I remember two offseasons ago, the Miami (then Florida) Marlins going on a crusade to improve their bullpen. They brought in guys like Ryan Webb, Edward Mujica, and Mike Dunn in trades, and were attempting to heavily retool things. And last year, it worked. The Marlins pen had a 3.44 ERA, a top ten mark in the league, and a half run improvement over 2010. But this season has been a disaster. Miami's pen has a 4.76 ERA, the second worst mark in baseball. Mujica has been awful, but Webb and Dunn have still been OK. The big black mark on this bullpen has been none of the pitchers acquired after the 2010 season, but instead, one signed this past winter: closer Heath Bell. Bell has a 6.39 ERA this year with a walk rate over five, and blew the save yesterday afternoon against the Brewers in spectacular fashion in an unreal game. Jose Reyes hit a go-ahead homer in the tenth off of Livan Hernandez, capping off a huge Marlins rally from being down by as many seven runs. Of course, with two outs in the tenth, Bell allowed a walk-off two-run homer to Aramis Ramirez, a hit that was an absolute stomach punch for Marlins fans in their 13-12 loss. This might be rock bottom.
Game of the Night: Pirates 8, Astros 7. I wanted to go with that Marlins-Brewers game, but this game was just as nuts. Houston led 4-0 after batting in the fourth, and 6-2 after batting in the sixth. Then…Pirates magic. An RBI single by Casey McGehee and a pinch hit two run single by Pedro Alvarez in the sixth cut the lead to 6-5. In the seventh, Andrew McCutchen beat out an infield single with two outs to set the stage for Garrett Jones, who hit a monstrous homer down the right field line that exited the stadium and probably bounced into the river. But then in the ninth, with closer Joel Hanrahan in…Astros catcher Jason Castro doubled in Jed Lowrie to tie the game on a ball that was misplayed by right fielder Drew Sutton. Sutton came up in the ninth with one out and McCutchen on deck….and he hit a walk-off bomb to center field to give the Pirates a crazy win. Pittsburgh is eight game above .500, and they're tied for first in the NL Central. This…is real. They actually have the highest playoff percentage in the division, ahead of both the Reds and the Cardinals. I can't believe it.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Wei-Yin Chen of the Orioles was perfect through 6 1/3 before a Casper Wells homer ruined everything, but Chen still finished by allowing two runs on two hits over 7 1/3, striking out nine without a walk as the Orioles won the game 5-4. Jonathon Niese of the Mets baffled the Phillies bats, allowing just one run on three hits over eight, walking two and striking out three in an 11-1 blowout win for the Mets to push the Phillies ten games under .500 for the first time in a decade. Jon Lester of the Red Sox allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings, giving up four hits, one walk, and striking out nine in a 3-2 walk-off loss in Oakland.
Hitting Lines of the Night: Buckle up, there were a lot of runs scored on Tuesday. Daniel Murphy of the Mets went 4/5 with a run, four RBI, a double, and a triple in New York's blowout win. Newly named NL All-Star Chipper Jones went 5/5 for the Braves in their 10-3 win over the Cubs, driving in four runs, doubling twice, and stealing a base. The White Sox obliterated the Rangers 19-2 (WOW!), and there were a number of excellent performances. Kevin Youkilis went 3/6 with three runs, four RBI, and his first homer as a member of the White Sox. Alex Rios went 3/4 with three runs, three RBI, and a homer. Adam Dunn went 2/2 with three runs, two RBI, two walks, a double, and a homer. Lots going on there. Joe Mauer went 3/5 with three runs, a double, and a homer in Minnesota's 8-6 win over Detroit.
Other Games: The Indians beat up Dan Haren and the Angels, winning 9-5. The Nationals jumped on Tim Lincecum early en route to a 9-3 win over the Giants. The Blue Jays beat the Royals 6-3, and each team got all of their runs in one inning. The Rays beat the Yankees 7-4, and won their ninth straight game at Tropicana Field over New York. The Rockies beat the Cardinals 3-2 thanks to a three-run homer by Tyler Colvin. The Padres blitzed rookie Trevor Bauer, beating the Diamondbacks 9-5. The Dodgers beat Johnny Cueto and the Reds 3-1.
Today's Games: Eight day games today. Woohoo! David Price starts for the Rays against the Yankees. Madison Bumgarner takes on Edwin Jackson in the rare 11 AM game in DC. Cliff Lee has his last chance at a win before the break, as his Phillies take on the Mets. Josh Johnson starts for the Marlins in Milwaukee. Justin Verlander starts for the Tigers against the Twins. Adam Wainwright starts for the Cardinals against the Rockies. Ian Kennedy goes for the Diamondbacks against the Padres.
Enjoy your day of baseball everyone, and god bless America.