Texas Rangers 7, Los Angeles Angels 3
The Angels have been surging of late, but the Rangers mounted an offensive attack to stop Dan Haren and his team from completing a three-game sweep. The biggest blow came in the form of a two-run, 484-foot Nelson Cruz bomb, the longest home run in MLB so far this season. Elvis Andrus, who’s .311/.391/.422 line suggests he’s breaking out the way many believed he would, reached base four times in the victory. The Angels received less notable performances, as Haren struggled mightily to get through five innings and the offense sputtered. Back-up backstop John Hester hit his first home run of 2012 in a losing cause.
Phil Hughes was in rare form Sunday, which is to say that he was dominant. Hughes allowed just one run and four hits to the Tigers while pitching a complete game and striking out eight. The lone run came on a solo shot from Prince Fielder, who has been heating up of late. The Yankees got long balls from Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez to aid them in their win. The Yankees are now 7-3 in their last 10 and just 1.5 games back despite their slow start.
On a recent tear, the Red Sox were beat back on the strength of a seven inning, one run performance by Daniel Hutchison. Jose Bautista homered, walked, and drove in four to provide much of his team’s offense. With this start, Hutchison has allowed one earned run or fewer in four of his last five outings. Bautista is looking a little more like the second, more Ruthian version of himself as well, homering 10 times since the start of May.
The Rays now have sole possession of first place in the AL East, a position the Orioles may have now tasted for the last time. Matt Moore allowed just one earned run in six innings, while B.J. Upton had two hits and two RBI. Matt Wieters and Mark Reynolds each had three hits and a home run in the loss. Tampa’s Carlos Pena-as-leadoff-hitter scheme hasn’t necessarily paid off so far (.176/.300/.500 in 40 PA), but if the batting average becomes reasonable at all it will.
After a wild Saturday game, things settled down on Sunday for the White Sox and Mariners. Chris Sale brought his team back to their recent winning ways with a complete game win that featured eight strikeouts and just five hits. Alex Rios had a pair of hits and RBI, while Gordon Beckham also drove in a run. Beckham has hit .429 with three homers over the past week, and the Sox have to hope he’s finally coming around. Miguel Olivo‘s second inning home run accounted for both Seattle runs and at least temporarily assuaged all fears that he’s become a One True Outcome hitter. That outcome, of course, is not getting on base ever.
This result is appropriate for a game that pitted the 25th and 29th highest scoring teams in the game against one another. Vin Mazzaro outdueled Tommy Milone to take down his former club and give the Royals a winning record in their last 10. Eric Hosmer hit a solo home run, while Billy Butler had three hits. The A’s got two hits and a steal from Josh Reddick, who seems to be involved in every positive thing Oakland’s offense manages to do.
Scott Diamond, whose name would more aptly befit a magician than a baseball player, didn’t allow an earned run or a walk in seven innings of work against the Indians Sunday. The Twins made three errors but were able to win thanks to strong offensive days from Josh Willingham, Joe Mauer, and, um, Trevor Plouffe. For Diamond, this game marked his sixth start. The 25-year-old has yet to allow more than three earned runs in any of them.
The Braves did what few NL teams have been able to do so far by chasing Gio Gonzalez from the game after just 4 2/3 innings on the mound. While Gonzalez struggled, Tommy Hanson pitched seven strong innings, struck out six, and walked no one. The only runs he surrendered were scored on back-to-back first inning homers from Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper. Lombardozzi’s long ball was the first of his young career, while Harper’s shot brought his slugging percentage to .542 on the young season. So yeah, he’s looking pretty good. The win put the Braves just two games out of first in the NL East, while the Nationals are tied for the division lead.
I shall now introduce the Miami Marlins, another team tied atop the NL East. The Marlins reaped every possible benefit of Carlos Zambrano in the win, as he pitched seven innings, allowed one run, struck out seven, and hit a monster solo home run. The red-hot Hanley Ramirez clubbed his 11th homer of the season, while Heath Bell was able to record an uneventful save. As the Phillies learned Sunday, any day in which half of your team’s hits come from Juan Pierre is a bad one.
The Astros beat up Bronson Arroyo (as all teams should) and got a quality start from Jordan Lyles to take down the NL Central leaders on Sunday. The deciding blow came in the seventh when pinch hitter Jason Maxell hit a two-run homer off Arroyo. Zack Cozart had two hits, a home run, and two RBI in the loss. The Astros have to be pretty excited, because not only did they win a baseball game, they are mere hours away from getting to make the first overall pick in the 2012 Rule 4 draft.
With this win the Pirates moved one game over .500 despite a -26 run differential. That puts them a half-game up on the Cardinals and their +47 run differential for those keeping track. The Pirates won on a slew of home runs, as Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Rod Barajas, and Clint Barmes all went deep. The Brewers almost kept up thanks to three homers of their own, none of which involved the usual suspects. Milwaukee’s blasts came from Nyjer Morgan, Brooks Conrad, and Martin Maldonado. Maldonado’s homer was the first of his career.
Things have been rough lately for the Dodgers. Matt Kemp may not return for at least a month, Ted Lilly is also calling the disabled list home, and this loss makes seven in 10 games. Alex White was able to hold the Dodgers to two runs despite walking five, while Todd Helton singled in a run and walked twice. Both Dodger scores came on the sixth home run of the year from A.J. Ellis.
Barry Zito‘s comeback season is still in full swing, as the veteran left-hander pitched 8 1/3 shutout innings and struck out five. Melky Cabrera and Joaquin Arias drove in the Giant runs, while Travis Wood hurled seven solid innings in the loss. Then again, how much should we bother praising a guy who pitched seven good innings against a team batting Ryan Theriot second?
Trevor Cahill got six runs of support Sunday, but he didn’t need them. Cahill tossed a complete game shutout and struck out five, while his opponent Eric Stults struggled mightily. The massive Paul Goldschmidt hit his sixth home run of the season, while Miguel Montero and Gerardo Parra also left the yard. Goldschmidt has been hot of late, homering thrice and hitting near .500 over the past week.
Once the dust had settled, the Cardinals officially went 26 2/3 innings without scoring a run. This is amazing stuff considering the clip the St. Louis offense had been on prior to arriving in New York. Tonight’s Met masterpiece was thrown by Jonathan Niese, who struck out 10 in six shutout innings to vault the Mets into a three-way tie for first place in the NL East. Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered and drove in three runs for the Mets, which was more than enough for Niese to work with. For those wondering, Adron Chambers drove in the run that broke the St. Louis fast.