Tagged: Matt Carpenter

Lackey Leads Cards To 4th Straight Win

Kolten Wong celebrates with teammates after scoring to put them ahead by a pair of runs.

Kolten Wong celebrates with teammates after scoring to put them ahead by a pair of runs.

The St. Louis Cardinals were 3-1 winners over the Arizona Diamondbacks last night, running their winning streak up to 4 games.

John Lackey improved to 11-8, throwing a steady 7 innings of work, allowing 1 run on 7 hits and a walk. Lackey served up a solo homer to slugger Paul Goldschmidt in the 1st and then tossed 6.1 shutout innings to finish off his day.

Kolten Wong‘s RBI double in the 7th inning broke a 1-1 tie and Matt Carpenter‘s RBI single plated Wong to pad the lead.  Since taking three games off to get his head straight, Wong has three hits in the last two nights.

Trevor Rosenthal picked up his 40th save of the season, joining Pirates closer Mark Melancon in that club. Rosenthal is out this weekend on paternity leave with his wife scheduled to be induced into labor tomorrow.

The Redbirds got more solid defense, turning 3 double plays.

Highlights

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The Pittsburgh Pirates scored 6 in the 2nd inning en route to an easy 7-2 win over the Miami Marlins, winning for the 11th time in their last 14 games.

Andrew McCutchen had a pair of extra-base hits – his 20th homer and 32nd double – driving in 4 runs.

Jeff Locke (W 7-8) went 7 innings, allowing a pair of runs on 5 hits and a walk.  It snapped a 6-game streak in which Locke had failed to escape the 6th inning.  He had gone 1-2 with a 6.39 ERA in that stretch.

The Bucs remain 4.5 games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central.  September should provide plenty of drama with those two teams battling for the division title.

Highlights

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The Chicago Cubs fell back to even in their series with the San Francisco Giants, falling 4-2 and snapping a 6-game winning streak.

Buster Posey hit an RBI double over the head of Chris Coghlan in right field to break a 2-2 tie in the 6th.

Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant each had a double and single, with Bryant driving in a pair of runs to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the 1st.

Even with the loss, the Cubs are still 21-5 in their last 26 games.

Highlights

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Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett is feeling well after throwing a two inning simulated game and is hopeful to be back soon. He’s scheduled to throw another simulated game – this time three innings – on Sunday as he tries to work his way back into the rotation for the postseason run.

The often entertaining Adam Bittner of the Post-Gazette had a nice write-up on the use of Pirates “first baseman” Pedro Alvarez. Check it out over there.

Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs.com wrote up 23-year-old Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco, focusing on his improved handling of southpaws. Last year, Polanco had a slash line of .171/.222/.244 against left-handed pitchers. This year? .214/.275/.321. Still not great, but improving. FYI: His numbers against RHP are pretty similar between last year and this. By the way, both Polanco and Alvarez sat last night against the left-handed Chris Narveson. Read it.

Anthony Castrovince takes a look at 2015’s Most Impactful MLB Managers and, wouldn’t you know it, 3 of the top 6 are from the NL Central. The Bucs’ Clint Hurdle comes in at #6, the Cards’ Mike Matheny at #4 and the Cubs’ Joe Maddon is #1. Read it at Sports On Earth.

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Joey Votto continues to have a monster season, upping his on-base percentage yet another 10 points this past week to hit .446 at the top of the NL Central Leader Board.

In 14 games played since August 12th, Votto has a .571 OBP to go along with a .372 AVG, .837 SLG, 1.409 OPS, 5 HR and 5 2B. That’s spanning 63 plate appearances. Unreal.

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Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 81 45 W4
Pittsburgh Pirates 76 49 4.5 W1
Chicago Cubs 73 52 7.5 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 53 74 28.5 L4
Cincinnati Reds 52 73 28.5 L2

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 76 49 +3.0
Chicago Cubs 73 52
San Francisco Giants 67 59 6.5
Washington Nationals 63 62 10.0

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

69-56 Dodgers Greinke (13-3, 1.67)
52-73 REDS DeSclafani (7-9, 3.97)
11:35 AM CT
73-52 CUBS Haren (8-8, 3.76)
67-59 Giants Bumgarner (15-6, 3.02)
2:45 PM CT
76-49 PIRATES Cole (14-7, 2.49)
51-76 Marlins Nicolino (2-1, 3.77)
6:10 PM CT
81-45 CARDINALS Martinez (12-6, 2.85)
62-64 Diamondbacks De La Rosa (11-5, 4.32)
8:40 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Joey Votto (CIN) .446
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .400
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .396
Kris Bryant (CHC) .368
Jung Ho Kang (PIT) .364
WHIP
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.93
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 0.98
Jason Hammel (CHC) 1.09
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.12
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.13
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Power Surge: Yadi Makes History

Yadier Molina homered for the 2nd time in 3 nights.

Yadier Molina homered for the 2nd time in 3 nights.

Yadier Molina‘s 100th career homer lifted the St. Louis Cardinals as they took the rubber game against the San Francisco Giants with a 4-3 win at home.

In the 7th, Tommy Pham sped from 3rd base to score the tying run, getting in ahead of a throw home with the infield playing in.

Molina, batting cleanup for the first time in 2015, hit his 4th homer of the season in the 8th inning, breaking a 3-3 tie. After going much of the season without a homer, the thinner version of Molina homered for the 2nd time in the series. He went 3-for-4 on the night.

Trevor Rosenthal pitched a spotless 9th, striking out a pair for his 38th save.

Highlights

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J.A. Happ went 6 shutout innings to guide the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Mark Melancon had 3 strikeouts in the 9th (all on curveballs) to collect save number 38.

Sean Rodriguez went 3-for-4 with an RBI out of the #8 spot in the lineup, helping to atone for a big error in last night’s game.

Highlights

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Make it three straight losses for the Chicago Cubs, who allowed double digit runs for the second straight night – the first time that’s happened to them this season.

If you want to know how bad things went for the Cubs, the Detroit Tigers starting pitcher homered to center field in his first career at bat in the majors.

To be fair, the wind was blowing straight out to center at 15 mph, but still.

The 15-8 loss to the Tigers knocked the Cubs 9 games back in the division, although the Giants’ loss to the Redbirds kept them with the same lead in the Wild Card chase.

Jon Lester (L 8-9) lasted just 2.2 innings, allowing 7 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks, serving up 3 homers.

If you’re a Cubs fan with an eye on the future, it will please you to know that the kids were alright. Kris Bryant hit his 17th homer in a 4-for-4 night and Kyle Schwarber hit his 10th. It was Schwarber’s 2nd straight game with a long ball.

There’s always next year, folks.

Highlights

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Leaderboard Trends

In his last 12 games, Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli has a .429 on-base percentage.

In 16 August games, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant has a .463 on-base percentage.

In contrast, Pirates infielder Jung-Ho Kang has a .233 OBP in his last 6 games. Since ending a recent 10-game hitting streak, Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter has a .250 OBP in his most recent 5 games.

Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano has a 1.75 WHIP in his last 4 starts. In that timeframe, he has gone 2-0 with a 5.82 ERA, allowing 29 hits in 21.2 innings of work.

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Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 77 43 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 71 47 5.0 W2
Chicago Cubs 67 51 9.0 L3
Cincinnati Reds 51 67 25.0 L5
Milwaukee Brewers 52 70 26.0 W1

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 71 47 +4.0
Chicago Cubs 67 51
San Francisco Giants 65 55 3.0
Washington Nationals 60 59 7.5

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

65-55 Giants Peavy (3-5, 4.18)
71-47 PIRATES Morton (7-4, 4.36)
6:05 PM CT
58-61 Diamondbacks Corbin (3-3, 3.43)
51-67 REDS Lamb (0-1, 7.50)
6:10 PM CT
53-67 Braves Foltynewicz (4-4, 5.61)
67-51 CUBS Arrieta (14-6, 2.39)
7:05 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Joey Votto (CIN) .436
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .401
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .398
Francisco Cervelli (PIT) .375
Kris Bryant (CHC) .367
WHIP
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.93
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 0.99
Jason Hammel (CHC) 1.09
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.11
Dan Haren (CHC) 1.12

Cards Come Back on Cubs

Jhonny Peralta took advantage of Pedro Strop's belt-high, down-the-middle fastball to give the Cardinals a big win last night.

Jhonny Peralta took advantage of Pedro Strop’s belt-high, down-the-middle fastball to give the Cardinals a big win last night.

For a minute there, it looked like the Chicago Cubs were going to pull within 6.5 games of the St. Louis Cardinals, a number that seemed unexpected about 10 days ago.

But Pedro Strop left a fastball right over the heart of the plate, belt high, and Jhonny Peralta did what Major League hitters tend to do when served up a meatball like that, lining it into the left field basket at Wrigley Field for a 2-run homer that gave the Redbirds a lead they wouldn’t surrender.

One swing of Peralta’s bat turned into a 2-game swing in the division standings.

The Cubs’ rotation took a hit when starting pitcher Jason Hammel left the game with a hamstring injury after pitching a perfect 1st inning. Hammel is among the league’s leaders in WHIP – see the division leader boards below. He received an MRI after the game. With the All-Star break coming up, the Cubs can always retroactively assign Hammel to the disabled list a week from now.

Continuing to trend downwards was Matt Carpenter, who went 0-for-4. In his last 16 games, Carp has hit .145 with a .266 OBP and .164 SLG. A .429 OPS is… not good.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

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The Pittsburgh Pirates were winners again, this time up-ending the San Diego Padres 5-2 with a late comeback of their own.

The Bucs tailed 2-1 but tied it up after the 7th inning stretch, then put 3 on the board with two out in the bottom of the 8th.

After retiring the first two men, Padres starting pitcher Andrew Cashner walked pinch-hitter Travis Ishikawa who then scored on Gregory Polanco‘s long single off the wall, putting Pitt up 3-2.

Andrew McCutchen and Jung Ho Kang followed up with RBI singles to extend the lead.

In his last 16 games, “Cutch” has a .529 OBP – check him out climbing up the division leader boards below. In that stretch, he’s put up a slash line of .380/.529/.660 for a 1.189 OPS, including 8 doubles and a pair of homers.

That’s 10 wins in their last 12 games, including a current run of five straight victories for the Pirates, who now host the Cards in a four-game series that should be about as exciting as baseball gets heading into the All-Star Break. Can’t wait.

Pedro Alvarez made two more errors in the field while also going 0-for-2 at the plate. His 13 errors at first base are… insane. Nobody else in the National League has more than 5.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

Josh Harrison started off the year awful, then really took off. But his season was sidetracked by Wednesday’s surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. He’s expected to miss the next two months of the season. Harrison has a 94 OPS+ this season, hitting .279/.313/.383 with 9 SB.

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The Milwaukee Brewers continued to play better baseball as of late, particularly when playing against sub-.500 teams, beating the Atlanta Braves 6-5.

Atlanta took a 4-0 lead in the 2nd, only to watch Milwaukee chip away at it, finally taking the lead in the bottom of the 8th on Carlos Gomez‘s 8th home run of the season – a 3-run blast.

Gomez drove in 4 of the Brew Crew’s 6 runs.

Adam Lind went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks, boosting him into the division’s leader boards. And, hey, probably a good trade piece for Milwaukee before month’s end. In his last 18 games, the 31-year old has gotten on base at a .480 clip while posting a 1.218 OPS behind a .377 batting average with 6 homers and 4 doubles.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

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The Cincinnati Reds were rained out.

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Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 55 30 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 50 34 4.5 W5
Chicago Cubs 46 38 8.5 L1
Cincinnati Reds 38 44 15.5 W2
Milwaukee Brewers 37 50 19.0 W1

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

55-30 CARDINALS Martinez (9-3, 2.70)
50-34 PIRATES Locke (5-4, 4.15)
6:05 PM CT
38-44 REDS TBD
35-50 Marlins Fernandez (1-0, 4.50)
6:10 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .408
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .398
Joey Votto (CIN) .390
Kris Bryant (CHC) .381
Adam Lind (MIL) .378
WHIP
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.87
Jason Hammel (CHC) 0.95
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 1.01
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 1.05
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.10

 

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Pirates Run Win Streak To 8

Mark Melancon has been lights out.

Mark Melancon has been lights out.

Sure, it’s only beating up on the Chicago White Sox – a team that has struggled mightily in 2015 and has now lost seven straight games – but the Pittsburgh Pirates will still take it.

The Bucs’ winning streak was extended to 8 games after a 3-2 win last night, led once again by ace Gerrit Cole.

Cole improved to 11-2 on the year with a 1.78 ERA, allowing 2 runs in 7 innings of work on 3 hits and 3 walks.

Five Pirates had multi-hit games, including a 3-for-3 night by Corey Hart at DH.

Another spotless inning for closer Mark Melancon, who picked up his 23rd save, striking out a pair in the 9th. He has not allowed a run since May 11th, posting a 0.00 ERA in his last 18 appearances (18.1 IP); if you bump that back to games from April 23rd onwards, his ERA is 0.33 across his last 27 games (27.1 IP).

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The St. Louis Cardinals offense continued to stall as they dropped their second in a row, losing 2-1 against the Minnesota Twins.

All three runs in the game came on solo homers, with Jason Heyward (6th) putting the Cards up 1-0 in the top of the 7th, only to have Joe Mauer tie it up in the bottom of the 8th and Kennys Vargas win it in the 9th.

The homers were allowed by Kevin Siegrist and Carlos Villanueva, respectively.

The Cards have gone 12 straight games scoring 4 or fewer runs. Of course, they’ve also gone 7 straight games allowing 3 or fewer.

Jaime Garcia went 6 shutout innings as he continues to pitch lights out since getting called up to the rotation. He’s sporting a 1.76 ERA in 6 starts thus far, though has just a 2-3 record to show for it. In fact, the St. Louis offense has been shut out in three of Garcia’s six starts. Consider his numbers on a high-powered team – he’d likely be more like 5-0 right now.

Mark Reynolds has some pop in his bat, but his obscene strike out rates really hurt the Cardinals in Thursday night’s contest. In the top of the 9th of a tie game with Matt Carpenter on 3rd base and one out, Reynolds struck out flailing at a pitch well off the plate.  Yadier Molina then flew out routinely to right field to end the inning.

Carpenter had a pair of doubles and is 5-for-11 during a 3-game hitting streak.

The second straight loss for the Redbirds coupled with the Bucs’ winning streak means their lead in the NL Central is down to 4 games heading into Friday.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Chicago Cubs were 4-3 losers against the Cleveland Indians in a game with multiple rain delays.

Hammel lasted just 4 innings, having run his pitch count up to 86 already. He allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 2 hits and a pair of walks, striking out 6.  An hour-long rain delay in the top of the 5th led to a shortened night of work.

Kyle Schwarber had another great night at the plate, showing some hustle on the bases that is unexpected for a guy who looks like a tank. He also popped an opposite-field homer; the first of his MLB career.

Without a position he can really play regularly with any aptitude at the Major League level, he’s still getting sent down after inter-league play is over. But he’s definitely shown he can mash with the big boys. He has a nice short swing and the ball comes off his bat like it’s shot out of a cannon. He’ll head to AAA after this weekend.

The Cubs loaded the bases with two outs after the Schwarber homer, and then the rain fell.  When the game resumed, Cody Allen came on to pitch and got Miguel Montero to fly out to left, erasing the threat.

Kris Bryant extended his hitting streak to 14 games.  He’s batting .351 with 5 doubles during this stretch of games.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds game against the visiting Detroit Tigers was called on account of rain sweeping across Ohio.

Recently injured starting pitcher Jon Moscot is undergoing surgery to repair his dislocated left (non-throwing) shoulder. Having gone 1-1 with a 4.63 ERA across three starts, Moscot should be out the rest of the season and good to go for 2016.

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers lost their 6th straight (ho hum), defeated 3-2 to the Kansas City Royals.

K.C. took an early 3-0 lead on starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson (L 3-8, 5 IP, 3 ER, 11 H, 2 BB, 0 SO), then allowed Milwaukee to creep back into the game, only to come up short.

Down by one, Milwaukee loaded the bases in the top of the 8th inning, only to have Aramis Ramirez pop out and Scooter Gennett strike out looking at a Wade Davis curveball in the middle of the plate.

Carlos Gomez (hip) was out of the lineup again. He’s played in only 3 of the Brew Crew’s last 9 games.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 43 23 L2
Pittsburgh Pirates 39 27 4.0 W8
Chicago Cubs 35 29 7.0 L1
Cincinnati Reds 30 35 12.5 W2
Milwaukee Brewers 24 44 20.0 L6

* * *

Schedule

39-27 PIRATES Burnett (6-2, 1.89)
34-33 Nationals Ross (1-1, 3.46)
6:05 PM CT
43-23 CARDINALS Lyons (1-0, 5.00)
23-45 Phillies Aumont (NR)
6:05 PM CT
29-39 Marlins Haren (6-3, 3.22)
30-35 REDS Leake (3-4, 4.35)
6:10 PM CT
35-29 CUBS Hendricks (2-2, 3.80)
36-30 Twins Hughes (4-6, 4.79)
7:10 PM CT
24-44 BREWERS Jungmann (1-1, 2.25)
28-38 Rockies De La Rosa (4-2, 4.91)
7:40 PM CT

* * *

NL Central Leaders

WAR (fielders)
Todd Frazier (CIN) 3.7
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 2.8
Joey Votto (CIN) 2.7
Jhonny Peralta (CIN) 2.4
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) 2.2
WAR (pitchers)
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 2.7
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 2.5
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.3
Carlos Martinez (STL) 2.0
2-way tie 1.8

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

Hendricks Dominant in Cubs Win

Kyle Hendricks picked up his 1st win of the year in an impressive shutout.

Kyle Hendricks picked up his 1st win of the year in an impressive shutout.

He doesn’t throw 100 mph and he doesn’t throw a knee-buckling curve. But Kyle Hendricks is controlled and steady.

The Chicago Cubs had some hope that, despite not having the kind of “stuff” that blows away scouts, he had the makeup of a quality starting pitcher and maybe some sort of intangible “it”.

After a rough start to the 2015 season, Hendricks finally had a shining moment last night against the San Diego Padres, putting up a game score of 84 with a 5-hit, no-walk shutout, striking out 7. Hendricks’ ERA plummeted to 4.14 while picking up his first win of the season, throwing 108 pitches in the process.

A couple of the rookies got it done at the plate, with Kris Bryant (5th) and Addison Russell (3rd) going deep in the 1st and 7th innings, respectively, to account for every run in the 3-0 win.

* * *

Jacob deGrom ruined what could have been a special comeback game for Jaime Garcia, blanking the St. Louis Cardinals in a 5-0 win for the New York Mets.

Garcia – now expected to be the permanent replacement for Adam Wainwright‘s vacated spot in the starting rotation – went 7 strong innings, allowing a pair of runs on 5 hits. He did struggle with his command a bit, walking 5.

But deGrom went 8 shutout innings allowing just a single hit and no walks, striking out 11. At one stretch, he retired 23 consecutive batters. Truly dominant stuff.

The top 5 men in the Cardinals lineup each struck out twice while Kolten Wong and Matt Carpenter combined for the only two times a man reached base.

* * *

The highlight from the Milwaukee Brewers‘ 10-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves was reliever Will Smith getting tossed.

That should tell you something.

Matt Garza took the loss, falling to 2-6 on the season with a 5.71 ERA after allowing 4 runs in 6.1 innings of work.

* * *

There was a nice article at the Post-Gazette with some comments from Pittsburgh Pirates‘ middle infielders Neil Walker and Jordy Mercer on the use of defensive shifts. As I stated earlier this week when the Cards’ John Lackey did a little flip out about a ball being hit where the shortstop would have been had the team not been playing an extreme shift to the right side of the infield, for every one team you get beat by the shift, there are a couple of teams where the shift saved you. The numbers don’t lie – batting average on balls put into play keeps dropping, and the advanced scouting and more widely adopted use of shifts is the reason. In fact, giving the numbers so far this season, teams are on pace to employ the shift 7.5 times more often than they did just 4 seasons ago. Read the article here.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

RBI
Ryan Braun (MIL) 29
Kris Bryant (CHC) 27
Starling Marte (PIT) 27
Matt Carpenter (STL) 24
6-way tie 23
Wins
Michael Wacha (STL) 6
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 5
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 4
Jon Lester (CHC) 4
Carlos Martinez (STL) 4

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 27 14 L1
Chicago Cubs 23 17 3.5 W2
Cincinnati Reds 18 22 8.5 L5
Pittsburgh Pirates 18 22 8.5 L2
Milwaukee Brewers 15 27 12.5 L2

* * *

Schedule

24-18 Mets Syndergaard (1-1, 3.18)
18-22 PIRATES Cole (5-2, 2.40)
6:05 PM CT
18-22 REDS Leake (2-2, 3.62)
17-23 Indians Carrasco (4-4, 4.98)
6:10 PM CT
15-27 BREWERS Peralta, W (1-5, 4.32)
20-20 Braves Wood, A (2-2, 3.83)
6:35 PM CT
27-14 CARDINALS Lynn (3-3, 2.96)
26-14 Mets Young, Cr (3-0, 0.94)
7:10 PM CT
23-17 CUBS Lester (4-2, 3.70)
19-21 Diamondbacks Collmenter (3-5, 5.36)
8:40 PM CT