 12.0 L2

* * *

Schedule

23-10 CARDINALS Wacha (5-0, 2.09)
12-20 Indians Bauer (2-1, 4.19)
11:10 AM CT
17-17 PIRATES Worley (2-2, 4.63)
12-23 Phillies Harang (3-3, 2.38)
12:05 PM CT
20-14 Mets Niese (3-2, 1.95)
18-15 CUBS Wood, T (2-2, 4.96)
1:20 PM CT
17-17 Giants Lincecum (3-2, 2.00)
17-17 REDS Cueto (3-3, 2.98)
6:10 PM CT