Tagged: Matt Adams

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

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

Two Months Down

3zhma0aeq17tktge1huh7yok5June wraps up with the St. Louis Cardinals still holding a 6 game lead in the NL Central.

Seems like many are expecting the injuries to capsize this team, but I think that ignores some facts:

  1. Matt Adams has been largely ineffective in 2015, so losing him doesn’t really diminish the product anyhow.
  2. Losing Adam Wainwright is huge on paper, but this is a team that always seems to overcome injuries to their pitching staff. Yes, the team has gotten rid of a few established starting pitchers recently – Shelby Miller… Joe Kelly… – but they always find a way to get an arm from inside their system and they cruise along just fine.
  3. I would be a little concerned about the Jordan Walden injury, however, especially when you lose a starting pitcher like Waino who you can rely on to shorten your bullpen. The relievers will be a bit more exposed this summer and not having Walden around could hurt. He had put up a 0.87 ERA (1.93 FIP) in 12 appearances before suffering an injury in his throwing shoulder. This after starting his career with 5 straight seasons with a FIP no higher than 3.02. He’s a valuable asset down there in the pen. Walden should be back by July’s end.

To make a long story short, don’t cry for the Cardinals.

They took 2 of 3 at home against the Dodgers this weekend and have now won 6 of their last 7 games. Coming up is a series against the Brewers, so the winning shouldn’t stop anytime soon.

In the month of May, they increased their lead in the division by 3.5 games.

* * *

The Chicago Cubs skittered to a break-even record of 14-14 in the month of May, including losing 4 of their last 6. They get a chance to start June off better with a series in Miami, but then travel to Washington for a 4-game set.

* * *

Also 14-14 in the month of May, highlighted by a 7-game winning streak towards the end of the month was the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are starting to play better.

They split a 4-game series in San Diego over the weekend, staring this weekend off with a series in San Francisco before flying clear across the country for another road series in Atlanta.

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds swept their weekend series against the Washington Nationals (how?!), finishing 11-16 for the month of May.

They lost 6 games in the standings during the month. 6 of their first 9 games in June are against the Philadelphia Phillies and the other 3 are against the San Diego Padres, so they have a chance to get off on the right foot

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers replaced their manager and actually had what you might consider a relatively good month of May, finishing 12-17.

Yes, they lost an additional 6.5 games in the standings and, no, they have no real chance here. The team’s awfulness is well-documented already.

They start the month of June with a 9-game road trip against the Cards, Twins and Bucs.

* * *

National League Ranks

Batting Pitching
St. Louis 6th 1st
Chicago 9th 6th
Cincinnati 11th 10th
Pittsburgh 7th 3rd
Milwaukee 13th 15th

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 33 17 W1
Chicago Cubs 26 22 6.0 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 26 24 7.0 L1
Cincinnati Reds 22 27 10.5 W3
Milwaukee Brewers 17 34 16.5 W1

* * *

Schedule

26-22 CUBS Hammel (3-2, 2.98)
20-31 Marlins Urena (0-1, 9.39)
6:10 PM CT
17-34 BREWERS Fiers (1-5, 4.53)
33-17 CARDINALS Garcia, J (1-1, 3.46)
7:10 PM CT
26-24 PIRATES Cole, G (7-2, 2.11)
30-22 Giants Vogelsong (4-2, 4.24)
9:15 PM CT

Bucs Run Winning Streak To 7

Jung Ho Kang crushed a 3-run homer in the 1st inning of the Pittsburgh Pirates win last night.

Jung Ho Kang crushed a 3-run homer in the 1st inning of the Pittsburgh Pirates win last night.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have 2nd place in their sights now, moving a half game back of the Chicago Cubs after a 15-hit, 11-5 win over the San Diego Padres.

Starling Marte reached base three times and poked his 10th homer of the season, Andrew McCutchen had three hits with a pair of doubles, and Jung Ho Kang did this, crushing a three-run homer on a slider that didn’t slide and hung in the middle of the plate. Yow.

A.J. Burnett didn’t have his A game, allowing 5 runs (4 earned) and 10 base runners over just 5.2 innings of work, but he still improved to 5-1 on the year.

Ron Cook has a great profile on Pirates’ pitching coach Ray Searage over at the Post-Gazette. Read it over there.

* * *

Speaking of pitcher wins, if you haven’t been following Joe Posnanski‘s recent missives on that statistic, you should. It’s been good stuff. Here’s part 1, 2 and 3. I assume he’s reached his end, but Joe loves words, so I wouldn’t be surprised if more are coming today.

You’ll find Burnett atop the leader board for pitcher’s WAR down below. I had been doing RBI and Wins leaders on Fridays, but I just can’t excuse myself for doing that anymore. I’ll still give you some old school leaders (AVG and ERA) during the week, but I gotta’ mix some things in here a little. WAR isn’t a perfect statistic, of course, and sabermetricians will admit to that, but it’s still an interesting talking point and much more illuminating than RBI or W.

* * *

With the way Matt Adams was struggling, part of me can’t help but feel that his injury might actually lead to the St. Louis Cardinals improving, rather than scrambling to keep things together. You never root for a guy to get hurt, of course, but the team was likely going to commit to using him as their starting first baseman no matter how much he struggled this season. (Sure, there’s a point, like hitting .100 with no extra-base hits for two straight months.) This kind of forces their hand. Now the team has carte blanche for improving the position. Ideally the replacement comes from within the system, but I just don’t see any prospects who are going to do any better than a replacement level player. Let’s see what GM John Mozeliak has up his sleeve.

There are no indications that Matt Holliday would move from left fielder to first base.

* * *

There’s been some talk lately about what the Cubs should do about their prospects. Is it time to deal some of the bigger names in exchange for starting pitching that could really turn the team around? Is it time to call up Javier Baez to shore up problems with their defense up the middle? To the latter, I say perhaps. To the former, I say nay. The plan all along for the Cubs was that 2015 was going to be the year they started to content, but 2016 was kind of the first real push. You had to get a full season of play in the bank for guys like Kris Bryant and Addison Russell. Let them get their feet wet, then strike the free agent market for a big name (or two) this next off-season, and then go full throttle in ’16. Their good start is nice and all, but I think the team should stick to it’s initial vision. Status quo from here on out. Sure, you could net something huge for Dan Vogelbach, who is pretty well blocked from getting called up as long as Anthony Rizzo is putting up MVP numbers at first base. But you could also wait until this upcoming CBA and see whether or not the DH is coming to the National League in the next year or two as most people are predicting. If it is, Theo Epstein comes out clean, Vogelbach is your monster bat at DH, and nobody has to watch Jon Lester bat anymore.

* * *

Todd Rosiak has a nice feature story on Milwaukee Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress over at the Journal Sentinel. You Brewers’ fans should check it out over there.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

WAR (fielders)
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 2.5
Todd Frazier (CIN) 2.3
Kolten Wong (STL) 1.8
Matt Carpenter (STL) 1.8
Jhonny Peralta (STL) 1.6
WAR (pitchers)
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 2.2
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.9
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.7
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 1.4
2-way tie 1.2

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 31 16 W4
Chicago Cubs 25 21 5.5 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 25 22 6.0 W7
Cincinnati Reds 19 27 11.5 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 16 32 15.5 L5

* * *

Schedule

28-18 Royals Volquez (4-3, 2.77)
25-21 CUBS Arrieta (4-4, 2.95)
3:05 PM CT
28-19 Nationals Strasburg (3-5, 6.50)
19-27 REDS DeSclafani (2-4, 3.46)
6:10 PM CT
21-25 Diamondbacks De La Rosa, R (4-2, 4.27)
16-32 BREWERS Nelson (2-5, 3.67)
7:10 PM CT
28-18 Dodgers Bolsinger (3-0, 0.71)
31-16 CARDINALS Lackey (2-3, 3.18)
7:15 PM CT
25-22 PIRATES Liriano, F (2-4, 3.86)
23-26 Padres Shields (6-0, 3.75)
9:10 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

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