Last year for the White Sox, Adam Dunn was left for dead in the gutter. He only hit 11 homers. His OPS for the year was just .569. His batting average, which normally is low to begin with, was only .159. He was worth -2.9 fWAR, one of the worst totals I have ever seen. This year, it’s a whole new season for Dunn. He’s already hit 15 homers. His OPS is nearly 400 points higher, logging in at .963 this year. His .239 batting average doesn’t look like much, but it’s 80 points higher than last season. His value? 1.4 fWAR, a near 4.5 win improvement over last year in just six weeks. Dunn has been one of the best hitters in the AL this year, ranking third in OPS and tied for second in homers. Finally, the White Sox are getting what they expected from him.
Game of the Night: Angels 6, Mariners 4. All of a sudden, the Los Angeles Angels are on a roll, with a four game winning streak, a neutral run differential, and just a half game out of second place in the AL West. The Mariners took a 4-0 lead over the first five innings of the game, with all of the runs being driven in by struggling first baseman Justin Smoak. Then, the Angels struck. Their own struggling first baseman, Albert Pujols, hit a three-run homer in the sixth to make it a 4-3 game. Then in the ninth, with Seattle clinging to a one run lead, the Angels took three off of Mariners closer Brandon League, with the tie being broken by a Howard Kendrick two-run single. Closer Scott Downs finished the Mariners off with only seven pitches in the bottom of the inning, and that was that.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Despite a terrible beard, Dillon Gee was great for the Mets last night. In seven innings against the Padres, Gee allowed one run on four hits and three walks, and struck out nine in the process. It’s difficult to find other good pitching performances from last night, but Jason Hammel went six shutout innings for the Orioles, allowing five hits and one walk, striking out seven. It wasn’t a great night for pitching.
Hitting Lines of the Night: Nelson Cruz of the Rangers beat the hell out of the Blue Jays. He went 4/5 with two runs, EIGHT RBI, a double, and a homer. The double and homer both came with the bases loaded….so there’s seven of his RBI right there. AJ Pierzynski of the White Sox had a good game, going 2/3 with three runs, two RBI, a walk, a triple, and a homer. Jeff Francoeur of the Royals showed signs of breaking out of his season-long funk as well, going 3/4 with two RBI, a double, and a homer.
Spotlight Series: The Nationals went into Turner Field, and punched the Braves in the nose, in the game I thought Atlanta would win no less. The Nats won the first game of the series 7-4, and put four runs on the board in the first inning courtesy of a two-run single by Ian Desmond and a two-run triple by Rick Ankiel (a former Brave). The Braves struck back by scoring three total in the third and fifth innings, with all runs being driven in by Matt Diaz. But with two outs in the seventh and the bases loaded, Fredi Gonzalez kept Tim Hudson in to face Ryan Zimmerman…who doubled into the right center field gap, clearing the bases and giving Washington a 7-3 lead. Jason Heyward added a homer in the eighth to make it 7-4, but the Braves couldn’t rally any further, and that was that. Washington’s bullpen went 4 2/3 in relief of Ross Detweiler, and allowed just four hits and one run, walking none and striking out three. At the end of the day, that would be your difference maker: the Braves just couldn’t do anything against Washington’s relievers, and when you consider one of them was Chien-Ming Wang…that’s not a good sign.
Other Games: The Orioles continued to roll and beat the Royals 8-2 in a game that outdrew all of the Red Sox and Yankees games this season at Oriole Park. One run was all the Pirates needed, as they beat the Cubs 1-0 and gave them their tenth straight loss. The Rays beat the Red Sox 7-4 in a game that degenerated quickly into beanball warfare. The Rockies managed to solve to Cincinnati Reds puzzle, winning at Great American Ballpark 6-3. The Rangers pounded the Blue Jays 14-3. The Mets shut down the Padres 6-1. The White Sox crushed the Indians 9-3. The Marlins edged the Giants 7-6, withstanding a late rally. The Tigers offense showed up in a 10-6 win over the Twins. The Yankees beat the A’s 6-3 in a three homer barrage. The Phillies edged the Cardinals 5-3 in ten innings on a Hunter Pence homer. The Brewers beat up the Diamondbacks 7-1. The Astros beat the Dodgers 3-1, and Lucas Harrell outdueled Clayton Kershaw despite not striking a hitter out.
Today’s Games: Johan Santana starts for the Mets against the Padres. Madison Bumgarner takes on Mark Buerhle in Miami. The Royals only pitching hope, Felipe Paulino, takes on Wei-Yin Chen in Baltimore. CC Sabathia takes on former Yankee Bartolo Colon in the Bronx. Derek Lowe and Jake Peavy will duel in Chicago. David Price will take on Josh Beckett in Boston. Felix Hernandez starts against the Angels. Zack Greinke will start against Wade Miley and the Diamondbacks.