Ryan Howard nearly hit for the cycle on Sunday. Hell, he should have had it – needing just a double, he hit a ball that fell in front of Rockies right fielder Brandon Barnes and skipped past him, allowing Howard to reach second base. He had it! But the official scorekeeper called it a single and an error on Barnes, leaving Howard with “just” a four hit game, and still needing that double. Howard came up once more in the eighth inning, but Matt Belisle forced him to ground out to end the inning and fall shy of possibly the most improbable cycle we would ever seen.
Game of the Day: Phillies 10, Rockies 9. So this Phillies offense and pitching staff are going to be boom or bust all year, huh? This was a wild, back and forth game that saw the Fightins eventually prevail and take the series finale in Denver. After trading runs in the first inning, both clubs scored again in the third. The Rockies tacked on two more in the fifth, and led 6-3 at the game’s midway mark. The Phillies scored five straight runs to retake an 8-6, but Jake Diekman gave up a two-run homer to Justin Morneau to tie the game at eight heading into the eighth inning. Belisle didn’t have a nice day in that inning, allowing singles to Freddy Galvis, Ben Revere, and Jimmy Rollins, with Rollins’s single scoring Galvis to make it 9-8 and a ground out by Chase Utley making it 10-8. That lead was cut in half in the bottom of the eighth after a solo homer by Charlie Blackmon off of Antonio Bastardo, but the Phillies prevailed after Jonathan Papelbon stranded the winning run on base in the ninth.
Pitching Lines of the Day: In Pittsburgh’s 3-2, 14 inning loss to the Brewers, Gerrit Cole allowed one run on six hits in eight innings, walking one and punching out six, but the real story was the brawl (and its aftermath) between the two clubs incited by Cole and Carlos Gomez. In the Dodgers’ 4-1 win over the hapless Diamondbacks, Josh Beckett allowed just one hit over five shutout innings, striking out seven while walking two. Rick Porcello had a nice day in Detroit’s 2-1 win over the Angels, giving up one run on five hits in seven innings, walking one and striking out four. Homer Bailey pitched the Reds past the Cubs 8-2, ceding six hits over six scoreless frames, walking three and striking out eight. Vidal Nuno had a nice, though brief, performance for the Yankees in their 5-1 marathon win against the Rays, allowing three hits in five shutout innings, walking a pair and striking out six.
Hitting Lines of the Day: Ryan Howard’s final line for the day consisted of four hits in five at bats, including a triple, a homer, three runs, and three RBI. The White Sox pounded the Rangers 16-2, and a cast of characters all had big games, including Marcus Semien (4/6, two runs, four RBI, a triple), Jose Abreu (3/6, two runs, three RBI, two doubles, a homer), and Dayan Viciedo (3/5, three runs, two RBI, a double, a homer). Josh Donaldson supplied the A’s with all the offense they needed in their 4-1 triumph over the Astros, going 3/4 with two doubles, a homer, and three RBI. Zack Cozart of all people was a catalyst in Cincinnati’s win at Wrigley, going 3/5 with a double, a homer, two runs, and three RBI.
Other Games: The Indians prevailed over the Blue Jays 6-4. The Mets beat the Braves 4-3 in 14 innings to prevent their neighbors to the south from completing a sweep. The Marlins edged the Mariners 3-2 to complete a three-game sweep. The Nationals earned a 3-2 walk off win over the Cardinals. The Twins smashed the Royals 8-3. The Giants hung on to beat the Padres 4-3. The Red Sox erased a 5-0 deficit to earn a 6-5 walk off win over the Orioles.
Today’s Games: Wei-Yin Chen and Clay Buchholz will duel in the annual 11 AM Patriots Day game at Fenway. Francisco Liriano and the Pirates host the Reds. Garrett Richards leads the Angels to Washington to take on the Nationals. Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers host the White Sox. Julio Teheran comes off of his first career shutout to start for the Braves against the Marlins. The white hot Andrew Cashner starts for the Padres in Milwaukee against the nearly as hot Wily Peralta. Cliff Lee starts for the Phillies in Los Angeles. Yu Darvish and Dan Straily will tangle in Oakland. Felix Hernandez starts for the Mariners against the Astros, which could be obscene to watch.
National TV: Orioles-Red Sox (11 AM, MLB Network), Reds-Pirates (7 PM, ESPN)
MLB.tv Free Game: Marlins-Braves (7 PM)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone. And happy Patriots Day to all you Bostonians out there.