The National League Wild Card race just got, well, pretty wild.
Craig Kimbrel had the Marlins down to their final strike in the bottom of the ninth inning tonight, but the rookie closer served up a walkoff two-run home run to former Brave Omar Infante en route to a stunning 6-5 loss. The home run followed a single by Emilio Bonifacio which was originally ruled as an error on Chipper Jones.
Kimbrel has allowed home runs in consecutive appearances after giving up just one over his first 75 games. Perhaps this is just something fluky, but one wonders if his heavy workload is finally catching up to him.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals survived a ninth inning rally to beat the Phillies 4-3. Kyle Lohse allowed an unearned run over 7 1/3 innings in the victory, besting Roy Halladay.
Following tonight’s action, the Braves hold a 2 1/2 game lead over the Cardinals in the Wild Card race. It’s actually two games if you count the loss column. And don’t forget about the suddenly hot Giants, who are 3 1/2 back. The Braves have eight games remaining while the Cardinals and Giants will play nine apiece.
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.