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Reds break up Cardinals’ no-hit bid in eighth inning

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Update (9:30 PM ET): Jordan Hicks relieved Poncedeleon to start the bottom of the eighth inning. He got Adam Duvall to pop up, but Phillip Ervin then ripped a line drive single up the middle to break up the no-hit bid.

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Cardinals starter Daniel Poncedeleon made his major league debut on Monday night against the Reds in Cincinnati. He’s pitched quite well, holding the Reds hitless through seven innings. The right-hander has walked three and struck out three on 116 pitches. The high pitch count makes it highly unlikely Poncedeleon will be allowed to finish his no-hit bid.

The Cards’ offense gave Poncedeleon a run of support in the top of the sixth thanks to an RBI single by Yadier Molina. Reds starter Luis Castillo has otherwise pitched quite well himself.

At Triple-A Memphis, Poncedeleon posted a 2.15 ERA with 103 strikeouts and 48 walks in 92 innings. He was selected by the Cardinals in the ninth round of the 2014 draft. MLB Pipeline rated him as the No. 30 prospect in the Cardinals’ system.

A Cardinals pitcher hasn’t thrown a no-hitter since Bud Smith held the Padres hitless on September 3, 2001. The Reds were last no-hit on April 21, 2016 by Jake Arrieta, then with the Cubs. This season has seen three no-nos from James Paxton and Sean Manaea, as well as a combined no-hitter by four Dodger pitchers — Walker Buehler, Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia, and Adam Liberatore.

We’ll keep you updated as Poncedeleon and likely the bullpen attempt to navigate the final two innings. I usually use the phrase “navigate the final X innings” when I write these no-hit bid updates, but this time it certainly feels right. Juan Ponce de León was an explorer for Spain who lived between 1474-1521.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.