|Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner was in ace form on Monday night in L.A. (Getty Images)|
We saw pitching history in L.A., and we saw an epic struggle in D.C. Tuesday promises more of the same as the titans continue to clash ...
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins: Some nights, the 22-year-old Stanton swings the bat like a force of nature. Monday night was such an occasion. In the course of a 12-3 slaughtering of the Diamondbacks, Stanton hit two home runs, one of them a tape-measure blast. He's now homered five times in his last five games, and he's slugging .595 on the season.
Ryan Dempster, Rangers: Dempster came into Monday night lugging around an ERA of 8.31 as a Ranger. Finally, though, he broke through with 8.0 innings of one-rune ball against the Orioles. Over that span, he struck out six, walked two and gave up just four hits. He also retired the last 11 batters he faced.
Madison Bumgarner, Giants: It was a huge game in Chavez Ravine, and Bumgarner pitched accordingly. In 8.0 dominating innings against the Dodgers, Bumgarner whiffed 10, walked none and gave up four hits. The gem dropped his 2012 ERA to 2.83. As a result (and for the moment), Bumgarner's Giants are back in first place. And then there's this:
Fredi Gonzalez, Braves: Yes, on occasion we put a manager in 3 Down. Gonzalez's closer Craig Kimbrel, you see, came into Monday night's big game against the Nationals on two-days' rest and having pitched just once in the previous five games for a total of 15 pitches. Somehow, though, Gonzalez managed to allow a 14-inning game to reach its serpentine conclusion without summoning perhaps the best relief pitcher in baseball. That's inexcusable.
Brandon McCarthy, A's: It's not often that the Oakland ace finds himself on 3 Down, but he earned it on Monday night. The Twins cuffed him around for six runs on 10 hits in just 3.1 innings of work. It was McCarthy's shortest outing in more than a calendar year, as he was never able to recover from a 32-pitch first inning.
The Indians on the road: Key to the Tribe's fall from contention has been what the team has wrought away from home over the last month. After Monday night's loss in Seattle, the Indians are now 1-16 over their last 17 road games. That's positively Astros-ian.
Clash of titans, NL East edition: It goes without saying that this Braves-Nationals tilt has postseason implications, but it's also a pretty intriguing pitching match-up, as Paul Maholm opposes Stephen Strasburg. Maholm has been outstanding since being acquired by the Braves at the deadline, and Strasburg … well, we know about Strasburg. Needless to say, these events will surely awaken the Strasburg-160. 7:05 pm ET
Another A's arm: If the A's make an improbable postseason run, then they'll get there largely on the strength of their run-prevention profile. A big part of that is their rotation. That rotation stands to get better on Tuesday, as gifted young lefty Brett Anderson makes his first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery in June of last year. He'll face an underrated Twins offense. 10:05 pm ET
Clash of titans, NL West edition: Best rivalry in baseball? That's my opinion. Important game? That's an indisputable fact: only a half-game separates the Giants and Dodgers in the standings. On Tuesday, Joe Blanton goes for the Dodgers, while San Fran counters with Tim Lincecum. Lincecum, it should be noted, has been much better in the second half, although he struggled last time out against the Nationals. 10:10 pm ET
Tuesday probables for all games
• Happy anniversary!: How did David Wells, 20 years ago Monday, manage to give up 13 runs in 4.1 innings of work and log a game score of -14? Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times looks back at the worst start in Blue Jays history.
• Prep time: Do closers tend to pitch better when given time to prepare mentally for the task than they do when their team takes a surprise lead in the late innings? Russell A. Carleton of Baseball Prospectus has run the numbers, and he concludes that the amount of closer prep time doesn't make much of a difference.
• Fade to black: What's a "positional black hole"? As defined by the folks at Beyond the Boxscore, it's a position that, regardless of how many players are shuffled in and out of it, a team just can't fill adequately. Those same folks at BTBS have taken a look at some of the worst black holes throughout recent baseball history.
• The next big thing: Bubba Starling may have the perfect baseball name, and, it so happens, the Royals' young phenom can also play a little bit. The Times-News profiles him.
• Beat the heat: What's the secret to Adam Dunn's comeback season? It has much to do with the fact that he's crushing fastballs once again. Baseball Analytics has a visual representation of what it looks like when Dunn crushes fastballs.
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