- David Schoenfield, SweetSpot blogger
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It was a fun night of baseball and I haven't done this in awhile, so some quick thoughts on the night's action ...
The Nationals and Brewers played a 16-inning game, tying the Cubs-Pirates game from April 2 for longest of the season. Washington's bullpen was outstanding in the 4-2 win, tossing 10 innings of scoreless baseball with just four hits allowed against a good offense in a good hitter's park. Ross Detwiler had my favorite stat of the night: In his four innings he threw 42 pitches -- all fastballs. Matt Williams made an interesting decision in the 15th, having Tyler Clippard intentionally walk Jonathan Lucroy with two outs and a runner on second to pitch to Carlos Gomez (who popped out). Ryan Zimmerman then homered and made a diving catch in left field in the 16th. The Nats have the lowest bullpen ERA in the majors and this game showcased the depth they have out there.
The Indians and Diamondbacks played an even crazier extra-inning game, with Arizona winning 9-8 in 14 innings. Both teams scored twice in the 11th (with John Axford keeping the tie intact by striking out Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero with the bases loaded). In the 13th, Jason Kipnis was out at home trying to stretch a two-out triple into an inside-the-park homer. Aaron Hill finally delivered the walk-off hit; since 2009, he's tied for the MLB lead with eight walk-off hits (tied with Joey Votto, Freddie Freeman, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Melky Cabrera). Besides the loss, the bad news for Cleveland is Justin Masterson had another poor outing and saw his ERA rise to 5.03. In four of his past eight innings he hasn't even managed to go five innings. If the Indians don't get back in the race, Masterson would presumably be trade bait since he's a free agent but the way he's pitching doesn't make him too attractive right now.
Justin and B.J. Upton both homered in the Braves' 3-2 win, the fourth time they've both homered in the same game (joining Jason and Jeremy Giambi and Vladimir and Wilton Guerrero to do that four times as brothers). For the third straight game, Fredi Gonzalez hit Justin Upton sixth -- while batting B.J. and Tommy La Stella in the first two spots. Why would you want to give an extra at-bat to those two players instead of Justin? Makes no sense. Gonzalez basically admitted he's kind of grasping at straws for the struggling Braves' offense, saying, "I've got a good feeling about it. We're just trying to find a sparkplug in the first couple of spots there." OK. But here's an idea: Just hit your best hitters at the top of the lineup. How about going Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman and Evan Gattis?
The Pirates held on for a 6-5 win as the Rays scored twice off new closer Mark Melancon and had the tying run on base before Evan Longoria flied out. The Pirates are 27-18 since May 6, the best record in the NL. They moved over .500 at 39-38. With the Pirates and Reds both playing better now the NL Central could potentially morph into a four-team race. I wonder if the division will beat up on each other, however, allowing the wild cards to come from the East (Braves or Nationals) and West (Dodgers or Giants).
Speaking of the Reds, Devin Mesoraco homered for the fifth straight game, the fourth Reds player to do that in 50 years (joining Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr., Johnny Bench), and is now hitting .320/.387/.667 with 14 home runs and 40 RBIs. Don't you have to find room for this guy on the All-Star team? Trouble is, you also have Yadier Molina and Jonathan Lucroy and Gattis, plus there's Buster Posey. Good luck to Mike Matheny in sorting that out.
The Mariners keep rolling and the Red Sox keep scuffling as Seattle won 8-2. Kyle Seager hit a big three-run homer off Jake Peavy (who looked terrible) in the fifth to break open a 3-2 game. Seager does his best hitting with men on base: .322/.383/.622 and he's one guy who hasn't been affected by Safeco Field, at least this year, as he's hitting .328 at home with 10 of his 11 home runs. Erasmo Ramirez once again struggled with his control (five walks in 4.1 innings) and while his scoreless streak had gone to 20 innings before Boston scored twice in the fourth, he's been living on the edge. Give credit to Lloyd McClendon for the quick hook and turning the game over to his bullpen. Taijuan Walker had been struggling at Tacoma but tossed a complete game shutout on Tuesday, so you know the speculation will start building that he'll be up soon.
George Springer has what they call easy power. This home run went an estimated 465 feet.
Anthony Rizzo went 3-for-4 and the next Joey Votto is now outhitting Votto -- .288/.404/.532 versus .263/.403/.426.
Speaking of the Cubs, third-base prospect Kris Bryant homered again for Iowa. He's played six games at Triple-A and has five home runs. Cubs fans are dreaming big thoughts ...
Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann hit 5-6-7 for the Yankees. All have OBPs under .285 and Beltran has the best slugging percentage at .400. Maybe they'll turn it around. Or maybe they're old.
It was a fun night of baseball and I haven't done this in awhile, so some quick thoughts on the night's action ... The Nationals and Brewers played a 16-inning game, tying the Cubs-Pirates game from April 2 for longest of the season.