It's a little sad that coming up on the All-Star Break, there is only one tight playoff race in the National League and two in the American League. In the NL, the Pirates lead the Cardinals by a game in the NL Central. St Louis has a comfortable 2.5 game lead on the Reds for the first wild card spot, while the Natonals trail Cincinnati for the second spot by five games…or just as many games as they trail the Braves for the NL East lead. In the awful West, the Diamondbacks have a 4.5 game lead on the Rockies and Dodgers, both of whom are under .500. Over in the AL, the Red Sox have opened up a five game lead on the Yankees in the AL East, while the Indians have fallen 3.5 back of the Tigers in the Central (a number growing by the days). The two tight races are in the AL West, where the A's are currently half a game up on the Rangers, and the AL Wild Card race, where the Rays and Orioles are both just half a game behind the Yankees for the second slot. Out of everything that we look towards in the second half, I'm almost more excited to see if the Blue Jays and Angels can make runs at the playoffs after their recent hot stretches.
PIC OF THE DAY
Nick Swisher had a bad time after getting plunked. (David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)
Game of the Night: Angels 9, Red Sox 7 (11 innings). Boston led this one 7-3 going into the ninth, and Alex Wilson came on to mop the game up. Except…it didn't happen that way. Wilson sandwiched the first two outs of the inning around a Chris Iannetta single and then ran into trouble, giving up a single to JB Shuck and plunking Mike Trout. With two outs and the tying run at the plate, closer Koji Uehara came on to clean up Wilson's mess…and couldn't. Uehara allowed a two-run single to Albert Pujols to make it a 7-5 game, and a Josh Hamilton RBI single made it 7-6. With the tying run 90 feet away, Howard Kendrick grounded to Brandon Snyder to end the game…except no one told Snyder, who lobbed the ball over Dustin Pedroia's head at second, allowing pinch runner Collin Cowgill to score and tie the game. Mark Trumbo followed with a strikeout, and we went to extras. In the bottom of the 11th with Craig Breslow on the hill, Brad Hawpe singled with one out to bring up Hamilton, who smashed a ball into the right field seats for the walkoff winner.
Pitching Lines of the Day: Madison Bumgarner put the Giants in the win column with a 4-2 victory over the Dodgers, allowing two runs on three hits in seven innings, striking out nine without a walk. Wade Miley pitched well for the Diamondbacks in their 11-1 romp over the Rockies, giving up one run on five hits in eight innings, walking one and punching out five. Matt Moore and Chris Sale had a solid pitcher's duel in Tampa Bay's 3-0 win over the White Sox, with Moore giving up five hits in 6 1/3 shutout frames, walking two and striking out six, and Sale allowing three runs (two earned) over seven innings on six hits, walking one and striking out nine. Tim Hudson helped the Braves to a 13-4 laugher in Philly, giving up one run on five hits in seven innings, walking none and punching out four. Finally, Mike Pelfrey had a quietly effective start for the Twins in their 6-0 win in Toronto, allowing three hits in six shutout innings, striking out a pair and walking three.
Hitting Lines of the Day: Andrelton Simmons of the Braves broke out with his bat last night, going 3/5 with three runs, two RBI, a walk, a triple, and a homer. Torii Hunter led the Tigers to a 9-4 win in Cleveland, going 3/5 with three RBI, a double, a triple, and a homer. Alfonso Soriano boosted his trade stock in the Cubs' 4-1 win over the Pirates, going 2/4 with a pair of two-run homers. Cody Ross was perfect in the desert, going 5/5 with three runs, a double, and a stolen base. Carlos Gonzalez was perfect on the other side of the equation in Phoenix too, going 4/4 with a double and a solo homer.
Other Games: The Yankees edged the Orioles again, winning 5-4 in the Bronx. The Cardinals walked off on the Marlins 5-4. The Royals rallied late to beat the A's 4-3. The Nationals rallied to beat the Padres 5-4. The Astros beat up Yu Darvish and the Rangers, winning 9-5. The Reds crushed the Mariners 13-4. The Brewers beat the Mets 7-6.
Today's Games: Hiroki Kuroda starts for the Yankees, hosting the Orioles. Doug Fister starts for the Tigers in Cleveland against Corey Kluber. Kris Medlen gets the nod for the Braves in Philly. Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals host the Padres. David Price and the Rays host John Danks and the White Sox. Jose Fernandez starts for the Marlins in St Louis against Lance Lynn. AJ Burnett makes his first start in a month for the Pirates in Chicago. Clayton Kershaw starts for the Dodgers in San Francisco. Pat Corbin and the Diamondbacks welcome Roy Oswalt and the Rockies to Arizona. John Lackey and Jered Weaver duel in Anaheim.
National TV: Orioles-Yankees (1 PM, TBS), Red Sox-Angels (8 PM, ESPN)
MLB.tv Free Game: Mariners-Reds, 1:10 PM
Pitching Matchup of the Day: Jose Fernandez vs Lance Lynn (Marlins at Cardinals, 2:15 PM)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.