The Lineup: Phillies, Red Sox finally playing like Phillies, Red Sox
The once-struggling Phillies and Red Sox are surging. Can they keep it going?
Before you pen your obits for the Phillies and Red Sox, you might want to check recent trends.
Hunter Pence, Phillies -- Against Houston, Pence went 3-for-5 on the day with two homers, and the last of those two homers was a 10th-inning walk-off. Thanks to Pence's efforts, the Phillies are riding their first three-game win streak of the season. They now head to Chicago only one game below the .500 mark.
Anthony Bass, Padres -- Bass certainly wasn't supposed to out-pitch Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday, but that's precisely what he did. Bass worked 8.0 innings and gave up only one run on five hits. He also struck out seven and lowered his 2012 ERA to 2.87.
Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles -- The Yankees were the first team to get a second look at the Taiwanese lefty and the results were more than encouraging for Chen. The former Chunichi Dragon took a two-hitter into the seventh inning against New York, losing his shutout on a two-run homer by Curtis Granderson. He left after seven having allowed just four hits, walking two and striking out four. Unlike his first start against the Yankees, he picked up the win. Chen improved to 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA on the season.
Twins offense -- The good: The Twins didn't strike out on Tuesday. The bad: They also didn't score a run. In fact, the Twins were complicit in Derek Lowe's becoming the first pitcher since Scott Erickson in 2002 to toss a shutout despite not having any whiffs. Oh, and the Twins also notched 18 ground-outs and hit into four double plays. Minnesota has now scored zero, one or two runs in 17 of its 36 games this season.
Cubs bullpen -- Carlos Marmol was first exiled and then disabled, yet nothing changes. On Tuesday, the Cubs relief corps surrendered eight base runners and three runs in 2.2 innings of work. In the process, they frittered away the game to the rival Cardinals. Presently, the Cubs have the highest walk rate and lowest strikeout rate of any National League bullpen.
Nick Swisher, Yankees -- While Swisher is otherwise having a very productive season, he flopped on Tuesday night. At the plate, he went 0-for-4, grounded into a double play and left four runners on base. In the field, he badly misread a ball off the bat of Matt Wieters, which turned out to be a double.
Full Tuesday scoreboard with box scores and recaps for all games
Darvish, Part VIII: Texas's Yu Darvish makes his eighth start of the season on Wednesday when he opposes Tommy Milone and the A's in Arlington. The mighty Rangers come in having lost two straight to the not-mighty Royals. 8:05 pm ET
Young guns: In San Fran, The Cardinals' Jaime Garcia will match wits and pitches with the Giants' Madison Bumgarner. Both are among the most gifted young pitchers in the game. It's Bumgarner who'll have the taller order, as he'll face the NL's top offense. Garcia, though, has historically struggled on the road. 10:15 pm ET.
Red Sox redemption: Can the revived Red Sox keep it going? Wednesday will present a test. They take on the Rays in Tampa Bay, and they trot their worst starter this season, Clay Buchholz (and his 8.31 ERA). Few things would help Boston's chances quite like getting Buchholz untracked. 7:10 pm ET
Full Wednesday schedule with probables
• Give it and they will come: What will rouse Brewers fans from sleep and compel them to drive to Miller Park at 5 am? Free chorizo lawn ornaments, obviously. In their defense, those chorizo lawn ornaments are already worth $350 on Ebay. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
• Avila at rest: File this under "worth monitoring": Tigers skipper Jim Leyland says Alex Avila isn't going to catch as often this season as he did last year. In 2011, Avila played in 141 games and spent 227.0 innings behind the plate. Much of his value is tied up in his ability to produce at a high level while manning catcher, but perhaps the workload is taking a toll. [Detroit Free Press]
• Sterling reputation: Who's the least popular radio team of them all? FanGraphs readers say that Yankee announcers John Sterling (and his groan-inducing puns) and Suzyn Waldman are the worst of the worst. This writer is inclined to agree. Heartily.
• King of plane: A non-exhaustive list of things we learn about Felix Hernandez in this Tacoma News-Tribune piece: He likes bus horns; he likes train whistles; he is a bit sketchy on the timeline of transport innovations.
• Death to Wrigley?: In a Wall Street Journal piece that can only be described as "comically overwrought," Rich Cohen calls for Wrigley Field to be leveled and replaced with a venue that's not such a stark totem to the organization's unfortunate history. This must be done because, um, it's Wrigley Field's fault that the Cubs haven't won the World Series since 1908? Sure.
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