The NL Central race is really going to go down to the wire. On Thursday night, the Pirates won and the Cardinals lost, meaning that with 16 games left, the two teams are knotted at 85-61. The Reds are still lurking at 83-64, but unless they smack the Pirates down when they play over the final two weeks, they're going to have to settle for a wild card. At any rate, this race is going to be awesome.
PIC OF THE DAY
This is a perfect summary of the 2013 White Sox season. (Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports)
Game of the Night: Yankees 6, Orioles 5. You can't blame the Yankees for not keeping it interesting! New York opened up a 5-1 lead in this one after a disappointing start from Wei-Yin Chen. Nick Markakis hit a solo homer in the seventh against David Huff to make it a 5-2 game. In the eighth, Alfonso Soriano led off the inning by robbing Manny Machado of a homer, which would be crucial after Danny Valencia launched a three-run homer with two outs to tie the game at five. But in the ninth, the wheels fell off once again for Jim Johnson. After allowing a single to Brendan Ryan, a throwing error on a bunt by Chris Snyder allowed Ryan to move safely to second. Curtis Granderson bunted both runners over, and Johnson proceeded to literally throw the game away, firing a pitch past Matt Wieters that allowed Ryan to score to put the Yankees in front. And in his final regular season game at Camden Yards, Mariano Rivera set the Orioles down in order in the bottom of the inning to close out the game.
Pitching Lines of the Night: AJ Griffin pitched the A's to an 8-2 win over the Twins, allowing one run on two hits in seven innings, striking out eight and walking one. Jeff Locke finally turned in a good start for the Pirates as they beat the Cubs 3-1, giving up one run on three hits in seven innings, punching out five and walking one. Chris Rusin matched Locke with a fine start of his own, allowing two runs on four hits in seven innings, striking out two without a walk. Tyler Thornburg had a nice night for the Brewers in their 5-3 win in St Louis, giving up two runs on three hits in six innings, punching out three and walking a pair.
Hitting Lines of the Night: The duo of Ryan Raburn and Nick Swisher carried the Indians to a 14-3 blowout win over the White Sox, as Raburn went 3/3 with two runs, five RBI, a walk, a double, and a homer, while Swisher went 2/6 with three runs, three RBI, and a homer. Jose Reyes had a nice night for Toronto in their 4-3 loss to the Angels, going a perfect 4/4 with two runs, two doubles, a homer, and a walk. Freddie Freeman continued to rake for the Braves in their 6-2 win in Miami, going 3/4 with two runs, two RBI, a walk, and a homer. Carlos Ruiz provided the thump for the Phillies as they beat the Padres 10-5, going 3/3 with a run, three RBI, two walks, and a double.
Other Games: The Rays edged the Red Sox 4-3 thanks to a Wil Myers RBI double. The Nationals stayed hot, topping the Mets 7-2.
What You Missed: The post-mortem series continues with the Giants and Rockies, and here are the hope for the hopeless pieces for both the Giants and Rockies as well. Speaking about those Giants, could they lose Tim Lincecum to the Mariners? And here's some good news for Phillies fans: Ruben Amaro is going to be back next year!
Today's Games: Danny Salazar starts for the Indians in Chicago. Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals host the Phillies. Justin Verlander gets the nod for the Tigers against the Royals. Charlie Morton starts for the Pirates against the Cubs. Hiroki Kuroda and John Lackey will duel in Boston. Dan Straily and Derek Holland face off in Texas. Mat Latos starts for the Reds in Milwaukee against Kyle Lohse. Chris Archer takes the mound for the Rays in Minnesota. Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals host Hisashi Iwakuma and the Mariners. Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw will tango in LA.
National TV: Yankees-Red Sox (7 PM, MLB Network), Orioles-Blue Jays (7 PM, MLB Network)
MLB.tv Free Game: TBA
Pitching Matchup of the Night: Madison Bumgarner vs Clayton Kershaw (Giants vs Dodgers, 10 PM)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.