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Weekly MLB Report: Pirates Beat Cardinals in 19-Inning Game To Retain NL Wild Card Spot

Pedro Alvarez
Dilip Vishwanat, Getty Images

The 2012 Major League Baseball season is down to its final 40 games. Here’s what’s happening in Major League Baseball:

Pedro Alvarez Leads Pittsburgh Past St. Louis in 19-Inning Marathon

Pedro Alvarez hit his 23rd homer of the season in the top of the 19th inning, as the Pittsburgh Pirates (67-54) won the longest game in the majors this season, 6-3, over the St. Louis Cardinals (65-56). Pirates’ outfielder Andrew McCutchen added a two-run single later in the 19th inning to account for the final margin of victory. The win allowed the Pirates to remain two games ahead of the Cardinals in the race for the second NL Wild Card spot.

Tampa Bay Rays Sweep Los Angeles Angels

The Tampa Bay Rays (67-54) completed a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels (62-60) with an 8-3 win on Sunday in Anaheim. The victory gave Tampa a firmer grasp of the first American League Wild Card spot. The Rays still trail the Yankees by five games in the American League East. Tampa Bay outscored the Angels 37-14 in the series.

Houston Astros Fire Brad Mills

After suffering their 82nd loss of 2012 on Saturday, the Houston Astros (39-83) fired manager Brad Mills. The Astros also canned hitting coach Mike Barnett and first base coach Bobby Meachem. The team named Triple-A manager Tony DeFrancesco as the interim skipper, but Houston still lost to Arizona, 8-1, on Sunday.

Michelle Smith Becomes First Female Analyst on a National Baseball Broadcast

Two-time US Olympic softball gold medalist Michele Smith made history during the TBS broadcast of the Los Angeles Dodgers-Atlanta Braves game at Turner Field on Sunday. As Smith offered commentary alongside play-by-play man Ernie Johnson and analyst John Smoltz, she became the first female analyst for a nationally televised Major League Baseball game. Other MLB teams have used female analysts for regional broadcasts, but Smith is the first female broadcaster to address a national audience.

Nine-Month-Old Baby Witnesses Two Perfect Games

When Seattle Mariners’ ace Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays’ last Wednesday, the 1-0 gem was the second perfect game thrown at Seattle’s Safeco Field in 2012. Bode Dockal, the 9-month-old son of Paul and Jennifer Dockal, has seen them both. In addition to being there on Wednesday, the Dockals were in attendance on April 21, when Chicago’s Philip Humber blanked the Mariners, 4-0. When Bode gets older, his parents will be able to tell him just how rare an occurrence he has already seen twice, even if he doesn’t remember the games.

Giants’ Melky Cabrera Suspended for 50 Games

On Wednesday, Major League Baseball suspended San Francisco Giants’ outfielder Melky Cabrera for 50 games for testing positive for a banned substance. Cabrera was hitting .346 and won the MVP of last month’s All-Star Game. Sunday, MLB accused Cabrera and his associates of creating a fake website to help appeal the ban and contest the charges.

Play of the Week: Brandon Barnes, Houston Astros

While the Houston Astros have had a terrible season, their outfielders have been consistently great at making spectacular catches. In the video below, center fielder Brandon Barnes makes a great diving catch to rob Arizona’s Ryan Wheeler of a hit.

Upcoming Series To Watch: San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers

The National League West lead is at stake when the San Francisco Giants (66-55) take on the Los Angeles Dodgers (67-55) in a three-game series starting on Monday in L.A. The Dodgers lead the Giants by a half-game, but the teams are equal in the loss column. San Francisco will send Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain to the mound against the Los Angeles trio of Clayton Kershaw, Joe Blanton and Chris Capuano. Los Angeles will have manager Don Mattingly back after he spent the weekend serving a two-game suspension for arguing with umpires in Pittsburgh last week.

Fantasy Player to Add: Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist had 12 hits in his past 26 at-bats through Saturday. That the veteran Zobrist has raised his batting average to .262 after a slow start is not surprising. What is different is how well Zobrist has hit since moving to shortstop. Blending his power numbers with the newfound position eligibility should make Zobrist a hot commodity in most fantasy leagues this year and next.

Fantasy Player To Drop: Jemile Weeks, Oakland A’s

Even though he went 2-for-3 on Sunday, Jemile Weeks is struggling at the plate for the A’s. The fleet second-baseman has just one extra-base hit in his last 10 games. His seasonal average sits at .222. Time to cut him loose.

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