The Juice is back for its fifth season of fun! Stop by each weekday (and now on Saturdays) for an ample serving of news from the action, plus great photos, stats and video highlights.
Derby ready: Initially I was surprised by the selection of Andrew McCutchen to replace the injured Giancarlo Stanton in Monday's Home Run Derby. Then it dawned on me: McCutchen is without question the hottest hitter in the National League right now, and with his two two-run homers in the Pirates' 13-2 blowout victory over the San Francisco Giants, has hit 18 long balls on the season after a completely homerless April. So yes, he belongs.
On the flip side, McCutchen's first home run on Sunday came off Tim Lincecum, who continued his unexplainable — unless he's hurt — downward spiral by allowing six earned runs over 3 1/3 innings. That bumps his ERA up to 6.42 and drops his record to 3-10, making him the first Cy Young winner to hit 10 losses before the All-Star break since Barry Zito in 2008 (4-12).
Take two: After being ejected four pitches into his start on Saturday, Zack Greinke was back on the hill for Milwaukee Sunday — with ejecting umpire Sam Holbrook behind the plate — becoming the second pitcher this season to start back-to-back games. The first was C.J. Wilson back on May 11 and 12 after a long rain delay ended his first start after five batters. Before Wilson, the last time that happened was 2002.
Back to Greinke, he wouldn't be long for this game, either, as manager Ron Roenicke yanked him after allowing three runs in just three innings. But unlike Saturday, his teammates did get him off the hook and eventually pulled out a 5-3 win over the Houston Astros in 10 innings. Now it's interesting to note that Greinke is also scheduled to start Milwaukee's first game out of the break on Friday, which, according to Elias, would make him the first pitcher since Red Faber with the Chicago White Sox in 1917 to start three consecutive games in the same season.
Another crack in Heath Bell: The hand of Ozzie Guillen is about to be forced. He won't be able to stick with Heath Bell, who signed a three-year, $27 million contract in the offseason, in the closer's role after blowing his sixth save on Sunday. Given a 4-2 lead in the ninth, Bell proceeded to allow an Allen Craig single, a Matt Carpenter double, two walks, a sacrifice fly to Tony Cruz, and then All-Star Rafael Furcal wrapped up the latest meltdown with a two-out, two-run single, giving the St. Louis Cardinals a 5-3 win.
Oh, and to make matters worse for Miami, Hanley Ramirez was forced to leave the game early after cutting the knuckles on his right hand punching a cooling fan. He took third stitches after the game and should return immediately following the break.
Super Nova: The New York Yankees concluded a successful weekend series in Boston and a strong first half with a 7-3 victory. Ivan Nova was the man on the mound, striking out 10 and pitching around a couple rare Derek Jeter miscues to hold Boston to two runs over six innings. Andrew Jones also connected for his fourth home run in three games, helping New York reach the break at 52-33 and expand their lead in the AL East to seven games over the Orioles.
* * *
Quote of the Day: ''He's got a lot on his mind, I guess.''
- Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel on the current frame of mind of struggling outfielder Shane Victorino, who was scheduled to hit seventh on Sunday but was a last-minute scratch after showing displeasure with his demotion. His replacement, Jason Pridie, would connect for a two-run home run (Victorino's last was June 8) and an RBI double (Victorino's last was June 13), yet still the Phillies fell to the Atlanta Braves, 4-3.
* * *
Photo of the Day: Welcome to the future
Photo of the Day II: Payback time2-1 win over Seattle in 12 innings. Here you see Weeks and Kurt Suzuki putting on the finishing touches. Jonny Gomes was in charge of dumping the Gatorade.
* * *
Three Facts for the Water Cooler:
• After being shutout by Brad Mills and the Angels 5-0, the Baltimore Orioles have now scored in only one of their last 32 innings (Steven Pearce's three-run homer on Friday).
• Luke Scott knocked in a pair of runs in Tampa Bay's 7-6 win over the Cleveland Indians. That gives him a team-leading 42 RBIs heading into the break despite missing three weeks with a back ailment and suffering through a nearly record-breaking 0-for-41 slump.
• Ryan Dempster tossed five shutout innings in the Cubs 7-0 win over the Mets, improving his scoreless innings streak to 27. That ties him with Ken Holtzman for the longest such streak for a Cubs starter, which Holtzman accomplished in 1971.
- Sports & Recreation
- Andrew McCutchen
- Zack Greinke
- Heath Bell
- Heath Bell
- San Francisco Giants