That pun was terrible, and I apologize in advance. But man, how about the Tampa Bay Rays? The Rays have risen to second place in the AL East standings, ten games above .500, and are one of the AL's two wild card teams at this point in time. Tampa Bay has won five in a row and nine out of ten, and with six games heading into the break against the Twins and Astros, they could be breathing right down Boston's neck sooner rather than later.
PIC OF THE DAY
Diamondbacks mascot Baxter taunts Dodgers fans. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Game of the Night: Tigers 4, Indians 2 (ten innings).There were three extra inning games last night, and this was probably the best of the bunch. The two teams battled into the night after a solo homer by Matt Tuiasosopo tied the game at two in the fourth, and Max Scherzer and Scott Kazmir both left the mound before the game was decided. In the top of the tenth, Matt Albers recorded the first two outs of the inning before walking both Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder and giving up a two-run double to Victor Martinez. Joaquin Benoit came on for the bottom of the inning to close the door, but after getting the first two outs, allowed a pair of singles to bring the winning run to the dish with two outs...but Mike Aviles struck out to end the game and give the Tigers a 3.5 game lead in the AL Central.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Zack Greinke beat up the Diamondbacks in the Dodgers' 6-1 win, allowing only two hits over seven shutout innings, walking two and striking out seven. John Lannan beat his former team in the Phillies' 3-2 win over Washington, giving up four hits in eight scoreless innings, striking out four and walking two. Matt Garza put together another strong start for the Cubs in their 3-2 win over the White Sox, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits in seven innings, punching out six without a walk. Jeff Locke and Bartolo Colon had a solid pitchers duel in Oakland's 2-1 win in Pittsburgh, with Locke allowing two runs on three hits in seven innings, walking three and striking out four, and Colon giving up one run on seven hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking one.
Hitting Lines of the Night: Buster Posey had himself a night in the Giants' 4-3, 16 inning loss to the Mets, going 5/8 with two doubles and a two-run homer. Alfonso Soriano improved his trade value for the Cubs, going 3/4 with four runs, a walk, a stolen base, a double, and a homer. Also for the Cubs, Dave Sappelt went 4/5 with a run and two RBI. Aaron Hicks did well for the Twins in their 7-4 loss to the Rays, going 4/4 with two runs, two doubles, and a triple. Justin Smoak led the Mariners to an 11-4 win over the Red Sox, going 3/4 with two runs, two RBI, a walk, and two doubles.
Other Games: The Rangers used a six run sixth to beat the Orioles 8-5. The Braves scored six in the 14th to top the Marlins 7-1. The Royals topped the Yankees 5-1. The Brewers beat the Reds 4-3 thanks to this game-saving catch from Carlos Gomez. The Rockies topped the Padres 4-2, sending San Diego to their tenth straight loss.
What You Missed: Ryan Howard has a torn meniscus and will miss 6-8 weeks. The participants for the Home Run Derby have been announced. Anna Benson was arrested for felony assault on her husband Kris. Scott Hairston was dealt to the Nationals. The biggest snubs from the All-Star Game.
Today's Games: Julio Teheran starts for the Braves in Miami. Cole Hamels and the Phillies host the Nationals. Josh Johnson and the Blue Jays take on the Indians in Cleveland. Dan Straily and Gerrit Cole will duel in Pittsburgh. CC Sabathia and the Yankees host James Shields and the Royals. Justin Verlander and the Tigers host the White Sox. Kyle Gibson and Chris Archer will duel in Tampa. All-Star Travis Wood and the Cubs host the Angels. Bud Norris starts for the Astros in St Louis against Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals. Ricky Nolasco makes his Dodgers debut in Arizona against Ian Kennedy. Jhoulys Chacin gets the nod for the Rockies in San Diego against Eric Stults.
National TV: Rangers-Orioles (7 PM, MLB Network), Royals-Yankees (7 PM, MLB Network)
MLB.tv Free Game: Astros-Cardinals (8 PM)
Pitching Matchup of the Day: Bud Norris vs Adam Wainwright (Astros vs Cardinals, 8 PM)
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.