Streaks abound: Mets, Braves, Phils, Cards and more

1. Mets Sweep and Streak to the Top

Carlos, not Johan Santana

The New York Mets swept the Dodgers, 4-0 and 10-5 in a twi-night doubleheader, created by a rainout on Monday, to stretch their winning streak to six games and to move into first place in the suddenly competitive NL East. David Wright drove in four runs and Ike Davis added three RBI in the nightcap as Johan Santana (3-1) threw six innings of four-hit shutout ball, backed by Jason Bay’s first Met homer, in the opener.

The Metsurge has coincided with the April 19 arrival of rookie first baseman Davis from the minors and the move of Jose Reyes to the third slot in the batting order.

In the second game, the Mets got strong relief from 35-year-old rookie reliever Hisanori Takahashi (2-1) who pitched 3.1 innings of two-hit, one-run ball after taking over from Oliver Perez who started (and pitched poorly) in place of  John Maine, who missed the start with pain in his non-pitching arm. Takahashi struck out five and leads major league relievers with 21 strikeouts, in 14.1 innings.

Hiroki Kuroda (2-1) lost game one for the Dodgers and knuckleballer Charlie Haeger (0-3) lost the second game.

In their last 13 games, NY starting pitchers have a 1.48 ERA.

The Mets swept their first doubleheader over the Dodgers since Aug. 28, 1971, at Shea Stadium and their first doubleheader sweep since June 2007 at Philadelphia. And for those of you who long for the days when “DH” meant double-header and not designated hitter, the sparse crowd never approached the announced attendance of 32,012, particularly during the make-up afternoon game.

2. Orioles Streak to Win at Home

The Orioles defeated the Yankees last night, 5-4 for their first at home and their first two-game winning streak of the season. Cesar Izturis had three RBI for the Orioles who had been 0-6 at Camden Yards entering the game.

Yankees starter Phil Hughes allowed one run and two hits, but four walks, in 5.2 innings. The New York bullpen collapsed as Boone Logan walked Luke Scott and then David Robertson (0-1) hit Ty Wigginton with a pitch and gave up successive two-out RBI singles to Rhyne Hughes, Nolan Reimold and Izturis. Baltimore came into the game batting .108 with two outs and runners in scoring position.

Alberto Castillo (1-0) pitched 1.1 innings of one-hit relief for the win and Alfredo Simon recorded his first major league save.

Jorge Posada hit his fifth homer of the season.

Follow the misadventures of the (W)O’s as we track them against the 1962 NY Mets.

3. The Cardinals Streak is Three, the Braves Streak is Seven

By defeating the Braves last night, 5-4, the Cardinals won three consecutive games for the first time this season and the Braves lost seven consecutive games for the first time this season. Celebrating his 35th birthday, Chris Carpenter (3-0) allowed two runs

The birthday boy

and three hits in six innings, beating the Braves for the first time since 2006. Derek Lowe (3-2) is now 1-7 lifetime against the Cardinals after giving up five runs on five hits in 5.2 innings.

As per usual, Ryan Ludwick had his way with Lowe homering and doubling home a run. He’s now 8-for-13 with three homers and eight RBI against Lowe. Jason Heyward was 0-for-3 with a walk and has one hit in his last 20 at-bats.

The Braves are now 8-12, their worst mark through the first 20 games of a Bobby Cox season. In 1990, they started 7-13 under Russ Nixon who was replaced by Cox after 65 games that season.

4. The Rays Streak is Three

The Al East leading Tampa Bay won their third straight, last night, defeating the AL West leading Oakland A’s, 8-6. Pat Burrell hit a three-run homer and Reid Brignac also homered as the Rays have the best record in baseball at 15-5.

Wade Davis (2-1) won despite giving up a three-run homer to Cliff Pennington, who had four hits and four RBI. Ben Sheets (1-2) was rocked giving up nine hits and eight runs in four innings.

The Rays have won 12 of their last 14 and improved to 6-4 at home this season; they are 9-1 on the road. The A’s fell to 3-4 on the road this season; they are 9-5 at home.

The Trop was empty as usual with 10,825 fans (30% full) watching the first place teams square off.

5. On the sked

AL

Mariners (Ryan Rowland-Smith) at Royals (Gil Meche), 2:10

Twins (Scott Baker) at Tigers (Max Scherzer), 7:00

Yankees (C.C. Sabathia) at Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie), 7:05

Indians (Jake Westbrook) at Angels (Ervin Santana), 7:05

Red Sox (Jon Lester) at Blue Jays (Brett Cecil), 7:07

A’s (Dallas Braden) at Rays (James Shields), 7:10

White Sox (Jake Peavy) at Rangers (Rich Harden), 8:05

NL

Padres (Kevin Correia) at Marlins (Nate Robertson), 12:10

Pirates (Paul Maholm) at Brewers (Chris Narveson), 1:10

Dodgers (John Ely) at Mets (John Maine), 1:10

Nationals (Luis Atilano) at Cubs (Ryan Dempster), 2:20

Diamondbacks (Kris Benson) at Rockies (Greg Smith), 3:10

Phillies (Cole Hamels) at Giants (Tim Lincecum), 3:45

Reds (Mike Leake) at Astros (Ronny Paulino), 8:05

Braves (Kenshin Kawakami) at Cardinals (Jamie Garcia), 8:15

6. The Jays Streak is Four, Boston is at Five

If ever a team needed a strong start from a pitcher it was the Red Sox, whose beleaguered

Gratuitous picture of Mrs. Clay Buchholz

bullpen needed a rest. Clay Buchholz (2-2) stepped up by pitching eight innings in which he allowed one run and seven hits, walked two, struck out four and lowered his ERA to 2.19 and won for the first time in three starts as the Bostons sent the Blue Jays to their fourth straight defeat, 2-1. Ramon Ramirez earned his first save since Sept. 4, 2008, with Kansas City against Oakland.

Shawn Marcum pitched well for Toronto as he allowed one run and four hits and walked three and struck out five in seven innings. He and has four no-decisions in five starts this season. He remains 0-1 on the season. Scott Downs (0-3) took the loss.

The Red Sox pitching this year has been less than stellar as the team won for the first time this season when scoring fewer than three runs, going 1-7 in those games.

The Sox have now played five straight one-run games, winning four. They have also won five straight in Toronto.

The Sox winning run came in the 8th on a bases-loaded walk to Mike Lowell who pinch-hit for DH David Ortiz. Things are on the verge of getting uglier for Ortiz and the Sox as Big Papi was called to the bench as he was heading to the plate. He went to the opposite end of Terry Francona’s dugout. GM Theo Epstein has put Francona in a rough position with three disgruntled veterans, Lowell, Ortiz, and Tim Wakefield. It will be interesting to see what happens, and something indeed will happen.

7. Suggested Reading

In my latest contribution to “Bats” on the NYTimes.com, I write how a Henry Blanco steal reminded me of the streak of Cecil Fielder. Take a look.

8. The Phils Streak is at Three

Todd Wellemeyer (1-3) won for the first time since July 2 last year against the Giants, while with St. Louis, as the now Giants pitcher defeated the Phils, 6-2. He allowed two runs on three hits in 7+ innings, struck out four and walked three and sent the Phils to their third straight loss and knocked them out of first place in the NL East.

Aubrey Huff and Matt Downs each hit solo home runs in the 2nd inning off losing

47-year old Jaime Moyer

pitcher Jaime Moyer (2-2) who gave up 10 hits and four runs in six innings and fell to 0-3 lifetime at AT&T Park. Moyer lost for only the seventh time in his last 32 road starts.

San Francisco has won four of five as Edgar Renteria and Pablo Sandoval hit consecutive RBI singles in both the 5th and 7th.

9. The Liriano Streak is at Three

Francisco Liriano pitched eight scoreless innings to leading the Minnesota Twins to a 2-0 win over the Detroit Tigers. Liriano (3-0) struck out 10, gave up four hits and walked one and lowered his ERA to 0.93. Jon Rauch closed the game for his seventh save.

Justin Verlander (1-2) was a hard luck loser only allowing an unearned run in 5.2 innings. He struck out a season-high seven and allowed a season-low four hits. He had a 6.95 ERA entering the game.

Johnny Damon extended his hitting streak to 14 games.

There is always more to read on Billy-BallBall.com.

Already posted today we have a special report on Stephen Strasburg.

Strasburg pitched five no-hit, no-walk innings last night for the Class AA Harrisburg Senators and improved his record to 3-0, lowered his ERA to 0.52, and pushed his strikeout total to 23 (just three walks) in 17.1 innings. We have a first hand account.