Chicago Cubs relievers threw seven perfect innings after starter Jason Hammel left with a leg cramp, Bryce Harper left after getting hit in the knee by a pitch but saw the Nationals rally to beat the Phillies and Gregory Polanco continues to mash for the Pirates. Five things we learned on Monday:
1. The Wright stuff. Boston Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright, making $29.5 million less than David Price, has been the team's best starter and tossed his third complete game in Boston's 7-2 victory over the Orioles, improving to 5-4 with a 2.45 ERA. Only Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale and Johnny Cueto can match his three complete games. He did walk five batters in throwing 122 pitches, but induced 13 ground balls and struck out seven. Wright was once a conventional pitcher, with enough talent to get drafted in the second round by the Indians in 2006, but later shifted to throwing the knuckleball as his minor-league career fizzled. The Red Sox acquired him for Lars Anderson back in 2012, he's shuttled back and forth between Boston and Triple-A the past couple of seasons, and he even considered retiring a couple years ago. What can make him so tough is he can still throw an 85- to 87-mph fastball, as a change of pace to the knuckleball. Check out this pitch he threw to Chris Davis.
2. There's a bright spot for the Reds. Cincinnati Reds left fielder Adam Duvall, acquired last July from the Giants in the Mike Leake trade, has always been a low-average guy who doesn't walk much and never had a true defensive home (he played mostly third and first base in the minors). Lacking any better options, the Reds gave the 27-year-old a chance in left field and he's taken advantage, hitting .271/.305/.606 after belting his 12th and 13th home runs in the Reds' 11-8 win at Coors Field. His peripheral stats -- 48 strikeouts, six walks -- suggest he's still on all-or-nothing slugger who could be exposed as the season wears on, but the power is real and he ranks third in the NL in extra-base hits. Now, about Joey Votto ...
Back to the Reds for a moment: Adam Duvall's ISO of .335 is second only to David Ortiz among all major league hitters.
— Chad Dotson (@dotsonc) May 31, 2016
3. Marco Estrada is the ace of the Toronto Blue Jays. No, it's not Marcus Stroman. Estrada lowered his ERA to 2.43 with eight scoreless innings against the Yankees. After holding batters to a .203 average in 2015 and with a fastball that averages about 89 mph, everyone expected some regression. Instead, he's been even better and batters are hitting just .177 off him. Like last year, his changeup is his big weapon:
Batters are hitting .118 against Marco Estrada's changeup: pic.twitter.com/LLi0mW83AC
— David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield) May 31, 2016
4. Let's hope we can all do this at 92. Of all the Memorial Day-related ceremonies, this was the my favorite. Burke Waldron, who was stationed at Pearl Harbor in World War II, is 92 years old, but look at him sprint out to the mound and deliver the first pitch for the Seattle Mariners.
— Cut4 (@Cut4) May 31, 2016
5. Circle this game. Is this the game when Matt Harvey turns things around? Harvey tossed seven scoreless innings and allowed just two hits in a 1-0 win for the New York Mets over the White Sox. While he admitted one gem isn't a solution for his struggles, the signs were there that this was the old Harvey. His fastball velocity was at a season-high average of 95.5 mph and he recorded a 27-percent swing-and-miss rate with his heater, compared to an 8-percent average his previous three outings. He pitched with the old swagger and left to a big ovation from Mets fans.