I'm sorry to say this, as a fan of an NL East team, but the division this year is…awful. You can point at our usual whipping boy, the AL Central, but let's face facts for a second: the AL Central has two teams above .500 (compared to the NL East's one and one at .500), and has three teams with a positive run differential (compared to the NL East's one). The three worst run differentials in the National League belong to teams in the East division: the Phillies, Mets, and Marlins. In the AL, only the Mariners and Astros have worst run differentials than either of those three teams. The scary part is that the teams aren't feasting on each other…well, except for the Braves and Phillies, of course. Out of their 90 total games this year against the NL East, the Braves are 17-9 in those games thusfar, while the Phillies are 19-11. Contrast that to the Marlins, who are 13-20, the Nationals, 13-14, and the Mets, 13-21. I'm not sure if any team is in a better spot than the Braves though, who still have 15 left with each of the Marlins and Phillies, giving them plenty of opportunities to build up their lead. At any rate, it's been a very disappointing year from a once solid division.
PIC OF THE DAY
This is what happens when Howie Kendrick tries to run over Russell Martin… (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
Game of the Night: Diamondbacks 4, Reds 3. There were lots of good games on Saturday, but I'm choosing to highlight this one, since it's a battle of two of the NL's best that ended in surprising fashion. Mike Leake and Pat Corbin engaged in a great pitchers duel in this one, with Corbin holding a 2-1 lead after eight. He was replaced on the hill by Heath Bell for the save, and Bell promptly walked Brandon Phillips and allowed a mammoth go-ahead homer to Jay Bruce, his second towering home run of the game. Aroldis Chapman came on to save the game for the Reds, and his outing was more disastrous than Bell's. Chapman began by allowing a single to Paul Goldschmidt before walking both Miguel Montero and Cody Ross to load the bases for Jason Kubel. Kubel proceeded to hit a single through a drawn in Reds infield, bringing in a pair and giving Arizona the win. Two closers, no saves.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Zack Greinke put together his best start as a Dodger in LA's 6-1 win over the Padres, allowing one run on four hits in eight innings, walking one and striking out eight. The final lines on that Corbin-Leake duel in Arizona: eight innings, one run, three hits, four walks, and five strikeouts for Corbin, and eight innings, four hits, two runs, one walk, and one strikeout for Leake. Jhoulys Chacin shut down the Nationals offense in the Rockies' 7-1 win, allowing five hits over seven shutout frames, walking one and striking out three. Chien-Ming Wang (really, *that* Chien-Ming Wang) dazzled the Orioles in the Blue Jays' 4-2 win (their tenth in a row), allowing one unearned run on four hits in 6 1/3 innings, walking none and fanning a pair.
Hitting Lines of the Night: Ryan Howard's bat powered the Phillies to an 8-7 win over the Mets that their bullpen nearly blew, going 3/4 with two homers and four RBI. Chris Parmalee had himself a solid game for the Twins in their 8-7 loss to the Indians, going 3/5 with a double and a pair of solo homers. Victor Martinez was the catalyst behind a 10-3 Tigers romp over the Red Sox, going 2/3 with three runs, five RBI, two walks, a double, and a homer. Jay Bruce was the entirety of the Reds offense in Arizona, going 2/3 with a walk, two homers, and three RBI. Rays rookie Wil Myers had his best game since being called up in Tampa Bay's 7-5 loss to the Yankees, going 3/4 with a grand slam.
Other Games: The White Sox edged the Royals 3-2. The Astros squeezed home a run in the ninth to beat the Cubs 4-3. The Brewers once again shut out the Braves 2-0. The Giants beat the Marlins 2-1 in 11 innings. The Pirates train continued to roll along as they topped the Angels 6-1. Five unanswered late runs carried the Mariners to a 7-5 win over the A's. The Rangers beat the Cardinals 4-2, but the bad taste from 2011 still lingers.
Today's Games: Josh Johnson and the Blue Jays look to make it 11 straight, taking on the Orioles. Jorge de la Rosa and Ross Detwiler will battle in Washington. Justin Verlander takes the hill for the Tigers, hosting the Red Sox. Matt Harvey starts for the Mets in Philly. Ivan Nova makes his first start in the majors in nearly a month for the Yankees against the Rays. Jordan Lyles and Jeff Samardzija will duel at Wrigley. James Shields starts for the Royals, hosting the White Sox. Matt Cain gets the nod for the Giants against the Marlins. The resurgent Charlie Morton starts for the Pirates in Anaheim. Andrew Cashner and the Padres host the Dodgers. Jarrod Parker gets the nod for the A's in Seattle. Mat Latos starts for the Reds in Arizona. Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals host the Rangers.
National TV: Rays-Yankees (2 PM, TBS), Rangers-Cardinals (8 PM, ESPN)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.