A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article wondering whether the Atlanta Braves were really a good team. Since that post went up, the Braves have gone on an 11-1 tear, beating the tar out of the Astros, Phillies, Mets, and most recently, the Diamondbacks. In those 12 games, the Braves have outscored their opposition by a total of 29 runs and have moved from two games back in the NL East to 1.5 games up on the Nationals. And quite frankly, the only thing preventing their lead from being larger is Washington’s own hotness – Washington has played at a respectable 8-4 stretch since the Braves left DC. Heading into the All-Star Break, the Braves have one left against Arizona and close with seven on the road against the Mets and Cubs. Needless to say, a .580 winning percentage before the Midsummer Classic is definitely a possibility for Atlanta.
Game of the Day: Marlins 6, Cardinals 5. The Marlins almost got to Trevor Rosenthal on Friday. They *did* get to him on Saturday. The Cardinals smashed Andrew Heaney early in this one (so much so that he was demoted to AAA after the game), and led 5-1 after five. Then, after Shelby Miller put two men on with one out, Seth Maness allowed a three-run homer to Christian Yelich to cut St. Louis’ lead to just a run. The game remained that way until the ninth, when Mike Matheny’s iffy bullpen management took over. Randy Choate started the inning, and forced Yelich to line out for the first out of the inning. Rosenthal replaced Choate for the save, and allowed a single to Donovan Solano. After striking out Giancarlo Stanton, Rosenthal allowed a long single to Casey McGehee, which scored Solano thanks to the Cardinals outfielders playing in a no doubles defense. Sam Freeman then replaced Rosenthal, and pinch hitter Jeff Baker singled in McGehee to give Miami a 6-5 lead. Steve Cishek allowed a one-out single to Jhonny Peralta in the bottom of the inning, but induced a game-ending double play grounder from Yadier Molina.
Pitching Lines of the Day: Matt Garza tossed a complete game shutout as Milwaukee beat Cincinnati 1-0, allowing two hits, walking two, and striking out nine. In the White Sox 3-2, 14 inning loss to the Mariners, Jose Quintana allowed four hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings, walking one while punching out ten. In the win for Seattle, Felix Hernandez gave up two runs on three hits in eight innings, striking out eight and walking one. Gio Gonzalez led the Nationals to a 13-0 thrashing of the Cubs, spinning eight shutout frames while giving up four hits, walking one and punching out seven. Jon Lester helped the Red Sox beat the Orioles 3-2 in game one of their doubleheader, allowing a pair of unearned runs on five hits in eight innings, striking out seven without a walk. Scott Kazmir helped the A’s beat the Blue Jays 5-1, allowing one run on three hits in seven innings, walking a pair and punching out eight.
Hitting Lines of the Day: In game two of that Orioles-Red Sox doubleheader, Nelson Cruz went a perfect 5/5 with two doubles, his 27th homer, two RBI, and a stolen base. The Angels thumped the Astros 11-5, thanks in large part to Albert Pujols going 3/5 with a double, a homer, two runs, and three RBI. Kevin Kiermaier helped the Rays beat the Tigers 7-2, going 3/4 with two triples, a run, and three RBI. Justin Upton pushed the Braves to a 10-4 victory over the Diamondbacks, going 2/3 with a homer, a walk, and three RBI. Then, there’s the Washington trio of Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, and Jayson Werth. Zimmerman went 4/5 with two doubles, two runs, and three RBI, Rendon went 3/4 with three doubles, three runs, two RBI, a walk, and a stolen base. and Werth went 3/4 with two doubles, two runs, and two RBI.
Other Games: The Pirates used three early runs to beat the Phillies 3-2. The Twins walked off on the Yankees 2-1 in 11 innings. The Rockies edged the Dodgers 8-7. The Rangers beat the Mets 5-3. The Indians topped the Royals 7-3. The Giants rallied late to beat the Padres 5-3 in ten innings.
Today’s Games: Danny Duffy and Corey Kluber will do battle as the Indians host the Royals. Yovani Gallardo and Mat Latos will square off in Cincinnati. Zack Wheeler and the Mets take on the Rangers. Jake Arrieta and Jordan Zimmerman will duel in Washington. A.J. Burnett returns to Pittsburgh as the Phillies take on the Pirates. Hiroki Kuroda and the Yankees take on the Twins. Taijuan Walker starts for the Mariners against the White Sox. Henderson Alvarez starts for the Marlins against the Cardinals. Garrett Richards and the Angels host the Astros. Jeff Samardzija makes his A’s debut against Drew Hutchison and the Blue Jays. Tim Lincecum starts for the Giants in San Diego, so keep your eyes on that one for another potential no-hitter. Josh Beckett starts for the Dodgers in Denver. David Price and Rick Porcello square off in Detroit.
National TV: Yankees-Twins (2 PM, TBS), Rays-Tigers (8 PM, ESPN)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.