While looking over some scores from today, I realized something: last year’s National League playoff teams have had a slow start out of the gate. Except for one, of course. The Diamondbacks and Phillies, both of whom won their divisions and lost in the NLDS, are currently 14-18. Arizona sits in third, 6.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West, whle the Phillies are last in the NL East, five games back of the Nationals & Braves. The NL Central champions from a year ago, the Milwaukee Brewers, are 13-18, and are tied for last in the division with the Chicago Cubs. Each of those three teams have a negative run differential as well. The one outlier? The 2012 World Champion St Louis Cardinals, who didn’t even win their division last year. The Cardinals are currently pacing the National League with a 20-11 record, and are one of three teams in baseball with 20 wins. Their +75 run differential is 10 better than the Rangers, and a whopping 51 better than the Braves for supremacy in the National League.
Game of the Night: Marlins 5, Astros 3 (12 innings). Each team scored a run in the first inning on an error, before the Astros took a 2-1 lead in the second on a Chris Johnson solo homer. The Marlins would take a 3-2 lead in the fourth courtesy of RBI singles from John Buck and Jose Reyes. It remained that way until the ninth, and new Marlins closer Steve Cishek looked to pick up his first save since being deemed closer last weekend. Of course, he blew it while allowing three baserunners in the inning to make it a 3-3 game. The game remained scoreless after that until the 12th, when a two-run single by Omar Infante gave the Marlins a 5-3 lead that would hold.
Pitching Line of the Night: Zack Greinke had an inhuman start for the Brewers today, throwing eight shutout innings while allowing just two hits, no walks, and striking out 11. The Brewers offense gave him nothing though, and Greinke got saddled with a no decision. Jason Vargas had a stellar start for the Mariners against a potent Tigers offense, allowing just one run over eight innings on five hits, no walks, and six strikeouts.
Hitting Line of the Night: Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates went 4/4 with two runs, two RBI, and a homer. In a losing effort, Freddy Galvis of the Phillies went 3/4 with three RBI, and fell just a homer short of the cycle. In the same game, Andres Torres and Ike Davis of the Mets both went 2/4 with a homer. Davis added a double to his line, while Torres added a triple.
Spotlight Series: rain, rain, go away. Tonight’s Orioles-Rangers game was rained out, and will be made up tomorrow as part of a doubleheader.
Other Games: Brandon Morrow struck out ten and Toronto hit three homers in a 5-2 win over the A’s. The Reds beat the Brewers 2-1 after scoring two off John Axford in the ninth, who relieved a dominant Zack Greinke. David Robertson allowed four in the ninth en route to a 4-1 Rays win over the Yankees. Paul Maholm outdueld Tim Hudson in a 1-0 Cubs win over the Braves. Christian Friedrich’s major league debut was a success (seven strikeouts, one walk, one run in six innings), and the Rockies beat the Padres 6-2. Jake Peavy carved up the Indians en route to an 8-1 White Sox win. Cliff Lee got no support from his bullpen, as they allowed eight runs over the final three innings as the Mets won in Philly 10-6. Bruce Chen got his first win of the year as the Royals beat the Red Sox 4-3. The Pirates beat the Nationals 4-2 despite Erik Bedard leaving after just one inning of work. Ervin Santana finally got some run support from the Angels offense, and picked up his first win, 6-2 against the Twins. The Mariners beat the Tigers late 2-1. The Cardinals beat the struggling Diamondbacks 7-2. The Dodgers beat Tim Lincecum and the Giants 6-2.
Today’s Games: Stephen Strasburg starts the lone NL game of the night, as the Nationals look to avoid a sweep in Pittsbugh. David Price vs CC Sabathia is a great matchup in the Bronx. Former Red Sox great Derek Lowe returns to Fenway to take on Josh Beckett. Impressive youngster Henderson Alvarez goes for the Blue Jays against the A’s.
Enjoy your night of baseball, everyone.