Tagged: Johnny Cueto

2015 Trade Deadline

Carlos Gomez finally got out of Milwaukee.

Carlos Gomez finally got out of Milwaukee.

Yesterday we saw the Milwaukee Brewers get a deal done for Carlos Gomez, finally shipping one of their few assets for future prospects, hauling in a couple of nice pieces from the Houston Astros.

We’re heading towards the trade deadline later this afternoon – one of the more exciting times of the year for fans of Major League Baseball.

Let’s play a little catch up on what’s happened in the last week!

St. Louis Cardinals
Traded for RF/1B Brandon Moss with the Cleveland Indians.
Traded for RP Steve Cishek with the Miami Marlins, sending #88 prospect LHP Rob Kaminsky.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Traded for 3B Aramis Ramirez with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Purchased P Joe Blanton from the Kansas City Royals.
Traded for RP Joakim Soria with the Detroit Tigers.

Chicago Cubs
No moves

Cincinnati Reds
Traded SP Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals for LHP Brandon Finnegan.
Traded SP Mike Leake to the San Francisco Giants.

Milwaukee Brewers
Traded CF Carlos Gomez and SP Mike Fiers to the Houston Astros for #39 prospect OF Brett Phillips and #88 prospect OF Domingo Santana.

Other players were involved in some of these deals, but I’ve only noted them if they are either current/former Major Leaguers or among MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects.

The Brewers, for example, received four prospects from the ‘stros, but those two mentioned were the big haul.

The Reds’ Leake was dealt for the #1 prospect in the Giants’ system, but he wasn’t currently considered a Top 100 prospect in all of baseball, so I skipped mention of him as well.

And, of course, it’s interesting that (so far) the Cubs have chosen to stand pat, although there have been plenty of rumors involving them over the last couple of days.

Let’s see what happens these last few hours.  Should be interesting.

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Cubs Sweep Twin-Bill Against Cards

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

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

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

Not hugely different, maybe. Just different.

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

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

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

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

* * * * * * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cubs have won 7 of their last 9 games.

Game Highlights (MLB.com) – Game 1

Game Highlights (MLB.com) – Game 2

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

* * * * * * * * *

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

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

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

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

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * * * * * * * *

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

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

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

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

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * * * * * * * *

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

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

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

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * * * * * * * *

Standings

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

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

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

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

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

Cards Lose; Everybody Else Wins?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game Highlights from MLB.com

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

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

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

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

* * * *

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

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

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

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * * *

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

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

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

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

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

Game Highlights from MLB.com

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

* * * *

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

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

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

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

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

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * * *

It must be nice playing the Philadelphia Phillies.

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

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

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * * *

Standings

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

* * *

Schedule

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

* * *

NL Central Leaders

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

Cards 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

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

Lester no match for Scherzer

Jon Lester made history at the plate. (It wasn't good history.)

Jon Lester made history at the plate. (It wasn’t good history.)

The Jon Lester / Max Scherzer showdown ended with a 3-0 win for the Washington Nationals, taking the rubber game against the Chicago Cubs.

It was yet another high-strikeout game for the Cubs, who fanned 13 times in Scherzer’s 7 shutout innings of work.

For his part, Lester did well, going 7 innings and allowing 2 runs (1 earned), striking out 10.

At the plate, Lester made history by going 0-for-2. Lester sett n MLB record for most consecutive at bats to start a career without a hit (59), breaking former San Diego Padre Joey Hamilton‘s record. He’s now tied with Hamilton for most consecutive plate appearances to start a career without a hit (66).

Starlin Castro had a multi-hit game, but also had a multi-error day in the field. That gives him five errors in his last nine games.

That’s back-to-back series losses for the Cubs now and things don’t get any easier – the Kansas City Royals are up next.

* * *

The Miami Marlins couldn’t hold down the lead, surrendering a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 7th as they lost 5-2 to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Bucs sent 10 men to the plate, doing it in strange fashion as they started the inning with consecutive outs and nobody on base. Four singles, two walks, and another single followed and they suddenly found themselves with a 3-run lead that held up. Neil Walker had the unfortunate discussion of hitting into both the first and last outs of the inning.

Gerrit Cole improved to 7-2 on the year, allowing a pair of runs in 7 innings of work while also fanning 7.

Andrew McCutchen (.262) and Sean Rodriguez (.281) each had a pair of hits for the Pirates, who won their 6th straight.

Before this comeback win, Pittsburgh was 0-15 when trailing after 6 innings.

* * *

The St. Louis Cardinals came from behind to sweep the Arizona Diamondbacks with a 4-3 win Wednesday night.

Trailing 3-2, Jason Heyward led off the bottom of the 9th with a solo homer to tie it up.

With one out and the bases loaded, Jhonny Peralta grounded into what looked to be a potential 5-2-3 double play, sending the game into extra innings. Third baseman Yasmany Tomas made a clean grab of the grounder, coming home to force Peter Bourjos out at the plate. But catcher Jordan Pacheco‘s throw down to 1st base sailed well over the head of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, into right field for an error that allowed Matt Carpenter to score. Game over.

Matt Holliday made history in the game, reaching base for the 43rd straight game. Doing so in every game of the 2015 season thus far broke Albert Pujols’ National League record, set in 2008. There are five names ahead of him, but all did it in the American League. Next up? 44 – Harry Heilmann (1923 Tigers), 47 – Alvis Davis (1984 Mariners), 48 – Mark McGwire (1996 Athletics), 52 – Frank Thomas (1996 White Sox), 53 – Derek Jeter (1999 Yankees).

Holliday has a .433 on-base percentage this season, second only to the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo in the division.

On the injury front, Matt Adams‘ torn right quad could mean the end of his season. The expected recovery time is 3-4 months. In his place, Mark Reynolds will become the full-time first baseman. There’s some talk of calling up Xavier Scruggs to replace him, with Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch pointing out Scruggs’ power numbers and good batting average against lefties. Here’s the problem – 21 HR at AAA is nice, but what does that translate to over a full season in the MLB? 15? Maybe? And hitting lefties is something Reynolds already can do for you. You need a first baseman who can hit righties, the handedness of pitcher you will face 60% of the time. So now we’ll keep an eye on what deal the Cards can pull off both to bolster their rotation and first base.

CF Jon Jay could be returning for this weekend’s series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds couldn’t get a winning streak going one day after breaking a 9-game losing run, falling 6-4 at home to the Colorado Rockies.

Starting pitcher Mike Leake (L 2-4) was atrocious, allowing 6 runs in 5 innings of work and putting the team in a 5-1 hole after 2 innings.

Todd Frazier connected for his 14th home run of the year and Billy Hamilton stole his 18th base.

Reds manager Bryan Price held a closed-door meeting with the team following the loss. Things are bad in the Queen City.

The Reds are considering Johnny Cueto as Sunday’s starting pitcher.

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers lost 3-1 to the San Francisco Giants.

Khris Davis had a pair of triples for Milwaukee.

Mike Fiers fell to 1-5, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits across 5 innings of work, starting on short rest.

Adam Lind, who had a monster April, is now mired in a 2-for-24 stretch. His 6th inning single broke up a run of 16 straight ABs without a hit.

That’s five straight losses now for the Brew Crew, who fell 15.5 games back. And we still have a few days left in May.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .439
Matt Holliday (STL) .433
Kris Bryant (CHC) .393
Matt Carpenter (STL) .389
2-way tie .373
WHIP
Jason Hammel (CHC) 0.912
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.964
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.040
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 1.086
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.094

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 31 16 W4
Chicago Cubs 25 21 5.5 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 24 22 6.5 W6
Cincinnati Reds 19 27 11.5 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 16 32 15.5 L5

* * *

Schedule

24-22 PIRATES Burnett (4-1, 1.37)
23-25 Padres Kennedy (2-4, 6.11)
9:10 PM CT