|The Yankees and Angels provided some "playoff atmosphere" on Friday. (U.S. Presswir|
The second half is underway with a full, 15-game slate that provided us with plenty of drama ...
Full Friday scoreboard with box scores and recaps from all games
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs: The maligned Chicago outfielder is rather quietly having a nice season. And on Friday he was at his absolute best: 4-for-4, two home runs, two doubles, five RBI, three runs scored, and 12 total bases.
Justin Masterson, Indians: The contending Tribe needs nothing so much as more consistency from the front of the rotation. To that end, Masterson tamed the hard-hitting Blue Jays on Friday. In 7.0 innings of work, Masterson gave up no runs on five hits and recorded 11 groundouts against a lineup that tends to hit the ball in the air. Just three Blue Jays reached scoring position.
Jonny Gomes, A's: On the night, Twins lefty Francisco Liriano struck out 15 (!) in 8.0 innings of work, so, needless to say, he was at his best. Nevertheless, Gomes managed to go 2-for-4 on the night with a clutch fourth-inning grand slam to put the A's up for good. He also plated an insurance run with a ninth-inning single.
Scott Downs, Angels: The Halo lefty had done almost nothing wrong this season until Friday night. Charged with protecting a 5-2 lead over the Yankees in the 8th inning, Downs proceeded to give up four runs in just 0.2 innings of work. To put a finer point, when Downs took over the Angels had a 91.2% chance of winning the game. After he was charged with his final earned run of the night, the Yankees had an 85.9% chance of winning, which they did.
Allen Craig, Cardinals: Not only did the Cardinal first baseman go 0-for-5 with five runners left on base in Friday night's critical 5-3 loss to the Reds, but he also committed a throwing error that allowed Cincy to take the lead for good in the seventh.
Tony Watson, Pirates: The Buccos fell into a tie for first place on Friday thanks mostly to Watson's lackluster relief work: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 1 BB. The killing blow was a grand slam off the bat of Cody Ransom, who, coming into the night, was batting just .186 as a Brewer.
Dickey Day: The baseball fan is well advised not to pass up an opportunity to watch the Mets' R.A. Dickey ply his trade. So know that on Saturday, he'll face the Braves and Tommy Hanson (who's also quite watchable). Also worth noting is that 1.5 games separate the contending Braves and contending Mets in the standings. 4:05 pm ET
Buchholz is back: on Saturday night in St. Pete, Boston right-hander Clay Buchholz will return to the mound for the first time since June 19. If the Sox are going to make a second-half run, then he'll need to continue making strides despite the illness-related layoff. The Rays will counter with Cy Young contender David Price. 7:10 pm ET
Yu! Felix!: And the aces shall fight the Battle of Seattle. How will Yu Darvish respond to the extra rest (this will be his first start since July 1)? Can Felix Hernandez keep it going (1.75 ERA over his last five starts)? Answers to these questions at 9:10 pm ET.
Saturday probables for all games
• Aroldis unveiled: Reds fire-balling closer Aroldis Chapman may be just 24 years of age, abut he's already dealt with -- and caused -- plenty of upheaval in his life. Can he reign in his wilder instincts and realize his potential? James McNair and our own C. Trent Rosecrans compellingly explore one of baseball's most enigmatic young figures. This is the kind of sportswriting you don't see much anymore. [CityBeat]
• Automatic autographs: I suppose it was inevitable, given the march of technology and the rise of the memorabilia industry, but it's now possible for players to do some of their autograph-signing in the digital, online medium. [Detroit Free Press]
• Five words: Yes, five simple words … Bryce. Harper. Lawn. Gnome. Giveaway. [D.C. Sports Bog]
• Nom, nom, nom: One of the purest delights of going to see a baseball game is stuffing one's face with the finest in life-shortening concessions. And how did we get to where we are to day in terms of those life-shortening concessions? Advertising Age provides the delicious and relevant timeline.
• Home boy: What does Mike Trout's New Jersey hometown think of the local boy made great? Jeff Bradley of the Newark Star-Ledger finds out.
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