Offense may be down, but a few players did their part to bring it up a notch on Sunday.
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In Los Angeles, Adrian Gonzalez hit three-run homers in back-to-back innings, driving in six in the Dodgers' 7-2 win over the Diamondbacks. The homers were so similar that both times Gonzalez drove in Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez.
With the two home runs, Gonzalez now has 22 home runs and 100 RBI on the year. The first baseman has been remarkably consistent in his career, as illustrated by the fact that this marks the fifth straight season he's hit the 100-RBI plateau. He's hit at least 18 home runs and reached 99 RBI every year since 2007. Somewhat quietly, Gonzalez is also second in the National League in RBI, just four behind Giancarlo Stanton for the league lead.
Another first baseman, LaRoche, posted less gaudy numbers in his team's victory, but his two blasts were arguably more important. LaRoche hit solo home runs off Cole Hamels in the second and fourth innings, leading the Nationals to a 3-2 win over the Phillies.
LaRoche's two homers give him 23 home runs on the year, and he now leads the first-place Nats in home runs. He's also got 80 RBI, the seventh time in his career he's had at least 80 runs batted in in a season.
But the most impressive performance came from Cruz. The 34-year-old bookended a three-run triple with two-run homers, driving in all seven of the Orioles' runs in their 7-5 win over the Rays. Cruz leads the American League in both homers and RBI, with 39 and 101, respectively.
Sunday also marked the first time Cruz has topped the 100 RBI milestone in his career. His previous high was 90 RBI in 2012. His 39 home runs are already a career best.
Perhaps the only personal record he hasn't set this year is the one he approached Sunday -- his career high for RBI in a single game is eight, set in 2012. And he's still got three weeks to work on that.
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A couple high-profile closer gigs suddenly appear up for grabs.
The biggest is in Washington, D.C. where Rafael Soriano has been removed as closer after allowing runs in four of his last five outings.
“It depends,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said of the bullpen usage going forward. “It depends on what kind of match-up we have. We’ve got options. It depends on their team. It depends on who’s used in other roles and how we want to do it during the course of the game. But there’s nobody in particular that we’re going to announce as the closer for the next few days. We’ve got guys with experience doing it, and any of them can. We’ll see how the games unfold.”
On Sunday, it was Drew Storen who got the call. Storen responded with a clean inning, striking out two for his second save of the year. Tyler Clippard remains in play as well, making the picture a bit murkier. Storen getting the first shot suggests he might be the preferred option in the ninth right now.
Some other closer situations are equally as murky. Casey Janssen and Aaron Sanchez have both saved games in the past week, and both are likely options for Jays manager John Gibbons going forward. After Chad Qualls blew a save Saturday, it was a closer-by-committee for Astros interim manager Tim Bogar on Sunday. A combination of Tony Sipp and Josh Fields, who ended up receiving the save, got the job done against the Athletics. And a couple established closers, Greg Holland and Sean Doolittle, are close to returns from their respective ailments, clearing up the closer situations in Kansas City and Oakland.
It was a promising return to form for one ace on Sunday.
Adam Wainwright, who came into Sunday's start with a 4-5 record, 4.82 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in nine starts since the All-Star break, tossed a complete game in the Cardinals' 9-1 win over the Brewers.
The start was easily Wainwright's best since the break. The 33-year-old had a feeling it would be.
"I just knew it was a matter of time," said Wainwright. "I think even last game, I gave up the late home run to make it a closer game. But I knew that was a good stepping stone. I knew that was probably ... going to be the last time I would have to grind for a while. And today, I was just very confident that I was going to do what I did."
Wainwright is still not the dominant starter we've grown accustomed to -- he struck out just three on Sunday, the sixth straight start he's struck out five or fewer -- but he battles enough to continue to rack up wins. Wainwright is 17-9 and has a shot at reaching the 20-win plateau for the second time in his career.
National League Quick Hits: Curtis Granderson is back on the upswing, hitting his second home run in three games on Sunday. Grandy has six RBI and three runs scored in those three games ... Oscar Taveras had another good game Sunday, collecting three hits in the Cardinals' win. His hot hitting should earn him some more at-bats in the coming days ... Four Pirates homered in their lopsided win over the Cubs, including Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker. Also on that list was Gerrit Cole, who also pitched six innings to earn his eighth win ... Jackson Williams hit his first home run of his career, a three-run shot, in a win over the Padres. His reward will be a return to the bench following Wilin Rosario's activation from the disabled list this week.
American League Quick Hits: A broken right pinky finger will end Melky Cabrera's season. Cabrera, who broke the finger sliding into first base on Friday, finishes with a strong .301/.351/.458 line heading into free agency ... Desmond Jennings' season is also most likely over. Rays manager Joe Maddon said Jennings is not likely to return due to left knee discomfort ... Carlos Carrasco continued to be a force, falling one out short of a complete game shutout. The right-hander allowed just four hits while striking out eight in a win ... Derek Holland continues to remind the Rangers what they were missing for five months, tossing seven scoreless innings in a win over the Mariners. Holland has allowed one run over 14 innings of work since returning from knee surgery ... It wasn't a six- or seven-RBI effort, but Howie Kendrick drove in four with his three-hit day Sunday. Kendrick had a solo homer, two-run triple and RBI single in the game.