Wainwright dominates Dodgers, improves to 10-0 at home

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Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright nearly won the National League Cy Young Award last season and he has put his name atop the list of candidates again this year.

Through 20 starts, the 28-year-old right-hander is 14-5 with a 2.02 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and 130 strikeouts in 142 1/3 innings.  He has four complete games and one shutout, and on Saturday night he was excellent once again.

Wainwright allowed only five hits over six scoreless innings and added three strikeouts to his season-long total as the Cardinals won their third consecutive game over the Dodgers.  He also became the first St. Louis pitcher to win his first 10 starts at home since the fine folks at STATS LLC began recording such things in 1920.  He has thrown 19 straight scoreless innings.

The success isn’t anything new for Waino, and it’s certainly not catching anybody by surprise.  Cardinals fans, though, will be happy to know that he is still working to get better.  At the All-Star Game last week, he learned Tim Lincecum’s changeup and used it in his first start of the second half.

“I asked him his changeup grip and he showed it
to me,” Wainwright said Saturday. “I hope this doesn’t get him in trouble but I
threw it in the bullpen during the All-Star game.  I kind of worked with it
on the fly during the game today. I probably threw eight or 10 of them.
It’s a work in progress but it’s a certainly a good pitch.”

His ERA at Busch Stadium this year is 1.13 and he’s fired 27 consecutive quality starts at home.  Back when Cardinals legend Bob Gibson recorded his famous 1.12 earned-run average in the summer of 1968, his home ERA was 1.41.  In some ways this season, Wainwright has been better.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.

Phillies release veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday

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The Phillies announced on Monday that the club released veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday. Both were competing for the back-up catcher spot on the team’s 25-man roster. With both out of the picture, that means Andrew Knapp has won that honor.

Knapp, 25, hit a combined .266/.330/.390 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 443 plate appearances last year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He did not have a great spring but has hit well as of late, which likely pushed him ahead of Hanigan and Holaday. Knapp will serve as the understudy to starting catcher Cameron Rupp.