The Pittsburgh Pirates avoided the sweep last night at Wrigley Field, trouncing the Chicago Cubs 8-1.
Gerrit Cole was magnificent again, tossing 6 innings and allowing just one unearned run. Cole struck out 8 Cubs and walked one, surrendering three hits. He retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced.
The 24-year old Cole, who was the top pick in the 2011 draft, is currently among the National League’s Top 10 in ERA (1.76), Wins (4-0), Strikeouts (35) and Strikeouts per 9 Innings (10.3). His 2.19 FIP is 3rd best.
Gerrit Cole will be impressive, he’s steady for a young kid, he has that presence and that swagger that tells you don’t mess around
— Pedro Martinez (@45PedroMartinez) April 30, 2015
In his 13th appearance of the season, Jung Ho Kang went 3-for-4 with a double, 2 RBI, a walk and a stolen base. Kang has put up a .269/.310/.346 slash line this season.
Although he’s hitting just .194 this season, Andrew McCutchen racked up his 1,000th career hit in the ballgame.
For the Cubs, Jorge Soler continued to struggle, going 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, also grounding into a double play. He’s now 2 for his last 25.
Other Rookie of the Year hopeful, Kris Bryant, went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts, drawing a walk in his other plate appearance.
The loss snapped a 4-game winning streak for the Cubs.
The Bucs start a big series in St. Louis on Friday night while the Cubs hope Jon Lester can get the ship righted against Milwaukee.
* * *
The St. Louis Cardinals got a 4-run 5th inning, leading them to a 5-2 win at home over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Jason Heyward batted 6th again and went 2-for-4, upping his season average to .228.
Matt Adams (.281) had another pair of hits as well.
Peter Bourjos started and led off, showcasing his speed in that 5th inning by first tying the game at 2-2 with an RBI triple and then scoring at home on a fielder’s choice to put the Redbirds ahead, 3-2. Carpenter grounded one to Ryan Howard at first. He came home with the throw, but Bourjos got in under the tag just before it was applied.
Bourjos later showed off his wheels in the field, taking away a possible double off the bat of Chase Utley, sprinting towards the wall in right-center to make a nice running catch.
Tim Cooney got the call up from AAA and will make his Major League debut for the Cards, taking the place of the injured Adam Wainwright. Cooney grew up a Phillies fan and gets to face off against his childhood team this afternoon.
* * *
In the afternoon, Cincinnati Reds rookie starting pitcher Mike Lorenzen made his debut against the Milwaukee Brewers, taking the loss.
Milwaukee won 8-3 with Ryan Braun going 3-for-5, driving in 5 runs and connecting for a pair of homers (4).
Adam Lind also homered (4) and had a pair of hits to up his season average to .333.
Lorenzen (L 0-1) went 5 innings, struck out 5, and allowed 3 runs on 8 hits and a walk, giving up 3 gopher balls.
Milwaukee should be getting star center fielder Carlos Gomez back as well. On the 15-day DL with a right hamstring strain, Gomez is eligible to return Friday and stated that he expects to be in the lineup this Saturday against the Cubs.
* * *
|8-14||Philadelphia||Buchanan, D (0-4, 7.52)|
|14-6||ST. LOUIS||Cooney (NR)|
|12:45 PM CT|
|10-11||CINCINNATI||Leake (0-1, 3.90)|
|10-11||Atlanta||Miller, S (3-0, 2.05)|
|6:10 PM CT|
* * *
|St. Louis Cardinals||14||6||–||W2|
Been thinking about the train wreck that is the Milwaukee Brewers and how hopeless the future seems to be.
They lost again last night, falling to 4-17 on the season and are 10 games back (again) of the St. Louis Cardinals.
A friend of mine from New York was on a trip to Milwaukee for a pair of ballgames last weekend and recently quipped on Facebook “I have seen 25% of all Brewers wins this year.”
What’s truly disheartening is how they don’t have the ability to go anywhere and didn’t seem to have planned for it.
They came into the season by most pre-season picks as maybe the 3rd best team in the division (at best) but were picked by most as 4th or last. The number 2% came up quite a bit as their chance of making the playoffs.
But they don’t have pieces to move, so far as I can see. There’s no veteran talent that you could deal off in return for prospects. They seem to be built with this belief that they had everything they needed to win now.
I listen to Milwaukee sports radio some times and the things I heard during the off-season were borderline delusional.
As for their more immediate future, here are some rankings of the NL Central’s Minor League Organization Talent Ratings per Baseball America (BA) and Baseball Prospectus (BP).
|St. Louis Cardinals||16||13|
You’d be hard pressed to find anybody who doesn’t think that the Cubs and Pirates are the future of the division. The Brewers are already well behind at the Major League level and don’t have anything coming down the pipeline. The time to rebuild is now, but how? What’s on that team that you can get value in return for?
* * *
The Chicago Cubs won their 4th straight, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates soundly at home, 6-2.
Travis Wood (W 2-1) went 7 innings, striking out 9 while allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and no walks.
I was surprised to notice yesterday afternoon how many stolen bases the Cubs had in 2015, and last night they added five more and now lead the National League with 25 in total. They’ve been successful on 81% of their attempts, which is well above what most Sabermetric analysts will say is an acceptable rate.
Last night they had a pair of successful double steals, while Dexter Fowler and Anthony Rizzo (!) each swiped their 6th of the year. On the bad side, they were caught stealing twice and picked off once. There was also plenty of taking extra bases on hits last night, so this is definitely an aggressive team.
Top play by Kris Bryant wasn’t even at bat (though he did have an RBI single). With the Bucs staging a rally and Corey Hart on 2nd, Starling Marte roped a single into left field. Junior Lake (with his first start of the year after a recent call-up) fielded the ball cleanly. Hart rounded 3rd and the 3rd base coach put up his hands to signal for Hart to hold. Hart had rounded too far, but not too far. Bryant took the cut off throw from Lake and immediately went on an all-out sprint towards Hart to try to tag him. Hart fairly casually jogged towards 3rd – he was only about 10 feet away and Bryant about 20 feet away. While the ump called Hart safe getting back to 3rd, the play was reviewed by Cubs manager Joe Maddon and video replay confirmed that Bryant tagged him just a beat before Hart’s left foot tapped the bag. Heads-up play by the rookie who, while he occasionally lets one go over the head of Rizzo at first, is still playing really smart baseball. It’s only two weeks, but he’s been the real deal.
Josh Harrison had a rough night for Pitt, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout and error.
The Pirates get a good chance to avoid the sweep tonight with Gerrit Cole (3-0, 2.19) taken to the mound.
* * *
The Cardinals rebounded to torch the Philadelphia Phillies, 11-5, roughing up Severino Gonzalez in his first career start.
Michael Wacha improved to 4-0 with less than dominant stuff, going 5.2 IP and allowing 4 runs on 6 hits and a pair of walks, striking out 4.
Randy Choate, Mitch Harris, and Carlos Villaneuva combined for 3.1 innings out of the pen, allowing 1 unearned run.
It was all Matts, as Holliday (.383) and Adams (.267) had 3 hits each and Carpenter (.380) had a pair, including his 12th double of the season.
Mike Matheny shook things up with the lineup, with Carp hitting out of #2 spot in the lineup while Jason Heyward (.213) moved down to 6th. Jon Jay batted 1st. It was the first time this year that any of those 3 batted in that spot in the order. Given the results, let’s see if the Cards stick with that.
* * *
As mentioned previously, the Brewers were 4-2 losers to the Cincinnati Reds.
All 6 runs scored on homers. The Brew Crew got solo shots from Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez – it was the 2nd of the year for each. The Redlegs got a solo homer from Joey Votto (7th) in the 1st, then back-to-back homers with 2 outs in the 4th that put them ahead 4-0. The first was a 2-run tater for Brandon Phillips (1st) followed by a solo homer for Marlon Byrd (2nd). All 3 homers were surrendered by Kyle Lohse, whose ERA is 7.28 this year.
Johnny Cueto (W 2-2) went 8 innings with 6 strikeouts, allowing just 3 hits and no walks. Reds manager Bryan Price did the right thing coming off of Cueto’s last start, when he racked up 124 pitches. This time, at just 85 pitches but cruising along and holding a 2-run lead, Price moved to shutdown closer Aroldis Chapman to save both the game and Cueto’s arm.
Chapman struck out 2 in the 9th for his 5th save.
The game was completed in 2 hours and 11 minutes.
With Homer Bailey out for the year with an arm injury, the Reds called up Mike Lorenzen from AAA to join the rotation. He’ll get the start this afternoon with Mike Leake’s turn getting pushed back a day. Lorenzen, a 23-year old righthander who was a 1st round draft pick, had gone 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA at AAA Louisville this year.
Fangraphs’ scouting report gives Lorenzen some pretty high marks on his 99 mph fastball (a 60 with a 65 potential) and low-80s slider (50/60). Check out their scouting report on Lorenzen here. And here’s a scouting report from MLB Pipeline last fall.
The thought of putting Tony Cingrani back into the rotation with Bailey’s injury was shut down. After a month working out of the pen, he’d have to get stretched back out to work longer.
The Reds are .500 again, but are just 5-9 against teams not named the Brewers.
* * *
|4-17||MILWAUKEE||Garza, M (1-3, 5.16)|
|11:35 AM CT|
|11-10||PITTSBURGH||Cole (3-0, 2.19)|
|12-7||CHICAGO||Hendricks (0-0, 5.74)|
|7:05 PM CT|
|8-13||Philadelphia||Harang (2-1, 1.37)|
|13-6||ST. LOUIS||Martinez, C (2-0, 1.35)|
|7:15 PM CT|
* * *
|St. Louis Cardinals||13||6||–||W1|
I find the talk about bringing the designated hitter to the National League sooner rather than later to be a bit ridiculous.
Let me clarify. I am not opposed to the DH in the NL. I prefer keeping the rules as they are.
However, there are multiple reasons that lead me to believe it is inevitable that the DH is introduced to the National League. I’ve written about them before and don’t need to rehash it, but it’s basically something I’m resigned to.
What chafes me, however, is pointing to the Adam Wainwright injury as a point in favor of the DH.
That Achilles injury had nothing to do with being asked to hit. Yes, it happened while he was in the batter’s box. But that’s a matter of circumstance more than anything.
As the broadcasters pointed out during last night’s broadcast, when Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard suffered the same injury a few years back, doctors told him that it was basically a time bomb waiting to go off. There was nothing he could have done about it. It was going happen somehow, someway.
So while Waino’s Achilles tore while starting to run out of the batter’s box, it could just as easily have happened while he was picking up a gallon of milk at the grocery store.
Wainwright, by the way, is a career .198 hitter with 6 homers. Not shabby for a pitcher.
He’s scheduled to have surgery this Thursday.
* * *
In action last night, the Chicago Cubs were winners over the Pittsburgh Pirates, ending the Bucs’ 5-game winning streak.
Jason Hammel went 8 innings for the win, striking out 7 in the 4-0 shutout.
Anthony Rizzo continued to stay hot, picking up two RBI; he has reached base in 32 of his last 60 plate appearances. Jorge Soler broke an 0-for-15 slump with a pair of hits, including a nice hit through the right side on a hit and run play.
* * *
The St. Louis Cardinals couldn’t hold on to a mid-game lead, losing 4-1 to the Phillies.
Philly starter Cole Hamels, an ideal replacement for Wainwright in the St. Louis rotation, went 7 innings for the win, striking out 9 Cardinals.
Cody Stanley entered the game as a pinch-hitter and struck out as the potential tying run against Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Left-handed pitcher Tim Cooney (AAA: 2-1, 3.63), one of the possible guys to replace Wainwright in the rotation, was pulled from his start in Memphis last night. So take that as a strong indicator that he’ll be starting this Thursday.
The Cardinals got good news on Marco Gonzales‘ injury, with an MRI revealing “no structural damage” and him being cleared to resume throwing tomorrow. He seems to be the more likely long-term guy to plug into the rotation and he has plus stuff.
* * *
The Cincinnati Reds handed the Milwaukee Brewers another loss.
To keep with the theme of pointing out pitcher’s hitting abilities, Reds starter Jason Marquis had a hit and an RBI, also pitching 8 innings in the 9-6 win.
Jimmy Nelson had a horrible outing, with four unintentional walks, matching his total from his previous three starts. Nelson’s line: 2.1 IP, 7 R, 6 ER, 6 H, 5 BB.
The Milwaukee staff walked nine, hit a batter, and threw four wild pitches.
It was a blowout until Milwaukee staged a little rally in the 9th. Aroldis Chapman struck out Ryan Braun, who entered the game as a pinch hitter and represented the tying run at the plate, to end the game. Braun is hitting .226 in 66 plate appearances with just one extra-base hit.
For the Reds, Jay Bruce homered (4th) and had a trio of walks. On the flip side, Joey Votto went 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts and also grounded into a double play.
* * *
Another starting pitcher goes down, with the Reds’ Homer Bailey going on the DL with a right elbow ligament strain. Like Wainwright, this should be the end of Bailey’s season.
Bailey had surgery last September and started this year on the DL, eventually going 0-1 with a 5.56 ERA in 2 starts.
* * *
|4-16||MILWAUKEE||Lohse (1-3, 7.94)|
|9-10||CINCINNATI||Cueto (1-2, 1.86)|
|6:10 PM CT|
|11-9||PITTSBURGH||Locke (2-0, 3.32)|
|11-7||CHICAGO||Wood, T (1-1, 3.24)|
|7:05 PM CT|
|8-12||Philadelphia||Gonzalez, S (NR)|
|12-6||ST. LOUIS||Wacha (3-0, 1.33)|
|7:15 PM CT|
* * *
|St. Louis Cardinals||12||6||–||L2|
Joey Votto has been often mentioned as a front-runner candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. Last night he got that campaign kicked off in style.
Votto hit just .255 last season, appearing in only 62 games. On the bright side, his on base percentage was still a robust .390, but he only had 6 homers.
Aside from 2008, when he hit “only” .297, Votto had a string of .300 seasons, so last year was definitely a down one for the first baseman.
Last night, Votto tied the game up with a two-out single in the 7th inning and then he won it with another RBI single in the bottom of the 11th, sometimes shortly before 2 AM local. (I’m glad I didn’t stay up to watch the whole thing.)
Walk-off. The Cincinnati Reds win and improve to 2-0, dropping the Pittsburgh Pirates to 0-2.
Votto is hitting .400 through the first two games of the season.
From the lead-off spot, Billy Hamilton is hitting .444. He stole three bases last night after having pilfered one on Opening Day as well.
Gerrit Cole was throwing gas last night for the Bucs, but lasted just 5 innings after racking up 93 pitches. Such is the life of a strikeout pitcher. The pitch counts add up. Cole finished with 6 strikeouts and 2 walks, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits.
Todd Frazier was the Opening Day hero for the Reds with a walk-off homer. The 2014 NL Central Hub All-Division third baseman hit his 2nd homer of the season in the 1st inning, giving the Reds an early 1-0 lead.
The Pirates locked up third baseman Josh Harrison in a four-year contract extension to the tune of $27.3 million. Harrison has club options for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
He joins Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, Jung Ho Kang and Jose Tabata as Pirates with multi-year deals.
Next up for GM Neal Huntington may be Gregory Polanco while it sounds as though hometown player, Neil Walker, may be left exploring free agency following the 2016 season.
Cincinnati goes for the sweep this afternoon.
* * *
In Chicago, they got the ballgame in after having postponed game 2 of the series due to inclement weather than never actually materialized. (PANIC!!!)
Lance Lynn was on his game for the St. Louis Cardinals, allowing just 2 hits and a walk in 6 innings of work, striking out 9 Cubs.
Unfortunately for the Cards, Jake Arrieta was pretty dominant as well, going 7 innings and allowing 3 hits and 3 walks while fanning 7 Cards – 3 of which were caught looking.
Following the 7th inning stretch, the ballgame was still knotted at 0-0. Anthony Rizzo led off the Cubs’ 7th getting hit in the upper right thigh by a Lynn fastball. Lynn’s pick-off attempt went wide of first baseman Matt Adams for an error that allowed Rizzo to move up to 2nd. Starlin Castro then singled over a leaping Johnny Peralta into left, scoring Rizzo and giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
Castro alertly advanced to 2nd on Matt Holliday’s throw home, which was a strange one. Holliday had the ball with Rizzo still a step or two away from 3rd, and it appeared he’d have a good play at the plate on him as he was being waved home. But it also appeared as though maybe the throw home was supposed to involve a cut-off man, only no Cardinals were there to receive the throw. Instead, Holliday’s throw bounced a couple of times on the wet grass before being picked up by Lynn just left of the mound.
Castro moved to 3rd on a sac bunt, and then scored on a sac fly deep to right, making it 2-0, Cubs.
That would hold up as the Cubs’ pen continued to pitch well. Phil Coke, Neil Ramirez and Pedro Strop each retired one batter in the 8th and Hector Rondon picked up his 1st save with a spotless 9th.
Although they finally scored a couple of runs, the Cubs are hitting just .125 through 2 games and have struck out in 37% of all plate appearances.
* * *
The Milwaukee Brewers were swept by the Colorado Rockies, although they made a game of it.
Ryan Braun was out one more day while he nursed a minor rib injury, but he stepped in as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the 9th, the Brewers trailing 4-2 with men at 2nd & 3rd and 2 outs.
Braun hit a soft roller down the 3rd base line that Nolan Arenado couldn’t field, allowing Gerardo Parra to score.
Carlos Gomez then hit a single through the infield and into right field for a game-tying RBI.
With Braun in scoring position, however, Jonathan Lucroy struck out and the game went into extra innings, where the Rox Wilin Rosario came off the bench as a pinch-hitter and connected for a solo homer that held up as the game-winner.
On the plus side, Wily Peralta broke the streak of bad starts for Milwaukee pitchers, going 7 innings and allowing a pair of runs on 7 hits and no walks.
The Brewers now play their next 19 games against teams in the NL Central. If they were going to get swept in April, this was a good series to have that happen. Now it’s time for them to get to work. They have home-and-away series against the Reds, Cardinals and Pirates, skipping the Cubs this month.
|0-2||Pittsburgh||Burnett, AJ (0-0, -)|
|2-0||Cincinnati||DeSclafani (0-0, -)|
|11:35 AM CT|