First-place Athletics set a franchise mark with 59th win before the All-Star break

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The Athletics avoided a series sweep in Seattle against the Mariners with a 4-1 victory on Sunday afternoon. The win improved their record to 59-36. The second-place Angels won as well, so the A’s go into the All-Star break 1.5 games ahead in first place.

As Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle notes, the 59 wins at the break is the most in Athletics franchise history and the most for any team since the Tigers won 59 in 2006.

With 94 and 96 wins in each of the last two seasons, the A’s have won the AL West two years in a row, but were ushered out of the American League Division series twice, both by the Detroit Tigers (and Justin Verlander more specifically). GM Billy Beane bolstered the starting staff, acquiring Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel in a trade with the Cubs recently. Samardzija will lead the Athletics out of the break on Friday at home against the Orioles. Hammel will pitch Saturday.

Jon Lester to miss one or two starts

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Jon Lester had a terrible outing yesterday, allowing nine runs — seven earned — and leaving the game before he could complete two innings.Lester entered the afternoon with a 3.99 ERA. He exited with a 4.37 ERA. Later the Cubs said that Lester was suffering from left lat tightness.

The Cubs are now saying that Lester will miss 1-2 starts. They are sending him to see Dr. Stephen Gryzlo for a more in-depth exam, and it’s possible Gryzlo will determine the injury is more serious, but at the moment the assessment seems cautiously optimistic.

Mike Montgomery will fill in for Lester for the time being.

Adam Wainwright ain’t right

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Adam Wainwright was knocked out of yesterday’s game against the Pirates, allowing five runs on seven hits in three innings. For the second straight start his velocity suffered as well, with his fastball sitting in the mid-80s. This is not the Adam Wainwright the Cardinals are accustomed to and not the one they need. So they’re going to try to figure out what’s wrong. Wainwright, Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch reports, is headed back to St. Louis to meet with team doctors about his arm.

One wonders if this isn’t one start too late, given his struggles in his last outing and given that he said after that outing that he’s dealing with some pain on the outside of his elbow/triceps area. He did say, in the team’s defense, that that is a problem he’s dealt with in the past and that it has always gone away on its own. Still, it hasn’t always been accompanied by a velocity reduction, so this could be more worrisome. Also in the Cards’ defense: Wainwright is a 12-year veteran who has a way better handle on his own body than some kid might, so it’s understandable that they gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Still: concerning. The Cardinals are in a dogfight for the NL central and, while 2017 Adam Wainwright isn’t the same pitcher he used to be, having him around for the stretch would be preferable.