Tagged: Lance Lynn

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!

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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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Pirates Gain Some Ground Despite Fielding Gaffes

Pedro Florimon's 2nd hit of the season was a big one.

Pedro Florimon’s 2nd hit of the season was a big one.

The Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks went 15 innings last night with the Bucs finally coming out winners.

The Pirates took an 8-3 lead into the 8th inning, only to allow ‘Zona to tie the game up and send it to extras.

Francisco Liriano went 7 innings, allowing 5 runs. He allowed the first two men to reach base in the 8th before turning the game over to the pen.

Mark Melancon entered the 9th with a 2-run lead going for the save, but errors at the corner infield positions (3B Jung Ho Kang and 1B Sean Rodriguez) led to a pair of unearned runs and the tie ballgame.

Pedro Florimon‘s two-out triple in the bottom of the 15th scored Francisco Cervelli to give the Pirates a game gained on the Cardinals in the division. Floimon had entered the game as a pinch-runner in the 8th. It was just his 2nd hit of the season.

Though he has excelled in other metrics, Starling Marte popped his first homer since July 1st.

Highlights

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The St. Louis Cardinals were shut out for the first time in three weeks, falling 2-0 to the San Francisco Giants.

The Cards managed just four base runners, with the top four in the order accounting for a double, single and pair of walks but nary a run.

The Giants picked up runs in the 6th and 7th, the latter coming in bizarre fashion as Madison Bumgarner was used as a pinch-hitter (and singled) and then Brandon Belt was hit on the knee by Randy Choate with the bases loaded, pushing a run across.

Lance Lynn fell to 9-8 after allowing 2 runs in 6.2 innings of work, striking out 6. Lynn allowed just 4 hits but also walked 5.

In four August starts, Lynn is 1-3 with a 4.58 ERA, walking 12 men in 17.2 innings of work.

Nursing a tight hamstring, Jason Heyward is expecting to return to the lineup for the Cardinals on Friday.

In possible good news for the Pirates and Cubs, the Giants’ Hunter Pence was put on the 15-day DL with an oblique strain. Pence has put up a slash line of .275/.327/.478 this year. After having appeared in every game during the last two seasons, he has played in just 52 games this year.

Highlights

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The Chicago Cubs played too late for me to pay attention in a rain-soaked suck-fest, losing 10-8 at home to the Detroit Tigers.

Starting pitcher Jason Hammel had a rough outing, allowing 5 runs on 9 hits and a walk in just 3 innings of work. He served up three long balls.

The Cubs trailed 6-2 early on but scratched their way back into a tie game, thanks in large part to rookie Kyle Schwarber‘s 3-run homer (9) in the 5th.

But reliever Pedro Strop imploded, allowing 3 runs in the 8th, and that was it for the Cubs who lost a game in the Wild Card race.

It was the first time the Cubs lost consecutive games since a 3-game skid from July 24th through 26th.

Highlights

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Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 76 43 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 70 47 5.0 W1
Chicago Cubs 67 50 8.0 L2
Cincinnati Reds 51 66 24.0 L4
Milwaukee Brewers 51 70 26.0 L2

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 70 47 +3.0
Chicago Cubs 67 50
San Francisco Giants 65 54 3.0
Washington Nationals 59 59 8.5

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Schedule

49-70 Marlins Koehler (8-10, 3.68)
51-70 BREWERS Peralta (3-7, 4.07)
1:10 PM CT
58-60 Diamondbacks Ray (3-8, 3.29)
70-47 PIRATES Happ (4-7, 4.64)
6:05 PM CT
72-46 Royals Guthrie (8-7, 5.63)
51-66 REDS Sampson (2-1, 3.18)
6:10 PM CT
65-54 Giants Cain (2-3, 6.05)
76-43 CARDINALS Garcia (5-4, 1.57)
6:15 PM CT
57-61 Tigers Norris (2-2, 4.24)
67-50 CUBS Lester (8-8, 3.21)
7:05 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

Home Runs
Todd Frazier (CIN) 29
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 23
Ryan Braun (MIL) 21
Joey Votto (CIN) 21
2-way tie 19
Strikeouts
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 163
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 154
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 154
Jon Lester (CHC) 149
Carlos Martinez (STL) 144

Pirates Avoid Sweep

Lance Lynn had what you might call a rough night

Lance Lynn had what you might call a rough night

The Pittsburgh Pirates were able to come out ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday night, avoiding a 3-game sweep to move back within 6 games.

The Bucs put 7 runs on the board in the top of the 1st en route to a 10-5 win.

Cardinals starter Lance Lynn didn’t make it out of the 1st inning, allowing 7 runs on 6 hits and no walks, retiring 2 batters. Thankfully, only 3 runs were earned, due to a throwing error by Matt Carpenter.

Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez led the offensive charge with three hits a piece, including Pedro’s 17th tater of the season.

It was the Bucs’ first win in St. Louis this season, where they are now 1-5.

Highlights

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The Chicago Cubs won for the 13th time in their last 14 games, pounding the Milwaukee Brewers 9-2 to complete their second sweep of their neighbors to the north in the past two weeks.

Rookie Kyle Schwarber was back to mashing, going 3-for-4 with a pair of home runs (8). Anthony Rizzo poked his 22nd, Chris Denorfia his 2nd and Dexter Fowler his 12th.

Fowler has been playing well of late, and reached base four times yesterday, scoring 3 runs.

It wasn’t all good news for the Cubs, as Jon Lester tried to pick a runner off for the first time since April and once again threw it away for an error – his third of the year. Lester allowed 5 stolen bases in the game and is worst in the league in that category.

He struck out 10 in 7 innings of work, improving to 8-8 on the year.

The Cubs now head into the dreaded “Crosstown Classic” that brings out the absolute worst in Chicago baseball fans. In my experience, it involves fans of the White Sox openly berating anybody who is minding their own business and wearing Cubs gear and, on the flip side, has Cubs fans talking about the number of teeth that most White Sox fans have.

If you don’t live in a market with multiple baseball teams, consider yourself lucky.

Highlights

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Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 73 40 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 65 46 7.0 L2
Chicago Cubs 64 48 8.5 W6
Cincinnati Reds 50 62 22.5 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 48 67 26.0 L2

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 65 46 +1.5
Chicago Cubs 64 48
San Francisco Giants 60 53 4.5
Washington Nationals 58 55 6.5

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Schedule

65-48 CUBS Hendricks (6-5, 3.73)
54-58 White Sox Samardzija (8-7, 4.62)
3:10 PM CT
66-46 PIRATES Happ (4-7, 4.78)
63-53 Mets Colon (10-11, 4.76)
6:15 PM CT
46-69 Phillies Morgan (3-3, 4.06)
48-68 BREWERS Peralta (2-7, 4.48)
7:10 PM CT
46-68 Marlins Koehler (8-9, 3.75)
73-41 CARDINALS Garcia (4-4, 1.77)
7:15 PM CT
51-62 REDS Lamb (NR)
64-51 Dodgers Wood (7-7, 3.72)
9:10 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

WAR (fielders)
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 5.4
Joey Votto (CIN) 4.8
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) 4.0
Jason Heyward (STL) 3.8
Jung Ho Kang (PIT) 3.6
WAR (pitchers)
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 4.6
Carlos Martinez (STL) 3.3
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 3.3
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 3.1
John Lackey (STL) 3.1

Yadi’s Triple Brings Win to Cards

Yadier Molina's base-clearing triple lifted the St. Louis Cardinals to comeback win over the Chicago White Sox.

Yadier Molina’s base-clearing triple lifted the St. Louis Cardinals to comeback win over the Chicago White Sox.

With his team down 2-0 and the bases loaded in the 8th inning, Yadier Molina ripped a David Robertson pitch into the right field corner for a stand-up triple, leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a 3-2 win over the Chicago White Sox.

It was the Cards’ 4th win in 5 games since the All-Star Break, as they improved their lead in the NL Central to 6 games.

Yadi had a three-hit game, but none was as big as that 3-RBI three-bagger.

Lance Lynn had a nice start, going 6 innings and allowing a pair of runs on 5 hits and a walk, striking out 8.

Game Highlights

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On the flip side of the Second Half Coin, the Pittsburgh Pirates have lost 5 of 6 after being swept by the Milwaukee Brewers and losing 2 of 3 against the Kansas City Royals.

The series loss came after dropping the rubber game of the series, 5-1, yesterday.

Starling Marte had three hits for the Bucs.

The team is reeling behind injuries to the left side of the infield, with both Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer most likely out until September.

Game Highlights

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With the San Francisco Giants having won 8 of their last 9, the Chicago Cubs are going to have to do a lot better than splitting a 4-game series with teams like the Cincinnati Reds.

That came on the heels of winning a series in Atlanta, so they are still a respectable 4-3 since the All-Star Break. But with more series coming up against teams that are ripe for the picking – at home against the Philadelphia Phillies and Colorado Rockies, then visiting the Brewers and battered Pirates – they really need to start stepping things up.

Yesterday, the Cubs split a day-night double-header.

In the afternoon game, they were owned by Mike Leake, who went 8 innings and allowed 1 run on 4 hits allowed with 6 strikeouts against no walks. The Cincy offense was also on, as they pounded the Cubs 9-1.

Game two went 6-5 to the Cubs, who narrowly held on. The big play came in the 8th when the Reds loaded the bases in a tie game and Todd Frazier at the plate. Frazier ripped a Hector Rondon pitch up the middle that bounced off the pitcher, directly to first baseman Anthony Rizzo who came home for a 1-3-2 force out at the plate. Jay Bruce then flew out to left to end the inning with the game still tied.

In his last 10 games, Joey Votto has a .609 on-base percentage and is batting .455. In his last 7 games, his slash line is .538/.647/.846 for a 1.493 OPS.

Game 1 Highlights
Game 2 Highlights

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The Brewers fell 7-5 to the Cleveland Indians.

Adam Lind went 4-for-5 with a homer (16th), double and 4 RBI in the loss.

Scooter Gennett had a three-hit day, including a double.

Game Highlights

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Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 60 34 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 54 40 6.0 L2
Chicago Cubs 51 43 9.0 W1
Cincinnati Reds 42 51 17.5 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 42 53 18.5 L1

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 54 40 +3.0
Chicago Cubs 51 43
San Francisco Giants 51 44 0.5
New York Mets 49 46 2.5

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Schedule

51-42 Nationals Firster (3-5, 4.30)
54-40 PIRATES Liriano (5-6, 2.98)
6:05 PM CT
57-36 Royals Young (8-5, 3.03)
60-34 CARDINALS Lackey (8-5, 2.90)
6:15 PM CT
42-53 BREWERS Fiers (5-7, 3.79)
43-50 Diamondbacks Godley (NR)
8:40 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Joey Votto (CIN) .413
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .402
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .388
Adam Lind (MIL) .374
Kris Bryant (CHC) .367
WHIP
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.95
Jason Hammel (CHC) 0.98
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 0.98
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 1.03
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.09

Cards Streak Snapped At Six By Sox

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina appears to be in disbelief that Tyler Flowers just homered.

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina appears to be in disbelief that Tyler Flowers just homered.

The St. Louis Cardinals‘ six-game winning streak was ended last night when their offense was shut down by Chris Sale (8 IP, 1 ER) and the rest of the Chicago White Sox pitching staff, losing 2-1 in 11 innings.

Chicago took the lead with two outs in the top of the 11th when Tyler Flowers, hitting just above the Mendoza line this year, homered off of Miguel Socolovich.

The Birds put two men on in with two outs the bottom of the inning, but Xavier Scruggs grounded out to third, ending the rally.

Randal Grichuk had three hits with a homer (7th) and double for St. Louis, but the rest of the lineup combined to go 5-for-35, hitting .143 with no extra base hits.

Lance Lynn‘s second start since returning from the DL was solid, allowing 1 run in 6 innings of work, striking out 6. But he never seems to pick up the W, even when he’s on his game, does he?

Game Highlights from MLB.com

In other pitching staff, it’s a new month today, so it’s about time for another injury to the rotation. And who better to volunteer than Jaime Garcia? Garcia came up with a groin injury last week and skipped Monday’s bullpen session. There’s a chance he misses his next start.

* * *

Also going extra innings last evening were the Pittsburgh Pirates, who outlasted the Detroit Tigers to win 5-4 in 14 innings.

Josh Harrison doubled off of center fielder Rajai Davis‘ glove, then scored on a Neil Walker double down the right field line to put Pittsburgh up a run in the top of the 14th.

Detroit put men on 1st & 2nd with one out in the bottom of the inning, but grounded into a 6-3 double play to erase the threat, ending the game.

Gorkys Hernandez was nearly the goat of the game, entering as a pinch runner in the 14th but then making a few base-running blunders. Funny that a pinch-runner would do that, but there you have it. On Harrison’s deep fly into center, Hernandez sprinted around 2nd, then thought that Davis had caught the ball so headed back around 2nd and towards 1st, then ran back towards 3rd but failed to step back on 2nd base on his way there. He was ruled out on an appeal play after the fact.

Andrew McCutchen had two hits and drew three walks for the Bucs.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

Kyle Hendricks tossed 6 shutout innings and the Chicago Cubs bullpen threw 3 more perfect innings as they blanked the New York Mets in a 1-0 win, snapping a 5-game losing streak.

Chicago’s sole run came in the 6th when Matt Szczur doubled in Kris Bryant.

Jason Motte picked up his 3rd save.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

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The Cincinnati Reds fell 8-5 at home to the Minnesota Twins.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers held off the Philadelphia Phillies for a 4-3 win.

In the 8th inning, the Crew were down 3-2 with 2 out and nobody on. Then Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez singled. Aramis Ramirez tied it with a single. Gerardo Parra walked to load the bases. Adam Lind pinch hit and drew a bases-loaded walk, pushing Gomez home to put Milwaukee ahead.

Milwaukee has now won 6 of their last 8 games.

Braun went 4-for-5 with a double. In a 5-game hitting streak, he is hitting 11-for-17 (.647) with 3 doubles and a homer. Since June 21st, Braun is hitting an even .500 (16-for-32) with 6 extra-base hits. That’s a .500/.556/.781 slash line for an absurd 1.337 OPS.

Jean Segura went 0-for-5 with an error.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 51 25 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 43 33 8.0 W1
Chicago Cubs 40 35 10.5 W1
Cincinnati Reds 35 41 16.0 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 31 48 21.5 W3

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Schedule

41-36 Twins May (4-6, 4.62)
35-41 REDS Cueto (4-5, 2.98)
11:35 AM CT
31-48 BREWERS Lohse (4-9, 6.28)
27-52 Phillies Harang (4-10, 3.56)
6:05 PM CT
43-33 PIRATES Burnett (6-3, 2.01)
39-37 Tigers Simon (7-4, 3.57)
6:08 PM CT
40-35 CUBS Lester (4-6, 4.03)
40-38 Mets Colon (9-6, 4.89)
6:10 PM CT
33-42 White Sox Quintana (3-7, 3.95)
51-25 CARDINALS Lackey (6-4, 3.35)
7:15 PM CT

* * *

NL Central Leaders

Home Runs
Todd Frazier (CIN) 25
Ryan Braun (MIL) 15
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 15
Joey Votto (CIN) 14
Marlon Byrd (CIN) 13
Strikeouts
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 108
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 108
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 103
Carlos Martinez (STL) 100
Jason Hammel (CHC) 99

Garcia Latest Cardinal Bit By Injury Bug?

Jaime Garcia was solid again

Jaime Garcia was solid again

The St. Louis Cardinals were 6-1 winners over the Miami Marlins.

Another nice start for Jaime Garcia, who went 7 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits and no walks. He’s 3-3 with a 1.69 ERA now.

Not all good news for Jaime, however, as he left the game with a cramp near his left groin while rounding 3rd base.

Kolten Wong went 2-for-4 with a 2-run homer in the 3rd inning, put the Cards up 2-1.

Jason Heyward homered for the 3rd straight game.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

Cardinals Notes: Lance Lynn returns to the rotation tonight, having missed his last two starts with a forearm strain…

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds put 4 runs up on Gerrit Cole in the 1st inning en route to a surprising 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

J.J. Hoover got the save for the Reds with Aroldis Chapman out on paternity leave. Hoover threw a spotless 9th, ending with a pair of strikeouts. Chapman is available for tonight’s game.

Cole went 4.2 innings, allowing 5 runs on 8 hits and 3 walks, falling to 11-3 with a 2.16 ERA this season.

Marlon Byrd went 2-for-4 with his 12th homer of the year, driving in 3 runs.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

Reds Notes: Raul Iglesias did some bullpen work as he starts the road to returning to the Reds’ rotation, tossing 30-plus pitches in the bullpen as he recovers from an oblique injury. Iglesias is due back before the All-Star break… Brandon Phillips sat out last night with a jammed thumb…

* * *

The Chicago Cubs‘ winning streak was ended with a 5-2 loss at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Another rough start for Kyle Hendricks, who has allowed 10 earned runs in 10 innings across his last two starts.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

Cubs Notes: Still no word from the Cubs on whether or not Tsuyoshi Wada will be available to make his scheduled start on Saturday. Seems they’d rather not go to Edwin Jackson or Travis Wood, each of whom has fared well since being put in the bullpen. The top 3 of the Cubs’ rotation has been solid. After that, things are fragile…

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers were 4-1 winners over the New York Mets.

Jimmy Nelson improved to 4-8, going 8 innings and allowing 1 run on 2 hits and a walk.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

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Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 47 24 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 40 31 7.0 L1
Chicago Cubs 39 31 7.5 L1
Cincinnati Reds 33 37 13.5 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 27 46 21.0 W2

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Schedule

36-37 Mets deGrom (7-5, 2.34)
27-46 BREWERS Jungmann (2-1, 3.50)
1:10 PM CT
39-34 Dodgers Frias (4-5, 4.68)
39-31 CUBS Lester (4-5, 3.80)
1:20 PM CT
33-37 REDS DeSclafani (5-5, 3.48)
40-31 PIRATES Burnett (6-3, 2.05)
6:05 PM CT
47-24 CARDINALS Lynn (4-4, 3.07)
30-43 Marlins Haren (6-4, 3.19)
6:10 PM CT

* * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .417
Joey Votto (CIN) .405
Matt Carpenter (STL) .387
Kris Bryant (CHC) .384
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .376
WHIP
Jason Hammel (CHC) 0.938
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.949
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 0.985
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.087
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 1.088

Draft Recap and More

The Chicago Cubs selected this friendly-looking fellow with the 9th pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.

The Chicago Cubs selected this friendly-looking fellow with the 9th pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.

The MLB Draft got underway last night with the Chicago Cubs (again) having the top pick in the division, this time selecting outfielder Ian Happ with the #9 pick.

Happ, from an awful University of Cincinnati team (15-41), had a career .338 average in college to go along with a .463 on base percentage. This past season saw Happ hit .369 with 18 doubles, 14 homers, and 12 stolen bases. He’s a switch-hitter with average power and speed and the versatility to be a multi-position player.

Next up from the division was the Cincinnati Reds, who selected catcher Tyler Stephenson 11th overall.

Out of Kennesaw Mountain High School (Georgia), the 6’4″ Stephenson hit .425 with 8 HR in 65 at bats this spring. He was the highest rated catcher in the draft. He’s signed a letter of commitment to Georgia Tech, but is likely to sign with the Reds.

With the 15th overall pick, the Milwaukee Brewers selected outfielder Trent Clark.

Clark hit .552 with 3 HR and 11 SB during his senior year at Richland High School in Texas. Milwaukee plans to use the left-handed hitting Clark in center field. He has a scholarship to remain near home and attend Texas Tech.

University of Arizona shortstop Kevin Newman went 19th overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Newman hit .370 with 19 doubles, 2 homers and 22 steals as a junior at Arizona.

Rounding out the NL Central’s top picks was Nick Plummer, the #23 pick for the St. Louis Cardinals.

A center fielder from Brother Rice High School in Michigan, the Plummer pick is the first time the Cards have selected a high school position player in the 1st round since taking Pete Kozma in 2007. (Shelby Miller, a pitcher, was a high school selection in 2009.)

He hit .520 with 22 doubles, 5 triples and 32 stolen bases this year, with a 32/10 BB/SO ratio. He had signed a letter of commitment to University of Kentucky.

The draft continues today.

Now on to last night’s games.

* * *

Kicking things off, Jimmy Nelson and the Brewers shut down the red-hot Pirates, 2-0, in a rain-soaked game.

Nelson went 6 shutout innings, striking out 7 while allowing 4 hits and walking 3. He improved to 3-6 on the season and dropped his ERA to a respectable 4.05, particularly by Brewers’ standards.

A perfect 9th inning and 11th save for Francisco Rodriguez, who could find himself the subject of trade talks in the coming months.

A rough night for Starling Marte, who went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, double play grounder, and error in the field. In his last 9 games, Marte is hitting .114/.205/.200 for a .405 OPS.

Andrew McCutchen got the night off, resting his bothersome left knee.

Down in the minors, top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon threw 47 pitches (4 innings) in extended spring training, rehabbing from last April’s Tommy John surgery.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * *

The Cardinals’ game ended right after it began, giving up 5 runs in the 1st and another 5 in the 4th en route to an 11-3 loss against the Colorado Rockies.

John Lackey fell to 4-4, allowing 10 runs (8 earned) on 12 hits over 4 innings of work. Wow.

The big play of the game for Cardinals fans was this 2nd inning fly ball that led to Matt Holliday suffering a quad injury. Matt Adams is already most likely lost for the season with a quad tear, so Holliday might make two Cardinals to be lost to that injury. I didn’t see the loss of Adams as particularly huge, given that he hasn’t performed well anyhow and isn’t exactly a perennial All-Star. When he’s on, he’s good, but he’s not a Hall of Famer or anything. This loss, though, could deal a pretty big blow to their lineup.

We’ll update the blog when word comes down.

Matt Carpenter went 0-for-3 with an error as his average dropped to .300. He’s hitting .143 for the month of June.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

Lance Lynn, who left Sunday’s game early with cramping in his right forearm, downplayed the incident, stating it was no big deal and something that happens to him from time to time.

* * *

The Reds were 6-4 winners over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Zack Cozart went 3-for-4 with a homer (8th) and double.

Making his first career start as Red, Ivan De Jesus Junior went 2-for-4 and belted his first big-league homer. He had no taters in 185 AAA at-bats this season and none in 73 previous MLB at-bats.

And the Reds finally solved Cole Hamels, beating the Phillies for the first time in 14 occasions when Hamels was their starting pitcher.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * *

NL Central Leaders

AVG
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .332
Jhonny Peralta (STL) .316
Brandon Phillips (CIN) .309
Kolten Wong (STL) .307
Matt Holliday (STL) .303
ERA
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.73
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 2.11
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.18
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 2.64
Jason Hammel (CHC) 2.76

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 38 20 L1
Chicago Cubs 30 25 6.5 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 31 26 6.5 L1
Cincinnati Reds 25 31 12.0 W2
Milwaukee Brewers 21 37 17.0 W1

* * *

Schedule

21-37 BREWERS Jungmann (NR)
31-26 PIRATES Liriano (3-4, 3.24)
6:05 PM CT
30-25 CUBS Lester (4-4, 3.86)
30-28 Tigers Sanchez (3-7, 5.69)
6:08 PM CT
22-37 Phillies Harang (4-6, 2.45)
25-31 REDS DeSclafani (4-4, 3.60)
6:10 PM CT
38-20 CARDINALS Wacha (8-1, 2.18)
26-30 Rockies De La Rosa (2-2, 6.15)
7:40 PM CT