Everyone knows that the Nationals are cruising right along in the NL East, the Reds are dominating the NL Central, and the Rangers and Yankees are the class of the American League. But there's another team lurking in the NL East that's playing some pretty good baseball: the Atlanta Braves. The Braves beat the Phillies 6-1 last night (to put them at 8-2 against the Phillies this season), and their record is 63-46. Of course, that record is just a half game behind the Yankees and Rangers, and three back of the Nationals and Reds. The Braves lead the first wild card spot in the NL right now, and have a three game edge over the Cardinals, and are 4.5 up on the Dodgers. If the Braves don't collapse down the stretch like they did last season, they could be the most dangerous team in the NL playoffs this October.
Game of the Night: Nationals 5, Astros 4 (11 innings). The Nationals led the pathetic Astros 4-1 after five, but Houston wouldn't die. They got a pair in the sixth to make it 4-3, and in the ninth against closer Tyler Clippard, a Jose Altuve RBI double tied the game. Of course, the Astros couldn't push ONE MORE run across with runners on second and third and one out...in the 11th, the Nationals took the lead on an absolute circus play of a bunt that saw Roger Bernadina score from first base thanks to a pair of errors. Of course. The Astros went down easily in the 11th, and that ended the game and continued the Houston downslide.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Jered Weaver threw a complete game shutout in the Angels' 4-0 win over the A's, allowing four hits and striking out nine hitters without a walk. In a 4-0 Pirates win over the Diamondbacks, Erik Bedard threw seven shutout innings on just two hits, striking out five hitters without a walk. And then, there's the reigning AL MVP Justin Verlander, who allowed two unearned runs over eight innings in the Tigers' 7-2 win against the Yankees, giving up eight hits, one walk, and a mind-numbing 14 strikeouts.
Hitting Lines of the Night: The Twins ravaged the Indians 14-3, and Justin Morneau went 3/5 with three runs, four RBI, and a pair of homers. Brewers backup catcher Martin Maldonado went 3/4 with two runs, three RBI, two doubles, and a homer in Milwaukee's 6-3 win over Cincinnati. The Red Sox beat the Rangers 9-2, with Jacoby Ellsbury going 3/5 with three runs, one RBI, and a pair of doubles.
Other Games: The Orioles kept chugging along, beating the Mariners 3-1. The White Sox beat the Royals 4-2. The Cardinals smoked the Giants 8-2. The Padres shut out the Cubs 2-0, while the Rockies shut out the Dodgers by the same score.
Today's Games: Cole Hamels starts for the Phillies, hosting the Braves. Pat Corbin and Jeff Karstens duel in Pittsburgh. Jonathon Niese will start for the Mets, hosting the Marlins. Ryan Dempster goes for round two for the Rangers against Jon Lester and the Red Sox. The sizzling Ross Detwiler starts for the Nationals in Houston. Johnny Cueto and Mike Fiers will duel in Milwaukee. James Shields and the Rays host the Blue Jays. Jake Peavy starts for the White Sox against the Royals. CJ Wilson and Bartolo Colon will duel in Oakland.
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.
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