Welcome to the last Wednesday before the All-Star break. The season really flies, doesn’t it? Time is always at a premium, so let’s dive in. 

Wednesday’s scores

Bryant homers in return, but Cubs fall in extras

The Giants edged the Cubs in 13 innings, as you see above, and in doing so took of the rubber match of the series. The San Francisco bullpen allowed only one run in eight innings of work (Dereck Rodriguez worked three scoreless), and Buster Posey provided the two-out, opposite field walk-off knock … 

That’s good for the Giants’ 49th win of the season, and they’re now back to three games over .500. 

The bright spot for the Cubs? Kris Bryant was back in the lineup for the first time since June 22. He’d been on the DL with a shoulder injury that appeared to be zapping him of his power. From May 15-June 22, Bryant hit .279 with a .349 on-base percentage — so down a little but not terrible — with a .382 slugging percentage and just one home run. In his previous 11 games, Bryant had six homers and a .756 slugging, so clearly something happened there other than just ebbs and flows. 

The Bryant blast you’re about to see, though, suggests that shoulder is indeed back in slugging shape … 

Bryant’s now batting .279/.384/.487 on the year with 10 homers. 

Ramirez homers twice

Jose Ramirez on Wednesday reminded us that he’s a strong MVP candidate in the AL. Check out his two shots against the Reds … 

That gives Ramirez 27 home runs on the season, which he means at the moment he trails MLB leader J.D. Martinez of the Red Sox by only homer. There’s also this … 

In addition to playing a nifty third base and stealing 19 bases in 21 attempts, Ramirez is now batting .294/.393/.610. Like we said: MVP candidate. 

Need more? Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor also hit his 25th homer of the season in this one, and the means this … 

Also of note in this one, Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco notched the 1,000 strikeout of his career. 

Punchless Nationals fall back to .500

Remember when the Nationals held a team meeting and then took three straight from the Marlins and their season was fixed? Yeah, so much for that. The good stretch has fizzled already. They managed just five hits — four singles and a Gio Gonzalez double — while being shut out in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. 

Since those three wins, the Nationals have lost three of their last four games now, having been outscored 19-10. Getting to play the Marlins, Pirates and Mets heading to the All-Star break was a prime opportunity to get things right and so far they’ve only gone 4-3. A four-game series against the Mets is their chance to make it right. 

For now, though, the Nats are 46-46. They didn’t lose their 46th game last season until August 13. 

Rays sweep Tigers, have won five straight

Aside from some really ugly patches, the Rays have been winning games this season. They swept the Tigers with a win on Wednesday and have now won five in a row. Get this: They have had losing streaks of eight, four, five and eight again, yet sit 48-44 on the season. Four different losing streaks have accounted for 25 losses. Otherwise the Rays are 48-19. Now, obviously the losing streaks count and great teams wouldn’t endure those, it’s just a fun little oddity. 

On the Tigers’ end, they have now lost 18 of their last 22. 

The red-hot Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox enter Wednesday with the best record in baseball at 64-29. They hold the current longest winning streak in baseball at eight. The odds it is pushed to nine seem pretty good, too, as they square off against the 40-53 Rangers and Chris Sale (9-4, 2.36) takes the ball.

What more can you say about the Red Sox right now than that they have been amazing? They have a plus-158 run differential, are on pace for 111 wins and SportsLine figures them for 108 wins. The Yankees are awesome, but the Red Sox currently lead them by 3 1/2 games in the AL East. 

First-place Phillies face tough test; or do they?

For the first time all season, the Phillies are alone in first place with more than a 1/2 game lead. It’s one, but it’s gotta be a nice feeling to have a full game up after spending nearly a week tied for first. They’ll face a tall order in keeping that lead on Wednesday, because it’s Jacob deGrom and his 1.79 ERA they face. 

Then again, maybe it’s not so tall. The Mets are 7-11 in deGrom starts, despite him leading the majors in ERA. They have lost eight games in which he allowed two or fewer earned runs. 

Quick hits

  • An MRI revealed that Angels RHP Garrett Richards has damage to his ulnar collateral ligament. A course of treatment has not yet been decided.
  • The Twins have placed right-handed reliever Addison Reed on the disabled list with right triceps soreness. 
  • Royals starter Ian Kennedy has landed on the disabled list due to a left oblique strain. 
  • The White Sox have designated reliever Bruce Rondon for assignment and brought Jeanmar Gomez up from the minors. 
  • The Rangers designated outfielder Austin Jackson for assignment just a few days after acquiring him. The Rangers basically took on Jackson’s salary just to grab prospect Jason Bahr and Jackson never reported to the club for duty. 
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that OF Yoenis Cespedes has told the Mets he’s open to playing first base. Cespedes is presently on the DL with a strained hip flexor.

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