I could probably flesh this out into a longer column, but the Atlanta Braves pitching staff is back to being awesome with a new cast of characters. Atlanta’s 2.04 ERA through the first month of the season is the best in baseball by more than half a run. Of the 13 pitchers who have thrown innings for them this year, five didn’t throw an inning with the team last year – and that doesn’t include David Hale, who made two starts in September a year ago. Speaking of Hale, he has the highest ERA of any Braves starter at 2.31. Every current Atlanta reliever aside from rookie mop-up man Gus Schlosser is striking out at least a batter per inning, a cumulative 30.5% strikeout rate that is bested by just the Brewers. And just think – this team is going to be getting Mike Minor, Gavin Floyd, and Jonny Venters back later in the season. Who needs Brandon Beachy, Kris Medlen, Tim Hudson, Eric O’Flaherty, Freddy Garcia, or Cory Gearrin?
Game of the Day: Mariners 6, Rangers 5. This was a 5-0 game after three and a half. Then, the Rangers decided to go to sleep. Matt Harrison allowed an RBI double to Robinson Cano in the bottom of the fourth to make it a 5-1 game. In the sixth, a wild pitch by Harrison allowed Cano, who singled earlier in the inning, to score and make it 5-2. Kyle Seager homered off of Shawn Tolleson in the seventh to make it 5-3. In the eighth, Alexi Ogando struck out the first two batters of the inning before allowing a double, an infield single, and the big blow – a three-run homer to Seager, giving Seattle a 6-5 lead. During all of this, the Rangers offense did…nothing. After Michael Choice’s RBI double in the fourth, Texas managed just three baserunners over the rest of the game, and only one made it to second base. Seattle’s bullpen tallied 5 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up one hit, two walks, and tallying six strikeouts.
Pitching Lines of the Day: There was a lot of good pitching on Sunday, so this may take awhile. Johnny Cueto and Julio Teheran spit flames at each other in Atlanta’s 1-0, ten inning win. Both pitchers allowed just three hits over eight shutout innings, while Cueto walked three and struck out 11 and Teheran walked two and struck out five. Adam Wainwright pitched the Cardinals to a 7-0 win over the Pirates, giving up three hits in eight shutout innings, walking a pair and punching out seven. Collin McHugh pitched the Astros to a 5-1 win over the A’s, allowing one run on two hits over 8 2/3 innings, walking three and striking out seven. A.J. Burnett got his first win as a Phillie in their 2-0 win over the Diamondbacks, giving up just five hits in eight shutout innings, striking out eight and walking none. Dillon Gee carried the Mets to a 4-0 win over the Marlins, allowing three hits in eight scoreless frames, striking out six and walking four. Ryan Vogelsong pitched the Giants to a 4-1 win over the Indians, giving up just two hits in seven shutout frames, striking out half a dozen and allowing two free passes. I think we’re done now, with apologies to Jason Hammel, Ian Kennedy, Danny Salazar, James Shields, Jorge de la Rosa, Brandon McCarthy, R.A. Dickey, Scott Carroll, Matt Harrison, Wily Peralta, Garrett Richards, and Masahiro Tanaka, all of whom also had quality starts today.
Hitting Lines of the Day: Jhonny Peralta’s bat spurred the Cardinals to their win over the Pirates, going 2/2 with two homers, four RBI, and a walk. In Chicago’s 4-0 win over Milwaukee, Starlin Castro went 3/4 with a pair of solo homers. The Royals topped the Orioles 9-3, thanks in large part to Omar Infante going 2/3 with a double, homer, a walk, and six RBI. Kyle Seager helped the Mariners earn their comeback win over the Rangers, picking up a pair of homers in four at bats while driving in four. The legend of Jose Abreu grew in Chicago’s 9-2 win over Tampa Bay, going 2/4 with a homer, two runs, and four RBI.
Other Games: The Blue Jays beat up the Red Sox 7-1. The Padres doubled up the Nationals 4-2. The Rockies topped the Dodgers 6-1 to win their series in LA. The Twins and Tigers were rained out. The Yankees rallied late to beat the Angels 3-2.
Today’s Games: Jeff Samardzija and the shockingly good Alfredo Simon will battle in Cincinnati. Yu Darvish and the Rangers host Sonny Gray and the Athletics. Yovani Gallardo and Michael Wacha will duel in St. Louis, and there is nothing the Cardinals can do to remove the Brewers from first players during their series. Justin Masterson gets the nod for the Indians in Anaheim against Tyler Skaggs. Tyson Ross and Madison Bumgarner square off in San Francisco.
National TV: Athletics-Rangers (8 PM, ESPN)
MLB.tv Free Game: Athletics-Rangers (8 PM)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.