Washington Nationals 5, Philadelphia Phillies 2
The guard continues to change in the NL East as the Nationals downed Roy Halladay and the Phillies for their third straight win Tuesday night. Bryce Harper cued the offensive attack for the Nationals, as the teenager went 2-5 with two RBI and a run scored. Ian Desmond homered for the second straight night, while Jordan Zimmermann went six strong innings for the victory. Oddly enough, the Phillies had nine hits without a single player notching a multi-hit game. The lone bright spot for Philadelphia was 31-year-old catcher Erik Kratz, who hit the first home run of his abbreviated career. The Phils are now two games under .500 and 5 1/2 games behind Washington in the division.
Pittsburgh starter James McDonald had a fantastic outing, but R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball were even better. Dickey went seven innings, gave up just one run, and struck out 11. Andrew McCutchen drove in a pair of runs and stole a base for the Pirates, which should come as a surprise to no one. David Wright remains above .400 for the season despite his 0-4, three strikeout performance on Tuesday.
There were only seven total runs plated in this game, and six of them were the result of home runs. Brandon Phillips, who hasn’t exactly been having a career year since signing his big extension, went deep twice in the win and watched as his teammate Zack Cozart homered for the second straight evening as well. The Braves got two homers of their own, and both came off the typically feeble bat of Michael Bourn. Bourn is now slugging .439 for the season, a figure higher than teammates Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla. Aroldis Chapman saved his second game for the Reds and still hasn’t allowed an earned run in 2012. For those counting, that’s 41 strikeout in 23 1/3 innings. Disgusting!
The Marlins and Rockies continued moving in opposite directions, as a late comeback wasn’t enough for everyone’s favorite mountain-themed baseball team. Hanley Ramirez led the way for Miami with three hits, two RBI, and two stolen bases. On the Rockies side of things, Michael Cuddyer decided it was time to prove his free agent worth by reaching base four times and driving in a run. Cuddyer’s two doubles in the game give him 16 for the season, which is tied for second place in all of baseball behind Joey Votto.
The Cubs’ season gets bleaker with each passing day. I’m not just saying that to be dramatic; Theo Epstein’s new squad has dropped eight in a row, and a solo home run by Alfonso Soriano accounted for their only run against the normally crushable J.A. Happ. Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, who was created as a 3/4 size scale model of what a baseball player should look like, hit his third home run and continues to impress at the plate during his first full season.
While the Dodgers are getting most of the attention in the NL West, the Giants are now 7-3 in their last 10 games. Buster Posey is really starting to heat up, as he homered for the second straight night (seems like a lot of players did, doesn’t it?) and drove in three runs for San Francisco. Matt Cain got hit around a bit by the Brewers, but Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla shut the door firmly before any Milwaukee residents could get any crazy ideas.
It’s been a long time since Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright pitched like he did against the Padres on Tuesday night. Wainwright, who’s had a rough return from Tommy John surgery, hurled a complete game shutout while striking out nine and allowing just five baserunners. Carlos Beltran went 2-3 with two RBI to help St. Louis tack on insurance runs late in the game. There weren’t many shining stars for the Padres, so it seems prudent to congratulate Yonder Alonso for reaching base twice yet again.
We may just have to face the fact that the Dodgers can not lose a game under any circumstances. The D-Backs led this one 6-1 after six innings, but LA promptly erupted for five runs in the top of the seventh and two more in the top of the ninth to win their sixth straight. The younger Tony Gwynn did his very best impression of the older Tony Gwynn by going 3-5 with a pair of RBI and runs. Six of the 12 Dodger hits and both of the team’s extra-base hits came in the final three innings of the game.
The Orioles just keep rolling, and this time it was thanks to Brian Matusz doing the sort of thing he’s always supposed to have been doing. Matusz went 6 1/3 innings, allowed one run, and struck out nine for his fourth victory. A person named Steve Tolleson hit his first career home run to stake Baltimore to an early lead that they’d never relinquish, while an allegedly healthy Kevin Youkilis clubbed his third home run for the Red Sox.
Detroit surely remains the odds-on favorite to win the AL Central, but the Indians furthered their lead in the division with their win on Tuesday. Shin-Soo Choo and Casey Kotchman each reached base thrice for the Indians, while Ubaldo Jimenez overcame six walks to lead his team to their 24th win. All three Tiger runs came on a blast by catcher Alex Avila, while Miguel Cabrera walked three times.
The Yankees at least temporarily shook off the hex the Royals have put on them of late behind a solid start from Phil Hughes (6 IP, 2 ER, 7 K) and Robinson Cano‘s fifth home run of the season. Luke Hochevar pitched well enough in the loss for Kansas City, but his only offensive support came from unlikely candidates like Jeff Francoeur and Humberto Quintero.
Matt Moore struggled once again, but the Rays got enough offense that it didn’t matter. The biggest performance of the night for Tampa came from Carlos Pena, who went 2-5 with a homer and three RBI. Perhaps even more notably, Pena was placed in the leadoff slot, a position he seems well suited for because of his plate discipline but has been kept away from due to his massive power and batting average issues. Jose Bautista had three of the seven Toronto hits as he continues his quest to regain his mashing crown.
A number of very unlikely things happened to enable the Twins to win against the White Sox on Tuesday night. P.J. Walters threw a complete game and struck out eight, Gavin Floyd struggled mightily, and Alexi Casilla had an extra-base hit. Justin Morneau homered and drove in three for the Twins as well, though that’s a much more likely development. Gordon Beckham went deep for the White Sox in what simply has to be some sort of cruel way to convince the team he might yet realize his potential.
Okay, this is the exact kind of thing the Angels were envisioning when they made their series of big splashes last winter. Albert Pujols smashed a massive home run, while C.J. Wilson pitched eight innings and surrendered just one hit. The other two Angel first basemen, Kendry Morales and Mark Trumbo, each had two hits as well. For those with a morbid sense of curiosity, the lone Oakland hit came off the bat of Cliff Pennington.
Matt Harrison edged Hector Noesi in a somewhat unlikely pitcher’s duel as the Rangers took down the Mariners. Harrison went seven innings, gave up two runs, and struck out six for his fifth win. Elvis Andrus was the offensive star for the Rangers, as he tripled and drove in two runs. As you may have guessed, the other Texas run was driven in by Josh Hamilton. Joe Nathan, who many left for dead after he missed 2010 with injury and came back shaky in 2011, closed out this game for his 10th save. Nathan has now struck out 23 and walked two in 18 2/3 innings.