Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 7/28/12

I'm not someone who believes in factors outside of baseball, like curses, mythos, or some sort of higher being. But watching this Pirates team...there's something special going on here. The team was stuck in an early 3-0 deficit last night, and they battled back over the next four innings, tying the game at four going into the bottom of the seventh. Of course, Houston immediately took the lead back, and went into the ninth up 5-4. After Wesley Wright started the inning with a strikeout, Rhiner Cruz replaced Wright to attempt to get the final two outs and finish the game off. It didn't go that way. Michael McKenry started Cruz's outing with a single, and Cruz then walked a pair of pinch hitters in Drew Sutton and Casey McGehee. That led to Cruz getting pulled and Xavier Cedeno coming in to face Starling Marte, in his *second* career game...and all he did was hit a game-tying sac fly, and perhaps more importantly, Sutton tagged up to third on the play. That brought up pinch hitter Rod Barajas, who didn't even need to swing the bat to bring in a run: Cedeno threw a wild pitch, allowing Sutton to score the go-ahead run. Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan finished Houston off in the ninth to get the save, and the Pirates are now 15 games above .500 and leading the wild card race by two games over second wild card Atlanta, and 3.5 games ahead of St Louis.

Game of the Night: Athletics 14, Orioles 9. You're probably wondering how a five run game is the game of the night. Well, this five run game was a seesaw battle. Oakland took a 5-0 lead after just their part of the second against Zach Britton, and with Jarrod Parker on the mound, things looked safe. Until, of course, Parker allowed six straight Orioles runs after five, giving Baltimore a 6-5 lead. Seth Smith hit a bases loaded double in the sixth to make it 8-6, and that score held until the eighth, when Baltimore got a trio of runs off of dominant A's relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook. With Baltimore leading 9-8 going into the ninth, and Jim Johnson on the mound, things looked safe. Naturally, Johnson faced seven batters, got one out, allowed six to reach base, and five to score (with Luis Ayala allowing the final one of Johnson's runners to score). The Orioles put two on with one out in the bottom of the ninth before Jerry Blevins managed to finally slam the door and finish a wild game.

Pitching Lines of the Night: Twins starter Scott Diamond, acquired last spring from the Braves for reliver Billy Bullock, threw a complete game shutout against the Indians in an 11-0 Twins blowout, allowing three hits and striking out six without a walk. Unreal. Brewers starter Mike Fiers stopped Milwaukee's skid in a 6-0 win over the Nationals, throwing 6 1/3 shutout innings and allowing four hits, walking three with nine strikeouts. And then, offense dominated the evening....

Hitting Lines of the Night: The Yankees crushed the Red Sox 10-3, and star center fielder Curtis Granderson went 3/5 with two runs, four RBI, a double, and a homer. In that tough Houston loss to Pittsburgh, Chris Johnson fell a single short of the cycle in four at bats, adding a walk and two runs to his statline as well. Mike McKenry went 3/4 with two runs, two RBI, a double, and a homer in the win. Fiers got some help on offense in Milwaukee's win over Washington from Aramis Ramirez, who went 3/4 with two runs, two RBI, a double, and a homer. The Rays fell to the Angels 3-1, but DH Jeff Keppinger went 3/4 with a stolen base, double, and a homer. Then, there's JJ Hardy of the tough luck Orioles, who went 3/4 with two runs, three RBI, a walk, a double, and a homer.

Other Games: The Cardinals homered in five straight innings in a 9-6 win over the Cubs. The Padres scored seven unanswered runs in a 7-2 win over the Marlins. The Blue Jays beat the Tigers 8-3. The Braves roughed up Cole Hamels in a 6-1 win over the Phillies. The White Sox crunched Yu Darvish in a 9-5 win over the Rangers. The Reds shut down the Rockies 3-0. The Diamondbacks smashed Jon Niese and the Mets 11-5. The Mariners roughed up Jeremy Guthrie and the Royals 6-1. The Dodgers beat the Giants 5-3 in ten innings.

Today's Games: Anibal Sanchez makes his Tigers debut in Toronto. Jon Lester and CC Sabathia will duel in New York. Wandy Rodriguez makes his Pirates debut against his former team in Houston. Matt Harrison will start for the Rangers, hosting the White Sox. Matt Moore takes on CJ Wilson and the Angels. Johnny Cueto's league-leading ERA might take a huge hit, and him and the Reds will play the Rockies in Denver.

Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.

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