Few would disagree that the Cardinals and Reds have the most active rivalry in Major League Baseball. Yanks-Sawx is classic, Giants-Dodgers is still plenty heated, and Cards-Cubs tends to draw to great interest, but the Redlegs and Redbirds genuinely seem to dislike each other. And that same sentiment is shared by the competing fanbases.
Two games into this weekend’s three-game set at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark, the tension is as potent as ever. On Friday night, the Reds won in walkoff fashion thanks to a Brandon Phillips ninth-inning blast. But the back-and-forth game looked to be in the Cardinals’ hands just an inning earlier, when resurgent slugger Albert Pujols ripped an Aroldis Chapman pitch high into the left field seats to give St. Louis a 5-4 eighth-inning lead.
Pujols is booed heavily by Reds fans when he steps to the plate in Cincinnati, as is teammate Yadier Molina.
Here is Albert’s post-homer reaction to those boos, via a screen-grab by Reds fan Joe Lankford:
Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter operated well in damage control over eight innings on Saturday and Pujols homered again to give St. Louis a 4-1 victory. The series finale gets underway at 1:15 PM ET.
Starter Jeremy Hellickson has become the Phillies’ most enticing trade chip as he’s put together a solid month of July. After shutting out the Marlins on one hit and one walk over six innings on Monday, the right-hander lowered his July ERA to 1.97 and his overall ERA to 3.65. As a result, the Phillies are telling teams they want a top-five prospect to part with Hellickson, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
Obviously, a top-five prospect means something different if you’re the Marlins as opposed to the Rangers. And the Phillies’ price point for Hellickson isn’t likely to stay that high, but GM Matt Klentak is setting a lofty starting point so that the return might end up being higher than market value.
ESPN’s Buster Olney speculates that the Phillies could end up holding onto Hellickson and giving him a qualifying offer after the season. He notes that the Phillies have only $25 million tied up for the 2017 season, so they could afford to pay Hellickson in excess of $16 million if he were to accept.
Madison Bumgarner isn’t the only Giants pitcher who can rake. Matt Cain crushed a three-run home run during Tuesday’s game against the Giants.
Cain stepped to the plate with runners on the corner and one out against Reds starter Cody Reed in the bottom of the second inning. Reed threw a 1-1 fastball down the middle and Cain hit it about 20 rows back in the left field seats.
It’s Cain’s first homer of the season, his first since 2012, and the seventh of his 12-year career. He still has some work to catch up to Bumgarner, who has two homers this year and 13 in his career.
On the pitching side of things, Cain got the win against the Reds on Tuesday night, giving up four runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. He currently holds an ugly 5.95 ERA.