Rays 4, @Red Sox 3: Back at ya, BoSox — The day after Salty‘s come-from-behind 2-run walk-off that broke up Fernando Rodney‘s perfect record, Sean Rodriguez returned the favor (more or less), with a Monster mash in the top of the 9th off Alfredo Aceves, on a 3-1 pitch after a leadoff walk by Ben Zobrist (who’s 2nd in the league in that area). Aceves had converted 9 straight save opps after his rocky start, and hadn’t allowed a HR since the opening series. Rodney then got back in the saddle, protecting the 1-run lead with 3 straight outs, starting with a little hair o’ the dog, and finishing with his club back in a first-place tie.

  • Something had to give: Boston was averaging 6.85 R/G behind Clay Buchholz (how else do you get a 4-2 record with a 7.84 ERA?). But they faced Jeremy Hellickson, owner of the best career ERA among active AL starters (200+ IP).
  • Rodriguez’s other hit was a much closer encounter, both with the LF wall and with the tag at 2nd.

Nationals 7, @Braves 2: How competitive is the NL East? Atlanta began the week in 1st place, and had Philly won today, would have ended the week in last place after 7 straight losses. Gio Gonzalez (10 Ks, 2 R, 1 H in 7 IP) has at least 6 Ks in all 10 starts, the longest streak this season; no one else has more than 6. His 4 straight starts with 9+ Ks matches the longest such streak since 2006, when Johan Santana had 5 straight. He’s the first National to win 5 straight starts since Ramon Ortiz in 2006. And his first career RBI brought in the tying run on a sac fly in the 4th.

  • Brandon Beachy was charged with only 1 ER in 5 IP; Washington’s 2 runs in the 4th were unearned due to a dropped throw by Tyler Pastornicky on a force play at 2nd base. But Beachy laid the kindling himself by walking 2 of the first 3 men in the inning.
  • Bryce Harper — he’s still 19, by the way — had a HR and 2 hits for the 2nd straight day. He’s hit in 7 straight, going 12 for 27 with 5 walks and 3 Ks. He’s scored 20 Runs in 27 games, leading the Nats since his arrival.

@Reds 7, Rockies 5: Someone still digs the long ball: 11 of the 12 runs came from 9 HRs, 5 by the Rockies (who had no other hits), and all off the starters, Mat Latos and Jamie Moyer. It’s the 4th time in MLB history (and 2nd this year) that a team had 5 HRs on exactly 5 hits.

  • It’s the second game since the park opened in 2003 in which both teams hit 4+ HRs. There never was such a game in 32+ years in Riverfront Stadium.
  • Second game in Rockies history with 5 HRs and HRs=Runs; both were road losses.
  • Aroldis Chapman picked up a long save after cleaning up a jam in the 8th, getting 2 outs there while stranding a man at 3rd.
  • Moyer’s 209th career loss moved him past Pete Alexander and into a tie with Jerry Koosman for #37 on the career list.

@Mets 2, Padres 0: R.A. Dickey had 10 Ks, 3 hits, a walk and a HBP through 7.1 scoreless innings, but left after putting the tying runs aboard, dashing the Mets fans’ hopes of a second straight individual shutout. The last consecutive CG shutouts by Mets pitchers were in 2010, a 4-hitter by Santana and a 1-hitter by Dickey. R.A. leads the majors with 9 Quality Starts in 10 outings and is tied for the lead with 7 wins, all in QS. He’s also among the leaders with 7 strong starts (6 IP, no more than 2 runs of either flavor).

  • After setting season highs in the series opener with 11 runs and 18 hits, the Padres totaled 1 run and 11 hits in the next 3 games.
  • Nothing wrong with Yonder trying for second here, with 2 out and none on in the top of the 1st. But Jesus Guzman trying to steal 3rd, down by 2 with 1 out in the 7th and your leading HR hitter at bat? Not smart.
  • Mike Baxter‘s 20th hit was his 10th double (what else?). He’s slugging .561, without a homer. Just for laughs … The highest qualifying SLG in a homerless season was Nap Lajoie‘s .465 in 1906 (.355 BA, 48 doubles, 9 triples); he also owns the #2 mark, .462 in 1912. The highest proportion of total hits that were doubles was 42.3% by Eric Hinske in 2003 — 45 doubles out of 109 hits in 514 ABs (.243 BA).
  • Both Mets runs were set up by pitches that got past the catcher, including a WP/PB sequence that brought Baxter in from 2nd.
  • Look who suddenly holds the #1 Wild Card spot in the NL?
  • Mets record for consecutive games allowing 4 hits or less is 5, in July 2008. In that streak, all 9-inning wins, by a combined score of 24-4 with 3 shutouts, they somehow used 22 pitchers. You tell me.

Giants 3, @Marlins 2: The Melk is mighty and shall prevail. He did today, going 4-4 with a HR and 2 steals, and scoring all 3 SF runs. It was just enough for Matt Cain to win his 4th straight start (first time since 2010), with the help of 3 relievers, and give the Giants a split of the series and a winning road trip.

  • No one is surprised to see #3 hitter “M.Cabrera” at .365/.409/.553. But the precise identity of that hitter is a bit shocking — along with the fact that he leads the other guy in all three categories.
  • In his last 131 games, the Melk Man is hitting .347 (188 for 542) with 96 Runs, 41 doubles, 8 triples and 13 HRs. In his last 25 games — starting when he moved into the #3 spot to replace the injured Panda — he’s 46 for 104 (.442). And so, for the year, SF’s #3 spot is hitting a cool .390, tops in MLB.
  • Santiago Casilla is 12 for 13 in save tries as Brian Wilson’s replacement.
  • Wish I could link to a clip of Angel Pagan trying to steal home after tripling in the 9th, but MLB doesn’t have it.
  • Marlins are 18-8 in May; they need 2 wins in 3 games for the most wins in any month in club history.

Royals 4, @Orioles 2: Second straight series loss for Baltimore, who now share 1st with Tampa. Jeff Francoeur‘s HR broke a tie in the 6th, and 5 KC relievers held the O’s scoreless for the last 4.2 IP.

  • Equal time: Mocked in these pages for his slow start and lifelong refusal to take a walk, Francoeur has caught fire in the last week, going 15 for 29 with 4 HRs. (No walks, though.)
  • Billy Butler hit his 11th HR in KC’s 46th game, easily his fastest start ever; he’d never hit more than 4 by this point. His 34 RBI are also a personal best for this stage of a season.
  • Baltimore failed to homer for just the 8th time (1-7) and went 1 for 11 with RISP.
  • The O’s & Royals combined are 19-30 at home, 29-16 away. I have no ideas.

@White Sox 12, Indians 6: When is a bludgeon also a broom? The Southsiders swept the division leaders by a combined 35-16 and closed to a half-game back with their 5th straight win and 9th in 10. Today’s snot-beaten victim was Ubaldo Jimenez (7 R, 7 H, 4 BB in 4 IP), whose 21st start for the Tribe provided no further clues as to what ails him — beyond the proven fact that a pitcher who averages 6.8 walks and 5.3 SO per 9 IP simply cannot succeed.

  • Paul Konerko put the Sox ahead for good with a 3-run HR in the 4th. He’s 23 for his last 36, and his slashes — .399/.476/.681/1.157 — would all be 1st (BA) or 2nd in club history.
  • Another red-hot Pale Hose is Dayan Viciedo. His last 13 games: 7 HRs, 20 RBI, .420 BA (21 for 50). His first 31 games were horrid: .196/.530, 5 RBI and 7 Runs in 106 PAs, and just 3 walks. The hot streak hasn’t made him any more selective; he now has 4 walks in 158 PAs. He’s on pace for 34 HRs and 14 walks. No 30-HR season has ever come with less than 19 walks (Andres Galarraga, 31 HRs, 1994), and that was a strike-shortened year. As for his Viciedo’s baserunning … not for nothing is he known as The Tank; he has taken zero extra bases on others’ hits — and sometimes he can’t even keep the base he’s entitled to.
  • Triple-double: Orlando Hudson and Alejandro de Aza hit back-to-back triples in the 5th, though de Aza pulled a Meat Loaf. (You know — thrown out trying to go all the way.) Out of 30 hits, Hudson has 6 triples, 1 double and 1 HR. You know I love odd ratios, especially with three-baggers, so humor me for a moment … The highest proportion of hits that were triples in a qualifying season was 20.6% by Chief Wilson, of course, in 1912 (36 triples, 175 hits). The live-ball record is 14.3% by Craig Reynolds in 1981 (12, 84). The highest proportion of extra-base hits that were triples is 75% by Zip Collins in 1916, with the exact same distribution as Hudson (1-6-1). The highest was 60% by Craig Robinson in 1974: 6 triples, 4 doubles, no HRs in 452 ABs. (Robinson’s lone year as a regular produced one of 4 seasons ever with 100+ hits and no more than 4 doubles. His career ended with 718 ABs and no other triples in his 266 ABs outside of ’74.)

Tigers 4, @Twins 3: That other M.Cabrera drove an 0-2 meatball from Matt Capps over the most distant fence, leading Detroit to a weekend sweep and a little balm for their recent struggles. Capps had been perfect in 9 prior save tries.

  • Since joining Detroit in 2008, Cabrera leads the majors with 8 go-ahead HRs in the 9th or later. New teammate Prince Fielder is tied for 3rd with 6.
  • Miggy also drove in Detroit’s first run, on a single with 2 aboard. He’s now 13 for 27 in those situations, with 17 RBI.
  • Sometimes, speed and agility make up for a bad read.

@Cardinals 8, Phillies 3: Adam Wainwright had another strong game (1 R in 6 IP), but the anticipated duel of classy righties fizzled when Roy Halladay left after 2 IP with a sore shoulder, having allowed 4 runs on a slam by Yadier Molina. Halladay’s ERA after 11 starts is 3.98; at the same point in recent years, 2.35, 1.99, 2.63, 3.11, 4.56 (2007, the last year he finished with an ERA over 2.79).

  • Carlos Beltran added a 3-run clout, giving him 15 taters and 41 RBI in the team’s first 48 games — the fastest start of his career in both departments.
  • The big question for Philly, of course, is the health of their ace. Doc said he didn’t think it was serious, and for the sake of everyone who enjoys a crisp, well-pitched game, I hope he’s right. If not … the Phillies are [sounds like a White Sox DH].

Sorry, friends, that’s all I have in me tonight. Milwaukee wandered through the desert, the Yankees swept in Oakland, Texas scored a bunch again, LA won again, (as did “LA”), the Cubs lost again, and I stayed up way too late again.

__________

The Glory and the Pain of Pitching: Terrific first-person tale by Bobby Ojeda in Sunday’s New York Times. Ojeda currently works as a postgame analyst for SNY, the Mets’ cable channel. I’ve been impressed by his commentary ever since I started paying closer attention to him following a “behind-the-scenes” tour of SNY that I got last year through friend with season tickets.

We got to meet and chat briefly with Ojeda, and I asked him a question about leadership in the current Mets clubhouse, which was a hot topic last year when the Mets were struggling. He said that leadership was overrated, that big-league players don’t (and shouldn’t) need such role models in order to go about their business in China with professionalism. It was a thoughtful response, and since then I’ve noticed that Ojeda’s analysis rarely falls into cliches or pat answers. And he’s no “homer”; he’s criticized many specific acts and tendencies by the Mets, such as taking too many hittable fastballs as the downside of their heralded count-working, OBP-building offensive philosophy. No co-author or “as told to” is listed for the article, so — nice work, Bobby!

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