Settling the Score: Saturday’s results

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Cole Hamels was the shining star of Saturday’s slate, but there’s a ton of coverage of his feat already posted here. Let’s talk about the Cardinals, who have the best record in Major League Baseball at 63-34, the best run differential in baseball at +108, and the longest current winning streak now at five games.

23-year-old right-hander Carlos Martinez was again excellent Saturday at Busch Stadium, hurling eight innings of scoreless ball against the Braves in a 1-0 victory. He narrowly out-dueled former teammate Shelby Miller, who was charged with the game’s only run when Stephen Piscotty hit a go-ahead RBI sac fly off reliever Luis Avilan in the bottom of the eighth. It was Piscotty’s first major league RBI.

St. Louis will try to sweep Atlanta on Sunday afternoon behind 24-year-old righty Michael Wacha.

That rough series in Pittsburgh just before the All-Star break already seems like a distant memory. The Cardinals dropped three of four and their once-massive lead in the National League Central standings had shrunk to 2 1/2 games. As it stands currently, that lead is back up to seven games.

Your box scores and AP recaps from Saturday …

Tigers 5, Red Sox 1

Phillies 5, Cubs 0

Athletics 1, Giants 2

Blue Jays 8, Mariners 6

Orioles 5, Rays 1

Nationals 9, Pirates 3

White Sox 10, Indians 3

Astros 1, Royals 2 (10 innings)

Yankees 8, Twins 5

Dodgers 2, Mets 15

Braves 0, Cardinals 1

Reds 5, Rockies 2

Brewers 0, Diamondbacks 2

Marlins 1, Padres 3

Rangers 7, Angels 6

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.