The American League Central race that seemed on its way to becoming a joke six weeks ago, now looks like it might become one of the best races in baseball down the stretch.
The Cleveland Indians' 8-0 rout of the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday, combined with the Minnesota Twins' 3-2 loss to the New York Mets, moved the former within five games of Minnesota in the MLB's AL Central.
That is the smallest deficit the Indians have faced since they were four-and-half games back on May 19. And it is a far cry from the 11-and-half-game lead the Twins held over Cleveland on June 2.
The Indians were 29-30 at the time, but have gone 24-10 since, winning three straight games and nine of their last 11. Both the bats and arms have stepped up: Cleveland led the majors in team OPS for the month of July entering play Tuesday, and the pitching staff have yielded only 32 runs in the past 11 games.
Both components showed up in the win over the Tigers. Right-hander Zach Plesac – recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Columbus – pitched three scoreless innings to start things off and Tyler Clippard, Nick Goody and Tyler Olson completed the shutout.
Oscar Mercado's two-run homer sparked a five-run second inning that put the Indians in front for good, and Francisco Lindor also had two RBIs.
Sparkman sparks shutout
Kansas City Royals right hander Glenn Sparkman pitched one of the rarest of events in MLB on Tuesday – a nine-inning, complete-game shutout. Sparkman gave up five hits and walked one while striking out eight in an 11-0 win over the Chicago White Sox.
Miami Marlins first baseman Garrett Cooper homered and had three runs scored and three RBIs in a 12-7 victory against the San Diego Padres.
Christian Yelich hit a grand slam and scored three runs as the Milwaukee Brewers eased past the Atlanta Braves 13-1.
Allen costly against Marlins
Padres starter Logan Allen got roughed up for seven earned runs in 2.3 innings in the loss to the Marlins.
Tampa Bay Rays DH Tommy Pham and Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Alex Avila both struck out in all four at-bats against the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers respectively on Tuesday.
Is there anything more anti-climactic than an inside-the-park home run where the runner is initially called out? But the Royals' Whit Merrifield clearly is safe on the slide.
Brett Gardner makes this difficult home run robbery look almost routine.
Philadelphia Phillies 9-8 Los Angeles Dodgers
Washington Nationals 8-1 Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees 8-3 Tampa Bay Rays
Miami Marlins 12-7 San Diego Padres
Toronto Blue Jays 10-4 Boston Red Sox
Cleveland Indians 8-0 Detroit Tigers
Chicago Cubs 4-3 Cincinnati Reds
Arizona Diamondbacks 9-2 Texas Rangers
Milwaukee Brewers 13-1 Atlanta Braves
New York Mets 3-2 Minnesota Twins
Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1 St Louis Cardinals
Kansas City Royals 11-0 Chicago White Sox
San Francisco Giants 8-4 Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Angels 7-2 Houston Astros
Oakland Athletics 9-2 Seattle Mariners
Braves at Brewers
The Braves are creating some daylight between the rest of the pack in the National League East, while the Brewers are in a dogfight in the NL Central. After a rocky start in his first two outings with the Braves, Dallas Keuchel has gone 2-1 with a 2.11 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in his last three games. Right hander Chase Anderson (4-2, 4.27 ERA) will go for the Brewers.