The awesome start that the Oakland Athletics have put together this year hasn’t been overlooked by any means. But the start the Angels has put together *has* been a bit overlooked, and that’s a damn shame. The Angels are just 1.5 games behind the A’s in the AL West, and they have both the second-best record and run differential in baseball. The A’s are, of course, superior in both aspects, but Anaheim’s scorching July has significantly closed the game. The teams won’t face off until August (when, of course, they play seven games against each other in ten days), and hopefully, the division is this close once again.
Game of the Night: Pirates 6, Reds 5 (11 innings). This was a win that the Pirates desperately needed after a painful week full of heartbreaking losses. Aroldis Chapman got the day off for the Reds after pitching in four straight games, so Jonathan Broxton came in to hold down the fort in a 5-4 game in the ninth. The Pirates didn’t let Broxton get off on the right foot – Andrew McCutchen led off the inning by blasting a game-tying solo homer to dead center field. Broxton got the next three outs in order, and we moved to the bottom of the ninth. Cincinnati put two men on with one out, but Tony Watson got out of the inning without blowing the game. After J.J. Hoover threw a perfect tenth, Pittsburgh’s bullpen ran into trouble in the bottom of the inning. Ernesto Frieri walked the first two hitters, and Justin Wilson followed that up by allowing a single to Jay Bruce…that ended with Ramon Santiago getting thrown out at the plate. Wilson intentionally walked Devin Mesoraco, and struck out the next two hitters to once again move the game along. Hoover retired Gregory Polanco and Jaff Decker to start the 11th, but that McCutchen guy soon followed up with another solo homer to put Pittsburgh in front. Jeanmar Gomez then set down the Reds in order to end the game in the bottom of the inning, allowing the Pirates to breathe a little easier tonight.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Ian Kennedy and Paul Maholm had a great pitchers duel in the Dodgers’ 1-0 win over the Padres, with Kennedy giving up three hits over eight shutout innings, walking four and striking out eight. Maholm allowed two hits over six scoreless frames in the win, punching out four without a walk. Rookie Shane Greene shined for the Yankees, giving up four hits over 7 1/3 shutout innings, walking a pair and punching out nine. Hisashi Iwakuma shut down the A’s in Seattle’s 6-2 win, giving up two runs on five hits in 8 2/3 innings, striking out eight without a walk. Wade Miley stymied the Giants in Arizona’s 2-0 win, allowing four hits in seven shutout innings, walking three and striking out four.
Hitting Lines of the Night: McCutchen finished his night in Cincinnati by going 3/5 with a double, two homers, and three runs scored. In Atlanta’s 11-6 win over the Cubs, Chris Johnson went 2/5 with two homers and four RBI. Robinson Cano shined for the Mariners in their win over Oakland, going 3/5 with a homer, two runs, and three RBI. In Colorado’s 9-3 loss to the Twins, Charlie Blackmon went 5/5 with a run, an RBI, and a stolen base. Rays rookie Kevin Kiermaier dazzled once again, going 3/4 with a double, two runs, three RBI, and a walk in Tampa Bay’s 10-3 win over Toronto.
Other Games: The White Sox beat the Indians 6-2. The Cardinals thumped the Brewers 10-2. The Astros edged the Red Sox 3-2. The Mets rallied to beat the Marlins 5-4. The Tigers topped the Royals 5-1. The Angels beat the Rangers 5-2. The Nationals beat the Phillies 5-3 in ten innings.
Today’s Games: Johnny Cueto and the Reds host the returning Francisco Liriano and the Pirates. R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays take on David Price and the Rays. Julio Teheran starts for the Braves in Chicago. Justin Verlander gets the nod for the Tigers in Kansas City. Wily Peralta starts for the Brewers, hosting Carlos Martinez and the Cardinals. Madison Bumgarner and the Giants take on the Diamondbacks. Sonny Gray starts for the A’s in Seattle. Tyson Ross and Hyun-Jin Ryu will duel in Los Angeles.
National TV: Cardinals-Brewers (2 PM, TBS), Yankees-Orioles (8 PM, ESPN)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.