Folks, the NL Central is getting absurd. After this weekend, here's where we stand. The Cardinals lead the division with an 83-60 record, 1.5 games up on the Pirates and the Reds. Pittsburgh is 81-61 while Cincinnati is 82-62, meaning that over these final three weeks of baseball, the Pirates play two more games than the Reds, handing a distinct advantage to Cincinnati. Next up for each team: the Pirates travel to Arlington to take on the Rangers, the Cardinals host the Brewers at Busch Stadium, and the Reds host the Cubs at Great American Ballpark. The Nationals are still eight games back of the two wild card leaders, while the Diamondbacks are nine back, meaning that it will take some sort of act from above to make sure all three NL Central teams aren't playing baseball in October.
PIC OF THE DAY
The Reds are walkoff winners, and they absolutely love it. (Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports)
Game of the Day: Yankees 4, Red Sox 3. Hey look, something finally went New York's way in this series. Well…sort of. Mariano Rivera came in to protect a 3-2 lead in the eighth, and made it through that frame quite easily. Rivera tried to finish the six out save in the ninth, and promptly allowed a game-tying solo homer to Will Middlebrooks, blowing his seventh save of the year. In the bottom of the ninth, Brandon Workman took the hill for the Bosox, and after striking out Brett Gardner to lead off the inning, allowed a single to Ichiro. Ichiro then stole second, moved up to third on a fly out by Vernon Wells, and scored the game-winning run after a wild pitch by Workman. So…that happened.
Pitching Lines of the Day: Cole Hamels dominated every Brave not named Evan Gattis in Philadelphia's 3-2 win over Atlanta, allowing just a pair of Gattis solo homers in eight innings, walking two and striking out nine. Esmil Rogers pitched the Blue Jays past the Twins 2-0, giving up three hits in 7 2/3 shutout innings, walking one and striking out four. Andrew Albers matched him by allowing four hits over seven scoreless frames, punching out five without a walk. Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha controlled the Pirates in St Louis' 9-2 blowout win, giving up just two hits in 7 1/3 shutout frames, striking out two and walking two. Madison Bumgarner pitched the Giants past the Diamondbacks 3-2 in 11 innings, allowing four hits in six shutout innings, striking out nine without a walk.
Hitting Lines of the Day: The aforementioned Gattis was Atlanta's entire offense in the City of Brotherly Love, going 2/3 with those two long solo homers. In the Reds' 3-2 walkoff win over the Dodgers, Jay Bruce went 2/4 with a pair of solo homers. Eric Hosmer pushed the Royals past the Tigers 5-2, going 3/4 with a three-run homer. The Nationals duo of Wilson Ramos and Ian Desmond carried the team to a 6-4 win in Miami, as Ramos went 3/4 with a homer, two runs, and two RBI, while Desmond went 3/5 with a run, two RBI, a stolen base, a double, and a triple.
Other Games: The Mets edged the Indians 2-1. The White Sox beat the Orioles 4-2, but were still eliminated from the playoff race thanks to Tampa Bay's 4-1 win in Seattle. Speaking of eliminations, the Cubs saw their minimal playoff hopes officially dashed after they lost 3-1 to the Brewers. The Rangers beat the Angels 4-3, but couldn't pick up any ground on Oakland after the A's beat the Astros 7-2. The Padres beat the Rockies 5-2, and whatever.
Today's Games: CC Sabathia and the Yankees take on Chris Tillman and the Orioles in a crucial AL Wild Card battle. Ervin Santana starts for the Royals in Cleveland against Ubaldo Jimenez and the Indians in *another* critical AL Wild Card matchup. Travis Wood and his Cubs take on Bronson Arroyo and the Reds in Cincinnati. Gio Gonzalez looks to keep Washington's slim playoff hopes alive at Citi Field. Jered Weaver starts for the Angels in Minnesota. Gerrit Cole and Yu Darvish will face off as slumping contenders battle in Texas. Max Scherzer takes on Chris Sale and the White Sox, looking to play spoiler against the Tigers. Jarred Cosart and the Astros take on Taijuan Walker and the Mariners. Randall Delgado gets the nod for the Diamondbacks in Los Angeles against Ricky Nolasco and the Dodgers. Jhoulys Chacin and Tim Lincecum square off in San Francisco.
National TV: Yankees-Orioles (7 PM, MLB Network), Royals-Indians (7 PM, MLB Network)
MLB.tv Free Game: TBA
Pitching Matchup of the Day: Max Scherzer vs Chris Sale (Tigers vs White Sox, 8 PM)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.