Did you wake up feeling a little off today? Maybe your cup of coffee doesn’t taste quite the same as it usually does and you have the sudden and unprecedented impulse to go for an early morning jog? No worries, it’s perfectly explainable. You see, the Pirates are tied with the Cardinals for first place in the National League Central.
And isn’t it appropriate that Jeff Karstens was the one to get them there? He needed just 83 pitches to complete a five-hitter in a 3-0 victory over the Astros last night. That’s right, 83 pitches. According to our friends at Elias, it was the fewest pitches in a complete game this season and just the sixth time since 2002 that someone has thrown a complete game with 83 pitches or less.
Believe it or not, Karstens now ranks third in the National League with a 2.34 ERA over 107 2/3 innings. By the way, last year’s NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay is fifth. That’s some deal with the devil he has going on.
Now 48-43 on the year, this is the latest the Pirates have been in first place since July 17, 1997. You know, back when Pirates’ star center fielder Andrew McCutchen was 10 years old.
Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.
The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.
When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.
Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.
Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.