The dynamic Washington Nationals duo of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper stepped into hallowed ground for the first time in their young careers on Friday night, as the Nationals traveled to Boston to take on the Red Sox. Under the bright lights of Fenway Park and squarely in the nation's focus, the pair of rising stars proved that they were far and away the best players on the field on Friday night in the Nationals' 7-4 victory. Strasburg started the game for the Nationals, and went six innings. He allowed two earned runs on just four hits while walking two. Oh yeah, he also struck out 13, which ties his season high. The 119 pitches Strasburg threw was his highest total of the season, and the first time he's hit triple digits since May 10th against the Pirates...when he struck out 13. Imagine that. In two June starts, Strasburg has struck out 22 while walking two and has just allowed two runs in 13 innings. That'll do, kid. As for Harper, he set Fenway on fire. Harper went 3/5 for the game, scoring twice and driving in three runs. Harper added a double and a 425 foot homer to his stat line, and now has an .899 OPS on the season, lapping the field in the NL Rookie of the Year race. So yeah, these young Nationals....they're pretty damn good.
Game of the Night: Diamondbacks 9, Athletics 8. This game didn't start off well for Arizona. The A's rocked D-Backs' starter Daniel Hudson for six runs in the second inning, knocking Hudson out of the game after recording just five outs. After Hudson left the game, former rotation-mate Josh Collmenter took over and shut out Oakland over 3 1/3 innings, striking out six in the process. The Arizona offense sliced that deficit in half in the bottom of the second, scoring three runs highlighted by a two-run Jason Kubel homer. A solo homer by Paul Goldschmidt in the fifth made it 6-4 (and led to the end of the night for Oakland starter Tom Milone), but the A's stretched the lead to four after a two-run homer by Seth Smith in the sixth. Once again the Diamondbacks answered, scoring a pair in the bottom of the sixth with Kubel doubling in the first run and Justin Upton singling him home. That led to the ninth, with Arizona down two runs against A's closer Brian Fuentes. Fuentes got the first two outs in order before walking Chris Young and allowing Aaron Hill to single. That brought up struggling Diamondbacks third baseman Ryan Roberts, who hammered a ball over the left-center field wall to give the Diamondbacks a walk-off win in a game that looked out of reach early on.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Kevin Millwood started the combined no-hitter for the Mariners, and threw six hitless shutout innings against the Dodgers, striking out six and walking one in the 1-0 Seattle win. Hiroki Kuroda flirted with a no-hitter against Johan Santana and the Mets, but had to settle for allowing one hit and one walk in seven shutout innings while striking out seven...not that he needed to be great, with the Yankees putting up a lot of offense in a 9-1 victory. CJ Wilson allowed just one run over eight innings in the thin air of Coors Field, giving up five hits, one walk, and striking out nine as the Angels beat the Rockies 7-2. Wilson's former teammate Matt Harrison also looked good, throwing a complete game shutout for the Rangers against the Giants, allowing five hits and striking out four batters without a walk. Harrison also got a mind-bending 18 ground ball outs. That takes skill.
Hitting Lines of the Night: The aforementioned CJ Wilson got plenty of help in Colorado, mostly from Torii Hunter, who went 3/5 with two runs, six RBI, and a pair of homers in the Angels win. Shane Victorino helped pace the Phillies offense in a 9-6 win over the Orioles, going 3/4 with two runs, five RBI, a double, and a homer. The Twins beat the Cubs 8-7 in ten, but Alfonso Soriano can't be blamed for the loss. He went 3/5 with three RBI and a pair of homers for the northsiders, including a go-ahead two run shot in the eighth. In our lone NL series of the weekend, the Brewers beat the Padres 9-5 thanks to a pair of solo homers by Corey Hart, playing first and hitting leadoff for Milwaukee.
Spotlight Series: This really didn't go the way I expected it to. The Rangers pretty much dominated the Giants, shutting San Francisco out 5-0. The Giants got just one runner to second base, and that was Barry Zito, who overslid the bag and was tagged out. So technically...they didn't even have a runner actually stand on second base for a pitch all game. Of the Giants five hits, only two made it to the outfield. Yep....three infield singles for the Giants last night. Of the 27 outs they made, only one was a flyball to the outfield. This is one of the more under the radar dominant performances for a pitcher all year: ONE OUTFIELD FLYOUT in a complete game shutout. That's wacky. The Texas offense actually struggled a little bit, because they had 14 hits and walked five times, but only scored five runs. They stranded 13 men on base during the game, and both of the homers they hit (Ian Kinsler to lead off the game, and Josh Hamilton in the fifth) were solo shots. Rangers center fielder Craig Gentry went 5/5, with just one extra base hit (a double). Every Texas starter aside from Harrison on the mound had a hit. What an odd, amazing game.
Other Games: Erik Bedard was strong once again, and the Pirates beat the Royals 4-2. The Pirates are the first team in Pennsylvani with 30 wins! Who would have imagined that in April? The Reds beat the Tigers 6-5 in ten on a walk-off squeeze from Wilson Valdez...so yeah, THAT happened. Jeremy Hellickson struggled with his control, but the Marlins couldn't get actual hits off of him as the Rays won in Miami 5-1. The Braves beat the Blue Jays 4-3 in ten on a Jason Heyward inspired tenth inning (infield single, sacrifice, stolen base, scores on throwing error by JP Arencibia on the steal). The Astros clubbed the White Sox 8-3 in a 2005 World Series rematch. Josh Tomlin outdueled Jake Westbrook and the Indians beat the Cardinals 6-2.
Today's Games: Gio Gonzalez starts for the Nationals in Boston against Daisuke Matsuzaka, making his season debut and first start in over a year following Tommy John surgery. Justin Verlander will look to play stopper again for the Tigers, taking on Bronson Arroyo and the Reds. Pirates ace James McDonald goes to the hill to take on Vin Mazzaro and the Royals. Clayton Kershaw will start for the Dodgers against the Mariners and Jason Vargas. Matt Moore and Carlos Zambrano will duel in Miami. Out in Arizona, Jarrod Parker takes on Trevor Cahill in a battle of pitchers that were traded for each other this offseason.
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.
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