Remember the Washington Nationals, chic preseason World Series pick? Well, the Nationals have scuffled thusfar this season, but lately, they're showing signs of putting it all together. Washington has won three in a row, and knocked off the Rockies 2-1 last night in a vintage performance from Stephen Strasburg (and an all too common performance from their offense this season). The Nationals are still just a game above .500, but they've closed the game in the NL East to five games behind the Braves, who were shut out 2-0 in Milwaukee on Friday night. The two teams still have nine games against one another, so this race won't be decided until September.
PIC OF THE DAY
Mitch Moreland dives into second base, just past Pete Kozma's tag (Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports)
Game of the Night: Blue Jays 7, Orioles 6. Toronto won their ninth straight on Friday night and reached the .500 mark for the first time all season in dramatic fashion. After five, the Blue Jays led Baltimore 3-1, but things fell apart in the sixth for RA Dickey. In the inning, Dickey allowed an RBI single to Adam Jones to cut the lead to one, and then proceeded to give up a three-run homer to Chris Davis (who else?) to put the Orioles in front by a pair. Edwin Encarnacion homered in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead to a run, but Ryan Flaherty led off the seventh with a solo shot of his own to send Dickey to the showers. In the bottom of the seventh, Tommy Hunter allowed a dramatic two-run homer to Munenori Kawasaki, the first of his career, to tie the game at six. The game went to the bottom of the ninth still knotted up, and Brian Matusz got two outs whle putting two runners on. Pedro Strop replaced Matusz with two men in scoring position, and Rajai Davis singled to left to give Toronto the walkoff win.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Hector Santiago dominated the Royals in Chicago's 9-1 win, allowing one run on three hits in eight innings, walking one and striking out five. Chicago's other starter on Friday, Matt Garza, pitched very well for the Cubs against the Astros, giving up one run on four hits in eight innings, striking out eight and walking a pair. Wily Peralta tore the Braves a new one in the Brewers' 2-0 victory, allowing just two hits in seven shutout innings, walking four and striking out four. That vintage Stephen Strasburg start that I mentioned earlier included one run on five hits in seven innings along with nine strikeouts and nary a walk. Finally, there's the continued rebound of Scott Kazmir. The Indians beat the Twins 5-1, and Kazmir gave up one run on five hits in seven innings, walking none and striking out seven.
Hitting Lines of the Night: Shane Victorino had a great game for the Red Sox in their 10-6 win over the Tigers, going 4/5 with a homer and five RBI. In the losing effort, Miguel Cabrera went 4/4 with a walk, a homer, and three RBI. Paul Goldschmidt carried the Diamondbacks to an 11-5 win over the Reds, going 3/5 with two homers and three RBI. Yoenis Cespedes powered the A's to a 6-3 win over the Mariners, going 2/4 with a pair of two-run homers. Jordy Mercer helped the Pirates to a 5-2 win in Anaheim (along with Gerrit Cole's golden arm, of course) by going 3/4 with two runs, two RBI, a homer, and a stolen base.
Other Games: The Yankees beat the slumping Rays 6-2. The Mets edged the Phillies 4-3, and Cole Hamels now has 11 losses on the season. The Rangers beat the Cardinals 6-4 thanks to a ninth inning rally. The Padres continued to roll, beating the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw 5-2. The Marlins beat the Giants 6-3, their ninth straight win at AT&T Park.
Today's Games: CC Sabathia starts for the Yankees, hosting the Rays. Bud Norris takes on Travis Wood in Chicago. Allen Webster returns for the Red Sox in Detroit against Max Scherzer. Martin Perez makes his first start in a month for the Rangers against Shelby Miller in St Louis. Zack Greinke starts for the Dodgers in San Diego. Mike Leake takes on Pat Corbin in Arizona. Francisco Liriano gets the nod for the Pirates in Anaheim.
National TV: Rockies-Nationals (12 PM, MLB Network), Rays-Yankees (1 PM, MLB Network), Twins-Indians (7 PM, Fox), Red Sox-Tigers (7 PM, Fox), Rangers-Cardinals (7 PM, Fox), Dodgers-Pirates (7 PM, Fox), Reds-Diamondbacks (7 PM, Fox)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.