St. Louis Cardinals (Lance Lynn) @Washington Nationals (Gio Gonzalez)
Both of these teams are expected to win their respective divisions but only the Cardinals have looked like division leaders so far this year. The Nationals are getting healthier with the return of Jayson Werth and Denard Span and still have the best rotation in baseball. The Cardinals have won five straight and have allowed just 24 runs in 11 games, an average of 2.2 runs per game.
My pick: Nationals 5, Cardinals 4
Actual score: Nationals 2, Cardinals 1 [10 innings]
Gio Gonzalez and Lance Lynn were both effective in this game, with Lynn allowing just a single run and Gonzalez pitching zeroes for eight innings. The Nationals took a 1-0 lead into the ninth, but closer Drew Storen was touched for a run on an rbi-single by Matt Holliday that scored Matt Carpenter. It was Holliday's fourth hit of the game. The game went to extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th, Yunel Escobar took Carlos Villanueva deep to give the Nationals the 2-1 victory.
(My record: 1-0)
Miami Marlins (Dan Haren) @Philadelphia Phillies (Jerome Williams)
The best cure for a four game losing streak is a game against the Phillies and the Marlins have just that on their plate today. The Phillies have a better record but a worse run differential and Dan Haren is a better pitcher than Jerome Williams.
My pick: Marlins 7, Phillies 4
Actual score: Phillies 7, Marlins 3
The Marlins had a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the sixth when Dan Haren gave up a two-run homer to Ryan Howard. It was Howard's first home run of the season and Dan Haren should be embarrassed that he allowed it to happen. Mike Dunn then came in and gave up three runs in the seventh, so he should be even more embarrassed because he gave up three runs in one inning to the Phillies. Hang your head in shame, Mike Dunn!
(My record: 1-1)
Chicago Cubs (Travis Wood) @Pittsburgh Pirates (Francisco Liriano)
A pair of lefties are starting today and there's a large difference between these two teams in their performance against lefties so far this season. The Cubs have a .393 OBP and .380 SLG against left-handed pitchers. The Pirates are at .243 and .371. Cubs' phenom Kris Bryant is hitting .429/.579/.571 with a .600 BABIP through his first four games but has yet to hit a home run. On the bright side, he's only struck out 21% of the time (small sample size alert!). The biggest concern about Bryant is his minor league strikeout rate, generally a little below 30%. So far, so good.
My pick: Pirates 6, Cubs 3
Actual score: Cubs 9, Pirates 8
This was a wild and wooly game that saw both bullpens struggle. The game was tied going into the bottom of the seventh when the Bucs scored three runs on a Jung-Ho Kang bases-clearing double. Pittsburgh reliever Tony Watson then gave up a solo homer in the top of the eighth to make it 8-6. In the ninth, the Pirates brought in closer Mark Melancon to finish it off. Unfortunately for the Pirates' faithful, Melancon immediately ran into trouble by giving up a single to Anthony Rizzo and a double to Jorge Soler. Kris Bryant walked to load the bases and Starlin Castro singled to left to tie the game. Melancon got Chris Coghlan on strikes but Wellington Castillo's ground out drove in the go-ahead run. Melancon escaped without further damage but the Cubs had the lead and Hector Rondon shut down the Pirates in order in the bottom of the ninth to save the game for the Cubbies.
(My record: 1-2)
Baltimore Orioles (Bud Norris) @Toronto Blue Jays (Mark Buehrle)
This is a pitching matchup of mid-rotation starters who can generally keep their teams in games but who are not among the elite. Mark Beuhrle has pitched well enough in his career to win over 200 games thanks in large part to his ability to pitch 200 innings in each of the last fourteen years. Bud Norris has better stuff but worse command and has never had a 200 inning season. Both teams are battling it out in a very tight AL East division that has all five teams separated by just two games in the early going.
My pick: Blue Jays 7, Orioles 5
Actual score: Blue Jays 13, Orioles 6
Bud Norris was rocked for nine runs in 2 1/3 innings as the Blue Jays combined for 16 hits and four walks in this game. Josh Donaldson, Dioner Navarro, and Dalton Pompey each had three hits and Edwin Encarnacion hit two dingers.
(My record: 2-2)
New York Yankees (Nathan Eovaldi) @Detroit Tigers (Kyle Lobstein)
This should be a high scoring game, unlike yesterday's 2-1 affair. Tigers' pitcher Kyle Lobstein is filling in for the injured Justin Verlander, but he's never been confused for Justin Verlander. Nathan Eovaldi is still trying to harness his stuff to produce good results.
My pick: Tigers 6, Yankees 4
Actual score: Yankees 5, Tigers 2
The two starting pitchers I disparaged in my write-up, Nathan Eovaldi and Kyle Lobstein, pitched quite well in this game. They combined to pitch 13 innings and allowed just one run each. The Yankees led 1-0 going into the 7th when the Tigers brought Ian Krol into the game. Krol immediately gave up a solo homer to left to Chris Young, got Chase Headley to pop out, then gave up another home run to Stephen Drew. That was it for Ian Krol. The Yankees added another run in the seventh and a run in the ninth on their way to a nice win on the road against a very good team.
(My record: 2-3)
Atlanta Braves (Trevor Cahill) @New York Mets (Jonathon Niese)
The Braves and Mets are among the most surprising teams in baseball in the early going. The Braves are 8-4 and the Mets are 10-3. Neither team will continue to be as good as they've been, but the Mets look like legitimate contenders for at least a wild card.
My pick: Mets 5, Braves 3
Actual score: Mets 7, Braves 1
The Mets just keep on keepin' on. Jon Niese gave up four hits and four walks but just one run for the Mets. Curtis Granderson was 3 for 5 with 4 RBI. It's a good time to be a Mets' fan right now.
(My record: 3-3)
Boston Red Sox (Wade Miley) @Tampa Bay Rays (Chris Archer)
The Rays have lost three straight and really need their nominal ace, Chris Archer, to come through today. I think it will happen.
My pick: Rays 6, Red Sox 4
Actual score: Red Sox 1, Rays 0
The only run in this game came in the top of the 3rd. With one out, the Red Sox' Ryan Hanigan reached on an infield single and Mookie Betts walked. Dustin Pedroia then hit a potential double-play grounder to short. The Rays got the out at second but second baseman Ryan Brett's throw to first was wild and Hanigan scored. Wade Miley and four Red Sox relievers combined to shut out the Rays on four hits and four walks.
(My record: 3-4)
Cleveland Indians (Carlos Carrasco) @Chicago White Sox (Hector Noesi)
In his last start, Carlos Carrasco was hit in the face by a line drive in the first inning. He's still recovering but there was no fracture or concussion and he'll pitch this game after his start was pushed back one day. In his first start of the season, he went 6 1/3 scoreless innings with ten strikeouts.
My pick: Indians 7, White Sox 2
Actual score: Indians 6, White Sox 2
The Indians used seven pitchers in this game and they combined to strike out 15 White Sox hitters. Carlos Carrasco pitched the first five innings and allowed a single run on four hits, no walks, and eight strikeouts in his first start since getting hit in the face by a line drive. It was nice to see him get out there and pitch well. After White Sox' starter Hector Noesi ran into trouble in the sixth, rookie Carlos Rodon made his major league debut. It did not go well for Rodon, as he gave up two runs, three hits, and three walks in 2 1/3 innings.
(My record: 4-4)
Minnesota Twins (Tommy Milone) @Kansas City Royals (Jason Vargas)
This is the biggest mismatch of the day. The Royals are 10-3 with a +34 run differential. The Twins are 5-8 with a -26 run differential. In fact, based on run differential, this is almost the biggest mismatch possible in all of baseball. The Twins are tied with the Tigers for the greatest positive run differential in baseball, while only the Phillies have a worse negative run differential than the Twins.
My pick: Royals 6, Twins 4
Actual score: Royals 6, Twins 5
The two left-handed starting pitchers in this game combined to give up nine runs in 11 1/3 innings, so it came down to the bullpen. You never want to get into a bullpen battle with the Royals, even with Greg Holland currently on the DL. The Twins led 5-4 going into the bottom of the 8th. Casey Fien came in the game and immediately gave up back-to-back singles to Salvador Perez and Paulo Orlando. Orlando then stole second. Christian Colon grounded out, with one run coming in to tie the game at 5-5. Fien got Alcides Escobar to foul out for out number two, and Twins' manager Paul Molitor brought in closer Glen Perkins to face the lefty Mike Moustakas. Moose singled to shallow left to make it 6-5, Royals. Fill-in closer Wade Davis pitched the ninth and got his third save of the year.
(My record: 5-4)
Cincinnati Reds (Jason Marquis) @Milwaukee Brewers (Mike Fiers)
If there's a chance for the Brewers to snap their six-game losing streak, it's when they're facing Jason Marquis.
My pick: Brewers 6, Reds 3
Actual score: Reds 16, Brewers 10
You know how you know when your season is swirling down the toilet bowl? When you are in desperate need of a win and facing Jason Marquis . . . and you still don't win. It wasn't the fault of the Brewers' offense, though, as they put 10 runs on the board. Unfortunately, the Brewers' pitchers gave up 16. Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier both hit grand slams off Brewers' starter Mike Fiers. Zack Cozart had two homers and Joey Votto had one of his own as the Reds hit five dingers in this game. I'm not sure how it can get worse for the Brewers.
(My record: 5-5)
San Diego Padres (Brandon Morrow) @Colorado Rockies (Tyler Matzek)
The Padres made a flurry of offseason moves to improve their offense and so far, so good. They are currently leading the National League in runs scored and are second in all of baseball. Matt Kemp is hitting .368/.393/.561, Justin Upton is hitting .327/.370/.612, and Derek Norris is hitting .314/.340/.412. Now that improved offense is playing in Colorado, where they scored 14 runs yesterday.
My pick: Padres 8, Rockies 5
Actual score: Padres 7, Rockies 6
The Padres led 2-0 after three innings but the Rockies came back with two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth to take a 5-2 lead into the seventh. The Padres scored a run to make it 5-3, then busted it open with four runs in the eighth inning with the big blow being a two-run double by Derek Norris. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his fifth save of the season and the Padres have now won three straight and are 10-5 this season.
(My record: 6-5)
Texas Rangers (Nick Martinez) @Arizona Diamondbacks (Chase Anderson)
The Diamondbacks are off to a 7-6 start. Last year, they started 7-18 and fell out of the race before it got started. The Rangers are coming off a brutal defeat in which their bullpen blew a 10-5 lead in the last three innings.
My pick: Diamondbacks 5, Rangers 4
Actual score: Rangers 7, Diamondbacks 1
The final score doesn't reflect it but this game was 1-1 after seven innings. Then Daniel Hudson gave up four runs in the eight and Evan Marshall gave up two more in the ninth and the Rangers had a blowout victory. Prince Fielder was 2 for 5 with a run and 3 RBI.
(My record: 6-6)
Oakland Athletics (Drew Pomeranz) @Los Angeles Angels (Hector Santiago)
Both of these teams have been below average when facing left-handed pitchers so far this year, but Drew Pomeranz is a better left-handed pitcher than Hector Santiago, so the A's have the edge.
My pick: Athletics 6, Angels 4
Actual score: Angels 14, Athletics 1
Houston Astros (Collin McHugh) @Seattle Mariners (Taijuan Walker)
Mariners' starter Taijuan Walker was terrific in spring training but has been terrible in two starts in the regular season. The Astros' Collin McHugh has continued to pitch well after his breakout season last year. If things continue as they have so far this year, the Astros win easily.
My pick: Astros 7, Mariners 3
Actual score: Astros 6, Mariners 3
(My record: 7-7)
Los Angeles Dodgers (Brett Anderson) @San Francisco Giants (Tim Lincecum)
The Dodgers and Giants have been rivals going back to their time in New York, but this year the rivalry is looking more and more one-sided in favor of the Dodgers, who are 9-3 to the Giant's 4-10.
My pick: Dodgers 5, Giants 3
Week 1: 43-47, .478
Week 2: 62-31, .667
Day 1: 3-6
Overall: 115-92, .556