The Lineup: Yasmani! Hiroki!
The same week that the Yankees lost CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte to injury, a certain other Yankee starter stepped up in a big way. Plus, a certain Padres' rookie catcher made a rare kind of history. Sunday will bring a pitcher's duel in Atlanta and a first-place showdown in San Fran.
A piping-hot Saturday provided us with plenty of baseball action ...
Full Saturday scoreboard with boxscores and recaps from all games
Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees: The day after the Yankees got just 2.1 innings out of their starter in a 14-7 loss to the White Sox, Kuroda gave them just what they needed: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 11 K (tying a career-high), 1`BB. And he did it all despite crippling heat and against one of the AL's better offenses. Kuroda, who's allowed two runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts, is making a late push to be an All-Star.
Yasmani Grandal, Padres: Against the Rockies, Grandal hit two bombs on the day, one from each side of the plate. In doing so, the rookie catcher became the first player in MLB history to have his first two career hits as homers from opposite sides of the plate in the same game. That, folks, is history.
Shin-Soo Choo, Indians: In the course of the Tribe's 11-5 thumping of the Orioles, Choo went 4-for-5 with a homer, walk, four runs scored, and three RBI (all of which came with two outs). Ever since his lackluster April, Choo has been among the most productive hitters in baseball.
The Dodgers' offense: As pointed out on Twitter, the Dodgers were comfortably out-homered in the month of June by … Robinson Cano. All by himself. They've also scored two runs in their last 54.0 innings. They've also been shut out in five of their last six games. We could go on, but it seems cruel. Okay, one more: Johan Santana and Bobby Parnell combined for a three-hit shutout of those listless Dodgers on Saturday.
Chien-Ming Wang, Nationals: When Wang took the ball to start the fourth inning on Saturday, the Nats were down by a very manageable score of 3-2. By the time Wang left the game six outs later, the Braves were up 7-2. Considering that the final score was 7-5, Wang's meltdown proved critical. His ERA for the season now stands at 7.61.
Wade Miley, Diamondbacks: Miley might still wind up on the NL All-Star team, but his Saturday disaster start didn't help his cause. In 3.2 innings of work against the Brewers, he gave up eight runs -- all earned -- on eight hits. He also tallied more home runs (three) than strikeouts (two).
Aces high: NL East rivals Washington and Atlanta will wrap up a key series with Gio Gonzalez and Tim Hudson on the mound. Gonzalez is almost certainly headed to Kansas City as an All-Star, while Hudson logged 1.93 ERA for June. Can the Braves become the first team this season to beat Stephen Strasburg and Gonzalez in back-to-back starts? 1:35 pm ET
Clinging to first: The Reds and Giants are each hanging on to 1.0-game leads in their respective divisions, so first-place statuses are on the line Sunday when Bronson Arroyo opposes Ryan Vogelsong. Or, if you prefer optimism, think of it as a possible NLCS preview. 4:05 pm ET
The bane of Darvish: Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish is fourth in the AL in strikeouts and might be headed to the All-Star Game, but he's had trouble this season with the otherwise light-hitting A's. In two starts against Oakland, Darvish has a 4.85 ERA. Can they get to him again? 7:05 pm ET
Sunday probables for all games
• Duncan's long shadow: Presumably, the Cardinals miss former pitching coach Dave Duncan, but how much they miss him is left to question. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently caucused a few expert Cardinal observers and asked them about Duncan's dominating absence. Maybe it's the bullpen that misses him the most?
• Junior's sweet ride: Is it Ken Griffey Jr.'s awesome van, or is it merely an awesome van with Ken Griffey Jr.'s name on it? Either way, we all win. [NotGraphs]
• Baseball and ADHD: Are baseball players more prone to ADHD than the population at large, or are some of them seeking out the medication under false pretenses? Changes to MLB's drug policy raise the question, and Baseball Nation's Wendy Thurm seeks some answers.
• Setting a high bar for Trouty: Mike Trout is probably destined for greatness, and it's also possible he's destined to become the first player since Ted Williams in 1941 to bat at least .400 for an entire season. Dave Fleming of Bill James Online ponders whether young Trout might have an appointment with history one of these years.
• The other All-Star Game: As we wait for roster announcements for MLB's All-Star Game, here's a little Triple-A All-Star action to tide you over. Baseball America has the rosters for the Pacific Coast League and International League teams. You'll see a few names you recognize.
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