In the old days, before anyone cared about rotator cuffs and Tommy John surgeries, they would have let Charlie Morton and Adam Wainwright keep pitching until dawn, if need be. But in these sensitive times, each was removed after seven scoreless innings Monday night, and both had prime dugout views to watch slugger Matt Adams of the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0 by virtue of a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth.
Adams came in slugging well overall, but was hitting just .190 against left-handers. Of his blast against lefty Justin Wilson, he said (via the Associated Press):
"This is unbelievable. I don't even know what to say. I don't think I touched the dirt the whole way around the bases."
Morton came in with a horrible and luckless record against the Cardinals, but he allowed just one hit and two walks, striking out five. He pitched better than Wainwright, a top candidate to start the All-Star Game next week, who scattered seven hits with three walks and five K's.
Pittsburgh put runners in scoring position five times against Wainwright, who said he had the "command of an A-ball pitcher," but managed to get out of the jams. Just scintillating, playoff series-like pitching in the opener of a four-game series.
In the ninth, Matt Carpenter drew a leadoff walk, his third of the game, and Matt Holliday flied out to set the stage for Adams, whom Wainwright called "a dad-gum good hitter."
More bad news for the Pirates: Right-hander Gerrit Cole is going on the disabled list because of a strained oblique muscle.
Can you handle more great pitching? Probably? Good. Right-hander James Shields returned to his place of major league birth, Tropicana Field, and dominated against the Tampa Bay Rays. Shields struck out 10 and limited Tampa Bay to three hits in a 6-0 victory for the Kansas City Royals.
No pitcher has had more success at The Trop than Shields, who remains Tampa Bay's all-time leader in victories with 87, including a franchise-best 47 at home.
"It's definitely special to come back here,'' said Shields (9-4), who was dealt to the Royals in December 2012 as part of a seven-player trade in which Kansas City sent 2013 AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers and another top young prospect, Jake Odorizzi, to Tampa Bay.
And did you know that Shields' mound opponent against the Rays was none other than Odorizzi? And now you know ... some of ... the rest of the story. Odorizzi pitched well, too, allowing two runs and six hits over six innings. He struck out eight.
Alex Gordon and Omar Infante, with three hits and two RBIs apiece, were the hitting stars for the Royals.
EAST BAY REPRESENT
The A's are cruising right now, leading the majors with a 56-33 record, but the Giants have been struggling after a sizzling start.
The banged-up Giants, on the other hand, had lost 18 of 23 to fall out of first place in the NL West — where they once held a 9 1/2-game lead over the Dodgers — but showed signs of coming out of their slump by winning two in a row at San Diego over the weekend.
WHERE HAD THAT BEEN ALL NIGHT?
The Baltimore Orioles managed a fruitful offensive output against the Washington Nationals, even if it took extra innings to get there. The O's erupted for six runs in the 11th — on the brute strength of three home runs — to dump the Nats 6-2 at Nationals Park.
• Chris Davis — good-bye, home run!
• J.J. Hardy — good-bye, home run!
• Manny Machado — good-bye, home run!
Craig Stammen was nicked for two long balls and Aaron Barrett another. Davis has 14 home runs after hitting 53 in 2014. He hadn't gone deep since June 23 until he broke a 2-2 tie against Stammen.
Baltimore's Chris Tillman and Washington's Stephen Strasburg had engaged in a Morton-Wainwright type pitchers duel before that, with each allowing two runs over seven innings.
The Orioles are 49-40 and the Nationals are 48-40. It's a good moment to be a baseball fan if BWI is your home airport.
More MLB coverage at Yahoo Sports:
- - - - - - -