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Richard Kagan

The Cubs Are Not Good posted by Richard Kagan

Yippee, The Chicago Cubs beat the Minnesota Twins 8-2 behind the solid right arm of Ryan Dempster (2-3), who may be on the trading block.  Dempster bolstered his status with an excellent outing, his second win in a row.  I have been a long-time cubs fans.  I was there for Don Cardwell's no-hitter in the second game of a DH.  I fell asleep and missed most of the game, as a child.  I was more alert for Kenny Holtzman's gem vs. the Atlanta Braves in 1969, when the Cubs looked so good.  I was sure they were going to win the pennant.  But....stuff happens, if you're a Cubs fan.

What still surprises me is that 32,000 fans come of the park every home game if the weather is decent.  The Cubs draw well over 2.5 million.  In a good season, it could be 2.8 million.  In this tiny ballpark in Wrigleyville...The fans still come out and root for the Cubbies.  Who are as lovable as ever, even if they are on pace to lose 100 games this season.  And, that is not a laughing matter.  How do you get paid, and get up in the morning and come to the park?

The Cubs were picked by most baseball experts to finish 4th or 5th in the division.  Unfortunately, they make the Pittsburgh Pirates look good.  Manager Dale Sveum looks like he is on an out of control train in that Denzel Washington thriller.  That train threatened to cause disruption all over the landscape.  It's a stretch to say this team could win 4 or 5 games in a row.  They don't have the players to do that.  And, coming from a fan, that is a sad thing to say.

Continue reading "The Cubs Are Not Good"


David

Will Chipper hang 'em up? posted by David

Chipper Jones is out for the year with a torn ACL, but let’s hope this isn’t it for the man who has played his entire major league career for manager Bobby Cox.  Chipper has made it known since last season that retirement could be around the corner, but like Baseball Tonight’s Eduardo Perez, I don’t see Chipper calling it quits now that his season has ended unexpectedly.  He wants to go out on his own terms, and these aren’t them.  At 38, his career is nearing the end, but I find it hard to believe that he will be able to say good-bye after watching from the bench as his team battles for the National League crown.

If he’s truly done, Chipper’s numbers speak for themselves: a .306 career batting average and .405 On-Base Percentage, 436 home runs, 147 stolen bases, 2,490 hits, two Silver Sluggers and an MVP award.  The six-time All-Star won a batting title at the age of 36, hitting a staggering .364 to edge Albert Pujols, who hit .357.  He is also tied for the most home runs in a season by a switch-hitter (45 in 1999; Lance Berkman accomplished the feat in 2006).  A little known fact about Chipper is that he and Paul Waner hold the Major League record for most consecutive games with an extra-base hit (14).  Chipper will join Waner in Cooperstown as soon as he is eligible.

How ‘bout that?

How about Jered Weaver?  The 27-year-old righty leads the majors with 182 strikeouts and is having his best season (11-7, 2.87 Earned Run Average) since his rookie year (2006), when he went 11-2 with a 2.56 ERA.  Since the All-Star break, Weaver has been even better, posting a 1.93 ERA, limiting opponents to a .204 batting average, and averaging seven innings per outing over six starts.  With the Rangers playing so well in the AL West, the Angels are unlikely to win the division for the fourth straight year and may even finish under .500 for the first time since 2003, but they have to be pleased with how their ace has pitched this season.

Continue reading "Will Chipper hang 'em up?"


Michael McGauley

"Tim Lincecum Captures Second Cy Young" posted by Michael McGauley


 Just sheer domination that didn't necessarily show up in the win column! Fifteen victories equals a Cy Young?  Let's look at ALL of the numbers to really appreciate how great Tim Lincecum has been through his first two-full seasons with the Giants (he did throw 146-plus innings in 24 starts in 2007). Back-to-back Cy Young Awards do not come around very often (see: N.L. stand-outs RJ and Maddux, each with four straight, and Sandy Koufax with three of four; Clemens, Palmer, McClain, and Pedro each went back-to-back in the A.L. ([Clemens did it twice; ten years apart]). The difference? Lincecum has done it twice in two full years by the age of 25! So how do you follow up a CY YOUNG AWARD WINNING SEASON??? You work even harder to improve (by perfecting a third pitch), and that's exactly what Lincecum did after winning his first CY in 2008 with an 18-and-5 record, and 265 strikeouts in 227 innings. Lincecum worked 225 and one-third innings this year, and went 15-and-7 with 261 strikeouts. No, that doesn't sound any better until we delve deeper. Check this out - in roughly the same number of innings pitched, Lincecum allowed fourteen fewer hits (182 down to 168); sixteen fewer walks (84 to 68); four fewer earned runs (66 to 62), and an opponent's batting average of .206, down from .221 in '08. He also doubled his complete games (up to four); doubled his shutouts (two); lowered his ERA (2.48 from 2.62), and his WHIP (1.05 from 1.17). That is thirty fewer base runners which is certainly reflected in his walks- and hits-to-innings-pitched. Among his many double-digit strikeout performances this season, I was fortunate enough to see Lincecum dust 15 Pirates in a complete game victory on a Monday night in late July. Just unbelievable, even if it Continue reading ""Tim Lincecum Captures Second Cy Young""


Michael McGauley

"Freddy Sanchez will be the Giants' Second Baseman in 2010" posted by Michael McGauley

As expected, Freddy Sanchez has re-signed with the Giants for two years and 12-million-dollars. That's certainly one mystery solved, and for a discounted rate too! Sanchez has something to prove to the organization, and the fans, after a disappointing end to last season. A three-time all-star, and 2006 N.L. batting champion, Sanchez was hobbled by knee and shoulder injuries that limited him to just 111 games between the Pirates and Giants. He did hit a respectable .293 with seven home runs and 41 RBI's. 

Now, that certainly doesn't sound very impressive, but consider the "up-side" of his potential. When Sanchez won the batting title in '06, check out some of these numbers: 157 games played, 200 hits, 53 doubles, 85 RBI's, and a .344 batting average (.378 on-base). In 2007, Sanchez played in 147 games and collected 602 at-bats! He had 77 runs scored, 183 hits, 42 doubles, eleven homers, and 81 RBI's. All of that to go with a .304 batting average; however, ZERO stolen bases. Freddy doesn't run much - how about 10 bags over his entire career. Well, you can't have it all.

No, he's certainly not a power guy like Jeff Kent at second, but Sanchez will make an ideal number two hitter. He should easily score 90-to-100 runs hitting in front of guys like Pablo Sandoval -- assuming of course that Sanchez collects at least 550 at-bats, and the team adds another slugger to the middle of their batting order.

After making the contract official today, Sanchez called it,"a frustrating end to last season," following the July 29th trade from Pittsburgh in exchange for pitching prospect Tim Alderson. Sanchez defined the end of last season as, "the toughest thing he's had to go through in his career." He's been a pretty durable player until last year's nagging knee and shoulder problems, both of which he's rehabilitating, and says, barring any setbacks, he should be ready for spring training. Sanchez says, "he usually doesn't begin regular baseball activities until December or January," so he hopes to be right on schedule with his rehabilitation and strengthening program.

Continue reading ""Freddy Sanchez will be the Giants' ..."


Michael McGauley

"Carney Lansford the Scape Goat for Giants' Offensive Struggles" posted by Michael McGauley

  

  Do we really blame Carney Lansford for a bunch of over-anxious, free-swinging hitters?  The stats certainly don't lie.  Only the Padres, Pirates, and Astros scored fewer runs than the Giants' 657 runs in 2009.  San Francisco's 122 home runs was second-to-last in the N.L., behind only the Mets, who stroked just 95 homers with a half-injured team in their brand-new, spacious Citi Field. Walks: 392 for the Giants was dead last in the league (the Rockies had 660 walks to lead the league). And that leads us to on-base percentage; where the Giants ranked last at .309!  That is just dismal, anemic, pitiful....any other good adjectives to throw in there?

  Bottom line, this has been a consistent problem for the Giants for several years now. They never really replaced Bonds and Kent - the last time they had a legitimate three-four combination in the batting order.  Yes, they've built up the pitching big time. Yes, Pablo Sandoval can rake. But that's not enough -- we need two or three more hitters like Pablo. Hey, you've got to give up something to get something, and the time is now to part with a starting pitcher, and acquire a bat. It's not the most desirable scenario, but consider the lack of available sticks in free agency. In addition, they will have to invest some money to keep the young guys happy (Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson are due for BIG raises, and I say, give them whatever they want!).

  Back to Lansford, I don't blame him. He won a batting title (1981 with Boston), and knows how to hit. That doesn't always translate into being able to teach others how to do the same however. Just to use a brief basketball analogy -- how good of a coach was Magic Johnson with the Lakers? Same idea, but on a smaller scale. Lansford is bright and knowledgeable, but without a couple of big thumpers, this line-up loaded with number two and number six hitters (besides Sandoval) is not going to get the job done. We all know this. The Giants know this. But for some reason, they felt like they had to make a statement with this firing. The rest of the staff was retained by the way, when it was officially announced that Bruce Bochy would be returning for two more years with a club option for a third year. Same goes for GM Brian Sabean.

Continue reading ""Carney Lansford the Scape Goat for ..."


David

Nobody’s perfect posted by David

Last week I saw Andy Pettitte throw six and two-thirds innings of perfect baseball at against the Orioles at Camden Yards.  With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Adam Jones hit a ground ball to third.  Alex Rodriguez was getting the night off, and his replacement at the hot corner, Jerry Hairston, booted it.  Having grown up an Orioles fan and somewhere along the way developing into a Yankee-hater, one might think I would have been rooting for the Birds to end Pettitte’s bid for perfection; however, this was not so.  As a fan of the game, I wanted to witness history.  Sure; I would have preferred seeing an Oriole pitcher throw a perfecto (though even a shutout by one of this year’s starters would have been historic), but I can’t expect miracles.




How ‘bout that?


How about Jonny Gomes?  Called up by the Reds on May 22nd after not making the team out of spring training, Gomes has crushed the ball to a tune of a .563 slugging percentage and 19 home runs in just 240 at-bats.  His former team, the Rays, could sure use his bat right about now; they’ve lost eight games in a row and have all but eliminated themselves from the Wild Card race.


How about Chris Carpenter?  The Cardinals’ righty has put together a strong case for the National League Cy Young Award: mainly a 16-3 record and a major league-leading 2.16 E.R.A.  Additionally, he’s allowed less than one baserunner per inning pitched (0.97 WHIP), he’s surrendered only seven home runs in 24 games started, and he’s thrown three complete games – which may not seem terribly impressive but he’s tied for third in the N.L.  If all goes well for him and Adam Wainwright (18-7), the duo could become the first pair of teammates to each win 20 games since 2002, when the feat was accomplished in both leagues: Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling did it for the Diamondbacks, and Derek Lowe and Pedro Martinez did it for the Red Sox.

Continue reading "Nobody’s perfect"


David

Cliff Lee: Philly Fave posted by David

Cliff Lee was meant to pitch for the Phillies.  How else do you explain his ridiculous string of starts since joining the team last month?  In five games, Lee has a 5-0 record, a 0.75 WHIP, and a 0.68 E.R.A.  In 40 innings, he has struck out 39 batters and walked just six, surrendered a grand total of zero home runs, and looked like a true ace while averaging eight innings per start.  As if he weren’t contributing enough already, Lee is hitting .313, which, if it were over enough at-bats to qualify, would lead the team.  The southpaw has truly made the most of his time in the City of Brotherly Love.

How ‘bout that?

How about Carlos Pe ña?  Leading the American League in home runs but batting just .222, the Rays’ slugger actually has more homers (37) than singles (35).  If he finishes the season with that dubious achievement, he’d become the third such player to do so, following Barry Bonds (2001) and Mark McGwire (1995, 1998, 1999, 2000).

How about Jim Tracy?  Under his leadership since May 29, the Rockies have gone 54-28 – which translates to a winning percentage of .659 – and have nearly caught the first-place Dodgers, a team Tracy managed for five years during the first half of the decade.  Considering that each of the last three teams Tracy managed (the 2005 Dodgers, 2006 and 2007 Pirates) lost more than 90 games, the Colorado skipper has to be feeling good about his job security right now.

How about the Blue Jays?  After starting the season 27-14 and leading the favored Red Sox, Yankees and Rays in the American League East in mid-May, the Jays have tumbled to their current record of 58-67, an even 20 games back of the Yankees.  There’s no joy in Toronto; the mighty Blue Jays have fallen to their usual fourth place.

Continue reading "Cliff Lee: Philly Fave"


David

While I was out… posted by David

Since I last posted before my trip to Spain, there have been a number of noteworthy occurrences in Major League Baseball.


The American League won yet another All-Star Game – by a single run for the fourth year in a row.  Manny Ramirez returned from his 50-game suspension.  The Nationals fired manager Manny Acta.  Jonathan Sanchez threw the season’s first no-hitter.  The Braves gave up on underachieving hometown boy Jeff Francouer, and traded him to the Mets for Ryan Church, who hit the foul ball I caught at RFK in 2007.  The most exciting news, however, took place the day I returned from my voyage: Mark Buerhle of the White Sox threw a perfect game.  The following day, the A’s traded slugger Matt Holliday to the Cardinals, who now have protection for Albert Pujols.



How ‘bout that?


How about the Giants?  After beating the Pirates 1-0 in 10 innings on Wednesday night, San Francisco has shut out the opponent 14 times this season.  They have kept up the pace with Los Angeles and even picked up half a game over the last eight weeks, closing the gap between themselves and the Dodgers to seven games.  Thanks to a 34-15 record at home, the Giants are leading the National League Wild Card race.


How about Adam Dunn’s defense?  Dunn is having perhaps his best offensive season ever but has been awful both in the outfield and at first base, making 12 errors in the season’s first four months.  His fielding percentage stands at a horrendous .953 at first base, where he has made four errors in just 11 games (10 starts) and an atrocious .947 in the outfield, where he has committed eight errors in 83 games (82 starts).  Maybe it’s time for Dunn to realize he’s better off on an American League team where he can DH on a regular basis.

Continue reading "While I was out…"


Michael McGauley

"One More Thing About The Freddy Sanchez Trade" posted by Michael McGauley

  I knew I forgot something.  The Giants had to give up something to get something, and Wednesday they parted with minor-league pitching prospect Tim Alderson in order to acquire Freddy Sanchez.  Alderson was considered a top-five prospect in the San Francisco Farm System, and its number two pitching prospect behind Madison Bumgarner.  Will Alderson become another Cain or Lincecum, or will he become another Jason Grilli.  We'll just have to wait and see.  For the Pirates' sake, I hope the kid materializes into a solid starting pitcher down the road.

Continue reading ""One More Thing About The Freddy Sanchez Trade""

Michael McGauley

"Are The Giants Done Dealing Before the Deadline" posted by Michael McGauley

  Clearly Brian Sabean had something else up his sleeve when he traded for Pittsburgh Second Basemen Freddy Sanchez Wednesday. Following San Francisco's extra-inning 1-0 win and a series sweep of the Pirates, the Giants then proceeded to swipe Sanchez, who has was one of the last remaining faces of a rudderless franchise.  The 31-year-old Sanchez, the National League's Batting Champion in 2006, is currently hitting .296 with six home runs, 34 RBI's, 45 runs scored, and 28 doubles this season.  Unfortunately, Giant fans may not see the immediate return of the deal as Sanchez is nursing a mild knee sprain, and has not played for several days.  However, before the trade was completed, Giant team doctors checked out the knee twice and gave the "all clear."

  Sanchez follows a long line of talented Pirates who have been traded in the last couple of years including: Jason Bay, Nate McClouth, Adam LaRoche, and Jack Wilson.  If I were a Pirates' fan, I would not be very happy this morning after seeing my double play combination shipped out of town the same day (Wilson was moved to Seattle in a separate deal).  

  What does this trade mean for guys like Kevin Fransden and Manny Burriss?  Is Sanchez a long-term solution, or just a quick fix down the stretch?

  The Philadelphia Phillies come to town for a four-game weekend series beginning Thursday night.  The defending World Series Champions feature one of the most powerful line ups in baseball, and were also busy dealing Wednesday, acquiring last year's A.L. Cy Young Winner Cliff Lee from Cleveland.  So the Giants will likely have to contend with both Lee and Cole Hammels over the weekend.

Continue reading ""Are The Giants Done Dealing Before the Deadline""

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Chip Caray channels Harry Caray as Braves home run drought ends (Big League Stew)

The Atlanta Braves two-and-a-half week nightmare is finally over.  In the eighth inning of Wednesday's 9-4 loss against the Boston Red Sox, first baseman Freddie Freeman hit a home run off left-hander Tommy Layne to end their  15-game homerless streak.  [Elsewhere: Adam LaRoche wants you to celebrate take your child to work day ] As you can tell from the call of Braves broadcaster Chip Caray, he was pretty excited. Excited enough that he broke out his grandpa Harry Caray's famous "It might be, It could be, it is" home run call, even adding a "Holy Cow" for added emphasis and perhaps meaning.  Caray had reason to be excited too. The home run was the first hit by a Brave since April 10 at Turner Field, which was Atlanta's fifth game of the season. On that afternoon, Drew Stubbs delivered a three-run homer against St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright. The Braves only hit two home runs prior to that, when Freeman and Adonis Garcia each homered against Washington's Max Scherzer. So yes, the drought was somehow worse than you imagined.  Prior to Freddie Freeman's homer in the 7th, #Braves had hit just 1 HR in team's prior 774 PA dating back to the 4th inning of Opening Day. — Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) April 28, 2016 If you're keeping track at home, the Braves now have a grand total of four home runs on the season. Freeman's was actually their first on the road. The Braves homerless streak was the longest in the majors since the Cardinals went 18 games without a homer in 1991, so at least it won't go down in the MLB history books. So again, Caray had good reason to be excited.  Here's a little more perspective that's perhaps not as exciting or encouraging. Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen hit three homers in a single game on Tuesday in Colorado, equaling Atlanta's season total before Wednesday. Braves pitching, meanwhile, was allowing plenty of home runs of their own. In fact, they were allowing them in grand style with the same frequency that the Braves were hitting any type of homer. @ESPNStatsInfo @Kurkjian_ESPN Braves have given up as many grand slams (3) as they've hit homers (3) — Yogi Patel (@yogster92) April 28, 2016 That stat included Dustin Pedroia's grand slam on Wednesday, so at least the Braves didn't have to hear about it long. With that in mind, they'll be hearing about this one for awhile.  Freddie Freeman has homered. Via @ESPNStatsInfo : 437 homers were hit in the days between #Braves homers. The #Mets had the most with 27. — Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) April 28, 2016 Yes, the same Mets team that homered just twice during their first nine games exploded while the Braves offense went completely punchless. That might be the most fascinating stat we see all season. Then again, the rebuilding Braves still don't have a lot of offensive upside to speak of. Freddie Freeman is clearly their best power source, but he's not going to get many pitches to hammer with so few home run threats around them. Honestly, it wouldn't be surprising if the Braves have a couple more streaks where the home run well runs dry.  [Elsewhere: Noah Syndergaard tours New York City as Thor ] With that in mind, the old Harry Caray home run call might fit this Braves team perfectly. "It might be" is always delivered with some surprise and excitement. "It could be" brings with it some hope. And "it is" is the signal that the unlikely has happened, and it's safe to celebrate another Braves homer.  More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813 [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


The Walk-Off: Andrew McCutchen smashes three homers to beat Rockies (Big League Stew)

Here's one way to get out of an early season funk: Hit three homers in a game like Pittsburgh Pirates star Andrew McCutchen did Tuesday night at Coors Field.  [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball contest now ] [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


The Walk Off: Chris Heisey lifts Nationals over Twins in the 16th (Big League Stew)

Welcome to The Walk Off, the nightly MLB recap from Big League Stew. Here we'll look at the top performers of the night, show you a must-see highlight and rundown the scoreboard. First, we start with a game you need to know about. Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper was supposed to have the day off Sunday, but the Baseball Gods had other plans. Harper did not start the game, and only received one at-bat, but he played a key role in the Nationals 6-5 win over the Minnesota Twins. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball contest now ] With his club down by one run in the ninth, Harper was called upon to work his magic. He would deliver. On the seventh pitch of his at-bat against Kevin Jepsen, Harper sent a game-tying solo home run into the seats in center. Harper, however, was replaced in the 10th inning by outfielder Chris Heisey. While normally that move would never pan out, baseball has a silly way of focusing in on those types of things. Harper was just warming up the crowd for Heisey's future theatrics.  In the bottom of the 16th inning, Heisey blasted a 79 mph slider from Michael Tonkin out to left center for a walk-off home run. Yes, the man who replaced Harper wound up winning the game for the Nationals. With the win, Washington is now 14-4 on the season. TOP PERFORMERS Paul Goldschmidt: The Diamondbacks may not have won Sunday, but it wasn't Goldschmidt's fault. He did everything in his power to help his club. Goldschmidt started things off by giving his team the lead with a solo home run in the first inning. With his club trailing by two in the ninth, Goldschmidt hit a game-tying two-run blast off Pittsburgh Pirates closer Mark Melancon. At that point, the Pirates no longer wanted to take their chances with the slugger. Goldschmidt was intentionally walked the next two times he came to the plate. That worked, as the Pirates managed to pull out the 12-10 win in a crazy game .  Steven Souza Jr.: Souza had plenty of success against New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda on Sunday. In the first inning, Souza tagged the big righty for a two-run shot, giving his team a 5-0 lead. He would pile on just a few innings later. In the fifth, Souza against went deep, this time adding a solo shot off Pineda. He finished two-for-four, with two runs scored and three RBI in the 8-1 victory. Jason Hammel: The Cubs may not have had one of their big three on the mound, but Jason Hammel came through. Hammel tossed six strong innings, giving up three hits and two walks during the scoreless outing. He struck out seven. Through four starts this season, Hammel is 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA. That third win came during the Cubs 9-0 drubbing of the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday. [Elsewhere: Shelby Miller saw time in the outfield during Sunday's crazy game ] Jedd Gyorko: Gyorko found a way to get some payback against his former club during the St. Louis Cardinals' 8-5 win over the San Diego Padres. Gyorko went 3-for-5, with a single, triple and home run. He finished just a double shy of the cycle. MUST-SEE HIGHLIGHT Heisey may have played the hero for Washington on Sunday, but none of it was possible with Harper's game-tying blast. And, let's face it, watching Bryce Harper destroys baseballs always makes for entertaining highlights. Harper only received one at-bat during his off day, but made it count in the biggest way. He's so locked in right now that you can't help but respect the performance. The 23-year-old is hitting .323/.405/.855 with nine home runs and just nine strikeouts(!) in 74 plate appearances.  THE SCOREBOARD Blue Jays 6, Athletics 3: Jose Bautista hit an early two-run shot, andthat was enough to propel Drew Hutchison to a win. Indians 6, Tigers 3: The Indians won, but Carlos Carrasco left early with a hamstring injury. Trevor Bauer came on in relief and managed to pick up the victory. Mets 3, Braves 2: Jacob deGrom wasn't dominant, but pitched well in his return. He allowed one run on eights hits in 5 2/3 innings during the win. deGrom struck out three and did not issue any walks.  Brewers 8, Phillies 5: Ryan Braun smacked his fifth home run of the season in the fourth inning. He also had a single during the contest. After being limited in the spring due to offseason surgery, Braun is hitting .364 through 74 plate appearances. White Sox 4, Rangers 1: Offseason reclamation project Mat Latos pitched another gem for Chicago. The righty lasted six innings, giving up just one run on seven hits. He struck out two and walked two during the outing. Latos now has a 0.74 ERA with his new club. Royals 6, Orioles 1: Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer each hit their second home runs of the season while Yordano Ventura gave the Royals seven strong innings during the win. Mariners 9, Angels 4: Kyle Seager's first inning home run padded the Mariners lead, while Leonys Martin and Seth Smith each added long balls of their own later to put the game out of reach. Marlins 5, Giants 4: J.T. Realmuto's eighth inning home run provided the go-ahead run for the Marlins. Giancarlo Stanton also homered earlier in the contest. Dodgers 12, Rockies 10: Jake McGee collapsed in the ninth, allowing five runs on five hits and one walk in just 2/3 of an inning. He received a blown save and a loss. Red Sox 7, Astros 5: A late Colby Rasmus home run couldn't save the Astros. Jackie Bradley Jr. managed a knock in a run in the 12th and Ryan Hanigan scored on a wild pitch, giving Boston the win. More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: The StewPod: A baseball podcast by Yahoo Sports Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed - - - - - - - Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik [read full article]

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The Walk Off: Cubs win again and are off to best start since '69 (Big League Stew)

Welcome to The Walk Off, the nightly MLB recap from Big League Stew. Here we'll look the top performers of the night, show you a must-see highlight and rundown the scoreboard. First, we start with a game you need to know about. It's safe to say there's no early-season disappointment with the Chicago Cubs. And Thursday's game against the Cincinnati Reds just reinforced that. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball contest now ] The Cubs won their fifth straight game, beating the Reds 8-1 to complete a three-game sweep. The Cubs have the same record as the score — 8-1, which is their best start since 1969. That year, the Cubs won 11 of 12 games to start the season. Things didn't end so well that season , of course, but that team didn't have Kris Bryant and Addison Russell.  Bryant hit his second homer of the season while Russell had three hits and scored two runs. Cubs starter Jason Hammel threw six scoreless innings too. Perhaps most impressive about these Cubs is just how forceful their wins have been. Their run differential is +43, by far the most in MLB. The Cardinals are +24 and nobody else is even in the 20s. Enjoy these additional factoids about the Cubs' early-season onslaught: Highest Run Differential - 1st 9 Games of Season In Modern Era 1999 Indians +44 1905Giants +43 2016 @Cubs +43 Via @EliasSports — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 15, 2016 The last @Cubs team to post a better run differential through 9 games played in 1885 … as the White Stockings. pic.twitter.com/7wYq1k5T4p — MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) April 15, 2016 The Cubs have a +43 run differential through 9 games. Last year, only 11 teams had a run differential that good over 162 games. — Matt Clapp (@TheBlogfines) April 15, 2016 These are all nice things. TOP PERFORMERS • Jaime Garcia: What's the best-possible scenario for the St. Louis Cardinals and starter Jaime Garcia? Exactly what happened Thursday. Garcia threw a one-hit shutout and struck out 13 as the Cards beat the Brewers 7-0 . He did it all in 104 pitches. • Vince Velasquez: Get this: Garcia's performance might not have even been the best of the day. Vince Velasquez, the 23-year-old Philadelphia Phillies starter, K'd 16 San Diego Padres while throwing a three-hitter that put him in the record books . The Phils won 3-0 and Velasquez went the distance, hitting 97 mph on his final pitch of the day.  Vince Velasquez, wow. He'd be the 5th-youngest pitcher to have a scoreless start of 14+ K, 0 BB behind Gooden, K. Wood, J. Fernandez, Blue. — Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) April 14, 2016 • Ian Kennedy:  We'll end this trifecta of pitchers with Kennedy, the new Kansas City Royals starter, who kept the Houston Astros offense quite most of the night. In fact, he carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. All told, he gave up two hits and one run while striking out seven as the Royals beat the Astros 6-2 . MUST-SEE HIGHLIGHT This is Bryce Harper's 100th career homer and his first career grand slam. Nice, both of them. He's also 23, so that's important to note. One more thing: This gave the Washington Nationals enough offense to beat the Atlanta Braves, 6-2 . The Braves, by the way, still haven't won a game this season. THE REST OF THE SCOREBOARD •  Los Angeles Dodgers 5, Arizona Diamondbacks 2 : Dodgers score five in the seventh, as Ross Stripling throws six innings in his second MLB start. • Detroit Tigers 7, Pittsburgh Pirates 4 : New Detroit Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann has yet to surrender a run with his new squad, including his Thursday start against the Pirates.  • Chicago White Sox 3, Minnesota Twins 1 : The Twins have still won as many games as you this MLB season. Nada. • Cleveland Indians 6, Tampa Bay Rays 0 : The Indians hit three homers and rough up Rays ace Chris Archer.  • Colorado Rockies 11, San Francisco Giants 6 : Matt Cain gave up the six runs in 4.2 innings, not getting out of Colorado's nine-run fifth inning. • Toronto Blue Jays 4, New York Yankees 2 : Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki homered, while Marcus Stroman went eight strong innings.  • Texas Rangers 6, Baltimore Orioles 3 : Rougned Odor lands the go-ahead double as the Rangers rally for five in the sixth inning to beat the O's. More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: The StewPod: A baseball podcast by Yahoo Sports Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed - - - - - - - Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz [read full article]

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Saltalamacchia's grand slam lifts Tigers over Pirates, 7-3 (The Associated Press)

Jarrod Saltalamacchia reached h home run milestone in big way. Saltalamacchia hit a grand slam for his 100th career homer, Shane Greene pitched six strong innings in his first start since undergoing shoulder surgery last August, and the Detroit Tigers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3 Wednesday night. Saltalamacchia connected off Arquimedes Caminero (0-2) with two outs in the sixth inning, hitting a drive into the right-field bleachers that enabled the Tigers to erase a 2-1 deficit. [read full article]

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