The big story Friday night was Astros center fielder Brandon Barnes hitting for the cycle, but Saturday night's Astros-Mariners game delivered something far more rare. For just the second time since 1916 (which is as far back as the searchable game logs go) a team, in this case the Mariners, scored four runs without the benefit of more than one hit.
Astros starter Erik Bedard struck out ten men in 6 1/3 innings, but also walked five and allowed two runs in the sixth inning on two of those walks, two passed balls by catcher Jason Castro, and a sac fly. In the seventh, he got Kyle Seager to pop out, but then walked Justin Smoak on four pitches, the first of which sailed to the backstop. With that, Houston manager Bo Porter pulled Bedard from the game, making him the first pitcher to be pulled after six hitless innings since Kevin Millwood led off the Mariners' combined no-hitter with six hitless innings last June before suffering a groin injury.
Jose Cisnero relieved Bedard. He got the second out, then walked rookie catcher Mike Zunino and gave up a two-run double to Michael Saunders for the only Mariners hit of the game. The double plated both Smoak and Zunino, while also charging Bedard with a third run but the first earned run. With that, the Astros became the first team to have a reliever give up the first hit of a game in which their starter went at least six innings since the Padres on July 9, 2011. In that game at Dodger Stadium, Aaron Harang threw six hitless innings before being replaced. The Padres' bullpen then took the no-hitter into the bottom of the ninth, but with two out and the game still scoreless, Luke Gregerson gave up a double to Juan Uribe and a walk-off single to Dioner Navarro and the Padres lost 1-0.
As for the other time since 1916 a team scored four runs without the benefit of more than one hit, that was the famous Andy Hawkins game on July 1, 1990 at old Comiskey Park. Hawkins threw eight no-hit innings for the Yankees in that game, but with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Sammy Sosa reached on an error by third baseman Mike Blowers. Hawkins walked Ozzie Guillen and Lance Johnson. Left fielder Jim Leyritz dropped a fly ball allowing all three runners to score, and the hitter, Robin Ventura, to reach second. Right fielder Jessie Barfield lost the next fly ball in the sun, allowing Ventura to score. Hawkins never did allow a hit, but since the Yankees lost 4-0, he never had to pitch the ninth either, so he was not credited with an official no-hitter.
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• Speaking of Robin Ventura. The White Sox manager sent Twitter aflutter Friday night when he pulled Alex Rios in the seventh inning, leading to speculation Rios had been traded. In reality, Rios was pulled because he failed to run out a groundball in the fifth that could have scored a run if Rios had beaten the relay throw on what proved to be an inning-ending double play. Ventura's discipline seemed oddly timed given the White Sox are trying to pump up Rios's value on the trade market, not undermine it. Well, Rios took care of that himself Saturday night, going 3-for-5 with a grand slam in a 10-6 Chicago win over the Braves. The White Sox also got a solid start from fellow trade candidate Jake Peavy in his first turn since being activated from the disabled list. Peavy went six innings, walked no one, and though he allowed four runs, just two of them were earned.
• The hot topic on Twitter Saturday night was Zack Greinke's hitting. Greinke doubled and singled in his only two at-bats Saturday night to raise his season batting line to .406/.486/.469 in 39 plate appearances. He had a chance to become the first pitcher with multiple three-hit games in a season since Carlos Zambrano did so in 2008, but, showing a keen grasp of sample size, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly pinch-hit for Greinke, who had thrown 98 pitches, in the top of the seventh. Mattingly exposed himself to a ton of second-guessing in pinch-hitting Skip Schumaker for a guy with a .486 on-base percentage, but the move paid off. Schumaker doubled and scored on a subsequent Mark Ellis single, tying up the game against the Nationals at 1-1. The Dodgers then went on to win 3-1 in ten innings. That put L.A. two games over .500 for the first time since April 13 and, with the Diamondbacks loss to the Giants on Saturday, moved them within a half-game of first place in the National League West.
• In stark contrast to the surging Dodgers, the Pirateslost to the Reds again Saturday night. The loss was their third in a row dating back to last Sunday and clinched their fourth series loss out of their last five, a stretch over which they have gone 5-9. That's not a total collapse just yet, but given their recent history, it's raising more red flags than Jolly Rogers.
• Plays of the day:
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• Blunders of the day:
Both of these come from the Brewers-Marlins throwback game in Milwaukee. First there was this play by Giancarlo Stanton, wearing the 1956 uniform of the International League's Miami Marlins, to turn a Jonathan Lucroy fly ball into a solo home run.
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