Well, at the end of this season, we're going to see something that I haven't seen since I was in first grade – the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to finish the season with a record no worse than .500. The Pirates beat the Brewers 4-3 in dramatic fashion on Tuesday night, The Pirates are now 81-57, in first place in the NL Central, and a playoff berth looks pretty set in stone for them. Quite frankly, it's good for baseball, and I couldn't be happier for fans of the team. Now, about those Steelers and Penguins…
PIC OF THE DAY
Alejandro de Aza splits his bat in half, vertically (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Game of the Night: Twins 9, Astros 6 (12 innings). Since I just gave the Pirates some love in the intro, let's mix things up a little bit, shall we? Minnesota led 4-3 after seven, but extended their lead to 6-3 in the eighth after an RBI double by new Twin Alex Presley and a sac fly by Darin Mastrioanni, scoring Presley. Elite closer Glen Perkins to close the door in the ninth, but it didn't go according to plans. After allowing a single to Trevor Crowe and getting a double play, Perkins plunked Brett Wallace and gave up a single to LJ Hoes to bring the tying run to the plate in Brandon Barnes. Barnes hit a wall-scraper of a three-run homer to tie the game, handing Perkins just his fourth blown save of the year. We moved into extras, and the teams remained scoreless until the 12th. Kevin Chapman allowed a single to Chris Colabello, got a failed bunt from Clete Thomas, and gave up a double to Josmil Pinto, and threw a wild pitch to allow Thomas to score the go-ahead run. Chapman walked Ryan Doumit, and after a lineout from Presley, allowed a two-run double to Mastrioanni to extend the lead to three. The Astros put two men on in the bottom of the inning, but couldn't come back once again as Josh Roenicke got the save.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Homer Bailey ran over the Cardinals in a 1-0 Reds win, giving up two hits over seven scoreless innings, striking out eight and walking one. In the loss, Michael Wacha gave up three hits in six shutout innings, walking two and striking out three. Kris Medlen pushed the Braves to a 3-1 win over the Mets, allowing one run on seven hits in seven innings, punching out nine without a walk. Jon Lester outdueled Max Scherzer in Boston's 2-1 win over Detroit, giving up one run on eight hits in seven innings, striking out nine and walking none. Ubaldo Jimenez helped the Indians beat the Orioles 4-3, allowing four hits in six shutout innings, striking out four and walking a pair.
Hitting Lines of the Night: In that Astros loss to the Twins, Brandon Barnes went 3/4 with a homer, five RBI, and a walk. In Toronto's 10-4 win over Arizona, In the victory, Trevor Plouffe went 4/6 with a two-run homer. Moises Sierra went 3/5 with two doubles, a homer, and three RBI, while Edwin Encarnacion went 3/3 with two runs, two walks, a double, and a homer. Cody Asche had a good game in the Phillies' 9-6 loss to the Nationals, gong 3/4 with a homer and three RBI.
Other Games: The Yankees scored five in the eighth to beat the White Sox 6-4. The Royals withstood a Mariners rally and scored late to top Seattle 4-3. The Marlins beat the Cubs 6-2, but were still eliminated from the playoff chase thanks to Cincinnati's win. The Rays stomped the Angels 7-1 behind the returning Matt Moore. The Dodgers beat the Rockies 7-4, even with Yasiel Puig taking a day off. The Padres beat the Giants 3-2, and no one still cared. The Rangers beat the A's 8-1, but Josh Donaldson's insane catch was the talk of the baseball world.
What You Missed: The NL Central is slipping from the grips of the Cardinals. Chase Utley responded to Mac's letter from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Wilson Ramos somehow made a throw that bounced off of Utley's bat. Why don't the Braves get any love?
Today's Games: Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs host the Marlins. Yu Darvish and Jarrod Parker will duel in Oakland. Mark Buehrle and Randall Delgado face off in Arizona as the Diamondbacks continue to cling to playoff hopes. Tim Lincecum starts for the Giants in San Diego. Jordan Zimmermann takes on Roy Halladay in Philly. CC Sabathia and the Yankees host the White Sox. Shelby Miller starts for the Cardinals in Cincinnati against Bronson Arroyo. Taijuan Walker starts for the Mariners in Kansas City against Ervin Santana. Francisco Liriano starts for the Pirates in Milwaukee. Jered Weaver and the Angels host the Rays, Jorge de la Rosa and the Rockies host the Dodgers.
National TV: Tigers-Red Sox (7 PM, ESPN), Rays-Angels (10 PM, ESPN)
MLB.tv Free Game: Mets-Braves (12 PM)
Pitching Matchup of the Day: Yu Darvish vs Jarrod Parker (Rangers vs Athletics, 3:30 PM)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.