It’s kind of funny. The Braves have already lost their chokehold on the NL East. They’ve lost four straight, and when combined with the Nationals winning three in a row, Atlanta’s NL East lead is down to just half a game. Hell, Washington now has the better run differential. Then again, we expected this – no one thought the Braves were going to run away with the division once again this season. And after a hot start to the season, all bets are off going forth.
Game of the Night: Pirates 6, Blue Jays 5. Pittsburgh needed a win. They’ve gotten off to an awful start this year, and all of the goodwill that their 2013 playoff berth brought is disappearing. It didn’t look like that win would be coming on Friday, as the Pirates trailed 5-3 heading into the ninth. But Pittsburgh had 14 hits to go along with their three runs, so SOMETHING had to give. Sure enough, it did. Neil Walker singled to lead off the inning, and after an Andrew McCutchen strikeout, Pedro Alvarez hit a two-run homer to tie the game at five. Ike Davis flied out for the second out of the inning, and Startling Marte launched a walk off homer to cap a four-hit night and twist the dagger in Toronto’s wound a bit more.
Pitching Lines of the Night: I trashed Ubaldo Jimenez the other day, naming him the worst pitcher in the AL in the month of April. Ubaldo ensured he wouldn’t have that designation again, allowing three hits in 7 1/3 shutout innings in Baltimore’s 3-0 win over Minnesota, striking out ten and walking one. Wily Peralta dominated the Reds in Milwaukee’s 2-0 win, giving up three hits over eight scoreless frames, striking out seven, walking in a pair, and doubling in the two Brewers runs. Bronson Arroyo followed the Ubaldo formula in Arizona’s 2-0 win in San Diego, spinning seven shutout innings while giving up three hits, walking one, and punching out six. Tom Koehler pitched the red hot Marlins to a 6-3 win over the Dodgers, allowing three hits in seven scoreless innings, striking out four and walking a pair. Rick Porcello pitched the Tigers to an 8-2 win over the Royals, allowing two runs on four hits in seven innings, punching out six without a walk.
Hitting Lines of the Night: In Boston’s 7-1 win over Oakland, Dustin Pedroia went 2/3 with two runs, four RBI, two walks, a stolen base, a double, and a homer. Charlie Blackmon stayed hot in Colorado’s 10-3 win over the Mets, going 3/5 with three runs, two RBI, and a homer. Michael Brantley helped the Indians to a 12-5 romp over the White Sox, going 3/5 with two runs, three RBI, and a homer. Teammate Carlos Santana chipped in by going 2/4 with three runs, two RBI, a walk, a double, and a homer. The aforementioned Starling Marte went 4/5 with that walk off homer.
Other Games: The Cubs held on to beat the Cardinals 6-5. The Rays beat the Yankees 10-5 in 14 innings. The Nationals rallied to beat the Phillies 5-3, while the Giants edged the Braves 2-1. The Astros earned a 5-4, 11 inning win over the Mariners. The Rangers topped the Angels 5-2.
What You Missed: Your “awful April WAR” update. The Braves thought the Marlins stole signs this week, which does nothing to explain their offense getting stifled once again. The week’s longest homers. Your surprises and disappointments for the month of April.
Today’s Games: Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees host the Rays. Michael Wacha gets the nod for the Cardinals at Wrigley. Jon Lester and the Red Sox host the Athletics. Wei-Yin Chen starts for the Orioles in Minnesota. Hisashi Iwakuma makes his season debut for the Mariners in Houston. Justin Masterson and the Indians host the White Sox. A.J. Burnett starts for the Phillies against the streaking Tanner Roark. R.A. Dickey and Francisco Liriano will duel in Pittsburgh. Yovani Gallardo and Johnny Cueto will face off in Cincinnati. Julio Teheran starts for the Braves against the Giants. Garrett Richards and the Angels host the Rangers.
National TV: Cardinals-Cubs (1 PM, Fox Sports 1), Mariners-Astros (4 PM, MLB Network), Tigers-Royals (7 PM, Fox Sports 1)
MLB.tv Free Game: Mariners-Astros (4 PM)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.