Tagged: Randal Grichuk

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

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

Weekend Recap

The Pittsburgh Pirates closed within 5 games of the division lead again, sweeping the New York Mets over the weekend.

It puts them right back where they were exactly one week ago. They haven’t been closer than 5 back since after the games of July 29th, when they pulled within 4.5 games.

The St. Louis Cardinals won 2 out of 3 against the Miami Marlins and the Chicago Cubs had a 9-game winning streak upended although they still defeated the cross-town Chicago White Sox 2 out of 3 as well.

In the Wild Card chase, everybody’s pre-season pick to win the whole she-bang, the Washington Nationals, are now below .500 as they have dropped 6 straight games. Sweeping them over the weekend was the San Francisco Giants, who are now just 3.5 games behind the Cubs for the 2nd Wild Card spot.

* * * * * * * * *

The Cardinals now take on the Giants at home for a 3-game set starting this evening. Puts the Pirates and Cubs in an interesting situation, for sure. Trying to win the division still? Gotta’ root for the Giants. Want to just make sure you make the playoffs? Root for the Cards.

The Red Birds then head West for a 10-game trip on the Pacific coast, finishing this week against the San Diego Padres.

The Bucs are in the midst of a stretch in which they must play every day for 20 straight days. This week they have a 7-game home-stand against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Giants.

The Cubs are also at home for their next 7 games. They take today off, then play two against the Detroit Tigers, four against the Atlanta Braves and one make-up game against the Cleveland Indians.

* * * * * * * * *

Cardinals center fielder Randal Grichuk is expected to undergo an MRI today, checking out some problems with his right (throwing) elbow that forced him out of yesterday afternoon’s game.

A popular name in the NL Rookie of the Year race, the 23-year old Grichuk is hitting .284 with 21 doubles, 7 triples and 15 homers in 85 games. He leads the team with an OPS+ of 140, 9 points higher than Matt Carpenter.

* * * * * * * * *

The Post-Gazette reports that starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (8-5, 3.06) is close to pitching off of a mound again as he recovers from a flexor strain in his right elbow.

Also close to returning from the DL for Pittsburgh is the left side of their infield, with both Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer expected back soon after making recent rehab starts at AAA.

Tonight’s Pirate starting pitcher, Gerrit Cole, is an interesting watch to me. In three August starts, he’s 0-2 with a 4.41 ERA, failing to go more than 6 innings in any start.

In his 5 prior starts, he had gone at least 6.2 innings each time out.

Cole threw 160.1 innings of pro ball last year and is up to 148.2 right now, so he’s closing in on his previous high. Is he fatigued?

I’m interested to see if he can rebound against Arizona.

* * * * * * * * *

Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 75 42 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 69 46 5.0 W4
Chicago Cubs 67 49 7.5 L1
Cincinnati Reds 51 65 23.5 L3
Milwaukee Brewers 51 68 25.0 W3

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 69 46 +2.5
Chicago Cubs 67 49
San Francisco Giants 64 53 3.5

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

57-59 Diamondbacks Hellickson (8-8, 4.73)
69-46 PIRATES Cole (14-6, 2.48)
6:05 PM CT
64-53 Giants Heston (11-7, 3.38)
75-42 CARDINALS Wacha (14-4, 2.93)
7:09 PM CT
47-70 Marlins Nicolino (1-1, 4.86)
51-68 BREWERS Garza (6-12, 4.82)
7:10 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

National League Ranks

Batting Pitching
St. Louis 8th 1st
Pittsburgh 4th 3rd
Chicago 7th 5th
Cincinnati 10th 10th
Milwaukee 11th 11th

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

* * * *

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

* * * *

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

* * * *

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

* * *

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

Cards Streak Snapped At Six By Sox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game Highlights from MLB.com

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

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

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

Jason Motte picked up his 3rd save.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

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

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

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

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

Milwaukee has now won 6 of their last 8 games.

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

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

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

Standings

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

* * *

Schedule

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

* * *

NL Central Leaders

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

Grichuk, Cards Rebound

Randal Grichuk shook off Monday's performance and led the Cardinals Tuesday evening.

Randal Grichuk shook off Monday’s performance and led the Cardinals Tuesday evening.

Randal Grichuk shook off his 0-for-6, 5 strikeouts performance in a 14-inning loss to the New York Mets on Monday and followed through with a 3-hit, 3-RBI game Tuesday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals pounded the Mets, 10-2, behind Grichuk (3B, 2 2B) and Mark Reynolds (3-for-5, HR).

Michael Wacha won again, improving to 6-0 after going 7 innings and allowing 2 runs and 4 hits and a pair of walks. Wacha struck out 5.

The Redbirds blew the game open in the top of the 6th inning, improving on a 4-2 lead by sending 10 men to the plate in a 6-run outburst.

In other news, OF Jon Jay is on target to return from the DL on May 26th. Jay has been out with thumb and wrist injuries.

* * *

The Chicago Cubs couldn’t hold on to a 2-0 lead and let the San Diego Padres come back for a 4-3 win.

Actually, the Cubs’ fielders couldn’t hold on to anything either.

After having had a pretty nice run of error-free games – eight, to be exact – the Baby Bears committed three of them last night and that led to three unearned runs.

In the bottom of the 5th, Justin Upton led off by reaching on a throwing error by 3B Kris Bryant that sailed high over 1B Anthony Rizzo‘s head. He later scored.

In the bottom of the 6th, Matt Kemp also led off by reaching on an error, this time on a grounder that ate up SS Starlin Castro. A 2-out RBI single by Will Venable tied the game by bringing home another unearned run.

And in the bottom of the 8th, with the score tied 2-2, Clint Barmes – yes, this happened three times – led off and reached base on an error. This one was a dropped pop up in shallow center field by 2B Addison Russell. Both Barmes and Cory Spangenberg scored on a 2-RBI double off the bat of Derek Norris. That lead run – unearned.

Jason Hammel had a nice start for the Cubs, going 7 innings and allowing no earned runs on 3 hits and no walks to go along with 8 strikeouts. We’ve been seeing his name pop up on the NL Central Leaderboards under WHIP and ERA, which fell to 2.70 after this start. The Cubs did well to bring him back.

There’s been some talk of Chris Coghlan‘s roster security, but he had a 2-homer night for the Cubs. (He also struck out twice.) Coghlan, who is hitting .205 this year, said he isn’t worried. The former NL Rookie of the Year actually had a pretty decent season for the Cubs last year and there’s still some time to turn things around as we head towards the end of the end of May.

Aside from the costly error, Castro had a rough night at the plate, going 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts.

In light of this Cubs/Padres series, Carlos Portocarrero at Sports on Earth took a look at how the Rizzo-for-Andrew Cashner trade. Read the article here.

* * *

The Cincinnati Reds managed just 4 hits in a 3-0 shutout at the hands of Yordano Ventura (7 IP, 6 SO) and the Kansas City Royals.

It was the 4th straight loss for the Redlegs.

Future trade-bait, Johnny Cueto, fell to 3-4 on the year despite a 3.03 ERA. He continues to get miserable run support when he’s on the mound, further pointing out the ludicrous nature of the Win-Loss statistic for pitchers. You can throw phenomenally, but if you’re team can’t hit a lick, you get hung with the “L”.

* * *

The Minnesota Twins scored 6 in the 2nd inning en route to an 8-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Although this highlight of Pedro Alvarez hitting a ball into a boat on the Allegheny River is pretty damned awesome.

Francisco Liriano went just 2 innings for Pittsburgh, watching his ERA climb from 2.96 to 4.15 in 2015.

Both Gregory Polanco (2 SO) and Andrew McCutchen (1 SO) went 0-for-5 at the plate for the Bucs. I die a little inside every time I point out another bad game for McCutchen.

Pittsburgh has lost 5 of their last 6 games.

On a bright note, Josh Harrison has been heating up. In the last 7 games, he’s hitting .517 with 6 extra-base hits.

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers unpredictably went up 2-0 on the Detroit Tigers in this series with a dominant 8-1 win on the road.

6 continued to be the magic number of the day as the Brew Crew put up a 6-spot of their own in the top of the 3rd inning. The highlight came with 2 outs in the inning when Ryan Braun (9th), Adam Lind (7th) and Aramis Ramirez (5th) hit homers on three consecutive at bats.

Braun also doubled in a 4-RBI night.

Jimmy Nelson (W 2-4) went 8 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and 4 walks. His ERA dropped to 3.73 for the season.

Martin Maldonado went back to being a blight in the lineup, going 0-for-4 and committing an error. He’s putting up a slash line of .154/.204/.220, which is not too far removed from his .215/.279/.339 career slash line. He’s 1-for-25 in his last 7 games.

I get that catchers offer value in ways other than their performance at the plate, but the Brewers have to be dying for Jonathan Lucroy to get back from the DL.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

Home Runs
Todd Frazier (CIN) 12
Ryan Braun (MIL) 9
Marlon Byrd (CIN) 8
Starling Marte (PIT) 8
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 8
Strikeouts
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 60
Lance Lynn (STL) 58
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 55
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 53
2-way tie 52

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 26 13 W1
Chicago Cubs 21 17 4.5 L2
Cincinnati Reds 18 21 8.0 L4
Pittsburgh Pirates 18 21 8.0 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 15 25 11.5 W2

* * *

Schedule

22-17 Twins Pelfrey (3-1, 3.23)
18-21 PIRATES Locke (2-2, 5.40)
6:05 PM CT
15-25 BREWERS Lohse (3-4, 5.85)
23-17 Tigers Greene (4-2, 4.21)
6:08 PM CT
26-13 CARDINALS Martinez, C (3-2, 4.73)
23-17 Mets Colon, B (6-2, 3.86)
6:10 PM CT
18-21 REDS Marquis (3-3, 6.63)
25-14 Royals Guthrie (3-2, 5.44)
7:10 PM CT
21-17 CUBS Wada (NR)
20-20 Padres Ross, T (2-3, 3.94)
9:10 PM CT

Cards Slump Continues, Fall in 14 to Mets

Eric Campbell slid in ahead of the throw home as the New York Mets handed the St. Louis Cardinals a 14-inning loss.

Eric Campbell slid in ahead of the throw home as the New York Mets handed the St. Louis Cardinals a 14-inning loss.

For 8 innings, the St. Louis Cardinals were shut down by Matt Harvey and the New York Mets.

Harvey went 8 shutout innings, allowing 6 hits and a walk to go along with 9 strikeouts.

Thankfully for the Cards, John Lackey had done pretty well himself – 7 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 6 SO.

And so the door was left open for them to tie the game up in the top of the 9th.

With one out, Matt Adams singled and was replaced by pinch-runner Pete Kozma. The move paid off when Koz moved to third on Yadier Molina‘s base hit into right and then scored on Jason Heyward‘s sac fly to right, tying the game up.

From there it was all up to the bullpens.

In the bottom of the 9th, the Mets had Curtis Granderson on 2nd with one out – couldn’t score him.

In the top of the 11th, the Cardinals had Jhonny Peralta on 2nd with two out – couldn’t score him.

In the top of the 14th, the Cardinals had Heyward on 2nd with one out – couldn’t score him.

The game finally ended in the bottom of the 14th when the Cardinals’ Sam Tuivailala walked the first two men he faced, one of whom scored when pinch-hitter John Mayberry hit a walk-off, bases-loaded single off of Trevor Rosenthal.

With five infielders, Mayberry hit a ball to Peralta’s right from shortstop. Peralta dove to knock the ball down, recovered, and threw home but it was too late as Eric Campbell scored well ahead of the throw.

The two teams combined for 32 strikeouts in 27.1 innings of pitching, allowing 3 runs.

So are all the injuries catching up to the Cardinals? Or it just a matter of facing tougher teams as of late? They’ve now lost 6 of their last 9.

Randal Grichuk (5 strikeouts) and Matt Carpenter (3 strikeouts) were each 0-for-6.

Lackey, by the way, did not want to speak to the media post-game and appeared very upset about the one run he allowed – an RBI base hit by Lucas Duda to the left side of second base with the Cards playing three infielders on the right side and one of the left with Carpenter holding a runner on third.

There have been numerous studies that show that the data leading to more shifts has been largely successful, but when it fails (as it did in that particular at bat) it’s more magnified because of the peculiarity of the situation. I think this sort of thing will become increasingly normal, more acceptable and less cause for a hissy-fit from a pitcher like Lackey or the anti-shift tirade from the Pirates’ A.J. Burnett a couple of years ago. For every one time the shift burns you, there are a couple more times where it has saved you. It’s been working. Everybody relax.

* * *

I did a double take when I received my notification that the Milwaukee Brewers had beaten the Detroit Tigers, 3-2. How can this be?

Carlos Gomez went 2-for-5 with a homer (4th) in the first plate appearance of the game and RBI single to break a 2-2 tie in the top of the 7th.

Martin Maldonado snapped an 0-for-19 stretch.

Khris Davis was 0-for-4 and grounded into a double play.

* * *

The Chicago Cubs optioned lefty reliever Phil Coke, moved fellow lefty Travis Wood to the bullpen, and recalled a third lefty – Tsuyoshi Wada – to join the rotation.

In 16 appearances, Coke had a 6.30 ERA this season, allowing 17 of the 45 batters he faced to reach base for a 1.700 WHIP.

Wood is carrying a 5.45 ERA to go with a 1.263 WHIP in 8 appearances, including 7 starts.

The 34-year old Wada went 4-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 13 starts for the Cubs last season. While rehabbing from a groin injury, he went 1-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 6 starts.

The Cubs feel more confident with other left-handed relief options in Zac Rosscup (16 G, 1.02 WHIP) and James Russell (7 G, 1.25 WHIP).

In other Cubs news, their 3-headed catcher experiment officially ended just a few moments ago as Welington Castillo was traded to the Seattle Mariners for relief pitcher Yoervis Medina.

Castillo was expected to be the odd man out from the beginning and the Cubs had been seeking trade partners since Spring Training. When none were found, they opened the season with Castillo, Miguel Montero and David Ross. Castillo was hitting .163 in 43 AB this year, although he did seem to square up the ball pretty well on some of the outs that I saw.

In 12 appearances this season, the right-handed Medina had a horrid 1.500 WHIP. His ERA was just 3.00, but for relief pitchers (who can enter games mid-inning and therefore create artificially low ERAs), that WHIP is a real killer. 18 of 54 batters faced had reached base. The 26-year old has a career 9.2 K/9 in 141 relief appearances to go along with a 1.336 WHIP and 2.82 ERA.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

AVG
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .344
Matt Holliday (STL) .320
Matt Carpenter (STL) .314
Brandon Phillips (CIN) .310
Kolten Wong (STL) .304
ERA
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 1.38
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.06
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 2.40
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 2.77
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 2.93

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 25 13 L1
Chicago Cubs 21 16 3.5 L1
Cincinnati Reds 18 20 7.0 L3
Pittsburgh Pirates 18 20 7.0 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 14 25 11.5 W1

* * *

Schedule

21-17 Twins Nolasco (3-1, 6.38)
18-20 PIRATES Liriano, F (1-3, 2.96)
6:05 PM CT
14-25 BREWERS Nelson (1-4, 4.22)
23-16 Tigers Sanchez, An (3-4, 4.76)
6:08 PM CT
25-13 CARDINALS Wacha (5-0, 2.06)
23-16 Mets Niese (3-3, 2.49)
6:10 PM CT
18-20 REDS Cueto (3-3, 2.93)
24-14 Royals Ventura (2-3, 5.36)
7:10 PM CT
21-16 CUBS Hammel (3-1, 3.11)
19-20 Padres Shields (5-0, 3.91)
9:10 PM CT