Zack Greinke knocks the Reds down, but John Axford lets ’em back up

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Zack Greinke pitched eight shutout innings against the Reds this afternoon. He allowed only two hits. He struck out 11.  That’ll get you a win most days.  But not today.

That’s because Johnny Cueto pitched seven shutout innings himself and had better help from his bullpen and the Fates. The Reds beat the Brewers 2-1.

It was 0-0 entering the ninth when the usually reliable John Axford took over for Greinke, who had thrown 104 pitches to that point. Axford struck out the first two batters he faced, but then:

  • Drew Stubbs singled;
  • Joey Votto plated Stubbs with a double; and
  • Brandon Phillips plated Votto with a single.

Life comes at you fast, man.

Milwaukee got one back with a Ryan Braun homer in the bottom of the ninth, and then threatened big by loading the bases with two out.  Reds reliever Logan Ondrusek put out the fire by inducing a fly ball to end the game, however.

A tough luck no-decision for Greinke and a tough luck loss for the Brewers. But in a game this close the same would have been true if it went the other way.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.