The two largest division leads in baseball reside in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The two teams that do battle in the Beltway Series every year in interleague play are seemingly rolling to division titles. Over in the American League, the Orioles have a five game lead on both the Blue Jays and the seemingly undead Yankees, and Baltimore’s .570 winning percentage is better than every team in baseball aside from the Athletics and Angels. In the National League, the Nationals have opened up a 4.5 game lead on the struggling Braves, heading into their series in Atlanta this weekend. Each of the Beltway teams made the playoffs in 2012, and after a down year for both clubs in 2013, they’re in great positions to head back to the Postseason this October.
Game of the Night: Phillies 6, Astros 5. Philadelphia completed their sweep of the Astros in awesome fashion, keeping them above Houston in the laughingstock standings for at least another few days. The Houston offense launched three homers off of Sean O’Sullivan through the first three innings of this one, and led the game 5-1 after three frames. But O’Sullivan settled down after a chaotic first third of the game, and he combined with the Phillies bullpen to allow just three hits over the final six innings of this contest. Unfortunately, Collin McHugh was throwing up zeroes of his own, and turned the game over to his bullpen in the bottom of the eighth with a 5-1 lead. Josh Fields promptly allowed a lead off double to Carlos Ruiz and a single to Cody Asche, making it a 5-2 game. Fields then struck out Domonic Brown and gave up an infield single to Ben Revere before getting pulled for Tony Sipp. Sipp gave up a single to Jimmy Rollins to load the bases for superstar Chase Utley who…flew out to left for out number two. That brought up the struggling Ryan Howard, who historically has been awful against left-handers. Howard proceeded to tap into his old power, launching a grand slam to center field to put the Phillies ahead 6-5. Jonathan Papelbon set the Astros down in order in the ninth, and Philadelphia breathed a sigh of relief.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Yesterday’s edition of “good pitching Thursday” resulted in the following pitchers who threw quality starts not getting recognized: Jeremy Guthrie, Kyle Hendricks, Wily Peralta, Miguel Gonzalez, Rick Porcello, Adam Wainwright, Jordan Zimmermann, and Jacob deGrom. We have some lovely parting gifts for you gentlemen.
Now, time for the main event. Jon Lester threw a complete game, three-hit shutout in Oakland’s 3-0 win over the Twins, allowing two walks and striking out eight. Edinson Volquez and the Pirates beat the Marlins 7-2, thanks to Volquez giving up just one hit over seven scoreless frames, walking three and punching out seven. In the Dodgers’ 7-0 win over the Angels, Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed two hits in seven shutout innings, walking one and striking out four. Homer Bailey pitched great for the Reds in their 4-0 win over the Indians, giving up four hits in seven scoreless innings, walking one and punching out eight. J.A. Happ dominated the Orioles in Toronto’s 2-1 loss, allowing two runs on five hits in eight innings, walking one and striking out a dozen. Shane Greene pitched the Yankees to a 1-0 win over the Tigers, tossing eight shutout innings while giving up five hits, walking three and striking out five. Collin McHugh dominated the Phillies in Houston’s loss, giving up one run on five hits in seven innings, striking out eight without a walk.
Hitting Lines of the Night: Cubs rookie Javier Baez kept Chicago fans excited in the Cubbies’ 6-2 win in Colorado, going 3/4 with two homers and four RBI. Chris Carter went 3/4 with a pair of two-run homers for the Astros in their loss in Philly. Kolten Wong helped the Cardinals top the Red Sox 5-2, going 3/4 with two solo homers, three runs scored, and a stolen base. Ian Desmond played well for the Nationals in their 5-3, 13 inning win over the Mets, going 2/5 with a homer, two runs, three RBI, and a walk. Jordy Mercer played well for the Pirates in their win over Miami, going 3/4 with a double, two runs, and an RBI.
Hitting Lines of the Night, Mariners Edition: The Mariners clobbered the White Sox 13-3, and half of their lineup had great games. Dustin Ackley went 2/4 with a homer, two runs, four RBI, and a walk. Endy Chavez went 2/3 with a homer, two runs, three RBI, and a walk. Kyle Seager went 2/4 with a homer, two runs, two RBI, and a walk. Finally, Robinson Cano went 2/2 with a homer, two RBI, and two walks. It was truly a team effort.
Other Games: The Brewers beat the Giants 3-1 to somehow take two out of three form San Francisco and stay in first in the NL Central. The Royals beat the Diamondbacks 6-2 to move into the AL’s second Wild Card spot.
Today’s Games: Chris Archer takes the hill for the Rays in Chicago against the Cubs. Justin Masterson starts for the Cardinals in Baltimore against Chris Tillman of the Orioles. Trevor Bauer gets the nod for the Indians in the Bronx. Bartolo Colon and A.J. Burnett will duel in Philly. R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays host Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers. Ian Kennedy will toe the rubber for the Padres in Pittsburgh. Mike Leake gets the start for the Reds against the Marlins. Ervin Santana and the Braves take on Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals. Madison Bumgarner goes for the Giants in Kansas City. Kyle Lohse and the Brewers host the Dodgers. Jered Weaver and the Angels take on the Red Sox. Scott Kazmir starts for teh A’s against the Twins and Kyle Gibson. Jose Quintana and Hisashi Iwakuma will tangle in Seattle.
National TV: Cardinals-Orioles (7 PM, MLB Network), Tigers-Blue Jays (7 PM, MLB Network)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.