Mike Matheny chooses Adam Wainwright over Clayton Kershaw as National League starter

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Clayton Kershaw is the reigning Cy Young winner, threw a no-hitter last month, and leads the league in ERA, but Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has chosen his own ace, St. Louis right-hander Adam Wainwright, to start for the National League tomorrow night.

Wainwright ranks second in the league with a 1.83 ERA, just barely behind Kershaw at 1.78, and he’s thrown 42 more innings than Kershaw while leading the NL with 12 wins. In other words it’s hardly a controversial choice, although Kershaw is generally viewed as the best pitcher in the world and it does add a little drama to the situation that Matheny is choosing his own guy.

Here’s a full-on comparison of their respective numbers:

               Wainwright     Kershaw
Starts             19            14
Innings           138            96
ERA              1.83          1.78
Record           12-4          11-2
SO/9              7.5          11.8
BB/9              1.8           1.2
OAVG             .201          .191
WHIP             0.91          0.83

I tend to think Kershaw has been the better pitcher this season and also think his track record of Cy Young-winning excellence makes up for Wainwright’s admittedly large edge in innings this season, but Wainwright’s track record is plenty excellent too and one of the perks of getting to the World Series as a manager is that the next season you can choose your own ace over the Dodgers’ ace to start the All-Star game.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.

Phillies release veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday

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The Phillies announced on Monday that the club released veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday. Both were competing for the back-up catcher spot on the team’s 25-man roster. With both out of the picture, that means Andrew Knapp has won that honor.

Knapp, 25, hit a combined .266/.330/.390 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 443 plate appearances last year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He did not have a great spring but has hit well as of late, which likely pushed him ahead of Hanigan and Holaday. Knapp will serve as the understudy to starting catcher Cameron Rupp.