Phillies 9, Cardinals 2: Trading for Matt Holliday is all Wellemeyer and good, but you gotta pitch too. Despite their new bauble, the Cards drop two of three to the Phils, and find themselves knocked out of first place because . . .
Cubs 5, Reds 2: The Cubbies are on fire. I was a guest on WDWS radio in Champaign, Illinois last month, and host Brian Moline asked me how I liked the Cardinals chances. My answer boiled down to "with Albert, all things are possible." I noted, however, that at the time just about every single thing you can imagine had gone wrong for the Cubs yet (a) they were still only two games out and; (b) some things would stop going wrong for them eventually. That seems to have happened (or stopped happening depending on your point of view), and it's now a very real race. I'm going to be on WDWS again on Tuesday, and I suspect I will gloat a bit. I may even mention that I'm an Ohio State fan too, which should really make me popular in Cardinals/Illini country.
Yankees 7, A's 5: The Yankees are 9-1 out of the break. Sure, seven of those ten games have come against last place teams (Baltimore and Oakland) but they still count and there's something to be said about winning the ones you're supposed to. Apropos of nothing, I'm reading this box score as I watch the Tigers-White Sox game, and I'm realizing that, all year, I thought that Adam Kennedy was playing for the Tigers and Adam Everett was playing for the A's instead of the other way around. Not sure if that says more about those guys or me as a writer. Either way, I'm sure I could have gone with that misconception all season and never once had it really matter for bloggy purposes.
Orioles 6, Red Sox 2: Albert Einstein once said "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Red Sox and their use of John Smoltz. Smoltzie, who won't get too many cheers from me until he's back in Atlanta for his number retiring ceremony next summer, gave up another six runs on nine hits in five innings. As predicted, he's really becoming a difference maker in the AL East race.
Blue Jays 5, Rays 1: A bit of a letdown for the Rays after mounting an eight-run comeback in twelve innings on Saturday night. Which itself came a couple of days after getting blanked by Mark Buehrle. Maybe the Rays were just tired of talking to the media about big doings. Tampa Bay now has a series against the Yankees, a breather against the Royals, and then a short series against the Red Sox. Anytime is a good time, but now would be a particularly good time to make a move and get off the fringes and into the, well, whatever the opposite of "fringes" are of the AL East race. Is "fringes" a blanket metaphor? What the hell do you call the middle of a blanket?
Braves 10, Brewers 2: A day off for Chipper meant a rare start for Kelly Johnson, with Martin Prado sliding over to third. Johnson responded by going 3-4 with a double, a homer and two RBI. Though it makes sense that Prado has the job from here on out, I haven't yet given up on Kelly Johnson, and I believe that he can still be an important part of this nutritious breakfast. Atlanta is making up no ground on the Phillies these days because the Phillies don't fell much like losing anymore, but they're only 3.5 back in the wild card race, tied with an inferior Marlins team, and trailing the flailing Cards and Giants. The Rockies sit at the top of that heap, however, and since their turnaround this year seems to have been caused by one of these, they may be tough to catch.
Nationals 3, Padres 2: Without looking at official attendance, I'm going to wager that tens and tens of people watched this one. Probably fair to say that, overall records aside, the Padres are a worse team than the Nats are. Royals too, for that matter. And speaking of the Royals . . .
Rangers 7, Royals 2: You have to figure that the Royals are going to win the game when Sidney frickin' Ponson of all people throws six scoreless innings, but it wasn't to be. Another day, another bullpen implosion, another loss. Can't really blame Hillman for not sending out Soria this time as he threw two innings and 37 pitches on Saturday. You can blame Alberto Callaspo, however, who dropped a pop fly that would have ended the seventh inning with no runs scoring instead of the three that did, and Juan Cruz who got shellacked once again. What's with Cruz, anyway? After ending April with a 1.69 ERA, he threw up a 6.00 for May, a 6.97 for June, and an 8.22 so far in July. I'm no mathematician, but I think that puts him on pace to, um [carry the two . . .] be really, really awful for August and September.
Mets 8, Astros 3: Ponson and Livan Hernandez (7 IP, 8 H, 3 ER) each pitched well yesterday. In other news, I started to dig a bunker in the backyard. You can never be too careful with sings and portents and whatnot.
Rockies 4, Giants 2: As mentioned in the Braves recap, the Giants are in near free fall and the Rockies are bulletproof. Colorado now goes on the road for ten games. In years past I'd say something like "now's the time when the competition can make their move," but this Rockies team isn't like the Rockies teams of old. They have 54 wins this year. 27 of them came at home. 27 have come on the road.
Twins 10, Angels 1: Justin Morneau now leads the AL in both homers and RBI. If he keeps that up, he may very well lead all of baseball in the category of most undeserved MVP awards, lifetime. Though to be fair to him, if the music stopped right now, a 2009 MVP award would be less egregious than his 2006 award and his second place finish in 2008. He's having a good season. If either he or Mauer are gonna get voter love, though, the Twins have to do better than this, as they're just 4-6 since the break.
Marlins 8, Dodgers 6: Jason Schmidt pitches again, is bad again, but this time he doesn't dodge the bullets he did against the Reds on Monday. Will he get another start? If he does, this business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it.
Indians 12, Mariners 3: Break up the Tribe! They sweep a good Mariners team and are riding a four game winning streak. And they really bombed out the Ms, outscoring them 31-6 in the three game series. The Mariners fall to 7.5 games back of the Angels and 6.5 back in the wild card race. Which sucks, but may make it easier for Jack Zduriencik to do some deals that need doing rather than go through the motions of being in a playoff race.
White Sox 5, Tigers 1: This one was over quick, as Rick Porcello pitched the first inning like he was 20 years-old or somethin': nibbling, worrying about the runners too much, then making a mental error on defense when he didn't cover first like he should have, then giving up a howitzer shot to Paul Konerko. Down 4-0 before even getting to bat, The Tigers couldn't muster much of anything against Clayton Richard (8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER). Not even Adam EVERETT could get a hit. Still a good weekend for Detroit, which beat back the Sox, taking three of four as soon as they got really close at the end of last week.
Diamondbacks 9, Pirates 0: I wonder if pitchers watched Mark Buehrle throw that perfecto the other day and thought "hey, why don't I work quickly, trust my stuff, and throw strikes more often?" Max Scherzer may have, because he was down to bidness yesterday, throwing 85 of his 109 pitches for strikes, didn't walk anyone, which is rare for him, and reached a three-ball count only twice. Gerardo Parra finished a triple short of the cycle. Story of my life, man.