Last season, the Cardinals were beneficiaries of the Braves choking away the NL Wild Card. This year, the Braves appear to be safely locked in to the first Wild Card slot, but the Cardinals are the ones choking it away. After Tuesday's 6-4 loss to the Padres, the Cardinals lead is down to just one game over the Dodgers. The Pirates are 2.5 back, but are sliding fast in the other direction. There are also two more contenders stepping up: the Brewers and Phillies, both of whom are four games back and sitting at the .500 mark. The Diamondbacks are also still somehow in contention, five games out. Is this really happening?!
Game of the Night: A's 6, Angels 5. The A's continue their march to the Wild Card, beating the Angels in the first game in a crucial series between the two teams. Oakland jumped out to an early lead, and didn't look back. The Angels led 2-1 after a Vernon Wells two-run homer in the second inning, but the A's quickly jumped back on top after a two-run homer by Brandon Moss and a sac fly from Stephen Drew. A Torii Hunter homer in the seventh made it 4-3, and the A's got some needed insurance in the ninth after a two-run triple by Coco Crisp. In the ninth for the Angels, the first four batters reached base, making it a 6-5 game in the process. Jerry Blevins came in, struck out Kendrys Morales, and got a double play from Howard Kendrick to end the game and give the A's a solid win.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Ian Kennedy and Clayton Kershaw both pitched extremely well in Arizona's 1-0 win over the Dodgers. Kennedy threw 7 1/3 shutout innings, allowing four hits and striking out six batters without a walk. Kershaw got the tough luck loss, allowing one unearned run on three hits in seven innings, walking three and striking out five. In Milwaukee's 5-0 win over Atlanta, Marco Estrada threw 6 2/3 shutout frames and gave up four hits, one walk, and six strikeouts. Doug Fister was great for the Tigers in their 5-3 win over the White Sox, allowing just a pair of solo homers over seven innings, walking two and striking out six.
Hitting Lines of the Night: The Orioles moved back into a tie for first in the AL East after a 9-2 win over the Rays that saw JJ Hardy go 4/5 with three runs, five RBI, a double, and two homers. Jimmy Rollins led the Phillies to a 9-7 win, going 2/3 with three runs, three RBI, a walk, a homer, and a stolen base. Kyle Seager rolled for the Mariners in a 4-3 win over the Blue Jays, going 3/5 with two runs, two RBI, a double, and a homer. Eric Hosmer had a good game for the Royals in their 9-1 blowout win over the Twins, going 3/5 with three runs, a double, and a homer.
Other Games: The Pirates slide continued, losing 5-3 to the Reds. The Red Sox walked off on the Yankees, 4-3. The Nationals piled it on late, beating the Mets 5-3. The Rangers edged the Indians 6-4. The Astros shut out the Cubs 1-0. The Giants nipped the Rockies 9-8.
Today's Games: Alex Cobb takes on Miguel Gonzalez in Baltimore. Cliff Lee takes on Josh Johnson in Philly. Kyle Lohse starts for the Cardinals in San Diego. AJ Burnett and Homer Bailey will duel in Cincinnati. Max Scherzer starts for the Tigers against Gavin Floyd of the White Sox.
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.