Remember back in April, when the St Louis Cardinals had a hype train that was unmatched by any team in the league aside from the Rangers? The Cardinals went 14-8 in April with a +53 run differential, feasting on weak teams within their division. However, as the Cardinals have faced teams that have a pulse, their dominance has subsided. St Louis is 13-18 since that hot start, and they've fallen to 3.5 games back in the NL Central behind the Cincinnati Reds, who have turned on the jets since April and have taken control of the division. Cincinnati is 19-11 since a .500 start to the year, and their 3.5 game lead is just a half game behind the Dodgers for the largest in baseball. The Reds playoff odds now stand at 70.1%, nearly 10% higher than the Cardinals at 60.4%. One of these two teams is going to win the division, and right now, the Reds look like that team.
Game of the Night: Mariners 10, White Sox 8 (12 innings). Gavin Floyd left this game with a 6-5 lead, but it absolutely didn't end that way. The lead grew to 7-5 in the seventh on an RBI infield single by Gordon Beckham. The Mariners took the lead off of Jesse Crain in the eighth, with light-hitting Brendan Ryan doubling in a pair, and then scoring on an AJ Pierzynski throwing error. The Sox tied it up at eight in the bottom of the inning on a Dayan Viciedo homer. The game remained scoreless into the twelfth, when White Sox closer Addison Reed (in his second inning of work) gave up an RBI double to John Jaso, and followed it up with an RBI single allowed to Chone Figgins. Hisashi Iwakuma shut the Sox down in the bottom of the inning, and Chicago's nine game win streak was kaput. Of note: the White Sox used NINE starting pitchers (five of which pitched less than an innings), and the teams combined to hit eight homers, walk just five times, and strike out 26 times. Good god.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Just a day after Johan Santana, the Mets shut out the Cardinals again. This time, it was RA Dickey on the mound, throwing a complete game shutout while allowing seven hits, no walks, and punching out nine batters. Stephen Strasburg shut out the Braves over seven, giving up four hits without a walk and striking out nine hitters. Brian Matusz had an impressive start in Tampa Bay, going 7 1/3 while allowing just one run on two hits, walking three and striking out seven. And then there's Matt Cain, who won his fifth game in a row after allowing one run on five hits to the Cubs over eight innings, walking two and striking out seven.
Hitting Lines of the Night: Miguel Cabrera looked like the Cabrera of old against the Yankees, going 3/4 with a double and a pair of solo homers. Drew Stubbs of the Reds went 3/5 with three runs, four RBI, a double, and a homer. His teammate Joey Votto went 4/4 with three runs, two RBI, and a homer. Hanley Ramirez went went 2/4 with three RBI in Philly, homering twice. Michael Saunders had a good game for Seattle (in the eight spot…), giong 4/6 with two runs, two RBI, and a homer.
Spotlight Series: I was going to choose the Angels-Rangers series. I did not. Bad move, Joe.
Other Games: The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 7-4, and Toronto has tumbled to last place in the division….three games out of first place. The Nationals shut out the freefalling Braves 2-0. The A's ended their losing streak by beating the Royals 9-3. The Marlins edged the Phillies 5-4. The Mets shut out the Cardinals 5-0. The Orioles nipped the Rays 2-1. The Dodgers got back on the winning track after beating the Rockies 6-2. The Twins beat the Indians 7-4. The Brewers beat a hot Pirates team 5-1. The Tigers walked off on the Yankees 4-3. The Reds beat the Astros 12-9 in a slugfest. The Angels edged the Rangers 3-2, and are within spitting distance of them in the AL West. The Diamondbacks shut down the Padres 4-2. The Giants beat the Cubs 2-1.
Today's Games: Justin Verlander starts against the Yankees in Detroit. Tommy Hanson and Gio Gonzalez will go at it in Washington. Jake Arrieta and Matt Moore will go at it in Tampa Bay, and hopefully one of them keeps their head on straight long enough to have a good start. James McDonald starts for the Pirates in Milwaukee against Michael Fiers, who allowed one run over seven innings to the Dodgers in his first career start on Tuesday. Matt Harrison and Dan Haren will go at it in Anaheim, as the Rangers look to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Angels.
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.