We've reached the unofficial midpoint of the MLB season: the All-Star Break. No games will be played for the next four days, and the only events going on will be the Home Run Derby today, and the All-Star Game tomorrow. It's been a pretty crazy season so far, and here are some of the highlights
-The New York Yankees going from 27-23 after May to 52-33 (an insane 25-10 stretch) today, to claim the first half's best record and the largest divisional lead in baseball at seven games.
-A potent Detroit Tigers team hasn't been able to get anything going all year, and have been floundering around .500 for most of the season. They're just a half game behind the Indians for second place in the AL Central behind the suprising Chicago White Sox.
-The Texas Rangers got off to another fantastic start in the AL West, and took a nine game lead on their free-spending rivals in Orange County. The Angels though, have gotten their act together since April, and are now just four back, currently leading the AL Wild Card race.
-The Philadelphia Phillies are 37-50, are 14 games back of the Nationals in the NL East, and are ten games under .500 AT HOME
-The Pittsburgh Pirates had a -29 run differential and a 25-25 record on June 1st. Since then, they have a +61 run differential and a 23-12 record. They've lost one series in June and July, and that was a sweep in Baltimore. Everything else was either a Priates series win or a split. They've won series in the last five weeks against (among others) the Giants, the Cardinals, the Tigers, and the Reds.
-The NL West is a horror show. The Dodgers started off really hot, but fell back to Earth once Matt Kemp got hurt. They're your current leaders by a half game over the Giants, and by four over the Diamondbacks. None of those three teams are blowing away the competition, as the Giants have a negative run differential and the Dodgers and Diamondbacks are just ten runs in the black.
It's been a pretty exciting season so far, and we've still got two and a half months of games to play. I love this game.
Game of the Day: Rangers 4, Twins 3 (13 innings). The Twins held a slim 1-0 lead late in this game, a fantastic pitchers duel between Roy Oswalt and Twins rookie Cole DeVries. The impressive DeVries exited after seven shutout frames, and saw his Twins get some insurance for him after a Joe Nathan error on a sacrifice bunt led to Ryan Doumit scoring on that play, and Trevor Plouffe scoring on a Denard Span sac fly later that inning. With a 3-0 lead, the Twins turned to Glen Perkins, who's been functioning as Minnesota's closer lately. Perkins allowed Ian Kinsler to reach on an error, and moved him to third on a wild pitch. A groundout scored Kinsler to make it 3-1, and Perkins got Josh Hamilton to pop up for out number two. Of course….Adrian Beltre singles, Nelson Cruz doubles, and Michael Young (that classy professional hitter!) singled in both runners to tie the game at three and blow the win for DeVries and the Twins. Perkins would get out of the inning to send it to extras, and it would go to 13, where Alex Burnett allowed a double, an intentional walk, and an infield single to the first three batters. He got a forceout at the plate for the first out, but then Kinsler struck again, hitting a walkoff single to give the Rangers their second straight 4-3 extra inning win over the Twins.
Pitching Lines of the Day: DeVries was your star of the day in Texas, throwing seven shutout frames while allowing only three hits and one walk, striking out five Rangers hitters. Diamondbacks rookie Trevor Bauer turned out a fine start for his first major league win, shutting out the Dodgers over six on two hits and one walk while tallying six strikeouts in Arizona's 7-1 win. Bartolo Colon of the A's continued his potential audition for a team at the trade deadline, going 8 2/3 against the Mariners while giving up just one run on seven hits, walking none with five strikeouts as the A's won 2-1 in 13 innings.
Hitting Lines of the Day: In Pittsburgh's 13-2 thrashing of the Giants, Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker looked like stars. McCutchen went 3/5 with three runs, four RBI, and two homers, giving him 18 for the year. Walker went 5/5 with four runs, two RBI, a double, and his sixth dinger of the year while hitting in front of McCutchen in the Pirates' lineup. The White Sox lost a shootout 11-9 to the Blue Jays, but Alex Rios punished his former team, going 3/5 with three runs, four RBI, two doubles, and a homer. Also in that game, Colby Rasmus continued his nightmarish run of late, going 2/4 with two runs, three RBI, two walks, a double, and a homer. In Detroit's 7-1 win over Kansas City, Jhonny Peralta went 3/4 with three RBI, two doubles, and his fifth homer of the year.
Other Games: The Rays got three in the ninth to edge the Indians 7-6. Ryan Dempster returned for the Cubs and was brilliant in a 7-0 win over the Mets. Brian McCann homered in his fourth straight game, and that was the difference in Atlanta's sweep-completing 4-3 win over the Phillies. The Rockies rallied late to beat the Nationals 4-3. The Angels shut out the Orioles 6-0 after a fine start from Brad Mills, and homers from Pujols, Trout, and Trumbo…you know, the usual. The Brewers beat the Astros 5-3 in extras. Heath Bell blew yet another save as the Cardinals got a 5-4 walkoff win over the Marlins. The Yankees beat the Red Sox 7-3 in a game that took over four hours for no discernable reason. The Reds beat the Padres 4-2 after a solid start from Johnny Cueto.
Today's Games: Nothing but DINGERS tonight on ESPN.
Enjoy your day of DINGERS AND NO TROTTING, everyone.