|Giancarlo had a good night. So did Scutaro. (Getty Images/U.S. Presswire)|
There were 15 games played and 166 runs scored, so let's get to it ...
Neil Walker, Pirates: The Buccos' second baseman was critical to his team's 7-6 win over the Diamondbacks. Walker homered in the first, doubled in the fifth and drove a career-high five on the day. Each of Walker's two hits put the Pirates in front. With a slash line of .292/.357/.454, he's quietly having a quality season.
Marco Scutaro, Giants: In the course of a 15-0 ritual slaughter of the Cardinals, Scutaro went 3-for-6 with a grand slam, a double and seven RBI. He's raking since being dealt to San Fran.
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins: In just his second game back after undergoing knee surgery, Stanton tallied four hits, including a pair of home runs. The 22-year-old is now hitting .290/.367/.577 on the season.
The Cubs: Not only did the North Siders get blanked by Clayton Richard and the Padres on Wednesday, but the loss also means the Cubs will end the 2012 season with an 0-10 record in the state of California. Overall, the Cubs have dropped eight straight.
Ben Francisco, Astros: How does a defensive sub who went 1-for-2 with an RBI wind up on 3 Down? For neglecting the basics. In the bottom of the ninth, Francisco singled to left and drove in a run to cut the Nationals' lead to 4-3. However, had Francisco been hustling or paying attention or both he could've made it to second standing up on Roger Bernadina's misplay in the outfield. But he didn't. On cue, the next batter singled, but Francisco was eventually stranded on third. Hustling is too basic to be neglected or forgotten.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Twins: He went 0-for-4 in the loss to Cleveland. He's now 0-for-12 on the season. He also did this.
Full Wednesday scoreboard with box scores and recaps for all games
Stealth ace: Believe it or not, Hiroki Kuroda has been the Yankees' best starting pitcher this year, and on Thursday he'll be tasked with taming the high-powered Tigers in Comerica. Opposing him will be Doug Fister, who's coming off his first complete game since being traded to Detroit. Is this an ALDS or ALCS preview? Could be. 1:05 pm ET
Duel: Madison Bumgarner of the Giants is one of the most gifted young hurlers in all of baseball, even though he doesn't get the publicity that some of his peers do. He comes into Thursday night's start in St. Louis having whiffed at least seven batters in each of his last four starts. He'll oppose Adam Wainwright, who has a 2.52 ERA in the second half. It's a critical game for both of these contending squads. 1:45 pm ET
Contenders or pretenders?: Many fans are wondering whether the Diamondbacks are going to make a serious run at the NL West title (they have the best run differential in the division by a comfortable margin). A similar number of fans are wondering whether the upstart Pirates can hang on to the their current wild-card status. Another clarifying game comes our way, as Joe Saunders and Wandy Rodriguez oppose one another at PNC. 4:05 pm ET
Thursday probables for all games
• It's still here: America wonders with bated breath: will Dale Thayer keep his wondrous mustache? Dale Thayer answers: yes, he will keep his wondrous mustache. [San Diego Union-Tribune]
• What we talk about when we talk about talking: At some point in your baseball fandom, you have likely been curious as to what all those base-runners and first basemen talk about during the game. James Wagner of the Washington Post is similarly curious, and, lucky for us, he's decided to find out.
• Loser show: Some loser teen recently took a laser pointer to a Cardinals game and attempted to shine it into the face of the opposing pitcher. When confronted about it, some loser adult in charge of said loser teen refused to cooperate. As noted in this BBTF thread, shining a green laser in someone's eyes is dangerous and tantamount to assault. Throw the book at him. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
• Mark Lerner is nervous: Needless to say, Mark Lerner, the most publicly visible of the Nationals' principal owners, is happy to be in charge of a contender. However, he's also nervous about the first high-stakes season in Nats history. "Be careful what you wish for," he cautions. [MLB.com]
• Look out, Angry Birds: What's the next big thing in iPhone gaming apps? We'll give you a hint: You must hit home runs and collect sunflower seeds. Your name is "Buster Posey." [San Jose Mercury News]
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