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The Juice: Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton go back-to-back — finally — as Angels rout Cubs

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew


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When looking over their projected lineup during spring training, I bet Los Angeles Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia didn’t think it would take until July 10 for Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton to hit back-to-back home runs, let alone that date would be the first time their entire team hit back-to-back homers. So it goes in the unpredictable world of Major League Baseball.

The back-to-back jacks finally came in the fifth inning of their overpowering 13-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday. For Hamilton, it was it his second big fly of the game and his fourth over the past week. That's an encouraging sign. For Pujols, it was his second in as many days. Prior to that, he had not homered since June 21. The Angels also received homers from Brendan Harris and Mark Trumbo in the lopsided win.

Is Cain still able?: Concerns have been mounting in San Francisco surrounding the health of rotation workhorse Matt Cain, and those were in no way smoothed over by his performance in Wednesday’s game against the New York Mets. In the outing, Cain lasted only 36 pitches and for the first time in his noteworthy career failed to make it out of the first inning.

How ugly was it? Well, he did record two outs — one via strikeout — but also allowed a pair of hits and most disturbingly walked three batters. For his career, he only averages three walks per nine innings, so you can see why there’s a red flag. Once behind the 8-ball, San Francisco was unable to rally against their former top prospect, right-hander Zack Wheeler, who was involved in the Carlos Beltran trade of 2011, and fell to the Mets, 7-2.

Designated record holder: David Ortiz became the all-time hits leader among designated hitters when he passed Harold Baines with an opposite field double leading off the second inning. For Ortiz, it was career hit No. 1,952 over this 17-year career. 252 of those have come as a first baseman, another 11 as a pinch-hitter, and now the record-setting 1,689 at DH.

Ortiz moved into a tie with Baines by going 4 for 4 with a home run and two doubles in Tuesday's win over Seattle. He later added a two-run homer and a sacrifice fly in Wednesday's 11-4 triumph. They may have to drag him out of town kicking and screaming when they board their flight to Oakland on Thursday night.

Banged up Yankees end slide: With an offense that had scored only one run in each of their previous three games (all losses), the New York Yankees needed either a strong starting pitching performance or a breakout night from the bats. They ended up getting both in their 8-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

Ivan Nova did the work on the hill, allowing only one run on five hits over eight innings. He also struck out six. Offensively, Robinson Cano was in beast mode, coming up only a triple shy of the cycle while driving in three. Lyle Overbay also contributed one very big hit — a sixth inning grand slam.

The only bad news for New York was the usual. Designated hitter Travis Hafner left the game with a bruised left foot while outfielder Brett Gardner exited with a bruised right leg after being hit by a pitch. X-rays were negative for both guys and they’re listed as day-to-day.

MORE SCORES

Marlins 6, Braves 2: Giancarlo Stanton ended a 10-game RBI drought with a first inning two-run double for Miami. They also ended a five-game losing streak.

Reds 6, Brewers 2: Cincinnati put the lead-off hitter on base in each of the first seven innings on their way to snapping a three-game losing streak.

Blue Jays 5, Indians 4: Munenori Kawasaki cleared the bases in the top of the ninth inning on a single and an error by Michael Bourn. In the bottom half, Kawasaki held his breath as his own error left the door open for Cleveland to tie the game, but Final Vote candidate Steve Delabar saved the day by retiring Michael Brantley.

Orioles 6, Rangers 1: Chris Davis is hitless over his last 17 at-bats, but fellow all-star Manny Machado picked up the slack with three hits while Nolan Reimold added a three-run homer.

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(USA Today)

Rays 4, Twins 3 (13 inn.): Ben Zobrist delivered his fourth career walk-off hit for Tampa Bay.

Nationals 5, Phillies 1: Washington hit back-to-back home runs off Cliff Lee — twice. Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos did it in the fifth. Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth followed leading off the sixth.

Pirates 5, A's 0: Pittsburgh notched their first ever win over Oakland. They were 0-11 entering play on Wednesday.

Tigers 8, White Sox 5: Three more hits and a league-leading 93rd RBI for Miguel Cabrera.

Cardinals 5, Astros 4: Matt Carpenter hit the go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh off Wesley Wright.

Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 4 (14 inn.): Hanley Ramirez and A.J. Ellis hit back-to-back singles in the ninth to help Los Angeles tie the game and then hit consecutive home runs in the 14th to win it.

Rockies 5, Padres 4: Colorado expects to activate Troy Tulowitzki and Dexter Fowler from the disabled list on Thursday.

''It would have been a graveyard in here if we didn't pull this one out.''

— Mike Leake on the Reds ending their three-game losing streak.

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It's not what you think. (USA Today)

Emilio Bonifacio nearly collides with home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez.

Via Elias Sports, Manny Machado has the most hits ever by a player 21 years old or younger before the All-Star break.

• Evan Longoria is 6 for 44 with no extra-base hits over his last 14 games.

• David Ortiz also holds the designated hitter record for most runs scored, doubles, home runs, extra-base hits and RBIs.

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