By Rick Hummel
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
CINCINNATI (TNS) — The streaks keep mounting. Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha extended his winning streak to eight games and hiked his career record against the Cincinnati Reds to 11-1 in a 6-4 victory on a sweltering Saturday at Great American Ball Park.
The Cardinals won their 13th straight against the Reds, ninth in a row this year, and they have won their last 11 meetings at Great American Ballpark.
Wacha (8-1), coming off his no-hit flirtation last Sunday, held the Reds to four hits, one of them Eugenio Suarez’s two-run homer, in 5 2/3 innings.
The Cardinals’ support came from four sources, or actually five. Jose Martinez and Marcell Ozuna bashed back-to-back homers in the first inning. Matt Carpenter homered in the seventh. And Yadier Molina hit a bases-clearing double in the third. One of the runners chased home on that hit was Wacha, who had started the inning by drawing his first walk of the season.
With Bud Norris having a day off in the bullpen, Mike Mayers, Austin Gomber, Sam Tuivailala and Jordan Hicks combined for the last 10 outs although Mayers and Tuivailala each was touched for a run.
Hicks, pitching in his third straight game, gained his first major league save, striking out three hitters in the ninth.
Struggling Royals win
OAKLAND, Calif. — Chris Bassitt had everything but luck on his side.
Making his first appearance on a big league mound in nearly two full years, Bassitt did almost everything right in a 2-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals Saturday at the Coliseum.
It may have been a lazy June afternoon at an aging ballpark to the 16,208 who came out, but to Bassitt it may have well have been a full house at Yankee Stadium.
Alas, it happened to be on a day where the Athletics bats fell silent against Royals left-hander Danny Duffy (3-6) and two relievers as Kansas City snapped a six-game losing streak.
Bassitt (0-1) gave up three hits and one run in seven innings with one walk and six strikeouts. The Royals scored in the second inning when Ryan Goins doubled to right and scored on a single by Paulo Orlando, but Bassitt found his rhythm and didn’t give up another hit in a 93-pitch outing.
It was his first big league game since April 28, 2016, the day he hurt his elbow and required Tommy John surgery.
The Royals added an insurance run in the eighth inning Alex Gordon hit his fifth home run of the season off Yusmeiro Petit.
The Athletics, meanwhile, had just three hits against Duffy and four overall in a game that was completed in two hours and 28 minutes. Duffy walked three, struck out 10, and looked much closer to the pitcher who was 21-13 in 2016-17 than the guy who had a 5.81 earned run average coming in.
Two singles by Matt Chapman and one by Matt Olson were all the Athletics could muster against Duffy. Kevin McCarthy pitched the eighth inning, and Kelvin Herrera got his 14th save retiring the heart of the Athletics order in the ninth, giving up a third single to Chapman.
Bassitt learned Friday with Triple-A Nashville in Round Rock, Texas, that he was needed for a spot start because Trevor Cahill had a sore Achilles. He’d been called up twice this season and both times was optioned back to Triple-A without ever taking the mound.
Promoted to the Athletics for a long relief role on April 20, he was sent back down six days later, having been only a spectator. He was back with the A’s again on May 26, but sent to Nashville the very next day when the Athletics called up Frankie Montas.
Bassitt concedes his frame of mind hasn’t been what it should be.
The 6-foot-5 right-hander concedes it was nobody’s fault really, because his role was long relief and at the time starters were pitching into the seventh inning.
By sitting Michael A.Taylor against a right-handed pitcher, Nationals manager Dave Martinez traded defense for offense. The result was the kind of offensive performance Washington has produced infrequently this season and a timely output to overcome a rare hiccup by a starting pitcher in a 7-5 victory over the San Francisco Giants.
In his first game since April 8, Eaton, batting leadoff, went 1-for-4 with a hit-by-pitch before coming out of the game as part of a double switch after the seventh inning. He reached base twice and scored - sprinting from second base - within the first two innings. He moved smoothly in the outfield, too, though he seemed to have trouble stopping.
Jays edge O’s
TORONTO — The Orioles have discovered different ways to lose throughout this lost season, and Saturday at Rogers Centre, they found a new way by dropping a 4-3 decision to the Toronto Blue Jays on reliever Mychal Givens’ bases-loaded walk in the 10th inning.
In a sloppy game that ended on the most anticlimactic of walk-off endings, the Orioles (19-44) sunk to a season-worst 25 games below .500.
The Blue Jays (29-35) lost a pair of late-inning leads, but the Orioles couldn’t capitalize with another frustrating game offensively, going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The Orioles have averaged just 1.9 runs over the past 10 games.
Cubs blank Bucs
CHICAGO — Jon Lester summed up the blissful state of the Cubs in four words: “We’re back to ‘16.”
And then, as if blanking the Pirates over seven innings Saturday in a 2-0 victory wasn’t enough, Lester elaborated: “It took time for everybody to recover. When you come off that high of Game 7, you’re trying to get up for every game (the next season). And it’s not there. This year everybody came in with a different mentality. Everybody always says, ‘This is the hardest I’ve worked’ or ‘This is the best shape of my life’ ... whatever nonsense. But I feel like guys made an effort to work on their weaknesses.”
Lester mentioned shortstop Addison Russell, who looked sharp Saturday in his return from a sprained finger, and Ian Happ, who made three sliding catches Friday in left field.
Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber also made excellent grabs, leading manager Joe Maddon to describe the defense as “spectacular ... the outfield play is really jacked up.”
Javier Baez came on for defense in the ninth and produced a web gem to end the game, sprinting from second base to the edge of the wall to snatch a foul pop.
“Sun, wind, all that stuff and having to go that far ... it was fun to watch,” Heyward said.
At this rate, MLB might want to look into a bulk shipping rate for Gold Gloves.
Said Baez: “I went for it even though we were up by two. You don’t want to get hurt on a play like that.”
The Cubs won for the 11th time in 13 games with tight defense and pitching -- one hit allowed -- and just enough at the plate.
They scored twice in the first inning on a lone hit -- and a lucky one at that. But the best teams take advantage of their breaks, and the Cubs did that with A-plus situational hitting.
Kris Bryant, batting leadoff for the second straight day, got plunked on the left shoulder by Nick Kingham. Heyward ripped a ball to left-center, where Starling Marte slipped on the turf that got soaked by morning rain.
“The end game is three runs again or less,” manager Buck Showalter said. “But we did create more opportunities, but there’s two parts to that — creating opportunities and not cashing them in. That big hit has just been elusive for us.”
Givens entered the game in the 10th, and struck out the first batter he faced. But he walked Justin Smoak on five pitches and hung an 0-2 changeup that Kendrys Morales hit for a single. Givens induced a flyout from Kevin Pillar to center field, but then hit Randal Grichuk with his first pitch to load the bases. Givens entered the day having hit just one of 132 batters faced this season.
Givens (0-2) then walked Luke Maile on four pitches, all fastballs, scoring the winning run on a borderline high pitch.
“Just got off rhythm and just wasn’t throwing strikes,” Givens said. “Like any bullpen guy, you try to make an adjustment and I didn’t make the adjustment of pounding the zone. The ball just got away from me and I went out there and lost the game.”
The Orioles were able to score the tying run in the eighth inning without a single hit. Jonathan Schoop was hit by a one-out pitch by Joe Biagini, whose errant throw to first the next batter allowed Mark Trumbo to reach base. Trey Mancini drew a walk from Tyler Clippard to load the bases. Clippard nearly escaped the inning by striking out Chance Sisco, but he then buried a breaking ball in the dirt that got away from Maile and allowed Schoop to score from third.
The Orioles then failed to score the potential winning run in the ninth despite having two runners in scoring position with one out. Adam Jones was cut down at the plate on Craig Gentry’s grounder to third against a drawn-in infield and Schoop grounded out to end the inning. Before Gentry’s fielder’s choice, he couldn’t get down a squeeze bunt with Jones bearing down on the plate.
“Craig has been one of our best bunters,” Showalter said. “He did a nice job of fouling it off. It was down. It wouldn’t have surprised me if he had gotten it down. We’re scuffling to score runs. We’ll take our chances at about anything. Adam had a good break.”
Moments after the Orioles scored two runs to tie the game in the seventh, starter Kevin Gausman’s first pitch of the bottom of the inning caught too much of the plate and Randal Grichuk — a light-hitting right fielder who has been a thorn in the Orioles’ side in this series — hit it just over the left-center-field fence.
“Trying to throw a fastball down and away and it kind of came across the plate,” Gausman said of the home run ball. “You know just one of those things. More mad at myself about, we just came back and tied the game up. Told myself I was going to go out there and attack those guys. You know, maybe didn’t throw my best fastball down and away and he put a good swing on it.”
But only so much could be put on Gausman, who pitched the Orioles’ ninth quality start in 10 games, holding Toronto to three runs over 6 2/3 innings. Over the past 10 games, Orioles starters have a 3.34 ERA, but the team is 2-8 in those games.
The Orioles scored two runs in the seventh against Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez when Mancini hit a one-out single then scored on Sisco’s double into the right-center-field gap. After Jace Peterson drew a walk, Jones’ single tied the game.
Though they were charged with no errors, the Orioles didn’t help Gausman defensively earlier in the game. Mancini made an unsuccessful diving attempt to catch Kendrys Morales’ sinking line drive to open the second inning. Gausman would strand Morales at third, but needed a strikeout-throwout double play to escape, getting Grichuk swinging before Sisco threw out Kevin Pillar trying to steal second.
With one on and no outs in the third, third baseman Danny Valencia couldn’t come up with Gio Urshela’s grounder, the ball hitting off his glove to put runners at the corners. Yangervis Solarte would drive in the runner from third with an RBI single that scored the first run of the game.
After that, Gausman found his groove, retiring eight straight — including six consecutive groundouts — before back-to-back doubles by Solarte and Teoscar Hernandez gave Toronto a 2-0 lead in the sixth. Solarte’s double came after Mancini double-clutched his throw once he fielded the hit off the wall, allowing Solarte — who wasn’t running hard out of the box — to get to third.
Gausman recovered, striking out the next three batters. He struck out six and walked none while mainly working with his fastball and splitter.
“Just felt like I never got in a situation where throwing a breaking ball was really going to benefit me,” Gausman said. “Just didn’t necessarily have the feel for it as early in the game as I have in the past. So my split was really good too and I just felt like that was working.”
Richard Bleier and Miguel Castro combined to pitch 2 1/3 relief innings before Givens entered in the 10th.