1. Baltimore Orioles 12 runs and two wins, Cleveland Indians zero and none: Sweeping the doubleheader got the O’s up into a share of first place in the American League East for the first time since April 19. That may just be day-to-day, considering that four teams are separated by one game, but the doubleheader sweep provided all sorts of indications for why the Orioles can stay in that mix for the rest of the season.
First, in the pair of shutouts, they got equally promising developments with great starts from both Ubaldo Jimenez and Chris Tillman -- Jimenez because his was a no-walks eight-inning spin, Tillman because it was his best start of the year and provides some hope he might be the same beast for Baltimore he was down the stretch last year. The first win also saw the O’s get all the offense they needed from Manny Machado and Jimmy Paredes, while the nightcap provided an opportunity for the O’s expanding collection of lefty power sources to go yard, as Chris Davis, Chris Parmelee and Travis Snider all homered in a six-run fourth inning. If this is Machado’s year to break out, it’s the improved depth of the O’s lineup that will make sure he keeps getting opportunities to break games wide open.
2. Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers: Greinke didn’t ask to be a show room display for the importance of run support, but finally, he got a win for the first time in 10 starts, beating the Marlins in Miami by a score of 2-0. Overall, Greinke is getting 3.75 runs per game in support on the season, but that’s counting a lot of scoring that happened in his first six starts, when he got his first five wins. Greinke has gotten just 2.6 runs per game over the past 10 turns (counting Sunday), and just seven runs total in his past five. Greinke’s scoreless streak is now at 20⅔ IP; can you blame a guy for doing whatever it took to get one measly win?
So now Greinke is 6-2, but he should be at least 9-2, even with the sporadic support from the lineup. That’s because the Dodgers’ pen also hasn’t done him many favors, costing him three wins. That trio of victories taken away from Greinke’s season tally is not the most in the National League -- Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs and Julio Teheran of the Braves have both seen five wins slip away thanks to pen implosions -- but you’d be forgiven if you thought that if it wasn’t for bad luck, Greinke wouldn’t have any. Even without those wins, Greinke should at least have the honor of following Max Scherzer in the All-Star Game.
3. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants: En route to beating the Rockies 6-3, Bumgarner notched his 1000th career strikeout in what was also his 75th career win. For the sake of comparison, he reached 75 wins a little bit before his 26th birthday, earlier than Tom Glavine (27), and around the same time as Roger Clemens and CC Sabathia did in case you’re wondering about where he ranks among guys who either reached 300 career wins or -- in Sabathia’s case -- once looked like someone who had a great shot. You can also toss in Bumgarner’s two-hit, two-run day at the plate, which got MadBum up to a .690 OPS on the year, easily the best among regular big league starters trying to help their own cause.
4. Steven Matz, New York Mets: In winning the nightcap to complete sweeping the Cincinnati Reds in the doubleheader, not only did the highly heralded Mets rookie win his big league debut, but by plating four runs as a batter he set a franchise record for RBIs in a debut as well as a major league record for RBIs by a pitcher in a debut. Suffice to say it’s going to be hard to top that in his second day at the office.
5. Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals:Strasburg won, going seven innings, and whiffing nine while allowing just two runs on five baserunners. OK, it was “just” the Phillies, but they’re still a major league team. Having taken on the Phils and the Braves in his first two turns, we’ll see what happens once he faces a quality offense, but it’s good to see him back on the right track.
Christina Kahrl writes about MLB for ESPN. You can follow her on Twitter.