Can we go ahead and give some praise to the American League West? Three of the four best records in the American League belong to AL West teams, and the three best run differentials in baseball are possessed by the A’s, Angels, and Mariners. In a world where the AL East is experiencing some near-unseen mediocrity and the AL Central is its usual Tiger-dominated self, it’s almost refreshing to see the three AL West teams kicking ass and taking names this well. Well, that doesn’t hold true for the Rangers and Mariners – they’re two of the worst teams in all of baseball. But hey, three playoff teams will do a lot to make people forget about the bad baseball being played in Texas this season.
Game of the Night: Mets 4, Braves 3 (11 innings). The Mets took an early 2-0 lead against Mike Minor and the Braves, and Daisuke Matsuzaka actually managed to hold that lead until the eighth…and he wasn’t even on the mound at that point. In the eighth, New York’s bullpen was a disaster with two outs. Vic Black sandwiched a Freddie Freeman double between two outs, and things actually looked fine for the Mets. Of course, looks can be deceiving. Josh Edgin allowed Freeman to score after a wild pitch. Jason Heyward singled. Jenrry Mejia replaced Edgin, and allowed a game-tying double to Chris Johnson. Tommy La Stella was intentionally walked. Christian Bethancourt singled in Johnson to make it 3-2. Atlanta’s lead lasted for exactly two batters in the bottom of the eighth though, because Luis Avilan (a lefty specialist) allowed a game-tying homer to Curtis Granderson (a left-hander). Both teams blew chances to score in the ninth (though New York’s opportunity was laden with controversy), and after a quiet tenth, the Mets finally broke through in the 11th. Juan Lagares doubled with one out, and after a Lucas Duda intentional walk, Travis d’Arnaud flew out, allowing Lagares to move to third. Ruben Tejada then singled Lagares home to give the Mets the win, solidifying their hold on fourth place in the AL East.
Pitching Lines of the Night: James Shields and the Royals topped the Rays 6-0, with Shields tossing seven shutout innings, allowing three hits, walking one, and punching out ten. Hisashi Iwakuma dominated the Twins in a 2-0 Mariners win, giving up four hits in seven scoreless innings, striking out ten without a walk. Charlie Morton had a great start for the Pirates in Pittsburgh’s 2-0 walk off loss to the Cardinals, giving up one hit over seven shutout frames, walking a pair and punching out five. Scott Carroll spurred the White Sox to a 4-0 win in Boston, allowing just one hit over 6 2/3 shutout innings, walking two and striking out five. Ian Kennedy pitched the Padres past the Rockies 6-1, giving up one run on four hits in seven innings, striking out nine and walking a pair. Jesse Chavez and the A’s beat the Giants 5-0, allowing four hits over six shutout innings, walking two and striking out nine. Stephen Strasburg pitched well for the Nationals in their 8-2, 11 inning loss to the Orioles, giving up two runs on four hits in seven innings, walking none and punching out nine.
Hitting Lines of the Night: In Baltimore’s win over Washington, Manny Machado went 5/6 with a double, a homer, two runs, and two RBI. Teammate Nelson Cruz went 3/5 with a dhomer, two runs, and two RBI. Jon Singleton pushed the Astros to a 12-7 win over the Rangers, going 3/4 with a double, a homer, two runs, four RBI, and a walk. Chase Headley finally had a nice game for the Padres in their win in Denver, going 4/5 with a triple, two runs, and two RBI. In the Cubs’ 9-3 loss to the Reds, Chris Coghlan went 4/5 with two doubles, two runs, and a stolen base. David Peralta helped the Diamondbacks stomp the Marlins 9-1, going 2/4 with a double, a triple, two runs, three RBI, and a walk. Chase Utley was the offensive star for the Phillies in their 3-2 win in Milwaukee, going 2/3 with a homer, two runs, two RBI, and a walk.
Other Games: The Yankees beat the Indians 5-3. The Angels topped the Blue Jays 5-2.
Today’s Games: The Cubs and Reds have a doubleheader in Cincinnati, and the game one matchup of Travis Wood vs Johnny Cueto is pretty solid. Masahiro Tanaka and Trevor Bauer will duel in Cleveland. Doug Fister and the Nationals host the Orioles. Hyun-Jin Ryu and Justin Verlander will square off in Detroit. Julio Teheran starts for the Braves in New York. Jeremy Hellickson makes his season debut for the Rays against the Royals. Wily Peralta starts for the Brewers against the Phillies. The white hot Vance Worley and the Pirates take on Carlos Martinez and the Cardinals. Tyson Ross starts for the Padres in Denver. R.A. Dickey and Tyler Skaggs will cross swords in Anaheim. Madison Bumgarner and Sonny Gray will battle in Oakland.
National TV: Tigers-Orioles (7 PM, MLB Network), Orioles-Nationals (7 PM, MLB Network)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.