Sunday gave us great drama in the form of two 15-inning games, a 10-inning game, several walkoff victories and much more. But one theme stood out, and that was good to great pitching outings from either unheralded or previously bad starting pitchers. This included Max Scherzer, Franklin Morales, Brett Cecil, Dallas Keuchel, Luis Mendoza, Jose Quintana and more -- in addition to the three gentlemen listed as 3 UP.
Full Sunday scoreboard with recaps and box scores for every game
Alex Cobb, Rays: After losing in 15 innings Saturday night, the Rays needed a big outing from their most undheralded starting pitcher. And they got it. Cobb worked seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits, a hit-by-pitch and one walk while striking out 10 in a 3-0 Rays victory.
Clayton Richard, Padres: The 28-year-old left-hander entered the game with a 4.30 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. He was also facing a hot A's team that brought in a five-game winning streak. Richard went out and threw 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball, only yielding five hits and two walks while striking out six in a 2-1 Padres win.
Garrett Richards, Angels: Richards is trying to make the Angels' decision on a fifth starter -- once Jered Weaver comes back -- awfully difficult. He lowered his ERA to a minuscule 0.86 after tossing eight shutout innings against the Diamondbacks Sunday. He only allowed four hits and four walks and struck out five. And the Angels are 18-6 since May 21.
Jordan Danks, White Sox: The 25-year-old rookie was in left field in the bottom of the 10th inning when Tony Gwynn Jr. sent a line drive his way. Danks was overaggressive in his pursuit of the ball, diving for it and missing it. And all of a sudden Gwynn was on third base with one out, representing the winning run. He scored on Dee Gordon's walkoff single.
Jeanmar Gomez/Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians: The Pirates are playing good baseball, but they're far from a good offensive club. In fact, they entered Sunday ranked dead last in the majors in runs scored. And Gomez coughed up seven hits (including two homers) and eight runs in just 4 1/3 innings. Of course, only four of those runs were earned, due to three Asdrubal Cabrera errors. He only had three all season prior to Sunday.
Late-inning baserunning mistakes: Allen Craig of the Cardinals was on third base with one out in the bottom of the 14th inning, and the Cardinals trailed by one. Tyler Greene sent a rocket to center field, and Craig misjudged it. He broke toward home initially as if it was a sure base hit, but the ball carried into Jarrod Dyson's glove. By the time Craig broke back to third, he had missed out on the chance to tag up. He was let off the hook when Yadier Molina singled him home next at-bat.
Minutes later, in real time, I flipped over to the Twins-Brewers game and witnessed Trevor Plouffe -- who represented the winning run in the bottom of the 15th inning -- run through a stop sign at third base and get caught in a run down. He eventually ran out of the baseline and was called out. The Twins did get a runner to third on the play and then plate the winning run with a Denard Span single, taking Plouffe off the hook.
So, yes, both players were ultimately picked up by teammates and virtually cleared of their respective gaffes, but those kinds of mistakes just can't happen -- especially in such crucial situations.
Still Streaking: The Yankees won again Sunday, so they've won nine in a row. They've also won 12 of 13 and have gone 19-4 since May 21. Whoa. They'll look to keep the good times rolling against the Braves Monday night at home, and ace CC Sabathia (8-3, 3.70) gets the ball. Mike Minor (3-4, 6.01) will try to get the Braves back on track, as they're heading in the opposite direction -- having lost six of seven games. 7:05 p.m. ET
Cain's encore: Last time out, Matt Cain (8-2, 2.18) provided one of the best pitching performances in big-league history. This time out, he'll see how he fares on the road against the red-hot Angels. Jerome Williams (6-4, 4.20), as alluded to above, may be pitching to save his job for the Angels. 10:05 p.m. ET
The Dusty-Lowe Bowl: Last week, Indians starting pitcher Derek Lowe (7-5, 3.78) had a bit of a war of words with Reds manager Dusty Baker through the media. As luck would have it, we get a Lowe vs. Reds matchup Monday night in Cleveland. The root of the argument was a Mat Latos (5-2, 4.64) high-and-tight pitch on Lowe last week. And as luck would have it, Latos is starting again for the Reds. Bring on the drama (actually, stuff like this usually amounts to zero in-game drama, but we can always hope). 7:05 p.m. ET
Monday's probable pitchers
• Spreading the love: Jim Thome homered Sunday for the Phillies, marking the 100th time he'd done so in a Philly uniform. He hit 337 home runs for the Indians and 134 for the White Sox. This means Thome became the fourth player in major-league history to have at least 100 home runs with three different teams. The others: Alex Rodriguez, Reggie Jackson and Darrell Evans. (MLB.com)
• Eli the politician: Two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning threw out the first pitch before the Mets-Reds game Sunday in Citi Field. When asked if he was a Yankees fan or Mets fan, he took the exact route one would expect a member of the Manning family to take: “I'm both. I'm a New York fan. That's the good thing about being in New York -- two home baseball teams. Usually one of them is always playing well, and now both of them are playing really well.” (nytimes.com Bats blog)
• On booing Alfonso Soriano: Saturday night, maligned Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano hit a line drive right at Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks. It appeared an obvious line out and no one would have noticed Soriano standing in the box had Middlebrooks caught it. But he dropped it, and Soriano was exposed. Boos cascaded from the Wrigley Field stands in Soriano's direction the rest of the game. Soriano's teammates and manager defended him after the game and I tend to agree with them that pretty much every single player in baseball stands in the box on a play like that. On the flip side, David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com outlines why booing Soriano isn't just about one play.
I would have a small counter-argument, which is concerning Kaplan's point that a large part of the booing is due to Soriano's ridiculous contract. No one booing Soriano would have turned down that contract. We can't blame a guy for signing an absurd deal that was offered to him. The fault there is the person who offered the deal. I'll also note Soriano has been playing injured the past month and has never, ever had an issue with any teammates, management or fans. The boos just seem a bit played at this point.
• Johnny Extra-Bases: Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto doubled Sunday, which was good for his first career extra-base hit in his 217th at-bat. (Hardball Talk)
• The Coco Crisp Chia Pet: We already knew there was a Pablo Sandoval Chia Pet, and here's another Bay Area Chia Pet ...
Coco Crisp Chia Pet? Yes please. twitter.com/FollowThePadre…— Follow The Padres (@FollowThePadres) June 17, 2012