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Anthony Rizzo’s leadoff on-base streak ends

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Cubs manager Joe Maddon moved first baseman Anthony Rizzo into the leadoff spot on Tuesday last week, June 13. The decision immediately paid off as Rizzo led off the game with a no-doubt home run to center field off of Zack Wheeler. It was the start of what would become a trend.

The next day, Rizzo led off the game with a solo home run to left-center off of Matt Harvey. After an off-day, the Cubs opened up a series against the Pirates on Friday and Rizzo led off with a walk against Trevor Williams. On Saturday, he opened the game with a single facing Ivan Nova. He greeted Jameson Taillon with a double to begin Sunday’s game. Rizzo singled off of Clayton Richard to kick off Monday’s series opener against the Padres. And on Tuesday, he led off with a solo home run to center field off of Jhoulys Chacin.

So, coming into Wednesday afternoon’s game versus the Padres, Rizzo was 6-for-6 with two singles, a walk, a double, and three homers in his very first at-bat of a game since being made the Cubs’ lead-off man. Unfortunately for him, he was not able to keep the streak going. After working a 3-0 count to begin Wednesday’s game against Miguel Diaz, Rizzo flied out to Hunter Renfroe in right field.

Entering Wednesday’s action, Rizzo was batting .268/.398/.529 overall with 17 home runs and 47 RBI in 314 plate appearances. The competition is absolutely stacked this year at first base, but Rizzo is right up there and will probably be seen at the All-Star Game next month.

And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Dodgers 12, Mets 0; Mariners 5, Tigers 4: It was a huge night for the Seager brothers: Corey hit three homers for the Dodgers, driving in six. Kyle hit a walkoff double to give the M’s the win over the Tigers. My brother and I have never had a night quite that eventful, but one time in 1992 my brother, while home on leave from the Navy, skateboarded down the road in front of our house naked on the very same night I got violently ill after drinking too much Jack Daniel’s (I was 19, so “too much” was “any”) and woke up on the bathroom floor. That’s basically the same thing, right?

Giants 6, Braves 3: Atlanta had a 2-0 lead heading into the eighth, but Julio Teheran ran out of gas, giving up a three-run homer to Austin Slater. Ian Kroll came in after him and gave up two more runs — one charged to him, one to Teheran — and there was no coming back from that. Regarding that homer from Austin Slater: not bad for someone who is obviously a fictional character from a straight-to-VHS 90s action movie. Indeed, I don’t think there is any more of a 1990s name than Austin Slater. That’s the name equivalent of JNCO jeans crossed with a 1-800-COLLECT commercial.

Orioles 6, Indians 5: The Orioles can’t pitch, but when your third baseman goes 4-for-4, hits two homers and drives in four, you have a fighting chance. He also scored the winning run following a double in the seventh. Can Manny Machado pitch?

Angels 8, Yankees 3: You’ll be shocked to learn that Tyler Clippard came into a tie game and coughed up the lead. Shocked, I say!  Here it was Cameron Maybin hitting a solo homer off of him in the seventh. Clippard then gave up a double and an RBI triple. The guy who hit the triple — Yunel Escobar — would then score after Clippard got the hook. The Yankees have lost seven in a row and have fallen out of first place thanks to this loss and . . .

Red Sox 8, Royals 3: . . . this win. Chris Sale pitched eight and a third, striking out ten. Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon each drove in a pair, and recent callups Sam Travis and third baseman Deven Marrero drove in a run each.

Cardinals 8, Phillies 1: You don’t often see teams win extra innings game by seven runs, but the Cards did it. A pitcher’s duel between Mike Leake and Jeremy Hellickson had it at 1-1 at the end of regulation, but the Phillies bullpen — specifically, Edubray Ramos and Casey Fein — hemorrhaged runs in the 11th inning. Stephen Piscotty doubled in two and then Yadier Molina and Tommy Pham piled on with two-run homers.  Matt Carpenter‘s RBI double ended the carnage. Philly has lost 12 of its last 13 games.

Nationals 12, Marlins 3:  Stephen Drew had three hits and three RBI and Ryan Zimmerman drove in three runs with a double and a single as the Nats romped. In other news, Nats starter Gio Gonzalez had a friend sitting behind the dugout who got hit in the head with a bat, but go on and tell me that netting is a “creature of the nanny state,” my dude.

Rays 6, Reds 5: The Rays had a 6-2 lead at one point, but the Reds made it close with three-runs late thanks in large part to sloppy outfield play by the Rays. That sloppy play was by Corey Dickerson, covering center for the injured Kevin Kiermaier, so yeah. Dickerson had some karma to burn, though, as he singled in a run and homered earlier in the contest.

Pirates 7, Brewers 3: Pittsburgh jumped all over Zach Davies in the first inning with David Freese hitting a one-run single, Andrew McCutchen hitting a two-run single and Jose Ozuna hitting a three-run homer. Davis would say on to wear this one — seven runs on ten hits over five innings — but he was a dead man walking after that first inning. McCutchen would later add a homer, giving both him and Ozuna three RBI on the night.

Rangers 6, Blue Jays 1Pittsburgh Texas jumped all over Zach Davies Francisco Liriano in the first inning, with David Freese hitting a one-run single, Andrew McCutchen hitting a two-run single and Jose Ozuna hitting a three-run homer Adrian Beltre grounding in a run, Carlos Gomez hitting a solo homer and Jonathan Lucroy and Mike Napoli doubling in and singling in runs, respectively. Beltre And Nomar Mazara would later hit solo shots as Nick Martinez allowed only one run in six and a third.

Cubs 4, Padres 0: Anthony Rizzo was not hit by a pitch in retaliation for that controversial slide during his first at bat last night. I’m glad he wasn’t — plunking dudes is bad form — but the Padres may have been better off if they had hit him. Because as it was he led off the game with a homer, and that homer would prove to be the only run the Cubs would need. Rizzo now has three leadoff homers, which ties him for the NL lead. He has batted leadoff for only seven games. He is 6-for-6 with a walk to open the first inning. Starter Mike Montgomery allowed three hits and two walks in six innings, striking out four.

Twins 9, White Sox 7: Kennys Vargas and Miguel Sano each hit long homers — Vargas’ was ridiculous — as both teams beat the hell out of ineffective opposing starting pitchers in Ervin Santana and Derek Holland.

Rockies 4, Diamondbacks 3: Nolan Arenado hit a two-run triple off Zack Greinke in the eighth inning to help the Rockies rally past Arizona. Carlos Gonzalez homered and saved a run with a diving catch to help Colorado win its sixth straight. Something special is happening with this club.

Astros 8, Athletics 4: Anthony Rizzo may have a nice number of leadoff homers, but he’s got nothin’ on George Springer, who hit his eighth leadoff blast of the season in this one. That helped kick off a five run first. The A’s chipped away at that lead one run at a time, but Carlos Correa‘s two-run single in the eighth and Carlos Beltran‘s homer in the ninth put it away definitively.

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Indians 12, Orioles 0: Corey Kluber tossed a three-hit complete game shutout while striking out 11. He could’ve allowed 11 and still won this one, however, as Indians bats beat up on Dylan Bundy and Vidal Nuno. Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana homered and the Tribe rattled off 17 hits in all. The Orioles’ pitching has allowed five or more runs in 16 consecutive games, setting a new AL record. If they do this four more times they’ll catch the 1924 Phillies for the all-time record.

Marlins 8, Nationals 7: The Nats had a 6-0 lead after their hacks in the third innings but Tanner Roark coughed up six runs of his own in the bottom half, with four of them coming on a Justin Bour grand slam. Each team would score once more before the ninth, setting up Marcell Ozuna‘s walkoff single to end it. After the game, Don Mattingly provided all the commentary on the Nats that you need at the moment:

“These guys have been giving up runs late. You get into that bullpen, you never know what’s going to happen, but you know you have a chance to score some runs.”

That’s a far cry from the usual “they’re a tough bunch of guys over there and we’re happy to come away with a win” stuff. Thank you, Don Mattingly, for saving us from cliches.

Cubs 3, Padres 2: A couple of homers put the Padres up early but a Willson Contreras homer and then an outfield error which scored Javier Baez put the Cubs ahead in the seventh. The play everyone is talking about though was one in which Anthony Rizzo was thrown out at home, but not before barreling in to Padres catcher Austin Hedges, forcing Hedges out of the game with a bruised thigh.

The Cubs think the play was clean and the Padres thing it was dirty. If you watch the play, I think it’s pretty clear that Rizzo had a path to the plate he could’ve taken without slamming into Hedges but chose not to, making it a bad slide in my view. If you can even call it a slide. I mean, look at this:

And from another angle:

He had a country mile to his right which was a more correct patch to the plate but chose not to take it in an effort to knock the ball out of Hedges’ glove.

Rizzo said this after the game:

“It’s one of those plays where it’s very sensitive,” Rizzo said. “It’s a play where I’m out by two steps. If I slide, he runs into me.

“I’ve talked to a lot of umpires about this rule. It’s my understanding if they have the ball, it’s game on.”

That is not the rule. At all. The inquiry is whether the catcher is blocking the plate and whether the runner goes out of his way to initiate contact. Hedges was not blocking the plate, Rizzo went out of his way. It was a bad slide.

Reds 7, Rays 3: The Reds finally put an end to their losing skid, halting it at nine games. Scott Schebler and Scooter Gennett homered. Joey Votto had three hits including an RBI single in the eighth that put the Reds up for good.

Braves 9, Giants 0: R.A.Dickey threw seven scoreless innings and retired 13 Giants in a row at one point. It was only 2-0 when he left, but the Braves exploded for seven runs in the eighth to to give him all the insurance he’d need. Matt Adams homered. Since being picked up as an emergency replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman, Adams has hit .306/.361/.658 with ten homers in 28 games. The Braves have won three in a row. The Giants have lost seven straight.

Pirates 8, Brewers 1: Gerrit Cole allowed one run on three hits in seven innings as the Pirates win in one of many blowouts last night. Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run homer and added an RBI single. He’s hitting .377/.435/.705 in the month of June.

Blue Jays 7, Rangers 6: An ALDS rematch, except now both teams are under .500. Oh well, that doesn’t matter, it’s only the game at hand which counts. As for that, it started ugly with both team’s starters pitching lousy — the Jays blew an early 5-1 lead — and ended ugly for Texas with their closer, Matt Bush, blowing a one-run lead. RBI singles from Josh Donaldson and Kendrys Morales brought the Jays from behind and then ahead, respectively, in the top of the ninth.

Royals 4, Red Sox 2: Jason Hammel allowed two runs over seven innings of work and Whit Merrifield singled in a run to break a 2-2 tie in the seventh. The Royals, who many wrote off after a miserable April, have won eight of nine.

Mariners 6, Tigers 2: Mike Zunino hit a two-run homer to break a 2-2 tie in the sixth and homered again — another two-run shot — in the eighth. Zunino was sent down to the minors early in the season because he couldn’t hit his way out of a wet paper bag. Since being called back up on May 23 he’s hitting .338 with nine home runs and 28 RBI. That’s a tear.

Astros 4, Athletics 1: The Astros get homers from George Springer — his 20th — Jake Marisnick and Derek Fisher. Houston leads all of baseball with 112 homers. They also have the second fewest strikeouts in the game. That’s a pretty spiffy combination.

Dodgers 10, Mets 6: Rookie slugger Cody Bellinger continues his rampage through NL pitching, hitting two homers and driving in four while going 3-for-5. He’s the fastest to 20 homers — and now 21 homers — doing so in only 51 games. In those 51 games he’s hitting .269/.340/.658. He’s on a pace for 48 homers and 107 RBI and he didn’t even play his first game until April 25.