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

Red Sox win ninth straight as Sale keeps dominating

Boston on Wednesday notched its ninth straight win, which marks the second time this season that the Red Sox have won nine in a row. They’re now at 65 wins, and we’re not even to the All-Star break. The Sox are on pace for 112 wins, and the SportsLine Projection Model now tabs them for 108 wins, which would be a franchise record. 

As for this game in particular, Chris Sale was the story, as he struck out 12 and walked only one across seven scoreless innings. Some pretty moving pictures … 

Also, Sale dialed it up to 100 mph at one point … 

With this gem, Sale has now pitched to a 2.23 ERA with 188 strikeouts in 129 innings. As for his recent run … 

And as for this 188 first-half strikeouts … 

Sale’s coming off the first 300-strikeout season of his career, and barring injury he’s going to blow past that mark in 2018. Also consider him to be squarely in the AL Cy Young discussion. Not bad for a lefty in Fenway. 

deGrom dominates, Mets walk it off

Once again, the Mets failed to give ace Jacob deGrom adequate run support. deGrom blanked the Phillies for eight innings, but the Mets failed to muster a run of their own over that span.

With that effort, deGrom — potentially the catch of the trade deadline, should the Mets decide to tear it down — has lowered his 2018 ERA to 1.68. Along the way he’s struck out 149 batters against 30 walks in 123 1/3 innings. In related matters … 

Anyhow, we proceed to the 10th inning. Pinch-hitter Brandon Nimmo is up with two on and two out in the bottom of the inning … 

Yep, that’s a walk-off. Nimmo’s now batting a robust .258/.382/.512 on the season. The Phillies, meantime, lose a tough one. 

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. 

Bird helps Yankees make home run history

In the early innings of Wednesday night’s Yankees-Orioles tilt, New York first baseman Greg Bird did this … 

Yep, that’s a grand slam off the Camden foul pole. Bird’s seventh homer of the season also means this … 

Yep, that’s a first-half record. So will the Yanks set the all-time team mark for home runs in a season? Read more here.

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. 

Quick hits

  • The eight participants in the 2018 Home Run Derby were announced on Wednesday night.
  • 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.

Live team updates

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