What is the “it” being raised? Well, the Jolly Roger, of course. Pittsburgh beat Arizona 5-1 on Wednesday night to win their third game in a row, fifth out of six, and tenth out of 13 games. They’re still six games behind the first place Brewers in the NL Central, but have closed to within just two games of the Nationals for the NL’s second Wild Card berth. It seems like all of the NL’s contenders are getting hot at the same time – the Nationals, Braves, Dodgers, Brewers, Reds, Pirates, and Cardinals were all above .500 in June, and they’ve made the playoff races that much more entertaining heading into the All-Star Break.
Game of the Night: White Sox 3, Angels 2. This game didn’t have the most exciting walk off of Wednesday, but it did have the strangest finish. The White Sox led 2-0 going into the seventh, with a cruising John Danks on the hill. Danks allowed a solo homer to David Freese, a small bump in the road, to make it 2-1. Then in the eighth, running on fumes, Danks gave up a two-out homer to Josh Hamilton to knot the game at two. Zach Putnam escaped the eighth with no more damage, and after a failed White Sox scoring attempt in the eighth, Putnam shut down the Angels in the ninth. In the bottom of the ninth, Alejandro De Aza singled with one out to put the winning run on base. Conor Gillaspie followed De Aza’s single with one of his own, putting men on the corners with one out. Leury Garcia followed up with a walk off single to push Chicago to a 3-2 win and deny the Angels a chance to pick up a game on the A’s in the AL West.
Pitching Lines of the Day: Tyson Ross threw a complete game shutout for the Padres in their 3-0 win over the Reds, allowing three hits and striking out nine hitters without a walk. Jason Vargas pitched the Royals to a 4-0 win over the Twins, giving up four hits over seven shutout frames, walking two and striking out five. Chris Young had a nice start for the Mariners in their 5-2 win in Houston, allowing just two solo homers in seven innings, walking one and striking out eight. Tom Koehler outdueled Cole Hamels in Miami’s 5-0 win over Philadelphia, giving up three hits in six scoreless frames, walking one and punching out seven. Adam Wainwright pitched the Cardinals to a 2-0 win over the Giants, allowing four hits over 7 2/3 shutout innings, walking two and striking out just one. Julio Teheran starred once again in Atlanta’s 3-1 win over the Mets, allowing one run on four hits in seven innings, walking three and striking out five.
Hitting Lines of the Day: Brandon Moss went off in Oakland’s 9-3 loss to the Tigers, going 4/4 with a double, a homer, and two RBI. Coco Crisp also stayed hot for the A’s, going 3/4 with a homer and two runs scored. In the Cubs’ 16-9 win over the Red Sox, Justin Ruggiano went 3/6 wtih a double, a homer, and five RBI, while lil’ Darwin Barney went 4/5 with a double, a triple, a run, and an RBI. Pirates stud rookie Gregory Polanco propelled them to a 5-1 win over the Diamondbacks, going 2/4 with a double, a homer, two runs, two RBI, and a walk. Brett Gardner had a nice day for the Yankees in their 6-3 loss to the Rays, going 3/5 with a homer and two RBI.
Other Games: The Blue Jays walked off on the Brewers 7-4 thanks to Edwin Encarnacion’s game-ending homer. The Indians rallied to beat the Dodgers 5-4. The Nationals edged the Rockies 4-3. Baltimore triumphed over Texas 6-4.
Today’s Games: Madison Bumgarner and the Giants host the Cardinals. Yu Darvish starts for the Rangers in Baltimore against Wei-Yin Chen. The resurgent Vance Worley starts for the Pirates against the Diamondbacks and trade target Brandon McCarthy. Max Scherzer and the Tigers host the Rays. Masahiro Tanaka gets the nod for the Yankees in Minnesota against Phil Hughes and the Twins. Zack Greinke starts for the Dodgers in Denver. R.A. Dickey and Sonny Gray will face off in Oakland.
National TV: Cardinals-Giants (3:30, MLB Network), Dodgers-Rockies (8 PM, MLB Network), Yankees-Twins (8 PM, MLB Network)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.