Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Dugout Digest – welcome to first, Royals

For proof of how nutty (or unpredictable, or blase, or mediocre, or whatever adjective you want) the 2014 MLB season has been thusfar, simply look at the AL Central standings. There you’ll find the Kansas City Royals, all alone staring at the rest of the division. The Royals are the only team in the division with a positive run differential (+19), and have risen to the top of the division on the coattails of a nine-game winning streak. And hey, you can’t accuse them of beating up on weak competition – during this winning streak, they earned wins against Hiroki Kuroda, Corey Kluber, Justin Verlander, and most recently, Max Scherzer. Good on you, Royals.

Game of the Night: Reds 6, Pirates 5. Much like the race in the middle of the National League Central, this game went back and forth between the Reds and Pirates. After six innings, Cincinnati led 3-2 behind the arm of a shaky Johnny Cueto. In the seventh, they increased their lead to 5-2 after a two-run single by Joey Votto off of Justin Wilson. But the Pirates rampaged back to tie the game in the bottom of the inning, bum rushing the trio of Sam LeCure, Manny Parra, and Logan Ondrusek for three runs on four hits and a walk in the frame. After an uneventful eighth, Pirates closer Jason Grilli allowed a go-ahead homer to Todd Frazier to lead off the ninth. Pittsburgh nearly fought back to earn the win in the bottom of the inning, putting two on with one out against Aroldis Chapman, but Jordy Mercer struck out and Clint Barmes flew out to end the game.

Pitching Lines of the Night: In the Angels’ 9-3 win over the Indians, Matt Shoemaker allowed two runs on five hits in eight innings, walking one and striking out ten. Roenis Elias led the Mariners to a 6-1 win in San Diego, giving up one run on three hits in seven innings, striking out six without a walk. Jon Lester pitched well for the Red Sox in their 2-1 win over Minnesota, allowing one run on four hits in 6 1/3 innings, walking one and punching out six. Masahiro Tanaka dominated the Blue Jays in the Yankees’ 3-1 win, giving up one run on five hits in six innings, walking a pair and striking out ten.

Hitting Lines of the Night: In that Angels victory in Cleveland, the trio of Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun, and Howie Kendrick all starred. Trout went 3/5 with a double, two homers, and four RBI, Calhoun went 4/5 with a homer, three runs, and two RBI, and Kendrick went 3/5 with a double, a homer, and two RBI. In Milwaukee’s heated 7-5 win over Arizona, Jonathan Lucroy went 3/5 with two homers and five RBI. A’s catcher Derek Norris went 2/2 with a double, a homer, and five RBI in Oakland’s 10-6 win over Texas. In the loss for the Rangers, Rougned Odor went 2/4 with a triple, a homer, two runs, and three RBI. Houston fell to Washington 6-5, but Jose Altuve went 4/5 with two doubles, a run, and two RBI. Steve Pearce helped the Orioles beat the Rays 7-5, going 2/3 with a double, a homer, two runs, two RBI, and two walks. Josh Harrison continued his wild season in Pittsburgh’s loss to Cincinnati, going 4/5 with a double, two RBI, and a stolen base.

Other Games: The Phillies knocked the Braves out of first in the NL East after a 5-2 victory. The Royals smashed the Tigers 11-4 to claim first place in the AL Central. The Marlins edged the Cubs 6-5. The Cardinals beat the Mets 5-2. The White Sox smashed the Giants 8-2. The Rockies doubled up the Dodgers 4-2.

Today’s Games: Day games, day games everywhere! Jake Arrieta starts for the Cubs in Miami against Nate Eovaldi. Kevin Gausman and Alex Cobb will duel in St. Pete. John Lackey and the Red Sox host Kyle Gibson and the Twins. Bartolo Colon and the Mets take on Lance Lynn and the Cardinals in St. Louis. Tim Hudson and Chris Sale will duel on the South Side. Sonny Gray and the A’s host the Rangers. Gio Gonzalez and the Nationals host the Astros and Scott Feldman. Alfredo Simon starts for the Reds in Pittsburgh. C.J. Wilson starts for the Angels in Cleveland against Justin Masterson and the Indians. Mark Buehrle starts for the Blue Jays in the Bronx. Matt Garza gets the nod for Milwaukee in Arizona. Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers host the Rockies and Jorge de la Rosa. Felix Hernadez toes the rubber for the Mariners in San Diego against Andrew Cashner and the Padres.

National TV: Cubs-Marlins (12:30 PM, MLB Network), Royals-Tigers (1 PM, MLB Network), Angels-Indians (7 PM, ESPN2)

Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.

About Joe Lucia

I'm the managing editor of Awful Announcing and the news editor of The Comeback. I also made The Outside Corner a thing for six seasons.