I don’t really know *how*, but the Milwaukee Brewers are still dominating the National League Central. No division leader in baseball has a larger division lead than Milwaukee’s 5.5 game cushion over the Cardinals. Their .610 winning percentage is the best in the National League (clearing the once dominant Giants), and is just a half game back of the A’s for the best mark in all of baseball. Yes, their run differential is still inferior to those posted by the Giants, Dodgers, and Nationals, but fourth-highest is nothing to scoff at. 14 of Milwaukee’s final 19 games before the All-Star Break come in the friendly confines of Miller Park, and 11 of those 19 games come against teams currently at or below .500. It’s obviously way too early to say the division race is over, but the Brewers can put themselves in an awesome position to head to the Postseason this fall with a strong finish to the first half.
Game of the Day: Red Sox 7, Athletics 6 (ten innings). The A’s almost were able to finish off another crazy comeback, but fell short. The Red Sox were in full control heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, leading 6-1 with a dominant Jon Lester on the hill. Things began to fell apart after Lester quickly recorded the first two outs in the frame. He hit Craig Gentry, and after allowing him to steal second, walked Jed Lowrie. Burke Badenhop then replaced Lester, and immediately allowed Gentry to steal third. Yoenis Cepsedes, Josh Donaldson, and Derek Norris each then followed with RBI singles, cutting the lead to 6-4. Andrew Miller got the final out of the inning, and gave way to Koji Uehara in the ninth. But the 2013 playoff hero wasn’t his usual dominant self, allowing a one-out solo homer to Stephen Vogt to make it 6-5, and a two-out solo homer to John Jaso to tie the game up at six. The game moved into extras, and Fernando Abad replaced Dan Otero on the hill for the A’s. Abad promptly gave up what would end up being the game-winning homer to David Ortiz. Uehara got his head on straight in the tenth, and retired the A’s in order to quell Oakland’s hopes of a four-game sweep.
Pitching Lines of the Day: In the Giants’ 4-1 win over the Diamondbacks, Madison Bumgarner allowed one run on just two hits in eight innings, walking two and striking out seven. For the Snakes in defeat, Mike Bolsinger gave up one run on five hits in 7 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out four. Brandon Cumpton helped the Pirates beat the Cubs 2-1, tossing seven scoreless frames while giving up two hits, striking out four and walking a pair. Chris Tillman led the Orioles to an 8-0 win against Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees, pitching seven four-hit, shutout innings, walking four and striking out two. Johnny Cueto led the Reds to a 4-3 win over the Blue Jays, allowing three runs (one earned) on seven hits in eight innings, walking one and striking out eight.
Hitting Lines of the Day: In Colorado’s 6-5 loss to Milwaukee, Wilin Rosario went 4/5 with a double, a homer, two runs, and three RBI. Aramis Ramirez was solid for the Brewers in victory, going 2/4 with a double, a homer, and two RBI. Miguel Cabrera powered the Tigers to a 10-4 win over the Indians, going 2/4 with a homer, two runs, and three RBI. Michael Brantley continued to hit well in Cleveland’s loss, going 3/5 with two doubles and three RBI. In the Mets’ 11-5 win over the Marlins, Daniel Murphy went 2/5 with a homer, two runs, and three RBI. Mike Zunino pushed the Mariners to a 2-1 win and a series sweep over the Royals by going 2/4 with a double, a solo homer, and two runs scored.
Other Games: The Nationals earned a series split by beating the Braves 4-1. The Rays beat the Astros 5-2. The Cardinals topped the Phillies 5-3. The Twins edged the White Sox 6-5. The Dodgers stymied the Padres offense in a 2-1 victory. The Angels defeated the Rangers 5-2.
Today’s Games: Chris Sale starts for the White Sox in Baltimore. Nate Eovaldi takes the hill for the Marlins in Philly. Alex Cobb and the Rays host the Pirates. Gio Gonzalez and Matt Garza will duel in Milwaukee. Alfredo Simon and Jeff Samardzija will face off in Chicago. Zack Greinke starts for the Dodgers in his old stomping grounds of Kansas City. Lance Lynn starts for the Cardinals in Denver. John Lackey and Felix Hernandez will match up in Seattle. Matt Cain and the Giants host Andrew Cashner and the Padres.
National TV: Nationals-Brewers (8 PM, ESPN2)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.