Yesterday we had the AL, today the NL. Bryce Harper leads the pack and Cardinals Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina, Jhonny Peralta and Matt Holliday all would be starters if voting ended today.
Blue Jays 10, White Sox 9: Walkoff number one: The Josh Donaldson Show. Donaldson hit two homers — bookends, really — as he lauched a solo shot in the first and then hit a walkoff three-run homer off David Robertson for the win. After the game he said “That’s probably one of the better feelings in baseball, to hit a walkoff homer. You don’t get the opportunity very often.” Except it’s the second time he’s done it this year and the fifth time in his career, so if you’re Josh Donaldson, you get that opportunity more than a lot of dudes, frankly.
Cubs 3, Nationals 2: Walkoff number two: Youth is Served: Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant both homered to tie the game at different points and Addison Russell doubled in Jonathan Herrera for the walkoff win. The Cubs have 13 one-run victories. Charmed life.
Reds 2, Rockies 1: Walkoff number three: The Futility-Interruptor. The Reds finally snapped their losing streak — it died at nine — thanks to a pinch hit Skip Schumaker walkoff double. After the game Schumaker said “winning never gets old.” Certainly not in Cincinnati it doesn’t.
Mets 5, Phillies 4: Walkoff number four: Everybody Hates Wilmer. Wilmer Flores — who a certain stripe of Mets fan loves to hate — singled home the winning run with two outs in the 10th. Is he the best shortstop ever? No. And his defense leaves quite a bit to be desired, but he’s got a .724 OPS and pretty excellent power numbers for a shortstop in this day and age. That ain’t nothin’.
Mariners 7, Rays 6: Not a walkoff, but if it was I’d call it The Kyle Seager Show or something. Seager hit a grand slam in the eighth and, after the M’s bullpen pooed all over itself in the ninth, Seager hit a solo shot in the top of the 10th which put Seattle up for good.
Rangers 4, Indians 3: Seven straight for Texas, who are now a .500 team. Not too shabby after starting things off as poorly as they did and suffering all of the injuries they’ve suffered. Mitch Moreland hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth and Prince Fielder continued to party like it’s 2009, hitting a three-run bomb. Fielder is 14-for-24 with five homers and 15 RBI in his last five games. How did you hit your home run, Mitch Moreland? “I was trying to get a good pitch, something I could drive.” Oh. How interesting.
Giants 6, Brewers 3: Madison Bumgarner didn’t shoot out the lights, but he won for the fifth time in six starts and was backed by a Hunter Pence laser beam and homers from Matt Duffy and Brandon Belt. What’s your secret, Madison? “That’s it, just making pitches and getting outs.” Oh. How interesting.
Astros 4, Orioles 1: Houston has now won 10 of 13, so maybe it’s time to stop asking if they’re for real. I mean, sure, they could crater and, in hindsight, we’d all say they weren’t for real, but it’s not like they’re winning via trick plays and opposing teams tanking to get draft picks. Here Scott Feldman was solid over six innings and Luis Valbuena drove in two.
Yankees 5, Royals 1: Mark Teixeira hit a two-run homer in the first and drove in two more with a double in the fifth. On the year he’s only hitting .243, but the on-base percentage is a healthy .365 and he’s slugging a stout .588. He’s on pace for 49 bombs and 123 RBI. A product of being in The Best Shape of His Life?
Pirates 5, Marlins 1: The Buccos jumped all over Jose Urena early, leading 4-0 after two innings and then they cruised behind Jeff Locke and three relievers. Well, maybe they didn’t “cruise” as Locke needed 104 pitches and walked four guys, but they certainly rumbled along, as one may while driving an older SUV that could possibly use some new tires. Either way, that’s five straight wins for Pittsburgh.
Twins 2, Red Sox 1: If there are any immutable laws in the universe, one of them has to be “if you stake Mike Pelfrey to a two-run lead in the first inning, he’ll make it hold up.” OK, maybe my math is a bit off with that. And my history, frankly, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s some good science.
Cardinals 6, Diamondbacks 4: Randal Grichuk and Jhonny Peralta each drove in two to back a dicey Jamie Garcia, who picked up his first win in nearly a year. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat for Yasmany Tomas: he hit two doubles and drove in three but he also struck out with the bases loaded to end the seventh and grounded out to end the game with the tying runs in scoring position.
Dodgers 8, Braves 0: I was on a radio show yesterday when someone asked me “what’s the matter with Clayton Kershaw?” I’d guess not much apart from not facing enough pushover lineups like the Braves and not being staked to enough big leads to allow him to cruise. Here both were in play, and Kershaw struck out 10 in seven shutout innings while every single hitter in the Dodgers’ lineup, Kershaw included, got a hit.
Padres 4, Angels 0: Scoreless for nine innings and then the Angels decided that Joe Smith needed to be in the game. That’s when Matt Kemp hit a bases-loaded double and that was that. Both Kemp and the Padres have been struggling. Perhaps that wakes them up.
Tigers 1, Athletics 0: David Price and Jesse Chavez dueled and David Price won. The only run in the game came via a sacrifice fly in the first inning, and even that one wouldn’t have scored if Josh Phegley hadn’t thrown the ball away, allowing the runner to make it to third base. Price tossed seven shutout innings and the Tiger bullpen locked it down. Which is not something you hear very often. Especially when Joba Chamberlain is involved.
Mets 6, Phillies 3: Wilmer Flores hit a three-run homer in the sixth to break a 3-3 tie and to help put Bartolo Colon in the win column for the the seventh time this year. Colon also singled and actually ran the bases and stuff. Like this:
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) May 25, 2015
Yankees 14, Royals 1: Jeremy Guthrie got shellacked, giving up eleven runs while recording only three outs. It’s the first time a pitcher has allowed 11 runs while recording three outs or fewer in eight years. It’s also the first time a pitcher allowed four home runs while recording three or fewer outs in ten years. Three RBI a piece for Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Brian McCann and Stephen Drew. It was just the Yankees’ second win in 12 games. It should count for two or three at least, you figure.
Pirates 4, Marlins 2: Charlie Morton scattered eight hits and allowed two runs over seven innings in his first action of the year. According to the AP game story Morton is said to have gone on “a six-week journey to rebuild his delivery from the ground up” as he recovered from offseason surgery. Morton once famously remade his delivery to be just like Roy Halladay. I wonder who he picked this time. Is there a big glossy catalog to be leafed-through in a big shiny and futuristic delivery-remaking clinic from which you can choose? “I want to be . . . Fergie Jenkins this time!” “Excellent choice, Mr. Morton!” Or is it more of a back-alley kind of place, like how Jack Nicholson was patched up to achieve his Joker look in the Tim Burton Batman?
Blue Jays 6, White Sox 0: Drew Hutchison with The Maddux. Which is not, contrary to popular opinion, a performance in which he yelled “F**K!” so loud from the mound that it was picked up by TBS microphones and ignored by Skip Caray, followed by him peeing on the feet of his teammates in the shower. I mean, yes, those are classic Maddux trademarks. But I’m referring to the fun stat created by Jason Lukehart three years ago and which MLB and its Twitter feed continuously reference these days without any acknowledgment that Lukehart made it up. Oh well. As for Hutchison, he gave up only four hits, struck out eight and didn’t walk a soul.
Dodgers 6, Braves 3: L.A. hit three homers in the eighth inning — Andre Ethier, Alex Guerrero and Jimmy Rollins did the honors — to key the Dodgers’ win. Ethier also drew a bases-loaded walk. Braves starter Williams Perez allowed only that walked-in run and scattered seven hits in six innings. The homers came off of Nick Masset who, apparently, gets to stay in no matter how many homers he gives up in close games. Must be a weird provision of his deal or something.
Angels 4, Padres 3: Tied at three in the ninth with two men on, Bud Black decided to intentionally walk Mike Trout to pitch to Albert Pujols with the bases loaded. While walking the bases loaded to pitch to Pujols was unthinkable back during the Bush Administration, it’s pretty defensible these days, at least to get around Trout. But Pujols made Black pay by hitting a game-winning single to left field.
Rockies 5, Reds 4: Nolan Arenado homered, had three hits and drove in the go-ahead run with a sac fly in the ninth off of Aroldis Chapman. That’s nine straight losses for Cincinnati. Three wins in a row for Colorado.
Orioles 4, Astros 3: I guess Dallas Keuchel was going to lose eventually. Not that the Orioles totally murdered him. As a team they only got six hits in the whole game and went down in order in six of their eight innings at the plate. But when two of those six hits were two-run homers — from Caleb Joseph and Steve Pearce — and when your four pitchers don’t walk anyone and pitch out of trouble enough times, it’s sufficient.
Giants 8, Brewers 4: Weirdness abounded in this one. Carlos Gomez has a gold glove and a stellar defensive reputation, but he also had two errors in one inning to help fuel the Giants’ seven-run rally in the sixth. Also weird: Khris Davis hit a home run in the first, after which he was called out for allegedly failing to touch home plate. The Brewers challenged that call and he was then called safe. Davis homered again in the third inning. This time, when he scored, he stomped on home plate. I may have slid.
Twins 7, Red Sox 2: Ricky Nolasco pitched well and Trevor Plouffe hit a three-run homer. The Twins are 26-18 and are only two games back of the Royals in the AL Central. If the season ended today they’d be in the playoffs as the first Wild Card in the American League. And I’m not sure if the season ending on May 26 for some reason would be any more surprising than the Twins actually finishing the season in the playoffs. If they do make the playoffs, though, can we agree to officially abolish preseason predictions for eternity? Because it’s unseemly for people to pretend they’re experts and have any special, authoritative insight into a pursuit as random as baseball.
Nationals 2, Cubs 1: Denard Span and Wilson Ramos homered. Kris Bryant homered in a losing cause. Really, those three hits were the whole game.
Athletics 4, Tigers 0: Jesse Hahn pitched a four-hit shutout to give the A’s their third win in a row. This despite his infield committing three errors behind him. Marcus Semien’s made it 17 for him on the season. The A’s have 49 overall, leading the league.
Rangers 10, Indians 8: Six wins in a row for the Rangers and the end of a six-game winning streak for the Indians. This game marked the return of Josh Hamilton, though he didn’t do much. He was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, but he did walk and score once. Prince Fielder hit his fourth homer in four games and is now at .365/.417/.575 on the year and is on pace to hit 32 homers and drive in 126. Last year, when everyone said his bat would come alive in Texas? They were right. Just a year and a healthy Prince Fielder too early.
Cardinals 3, Diamondbacks 2: Jhonny Peralta with the walkoff homer in the 10th. This was the Cards’ eighth extra-innings win this year, which leads all of baseball. And, given that most analysts believe that, over time, extra innings wins tend to be heavily influenced by luck and random chance, it is evidence that the Cardinals possess black demon magic from an unholy source powering their success.
Mariners 4, Rays 1: Robinson Cano went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs, so I guess he’s not dead. Factoid of the day courtesy of the Associated Press:
This was the first-ever matchup of major league managers who played in the Little League World Series. McClendon was with Gary, Indiana, in 1971, while Cash was part of the 1989 Tampa, Florida, team.
Jung Ho Kang’s slow start to spring training had a surprising number of people concluding that his big-time production in Korea wouldn’t translate to MLB, but he’s proven them very wrong so far and has now established himself as the Pirates’ starting shortstop.
Kang began the season in a bench role, but he’s hit .299 with two homers, five doubles, and an .823 OPS in 75 plate appearances. Along with Opening Day shortstop Jordy Mercer hitting .176 that convinced manager Clint Hurdle to make Kang the shortstop all weekend.
He signed a four-year, $11 million deal with the Pirates this offseason after hitting .356 with 40 homers and a 1.198 OPS in 117 games last year in Korea. Kang needs to keep putting up big numbers at the plate in order to remain the starter, because Hurdle made it pretty clear that he still views the 28-year-old’s defense skeptically, telling Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
I believe when you look at Jung Ho, the shortstop I’d probably compare him to would be a Jhonny Peralta-type. Jordy has probably more lateral range. They’re both very accurate with their arms. Jordy’s got more experience within this league for positioning. The only way Jung Ho’s going to get it is to continue to get out there and get those reps.
Mercer is a career .254 hitter with a .688 OPS in 325 games, so even if Kang comes back down to earth a bit there’s a good chance he can continue to be the superior offensive player. Hurdle’s ongoing evaluation of his defense figures to play a big role. Whatever the case, that $11 million is looking like a solid investment.
Some history happened Wednesday in Cleveland.
Indians right-hander Corey Kluber struck out 18 batters, walked none, and yielded just one hit over eight scoreless innings as the Tribe beat the visiting Cardinals by a score of 2-0. The first (and only) hit for St. Louis came in the top of the seventh inning, when Jhonny Peralta singled up the middle. Kluber was pulled before the ninth with a pitch count of 113.
Cody Allen finished the shutout with a perfect ninth.
Kluber entered play Wednesday with a 5.04 season ERA, but it was only a matter of time before the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner got going. Some notes on his outing …
Cleveland’s Corey Kluber has set the record for most strikeouts (18) in a game vs. the Cardinals in franchise history.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) May 14, 2015
Kluber’s 18 are most in an AL game since Clemens K’d 18 on Aug. 25, 1998. First overall since Sheets had 18 on May 16, 2004.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 14, 2015
If Kluber is done, it’s the highest Game Score (98) in an eight-inning outing since at least 1914 and probably ever.
— Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot) May 14, 2015
Highest sub-9 inning Game Scores (from B-ref PI) 96 – Darvish 4/2/13 95 – Johan 8/19/07 93 – Lester 5/3/14, Ryan 4/12/89
— Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot) May 14, 2015