Tagged: Mike Leake

2015 Trade Deadline

Carlos Gomez finally got out of Milwaukee.

Carlos Gomez finally got out of Milwaukee.

Yesterday we saw the Milwaukee Brewers get a deal done for Carlos Gomez, finally shipping one of their few assets for future prospects, hauling in a couple of nice pieces from the Houston Astros.

We’re heading towards the trade deadline later this afternoon – one of the more exciting times of the year for fans of Major League Baseball.

Let’s play a little catch up on what’s happened in the last week!

St. Louis Cardinals
Traded for RF/1B Brandon Moss with the Cleveland Indians.
Traded for RP Steve Cishek with the Miami Marlins, sending #88 prospect LHP Rob Kaminsky.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Traded for 3B Aramis Ramirez with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Purchased P Joe Blanton from the Kansas City Royals.
Traded for RP Joakim Soria with the Detroit Tigers.

Chicago Cubs
No moves

Cincinnati Reds
Traded SP Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals for LHP Brandon Finnegan.
Traded SP Mike Leake to the San Francisco Giants.

Milwaukee Brewers
Traded CF Carlos Gomez and SP Mike Fiers to the Houston Astros for #39 prospect OF Brett Phillips and #88 prospect OF Domingo Santana.

Other players were involved in some of these deals, but I’ve only noted them if they are either current/former Major Leaguers or among MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects.

The Brewers, for example, received four prospects from the ‘stros, but those two mentioned were the big haul.

The Reds’ Leake was dealt for the #1 prospect in the Giants’ system, but he wasn’t currently considered a Top 100 prospect in all of baseball, so I skipped mention of him as well.

And, of course, it’s interesting that (so far) the Cubs have chosen to stand pat, although there have been plenty of rumors involving them over the last couple of days.

Let’s see what happens these last few hours.  Should be interesting.

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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

* * * * * * * * *

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

* * * * * * * * *

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

* * * * * * * * *

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

* * * * * * * * *

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

* * * * * * * * *

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

Cellar Dwellers Come Up Winners

Billy Hamilton had four stolen bases last night.

Billy Hamilton had four stolen bases last night.

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

Let’s get this over with.

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

Standings

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

* * *

Schedule

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

* * *

NL Central Leaders

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

Cards Take It To Dodgers

The Redbirds took 3 of 4 against the Dodgers over the weekend.

The Redbirds took 3 of 4 against the Dodgers over the weekend.

Monday means that it’s time for the Weekend Roundup!

* * *

The St. Louis Cardinals made some noise by taking 3 out of 4 in their weekend series against the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. Their only hiccup came Saturday when they were done in by Clayton Kershaw in a 2-0 shutout loss, but who can blame them for that?

After a convincing 7-1 win on Thursday, the final 3 games of the series all felt like October baseball. Quality stuff.

Of course, the Cards weren’t able to really gain any ground in the division because…

* * *

The Pittsburgh Pirates are on an amazing run, winning 13 of their past 16 games after taking 2 of 3 this weekend against the Atlanta Braves. Gerrit Cole pitched another 7 shutout innings on Sunday and picked up another win; he’s had an amazing season thus far.

No disrespect intended here, but the Bucs now have a 9-game home-stand against the Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox. This hot streak might continue for a while…

* * *

After having dropped series to the Brewers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Miami Marlins, I honestly didn’t expect the Chicago Cubs to do what they did this weekend in D.C. But they managed to take 3 of 4 against the Washington Nationals.

They also started a closer controversy of sorts when Hector Rondon was pulled after facing one batter (a walk) in the 9th inning on Saturday. Pedro Strop picked up the save and Jason Motte got it on Sunday after Rondon pitched a perfect 8th.

Oh, and the Javier Baez watch was put off. He suffered a ring finger injury after sliding head-first into a bag.

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds kept doing their thing, losing 2 of 4 against the San Diego Padres. Stopper Johnny Cueto went 7 shutout innings in a 4-0 win yesterday to help avoid the sweep. He also struck out 9.

The talk of Cueto and Mike Leake being trade-bait has been heating up of late. The team is 13 back in the division, with a pair of winnable series (Phillies and Cubs) this week.

* * *

The Brewers took 2 of 3 in the Twin Cities, visiting the Minnesota Twins over the weekend. They travel to Pittsburgh to start a 3-game tilt today before heading home for a 4-game set with the Nats.

* * *

National League Ranks

Batting Pitching
St. Louis 10th 1st
Chicago 9th 6th
Cincinnati 11th 10th
Pittsburgh 6th 2nd
Milwaukee 14th 14th

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 38 19 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 31 25 6.5 W1
Chicago Cubs 30 25 7.0 W2
Cincinnati Reds 24 31 13.0 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 20 37 18.0 L1

* * *

Schedule

20-37 BREWERS Nelson (2-6, 4.41)
31-25 PIRATES Burnett (6-1, 2.20)
6:05 PM CT
22-36 Phillies Hamels (5-4, 2.88)
24-31 REDS Leake (2-4, 4.40)
6:10 PM CT
38-19 CARDINALS Lackey (4-3, 2.93)
25-30 Rockies Hale (1-0, 4.26)
7:40 PM CT

Reds Lose in Walk-off Fashion (Again)

Ryan Mattheus couldn't handle a throw from Joey Votto, but it was only the straw in an epic Reds collapse.

Ryan Mattheus couldn’t handle a throw from Joey Votto, but it was only the straw in an epic Reds collapse.

The Cincinnati Reds took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the 9th and found a way to lose.

Mike Leake started the 9th, poised to pick up the shutout but allowed leadoff singles to Ben Revere and Jeff Francoeur.

That’s fine, right? You’ve got this left-handed weapon named Aroldis Chapman who throws triple digits like it’s nothing.

In he comes. Chase Utley hit what looked to be a double into left-center, only to have Billy Hamilton make a fantastic diving catch that turned it into a sac fly. Ryan Howard walked, and Maikel Franco hit a three-run homer.

Tie game.

The Philadelphia Phillies ended up winning, 5-4, on an error by pitcher Ryan Mattheus in the bottom of the 11th. After Cody Asche doubled with one out, Freddy Galvis hit a grounder in the hole on the right side. First baseman Joey Votto fielded the ball and tossed to Mattheus, but the throw was a little high and went off the top of his glove, rolling into foul territory while Asche sped home with the winning run.

It’s that kind of season for the Reds, who lost a second straight walk-off game.

In the loss, Votto went 3-for-6 with his 10th homer and a pair of doubles. Brandon Phillips had three hits, including a double, walk and stolen base (7th).

Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart each went 0-for-6.

Leake finished with 2 runs allowed in 8 innings of work, giving up just 3 hits and a pair of walks while whiffing 9 Phils. He had taken a no-hitter into the 7th inning.

The Reds have faced Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels 13 times now and have nothing to show for it. That’s right. 0 wins in 13 chances. Hamels himself is 10-0 with a 1.51 ERA in those 13 starts against Cincinnati.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * *

The Pittsburgh Pirates are on a roll, sweeping the San Francisco Giants with a 5-2 win last night.

The Bucs have won 11 of their last 13 games, finally passing the Cubs and moving into 2nd place in the NL Central.

Francisco Liriano went 7 innings, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and a walk while striking out 6 to improve to 3-4.

Andrew McCutchen stayed hot, reaching base in 2 of his 4 plate appearances.

Jordy Mercer homered for a second straight day. By the way, these were his first two long balls of the season. Quirky.

Mercer, who lost his staring job at shortstop with the combination of himself getting off to a bad start and Jung Ho Kang hitting well, seems to be finding his groove. Although he’s still hitting just .210, he’s hit .370 over his last 9 games.

Mark Melancon, who faced two batters to record his 16th save, now has a 0.47 ERA across his last 19 outings.

Josh Harrison had an off night, going 0-for-5 with 3 strikeouts.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

In other Pirates news, Legendary Pictures – the media company who put together the Jackie Robinson biopic “42” – is reportedly doing the same for Roberto Clemente.

* * *

The St. Louis Cardinals put 5 runs up on Jimmy Nelson and the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1st inning and cruised to a 7-4 win.

Gerardo Parra had a big night for Milwaukee, going 4-for-5 with a HR (3rd).

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

Kevin Modelski at the Post-Dispatch has a feature article on Kolten Wong kick-starting things atop the Cards’ lineup. Go check it out.

* * *

The Chicago Cubs slide continued as Jon Lester was demolished in a 7-3 loss to the Miami Marlins.

Miami took a 6-0 lead and went on from there.

For those who expected the Cubs to compete this season, I’d point out that they’ve now lost series to the Marlins and Brewers this season.

Junior Lake caused a commotion with some unnecessary and misplaced showboating following a homer he hit at a time late in the game when his team trailed 6-0. Acting the fool when you’re team is getting crushed is a really stupid time to be acting that way, Junior. Let’s treat the job with some respect, okay?

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

Gordon Wittenmyer (Sun-Times) had a nice feature article on Addison Russell yesterday that’s worth a read. Read it here.

We wrote a bit yesterday about Javier Baez‘s numbers at Iowa (AAA) and we’ve postulated on how things could be put together were he to get called back up to The Show. Well, add another wrinkle to that story. Baez is getting some work at the hot corner now. So maybe it’s as simple as Kris Bryant moving to left, Starlin Castro and Russell staying where they are, and Chris Coghlan still finding some time in the outfield now that Jorge Soler is expected to miss three weeks with an ankle injury.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .443
Matt Holliday (STL) .430
Matt Carpenter (STL) .396
Joey Votto (CIN) .387
Kris Bryant (CHC) .382
WHIP
Jason Hammel (CHC) 0.896
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.953
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.042
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 1.050
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.085

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 35 18 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 29 24 6.0 W3
Chicago Cubs 27 24 7.0 L2
Cincinnati Reds 22 29 12.0 L2
Milwaukee Brewers 18 36 17.5 L2

* * *

Schedule

27-24 CUBS Arrieta (4-4, 3.18)
29-24 Nationals Gonzalez, G (4-2, 4.73)
6:05 PM CT
22-29 REDS DeSclafani (3-4, 3.41)
21-33 Phillies Harang (4-5, 2.02)
6:05 PM CT
35-18 CARDINALS Wacha (7-1, 2.27)
31-22 Dodgers Frias (4-2, 4.29)
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

Cubs Hold Off Mets; Marte, Cole Keep Pirates Hot

The Chicago Cubs' Anthony Rizzo connected for his 7th homer of the year last night.

The Chicago Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo connected for his 7th homer of the year last night.

No intra-divisional games going on last night which means a whole lot of recapping to do. With the St. Louis Cardinals getting their first day off in 21 days, we’ll work our way down from the #2 spot in the division to #5.

* * *

The Chicago Cubs opened up the Wrigley Field bleachers for the first time in 2015 – well, except for right field which is still under construction. It’s a start.

Anyhow, you may all remember that awful stretch to begin the season, but Jon Lester is now tied for the Cubs’ team lead in wins (3), picking up his 3rd straight win in a 4-3 victory over the NL East-leading New York Mets.

Kris Bryant (2nd) and Anthony Rizzo (7th) hit back-to-back homers in the 1st inning, while the Cubs got some mixture of luck and great defense in the latter innings to hold their lead. In the 8th, with a man on 1st and none out, the Mets’ Lucas Duda hit a scorcher down the right field line that was caught by Rizzo at first who was then a step away from doubling Michael Cuddyer up. In the 9th, the Mets again led off by putting the potential tying runner on base, but Dilson Herrera‘s liner up the middle was caught by a diving Starlin Castro from shortstop, and then pinch-hitter Johnny Monell‘s grounder to second appeared to eat up the fielder only to have Addison Russell quickly recover to start a game-ending 4-6-3 double play, complete with a Castro fist pump as the ball hit Rizzo’s glove for the final out.

* * *

From Starlin to Starling Marte, who hit his 8th homer of the season while Gerrit Cole picked up his 5th win to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates over the intra-state rival Philadelphia Phillies, 4-3.

Mark Melancon picked up his 8th save, but not without some drama. In the 9th, Odubel Herrera led off with a homer that made it a 1-run game. Carlos Ruiz singled with one out, but Melancon got a pair of fly outs to close the game out.

Cole went 7 innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits and a pair of walks, striking out 6. That raised his ERA to 2.32, still among the division’s best.

Jung Ho Kang got his 3rd straight start as he continued to shed a bad Spring Training and show he might just belong in the lineup after all. Kang has a .333/.386/.529 slash line in 21 games while the struggling Josh Harrison is at .173/.209/.282 in 28 games. Also a factor – Harrison’s .938 fielding percentage to go with 5 errors at third base; Kang has fielded 16 balls at third without an error in 2015.

Pittsburgh has rattled off three straight wins.

* * *

Aroldis Chapman‘s wild pitch allowed the eventual game-winning run to score in the top of the 9th as the Cincinnati Reds lost at home to the Atlanta Braves, 2-1.

Between innings, Chapman appeared to throw his glove about 103 miles per hour in the dugout.

It’s a small sample size, of course, but in the last two nights Chapman has gone 1.2 innings and allowed 6 hits. His ERA had been 0.00 before then; it’s now up to 1.26.

The loss dragged the Reds’ losing streak out to 3 games.

Cincinnati’s inability to muster any offense against Braves starter Shelby Miller (1.60 ERA) spoiled another nice start by Mike Leake, who went 6 innings and allowed one run on 8 hits and a pair of walks.

At one stretch, Miller retired 15 straight Reds. Dominating effort.

* * *

Check it out. The Milwaukee Brewers win again, this time a 10-7 win over the Chicago White Sox who are now 2-10 on the road.

Milwaukee had an early 6-0 lead, only to fritter it away and allow the ChiSox to tie it up 7-7 in the top of the 8th.

In the bottom of the inning, Elian Herrera (3rd) and Khris Davis (3rd) each took White Sox reliever Zach Duke deep, giving the Brew Crew their 7th win in their last 10 games. They have won their last three in a row.

Carlos Gomez homered (2nd) and tripled for Milwaukee, driving in a pair of runs.

On the down side, Scooter Gennett was 0-for-3 (.189) and committed his 3rd error of the season. Gennett’s .953 fielding percentage at second is the league’s 3rd worst mark, with the Cubs’ Addison Russell (.949) at the bottom.

37-year old Aramis Ramirez missed his fourth straight game with a sore lower back. He’s planning on retiring after the 2015 season.

* * *

I’m a little concerned about Matt Carpenter, who has been having bouts of vertigo, exhaustion, dehydration – you name it… Carpenter was off to an amazing start, connecting for a potential record-breaking number of doubles. But the last week has seen him miss some games with various maladies. He’s expected to play tonight against the Cleveland Indians, but nothing is guaranteed. We’ll keep an eye on this one.

* * *

Interesting note on the NL Central’s ERA Leaderboard below. As much as the Cards are known for their top pitching staff right now, look which teams have some of the top marks thus far. In fact, were I to extend that board, you’d find only one Cardinal pitcher in the top 7.

What does it mean? Well, it could mean the Cardinals’ bullpen has been better. It could just mean the Cardinals have more depth from 1 to 5 in their rotation than other teams. It could also mean that, in a playoff series where you can lean on your top guns more, some of these teams might actually be better poised for success than the Redbirds.

It’s also only May 12th, so let’s stay tuned on this one.

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NL Central Leaders

ERA
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 1.66
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.09
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 2.32
Mike Leake (CIN) 2.36
Anthony DeSclafani (CIN) 2.50

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Schedule

22-9 CARDINALS Lynn (1-3, 3.82)
11-19 Indians Carrasco (4-2, 4.71)
5:10 PM CT
16-16 PIRATES Burnett (1-1, 1.66)
11-22 Phillies O’Sullivan (0-1, 4.91)
6:05 PM CT
15-17 Braves Foltynewicz (2-0, 5.23)
15-17 REDS DeSclafani (2-3, 2.50)
6:10 PM CT
20-12 Mets Syndergaard (NR)
16-15 CUBS Arrieta (3-3, 3.41)
7:05 PM CT
12-17 White Sox Sale (2-1, 5.93)
12-21 BREWERS Fiers (1-4, 5.46)
7:10 PM CT

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Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 22 9 L2
Chicago Cubs 16 15 6.0 W1
Pittsburgh Pirates 16 16 6.5 W3
Cincinnati Reds 15 17 7.5 L3
Milwaukee Brewers 12 21 11.0 W3