1. Pedro Florimon, Pittsburgh Pirates. This is one of those games you're supposed to win and then when you blow the lead you're sure you're going to lose. OK, maybe that's the Mariners fan in me extrapolating to other teams. Anyway, the Pirates' usually stellar late-inning relief helped blow an 8-3 lead as the Diamondbacks scored three runs in the eighth and two in the ninth. Two points here. Starter Francisco Liriano began the eighth; Clint Hurdle has been criticized for leaving his starter in too long a couple times recently, but I can't fault him here, not with a five-run lead and Liriano under 100 pitches. But he gave up a single and a walk and Hurdle then correctly brought in a right-hander to face Aaron Hill and Paul Goldschmidt; it just didn't work out. In the ninth, errors by Jung Ho Kang and Sean Rodriguez led to two unearned runs off Mark Melancon.
So the game went extra innings. Arquimedes Caminero, he of the fastball that averages 97.9 mph and occasionally touches 100, tossed three scoreless innings. Joe Blanton, he of the decidedly not 100 mph fastball, also tossed three scoreless innings. (Contrast that to the Royals-Reds game that went 13 innings and saw each team use seven relievers, none for more than three outs.) Finally, in the bottom of the 15th, Francisco Cervelli lined a two-out single to center and Florimon tripled to right field, the ball bounding off the wall and past a stumbling Yasmany Tomas.
The interesting thing about the Pirates is that this is now the team we kind of expected to see back in March: A very good offense, questionable starting pitching after Gerrit Cole and Liriano, and a solid bullpen. The offense struggled much of the first half while the rotation was better than expected. But the team's current 16-7 has been fueled by an offense that has averaged 5.5 runs per game during that stretch. The Cardinals' lead is still five games but don't count out the Pirates. Caminero, Blanton and Florimon. One of those games Pirates fans may remember in October.
The Pirates 15th-inning walkoff win over the Diamondbacks improves their record in one-run games this year to 26-15, best in the majors.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 19, 2015
Pedro Florimon gets the winner. Baseball. Bucs gain a game. Career highlight. Blanton & Florimon. Takes a village.— David Todd (@DTonPirates) August 19, 2015
2. Curtis Granderson, New York Mets. Two more home runs for the Grandy Man (sorry) in the Mets' 5-3 win over the Orioles that got a little nerve-wracking for Mets fans when Jeurys Familia walked in two runs in the ninth and had to face Manny Machado with the bases loaded. For Granderson, talk about a season that has flown under the radar. He's hitting .275/.355/.558 since the All-Star break, with nine home runs in 30 games. For the season, he ranks fifth among right fielders in WAR. Oh, and Jacob deGrom was awesome once again, lowering his ERA to 1.98.
3. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees. He hit his 25th career grand slam, extending his own major league record, as the Yankees beat the Twins 8-4 after trailing 4-1 in the seventh. Here's Andrew Marchand's report. And here are the 25 pitchers A-Rod has hit a grand slam off: Clint Sodowsky, Alan Mills, Kevin Gross, Vicente Padilla, Arthur Rhodes, Esteban Yan, Pedro Borbon, Brian Fuentes, Billy Koch, Todd Jones, Bartolo Colon, Barry Zito, Alay Soler, Chris Ray, Ryan Bukvich, Jason Hammel, Edwin Jackson, Andy Sonnanstine, Matt Guerrier, Chris Perez, Trevor Cahill, Josh Rupe, Jonny Venters, George Kontos, J.R. Graham.
5. Dave Dombrowski, Boston Red Sox. Well, it didn't take long for the ex-Tigers GM to land a new gig as he'll replace Ben Cherington as the new head architect of the Red Sox. Bad news for Mariners fans who were hoping for a replacement for Jack Zduriencik. Hey, Cherington did win a World Series ... here's Gordon Edes' story.
Honorable mention from our voting committee: Clayton Kershaw's fielding gem, Madison Bumgarner for his pinch-hit single, Ian Kinsler goes 5-for-5 with a sac fly, Josh Donaldson continues his home run onslaught with two more long blasts, Ichiro Suzuki with his 51st career four-hit game, Melvin Upton Jr. hits two home runs and drives in five (you know, he hasn't been awful), the A's rally late against the Dodgers bullpen and then win in 10, Kansas City bullpen allows one hit in seven scoreless innings, Jung Ho Kang gets angry at gum (don't throw your helmet, kids!), Jordan Spieth throws lefty.