Tagged: Travis Wood

Montero Goes Yard Again in Cubs Win

Miguel Montero has been hitting the ball hard lately.

Miguel Montero is 5-for-8 with 2 HR in the last two days.

Miguel Montero picked up a 3-run homer for the second night in a row as the Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds, 6-3, on Thursday.

Montero, batting cleanup, hit his 8th homer of the year in the 1st inning off of Reds’ starter Michael Lorenzen, who lasted just 4.1 innings and allowed 6 runs (5 earned).

Starting pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada struggled again for the Cubs, getting pulled after allowing 3 runs in 3 innings of work, putting on 6 base runners. Travis Wood stepped in and picked up the win (3-2), going 2.1 shutout innings, allowing just one hit and no walks.

In Wada’s last two starts, he has gone a combined 6.1 innings with an 11.37 ERA and 2.369 WHIP.

Hector Rondon was again tasked with picking up the save, and did so with a scoreless 9th. The Cubs’ bullpen really bailed Wada out, at one point retiring 14 consecutive Reds.

For Cincy, it marked the end of a modest 4-game winning streak.

Video Highlights (MLB.com)

Here’s a proposal for the Cubs. Start Wada – allow him one time through the order against a lineup which has been constructed to face a left-handed starter. Then bring in Edwin Jackson – again, one time through the order, now facing a lineup which is probably going to be right-handed heavy. Then you can either go back to another lefty (Wood) or turn it over to the rest of the bullpen. Crazy? Last year, opponents batting from the right side put up an .816 OPS against Jackson versus .930 from the left side. Piggy-backing those two is something to think about.

For the Reds, Zack Cozart’s knee injury was a big one. He’s out for the season. That hurts. In 53 games, Cozart’s 2.0 WAR was among the highest in the league, per BaseballReference.com. At the plate, he was putting up a slash line of just .258/.310/.459 for a decent OPS+ of 108, but he had committed just 3 errors at shortstop for a .986 fielding percentage, well above the league-wide mark of .971. In short, he was a plus defender who was showing some pop this year, having belted 9 homers already.

* * *

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Washington Nationals, 6-5, lending even more doubt as to the idea that the Nats are a great team.

Milwaukee trailed 5-1 heading into the bottom of the 4th only to chip away for the win.

Tied 5-5 in the bottom of the 8th, Milwaukee got a few base runners on thanks to poor pitching (a wild pitch on a strikeout), poor fielding (an Anthony Rendon error while trying to turn a double play), and then an RBI base hit by Scooter Gennett that gave the Brewers the lead.

It had to be a good feeling for Gennett, who had a miserable start to the 2015 season before being optioned to AAA. He had just gotten called back up yesterday.

Gerardo Parra, Ryan Braun, Adam Lind and Jean Segura had two hits a piece for the Brew Crew.

Francisco Rodriguez continued to showcase himself as good trade bait in the next two months, picking up his 13th save and lowering his ERA to 1.17 on the season.

Video Highlights (MLB.com)

* * *

Stephen J. Nesbitt at the Post-Gazette took a look at the success of the Pittsburgh Pirates‘ pitching staff at keeping balls on the ground, leading to a league-best number of double plays turned. Read about it over here.

* * *

Pending a pass of a physical, the St. Louis Cardinals are looking to sign their 1st round pick in this week’s draft, Nick Plummer, by week’s end. Plummer was the #23 overall selection of the 2015 draft.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

WAR (fielders)
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 3.0
Todd Frazier (CIN) 2.9
Joey Votto (CIN) 2.6
Jhonny Peralta (CIN) 2.4
Kolten Wong (STL) 2.2
WAR (pitchers)
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 2.5
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 2.4
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.2
Jason Hammel (CHC) 1.9
2-way tie 1.8

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 39 21 W1
Chicago Cubs 32 26 6.0 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 32 27 6.5 W1
Cincinnati Reds 27 32 11.5 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 23 38 16.5 W1

* * *

Schedule

27-32 REDS Cueto (4-4, 2.64)
32-26 CUBS Hammel (5-2, 2.76)
3:05 PM CT
22-39 Phillies Correia (NR)
32-27 PIRATES Locke (3-3, 5.37)
6:05 PM CT
31-29 Nationals Zimmermann (5-3, 3.18)
23-38 BREWERS Fiers (2-6, 4.06)
7:10 PM CT
34-23 Royals Ventura (3-5, 4.62)
39-21 CARDINALS Garcia (1-3, 2.67)
7:15 PM CT
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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

Cards Stick It To Cubs

It's Mark Reynolds, so you know he's either homering or striking out in this picture.

It’s Mark Reynolds, so you know he’s either homering or striking out in this picture.

The St. Louis Cardinals ran their winning streak up to 7, overcoming the 5 runs that Carlos Martinez allowed in the top of the 1st inning and coming back to beat the upstart Chicago Cubs, 10-9.

Mark Reynolds‘ grand slam off of Travis Wood got them right back into the game in the bottom of the 1st and they jumped ahead in the bottom of the 7th, taking a 10-8 lead when the Cubs bullpen couldn’t do their job.

Pedro Strop (L, 0-2) allowed all three batters he faced in the 7th to reach base, then Zac Rosscup allowed them all to score plus one additional run.

Martinez finished with 7 runs allowed in 3.2 innings on 9 hits and 4 walks. Pretty horrible line for a guy who entered the day with a phenomenal ledger in 2015, but he exited the game with a 3.64 ERA.

Wood was pretty bad as well, allowing 6 runs in 5 innings, giving up 6 hits and walking a pair.

Cubs rookie Addison Russell connected for his 2nd homer of the year.

Also, rub your eyes to make sure you’re reading this clearly – Matt Carpenter was 0-for-5 with a pair of whiffs. That can’t be right…

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina did not play last night, having caught every inning of this past weekend’s 3-game sweep of the Pirates, each of which went into extra frames. Yadi, who is batting just .231/.291/.282 this season, is 3 for his last 30.

The Cubs lost Chris Denorfia (again) with a left hamstring injury that he appeared to tweak while advancing from 1st to 3rd on a base hit into left-center. Rookie Matt Szczur, who opened the season on the 25-man roster with Denorfia injured, is expected to get the call up again. He was removed during the 8th inning of a AAA game after Denorfia went down. Denorfia was hitting .429 in 22 plate appearances spanning 12 games.

The Cardinals turn to Tyler Lyons for the start tonight. Could be interesting with both teams having really taxed their bullpens last night. Lyons is replacing Tim Cooney, who failed in his first start as Adam Wainwright‘s replacement in the rotation last Thursday.

Here’s how many innings the St. Louis bullpen has had to throw since Saturday: 5, 7.1, 5.1. That’s a lot of work. They could use a long start, but I’m not sure it’s coming tonight.

With their win, St. Louis set a franchise record for the best 25-game start to a season.

Given the Cubs’ bullpen woes as of late, could it be long before we see yet another of their rookies?  C.J. Edwards might not be long away.

* * *

Hector Gomez (not Carlos) homered and tripled for the Milwaukee Brewers, who gave new manager (and former player) Craig Counsell the game ball after the team was able to come back against Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers to pull off a 4-3 win.

Kershaw was going for his 100th career victory, but that was put off when Ryan Braun legged out a shattered bat, infield single to third, barely beating the throw and allowing the go-ahead run to cross the plate.

It was the Brewers’ 3rd straight win.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

AVG
Matt Carpenter (STL) .347
Matt Holliday (STL) .329
Adam Lind (MIL) .326
Joey Votto (CIN) .323
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .313

* * *

Schedule

12-13 CINCINNATI Lorenzen (0-1, 5.40)
12-13 PITTSBURGH Locke (2-1, 4.76)
6:05 PM CT
16-9 Los Angeles Greinke (4-0, 1.93)
8-18 MILWAUKEE Garza (2-3, 4.60)
7:10 PM CT
13-11 CHICAGO Hendricks (0-1, 5.23)
19-6 ST. LOUIS Lyons (NR)
7:15 PM CT

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 19 6 W7
Chicago Cubs 13 11 5.5 L3
Cincinnati Reds 12 13 7.0 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 12 13 7.0 L3
Milwaukee Brewers 8 18 11.5 W3

Where Do The Brewers Go From Here?

The Cubs won their 4th straight Tuesday night

The Cubs won their 4th straight Tuesday night

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).

BA BP
Chicago Cubs 1 1
Pittsburgh Pirates 7 8
St. Louis Cardinals 16 13
Cincinnati Reds 17 15
Milwaukee Brewers 19 26

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.

* * *

Schedule

4-17 MILWAUKEE Garza, M (1-3, 5.16)
10-10 CINCINNATI Lorenzen (NR)
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

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 13 6 W1
Chicago Cubs 12 7 1.0 W4
Pittsburgh Pirates 11 10 3.0 L2
Cincinnati Reds 10 10 3.5 W2
Milwaukee Brewers 4 17 10.0 L2

Travis Wood, Cubs Shut Out Reds

Travis Wood

Travis Wood

You see guys like Jumbo Diaz and Kevin Gregg in their bullpen and then Jason Marquis starting last night and wonder how the Cincinnati Reds are supposed to win any games.

Marquis last posted an ERA+ of 100 or better in 2009, when he went 15-13 with 4.04 ERA (4.10 FIP) for the Colorado Rockies.

Maybe the Reds were impressed by his 4.05 ERA in pitcher-friendly San Diego last year, but his peripherals tell a very different number.

Anyhow, Marquis was beaten around last night by the Chicago Cubs, allowing 5 runs (4 earned) on 7 hits and 3 walks in 4 innings of work.

Anthony Rizzo had his first homer of the season. Cubs win 5-0, taking their second straight series and re-claiming first place for the time being.

Travis Wood (W 1-1) went 7 shutout innings for the Baby Bears, allowing 3 hits and a pair of walks while striking out 7. He’s got his ERA down to 2.31 after that performance.

Cubs’ reliever Neil Ramirez left the game after 3 pitches with an injury. Cubs skipper Joe Maddon described the right shoulder injury as “nothing real positive” which, for the eternally optimistic Maddon, is really something. Ramirez, who has been a pretty solid pitcher out of the Chicago pen, was throwing his fastball at 90 mph – 5 mph slower than usual.

In 50 appearances, Ramirez had a 1.44 ERA with 10.9 K/9.

* * *

In St. Louis, the Cardinals were 4-2 winners over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Lance Lynn needed 99 pitches to complete 5 innings, allowing 1 run on 6 hits and a walk to go along with 4 strikeouts. He’s 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA.

He used up 4.5 pitches per batter faced, up from 4.0 in his prior game. The National League average this season is 3.8 pitches per batter faced.

Yadier Molina had 3 hits (.240) and Matt Carpenter had 2 (.345), while Jason Heyward picked up his 4th double of the year already. He’s on pace for 93 two-baggers, if you wanted to know. Only 96% more of the season left to play!

We knew this would be a bad season for Milwaukee – put together with a horrible farm system, being in a division with teams that do have good farm systems and are already better than them to boot, it might be a bad decade – but it got a little worse when Center fielder Carlos Gomez went down with a hamstring injury legging out a fielder’s choice in the 9th inning.

Milwaukee already lost Ryan Braun for a couple of games earlier. Through the first week and a half of play, the outfield has been snake-bit.

Gomez was quoted as saying: “I’ll have to wait until the morning and see how it is. Right now, it’s sore. Tomorrow is the day that we know if it’s going to be a couple of days or a lot.”

He’s expected to not play in today’s game.

* * *

Finally, in Pittsburgh, the Pirates lost another close one in inter-league play against the red hot Detroit Tigers, who are now 8-1.

Alfredo Simon improved to 2-0, going 8 shutout innings for Detroit and allowing just 2 hits. He fanned only 2, with the Pirates failing to “hit ’em where they ain’t”.

Francisco Liriano had nothing to show for a good outing – 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 K. He’s 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA.

Rajai Davis’ solo shot in the 6th ended up the game’s only run.

The Bucs have now gone 19 innings without scoring a run and haven’t walked in four straight games.

Andrew McCutchen had one of the two Pittsburgh hits – he’s hitting just .207 this season. No Pirate in the top 5 of their order is currently hitting better than .235.

It’s pretty amazing to look at the league stats right now. The National League as a whole is hitting just .240, with the Pirates’ .207 mark the worst. (The Cardinals, at .248, are 4th in the NL – tops in the Central.)

Things are looking up, however, as Starling Marte has shaved his head in hopes of bringing some change of fortune. I can vouch that bald is beautiful. I think this will work.

* * *

Thank you, Paul Daugherty. Daugherty writes about Reds manager Bryan Price’s misuse of the Reds’ bullpen weapon known as Aroldis Chapman. Price has been driving me a little bonkers all season long. I guess I’m just glad that I’m not the only one.

* * *

Just one game on the scoreboard today, with the Cards and Brew Crew finishing up their 3-game set.

A St. Louis win puts them into a tie for 1st atop the division.

* * *

Schedule

2-6 MILWAUKEE Fiers (0-1, 9.00)
4-3 ST. LOUIS Lackey (0-0, 6.00)
12:45 PM CT

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
Chicago Cubs 5 3 @1
St. Louis Cardinals 4 3 0.5 W1
Cincinnati Reds 5 4 0.5 L1
Pittsburgh Pirates 3 6 2.5 L2
Milwaukee Brewers 2 6 3 L1