So, Jeremy Guthrie was July’s top pitching acquisition

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So far among AL starters anyway.

Jeremy Guthrie couldn’t solve Coors Field, but he appears to have found his comfort zone in Kansas City. The veteran right-hander backed up his eight shutout-inning performance against the White Sox last week with seven more scoreless innings Tuesday in a victory over the A’s.

Guthrie allowed just three hits and struck out eight tonight. He lost his first three starts as a member of the Royals, but he’s now sporting a 4.02 ERA and a 26/7 K/BB ratio in 31 1/3 innings for the club. That puts him ahead of July’s more hyped American League pitching imports:

Zack Greinke (LAA) – 1-1 with a 5.54 ERA in four starts
Ryan Dempster (Tex) – 1-1 with an 8.31 ERA in three starts
Francisco Liriano (ChW) – 0-0 with a 5.65 ERA in three starts
Anibal Sanchez (Det) – 1-3 with a 7.97 ERA in four starts

And all Guthrie cost the Royals was a soon-to-be released Jonathan Sanchez.

Given that Guthrie is eligible for free agency at season’s end, one wonders if the Royals will try offering him an extension before much longer. He was perfectly solid for the Orioles before washing out in Coors Field, so it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to offer him $12 million for two years and see if he bites.

Video: Starling Marte refuses to take first base after being hit by pitch

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Pirates outfielder Starling Marte was hit on the hand by a Jack Flaherty pitch in the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Cardinals. Rather than take first base, Marte — who came to the plate with a runner on first base — insisted to home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman that the ball hit the knob of the bat, not his hand. Marte was allowed to continue his at-bat, though manager Clint Hurdle came out to discuss the ruling with Dreckman. Marte eventually grounded into a fielder’s choice. He then got caught attempting to steal second base and the Pirates scored zero runs in the inning.

According to Baseball Prospectus, a team that has runners on first and second with no outs is expected to score 1.55 runs. Having a runner on first base with one out yields 0.56 expected runs. Marte essentially cost his team a run by rejecting first base. Oops.