Wednesday’s trade deadline approaches swiftly, and to keep you locked in on that front we’ve got our daily rumor recap launched for your edification and uplift. In this particular slice of bandwidth, though, we mostly devote our efforts to on-field action, and Saturday provides us with plenty of that. As is so often the case, it’s a full 15-game slate. Let’s jump in.

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Baseball scores for Saturday, July 27

Indians climb to within one game of Twins

For the first time since April 27, the Indians are only one game back in the AL Central. Cleveland’s storm up the standings continued Saturday with a blowout win over the Royals. Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, and Jason Kipnis all went deep — Kipnis hit a grand slam and Ramirez’s was the 100th home run of his career — and Mike Clevinger starred for seven innings.

Meanwhile, on Chicago’s south side, the Twins were done in by White Sox wunderkind Yoan Moncada, who swatted two doubles and a home run. He’s in the middle of a breakout season and is currently hitting .302/.359/.538. Trade candidate Ivan Nova limited Minnesota to one unearned run in six innings.

The Indians were 11 games back in the AL Central as recently as June 15. They are 26-9 since that date, the best record in baseball, while the Twins have gone 16-19. Minnesota has lost eight of their last 13 games overall. Cleveland has gained a whopping 10 games in the standings in six weeks. Incredible.

There are two months and change remaining this season, so the AL Central race is far from over. The Indians and Twins still have 10 head-to-head games remaining as well, including four at Target Field the week after next. Should be a fun finish.

Yelich, Hiura stun Cubs

What a game at Miller Park on Saturday night. The Cubs bullpen blew a late-inning lead for the second straight night — they blew two late-inning leads Saturday night — and Brewers rookie Keston Hiura had an eventful game that included:

  • Trotting around the bases on a home run only to learn it hooked foul.
  • Chopping a game-tying double the other way in the eighth inning.
  • Hitting a walk-off two-run home run against Craig Kimbrel.

Yeah, that seems like a pretty good night for the rookie. Jon Lester motored through seven shutout innings before four Cubs relievers (Steve Cishek, Derek Holland, Tyler Chatwood, Rowan Wick) teamed up to blow a two-run lead in the eighth. Albert Almora gave Chicago a one-run lead with a solo home run in the tenth. Then this happened:

Christian Yelich with the game-tying home run — that was his MLB-leading 36th home run of the season — and Hiura with the walk-off two-run job, both against Kimbrel. What a gut punch for the Cubs. What a win for the Brewers.

After all that, the Cubs and Brewers both sit one game behind the Cardinals in the NL Central. (The Cubs are technically percentage points ahead of the Brewers in the standings.) It’s shaping up to be a great division these next two months.

Goldschmidt homers in sixth straight game

Make it six consecutive games with a home run for Paul Goldschmidt. The Cardinals slugger had been mired in a largely disappointing season up until this recent stretch. Here is his sixth homer in six days and his 24th home run of the season:

Prior to this six-game home run binge, Goldschmidt was hitting a nearly perfectly league average .248/.335/.424. That’s not horrible, but it certainly isn’t what we’ve come to expect from Goldschmidt, a perennial MVP candidate. Following these six games, he is now hitting .257/.342/.470. That’s more like it.

Goldschmidt’s six-game home run streak ties Matt Carpenter (2018) and Mark McGwire (1997-98) for the longest such streaks in franchise history. He is the 24th player in baseball history to hit a home run in at least six straight games (Barry Bonds did it three times).

Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly, and Dale Long share the all-time record with a home run in eight straight games.

Vlad Jr.’s clutch homer helps Jays stun Rays

At one point on Saturday in Toronto, the Rays led the Blue Jays by a score of 9-2. As late as the eighth inning, the Rays had a 99.7 percent chance of winning the game. The Blue Jays, however, clawed their way back and tied the score thanks to a four-run bottom of the ninth. The big blow came from none other than Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: 

That’s Vladito’s 10th homer of the season. Anyhow, Brandon Drury’s solo shot with one out tied the score, and things remained in such a state until the 12th inning, when Teoscar Hernandez sent the people home: 

That’s an absolutely crushing loss for a Rays team that’s locked in a tight struggle for an AL wild-card spot (while still retaining some hopes of catching the Yankees in the AL East). If the Rays wind up missing out on the postseason by a close margin, this game will be one to reflect upon. Is it fair to say this is the kind of game in which the Rays, if on the other end of things, would’ve trotted out a position player to pitch? Yeah, quite possibly fair. 

Red Sox batter Yankee pitching again

With their Saturday win at Fenway, the Red Sox set themselves up to go for the four-game sweep over the rival Yankees on Sunday. The story thus far in this series has been the extent to which Boston has abused Yankee pitching. They scored 19 in the series opener, 10 runs in Friday’s game, and then nine in Saturday’s. High-level mathematics practitioners will recognize that as a total of 38 runs through three games. 

While Yankee starters Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton took the brunt of the punishment in the first two games, CC Sabathia gave up “just” five runs in 4 1/3 on Saturday. Chad Green followed him up by allowing four in 2 1/3. For Boston, Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers teamed up for five extra-base hits. The Red Sox are now a half-game in front of the Rays for the last AL playoff spot, and the Yankees have now dropped five of their last seven.

Smith keeps raking for Dodgers

The Dodgers of recent history have enjoyed a seemingly endless stream of in-house contributors when injuries or ineffectiveness strike the (already very deep) active roster. The latest example is catcher Will Smith. The 24-year-old former first-rounder out of Louisville was one of the Dodgers’ top prospects coming into the season. 

Across his first two stints in the majors, Smith put up an impressive 156 OPS+, and he got another one in time for Saturday’s game against the Nationals. Thanks to Austin Barnes‘ struggles with the bat, he finds himself back in Triple-A, and Smith is now the Dodgers’ freshly minted regular behind the plate. Here’s how his first game since winning that important job went: 

Among those three hits was a bases-clearing double to put it away: 

Smith is the first Dodgers catcher to drive in six runs in a game since Barnes in 2017. He’s also the first Dodgers rookie to drive in six runs since James Loney way back in 2006. The day at the office gives Smith a line of .345/.394/.862 in 33 plate appearances with four home runs and three doubles. 

For a team with legitimate designs on the World Series (again), it says a great deal when they hand the starting catcher job to a rookie and do so in the middle of the season. What is says is that they have a great of confidence in Smith’s ability to produce at the highest level (he retooled his swing for more power coming up through the system) and in Smith’s reputation as a skilled defender behind the plate. The sample size is small thus far, but the results have been impressive.

Chapman hits homer for Make-A-Wish kid

The A’s had a special addition to their roster Saturday. They signed 8-year-old August Wold to a mock contract and had him spend the day with the team. Wold suffers from a gastrointestinal disorder and was with the team through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

As part of his day Wold received a full uniform, held a press conference, hung out in the clubhouse and on the field, hit with Jurickson Profar, and even received a Nintendo Switch from Ramon Laureano. During his press conference Wold predicted Matt Chapman would hit a home run Saturday night, and wouldn’t you know it, Chapman delivered.

Nicely done A’s. Nice homer, Chapman. Enjoy the Switch, August. I hear they’re fun.

Matz throws a Maddux

When it comes to Mets pitching these days, the attention is on Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler as trade candidates. Then there’s the brilliant Jacob deGrom, and Jason Vargas as a curmudgeon/trade candidate. Those are the headliners.

Lefty Steven Matz largely flies under the radar, but, on Saturday, he made headlines of his own with a five-hit shutout against the Pirates. He did it on 99 pitches too. A shutout on fewer than 100 pitches qualifies as a “Maddux.”

Matz is the fifth pitcher with a nine-inning Maddux this year, joining Kyle Hendricks, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Sandy Alcantara, and Mike Leake. Hendricks threw 81 pitches — 81! — while shutting out the Cardinals on May 3. Matz is the first Mets pitcher to throw a nine-inning shutout on fewer than 100 pitches since Johan Santana way back in 2012. 

For the record, Hall of Famer Greg Maddux threw 14 career ‘Madduxes’, the most all-time. No one else has more than seven.

Orioles set new home run record

The Orioles may be on pace to lose 109 games this season, but they did set a new major league home run record Saturday night. Catcher Pedro Severino hit a two-run home run in the third inning and infielder Jonathan Villar added a solo shot in the sixth, and, with that, the O’s are the first team in history to hit multiple home runs in 10 straight games.

Five other teams had previously hit multiple home runs in nine consecutive games, most recently the 2016 Cardinals. The Orioles went into Saturday’s game with 132 home runs on the season, 23rd most in baseball. They’re not a huge home run hitting team, yet they managed to set a multi-homer game record. Baseball can be weird sometimes.

Quick hits