There are only two weeks remaining on the 2013 regular season schedule and the National League Central remains a heated three-team race.
The Cardinals couldn’t solve Mariners left-hander James Paxton on Saturday night in St. Louis and fell 4-1. The Pirates beat the Cubs 2-1 in an afternoon game at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park with young righty Gerrit Cole twirling a gem. The Reds also played in the afternoon and stomped the Brewers 7-3 in Milwaukee behind big offensive days from Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto.
St. Louis and Pittsburgh are now tied for first place in the division with the exact same record (86-62) and the Reds are just 2 1/2 games back at 84-65. The teams that finish second and third will likely meet in the National League Wild Card Game.
Your Saturday box scores and recaps:
Yankees 1, Red Sox 5
Reds 7, Brewers 3
Athletics 1, Rangers 0
Orioles 3, Blue Jays 4
Marlins 3, Mets 0 (Game 1)
Phillies 5, Nationals 4
Cubs 1, Pirates 2
Royals 1, Tigers 0
Indians 8, White Sox 1
Padres 1, Braves 2
Angels 6, Astros 2
Mariners 4, Cardinals 1
Marlins 1, Mets 3 (Game 2)
Rockies 2, Diamondbacks 9
Rays 7, Twins 0
Giants 19, Dodgers 3
Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.
Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.
The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.