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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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Weekly Rotation: David Ortiz and the five best farewell seasons (Big League Stew)

Though David Ortiz regrets disclosing that 2016 will be his final year in the major leagues, fans should be thankful he gave us ample time to appreciate his greatness. Big Papi is treating us to one of the finest farewell seasons by a hitter in MLB history. With 3.2 wins above replacement already accumulated, he’s on pace to set a career high in WAR at 40 years old. That’s absurd, but as this week’s Weekly Rotation will show, it somehow understates how legendary his final campaign could be compared to other “farewell seasons.”Using WAR as the decisive statistic and visualizations from PointAfter , I’ll rank the five best seasons since 1945 by hitters during the final year of their MLB careers. For the record, if the pre-World War II era was included, players who either had untimely deaths or participated in the infamous Black Sox scandal would comprise most of the top five. Ortiz’s 2016 campaign will then be examined in the context of the legendary goodbyes before his own. A heads-up to Red Sox fans: You should make sure to visit Fenway Park this year to catch a glimpse of a franchise icon before he retires. Somehow, he’s playing just as well as he did when he helped break the Curse of the Bambino more than a decade ago. 5. Hank Greenberg (1947), Pittsburgh Pirates Stats: 3.4 WAR, .249/.408/.478 slash line, 25 HR, 74 RBI, 104 BB in 125 games Hank Greenberg: American Renaissance Man | PointAfter A two-time MVP who had his career cut short by injury, military service and a relatively early retirement, the original "Hammerin' Hank" is one of baseball’s most underappreciated figures. Among his numerous accomplishments on the field, Greenberg was the first MLB player to volunteer for service in the Air Force. He was also the first player to return from war in 1945, and he promptly homered during his first game back with the Tigers, later accounting for two of the three total dingers hit in that year’s World Series to bring a championship to Detroit. Before the 1947 season, however, penny-pinching owners sold Greenberg to Pittsburgh. He adapted quickly to his new digs, leading the National League in walks –drawing a free pass in more than 20 percent of his plate appearances –and mashing 25 home runs for the Pirates. Greenberg retired after his age-36 season with plenty of baseball left in him –no player had previously retired directly after hitting 25 homers –to become the Cleveland Indians’farm system director. He’d proceed to build a successful post-playing career in the front office of both the Indians and Chicago White Sox before becoming an investment banker. 4. Barry Bonds (2007), San Francisco Giants Stats: 3.4 WAR, .276/.480/.565 slash line, 28 HR, 66 RBI, 132 BB in 126 games Bonds’victory lap was one for the ages, as the polarizing slugger overtook Hank Aaron on the all-time home run leaderboard, setting a new hallowed benchmark: 762. MLB All-Time Home Run Leaders | PointAfter That Bonds could still muster enough power and bat speed at age 42 to crush 28 home runs is remarkable, but perhaps even more notable is how much pitchers still feared him. Bonds led the Majors in walks, and paced the majors in on-base percentage for the sixth time in seven seasons, with the only exception being his injury-plagued 2005 campaign. Bonds certainly could have provided some value in 2008, but teams were scared away by the omnipresent cloud of performance-enhancing drugs surrounding the newly crowned home run king. After remaining unsigned for more than two full years, Bonds officially retired in December 2009. 3. Will Clark (2000), Baltimore Orioles/St. Louis Cardinals Stats: 4.0 WAR, .319/.418/.546 slash line, 21 HR, 70 RBI, 136 hits in 130 games A vastly underrated lefty who notched three top-five finishes in MVP voting early in his career, Clark functioned as the ideal midseason acquisition for the Cardinals in 2000. After a crumbling Mark McGwire was lost for the season due to a knee injury, St. Louis found itself in the unenviable position of replacing a franchise icon in the middle of a playoff race. Clark was brought in following a resurgence in Baltimore during the first half, and “The Thrill”didn’t disappoint. Clark served up a pinch-hit homer in his first at-bat for the Cards, then homered in his first four starts. He ended up recording a career-high .964 OPS over the course of the regular season before going 10-for-29 with two homers and a 1.062 OPS in eight playoff games. Will Clark Career Batting Triple Slash | PointAfter St. Louisfell to the Mets in the NLCS, and the 36-year-old Clark announced his retirement that November, surprising many in the game. He told the New York Times, “The first part of my life was based on being a baseball player. The second part of my life is going to be based on being a daddy and a husband.”2. Roy Cullenbine (1947), Detroit Tigers Stats: 4.3 WAR, .224/.401/.422 slash line, 24 HR, 78 RBI, 137 BB in 142 games Cullenbine was unfortunate to play in an era when batting average was the predominant offensive statistic of the time and OPS was just a twinkle in some statistician’s eye. He was one of MLB's best all-time walk drawers –his 22 game walk-streak, set during his “farewell season,”is the longest of all time –when walks were considered “lazy”by many of Cullenbine’s contemporaries. The er, underappreciated Joe DiMaggio of walks ranked second in free passes, third in on-base percentage, fourth in home runs and eighth in OPS in the American League during his final go-round in the bigs. Nevertheless, after a year when he set a career high for home runs and a still-standing Tiger record for walks, he was gone from the Majors. Roy Cullenbine Deserved Better | PointAfter It’s kind of crazy someone with those counting stats couldn’t find a roster spot somewhere the following spring. Though Cullenbine’s defense was panned at the time, he only finished fifth in errors among AL first basemen while creating the most assists among the peers at his position. Perhaps he just wasn’t well liked? [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball contest now ] Today, Cullenbine’s strong on-base and power numbers would make him a valuable commodity. In that era, however, patience was apparently not the most popular of virtues. The Tigers would be the last team Cullenbine, a Detroit native, would play for. He was released by his hometown team the following offseason, and never appeared in a MLB contest again. 1. Jackie Robinson (1956), Brooklyn Dodgers Stats: 4.5 WAR, .275/.382/.412 slash line, 10 HR, 43 RBI, 12 SB in 117 games Though Robinson’s entrance into the Major Leagues was far more significant than his exit, his final season currently stands as the best “farewell tour”by a hitter in baseball history. The legendary athlete was one of the fastest players on the field until the very end, ranking third in defensive WAR (2.0), sixth in stolen bases and 16th in MVP voting. Jackie Robinson WAR by Season | PointAfter However, fans didn’t know of Robinson’s imminent retirement in 1956. Despite Robinson performing his best during his final World Series appearance (.796 OPS, 10 total bases), the Dodgers lost the 1956 title to the Yankees for the fifth time in Robinson’s 10-year MLB career. Brooklyn tried to trade the 37-year-old to the New York Giants during the offseason, but Robinson elected to retire due to an increasingly bothersome list of ailments that would eventually be diagnosed as diabetes. The disease would steal most of Robinson’s sight by middle age and likely contributed to his fatal heart attack in 1972, just more than 25 years after the iconic No. 42 broke the color barrier and changed baseball forever. Note: Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash after his age-37 season in 1972, was not included in this ranking due to the circumstances surrounding his final season. If he was included, he would rank No. 1 with 4.8 WAR. David Ortiz (2016), Boston Red Sox Stats: 3.2 WAR, .339/.421/.699 slash line, 18 HR, 59 RBI in 64 games According to some personal Baseball Reference research, Ortiz would smash the record for WAR by a hitter in his final season during the post-World War II era if he maintains his current pace. Even if we include batters from before 1945, the only hitter who’s previously equaled Ortiz’s current WAR path (pun intended) is Shoeless Joe Jackson, who totaled 7.6 WAR in 1920 at age 32 before being bannedfrom the game for his role in the Black Sox betting scandal. David Ortiz Wins Above Replacement (WAR) by Season | PointAfter All baseball fans should be wishing Ortiz’s ailing feet good health, because his revival is a rare relic of a sport that has seen the aging curve pessimistically bend for players of Ortiz’s age over the course of Big Papi’s career. The sport is more exciting when iconic veterans such as himself call back days of yore. Nearly halfway through this season, however, Ortiz isn’t just equaling his old self –he’s bettering it. This story was published in conjunction with Yahoo Sports and PointAfter , a sports visualization site that's part of the Graphiq network. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Pirates call up C Jacob Stallings, son of Pitt hoops coach (Yahoo Sports)

[read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


The Walk Off: Orioles rally to keep winning streak alive (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. Look at the top of the American League East standings and you’ll find the Baltimore Orioles in first place. The Orioles have surged past the Boston Red Sox on the strength of a winning streak this week that they rallied to keep alive Thursday night in Toronto. After Baltimore took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, the Blue Jays scored three runs in the bottom of the first and added another in the second to go up 4-1. But these Orioles are resilient, and deep and powerful which makes them tough to put away. And while Manny Machado was handed a four-game suspension for punching Yordano Ventura, he was in the lineup as he appeals the punishment. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball contest now ] Two Orioles runs in the third brought them back to within one, but Josh Donaldson’s RBI triple in the fourth restored Toronto’s two run advantage. As we mentioned earlier, though, Baltimore’s bats are difficult to contain. Pedro Alvarez cut the deficit to one with a solo home run in the sixth and Chris Davis tied the game in the seventh with a solo shot of his own. Davis wasn’t done. He put Baltimore in front with a sac fly in the ninth, and closer Zach Britton recorded the save with a clean effort in the bottom of the inning to seal a 6-5 win . They really had to work for this one, but the Orioles’ winning streak is now at five games and they’re two games up on the Red Sox and 5 1/2 games ahead of the third-place Blue Jays. TOP PERFORMERS D.J. LeMahieu: LeMahieu reached base four times, going 2-for-3 with two walks, and also hit one of the Colorado Rockies’ four home runs in a 11-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Rockies second baseman is now hitting .308 with a .377 OBP and four homers this season. Adam Wainwright: Wainwright was in a groove in the St. Louis Cardinals’ 3-2 win against the Cincinnati Reds, going six innings and allowing two runs while striking out nine. His ERA is still an unrecognizable 5.21 through 13 starts, and more outings like this one will help the big right-hander bring that down. [Elsewhere: A front-row seat to David Ortiz's farewell tour ] Bartolo Colon: Colon was at his Bartolo-best, giving up one run over seven innings to lead the New York Mets past the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 . Milwaukee managed eight hits off the Mets starter, but as he does, he wiggled his way out of jams and didn’t allow any walks. MUST-SEE HIGHLIGHT Even at 42 years old, Ichiro can still bring it when it counts. The Miami Marlins were tied 2-2 with the Minnesota Twins in the seventh inning when Ichiro came to the plate with runners at first and second and one out. Facing Twins starter Ervin Santa, Ichiro drove a 2-1 pitch into the gap in right center field to score the first of seven Miami runs in the inning on their way to a 10-3 win . It was classic Ichiro, and after a two-hit night he now has 2,973, putting him 27 hits away of joining the 3,000 hit club. The way he’s hitting for the Marlins, it shouldn’t take him too much longer to get there. THE REST OF THE SCOREBOARD Rangers 5, Astros 3 : Prince Fielder and Rougned Odor homered for Texas as they took three of four from their in-state rivals. Yankees 6, Angels 3 : Brett Gardner had three hits while Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez each drove in two runs to lift New York back to .500. White Sox 3, Nationals 1 : A three-run first inning, highlighted by Melky Cabrera’s two RBI double, was all Chicago needed to snap a five-game losing streak. Indians 5, Mariners 3 :  Tyler Naquin’s two-run home run off Joaquin Benoit in the eighth broke a tie and overshadowed a two homer game from Seattle's Robinson Cano. More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Israel Fehr is a writer for Big League Stew  on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at israelfehr@yahoo.ca or follow him on Twitter. Follow @israelfehr [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Pujols homer lifts Angels to 5-4 win over Pirates (The Associated Press)

For Los Angeles Angels 36-year-old slugger Albert Pujols, one of those places is PNC Park. Coming into Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pujols had .377 with 29 home runs and 85 RBIs in the Pirates' home on Pittsburgh's North Side. While more Pujols success wasn't unexpected, career home run number 30 couldn't have come at a better time, as he hit a two-run shot off Pirates reliever Tony Watson in the top of the eighth inning to lead the Angels to a 5-4 win. [read full article]

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The Walk Off: Mookie Betts makes history in wild Red Sox loss (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. Mookie Betts' two home runs on Wednesday night put him in the history books, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Boston Red Sox from losing. Betts tied a major-league record with five home runs in a two-game span after hitting three on Tuesday. He led off the game with a homer in the first and followed that up with another solo shot in the second, becoming the first player to hit home runs in each of the first two innings in consecutive games according to the Elias Sports Bureau. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Baseball contest now ] And still with a white-hot Betts, who finished 2-for-3 with two walks (because why would you give him anything to hit at the moment?) and Xander Bogaerts extending his hitting streak to 25 games, Boston lost to the Baltimore Orioles 13-9 in a wild one at Camden Yards . Joe Kelly was chased with one out in the third inning after Baltimore had already scored seven runs, a performance that was so rough that the right-hander was immediately demoted to Triple-A. Boston's bullpen didn't fare much better. With the score tied 8-8, the Orioles scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth and added three more in the seventh to bury the Red Sox. So Betts did it again with the long ball and continues to look great, only this time he couldn't lift his team to a win. Baltimore is now two games back of Boston for first place in the American League East. TOP PERFORMERS Michael Fulmer: Fulmer took a no-hitter into the seventh as the Detroit Tigers beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-0 . The rookie right-hander was removed after 7 2/3 scoreless innings, having struck out eight to improve his record to 5-1. Wilson Ramos: The Nationals’ catcher had three hits, one of them a home run, and drove in four runs in Washington’s 7-2 win over the Phillies. Ramos is on a tear this season,hitting .338 with a .919 OPS, which is tops among catchers with more than 100 plate appearances. [Elsewhere: Craig Sager gets full Wrigley experience on 'Conquer Cancer Day' ] Adam Conley: Conley carried his no-hitter into the sixthbut had to settle for a no-decision after the Miami Marlins coughed up the 2-0 lead he left the game with, only to rebound to edge the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 . Conley nearly threw a no-no in early May, but was pulled after 7 2/3 innings with a zero in the hit column because of his pitch count. Jon Lester: Kris Bryant gave the Cubs a lead in the third with a two-run shot and that was all Lester needed, pitching a complete game with 10 strikeouts as Chicago beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1 . The only run Lester gave up was a leadoff homer to Kike Hernandez and he’s now 6-3 with a 2.29 ERA. MUST-SEE HIGHLIGHT By his own admission , Carlos Gomez has not been at his best for the Houston Astros this season. But this catch is Houston’s 5-4 win in extra innings over the Arizona Diamondbacks was reminiscent of what Gomez can do when he’s playing well and without fear. With the game tied 0-0 in the third and two runners on, Gomez made a leaping grab at the wall on a ball hit by Michael Bourn to left center field. It was a reminder of how dynamic a player he's been the last few years and that he's still capable of stepping up with his glove. THE REST OF THE SCOREBOARD White Sox 2, Mets 1 : Todd Frazier tied the game with a home run in the seventh inning and Jose Abreu won it with a sacrifice fly in the 13th. Brewers 3, Cardinals 1 : Zach Davies pitched eight shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing three hits and no walks. Athletics 5, Twins 1 : Sean Manaea gave up one run over six innings and Danny Valencia went 3-for-4 as Oakland cruised to a win. Indians 5, Rangers 4 : Yan Gomes delivered a walkoff single that scored Lonnie Chisenhall in the 11th. Blue Jays 7, Yankees 0 : Toronto’s offense came alive in the seventh with five runs and starter Aaron Sanchez didn’t allow a run in 6 2/3 innings. Braves 5, Giants 4 : Freddie Freeman walked it off in the 11th with a home run to right center field, making up for the three strikeouts he had earlier in the game. Royals 6, Rays 3 : Lorenzo Cain had three hits, scored two runs and drove in another as Kansas City won its sixth straight. Reds 7, Rockies 2 : John Lamb earned his first win of the season with seven innings of one-run ball and Billy Hamilton went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two stolen bases. Padres 14, Mariners 6 : After their boss called them "miserable failures," San Diego walloped Seattle led by Alexei Ramirez (3-for-5, two HR's, five RBIs), Wil Myers (3-for-5, HR, three RBIs) and Jon Jay (4-for-6, two runs). More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Israel Fehr is a writer for Big League Stew  on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at israelfehr@yahoo.ca or follow him on Twitter. Follow @israelfehr [read full article]

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