Tagged: Jon Jay

Top Three Winners Again

Kris Bryant hit another walk-off for the Cubs in a 2-1 win yesterday.

Kris Bryant hit another walk-off for the Cubs in a 2-1 win yesterday.

Well, this is starting to become quite routine, isn’t it?

I guess it shouldn’t surprise us, given that the top 3 in the division make up 3 of the top 4 teams in all of Major League Baseball, but still. Sometimes it seems ridiculous, but yet again we have The Big Three all coming out winners yesterday.

You start to wonder if the only time these teams lose is when they play each other.

Tell you what, let’s just throw the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs into the playoffs by themselves.

They can each play a 3-game home series against each other, making up a 12-game schedule. Whoever finishes with the best record advances to the World Series. We cool with that?

Sorry, I realize there’s no definite way any of these three teams even makes the National League Championship Series, let alone wins it.

The playoffs are such a crap-shoot. This is why you’ll hear folks who are a bit longer in the tooth complain about the de-valuing of the 162-game regular season that comes about by introducing more teams into the postseason.

Also, the fact that I just used the phrase “long in the tooth” should tell you something about my own age and feelings on the matter.

But I digress.

What I’m really trying to say is that it would be immeasurably fun to watch these three teams go at it, head-to-head, in the playoffs.

What we may very well end up with instead is one of them being eliminated immediately in a best-of-1 Wild Card game. And then the two survivors could get swept in a best-of-5 National League Divisional Series because, hey, it’s three games. That’s a small sample size. Even the 1927 New York Yankees had a pair of 3-game losing streaks. It happens.

I just don’t want this season to end, that’s all.

RESULTS!

* * * * * * * * *

The Cardinals scored 3 in the 7th to snap a 2-2 tie, ending the Arizona Diamondbacks winning streak with a 5-3 victory.

Tommy Pham inside-outed a single through the right side with men on the corners to put the Cards ahead. Yadier Molina brought two more home with a base hit into right and the Cards didn’t look back.

Trevor Rosenthal picked up his 39th save while Lance Lynn improved to 10-8 on the season.

Lynn got some help on defense, turning 4 double plays to help limit the damage that could have been done by Arizona.

Injured first baseman Matt Adams (remember him?) is possible to return from the disabled list next week. He wasn’t exactly tearing it up when he was healthy (.243/.281/.375), so it will be interesting to see how the Cardinals handle his return, particularly when rosters are going to be expanding to 40-man soon anyhow. Then there’s still Matt Holiday, Randal Grichuk, Jordan Walden, Jon Jay

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

Jon Lester pitched brilliantly for 8.2 innings, only to be undone by his inability to field a ground ball as the Cleveland Indians tied up the Cubs 1-1 in the top of the 9th.

No matter.

Kris Bryant stepped up and hit the walk-off to right with two out in the bottom of the 9th. It was the highly-touted rookie’s 20th long ball of the season.

Also, props to Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo who seems to make a highlight-reel fielding play every week. Yesterday afternoon, with a man on 1st, he sprinted in on a bunt in front of the plate down the first base line. Seeing the ball was going to roll foul, he slid along the line, stopping it from rolling foul so that he could scoop it up in fair territory and start a 3-6-4 double play. Amazing.

At the plate, Rizzo also had an RBI triple.

The Cubs also got some pretty slick fielding up the middle on other double plays, with Starlin Castro getting a start at short.

Chicago put right fielder Jorge Soler on the DL.  He’s expected back before the playoffs start, should the Cubs get there.  Soler has hit .265 with 7 HR and 42 RBI, striking out 111 times in 378 plate appearances.  It’s been a disappointing season, though he’s shown signs at times of snapping out of it.

It’s go time for the Cubs now, with a chance to really put some distance between themselves and the San Francisco Giants – they start a 3-game series in ‘Frisco this evening.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

The Pirates beat the Miami Marlins 5-2 with J.A. Happ putting up another strong outing since coming over at the trade deadline.

Happ (W 6-7) went 6 shutout innings, allowing 4 hits and a walk while striking out 6.

Gregory Polanco had a four-hit game, including a pair of doubles.

Mark Melancon notched his 40th save with a perfect 9th.

Things got a bit tense with Miami pitchers coming up and in on Pirate batters no fewer than 6 times. An ejection was eventually made with no apparent retaliation on the part of Pittsburgh’s pitchers. Just win, I guess.

It’s hard to know where to start when looking at the Pirates recent trends. They’ve won 6 of 7, 10 of 12, 14 of 18… Anyway you look at it over the past month or so, they’ve been hot.

Injured starting pitcher A.J. Burnett was scheduled to throw off a mound in a bullpen session yesterday in hopes of returning to the rotation.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

The Cincinnati Reds snapped a 9-game losing streak and are back in a virtual tie with the idle Milwaukee Brewers for last place in the division.

* * * * * * * * *

Some Leaderboard trends for you today.

Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli is up there now for the division batting title. Not so much that he’s been suddenly hitting the tar out of the ball. More that he’s playing so regularly that he now qualifies for the batting title. He has 382 plate appearances, exactly one more than he currently needs to qualify.

Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is on a 9-game hitting streak during which he’s hitting .375 with 6 extra-base hits.

And in his last 7 games, Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen has had five 2-hit games. He’s batting .357 over that time frame with 3 extra-base hits.

Those guys have been hot enough to push Rizzo, Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward and Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips down in the leader board, but all three have actually hit well over the past week.

In his last two starts (small sample size alert!), Cardinals starting pitcher Carlos Martinez has a 5.56 ERA, allowing 14 hits in 11.1 innings of work. Martinez is at 148.2 innings this season, quite a bit more than last year’s mark of 112. Could he be starting to fray at the edges a bit? Something to keep an eye on during this stretch run, for sure.

* * * * * * * * *

Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 79 45 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 75 48 3.5 W3
Chicago Cubs 72 51 6.5 W5
Milwaukee Brewers 53 72 26.5 L2
Cincinnati Reds 52 71 26.5 W1

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 75 48 +3.0
Chicago Cubs 72 51
San Francisco Giants 66 58 6.5
Washington Nationals 62 61 10.0
Arizona Diamondbacks 62 62 10.5

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

67-56 Dodgers Wood (8-8, 3.79)
52-71 REDS Lamb (0-1, 6.35)
6:10 PM CT
53-72 BREWERS Peralta (4-7, 4.48)
58-66 Indians Tomlin (1-1, 2.03)
6:10 PM CT
75-48 PIRATES Morton (8-4, 4.06)
50-75 Marlins Hand (3-3, 4.46)
6:10 PM CT
79-45 CARDINALS Garcia (5-4, 1.79)
62-62 Diamondbacks Ray (3-9, 3.38)
9:10 PM CT
72-51 CUBS Arrieta (15-6, 2.30)
66-58 Giants Cain (2-3, 5.66)
9:15 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

AVG
Joey Votto (CIN) .309
Francisco Cervelli (PIT) .303
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .297
Starling Marte (PIT) .292
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .291
ERA
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 2.30
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 2.49
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 2.62
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.80
Carlos Martinez (STL) 2.85
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Cards Lose Grichuk, Win Game

Brandons : Crawford of the Giants makes a bad decision as Moss slides into second

Brandons : Crawford of the Giants makes a bad decision as Moss slides into second

As first reported yesterday, the St. Louis Cardinals did end up placing rookie center fielder Randal Grichuk on the 15-day disabled list.

Grichuk, leading the team with a 141 OPS+ while batting .284 with 43 extra-base hits in 85 games, was diagnosed with a “low-grade sprained ligament in the (throwing) elbow” as well as a “low-grade muscle strain”.

Jason Heyward was moved from right to center field with Brandon Moss and Stephen Piscotty getting the starts at the corner outfield positions last evening.

But Heyward, too, was injured, leaving the game with a hamstring injury in the 3rd inning.

If he’s out for considerable time, that could mean Peter Bourjos and Tommy Pham splitting time in center.

It’s a patchwork situation for now, though Grichuk, LF Matt Holliday, 1B Matt Adams and OF Jon Jay are all possibilities to return from the DL by mid-September.

So don’t panic yet, Cardinals fans.

Oh, also, you just gained a game on the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Baseball Prospectus has the Red Birds at 99.7% locks to make the playoffs with an 80.4% chance to win the Central. Those are good odds.

* * * * * * * * *

Piscotty tripled and scored in the 8th inning last night, breaking a tie to give the Cardinals a 2-1 win over the San Francisco Giants.

With one out and Piscotty on 3rd base, the Giants elected to give Moss a free pass, setting up the inning-ending double play.

They appeared to have gotten just that when the slow-footed Mark Reynolds hit a grounder to shortstop Brandon Crawford.

Though the second baseman was there waiting for the flip to start a 6-4-3 DP, Crawford instead motioned as though he would flip the ball, pulled his arm back, ran to second for the force, pirouetted around to throw to first, and had his throw go wide of first and allowing Piscotty to score.

Trevor Rosenthal notched his 37th save of the year, ending the game by retiring pinch-hitter Buster Posey on a long fly out to Bourjos at the wall in right-center.

Michael Wacha took the ND, but went 7 innings and allowed just 1 run on 6 hits and a walk, striking out 6.

Heyward, by the way, is hitting .333 in his last 29 games.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

The Pirates were 4-1 losers at home to the Arizona Diamondbacks as Gerrit Cole continued to struggle in the second half, ending Pittsburgh’s 4-game winning streak.

Cole went 6.2 innings, allowing 4 runs on 9 hits and a walk, striking out 5. He fell to 14-7 with the loss.

He has yet to post a Game Score above 54 in his 4 August starts, posting a 4.70 ERA while allowing 27 hits in 23 innings.

Cole threw 160.1 innings last season between AAA and the Majors. He’s at 155.1 this season and keeps appearing as though he could really use a breather.

With the Bucs in the midst of a playoff race and with A.J. Burnett currently unavailable, it’s hard to see how they can squeeze that in, but Cole certainly seems off right now.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs has pitched 11 straight games with a Game Score north of 50, going at least 6 innings in each start.

Your division leader in ERA has posted a 9-2, 1.35 mark across that time span, allowing just 46 hits in 80 innings of work.

* * * * * * * * *

Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds has a modest 6-game hitting streak and is batting .403 across his last 24 games.

* * * * * * * * *

Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 76 42 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 69 47 6.0 L1
Chicago Cubs 67 49 8.0 L1
Cincinnati Reds 51 65 24.0 L3
Milwaukee Brewers 51 69 26.0 L1

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 69 47 +2.0
Chicago Cubs 67 49
San Francisco Giants 64 54 4.0

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

58-59 Diamondbacks Anderson (5-5, 4.31)
69-47 PIRATES Liriano (8-6, 3.19)
6:05 PM CT
71-46 Royals Volquez (11-7, 3.27)
51-65 REDS Iglesias (3-4, 4.70)
6:10 PM CT
56-61 Tigers Sanchez (10-10, 4.95)
67-49 CUBS Hammel (6-5, 3.10)
7:05 PM CT
48-70 Marlins Conley (1-0, 5.00)
51-69 BREWERS Cravy (0-4, 5.92)
7:10 PM CT
64-54 Giants Vogelsong (8-8, 4.15)
76-42 CARDINALS Lynn (9-7, 2.95)
7:15 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

AVG
Joey Votto (CIN) .310
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .296
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .292
Jason Heyward (STL) .287
Brandon Phillips (CIN) .285
ERA
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 2.39
Carlos Martinez (STL) 2.59
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 2.61
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.85
John Lackey (STL) 2.87

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

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

Grichuk, Cards Rebound

Randal Grichuk shook off Monday's performance and led the Cardinals Tuesday evening.

Randal Grichuk shook off Monday’s performance and led the Cardinals Tuesday evening.

Randal Grichuk shook off his 0-for-6, 5 strikeouts performance in a 14-inning loss to the New York Mets on Monday and followed through with a 3-hit, 3-RBI game Tuesday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals pounded the Mets, 10-2, behind Grichuk (3B, 2 2B) and Mark Reynolds (3-for-5, HR).

Michael Wacha won again, improving to 6-0 after going 7 innings and allowing 2 runs and 4 hits and a pair of walks. Wacha struck out 5.

The Redbirds blew the game open in the top of the 6th inning, improving on a 4-2 lead by sending 10 men to the plate in a 6-run outburst.

In other news, OF Jon Jay is on target to return from the DL on May 26th. Jay has been out with thumb and wrist injuries.

* * *

The Chicago Cubs couldn’t hold on to a 2-0 lead and let the San Diego Padres come back for a 4-3 win.

Actually, the Cubs’ fielders couldn’t hold on to anything either.

After having had a pretty nice run of error-free games – eight, to be exact – the Baby Bears committed three of them last night and that led to three unearned runs.

In the bottom of the 5th, Justin Upton led off by reaching on a throwing error by 3B Kris Bryant that sailed high over 1B Anthony Rizzo‘s head. He later scored.

In the bottom of the 6th, Matt Kemp also led off by reaching on an error, this time on a grounder that ate up SS Starlin Castro. A 2-out RBI single by Will Venable tied the game by bringing home another unearned run.

And in the bottom of the 8th, with the score tied 2-2, Clint Barmes – yes, this happened three times – led off and reached base on an error. This one was a dropped pop up in shallow center field by 2B Addison Russell. Both Barmes and Cory Spangenberg scored on a 2-RBI double off the bat of Derek Norris. That lead run – unearned.

Jason Hammel had a nice start for the Cubs, going 7 innings and allowing no earned runs on 3 hits and no walks to go along with 8 strikeouts. We’ve been seeing his name pop up on the NL Central Leaderboards under WHIP and ERA, which fell to 2.70 after this start. The Cubs did well to bring him back.

There’s been some talk of Chris Coghlan‘s roster security, but he had a 2-homer night for the Cubs. (He also struck out twice.) Coghlan, who is hitting .205 this year, said he isn’t worried. The former NL Rookie of the Year actually had a pretty decent season for the Cubs last year and there’s still some time to turn things around as we head towards the end of the end of May.

Aside from the costly error, Castro had a rough night at the plate, going 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts.

In light of this Cubs/Padres series, Carlos Portocarrero at Sports on Earth took a look at how the Rizzo-for-Andrew Cashner trade. Read the article here.

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds managed just 4 hits in a 3-0 shutout at the hands of Yordano Ventura (7 IP, 6 SO) and the Kansas City Royals.

It was the 4th straight loss for the Redlegs.

Future trade-bait, Johnny Cueto, fell to 3-4 on the year despite a 3.03 ERA. He continues to get miserable run support when he’s on the mound, further pointing out the ludicrous nature of the Win-Loss statistic for pitchers. You can throw phenomenally, but if you’re team can’t hit a lick, you get hung with the “L”.

* * *

The Minnesota Twins scored 6 in the 2nd inning en route to an 8-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Although this highlight of Pedro Alvarez hitting a ball into a boat on the Allegheny River is pretty damned awesome.

Francisco Liriano went just 2 innings for Pittsburgh, watching his ERA climb from 2.96 to 4.15 in 2015.

Both Gregory Polanco (2 SO) and Andrew McCutchen (1 SO) went 0-for-5 at the plate for the Bucs. I die a little inside every time I point out another bad game for McCutchen.

Pittsburgh has lost 5 of their last 6 games.

On a bright note, Josh Harrison has been heating up. In the last 7 games, he’s hitting .517 with 6 extra-base hits.

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers unpredictably went up 2-0 on the Detroit Tigers in this series with a dominant 8-1 win on the road.

6 continued to be the magic number of the day as the Brew Crew put up a 6-spot of their own in the top of the 3rd inning. The highlight came with 2 outs in the inning when Ryan Braun (9th), Adam Lind (7th) and Aramis Ramirez (5th) hit homers on three consecutive at bats.

Braun also doubled in a 4-RBI night.

Jimmy Nelson (W 2-4) went 8 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and 4 walks. His ERA dropped to 3.73 for the season.

Martin Maldonado went back to being a blight in the lineup, going 0-for-4 and committing an error. He’s putting up a slash line of .154/.204/.220, which is not too far removed from his .215/.279/.339 career slash line. He’s 1-for-25 in his last 7 games.

I get that catchers offer value in ways other than their performance at the plate, but the Brewers have to be dying for Jonathan Lucroy to get back from the DL.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

Home Runs
Todd Frazier (CIN) 12
Ryan Braun (MIL) 9
Marlon Byrd (CIN) 8
Starling Marte (PIT) 8
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 8
Strikeouts
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 60
Lance Lynn (STL) 58
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 55
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 53
2-way tie 52

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 26 13 W1
Chicago Cubs 21 17 4.5 L2
Cincinnati Reds 18 21 8.0 L4
Pittsburgh Pirates 18 21 8.0 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 15 25 11.5 W2

* * *

Schedule

22-17 Twins Pelfrey (3-1, 3.23)
18-21 PIRATES Locke (2-2, 5.40)
6:05 PM CT
15-25 BREWERS Lohse (3-4, 5.85)
23-17 Tigers Greene (4-2, 4.21)
6:08 PM CT
26-13 CARDINALS Martinez, C (3-2, 4.73)
23-17 Mets Colon, B (6-2, 3.86)
6:10 PM CT
18-21 REDS Marquis (3-3, 6.63)
25-14 Royals Guthrie (3-2, 5.44)
7:10 PM CT
21-17 CUBS Wada (NR)
20-20 Padres Ross, T (2-3, 3.94)
9:10 PM CT

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