The last couple of weeks have actually done a good job at separating the contenders from the pretenders in the National League. The American League picture is still a little muddy thanks to the Rays getting hot and both of the Wild Card spots going to teams in the AL West, but in the NL, I think we have a pretty solid idea of which teams will be looking for a playoff spot in the second half. The Braves, Dodgers, Brewers, Giants, and Nationals have been in the race all year, while the Pirates, Cardinals, and Reds have floundered around .500 before getting their acts together lately. Aside from those eight teams, the only NL club that *might* consider themselves a contender is the Marlins, who are two games under .500. Everyone else? Go ahead and blow it all up. You’re not going anywhere.
Game of the Day: Reds 4, Brewers 2. This was a big win for Cincinnati on the day they learned that Joey Votto would likely be heading back to the DL. The Reds put two runs on the board quickly in the first inning against Yovani Gallardo, but they tallied just five hits in Gallardo’s final six innings of work without scoring a run and putting just one runner into scoring position. Meanwhile on the mound for the Reds, Mat Latos was pitching even better. His one mistake over his first seven innings of work came in the sixth inning, when Logan Schafer led the inning off with a triple and scored on a Scooter Gennett ground out. Schafer pressed the issue again in the eighth with two outs, doubling to put a man in scoring position for pinch hitter Rickie Weeks. Weeks singled Schafer in to tie the game and potentially undo Latos’ day of hard work. But in the bottom of the eighth, the borderline untouchable Will Smith walked Brandon Phillips with one out, and then allowed a go-ahead two-run homer to Jay Bruce, giving the Reds a 4-2 lead. Jonathan Broxton got three ground outs in the top of the ninth to pick up the save and hand Cincinnati a series win over the NL Central leaders.
Pitching Lines of the Day: In Cleveland’s 4-1 win over Kansas City, Corey Kluber allowed one run on four hits in 8 1/3 innings, walking one and punching out ten. Jeff Locke pitched the Pirates to a 6-2 win and series sweep over the Phillies, giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits in eight innings, striking out four while walking one. Garrett Richards smashed the Astros in Anaheim’s 6-1 win, allowing one run on six hits in 7 1/3 innings, punching out 11 with one walk. Jeff Samardzija’s Oakland debut was a success in their 4-2 win over the Blue Jays, as he gave up one run on four hits in seven innings, walking one and striking out five. The aforementioned Latos finished his day by allowing two runs on four hits in eight innings, walking one and striking out three.
Hitting Lines of the Day: In Tampa Bay’s 7-3 win over Detroit, Desmond Jennings went 3/5 with two runs, two RBI, a double, and a homer. The Yankees beat the Twins 9-7, thanks in large part to Jacoby Ellsbury going 2/5 with a double, a homer, two runs, and four RBI. In the loss for Minnesota, Trevor Plouffe went 3/4 with a double, a homer, two runs, and two RBI. Kole Calhoun helped out Richards and the Angels, going 3/3 with a solo homer, a walk, and two runs scored. In Boston’s 7-6, 12 inning loss to Baltimore, David Ortiz went 4/5 with a double, two RBI, and a walk. The Cardinals fell 8-4 to the Marlins, but Matt Adams went 4/5 with a double, a run, an RBI, and a stolen base.
Other Games: The Diamondbacks beat the Braves 3-1 to avoid a sweep in Atlanta. The Mets doubled up the Rangers 8-4. The White Sox edged the Mariners 1-0. The Nationals rallied late to beat the Cubs 2-1. The Giants topped the Padres 5-3. The Dodgers stomped the Rockies 8-2.
Today’s Games: We’ve got a rarity today, folks – a Monday with nearly every team in the league playing. Of course, there are no day games, because why would we want nice things like that? Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals host Chris Tillman and the Orioles. Mike Minor starts for the Braves against the Mets. James Shields starts for the Royals against one of the men traded to the Rays for him – Jake Odorizzi. Mike Leake and the Reds host the Cubs. Jarred Cosart and the Astros take on the Rangers in a battle for Texas baseball supremacy. Cole Hamels gets the nod for the Phillies in Milwaukee. Charlie Morton and Adam Wainwright will duel in St. Louis. Ian Kennedy starts for the Padres in Denver. Jered Weaver and the Angels host the Blue Jays. Ryan Vogelsong starts for the Giants in Oakland. Hisashi Iwakuma and the Mariners host the Twins.
National TV: Yankees-Indians (7 PM, ESPN)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.