Tuesday, July 31, 2018

James Paxton Shuts Down Houston In Seattle's 2-0 Win; Eric Thames Leads Brewers Past Dodgers

Players of the Day for Monday, July 30, 2018

American League

Paxton: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER
James Paxton tossed seven innings of shutout ball and Nelson Cruz doubled in two sixth-inning runs for a 2-0 win in the opener of a three-game series between the Astros and Mariners in Seattle.

Paxton (9-4) allowed three hits and no walks, fanning eight, needing only 82 pitches to stymie the first place Astros. Alex Colome worked the eighth, giving way to Edwin Diaz, who picked up his 40th save of the year. Diaz leads the majors in saves.

Seattle's win moved them to within three games of Houston in the AL West. The Astros have lost five straight.

Game two begins Tuesday, at 7:10 pm PDT.

National League

Thames: 3-run homer
In Los Angeles, the Brewers opened a key four-game series against the Dodgers with a 5-2 victory, creeping to within one game of the idle Cobs in the NL Central division.

Eric Thames provided the winning edge, socking a three-run homer in the third inning. Five Milwaukee pitchers held the Dodgers at bay for the duration of the contest, allowing just five hits.

Thames, who missed nearly a month and a half between April and June, has 14 homers and 32 RBI.

The loss left the Dodgers a mere 1/2-game ahead of Arizona in the hotly-contested NL West. The Rockies are one game back.

Directly out of the all star break, the Dodgers took two of three from the Brewers in Milwaukee.

Game two is slated for a 7:10 pm PDT start on Tuesday.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Sean Newcomb Just Misses No-Hitter In Atlanta Win; Baltimore Sweeps White Sox As Chris Davis Homers Twice

Davis: 2 HR, 4 RBI
Players of the Day for Sunday, July 29, 2018

American League

Baltimore completed their sweep of the White Sox at Camden Yards with an 11-5 victory Sunday.

Chris Davis got the rout started with a two-run homer in the first inning and capped off Baltimore's scoring with another two-run belt in the eighth.

Davis, like many of the Oriole position players, has struggled this season. His two homers were just numbers 12 and 13. Davis, who mashed 47 home runs in 2015, has struck out 120 times in 325 at-bats and is batting .159.

The Orioles have Monday off and start a series with the Yankees in New York on Tuesday.

National League

Newcomb just misses
Atlanta's Sean Newcomb had a no-hit bid foiled with two outs in the ninth inning by Chris Taylor, who stroked a clean single to left off a 2-2 count, Newcomb's 134th pitch.

With the score 4-0 in favor of the Braves, Newcomb was relieved by Dan Winkler, who promptly gave up a single to Manny Machado, scoring Taylor, who had reached second on defensive indifference. Winkler did get Matt Kemp for the final out, and even though Newcomb did not reach the record books, his effort was spectacular, resulting in a 4-1 Atlanta victory.

The Atlanta lefty was perfect though five innings, allowing just one walk, that to Yasiel Puig, leading off the sixth. Although he only had first-pitch strikes on nine of the 28 batters he faced, Puig's walk was the only one, and Newcomb fanned eight, improving to 10-5 on the season, with a 3.23 ERA.

In his first full season as a starter, Newcomb has improved vastly from the 4-9, 4.32 ERA he posted in 100 innings in 2017.

Atlanta's win pushed them to within 1 1/2 games of the lead in the NL East, as Philadelphia dropped a 4-0 decision at Cincinnati. The Dodgers had taken the first three of the four-game series in Atlanta, and still leads the NL West by 1/2 game over Arizona.

Atlanta opens a three-game series with the Marlins on Monday, while the Dodgers return home to face the Brewers.

Marcell Ozuna's Grand Slam Lifts Cardinals Over Cubs; Joey Rickard Drives In 5 As Orioles Dump Rays

Players of the Day for Saturday, July 28, 2018

American League
Rickard: 3-4, HR, 5 RBI

The Orioles seem to be recovering from the trauma suffered by trading Manny Machado to the LA Dodgers.

Dropping four straight coming out of the all star break and the transfer of Machado to the West coast, Baltimore has taken three of the last four and two straight over the retooling Rays.

Baltimore's 11-2 victory over Tampa Bay was spearheaded by Joey Rickard, who doubled twice and socked a solo home run, driving in five runs, scoring three.

Rickard, who figures to be getting some more playing time in Baltimore's reshuffled lineup, mashed his sixth homer of the season in the third inning, cleared the bases with a fourth-inning double and ripped another RBI double in the sixth.

Still holding the distinction of having the worst record in the majors, the Orioles will be eyeing a sweep of the Rays Sunday at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Game time is 1:05 pm EDT.

National League
Ozuna: Grand Slam

Marcell Ozuna's first inning grand slam propelled St. Louis to a 6-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.

Ozuna's blast came off Chicago starter, Jose Quintana, who lasted just three innings after giving up all six Cardinal runs in the opening frame.

The home run was Ozuna's 11th of the year and the four RBI upped his total for the season to 55. The 27-year-old's numbers are well short of last season's total when Ozuna batted .312 with 37 homers and 124 RBI for Miami.

Exiting the all star break by losing five of eight, the Cardinals have taken two straight from the Cubs and reduced the Chicago lead in the NL Central to just 1/2 game over Milwaukee. Pittsburgh is in third place, seven games out. The Cardinals, follow, eight games off the pace.

St Louis will be seeking a sweep of the three-game series when the teams take the field Sunday, at 8:00 pm ET. The contest is the ESPN national broadcast of Sunday Night Baseball.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Adam Jones Powers Orioles to 15-5 Win Over Rays; Max Scherzer Overpowers Marlins in 9-1 Washington Victory

Players of the Day for Friday, July 27, 2018

American League
Adam Jones

As the July 31 trade deadline approaches, there are still plenty of rumors afoot concerning players who may or may not be on the move.

One whom has stoked a significant amount of speculation is Baltimore's Adam Jones, especially since teammate Manny Machado was sent to the Dodgers a week ago, prompting the idea that the Orioles could be in the midst of a major restructuring.

Making sure that scouts and general managers fully appreciate his value, Jones sent a message in Baltimore's 15-5 romp over the visiting Rays on Friday, going 3-for-5 with two singles, a three-run home run and four RBI.

Jones, 32, has 11 homers and 42 RBI this season. Though the numbers are not impressive in and of themselves, they are fair, considering Baltimore's MLB-worst record of 30-74. Jones is currently on a seven-game hitting streak in which he has driven in nine runs, although the Orioles have not benefitted much in the way of wins during the stretch.

The Rays will try to even the series when the two tangle again at Camden Yards, Saturday, at 7:05 pm EDT.

Max Scherzer
National League

If the Washington Nationals are going to make a second-half run at the NL East pennant, they'll need starting pitcher, Max Scherzer, to be on his best game.

The two-time Cy Young award winner (2016, 2017) gave every indication that he'll be solid down the stretch as he notched his league-leading 14th win with a stellar performance in a 9-1 Washington win at Miami.

Scherzer went eight innings, allowing three hits and one walk while fanning 11. The sole run scored by Miami was unearned, in the seventh inning.

Not only is Scherzer leading the NL in wins, he's leading the NL with 200 strikeouts and is second in ERA, at 2.30.

Barring injury, Max is almost certainly going to lead the National League in strikeouts. Jacob DeGrom has the second-most, with 159.

The Nationals ended the evening six games out of first place in the division as the Phillies and Braves (2 1/2 off the pace) both lost.

Washington will be looking for their fourth straight win when they take the field against the Marlins, Saturday, at 7:05 pm EDT.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Kyle Gibson Stops Red Sox In Minnesota Win; Hoskins, Franco, Williams 2 HR Each As Phillies Top Reds.

Players of the Day for Thursday, July 26, 2018

American League

As it turns out, the Boston Red Sox are human.

Kyle Gibson proved as much, limiting the BoSox to four hits and one run over eight innings in a 2-1 Minnesota win at Fenway Park.

Even with the loss, Boston holds the best record in the majors, at 71-33. They lead the Yankees by 4 1/2 games in the AL East.

National League

Nick Williams, Maikel Franco and Rhys Hoskins each homered twice as the Phillies won their third straight, downing the Reds, 7-3, in Cincinnati.

Carlos Santana started the seven home run barrage with a two-run belt in the first. All of the other homers were solo shots.

The win added to the Phillies' lead to 2 1/2 games in the NL East as Atlanta lost to the Dodgers, 8-2.

Hoskins' homers were his 19th and 20th and upped his RBI total to 67. Franco has 17 homers on the year, Williams, 14.

Game two of the four-game series is slated for a 7:10 pm EDT start on Friday.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Charlie Blackmon Walks Off Astros In Rockies' Win; Khris Davis Powers A's To 5th Straight

Players of the Day for Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Davis: 2 HR, 5 RBI
American League

The Oakland A's won their fifth straight game, with a 6-5, come-from-behind win at Texas.

It was the second straight game the A's have rallied for a win. On Tuesday, Oakland came back from a 10-2 deficit for a 13-10 win in 11 innings.

Khris Davis was almost single-handedly responsible for Wednesday's win, socking a three-run home run in the seventh after the A's trailed, 5-1. In the ninth, Davis launched a two-run shot for a 6-5 A's advantage. Oakland's Blake Treinen struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth for his 26th save.

Davis, who has 27 homers and 77 RBI, has been on a tear, whacking six long balls and driving in 13 runs in the last four games, homering in each. He's fourth in the AL in home runs and second in RBI.

The A's wrap up their series in Texas Thursday at 8:05 pm EDT.

National League

Blackmon: walk-off homer
Charlie Blackmon smacked a one-out solo homer with one out in the bottom of the ninth to walk off a winner in Colorado's 3-2 win over the visiting Astros.

Blackmon, batting out of his customary leadoff spot, had walked twice but was left stranded as Houston's Charlie Morton and the Rockies' Jon Gray engaged in a fierce pitching duel. Morton allowed one run on four hits over six innings, while Gray allowed one hit and one earned run in seven innings of work.

Blackmon's homer was his 20th of the season, and the win left the Rockies in third place, just 1 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. Arizona holds second, 1/2 game behind LA.

Houston, despite the loss, still leads Seattle by five games in the AL West.

The teams split the two-game series, Houston taking Tuesday's game by an 8-2 score. Both teams have Friday off and open weekend series at their respective homes. Houston will host Texas while the Rockies welcome the red-hot Oakland A's in for a three-game series in Denver.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte Lead Pirates To 11th Straight; Masahiro Tanaka Goes Distance For Yankees, Shuts Out Rays

Players of the Day for Tuesday, July 24, 2018

American League
Tanaka: CG, 3H, OER, 9K

The Yankees haven't exactly been a model of consistency of late, going 6-6 in their last 12 games, but they got a needed boost from Masahiro Tanaka, who blanked the Rays in Tampa for a 4-0 New York victory.

Making his first start since July 15, Tanaka twirled a three-hit, nine-strikeout gem against the Yankees' AL East nemesis. The 29-year-old right-hander issued just one walk and threw 74 of 105 pitches for strikes, improving to 8-2 on the year.

Tanaka had been on the DL for nearly a month in June and early July. The win was his first decision since a June 2nd win at Baltimore.

The Yankees picked up a game on the Red Sox, 7-6 losers at Baltimore.

The Rays and Yankees wrap up their three-game series Wednesday at 12:10 pm EDT at Tropicana Field in Tampa.

National League

Marte: 2-for-5, HR, 3 RBI
With their 9-2 win at Cleveland, the Pittsburgh Pirates have reeled off 11 straight and are suddenly back in the thick of the Central division and wild card races in the National League.

Corey Dickerson and Starling Marte accounted for the bulk of the scoring as the Pirates struck early and often against Cleveland starter, Shane Bieber, who was rocked for seven runs and didn't make it out of the second inning.

Dickerson led off the game with a double and scored on Marte's 16th home run. In the second, Dickerson tripled tripled in two more runs and scored as Marte beat out an infield single. Marte scored when Gregory Polanco launched his 18th homer out to right field, putting the Pirates up, 7-1 and sending Bieber to the showers.

Dickerson: 2B, 3B, 2RBI
Dickerson, who has been especially on fire lately, is batting an even .400 in July (28-for-70) with 17 runs, six homers and 12 RBI. His surge to a .318 batting average has him tied with Freddie Freeman, .001 behind league-leader, Nick Markakis (.319).

Marte is batting .292 with 16 homers and 54 RBI. In his last 15 games, the center fielder is 24-for-63 (.381) with seven hoe runs and 17 RBI.

Pittsburgh is three games behind Arizona and Atlanta for the second spot in the wide-open NL will card race. They trail the Cubs by six games in the Central division.

On Wednesday, Pittsburgh will be looking for its third consecutive series sweep when they settle up with the Indians, at 1:10 pm EDT. The Pirates took five straight over Milwaukee leading into the all star break and then won three in a row in Cincinnati. Their winning streak began with a win over the Nationals.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Daniel Poncedeleon Tosses Seven Hitless In St. Louis Debut; A's Rout Texas, 15-3, Matt Champan Homers, Drives in 4

Players of the Day for Monday, July 23, 2018

American League
Chapman: 3-5, HR, 4RBI

Johnathan Lucroy mashed a second-inninggrand slam and three other A's homered as Oakland routed the Rangers in Arlington, Texas, 15-3.

One of the home run hitters was third baseman, Matt Chapman, who chipped in with a three-run shot in the seventh and went 3-for-5 with four RBI. He singled in the second, prior to Lucroy's slam, and singled home the A's final run in the eighth.

Chapman's home run was his 11th, and the four RBI upped this season's total to 34.

The A's have been one of the more pleasant surprises in the American League. Their 58-43 record has them in third place in the AL West, 7 1/2 behind the division-leading Astros, but just 2 1/2 behind Seattle for the second wild card spot. The A's have won three straight and 24 of their last 31.

Game two of their four-game series in Texas is scheduled for an 8:05 pm EDT start on Tuesday.

Poncedeleon: 7IP, 0H, 3K
National League

Sometimes, great efforts are wasted.

That was certainly the case for Cardinal pitcher, Daniel Poncedeleon, who was making his major league debut against the Reds in Cincinnati.

As first starts are concerned, this one was spectacular, as Poncedeleon worked out a no-hitter over seven complete innings before being pulled with a pitch count of 116, fanning three and walking three.

Two innings later, the rookie hurler's stunning performance was all but forgotten when St. Louis reliever Bud Norris, after getting two outs in the bottom of the ninth, could not complete the job, giving up a game-tying home run to Eugenio Saurez, guaranteeing that Poncedeleon could not get the win.

After that, Norris completely folded, giving up two singles and a walk to load the bases for pinch-hitter Dilson Herrera, who finished the game with a single to center, plating the go-ahead run in a 2-1 Cincinnati win.

14 months ago, the 26-year-old Poncedeleon was hit on the right temple by a line drive while pitching for Triple-A Memphis, fracturing his skull and causing bleeding in the brain. He had emergency surgery followed by months of slow recovery. His no-hit debut was a tribute to hard work, perseverance, and commitment.

When he returns to the mound in five days or so, his record will still be 0-0, his ERA 0.00, and his confidence, hopefully, unshaken.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Pirates Win 9th Straight Behind Corey Dickerson's 4-for-5; Ryon Healy Belts 2 3-Run Homers In Seattle Win

Players of the Day for Sunday, July 22, 2018

American League
Healy: 2 HR, 6 RBI

Seattle took two of three from the visiting White Sox, the series ending with Sunday's 8-2 victory.

Ryan Healy socked a pair of three-run homers to lead the way for the Mariners. Healy's first blast capped a five-run first inning; his second shot (#20) came in the eighth, turning a 5-2 Mariner lead into a laugher.

Healy is batting .244 and has driven in 53 runs this season, helping the Mariners to second place in the AL West, five games behind the Houston Astros.

Seattle will have a day off Monday, prior to a two-game meeting with the incoming Giants. Game time is 7:10 pm PDT.

National League

Corey Dickerson may be one of the better-kept secrets in the majors, but after his 4-for-5 game in a 9-2 Pittsburgh win at Cincinnati the story of the Pirates' leadoff hitter may be leaking out.

Dickerson scored the first run of the rout in the opening frame, doubling on an 0-2 pitch and scoring on Gregory Polanco's two-run homer.
Dickerson: 4-5, HR, 3R, 2RBI

Pittsburgh put up four in the second, highlighted by Dickerson's two-run homer, making the score 5-0.

In the fourth, Dickerson singled and scored. He singled again in the sixth before flying out in the eighth, finishing up the game with a homer, double, two singles, three runs, and two RBI.

Batting a solid .315 (5th in the NL), Dickerson has 107 hits, scored 47 runs and is batting .391 in July, hitting safely in 13 of 16 games this month, including eight multiple-hit games.

Consequently, the Pirates have won nine straight and 11 of their last 12, sweeping five from Milwaukee and three in a row in Cincinnati. Their Sunday jaunt earned them third place in the NL Central, eight games behind division leader, the Chicago Cubs.

The Pirates will try to extend their winning streak when they open a three-game series in Cleveland, Monday, 7:10 pm EDT.

Keon Broxton Lifts Brewers Over Dodgers; Dylan Covey Blanks Mariners In White Sox Win

Players of the Day for Saturday, July 21, 2018
Dylan Covey

American League

Dylan Covey blanked the Mariners for 8 1/3 innings; Joakim Soria got the final two batters in the ninth to finish off a 5-0 White Sox whitewash in Seattle.

Striking out five in his outing against the Mariners, Covey threw 105 pitches, allowing two hits and two walks, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Dee Gordon's single with one out in the sixth broke up the no-hit bid, but Seattle failed to break through.

Covey, 26, took some great strides forward in his brief major league career. Last season, he was 0-7, with a 7.71 ERA. This year, in 12 starts, he's 4-5 with a 4.95 ERA.

The win was just the 15th road victory for Chicago, while the Mariners saw their hold on the second wild card spot slipping away with the loss. Oakland topped San Francisco, 5-4, in 11 innings, and are just three games behind Seattle.

The series wraps up Sunday at 4:10 pm EDT.

National League

Keon Broxton
Both the NL West and Central division races became more compressed on Saturday, as the Rockies took over second place in the West from the Diamondbacks with a 6-5 win at Arizona, while the Dodgers dropped a 4-2 decision at Milwaukee.

Those results left the Dodgers with a one-game lead over Colorado with Arizona another 1/2-game back.

In the Central, Milwaukee's win left them 2 1/2 behind the Cubs, as the Brewers snapped a seven-game losing streak.

Milwaukee's win was courtesy of outfielder Keon Broxton, who has played in just 20 games this season.

Facing Claton Kershaw, Broxton, 28, got the Brewers on the board in the second inning with a ground out that scored Ryan Braun from third, then put Milwaukee ahead by two in the sixth with a triple to right center that plated Manny Pina and sent Kershaw to the showers.

Milwaukee hosts the Dodgers in the rubber game of their three game series, Sunday at 2:10 pm EDT.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Matt Carpenter's 5 Extra Base Hits Lead Cardinals Past Cubs; Wade LeBlanc Hurls Mariners Over White Sox

Players of the Day for Friday, July 20, 2018

LeBlanc: 7.1 IP, 1 ER, 10 K
American League

Seattle snapped a four-game losing streak that they took into the all star break with a 3-1 victory over the White Sox as starter Wade LeBlanc (6-1) worked into the eighth inning.

LeBlanc, a long reliever and spot starter, allowed just four hits and one run over 7 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out 10 would-be Chicago hitters. He needed just 84 pitches for the effort.

After allowing a run on two first-inning doubles, LeBlanc settled down, giving up only two more hits, setting down 11 straight before Omar Narvaez's single in the eighth prompted a call to the bullpen.

The Mariners kept pace with Houston in the AL West, trailing the division leaders by five games as the Astros took a 3-1 decision over the Angels.

Seattle hosts Chicago in game two of their three-game series, Saturday, 7:10 pm PDT.

National League
Carpenter ties record.

Matt Carpenter tied a major league record for most extra base hits in a game, going 5-for-5 with three home runs and a pair of doubles, propelling the St. Louis Cardinals to an 18-5 slaughter of the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Batting in the leadoff spot, Carpenter victimized Cubs' starter, Jon Lester (12-3), with a leadoff homer and a two-run, second-inning blast as the Cardinals built a 5-1 lead. Lester lasted into the fourth inning, allowing a leadoff double by Carpenter, and two walks, leaving the bases loaded for Anthony Bass. St. Louis eventually sent 11 batters to the plate in the frame, including Carpenter again, who doubled in one of the seven Cardinal runs scored in the inning.

Carpenter completed his record-setting spree with a three-run homer in the sixth, driving in seven runs, scoring four times. The record of five extra base hits in a game is held by 14 different players.

St. Louis and Chicago face each other again on Saturday (1:05 pm EDT) in game three of their five -game series.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Cubs Stay Hot through Break, Shuffle Cards, 9-6, Behind Jason Heyward

Players of the Day for Thursday, July 19, 2018

National League

Heyward: 3-5, 2RBI, SB
Leading into the all star break, the Milwaukee Brewers lost six straight while the Cubs won four of six - including their last three straight - and took over the lead in the NL Central.

As play resumed following the mid-summer classic, the Cubs continued their surge with a 9-6 victory over the visiting Cardinals in the first of a five-game series.

Jason Heyward stroked three singles in five at-bats, drove in a pair of runs, stole a base and scored twice, helping the Cubs out-slug the struggling Cardinals, losers of four of their last five.

St. Louis is just a game over .500 (48-47) and has fallen 8 1/2 games off the pace being set by Chicago in the division. Manager Mike Matheny was fired last week, replaced by bench coach, Mike Shildt, who will run the team on an interim basis.

The Cards and Cubs renew their rivalry in game two, Friday, 2:20 pm EDT.

American League

There were no American League games Thursday. A full slate of games is scheduled for Friday, following the AL's 8-6, 10-inning victory over the National League in Tuesday's all star game.

It was the sixth straight win for the American League, the game featuring all but one run delivered by home runs, 10 in all, including solo shots by Houston teammates Alex Bregman and George Springer in the top of the 10th inning.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Walk-Offs To All Star Game: Trevor Story Completes Rockies' Sweep; Twins' Brian Dozier Slams In 10th

Players of the Day for Sunday, July 15, 2018

American League

Dozier: Walk-off Slam
Brian Dozier is known around the league as a dangerous hitter in the clutch and he proved to be just that when he came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth inning Sunday against the visiting Rays.

Dozier took a one out, 1-1 offering from Tampa's Matt Andriese - the Rays' ninth pitcher of the game - and deposited it in the seats beyond the left field wall of Target Field for an 11-7 victory. His grand slam was his 16th home run of the season and sent Minnesota into the second half in a good way, winners off nine of their last eleven and three of four over the Rays.

Dozier and the Twins underperformed through June, but they seem to have awakened in July. Dozier has especially improved, raising his average from .181 at the end of June to .292 at the all star break.

He's hit safely in 12 of 15 games with five homers and 17 RBI.

The 44-50 Twins are in second place in the AL Central, 7 1/2 games behind Cleveland.

National League

Story: Walk-off Homer
In the National League, there's no doubt which division is the tightest.

It's the NL West, where the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Giants are all within four games of each other. The Dodgers take a 1/2-game lead into the break with their 5-3 win over the Angels, but, in Colorado, Trevor Story had a significant send-off as he belted a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 win over Seattle and a sweep of the Mariners in their three-game series.

Story's shot was his 20th of the year, his 68th RBI tying him with teammate Nolan Arenado for fourth in the league.

Colorado heads into the second half on a five-game win streak and winners of 13 of their last 16. They are in third place, two games behind the Dodgers, with a 51-45 record.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Cubs Rip Padres Behind Javier Baez's 5 RBI; Jake Bauers Powers Tampa Bay's 19-6 Rout Of Twins

Players of the Day for Saturday, July 14, 2018

American League
Bauers: rookie on a tear

Chasing both the Red Sox and Yankees in the LA East, Tampa Bay hopes the momentum they've built up to close out the first half carries over to the remainder of the season.

The Rays pounded out 20 hits and scored in bunches to down the Twins, 19-6, Saturday, notching its sixth win in the last eight games.

Tampa scored four runs in the fourth inning and five in each of the seventh, eighth, and ninth.

Contributing in a major way was first baseman Jake Bauers, who drove in four runs with a double and home run in five at-bats, scoring four runs, one in each of the innings in which the Rays scored.

Called up in early June, Bauers has shown rapid improvement, especially in recent games. In his last seven games, Bauers has gone 11-for-28 (.393), with three homers, nine RBI, and 11 runs.

The Rays and Twins finish off the first half in the series finale, Sunday at 2:10 pm EDT in Minnesota.

National League

Baez: 71 RBI leads NL
While the Milwaukee Brewers were losing five straight and six of their last seven, the Chicago Cubs took advantage of the situation and took over first place in the NL Central, winning five of their last seven and going 11-3 since June 28.

Saturday's 11-6 triumph at San Diego left the Cubs with a 1 1/2 game lead in the division.

Led by second baseman Javier Baez, the Cubs took their second straight over the Padres and appear headed in the right direction as the all star break approaches.

Baez ripped a double in the fifth inning to increase Chicago's lead to 5-2. His three-run homer in the ninth - his 19th of the season - put the game completely out of reach.

Baez, who at 25 is already playing his fifth season in the majors, is emerging as one of the brightest young stars in either league. After batting .273 with 23 home runs and 75 RBI in 2017, Baez is approaching those numbers through just more than half of 2018, batting .293 with 19 dingers and 71 RBI. His RBI total has him tied with Cincinnati's Eugenio Suarez for the league lead.

Baez and his fellow Cubs will be looking to end the first half with a sweep of the Padres when they take the field in San Diego, Sunday, at 1:10 pm PDT.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Jake Arrieta Blanks Marlins, Phillies Extend Lead; Blue Jays Stop Boston Streak, Kevin Pillar 4-for-5

Players of the Day for Friday, July 13, 2018

Pillar: 4-5, 2 2B, 4 RBI
American League

Winners of nine straight, there seemed to be no way to stop the Red Sox.

Toronto figured it out on Friday, outscoring Boston, 13-7, in game two of their three game series at Fenway Park.

Justin Smoak stroked a pair of homers and Kevin Pillar piled up four hits in five at bats with two singles and a pair of doubles, driving in four runs as the Blue Jays rocked Rick Porcello and five Boston relievers for 14 hits.

Pillar broke out of a 4-for-31 slump with his best game of the season.

The win left Boston with a 3 1/2 game lead in the AL East, as the Yankees dropped a 6-5 decision in Cleveland.

Game two is scheduled for Saturday, at 1:05 pm EDT.

National League
Arrieta: 7 scoreless

Jake Arrieta tossed seven scoreless innings as the Philadelphia Phillies opened their three-game series in Miami with a 2-0 victory.

Combined with Atlanta's 2-1 loss to Arizona, the win put the Phillies 1 1/2 games on top in the NL East with just two games remaining before the annual all star break.

Arrieta (7-6) allowed three hits, three walks and struck out three. Relievers Victor Araon and Pat Neschek each pitched perfect frames in the eighth and ninth. Neshek lodges his first save of the year.

The Phillies have been on fire the past three weeks. Starting with a 3-0 win over the Yankees on June 27, they're 12-4, and have surged past the Braves into first place in their division.

Miami hosts the Phillies for game two of the series, Saturday, 4:10 pm EDT.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Albert Pujols Ties Griff As Angels Down Mariners; Jose Alfaro Leads Phillies Past O's

Players of the Day for Thursday, July 12, 2018

American League
Pujols: 630 HRs

Albert Pujols socked two home runs to tie Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth place on the career list with 630 lifetime as the Angels whacked the Mariners, 11-2, as the teams wrapped up a three-game series in Los Angeles.

Taking two of three at home, the Angels continue to hover just above .500 (48-46), but trail the first place Astros in the West by 13 games. Seattle suffered a setback by losing two of the three games, and trail Houston by three games.

Pujols started with a two-run homer in the first inning, putting the Angels up, 3-1. His sixth-inning solo shot boosted the Angels lead to 9-1.

A nine-time all star and three time winner of the N MVP award (2005, 2008, 2009), Pujols is still raking, with 16 home runs and 52 RBI this season. Lifetime, he has a .303 batting average and has 1970 RBI (seventh, all-time).

On Friday, the Mariners start a series against the Rockies in Denver. The Angels head across town for a three-game series with the Dodgers.

National League
Alfaro: 3-4, 2B, HR, 3RBI

With a 5-4 win at Baltimore, the Phillies took a 1/2 game lead over the idle Braves in the NL East.

Philadelphia took all four games in their season series with the Orioles, not surprising, since the O's are baseball's worst team, with a 26-68 record.

Catcher Jorge Alfaro provided key hits for the Phils. He singled and scored the first Philadelphia run in the opening inning, doubled in two runs in the fifth and smacked a solo homer in the sixth for a 5-0 lead.

The Phillies' relief staff nearly gave the game away, allowing a run in the sixth and three in the seventh before settling down and keeping the O's off the board over the last two innings.

Alfaro's home run was his sixth of the season, to go with 21 RBI.

On Friday, the Phillies head to Miami for a three game series. Game one is scheduled for a 7:10 pm EDT start.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Jose Ramirez Powers Cleveland Past Reds; Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies Tighten NL West With 19-2 Win Over Arizona

Players of the Day for Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Ramirez: 2 HR, 5 RBI
American League

With Cincinnati (last place in the NL Central) taking two straight in Cleveland (first place in the AL Central), the series finale proved to be more in line with the standings as the Indians pummeled the Reds, 19-4.

Cleveland, in no danger of being caught any time soon, given their 8 1/2 game bulge in the division, let their efficient hitters loose, banging out 19 hits - including four home runs - as they scored in three of the first four innings.

Jose Ramirez started the parade around the bases with a two-run homer in the first inning, and followed up with a three-run blast in his next at-bat, as the Indians piled on nine third inning runs. Six runs in the fourth inning was more than enough for Cleveland starter, Carlos Carrasco, who notched his 10th win against five losses with five innings of work, allowing one run on five hits.

Ramirez, who will be the starting AL third baseman in next week's all star game, is already approaching his career highs from 2017, when he belted 29 homers and drove in 83 runs. The two blasts in Wednesday's slaughter have him at 27 on the year, with 65 RBI. He's second in AL home runs and tied for second (with Seattle's Mitch Haniger) in RBI.

The Indians open a four game series with the incoming Yankees on Thursday. Game time is 7:10 pm EDT.

National League

Gonzalez: 2 HR, 6 RBI
In his first two at-bats in Colorado's 19-2 romp over Arizona, Carlos Gonzalez grounded into fielder's choices, each time arriving at first safely and driving in a run.

Next time up, in the third inning, Gonzalez ripped a solo shot out of the park, though it hardly mattered, the Rockies already up by an 11-1 score. Adding to Arizona's pain, Gonzalez parked another in the fourth, this time with two men aboard, giving him six RBI on the night.

Gonzalez has 10 home runs, 38 RBI, and a .275 batting average.

The result tightened the already contentious NL West race, as the Dodgers, Giants and Rockies all won on Wednesday. LA trails the Diamondbacks by just 1/2 game. San Francisco is three out; Colorado 3 1/2 back.

It's going to get more interesting as the Diamondbacks wrap up their visit to Colorado, Thursday at 3:10 pm EDT.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Manny Machado Belts a Pair As Orioles Down Yankees; Phillies Take First Place On Maikel Franco's HR, 4 RBI

Players of the Day for Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Machado: 3-4, 2HR, 3RB
American League

Manny Machado took out some Baltimore frustration on New York pitchers, crashing a pair of home runs in the Orioles' 6-5 victory at Camden Yards.

Machado's solo shot in the fifth tied the game at three; his two-run bomb (444 feet) in the seventh tied the game again, knotting the score at 5-5.

Later, in the decisive ninth inning, Machado was intentionally walked to load the bases, setting up Jonathan Schoop for an RBI single that plated Caleb Joseph with the game-winner.

The subject of swirling trade rumors, Machado's homers were his 22nd and 23rd of the season and his three RBI upped his total to 63. The slugging third baseman is sixth in the AL in home runs and third in RBI.

The Yankees dropped 3 1/2 game behind the Red Sox in the AL East division. Boston has won eight straight.

The Orioles, already 37 1/2 games out, have taken two of three from the Yankees and will be looking to capture the series in game four, Wednesday, 7:05 pm EDT.

National League
Franco: 2-4, HR, 4RBI

With sole possession of first place in the NL East staring them in the face, the Philadelphia Phillies wasted little time getting out in front of the Mets en route to a 7-3 victory.

Maikel Franco swatted a three-run home in the first inning as the Phils batted around on Mets' starter Drew Gagnon. The Phillies continued to add to their lead until Franco put the game away in the sixth with an RBI single and a 7-1 lead.

Surprising nearly everyone, the Phillies have played consistently enough to surpass both Washington and Atlanta in the division. Atlanta lost to Toronto, 6-2, and is a game back, while the Nationals took a 5-1 win at Pittsburgh to hold third place, 5 1/2 out.

Franco, 25, is an integral part of the Philadelphia youth movement. In his third full season, he's batting .276 with 12 homers and 45 RBI.

The Phillies have take two straight at Citi Field and will be looking to sweep the Mets when they take the field at 7:10 pm EDT, Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Brett Gardner Leads Yankees To Split At Baltimore; Philly's Aaron Nola One-Hits Mets, Plates 3 With Double

Players of the Day for Monday, July 9, 2018

American League

Gardner: 4-6, HR, 3 RBI
By anybody's standards, Brett Gardner had a heck of a day as the Yankees split a double header with the Orioles at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Sitting out most of game one, a 5-4 win for the Orioles, Gardner was 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter, but made up for it in the nightcap, going 4-for-6 with a homer, double, a pair of singles, three runs and three RBI.

The Yankees romped to a 10-2 victory.

After singling and scoring in the first inning, Gardner's seventh homer of the season put the Yanks ahead, 3-0, in the fourth. His double in the seventh extended the Yankee lead to 7-0. Gardner came around to score on a bases-loaded throwing error and singled again in the ninth.

With Boston winning their seventh straight, 5-0, at Texas, the Yankees slipped to 2 1/2 games behind the AL East leaders.

The Yankees and Orioles play game three of their four-game set Tuesday at 7:05 pm EDT.

National League

Nola: 7IP, 1H, 0ER, 10K
With the Washington Nationals lurking 5 1/2 games behind, the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies are locked into a tie for first place in the NL East, both teams sporting identical 50-39 records.

The deadlock came about as a result of steady, heady play by both squads, the latest being Philly's 3-1 win over the flagging Mets (13 1/2 back) at New York's Citi Field.

Aaron Nola improved to 12-2 with his best outing of the season, a one-hit, seven inning shutout performance the that keyed the Philadelphia victory.

Nola became the first NL pitcher to win 12 games, one ahead of Washington's Max Scherzer and the Cubs' Jon Lester.

Not only did Nola completely stymie the Mets, he also delivered all three Philly runs with a bases-clearing double in the fifth inning. The lone hit off Nola was in the first, when Wilmer Flores singled with two out. After that, Nola set down 18 straight, walking Michael Conforto with two down in the seventh prior to finishing out the inning by fanning Dominic Smith for his 10th strikeout.

After going 12-11 with a 3.54 ERA last year, Nola has emerged as the Phillies' ace with his sixth straight win. His 2.27 ERA is second in the league, behind the Mets' Jacob DeGrom (1.79).

Atlanta was idle, but opens a series at home with the Blue Jays Tuesday. The Phillies and Mets tangle in game two, Tuesday at 7:10 pm EDT.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Pablo Sandoval Drives In 5 As Giants Top Cards; Nathan Eovaldi Keeps Tampa Bay Alive With 1-Hit Effort

Players of the Day for Sunday, July 8, 2018
Eovaldi: 7IP, 1H, 0ER, 9K

American League

Tampa Bay keeps experimenting with different pitching strategies, often using five or six relievers to get through a given game, but they may have found a hidden gem in Nathan Eovaldi, who tossed seven scoreless innings against the Mets for a solid, 9-0 win at New York's Citi Field.

Not only did Eovaldi lank the Mets, but he allowed just one hit, fanned nine and didn't allow any walks. Taking a perfect game into the seventh inning, Eovaldi's day was spoiled by Brandon Nimmo, who singled to lead off the frame after seeing 18 consecutive Mets fail against the 28-year-old right=hander.

Eovaldi avoided further damage, getting the next three batters in order. Andrew Kettridge finished up, allowing one hit over the final two innings.

The Rays improved to 45-44 with the win and keep hanging around the fringes of the wild card race, though they have a long way to go even think about playoffs.

Tampa took two of three from the Mets and return home to open a three-game series with Detroit, starting Monday at 7:10 pm EDT.

National League
Sandoval: 3-5, HR, 5 RBI

Pablo Sandoval socked a fifth-inning, three run homer, and added a two-run single in the sixth as the Giants smothered the visiting Cardinals, 13-8.

The Giants' third baseman came around to score in the five-run sixth as well as scoring again to secure the game in the ninth. Sandoval was 3-for-5 with three runs and five RBI.

The decision sent the Cardinals 7 1/2 back of Milwaukee in the NL Central, while the Giants were the only contender to win on the day. As Arizona, LA, and Colorado were each defeated, the Giants managed to move into a tie for third place in the division with the Rockies, 3 1/2 off Arizona's pace.

The portly Sandoval, who checks in at 268 pounds, is having a sub-par season, batting .257 with eight homers and 34 RBI, though those numbers have been achieved in just 191 at-bats.

San Francisco split the four=game series with St. Louis and will open a three-game set with the Cubs at home, starting Monday, 10:10 pm EDT.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Mark Reynolds' 2HRs, 10 RBI Power Nationals Over Miami, 18-4; Alex Bregman Leads Houston to 5th Straight Win

Players of the Day for Saturday, July 7, 2018
Bregman: 12-game streak

American League

With their 12-6 win over the White Sox, Houston has won five straight, increasing their lead over Seattle to 3 1/2 games in the AL West.

Alex Bregman extended his hitting streak to 12 games, going 3-for-5 with a single, double and his 17th home run of the season, scoring three times and driving in a pair.

As a result of going 21-for-49 (.429), Bregam's batting average has improved from .259 to .284 over the course of his streak, which includes six homers and 12 RBI.

The Astros are 8-4 during Bregman's hitting spree, which began on June 25.

Houston will be looking for a sweep of the visiting White Sox when their four-game series concludes, Sunday at 2:10 pm EDT.

National League

Reynolds: 5-5, 2HR 10RBI
In what could turn out to be the best single-game performance of the season, Washington infielder Mark Reynolds went 5-for-5 with two singles, a double and two home runs, driving in a whopping 10 runs and scoring three times as the Nationals buried the Marlins, 18-4.

Reynolds, who ended Friday's 3-2 win over Miami with a pinch-hit, walk-off homer in the ninth, began his assault with a two-run homer in the second inning and followed with an RBI double in the second, a two-run single in the fifth, a three-run homer in the sixth, and a single in the seventh inning which plated two more runs.

Max Scherzer got his first win since June 5th with an arguably poor performance, allowing four runs on seven hits over seven innings. Scherzer walked two and struck out just three, a season low. He also gave up three home runs.

Playing both first and third base during the rout, Reynolds has played in just 37 games this season, spending 10 games with Syracuse in the International League. He was signed as a free agent in April and called up mid-May. He has been used sparingly at first and third and as a pinch-hitter.

Despite having just 106 at-bats, Reynolds has socked 10 home runs. Saturday's effort nearly doubled his RBI total, to 24.

The Nationals remained five games behind co-NL East leaders, Philadelphia and Atlanta, both winners on Saturday.

Washington has won three straight over the visiting Marlins and will be looking to sweep the series and take their 15th straight over Miami when the teams assemble at Nationals Park, Sunday at 1:35 pm EDT.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Phillies Tie Atlanta For 1st Place As Odubel Herrera Leads 17-5 Win; Evan Gattis Powers Houston Past White Sox

Players of the Day for Friday, July 6, 2018

American League

Gattis: 3-4, HR, 4 RBI
With an 11-4 win over the visiting White Sox, Houston extended their lead in the AL West to 2 1/2 over hard-charging Seattle, 7-1 losers to Colorado. Despite winning eight of their last 10, the Astros have had the Mariners breathing down their backs for the better part of the past two weeks. The Mariners recent record is 9-2, including Friday's loss.

Houston seems to have a different star every night, a trademark of the reigning world champs. In Friday's win, that star was Evan Gattis, who singled, doubled, and homered in four at-bats, driving in four runs. His big blow was his 18th homer, a 422-foot, eighth inning, three-run bomb that blew the game wide open.

Gattis has driven in 61 runs this season, tying him for third in the AL with Cleveland's Edwin Encarnacion.

With the physique of a power slugger at 6'4, 270, Gattis is well on his way to a career year after missing half of last season with injuries. He's already surpassed last season's numbers (12 HR, 55 RBI). He's heating up with the weather, already having socked three homers in July and driven in seven runs.

The Astros have taken the first two of their four-game series with Chicago. Game three is scheduled for 4:10 pm EDT on Saturday.

National League
Herrera: 2-for-6, HR, 4RBI

Wihtout a doubt, the team that's been the biggest positive surprise of 2018 has to be the Philadelphia Phillies.

After ending the 2017 season in last place, 31 games behind Washington in the NL East with a 66-96 mark, not much was expected from the youthful Phils this season, but they've thus far exceeded all expectations.

With a 17-5 win at Pittsburgh Friday night, the Phillies tied Atlanta for first place in the division, winning their fifth straight and eighth of their last nine outings.

While the Phillies have been tearing it up, Atlanta has dropped four in a row, including Friday's 5-4 defeat at Milwaukee.

The Phillies took it to six Pittsburgh pitchers, taking the first game from the slumping swashbucklers with 18 hits. Scott Kingery went 4-for-5, Ryan Hoskins was 3-for-5 with three runs and two RBI, and Odubel Herrera singled and homered in six at-bats with four RBI, the crucial blow his three-run dinger in the third inning that gave Philly a 5-1 lead.

Pittsburgh battled back to within 5-4, but the Phillies scored two in the sixth, seven in the seventh, and three more in the ninth inning to make it a complete blowout.

Herrera, who has been a solid contributor since 2015, is having a breakout season. With 15 homers, he's already equalled his person high mark from 2016 and his 51 RBI is just five short of his best, in 2017. And, he's done all this in just 83 games.

The Phillies will be looking to extend their winning streak when they play game two of their three-game series in Pittsburgh, Saturday at 4:05 pm EDT.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Marco Gonzales Hurls Seattle Over Angels; Trea Turner's Slam, 8 RBI Powers Nationals' Comeback Win

Players of the Day for Thursday, July 5, 2018

American League

Gonzales leads Mariners
Marco Gonzales stopped the visiting LA Angels on five hits and one run over six innings, leading the Seattle Mariners to a 4-1 win in the finale of their three game series. The teams had split the first two games.

Gonzales (9-5) walked two and struck out seven, throwing 102 pitches. A trio of relievers worked the seventh, eighth and ninth, the last inning by closer Edwin Diaz, who struck out the side for his major league-leading 34th save. Gonzales is 6-2 over his last nine starts.

With Houston escaping with a 4-3 win over the White Sox, Seattle remained 1 1/2 games behind the Astros in the AL West division.

Winners of nine of their last 10, the Mariners remain home to host the Colorado Rockies in a three-game series beginning Friday at 7:10 pm PDT.

National League

Blowing a 9-0 lead, the Miami Marlins managed to remain the worst team in the National League, dropping a 14-12 decision to the home-standing Washington Nationals.

The Marlins took the huge lead into the bottom of the fourth inning, but that's when Trey Turner started the Washington comeback, slugging a solo homer to put the Nationals on the board.

Turner: 2 HR, GS, 8 RBI
In the fifth, the Nats scored four more. Again, it was Turner sparking the rally. He grounded into a fielder's choice with the bases loaded, plating Daniel Murphy, and later scored on Juan Soto's two-run double.

Turner came to the plate with the bases full again in the seventh, this time blasting his second homer of the game, a grand slam that gave Washington a 10-9 lead.

In the eighth, Turner singled home two more runs for a 13-9 advantage. Soto singled home Brian Goodwin to finish Washington's scoring.

Turner finished with eight RBI, his 10th and 11th home runs and three runs, helping the Nationals break a five-game losing skid. The Nationals got back to .500, at 43-43, picking up 1/2 game on the idle Braves and Phillies. Atlanta leads the NL East, with Philadelphia one back. Washington is six games out, looking to take down the Marlins in game two of their four-game series, Friday at 7:05 pm EDT.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Kole Calhoun Sparks Struggling Angels; Tyler Anderson Tosses 8 Scoreless As Rockies Sweep Giants

Players of the Day for Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Calhoun: 3-5, HR, 3 RBI
American League

Even though their 7-4 win at Seattle pushed the LA Angels back over .500 (44-43), they are still 12 1/2 games behind the Houston Astros in the AL West.

LA has been in a rough patch of late. Their win on the 4th was just the third in their last 11 games, but there's always the second half and the wild card to keep hopes alive.

Kole Calhoun singled twice, homered, scored a pair, and drove in three runs from his leadoff spot to spark the win for the Angels. His single in the fourth inning snapped a 2-2 tie, and his two-run belt in the sixth advanced LA's lead to 6-2. In the eighth, he singled and scored on a Justin Upton ground out to finish the scoring.

Despite his recent effort, Calhoun has been one of the reasons the Angels have fallen so far behind. The 30-year-old outfielder is batting just .180 in 222 at-bats, with 5 homers 19 RBI and 24 runs.

The Angels and Mariners wrap up their three-game series on Thursday, 7:10 pm PDT.

National League

Anderson: 8IP, 2H, 9K
With Arizona losing, 8-4, to the Cardinals, the Dodgers, Rockies and Giants each had an opportunity to gain ground on the NL West leader.

While the Dodgers took advantage of the Pirates to pick up a game with a 6-4 win, the Rockies were hosting the Giants, meaning only one of them would move forward.

The Rockies took the first two games of the series, 5-2 and 8-1, completing the sweep with a 1-0 Independence Day victory.

Chris Ianetta's solo shot in the seventh backed the two-hit, eight inning effort by Colorado starter, Tyler Anderson, who improved to 6-3. Anderson walked two and struck out nine and needed just 93 pitches before turning the ball over to closer Wade Davis, who earned his 25th save.

Anderson, 28, is in his third year as a Colorado starter. The lefty hurler is getting the hang of things. He went 5-6 in 2016 and 6-6 in 2017.

Colorado's win didn't get them out of fourth place, but they did snatch up three games on the Giants with the sweep. Winners of six of their last seven, the Rockies are just four games off the pace, the Giants 3 1/2 back, and the Dodgers closed to within 1/2 game of Arizona in the tightest, most contentious race in the majors.

The Rockies open a three-game series at Seattle on Friday, while the Giants return home to host the Cardinals in a four-game series that starts Thursday.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

J.D. Martinez, Boston Tear Up Nationals; Chris Taylor, Max Muncy Propel Dodgers Past Pirates

Players of the Day for Tuesday, July 3, 2018

American League
Martinez: Plenty of pop

Boston leads the Yankees in the AL East by one game with the best record in the majors at 58-29.

A large contributor to their success has been the play of right fielder, J.D. Martinez, who is tearing up the major leagues, leading in home runs (26), RBI (71) with a .325 average, fourth in the AL and sixth overall.

In Boston's 11-4 Tuesday thumping of Washington, Martinez drove in a pair with a single as the Red Sox blew the game open with six fifth-inning runs. He capped the scoring with a two-run homer in the ninth, sending the home town fans away unhappy.

The win was Boston's ninth in their last 12 games, and sent Washington to their fourth straight defeat and 17th in their last 23.

The series wraps up on Wednesday at the odd 11:05 am EDT game time, as Nationals' Park will be readied after the game as the staging area for the Capitol's 4th of July fireworks.

National League
Max Muncy

In their relentless pursuit of first place Arizona (4-2 winners over St. Louis), he LA Dodgers banged out six home runs against the visiting Pirates for an 8-3 victory in game two of their three-game series.

Chris Taylor
Five of those long balls were given up by Pirates' starter, Ivan Nova, who was rocked for nine hits and seven earned runs over five-plus innings, the final insult delivered by Yasmani Grandal with none out in the sixth.

Chris Taylor fell a single short of hitting for the cycle, with a double, triple and a two run homer. Max Muncy singled and swatted a pair of home runs - both solo shots - in four at-bats, putting his season's total at an even 20, with 38 RBI.

Muncy, acquired from Oakland in 2017, didn't get into the Dodgers lineup until mid-April, but he's proven to be a gamer, capable of playing multiple infield positions (mostly second and third base). He's been solid in 63 games this season.

The Dodgers will be looking for a sweep on Wednesday. Game time is 5:10 pm PDT.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Matt Kemp Leads Dodger Rout Of Pirates; Francisco Lindor's 2 HR, 7 RBI Leads Indians

Players of the Day for Monday, July 2, 2018

American League

Lindor 2HR, GS, 7RBI
While LeBron James may have abandoned Ohio for the West coast, the Cleveland Indians are running away with the AL Central. Their 9 1/2 game lead over second place Detroit is easily the biggest edge in the majors. Atlanta 3 1/2 game margin over Philadelphia in the NL East, comes in a distant second.

Maintaining their lead as the Tigers won 3-2 in Toronto, Cleveland got a monster game from leadoff hitter Francisco Lindor in their 9-3 win at Kansas City.

The two-time all star socked a grand slam in the fourth inning, following up with a three-run dinger in the sixth for a two homer, seven RBI night at the plate.

Last season, Lindor sizzled, batting .273 with 33 homers and 89. This year looks to be even better. Lindor has 23 home runs, has driven in 55 runs and is batting a solid .298.

Cleveland has won 10 of their last 14. Game two of the series will start Tuesday at 8:15 pm EDT.

National League

Kemp: 5-5, HR, 4R, 4RBI
Struggling to stay competitive in the NL Central, the oars were out of the water on the Pittsburgh Pirates' ship in the opener of a three-game series at Los Angeles.

While Dodger starter Alex Wood held the Pirates to one run over the first six innings, his teammates were battering the Pittsburgh pitching staff, scoring at will in a 17-1 romp.

Matt Kemp tied a career best with five hits in as many at-bats, ripping three singles a double and his 15th home run of the season, driving in four, scoring four times.

Kemp struggled through three years in San Diego and Atlanta, but was traded back to the Dodgers after the 2017 season and seems to be flourishing in the LA sun. He's batting .323 (4th in the NL) with 15 homers and 55 RBI (6th) and is one of the main reasons the Dodgers are challenging for the lead in the NL West.

Coupled with Arizona's 6-3 loss to St. Louis, Monday's win left the Dodgers 1 1/2 games behind the Diamondbacks.

The Pirates, however, have been heading in the opposite direction, losing eight of their last 12, facing nine games off the pace in the Central division.

Game two of the series is scheduled for Tuesday at 7:10 pm PDT.