Philadelphia Phillies (Aaron Harang) @Washington Nationals (Jordan Zimmermann)
This is the 14th year in the major leagues for Phillies' starting pitcher Aaron Harang. From 2005 to 2007, he was among the upper echelon of pitchers in the game. During this time, he accumulated 15.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), according to Fangraphs, which was good for 7th among all starting pitchers in baseball. The top six were Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt, Brandon Webb, Jake Peavy, and John Smoltz. Just below Harang were CC Sabathia and Roy Halladay. So, yeah, he was pretty good for a three-year stretch. He hasn't reached those heights since then, but he's had some solid-to-average years even as he has moved around from team to team. Since 2011, Harang has pitched for six different teams, including his current team, the Phillies. He's not a a great pitcher, or likely even what you'd call "good" these days, but he goes out and does what he can. He obviously loves the game. He's not going to make any headlines, but he'll keep plugging away until they tell him he can't do it anymore.
My pick: Nationals 6, Phillies 3
Actual score: Phillies 5, Nationals 3
The Phillies halted a six-game losing streak in large part due to the speed of Ben Revere. The score was tied at three in the top of the 7th when Ryan Howard walked and was pinch-run for by Ben Revere. Revere stole second, went to third on a fly ball to right, then scored on a grounder to first. It was all about those wheels for Revere. The Phillies also got a solid effort from Aaron Harang (6 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 6 K) and Jon Papelbon got the save.
(My record: 0-1)
Atlanta Braves (Alex Wood) @Toronto Blue Jays (R.A. Dickey)
R.A. is a 40-year-old knuckleball pitcher who continues to be effective, but how much longer will he pitch? Knuckleball pitchers have been known to stay in the big leagues into their mid-40s, but I think baseball needs to start looking for the next guy to keep the knuckleball pitcher tradition alive.
My pick: Blue Jays 5, Braves 3
Actual score: Blue Jays 6, Braves 5 [10 innings]
In one of the more surprising developments of the season, not a single Toronto Blue Jay batter struck out in this game. The median strikeout rate in MLB this year is right around 21% and the Blue Jays are at 19.5%. Statistically, you would expect them to strike out around 7 times in the 38 plate appearances they had in this game, yet they didn't strike out at all. Braves' starting pitcher Alex Wood went 6 2/3 innings and gave up three earned runs. He left with a 4-3 lead but reliever Jim Johnson gave up two in the 8th to give the Blue Jays the lead. Kelly Johnson led off the 9th for the Braves with a solo shot to tie the game. In the bottom of the 10th, Josh Donaldson hit a leadoff homer to give the Blue Jays a walk-off victory.
(My record: 1-1)
Chicago White Sox (Chris Sale) @Detroit Tigers (Anibal Sanchez)
Now that Kris Bryant has been called up from the minors by the Chicago Cubs, the next great prospect who everyone is waiting for is on the south side of Chicago--Carlos Rodon. Rodon is a White Sox' prospect who was terrific in spring training but sent down to the minors to start the year. He was drafted out of college just last year, so he has very little minor league experience so far, just 31 2/3 innings. Still, he looks like he's ready to pitch in the bigs right now and Chicago fans would like to see him up as soon as possible. I'm guessing we'll see Rodon with the White Sox in early May. In the meantime, enjoy Chris Sale. He's everything Carlos Rodon aspires to be.
My pick: White Sox 5, Tigers 2
Actual score: White Sox 12, Tigers 3
The White Sox brought out the whoopin' sticks in this game. Melky Cabrera was 4 for 5 with 2 runs and 2 RBI. Jose Abreu was 3 for 6 with 2 runs, 4 RBI, and a grand salami. Adam LaRoche was 3 for 5 with 2 runs and 4 RBI. Much of the damage was done against Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez (3 1/3 IP, 9 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, 2 K).
(My record: 2-1)
Cleveland Indians (Danny Salazar) @Minnesota Twins (Phil Hughes)
There's an interesting contrast between these two pitchers. Danny Salazar is like a meteor, flashing through the sky. He's got great stuff but often can't harness it to consistently get batters out. Phil Hughes is like a slow and steady planet, making consistent progress. He doesn't have the stuff that Salazar has, but he can control his pitches much better and rarely hurts himself with walks. The Twins need a win and Hughes is the guy to help them get one.
My pick: Twins 5, Indians 3
Actual score: Indians 4, Twins 2
Danny Salazar and two Indians' relievers combined for 14 strikeouts and allowed just six hits in a well-pitched victory for the Tribe. Salazar had struggled in spring training and was sent to AAA. He was brought up for this game and looked very good, allowing eight baserunners in six innings and notching ten of the team's 14 strikeouts. He won't be going back to AAA anytime soon.
(My record: 2-2)
Cincinnati Reds (Homer Bailey) @St. Louis Cardinals (Carlos Martinez)
Cincinnati pitcher Homer Bailey is coming off the DL to make his first start since last August. His 2014 season ended with elbow surgery. Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez is transitioning from pitching primarily in relief to the starting rotation. I wouldn't expect either pitcher to go too deep into this game, so it is likely to be decided by the bullpens. If the Reds can get it to Aroldis Chapman, they'll win. I don't think they'll get it to him, though.
My pick: Cardinals 6, Reds 4
Actual score: Cardinals 5, Reds 2
Homer Bailey came off the DL after not having pitched since last August and looked a little rusty today. He gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings and didn't strike out a single batter. On the other side, the Cardinals' Carlos Martinez was able to get through six innings and allowed just one run. The Reds couldn't string enough hits together to score more than the two runs they had, with only Zack Cozart getting more than one hit in the game. Cozart was 3 for 4 and is hitting .368 on the season, which he has no chance in hell of keeping up. He'll be lucky to be hitting .268 by the end of the year.
(My record: 3-2)
San Diego Padres (Tyson Ross) @Chicago Cubs (Kyle Hendricks)
This game marks Day 2 of the Kris Bryant Era in Chicago. How good is Kris Bryant? In a previous lifetime, Kris Bryant taught Jimi Hendrix how to play the guitar. Kris Bryant once fought Superman on a bet. The loser had to start wearing his underwear on the outside of his pants. Kris Bryant knows whether the chicken or the egg came first. He's not telling; it amuses him.
My pick: Padres 6, Cubs 3
Actual score: Cubs 7, Padres 6 [11 innings]
Today was a rough day for relievers in Wrigley. The Padres took a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first on a two-run homer by Matt Kemp. Tyson Ross couldn't hold the lead, though, and the Cubs went ahead 3-2 after six innings. The Padres' bullpen then threw gas on the fire by allowing three runs in the seventh and the Cubs took a 6-2 lead into the 9th. Phil Coke started the inning but gave up two hits and Cubs' closer Hector Rondon was brought in to stifle the threat. He was unable to do so as the Padres scored four in the inning to tie the game. It stayed tied until the bottom of the 11th. The Padres brought in Craig Kimbrel, who is usually untouchable. Today, though, Kimbrel was quite touchable. He got the first batter to ground out then walked Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo stole second. Kris Byrant reached on an infield single, with Rizzo going to third. David Ross walked to load the bases and Starlin Castro singled to left to win the game for the Cubbies. Cubs' catcher Miguel Montero was the big bat as he had 2 home runs and three RBI. Phenom Kris Bryant was 2 for 3 with an RBI and three walks.
(My record: 3-3)
Baltimore Orioles (Chris Tillman) @Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz)
In his first outing, against the pitiful Philadelphia Phillies, the Red Sox' Clay Buchholz pitched seven scoreless innings with nine strikeouts. In his second start, against the New York Yankees, Buchholz gave up nine earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. The Orioles are more like the Yankees than the Phillies, so there should be some run scoring in this one.
My pick: Orioles 6, Red Sox 5
Actual score: Orioles 4, Red Sox 1
The Red Sox could only muster seven hits in this game and Brock Holt and David Ortiz combined for six of them. For the Orioles, Chris Davis was 2 for 5 with a run and 2 RBI on a two-run homer and Adam Jones had three knocks. Christ Tillman got the win.
(My record: 4-3)
Milwaukee Brewers (Kyle Lohse) @Pittsburgh Pirates (Jeff Locke)
In a further comparison between the cosmopolitan city of Pittsburgh and the podunk town of Milwaukee, we go to Numbeo.com. According to Numbeo, rent prices in Milwaukee are 20% lower than in Pittsburgh but restaurant prices are 16% higher. A three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost $55 in Milwaukee but just $48 in Pittsburgh. If you want to rent a tennis court for one hour on the weekend, it's going to cost you 20 bones in Milwaukee but just 15 in the 'Burgh. A pair of men's leather shoes will run you $110 in Milwaukee and $91 in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, Numbeo doesn't get to the important things. How about matching up a Primanti's Brothers sandwich from Pittsburgh versus the best bratwurst in Milwaukee? That's what people really want to know about.
My pick: Pirates 7, Brewers 4
Actual score: Pirates 6, Brewers 2
Starling Marte had a big game for Pittsburgh, with 2 hits and 5 RBI. He hit his third homer of the season and stole his second base. Starter Jeff Locke pitched eight innings and allowed just one run on four hits, no walks, and six strikeouts. The Brewers' Kyle Lohse was beat up for the third straight outing and now has a 10.34 ERA on the season.
(My record: 5-3)
Oakland Athletics (Jesse Hahn) @Kansas City Royals (Yordano Ventura)
There will be some bad blood between these teams after what happened in Friday's game. On a force play at second base, the A's Brett Lawrie took out Royals' shortstop Alcides Escobar on a hard slide that knocked Escobar from the game. He was diagnosed with a sprained knee and will miss at least a few days. Lawrie claimed he did not intend to hurt anyone and Royals' manager Ned Yost said, 'I can't judge intent," but this is likely not the last we'll hear of this.
My pick: Royals 6, Athletics 5
Actual score: Athletics 5, Royals 0
As expected, there was bad blood between these teams that spilled out on the field today. Royals' starting pitcher Yordano Ventura cruised through the first three innings but was pounded in the fourth. After giving up a three-run homer to Josh Reddick, Ventura plunked Brett Lawrie on the elbow. Lawrie had injured the Royals' shortstop the night before on a hard slide at second. Ventura was immediately ejected, but the umpires kept things under control as the dugouts emptied. There wasn't much excitement after that. The Royals certainly didn't provide any with the bats, as they were shut out by Jesse Hahn and Jesse Chavez. It was the fifth shutout of the season for the A's.
(My record: 5-4)
Los Angeles Angels (C.J. Wilson) @Houston Astros (Dallas Keuchel)
If Dallas Keuchel can just contain Mike Trout even a little bit, the Astros can win this one.
My pick: Astros 7, Angels 4
Actual score: Astros 4, Angels 0
Astros' starter Dallas Keuchel got 20 outs in this game. Ten came on ground balls and seven came on strikeouts. He allowed just one fly ball in 6 2/3 innings. That's good stuff, right there. He even stymied Mike Trout, who was 0 for 4.
(My record: 6-4)
Miami Marlins (Mat Latos) @New York Mets (Jacob deGrom)
The Mets have won six straight and are undefeated at home and have the great Jacob deGrom on the hill. What could be better?
My pick: Mets 8, Marlins 3
Actual score: Mets 5, Marlins 4
Make it seven straight wins for the Mets! Jacob deGrom pitched seven scoreless innings as the Mets took a 5-0 lead into the eight. That's when the Mets' bullpen decided to make things interesting, giving up a run in the 8th and three more in the 9th before closing out the 5-4 win on a Christian Yelich strikeout with the tying run on first. The bright spot for the Marlins was a 5 for 5 night for Dee Gordon.
(My record: 7-4)
New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka) @Tampa Bay Rays (Jake Odorizzi)
If and when Alex Rodriguez ties and passes Willie Mays on the all-time home run list, would it be better if he does it at home, in Yankees Stadium, in front of Yankees fans? They would most likely cheer for him. If he does it on the road, there may be some booing and jeering. Will the commissioner of baseball be there to congratulate A-Rod for moving into fourth place on the all-time list?
My pick: Yankees 6, Rays 3
Actual score: Yankees 9, Rays 0
Masahiro Tanaka waived off early-season concerns about his elbow by pitching seven scoreless innings. He gave up two hits, didn't walk any, and struck out eight. Alex Rodriguez did not hit a homer.
(My record: 8-4)
Arizona Diamondbacks (Rubby De La Rosa) @San Francisco Giants (Chris Heston)
The Giants are on an eight game losing streak, have scored the third-fewest runs in the National League, and have allowed the most runs of any team in baseball. They're going to try to turn things around behind Chris Heston, who has all of 18 1/3 innings in his major league career. On a hunch, I'll pick them to win this one.
My pick: Giants 5, Diamondbacks 4
Actual score: Giants 4, Diamondbacks 1
On the day the San Francisco Giants were awarded their World Series rings for winning last year's Fall Classic, young Chris Heston pitched into the eighth inning in leading the Giants to a victory that snapped their eight-game losing streak. Before the game, the Giants's players received their rings along with five Hall of Famers who played for the franchise--Willie Mays, Willie McCovery, Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda, and Juan Marichal. During the game, Heston pitched 7 2/3 innings and allowed just one run. Joe Panik had three hits and Nori Aoki and Buster Posey each had a pair of bingos. Brandon Crawford hit a two-run homer that turned a 2-1 lead into a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth.
(My record: 9-4)
Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis) @Seattle Mariners (King Felix Hernandez)
It's good to be the king.
My pick: Mariners 5, Rangers 2
Actual score: Mariners 3, Rangers 1
King Felix Hernandez was on his game tonight. He went seven innings, gave up one run, two hits, two walks, and struck out twelve. The M's bullpen added three more strikeouts to give them 15 on the night.
(My record: 10-4)
Colorado Rockies (Jordan Lyles) @Los Angeles Dodgers (Zack Greinke)
The Dodgers and Rockies are tied atop the NL West, both at 7-3. The Dodgers are 6-1 at home. The Rockies are 6-1 on the road. The Dodgers have Zack Greinke pitching. The Rockies have Jordan Lyles pitching. That pretty much seals it for the Dodgers.
My pick: Dodgers 8, Rockies 3
Actual score: Dodgers 6, Rockies 3
Adrian Gonzalez had three RBI, giving him 14 on the season and Jimmy Rollins scored a pair of runs as the Dodgers took over sole possession of first place in the NL West. Zack Greinke got the win and is now 2-0.
(My record: 11-4)
My Prediction Record:
Week 1: 43-47, .478
Day 1: 9-5
Day 2: 6-7
Day 3: 13-2
Day 4: 3-3
Day 5: 10-5
Day 6: 11-4
Week 2; 52-26, .667
Overall: 95-73, .565