Another week, another fresh set of MLB matchups on an abbreviated Monday. Let's dive right in.
Indians 12, Orioles 0 (box score)
Reds 7, Rays 3 (box score)
Marlins 8, Nationals 7 (box score)
Braves 9, Giants 0 (box score)
Pirates 8, Brewers 1 (box score)
Cubs 3, Padres 2 (box score)
Blue Jays 7, Rangers 6 (box score)
Royals 4, Red Sox 2 (box score)
Astros 4, Athletics 1 (box score)
Dodgers 10, Mets 6 (box score)
Mariners 6, Tigers 2 (box score)
Indians scorching on road trip
Through June 14, the Indians were just 31-31 on the season and it just didn't seem right. They were 94-67 last season and there were plenty of reasons to believe they'd be better this year. They upgraded with Edwin Encarnacion over Mike Napoli, they would presumably get a full season of Andrew Miller and hopefully a full season of health from Carlos Carrasco and Michael Brantley.
So seeing them sitting there at just .500 with exactly 100 games left was probably a bit jarring for fans of the team that got so close that November. The good news was that the rest of the division didn't do anything to leave them in a big hole. All it would take is a turnaround and the Tribe would be back in first.
Sure enough, after Monday's convincing win (again) over the Orioles, the Indians have won six straight games and pushed their AL Central lead to 2 1/2 games.
Before the winning streak, run prevention -- specifically in the rotation -- had been an issue. The Indians have allowed 1, 3, 2, 2 and 0 runs in the last five games, respectively. Encarnacion got off to a slow start this season but is currently on fire. Jason Kipnis started the season injured and then slow, but he's starting to pick things up a bit. Austin Jackson's having a great year, considering he was signed on a minor-league deal.
On Monday, Jose Ramirez doubled, giving him a double in seven straight games. That's an Indians club record. He actually doubled twice in this one, as did Jackson. Encarnacion, Lonnie Chisenhall and Yan Gomes also doubled. Ramirez also tripled (good lord is he hot!). Kipnis and Carlos Santana homered. It was a total extra-base hit fest.
They didn't even need it, really, with how locked in Corey Kluber was. He would work a three-hit shutout, striking out 11 without walking anyone. Just utter domination. His twoseamer was filthy, as was the hook:
So the Indians dominated every facet of the game on Monday and now have won six straight, the last five coming on the road.
In all, it isn't too surprising to see the defending AL champs start to take some semblance of control in that division. It just took a little longer than many thought it would.
Orioles pitching is dreadful
The Indians' opponent on Monday is going in the opposite direction, especially on the hill. Check this out:
June 2 was the last time the Orioles didn't allow at least five runs in a game. Since then, they've gone 5-11 -- which is actually a testament to their offense for winning five. This isn't some fluky thing where they give up five or six runs each night. In eight of those 16 games, it's been at least seven runs. In five of the 16, including Monday night, it's been at least 10 runs.
It's difficult to win games with such horrible run prevention. Remember, the Orioles started this season 22-10. Since then they are 12-25, which is pretty easily the worst record in the American League in that time.
Bellinger making history
Cody Bellinger has tied two others in becoming the fastest ever to 20 career homers (51st career game). He added another for good measure -- so while it's not the nice, round number, he's the fastest ever to top 20. For more on that, .
Giants making dubious club history
The Giants lost in blowout fashion to the Braves on Monday and have dropped seven in a row. As noted in the mercurynews.com game story, the 26-46 start ties the 72-game starts in 1973 and 1985 for the worst-ever in the club's San Francisco era.
There really isn't much more to say here, is there? Just awful.
Marlins take wild one from Nationals
Through 2 1/2 innings, it looked like this might be a laugher. On the strength of Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon home runs, the Nationals held a 6-0 lead.
On the surface, this was against a bad Marlins team with 2016 Cy Young top-10 finisher Tanner Roark on the hill, so it should've been pretty easy.
Digging deeper, though, Roark has been considerably worse this season, notably with the long ball. He entered the game having allowed 10 homers in 84 innings. He only coughed up 17 in 210 innings last year. Also, the Marlins had won 13 of their last 20 and were no longer playing like a pushover.
They wouldn't on this night, either.
It still seemed harmless with a 6-2 lead and two outs with nobody on. Giancarlo Stanton reached on an infield single. Roark would walk Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna to load the bases and the home run issue surfaced at the worst possible time:
That's a Justin Bour grand slam and he's having a hell of a year. He's hitting .307/.379/.614 with 18 homers and 48 RBI.
The Nationals would grab a 7-6 lead before Stanton homered to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. It would go to the ninth tied up when the Marlins again mounted a two-out rally. Gordon walked to start it. Stanton would again reach on an infield single before Yelich walked and Ozuna walked it off with a single.
A wild one, indeed.
So do Blue Jays
The Blue Jays-Rangers game was tied, 1-1, heading into the fourth. The Blue Jays would get four runs on a Jose Bautista homer -- you know how much they love him in Texas, too -- and Steve Pearce bases-loaded, three-RBI double. The Rangers would respond with five of their own in the bottom half, taking the lead on Adrian Beltre's bases-loaded, three-RBI double.
It would stay 6-5 heading into the ninth, but the Jays would grab two off Matt Bush. Kendrys Morales came through with the go-ahead single, plating Josh Donaldson (who tied it with an RBI single of his own).
A very interesting takeaway here is that the Blue Jays are 0-7 this season when trying to even up their record at .500. The win Monday moved them to 34-35, so they'll give it a go on Tuesday.
And get this: Aside from the Yankees, Red Sox, Indians and Astros, no other AL team is more than one game over .500. So the Blue Jays -- after a 2-11 start and talk of them having a firesale -- are smack dab in the middle of playoff contention before we even get to July.
Rizzo loving leadoff, Cubs come back
The leadoff experiment continues to pay dividends for the Cubs and Anthony Rizzo. In six games since the unorthodox move by Joe Maddon, Rizzo has reached base in the first inning all six times. He's homered twice, doubled once, walked once and singled twice, including this shift-beating bunt on Monday:
OK, so Rizzo didn't score there, but it's still pretty funny. He's even bunting for hits. He has been on fire since the move -- and he was on fire for a stretch before the move, too -- and drove home a run on a sac fly and tripled later in the game. The sac fly was a few feet from a three-run homer, too. He's locked in. And, hey, the Cubs are 4-2 with him at the top.
Rizzo's teammates would help with a come-from-behind win in this one. They were down, 2-1, heading into the seventh when Willson Contreras tied it up with a home run. Javier Baez would single and then score on an Albert Almora double (Baez has stealing on the pitch, too).
The Cubs' bullpen would hold the lead, though Wade Davis had to work out of a self-inflicted (hit by pitch, wild pitch, walk, wild pitch again, setting up second and third with one out) jam.
The Cubs move to one game over .500, but they are only 1 1/2 games back of the Brewers in the NL Central.
Reds back in the win column again
Heading into Monday, the longest streak in all of baseball belonged to the Reds with a nine-game losing streak. They would avoid the dreaded 10-gamer, thanks to a win in Tropicana Field. They had a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth and only to see the Rays tie it up on a two-run Daniel Robertson homer in the bottom in the seventh.
No matter, the Reds' offense bounced right back, putting a three-spot on the board in the top of the eighth. Joey Votto singled home the go-ahead run. Jesse Winker -- you'll see below that he was just called up from the minors for this one -- would tack on two more with a bases-loaded single.
- Have you heard of Make Music Day? It's June 21. Former Yankees player and current musician Bernie Williams is one of the ambassadors. More info here.
- There's been .
- Giants reliever Hunter Strickland's six-game suspension for throwing at Bryce Harper was upheld and he'll serve immediately.
- Yankees prospect Gleyber Torres .
- Reds shortstop Zack Cozart has . Bronson Arroyo was also placed on the DL. Outfielder Jesse Winker and pitcher Ariel Hernandez were recalled.
- The Indians have placed Michael Brantley on the disabled list. He was transferred there from the paternity list.
- Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy has a broken wrist and is on the DL. He won't be able to resume baseball activities for four to six weeks. Infielder Paul Janish was called up to take Hardy's roster spot.
- The Brewers have released reliever Neftali Feliz.
- The Dodgers have activated reliever Sergio Romo from the DL, sending Josh Fields down to the minors.