Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles: Eric Thames had a forgetfully memorable game: his first HR of the season was the good. The bad? Well, the Orioles hit a HR that bounced off his glove and he struck out to end the game. Pedro Strop earned the save for the Orioles as Jim Johnson was hospitalized with the flu (why do baseball players get hospitalized when they have the flu?). Given Matt Lindstrom and Kevin Gregg are awful, Strop looks like the appropriate handcuff to Johnson – it also makes sense as Strop is likely the second best reliever on the Birds. Henderson Alvarez allowed 7 base runners across his 7 innings, but didn’t record a punch out. Matt Wieters got the homer and he's basically Johnny Bench (I kid but also hope).
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheimat Tampa Bay Rays: Ervin Santana gave up eight hits, four of which cleared the fence. Santana has now given up 10 long balls this year. Last season, Santana had a perfectly normal 10.1% HR/FB rate; this year, a quarter of his fly balls have left the yard. There has to be some regression at some point, so go get him. Carlos Pena's HR was his 1,000th hit and he just yanked the ball out, it was destroyed. B.J. Upton also homered, albeit barely (the shortest HR of the year). Still he has looked dialed in since coming back; it might be time to kick the tires on him. Meanwhile David Price went the distance and was dealing all night: he allowed just six base runners. Albert Pujols went o'fer and I'm ashamed we share a first name. Not shocking: Vernon Wells hit into a double play...he's not so good.
San Francisco Giants at Cincinnati Reds: Mat Latos allowed just six base runners in seven innings of work and threw 66 of his 95 pitches for strikes. Matt Cain was decent, but the bullpen really let him down as Lucille Ostero, er Dan Otero allowed six runs in 1.2 IPs. Brandon Phillips hit a homer and collected three RBIs. Zack Cozart kept hitting, going 2/5 with a double. Both Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen collected two RBIs and Bruce even stole a base. The Reds dominated this one from the start. With Sam LeCure on for mop up duty, Pablo Sandoval continued to get on base and Buster Posey hit another HR. Posey is locked in right now.
Colorado Rockies at Pittsburgh Pirates: Going into the game, I believe, the Pirates had one hit all season that drove in more than one run. Andrew McCutchen changed all that with a two run double. However, he was outdone by Carlos Gonzalez and his two HRs (one of which was off a lefty). Of course, CarGo was overshadowed by the mighty Clint Barmes who tied the game in the eighth with a homer. A few batters later, Casey McGehee knocked in the go-ahead run. That's a plucky (bad) line-up the Pirates have. Joel Hanrahan came on for a perfect frame in the ninth, overpowering the Rockies.
Miami Marlins at New York Mets: Josh Johnson and Johan Santana were dealing. Johnson went 6.2, gave up three hits and K'ed nine. Santana also went 6.2 and gave up three hits, but he K'ed 11. Both Johnson and Santana threw 67 strikes. You know the pitchers were the stars when Josh Thole was the hitting MVP. Frank Francisco came on in the ninth, gave up a walk, got two pop ups and then Giancarlo Stanton flew harmlessly out to right. The story is obviously the starting pitching. When healthy, both Johnson and Santana are valuable commodities, but their brittleness makes trading them next to impossible. So just ride them when they’re healthy and DL them when the time comes. An aside, hopefully this doesn’t affect many of you, but there are rumors that Mike Pelfry has a partially torn UCL. If there’s a guy out there you want, dropping Pelfry made sense two weeks ago.
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Seattle Mariners at Detroit Tigers: Tom Wilhelmsen was tested finally (he allowed two hits in a tight game) but he came through with two K's to get out of the eighth inning unscathed. Brandon League worked around a walk to earn the save easily. Max Scherzer took the loss, allowing 10 hits and walking two batters in 5 innings. He did strike out six, but threw only 63 strikes in his 103 pitches. He also gave up six fly balls. And he was facing the Mariners. He really belongs on the bench at this point. Alex Liddi hit a homer and stole a base, keep your eye on him in dynasty leagues as the entire Mariners team seems to struggle with the bat. Alex Avila and Miguel Cabrera hit homers: not shocking.
Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians: Vinnie Pestano had some trouble, giving up a lead-off walk and following it with a bad pitch down and in to Mitch Maier who doubled. Mike Moustakas then singled, but Pestano got Alcides Escobar out to end the inning, with only one scoring. Not much here, Pestano was firing the ball and threw 18/30 pitches for strikes. Chris Perez came on in the top of the ninth with a two-run lead and promptly gave up a double to not-so-professional hitter Chris Getz. Casey Kotchman made a fine diving stop to get Alex Gordon (although Jason Kipnis probably could have made the play) and Getz advanced to third. Billy Butler followed with a hard grounder to short, which scored Getz, but left the Royals down to their final out. Eric Hosmer followed with a base hit to left, but Jeff Francoeur grounded out to end the game. Perez hangs on again. Hey, if Joe Borowski can save 45 games with a 5.07 ERA and 1.43 WHIP, so can Perez. In other news, Maier went 3/4 and looks like a solid add (especially in OBP leagues) in Lorenzo Cain's absence. The other big news is that Shin-soo Choo left the game with an injury, supposedly it’s just light hamstring tightness, so begin holding your breath now. That said, Johnny Damon is even closer to 3,000 hits now. Down on the farm, Mike Montgomery went seven, allowed three runs, but struck out six and only walked one.
New York Yankees at Texas Rangers: It was all Yu Darvish in this one: he pitched into the 9th and scattered seven hits while K'ing 10 Yankees. He threw 82 of his 119 pitches for strikes and looked amazing, locating all of his pitches and routinely spotting curveballs and sinkers wherever he wanted. Darvish was pulled in the 9th after giving up a single and Joe Nathan made one pitch and got Raul Ibanez to ground into a double play. Ian Kinsler started the game off for the Rangers offensively with a homer and Josh Hamilton chipped in an RBI single after Elvis Andrus easily swiped second. Huroki Kuroda was impressive himself, allowing 7 base runners in 6.2 innings and recording five K's. He just had to be perfect to keep the Yanks in the ball game. He did get more swings and misses than Darvish, so there's that.
Boston Red Sox at Minnesota Twins: This just in, Nick Blackburn is not very good. The Red Sox jumped all over the Twins early and often as David Ortiz and Mike Aviles went deep and Kelly Shoppach continued owning Blackburn. Heck, even Lars Anderson went 1/1. Ortiz is just unconscious right now: .444/.486/.714. Yep, I own him everywhere. Josh Beckett had a rough first inning during which he thought he was getting squeezed and after which he had many choice words for the home plate umpire. Surprisingly, Beckett wasn’t tossed and he went on to toss a very good game (6 IPs, five K's and 8 base runners). Not much happened for the Twins, except Joe Mauer continued his roll. He started the season 1-for-10, but since has batted.364 with a .453 on-base percentage. Denard Span went 2/4 and is now hitting .333/.377/.431. Yep he looks like he's over the concussion. FYI Josh Willingham was placed on paternity leave, so get him out of your line-ups.
Houston Astros at Milwaukee Brewers: Randy Wolf was effective for the first time this season (eight base runners, two runs, 4 K's in six IPs) and Bud Norris was god awful (seven runs in 5.2). Rickie Weeks was one of four Wallbangers to go deep and Nyjer Morgan had a much needed three hit game while his understudy, Carlos Gomez, somehow hit a HR off Brett Myers who was on to just get some sort of work. And that’s how you run on a sentence. With a save conversion, John Axford tied Brad Lidge for the 4th longest consecutive save streak with 47. I bet you can’t guess who is second!* St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs: Carlos Marmol came on in the 8th after Rafael Dolis walked Rafael Furcal and promptly gave up a homer to Matt Holliday, walked Carlos Beltran, committed an error and got David Freese on a fly out. Of his 13 pitches, six were balls. Michael Bowden came on in relief in the ninth and looked sharp initially before giving up a double to Shane Robinson, and walking Daniel Descalso and Rafael Furcal. Ultimately he got Skip Schumaker on a soft liner to shortstop. Marc Rzepczynski started the ninth with Bryan LaHair up. On the first pitch, LaHair hit an opposite field homer for his first hit off a southpaw this season. Jason Motte was warming in the pen and then sat down as Fernando Salas got warm in a tie game, just 'cuz. In all seriousness, I don’t think you want to own any Cubs reliever at this point (obvious, much?). That said, I'd be shocked if Marmol lost the job as Dolis isn’t ready, Kerry Wood is injured and the rest suck. Marmol isn’t this bad, I think. The Cubs bullpen ruined an awesome Jeff Samardzija start. He went 6.2 with nine K's. Meanwhile Adam Wainwright went six strong and recorded seven K's, a huge step in the right direction. Alfonso Soriano hit a hard grounder to Tyler Greene who muffed it to end the game. I got tired during this one. I blame Marmol.
Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers: Mike Minor threw a solid, yet unspectacular game as did Aaron Harang. Check out the box score, their lines are almost identically mediocre. Chipper Jones blasted another homer, what a great Hall of Fame career. Craig Kimbrell got a little wild in the ninth, but, as usual, struck out the side to record his sixth save.
Washington Nationals at San Diego Padres: Some maintenance to get out of the way: Ryan Zimmerman is undergoing an MRI on his throwing shoulder. I don’t own him anywhere, but would still love to see him stay healthy for a few games in a row here. Gio Gonzalez continued dominating the National League (although does it count when it’s the Padres?). Adam LaRoche continued hitting, collecting a double. Henry Rodriguez pitched another clean frame for another save. And it was clean, no hits and no walks. He struck out one batter and has five saves on the year. Something tells me the Nats aren’t hurrying Drew Storen back. I prefer Rodriguez in this bullpen to Brad Lidge.
Chicago White Sox at Oakland Athletics: Of course, a few days after I drop Tom Milone, he goes out and throws eight strong while allowing just three base runners. The K’s will never be there, but pair him with a high WHIP, high K guy and you’ve got an amazing crime fighting duo. Matt Thornton allowed a run in relief and couldn’t pick John Danks up, who had a great start himself. Thornton seems to be out of it for saves this year, even though he has an impeccable 1.04 ERA. Derek Norris, at AAA Sacramento, went 3-4 with a HR and is now hitting .357.
Philadelphia Phillies at Arizona Diamondbacks: Hunter Pence sure got healthy once he saw Josh Collmenter on the mound. Neither Pence (1/4 with a homer) nor Collmenter disappointed (6 IPs and six runs; I assume you only own him in a race to the bottom league). Juan Pierre, Pete Orr, Laynce Nix and Brian Schneider all had multi-hit games, go figure. Vance Worley shut down the Diamondbacks for his second win. According to Corey Seidman, Worley recorded six K’s looking and is up to 18 looking punch-outs this season. Down on the farm, former Orioles prospect, Josh Bell, hit two HRs at AAA for the Diamondbacks minor league squad. For some reason that makes me sad, even though he’ll never be a competent major leaguer, right? For those of you in dynasty leagues, last night, Chris Owings went 2-4 at High-A Visalia and is now hitting .338.
*It's Tom Gordon who had 54 saves in a row.