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Dugout Digest – rise of the Cubs?

Oh god, here we go again – the Cubs have won five games in a row and are only 5.5 games out of a playoff spot. Let’s get one thing straight – even though the Cubs are playing better lately, they’re not a contender by any stretch of the imagination. While they’re only 5.5 games behind the Marlins for the NL’s second Wild Card spot, there are seven teams closer to Miami than that in the Wild Card standings. Chicago has also feasted on a weak part of their schedule this week, sweeping the hapless Mets and taking two in a row from a surprising Marlins team, all at home. The Cubs are just 12-17 in the NL Central, and while they’re playing all of their division rivals tough, they still have a losing record against all four of those clubs. Let’s not call the Cubs back yet.

Game of the Night: Diamondbacks 4, Braves 3 (11 innings). Well, this game was just stupid. The Braves led 2-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth, and with Craig Kimbrel coming in…c’mon, you know what’s going to happen. Well, the inevitable domination didn’t happen on Saturday night. After getting Chris Owings to line out to lead off the inning, Kimbrel walked Ender Inciarte, who immediately stole second. A few pitches later, Aaron Hill doubled Inciarte home to tie the game at two. Kimbrel struck out Didi Gregorius and Gerardo Parra to get out of the inning, and we went into extras. With two outs in the tenth and Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed on the hill, Jason Heyward smashed a homer to right, giving Atlanta a 3-2 lead. That lead didn’t last very long, as Anthony Varvaro allowed a game-tying solo homer to Miguel Montero with one out in the bottom of the tenth. Fredi Gonzalez cycled through a couple more pitchers in that inning, and the free baseball continued. In the bottom of the 11th, Arizona finally broke through for good. Inciarte led off with a bunt single that was overturned after a replay review. David Carpenter then allowed a single to Cody Ross and walked Gregorius to bring up Parra. Parra dropped a blooper in shallow center field, and Ross just beat B.J. Upton’s throw to the plate to give Arizona the victory.

Pitching Lines of the Day: Shelby Miller threw a complete game shutout for the Cardinals in their 5-0 win in Toronto, allowing three hits, one walk, and striking out five. Kyle Gibson pitched very well for the Twins in their 8-0 win over the Astros, giving up three hits over seven shutout innings, walking three and punching out five. The Padres earned a 4-3, 11 inning win over the Nationals due in large part to a great start from Andrew Cashner, who gave up just two hits over six shutout innings, walking one and striking out five. In Baltimore’s 6-3 win over Oakland, Kevin Gausman allowed one run on four hits in seven innings, walking one and striking out six. Jeff Samardzija had a nice start for the Cubs in their 5-2 victory against the Marlins, giving up two runs on five hits in seven innings, punching out eight while walking one. 

Hitting Lines of the Day: Sal Perez starred for the Royals in their 8-4 win over the Yankees, going 3/3 with a double, a homer, and three RBI. In that Twins win over the Astros, Danny Santana went 4/5 with a double, a stolen base, and five RBI. Junior Lake supplied the Cubs with all the offense they needed against Miami, going 2/4 with a pair of solo homers. In the Athletics’ loss to the Orioles, Coco Crisp went 3/4 with a double, a homer, and two runs scored. Detroit beat Boston 8-6, though Dustin Pedroia did go 3/4 with two runs, two RBI, and his third homer of the year.

Other Games: The Brewers beat a sloppy Pirates team 9-3. Cincinnati hung on to beat Philadelphia 6-5. The Rockies earned a 5-4, ten inning win over the Dodgers. The Indians beat the Rangers 8-3 to improve to .500 on the season. The Mariners topped the Rays 7-4. The Angels used a six-run eighth inning to beat the White Sox and Chris Sale 6-5 in a game that would be “game of the night” on nearly any other evening. The Giants rallied in the ninth to walk off on the Mets 5-4.

Today’s Games: Drew Hutchison and the Blue Jays host the Cardinals in the rubber match of their series. Homer Bailey and the Reds host the Phillies. Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez square off in Baltimore. Yovani Gallardo starts for the Brewers in Pittsburgh. Felix Hernandez will take the hill for the Mariners in St. Pete against the Rays. Henderson Alvarez starts for the Marlins at Wrigley. Hiroki Kuroda and James Shields will face off in Kansas City. Collin McHugh starts for the Astros in Minnesota. Justin Masterson takes the hill for the Indians in Texas against the Rangers. Jose Quintana and C.J. Wilson will battle in Anaheim. Aaron Harang starts for the Braves in Phoenix. Jordan Zimmermann gets the nod for the Nationals in San Diego. Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers take on Jorge de la Rosa and the Rockies. Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers host the Red Sox.

National TV: Athletics-Orioles (1:30 PM, MLB Network), Mariners-Rays (1:30 PM, MLB Network), Red Sox-Tigers (8 PM, ESPN)

Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.

About Joe Lucia

I'm the managing editor of Awful Announcing and the news editor of The Comeback. I also made The Outside Corner a thing for six seasons.