The Lineup: Alvarez powers Pirates; Nats, Rays looking to break losing streaks

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer
Alvarez displayed his prodigious power in a big Pirates win. (Getty Images)

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On the same night that this happened, the Marlins lit up Stephen Strasburg, the Royals lit up Justin Verlander, the Padres finally lost a game and there was a 1-0 game in Rangers Ballpark. Needless to say, it was a wild night. Let's dive in.

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3 UP

Pedro Alvarez/James McDonald, Pirates: The Pirates needed this one. They entered the game struggling, having lost 13 of 18 and fallen to three games behind the Cardinals for the second wild card in the NL. And boy did the Pirates go out and get it, in a 9-0 drubbing. Pedro Alvarez went 4-for-5 with a double, four RBI, three runs and two mammoth home runs, which traveled 891 combined feet. We cannot forget about the pitching effort provided by McDonald, either, as he went seven shutout innings and only allowed two hits to one of the better offenses in baseball.

Chris Tillman, Orioles: In seven shutout innings against a power-hitting first-place team (the White Sox), Tillman allowed only one hit. A single. And if you aren't taking the Orioles seriously at this point, you're just burying your head in the sand.

Yu Darvish, Rangers: Seven shutout innings with 10 strikeouts and zero margin for error, as the Rangers won 1-0. Oh, and guess which team has won 10 of its last 13 and again looks like the best team in the American League? Yep. Those guys.

3 DOWN

Justin Verlander, Tigers: When getting set for work, seeing Verlander allow 12 hits and eight earned runs to the Royals was probably the last thing I figured I'd see. But the unpredicability of baseball is part of what makes it great.

Indians' offense: Yes, the A's pitching staff is good and, yes, at this point we aren't expecting much from the Tribe. Still, the Indians have now been held scoreless in 45 of their last 48 innings. They'll take a 22-inning scoreless streak into Wednesday's game. This is flat-out embarrassing.

Alfredo Aceves, Red Sox: Fresh off a suspension for conduct detrimental to the Red Sox, Aceves needed to step up with Andrew Bailey unavailable. He did not, coughing up the save in the ninth inning. He hit Erick Aybar with a pitch and walked Alberto Callaspo to bring Mike Trout to the plate with two on and one out. Trout singled, which was followed by a walkoff sacrifice fly by Torii Hunter.

On Deck





Streak-breaker? The Washington Nationals had baseball's best record for a while, but have now lost five in a row. They aren't in any immediate danger of falling out of playoff position, but long losing streaks can kill seasons, so the Nats would love to snap this thing ASAP. Wednesday, it'll be Ross Detwiler (7-6, 3.25) against Jacob Turner (0-1, 4.50) and the Marlins. 7:10 p.m. ET

Texas-sized sweep? Last week at this time the Rays were the hottest team in baseball. This time around they're looking to avoid a sweep at the hands of the again-red-hot Rangers. Alex Cobb (8-8, 4.32) gets the ball for the Rays while Matt Harrison (15-7, 3.04) is set to go for the Rangers. 7:05 p.m. ET

Oakland arms: The A's haven't allowed a run since the 5th inning Saturday, and they'll get two more games against the hapless Indians before a weekend series against what's left of the once-strong Red Sox offense. How long can they keep the streak going? Travis Blackley (4-3, 3.52) gets his chance to extend things Wednesday. The Indians will run Corey Kluber (0-2, 5.32) out to the mound.

Wednesday's probable pitchers

What's Hot





Beckett handles Simers: T.J. Simers is a Los Angeles Times columnist who likes to crawl under the skin of players on occasion. For six long minutes Monday night, he picked at new Dodgers starter Josh Beckett and Beckett didn't crack. WEEI.com has the full transcript.

Adam Dunn, Hall of Famer? It might be met with scoffs from fans and media who are misguidedly obsessed with batting average and strikeout totals, but Adam Dunn is an on-base and power machine. He may get to 600 homers with a great OBP, meaning he'd warrant discussion as a Hall of Famer. Jeff Saukaitis of Sports Network discusses where things stand with Dunn.

Craig Breslow, M.D.? Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow went to Yale, and he may decide to become a doctor for his next career, depending upon how long he sticks around in the majors.

"The answer to that probably depends on where I am down the road, how long I'll play for, what my situation is in terms of family and those kinds of things," said Breslow (NESN.com). "If I'm able to play this game for another ten years, I don't know if at 42 I could envision myself in a med school classroom, but I'm certainly not shutting the door on that."

LaHair and other "flashes:" Cubs All-Star Bryan LaHair had a great start to the 2012 campaign, but he's since fallen apart and lost some significant playing time. Using LaHair as an example, Beyond the Box Score takes a look at LaHair and other recent cases of "flashing in the pan."

Fan scouting: Think you know baseball as well as anyone? Of course. There are many fans with great knowledge of the game. It's time to take part in a scouting exercise, should you so choose. Tangotiger.net is holding the voting for its 2012 Scouting Report, done completely by fans.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

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