Recapping Sunday night's action including the unexpected heroics of Danny Espinosa and an epic pitchers' duel ruined in Los Angeles:
Pirates 7, Reds 6: Edinson Volquez once again struggled through the first inning, putting the Reds in a four-run hole that they just couldn't quite dig their way out of. This was a back and forth affair with the added wrinkle of garbage being blown all over the field (and no, the garbage wasn't the Pirates).
Anges 4, White Sox 2: Dan Haren extended his scoreless streak to 18 2/3 innings before the White Sox finally got to him, but a big day from Maicer Izturis helped the Angels get past the White Sox, completing the sweep. Vernon Wells also showed some signs of life (finally), just missing his first homer by mere inches, settling for a triple.
Indians 4, Orioles 2: In his first big league game in nearly a year, Grady Sizemore reminded us all why he had been thought of as one of the games brightest up-and-coming stars. Grady homered in his second at-bat and added a double to help lead the surprising Indians to yet another victory. Fausto Carmona continued to erase the memory of his disastrous Opening Day outing by notching his third straight strong start and picking up his first win of the season.
Mets 3, Braves 2: Desperate times call for desperate measures and that is exactly where the Mets found themselves in this one. Mets Manager Terry Collins made the unusual decision to use not one, but two of his starting pitchers in relief. That move paid off as Chris Capuano and R.A. Dickey combined for 1 1/3 scoreless middle relief innings behind rookie Dillon Gee. As if things weren't strange enough, Mets third baseman David Wright also played an impromptu game of catch with some young Atlanta fans in between innings.
Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 1: Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jacoby Ellsbury each drove in three runs to back a strong Jon Lester performance. While the Red Sox plated eight runs in this one, Carl Crawford didn't factor into any of them as his epic slump continued with him taking the collar in four plate appearances.
Phillies 3, Marlins 2: Cole Hamels and Anibal Sanchez engaged in a pitcher's duel, but the game was ultimately decided by a Logan Morrison fielding error. Fans who attended this game saw something that is a true rarity in the wild: a Placido Polanco home run, his first in 322 at-bats. Haley's Comet figures to pass the earth again before his next homer.
Twins 4, Rays 2: In his first save attempt since taking over at closer for Joe Nathan, Matt Capps shut down the Rays in the ninth inning without any incidence whatsoever, preserving a win for Brian Duensing who went seven strong. Not only did Tampa lose the game, but they may have lost Johnny Damon for a few days after he injured a finger during a bunt attempt that went awry.
Nationals 8, Brewers 4 (Game 1): Danny Espinosa and Ivan Rodriguez each hit three-run home runs to lead the charge to victory for the Nationals in the first game of this doubleheader.
Nationals 5, Brewers 1 (Game 2): Danny Espinosa struck again, this time with a three-run triple that proved to be the difference in the game. Jerry Hairston Jr. also did his part, going 3-for-3 and coming within a triple of hitting for the cycle (that never happens!). Ageless wonder Livan Hernandez handled the rest as he limited the Brewers to just one run over seven innings.
Mariners 3, Royals 2: Michael Pineda continued his stellar rookie campaign, limiting the surprisingly potent Royal offense to one run and three hits through six innings. The win was Pineda's second on the season and snapped a four-game skid for the Mariners.
Padres 8, Astros 6: Mark Melancon had been lights out for the Astros thus far this season, but that came to a screeching halt as he got touched up for four runs, two earned, in the eighth inning. Poor fielding was a theme in this game as not only did Melancon get burned by an error from Angel Sanchez, his fifth of the season, tying him for the MLB lead. Will Venable nearly returned the favor when he misplayed a flyball in the ninth inning. All that really did was increase the degree of difficulty for Heath Bell who overcame the miscue to notch his 38th consecutive save.
Athletics 5, Tigers 1: The Tigers and A's had five hits apiece in this game, but somehow that resulted in a 5-1 win for Oakland. How Detroit ended up with one run is no mystery since they were baffled all night long by Trevor Cahill's brilliant performance. As for Oakland's five runs, three of them came in the fifth inning (spooky, no?) when Brad Penny completely lost the strike zone, walking two, hitting a batter and allowing two hits resulting in three Oakland runs.
Rockies 9, Cubs 5: It didn't take long for the Rockies to get back on the winning path after their misstep last night. To little surprise, Colorado relied on some late-inning magic to make the victory happen. This time it was Dexter Fowler delivering the big hit. Carlos Gonzalez also had a big night, going 4-for-5 with a homer and a stolen base.
Yankees 6, Rangers 5: Even with the Yankees playing without Alex Rodriguez (sore abdomen) and Adrian Beltre racking up four RBIs, the Rangers couldn't defeat New York in this rubber match. Ironically, it was A-Rod's replacement, the artist formerly known as Eric Chavez, delivering the go-ahead RBI-single off Arthur Rhodes to win the game for New York.
Dodgers 2, Cardinals 1: Two perfectly fantastic pitching performance went to waste thanks to two equally shoddy bullpen performances. Chris Carpenter gave St. Louis seven shutout innings that had the Cards in position to win depsite Chad Billingsley finally getting his act together and spinning eight shutout innings of his own. Billingsley's night was nearly ruined when Jonathan Broxton coughed up a run in the top of the ninth, but Broxton's prolifically large butt was bailed out by Trever Miller and Ryan Franklin in the bottom of the inning as they permitted two runs to score, including Matt Kemp's walk-off homer, without so much as recording an out.
Diamondback 6, Giants 5: It took 12 innings, but the Diamondbacks finally took this one on the strength of a walk-off RBI single by Stephen Drew who got the best of lefty-specialist Javy Lopez.
Lines of the Night:
Fausto Carmona, Cleveland: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K
Cole Hamels, Philadelphia: 7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 7 K
Chris Carpenter, St. Louis: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K
Trevor Cahill, Oakland: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 9 K
Chad Billingsley, Los Angeles: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 K
Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh: 3/3, 2 BB, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 HR
Jay Bruce, Cincinnati: 4/5, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 HR
Carlos Gonzalez, Colordao: 4/5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 2B, 1 SB
Adrian Beltre, Texas: 3/4, 1 R, 4 RBI, 1 2B, 1 HR
Justin Upton, Arizona: 2/4, 2 BB, 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 HR
The Giant fan beaten by Dodger fans to start the season was put back into a medically-induced coma
Dodger owner Frank McCourt received a $30 million personal loan from Fox to cover the team's payroll obligations for the next month
Adrian Gonzalez signed a $154 million extension with the Red Sox
Joe Nathan is out as the Twins' closer
What to Watch For Tonight:
The Angels and Rangers do battle in Texas in a series that will determine who reigns supreme early on in the AL West.
The pitching matchup of the night goes to Chicago's Edwin Jackson and Tampa Bays David Price who will faceoff in Tampa.
Who would have ever seen this coming? Kansas City and Cleveland begin a showdown for first place in the AL Central. Did a pig just fly past my window?