I think the absolute worst possible outcome of the regular season for the Oakland Athletics, short of them completely collapsing and missing the playoffs, would be for them to have to play in the Wild Card playoff game. And right now, they’re just one step away from that game following two straight losses and a pair of wins in a row by the Angels. The A’s have the best record in baseball at 66-42, but Anaheim is right behind them at 65-43. It really sucks that one of these excellent teams is going to be forced into a “win or go home” situation against a clearly inferior team, but hey – that’s baseball.
Game of the Night: Pirates 9, Diamondbacks 4. Arizona got their crap handed to them on a silver platter on Friday night thanks to a Pirates team that is currently a National League playoff club. The Diamondbacks led 4-0 after five innings, and it looked like they’d coast to victory against a silent Pittsburgh offense. Then…everything fell apart. Gaby Sanchez hit an RBI single in the sixth to make it 4-1. In the eighth, the team took both Randall Delgado and Eury de la Rosa to the cleaners, smashing the pair for three runs on four hits. Then, everything fell apart in the ninth for Arizona with Bo Schultz on the hill. Back to back doubles by Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer with one out gave the Pirates the lead, and an intentional walk to Andrew McCutchen led to an RBI single by Michael Martinez to make it 6-4. After Neil Walker struck out for the second out, Russell Martin singled to make it 7-4. Gregory Polanco hit an infield single to load the bases for Travis Snider, and Snider delivered with a two-run single to increase the lead to 9-4. Ernesto Frieri pitched an uneventful bottom of the ninth (minus him plunking Paul Goldschmidt, leading to a very silly post-game tiff) to close the game.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Ryan Vogelsong sliced and diced the Mets in the Giants’ 5-1 win, allowing one run on two hits in nine innings, walking one and striking out five. Sonny Gray pitched great for the A’s in their 1-0 loss to the Royals, giving up one run on three hits in seven innings, punching out seven without a walk. In the win for Kansas City, Jeremy Guthrie tossed six shutout innings, allowing three hits, two runs, and striking out six. Roberto Hernandez pitched great for the Phillies in their 2-1 win over the Nationals, giving up one unearned run on five hits in eight innings, punching out three while walking one. Wei-Yin Chen led the Orioles to a 2-1 win over the Mariners, allowing one run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out eight. In Toronto’s 3-1 loss to Houston, J.A. Happ gave up one run on three hits in seven innings, walking a pair and striking out six.
Hitting Lines of the Night: In San Diego’s 10-1 win over Atlanta, Tommy Medica went 5/5 with two homers, four runs, four RBI, and a stolen base, while Everth Cabrera went 4/5 with two runs, an RBI, and a stolen base. David Murphy played very well in Cleveland’s 12-2 win over Texas, going 4/4 with two doubles, two runs, and two RBI. Aramis Ramirez helped the Brewers beat the Cardinals 7-4, going 3/5 with a double, a homer, and two RBI. Carlos Beltran had a nice night for the Yankees as they fell 4-3 in Boston, going 2/3 with a homer, two RBI, and a walk.
Other Games: The Tigers doubled up the Rockies 4-2. The Reds beat the Marlins 5-2 in a much less controversial game than Thursday night’s affair. The Angels beat the Rays 5-3. The White Sox rallied to beat the Twins 10-8. The Cubs thumped the Dodgers 8-2.
Today’s Games: Jon Lester makes his A’s debut against the Royals. James Paxton returns to the majors to start for the Mariners in Baltimore. Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals host A.J. Burnett and the Phillies. Rick Porcello gets the nod for the Tigers against the Rockies. Jacob deGrom and the Mets host Jake Peavy and the Giants. Homer Bailey starts for the Reds in Miami. Justin Masterson makes his Cardinals debut against Kyle Lohse and the Brewers. R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays take on the Astros. Chris Archer and the Rays host C.J. Wilson and the Angels. Ervin Santana and Ian Kennedy will square off in San Diego. Hyun-Jin Ryu gets the start for the Dodgers against the Cubs.
National TV: Yankees-Red Sox (4 PM, Fox Sports 1, of course), Brewers-Cardinals (7 PM, MLB Network), Mariners-Orioles (7 PM, MLB Network)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.