Tagged: Jonathan Lucroy

Cellar Dwellers Come Up Winners

Billy Hamilton had four stolen bases last night.

Billy Hamilton had four stolen bases last night.

The only action around the division last night involved the bottom two teams who, for the most part, appear to be out of the running as we head into the final day of June.

Let’s get this over with.

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds went up 9-1 after 3 innings, thanks to a 5-run 3rd. Of course, they coughed up 6 in the top of the 4th. Still, they held on for an 11-7 win over the Minnesota Twins.

Billy Hamilton stole four bases, scoring a run in each of the first three frames.

Catcher Tucker Barnhart had four hits with a pair of RBI while shortstop Eugenio Suarez had three hits and drove in three. Both players doubled.

Every player in the Cincy lineup had at least one hit.

The win snapped Cincy’s 3-game losing streak.

Mike Leake‘s value at the trade deadline took a hit (ahem) as he allowed nine safeties in 4 innings of work, watching his ERA climb to 4.38. It’s the 4th time this year that Leake has lasted 5 innings or fewer while allowing 5 runs or more.

Joey Votto went 1-for-3, but is still hitting just 3-for-24 in his last 6 games. He fell out of the division leader boards below.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers have been winning a few games as of late, taking 5 of their last 7. Last night they overcame a 4-1 deficit, scoring 6 unanswered runs to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-4.

Jonathan Lucroy went 4-for-5 with a pair of RBI for the Brew Crew. Ryan Braun was 3-for-5 with a double.

Aramis Ramirez‘s pinch-hit 2-RBI double to the wall in right-center put Milwaukee ahead 5-4 in the 6th inning.

All told, five Milwaukee batters had multi-hit games as the team pounded out 16 in total.

Gerardo Parra, by the way, crept into the division leader board below. He’s hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games. In that stretch, his batting average has climbed 18 points, batting 16-for-43 for a .372 batting average.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 51 24 W6
Pittsburgh Pirates 42 33 9.0 L1
Chicago Cubs 39 35 11.5 L5
Cincinnati Reds 35 40 16.0 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 30 48 22.5 W2

* * *

Schedule

30-48 BREWERS Jungmann (2-1, 2.74)
27-51 Phillies Hamels (5-6, 3.26)
6:05 PM CT
42-33 PIRATES Cole (11-3, 2.16)
39-36 Tigers Verlander (0-1, 6.17)
6:08 PM CT
39-35 CUBS Hendricks (2-4, 4.46)
40-37 Mets Niese (3-7, 4.12)
6:10 PM CT
40-36 Twins Hughes (6-6, 4.20)
35-40 REDS DeSclafani (5-5, 3.35)
6:10 PM CT
32-42 White Sox Sale (6-4, 3.02)
51-24 CARDINALS Lynn (5-4, 2.84)
7:15 PM CT

* * *

NL Central Leaders

AVG
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .304
Jhonny Peralta (STL) .303
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .294
Gerardo Parra (MIL) .294
Yadier Molina (STL) .293
ERA
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 2.01
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 2.16
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.77
Carlos Martinez (STL) 2.80
Lance Lynn (STL) 2.84
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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

Reds Snap 9-Game Skid

The Cincinnati Reds turned a few double plays and snapped their 9-game losing streak.

The Cincinnati Reds turned a few double plays and snapped their 9-game losing streak.

The 9-game losing streak ended for the Cincinnati Reds last night when Skip Schumaker‘s looper over third base landed just inside the foul line, rolling into the corner for a walk-off double.

Marlon Byrd started the 9th by drawing a walk, moving to 2nd on a sacrifice laid down by Kristopher Negron, then scored on Schumaker’s hit.

Michael Lorenzen went 7 strong innings for Cincy, giving up 1 run on just 2 hits and 3 walks. The rookie is sporting a 3.12 ERA this year.

In other developments, an MRI of Johnny Cueto‘s stiff elbow revealed nothing more than the “standard” inflammation you see in a pitcher. With days off on the schedule both Thursday and Monday, there’s a good chance they’ll just push Cueto’s next start back a week. He’s 3-4 with a 3.03 ERA (3.33 FIP) this season, striking out 8.3 per 9.

Dave Fleming at Bill James Online has a lengthy article on Billy Hamilton, focusing on the Reds’ decline that started when he was dropped from the leadoff spot. Read it over here.

* * *

On the other side of streaks, the Pittsburgh Pirates won their 5th in a row, beating the Miami Marlins 5-1.

Josh Harrison has certainly found his stride and he kept it again last night, with two more hits including a double. After May 10th, he was hitting .173 but has now hit .431 with 7 extra-base hits in the last 12 games.

Also hitting is Jung Ho Kang, who has an 8-game hitting streak (.406) going after picking up a pair of singles.

Jeff Locke (W 3-2) went 5.2 shutout innings for the win, striking out 6.

* * *

Another 1-run win and another walk-off win for the Chicago Cubs, who came back to beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 last night.

The Cubs lead the league in 1-run wins, doing it last night by tying it in the 8th inning on this ridiculous homer by Kris Bryant, Hector Rondon picking off Yunel Escobar on this pretty bad base-running play (by the way, he almost ran himself into an out earlier when he started to go from 2nd to 3rd after a stolen base even though Addison Russell was standing 5 feet away from him with the ball in his hand) and then finally ending it when Russell hit a ball over Denard Span in the bottom of the 9th.

It was a good capper for the 21-year old Russell, who had a 3-hit night to snap an 0-for-10 stretch.

Kyle Hendricks came off strong from the shutout in his prior start, going 7 innings and allowing 1 run.

That snapped a mini losing streak for the Cubs, who go back against the Nats for the rubber game tonight. And it’s a fun one – Jon Lester versus Max Scherzer.

* * *

Jaime Garcia got his first win of 2015 as the St. Louis Cardinals survived a rough start and beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-4.

Matt Adams, limping into 2nd base on a double in the 5th inning, left with a quad injury. A trip to the DL is expected with Mark Reynolds taking over as the regular first baseman.

Matt Belisle and Seth Maness combined for 3 shutout innings of relief work, the latter recording his 3rd save when he entered the game with 2 out and men on 2nd & 3rd. Regular closer Trevor Rosenthal had the night off, barring emergency, after tossing 2 innings Monday night.

Matt Holliday tied a franchise record by reaching base for the 42nd straight time to start the season. That equaled a mark set by Albert Pujols in 2008. Holliday is hitting .322 after picking up a pair of hits Tuesday.

To the friend who I suggested keep an eye on Marco Gonzales as a fantasy baseball sleeper, I truly apologize. The southpaw will be out most of June with a “shoulder impingement” injury. Gonzales was in talks to replace Adam Wainwright in the rotation, but couldn’t take the job because of a pectoral injury at AAA. Garcia, also injured, got better quicker and made a decent showing in the minors, earning his spot. Gonzales had struck out 7 across 6 innings of work in his most recent start.

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers were 6-3 losers at home against the San Francisco Giants.

Aramis Ramirez had a pair of hits and collected his 6th homer of the season.

Matt Garza (L 2-7) continued his nightmare season, escalating his ERA to 6.00 after allowing 5 runs in as many innings of work, surrendering 8 hits and walking 3 to go with 7 punch outs.

Jonathan Lucroy begins a 4-day minor league rehab assignment today and could be on the active roster when the Brew Crew starts a series against the Cards on Monday.

Also returning from the DL is shortstop Jean Segura (broken finger), who should return to action on Friday.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

Home Runs
Todd Frazier (CIN) 13
Ryan Braun (MIL) 12
Marlon Byrd (CIN) 10
3-way tie 9
Strikeouts
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 64
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 63
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 62
Lance Lynn (STL) 62
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 60

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 30 16 W3
Chicago Cubs 25 20 4.5 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 23 22 6.5 W5
Cincinnati Reds 19 26 10.5 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 16 31 14.5 L4

* * *

Schedule

18-26 Rockies Kendrick, K (1-6, 6.58)
19-26 REDS Leake (2-3, 4.14)
11:35 AM CT
18-29 Marlins Hand (0-1, 5.48)
23-22 PIRATES Cole, G (6-2, 2.05)
11:35 AM CT
27-20 Giants Vogelsong (3-2, 4.60)
16-31 BREWERS Fiera (1-4, 4.63)
12:40 PM CT
27-19 Nationals Scherzer (5-3, 1.67)
25-20 CUBS Lester (4-2, 3.56)
7:05 PM CT
21-24 Diamondbacks Collmenter (3-5, 5.19)
30-16 CARDINALS Lynn (3-4, 3.46)
7:15 PM CT

I Missed a Lot

Reds manager Bryan Price is starting to crack

Reds manager Bryan Price is starting to crack

I finished 2014 with a large surplus of vacation days accrued and, since I’m allowed to roll over only a certain number, I figured I’d plan a few “staycation” days ahead of time. Yesterday’s planned day off was supposed to include some bike riding to various local restaurants and museums. Instead it turned into a day that was about 25 degrees cooler than it should normally be and my wife and I had great coffee and watched snowflakes falling outside the store. Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but it was still a great day.

Back to baseball.

* * *

Looking around the division and seeing some story-lines that seem to be developing for each team.

The St. Louis Cardinals are as good as we expected. Their pitching staff has been nothing short of phenomenal, but the lineup has left something to be desired. It will be interesting to see if the hitters step their game up and if the pitching is for real.

The Chicago Cubs have started to parade out their young talent and have been a really fun team to watch. The lineup has been surprisingly effective, but Jon Lester has struggled in three starts as the high-priced ace.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, championed by many to win the division, are off to a really rough start. Like the Cards, bad hitting and amazing pitching, but they haven’t been able to get above .500 yet.

The Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers are as bad as expected, but for the Brew Crew it’s just one bit of awful after another. They lost star CF Carlos Gomez to a hamstring injury, C Jonathan Lucroy‘s fractured left toe will keep him out 4-to-6 weeks, and 2B Scooter Gennett just required stitches on after slicing open his hand while reaching for body wash. When it rains, it pours.

As for the Reds, manager Bryan Price (who has already made some really questionable decisions with his bullpen) went all Lee Elia on the media. And it was delightful.

* * *

Last night, the Cubs and Pirates went back and forth in a crazy game with numerous lead changes, ultimately ending with another bad outing by Pirates closer Mark Melancon (8.53 ERA) that led to an 9-8 win for Chicago.

Both teams got horrible work from their bullpens – each team allowed 5 ER in 4 IP of work from their relievers.

The Bucs took an 8-6 lead into the top of the 9th, but Melancon couldn’t hold it down. Anthony Rizzo singled, Jorge Soler doubled over Andrew McCutchen in center, Kris Bryant walked to load the bases, Starlin Castro tied it with a 2-RBI single and Bryant scored on Wellington Castillo‘s slow roller to second, putting Chicago ahead.

Three up, three down for Hector Rondon, who notched his 3rd save.

Castro also homered earlier in the game – it was his 2nd of the game.

New stud prospect Addison Russell went 0-for-5 with 3 K in his Cubs’ debut. Russell was the #2 ranked prospect in baseball per Baseball Prospectus, #3 by both Baseball America and Fangraphs and #5 by MLB.com.

Though he is a slick-fielding shortstop by nature, Russell will fill in at second base where the Cubs have been woeful. (He spent the last week playing 2B exclusively for AAA Iowa.) The Cubs would be clearly better served by swapping Castro and Russell at the middle infield positions, but for whatever reason will keep things as they are for the time being.

Castro has yet to play a game at second base in his MLB career, nor have I seen any news stories saying this is something they’re considering doing.

Javier Baez has not played a game in the minors in well over a week now, having taken bereavement leave following the death of his sister earlier this month.

Regardless of which position Castro plays, any talk involving a trade of him should be tabled. Since a bad 2013 season where the Cubs tried to turn him into a more selective hitter, he has been solid. He’s a 3-time All-Star, he’s only 25, he’s cost controlled, and he consistently puts up OPS+ numbers above 100. Those types of players don’t go on trees and, as Baez is an example of, there’s no such thing as can’t-miss prospects. Castro has proven himself to be a solid Major Leaguer and deserves to keep a spot in the lineup. Worst case is that he slides over to play second base next season.

* * *

In Washington, the Cardinals lost 2-1 in 10 innings.

Matt Carpenter had only one hit, but it did lead to a game-tying run in the 9th inning.

The Nats had a prime opportunity to win in the bottom of the 9th, loading the bases with 1 out, but Jordan Walden struck out Ian Desmond and got Jayson Werth on a fly out to Jon Jay in center.

Yunel Escobar ended the game with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th, ending the Cards’ 5 game winning streak.

Lance Lynn had another nice start done in by a lack of offense, as he went 6.1 innings, allowing 1 run with 7 strikeouts. He did have some control issues, however, walking 4 Nationals.

The Redbirds currently have three starting pitchers with sub-2.00 ERA and all five are under 3. John Lackey is the “worst” of the bunch with a 2.77 ERA, Carlos Martinez just outside the sub-2.00 group with a 2.08, while Michael Wacha (1.35), Lynn (1.56) and Adam Wainwright (1.71) are all making opponents look silly.

* * *

And finally, in Milwaukee, the Brewers’ pitchers allowed 13 hits, walked 6, and the fielding committed a pair of errors that led to 5 unearned runs.

Of course, when you allow 11 earned runs, what’s another 5?

The Reds were 16-10 winners in Milwaukee, as things continued to go downhill for the Brewers who have now lost 7 straight.

Since April 30th of last year – remember, this is four full months before they fell out of 1st place, but people seem to mis-remember that 2014 Milwaukee club has a good one – Milwaukee is 64-84 for a .432 winning percentage. They went 62-72 from April 30th onward last season.

Zack Cozart had a pair of homers for Cincinnati in the win that brought them back up to .500. Todd Frazier also went yard, hitting a grand slam. It was the 4th homer of the year for both Reds.

Elian Herrera homered, doubled and had 5 RBI for Milwaukee. Nice day for a kid that was drafted in 2003 and didn’t make it to the Bigs until 2012.

* * *

Schedule

8-5 CHICAGO Hammel (1-0, 5.11)
6-8 PITTSBURGH Worley (1-1, 5.84)
6:05 PM CT
8-4 ST. LOUIS Lackey (1-0, 2.77)
7-7 Washington Fister (1-0, 0.69)
6:05 PM CT
7-7 CINCINNATI Cueto (0-2, 2.14)
2-12 MILWAUKEE Nelson (1-1, 1.50)
7:10 PM CT

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 8 4 L1
Chicago Cubs 8 5 0.5 W2
Cincinnati Reds 7 7 2.0 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 6 8 3.0 L2
Milwaukee Brewers 2 12 7.0 L7