Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.

The Cubs are the fastest to 40 wins in 15 years

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The Cubs won again last night. That puts their record at 40-16 and that’s pretty darn good. It’s good enough for a 10-game lead in what was supposed to be the toughest division in baseball. It also puts them on par with the 2001 Seattle Mariners for fastest time to reach 40 wins in baseball history.

That Mariners club ended up winning 116 wins. It’s hard to imagine any team doing that in this age of greater parity, but who the heck knows. The Cubs are certainly clicking and they’re doing it with what tends to be the hallmark of dominant teams: a healthy, stable rotation. All of the clubs’ starts have come from five dudes — Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Kyle Hendricks and Jason Hammel — and every one of them has a superior pitching line on the season. They also have the best offense in the National League, which yeah, kind of helps.

Anything can happen in baseball. The Cubs could reach the NLCS and get swept by an 86-win wild card team. Ask the 2001 Mariners what 116 regular season wins does for you come October. But at the moment they’re doing everything right and they’re running away with the Central.

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Rangers 6, Astros 5: Rougned Odor hit a walkoff RBI double. Quite the knockout punch. The Rangers so thoroughly own the Astros right now that Houston has to ask permission before making any renovations at Minute Maid Park and have to pay them $30 extra a month if they want to keep a pet around.

Yankees 5, Angels 2: Carlos Beltran hit a three-run homer, breaking a 2-2 tie in the eighth. After the game he said “The plan isn’t to go out and hit homers. It’s a terrible plan.” This is sort of like how I tell my kids it’s horrible to sit in front of the computer all day. Do as Carlos Beltran and I say, not as Carlos Beltran and I do. We’re creating monsters.

Orioles 4, Royals 1: Mark Trumbo, Matt Wieters and Manny Machado all went deep as the Orioles take their fifth win in six games, all of which were come-from-behind victories.  Quite a week for O’s starter Mike Wright. Last time out he got shelled by Boston and was sent down to the minors. He was recalled the next day due to an injury and was given a second chance and all he did was allow one run on five hits over seven innings against the World Series champs. Five straight losses for the Royals, who are probably going to file a lawsuit against the Orioles today for infringing on their “relentless” patent.

Tigers 11, Blue Jays 0: The Tigers jumped all over J.A. Happ early, grabbing a 6-0 lead by the third inning thanks to homers from James McCann and Justin Upton. The two of them would combine for six RBI in all. Rookie Michael Fulmer remained impressive, tossing six shutout innings. He’s won four straight, allowing just one run, in total, over those four games.

Cubs 6, Phillies 4: Jon Lester tossed eight shutout innings and struck out nine. The Cubs had a 6-0 lead entering the ninth. They held on but Philly made it interesting, plating four, as Justin Grimm certainly was. This is why the putatively best team in baseball does stuff like sign the nearly undead Joe Nathan.

Rays 6, Diamondbacks 4: Big game for Desmond Jennings who had three hits, including a homer. Tim Beckham homered too. Four straight for Tampa Bay, the only team in baseball not named after a city or a state.

Indians 3, Mariners 1: Six in a row for the Indians who were powered by Trevor Bauer‘s ten strikeouts in seven and two-thirds innings. Things are bouncing just right for Cleveland. One of their runs scored on a send of Carlos Santana which should have had him nailed at the plate but Chris Iannetta dropped the throw home. Then another run scored after that.

Rockies 6, Dodgers 1: Tyler Chatwood (eight innings) and Gonzalez Germen (the ninth) held the Dodgers to one hit — a Howie Kendrick single in the second inning — and Trevor Story and Gerardo Parra homered. Afterward Chatwood said”It wasn’t my best outing, I didn’t have good command early . . .” I was going to call BS on that but he allowed no runs over seven innings on May 27 and tossed eight shutout innings on May fourth so I suppose he’s allowed to say so. Nice year for Chatwood so far (7-4, 2.79 ERA).

Padres 7, Braves 2Yangervis Solarte hit a three-run homer in the third and Matt Kemp drove in two as the third worst team in the NL beat the worst. The AP game story described Solarte’s homer as “a towering shot that landed a few rows behind a party deck atop the right-field wall.” Imagine having a party at a Braves-Padres game.

Mets vs. Pirates — POSTPONED: I never wanted to be your weekend lover
I only wanted to be some kind of friend
Baby, I could never steal you from another
It’s such a shame our friendship had to end

Purple rain, purple rain

Juan Lagares has a torn thumb ligament

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Mets center fielder Juan Lagares has been diagnosed with a partially torn ligament in his left thumb. He will rejoin the team and the Mets will see if he can play through it, so the DL will wait for now.

Lagares is now a fourth outfielder for New York, hitting .276/.315/.402 in 93 plate appearances on the year, as Yoenis Cespedes has gotten most of the work in center and Lagares playing there when Cespedes gets a breather or moves to a corner. So if the play-through-it plan doesn’t work out, it won’t be as big a loss as it would’ve been a year or two ago. Still, having his leather around is awful nice for the late innings.