The Oakland Athletics have been baseball’s best team since…oh, about day one of this season. But the A’s have been pulled off of their throne – the Angels now have sole possession of first place in the AL West, and no other team in baseball has a better record than their 73-50 mark. The A’s are still obviously a great team, but let’s be honest – no one expected them to keep kicking the crap out of teams all year. The Angels have been a better team since May 1st, and they’ve finally caught up with their rivals. This battle isn’t over yet – the two clubs will play each other seven more times before the month is out.
Game of the Night: Nationals 5, Diamondbacks 4 (11 innings). This one got wacky late. The Nationals pulled in front after a two-run homer by Wilson Ramos in the seventh, but Jordan Zimmermann promptly gave the lead back after a two-run homer by Didi Gregorius. In the bottom of the eighth, Washington regained the lead after a Denard Span double, an Anthony Rendon triple, and a Jayson Werth sac fly. Rafael Soriano got the night off, and Tyler Clippard was the one who came in to close the game in the ninth. Naturally, he immediately gave up a game-tying solo homer to David Peralta. Arizona had two chances to win in extra innings, putting men on first and third with two outs in the tenth and loading the bases with none out in the 11th, but couldn’t cash in either time. Adam LaRoche ended the chaos by launching a walk off homer in the bottom of the 11th, giving the Nationals their third-straight walk off win. Unheard of.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Bud Norris pitched the Orioles to an 8-2 win over the White Sox, allowing two runs on three his in seven innings, walking none and striking out eight. Kyle Hendricks gave up one run on three hits in seven innings for the Cubs in their 4-1 win over the Mets, walking two and striking out three. Carlos Torres allowed three hits over five scoreless frames for the Mets in the loss, walking a pair and punching out six. Jerome Williams shined for the Phillies in their 4-1 win over the Mariners, giving up one run four three his in seven innings, striking out four and walking three. Jason Vargas and the Royals beat the Twins 6-4, thanks to Vargas allowing one run on four hits in seven innings, walking one and striking out three.
Hitting Lines of the Night: In Pittsburgh’s 7-3 loss to Atlanta, Starling Marte went 3/4 with a double and a pair of solo homers. Jason Heyward went 3/4 with a homer and two RBI for the Braves in their victory. Erik Kratz went 2/2 with two solo homers in Kansas City’s win over Minnesota. Nick Markakis went 3/5 with a homer, two runs, and two RBI in Baltimore’s win over the White Sox. Jay Bruce went 2/5 with a double, a homer, and four RBI for the Reds in their 6-5, ten inning loss to St. Louis.
Other Games: The Angels beat the Red Sox 4-2, hanging on despite a potential Boston rally in the ninth.
Today’s Games: Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals host the Diamondbacks. A.J. Burnett and the Phillies take on the Mariners and Hisashi Iwakuma. Francisco Liriano and Aaron Harang will duel in Pittsburgh. Jered Weaver starts for the Angels in Boston. Chris Tillman and Jose Quintana will do battle on the South Side. Ryan Vogelsong starts for the Giants on the North Side. Alfredo Simon starts for the Reds in St. Louis against John Lackey and the Cardinals. James Shields takes the hill for the Royals in Minnesota. Scott Kazmir and the A’s host the Mets. Ian Kennedy and the Padres make the short trek north to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers.
National TV: Reds-Cardinals (8 PM, MLB Network), Blue Jays-Brewers (8 PM, MLB Network)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.