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Pair of 3-way thrillers highlight NL ASG voting

Albies, Posey lead way in hotly contested races at second base, catcher
MLB.com @castrovince

The top spots in the National League are unchanged in the latest 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star ballot update released Monday. But the races at catcher and second base, in particular, are much too close for comfort.

VOTE NOW: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

The top spots in the National League are unchanged in the latest 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star ballot update released Monday. But the races at catcher and second base, in particular, are much too close for comfort.

VOTE NOW: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

With 2 1/2 weeks remaining before the July 5 conclusion of balloting for the starting spots in the 89th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, to be played on Tuesday, July 17, at Nationals Park in Washington., it's a three-way battle both at second base with the Braves' Ozzie Albies, the Cubs' Javier Baez and the Reds' Scooter Gennett at second and at backstop with the Giants' Buster Posey, the Cubs' Willson Contreras and the Braves' Kurt Suzuki.

The reborn Braves, one of baseball's biggest and best surprises in the first half of the season, continue to lead all NL clubs with three players in position to start the Midsummer Classic. And first baseman Freddie Freeman remains the leading vote-getter among all NL players.

Here are the latest NL totals:

Video: PHI@SF: Posey homers over the left-field wall

CATCHER
1. Buster Posey, Giants: 686,253
2. Willson Contreras, Cubs: 596,111
3. Kurt Suzuki, Braves: 557,692
4. Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 366,271
5. Yasmani Grandal, Dodgers: 333,549

Posey's still on pace to make his fourth straight start behind the dish for the NL. But Contreras, who entered the week with a higher OPS (.803 to .773), is within about 90,000 votes, with Suzuki fewer than 40,000 votes behind Contreras. Grandal is a new addition to the top five, bumping the Pirates' Francisco Cervelli from the leaders.

Video: SD@ATL: Freeman clubs a solo jack to left-center

FIRST BASE
1. Freddie Freeman, Braves: 1,433,140 votes
2. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs: 566,382
3. Brandon Belt, Giants: 363,361
4. Cody Bellinger, Dodgers: 294,418
5. Joey Votto, Reds: 189,364

Freeman is well out in front here, and more than a quarter of a million votes ahead of the next-highest vote-getter in the NL. It's a well-deserved standing for one of the game's most consistent hitters. Freeman hasn't been an All-Star since 2014, and he's never started the game. But he entered the week leading the league with a .427 on-base percentage and .585 slugging percentage and ranked second with a .337 batting average to put himself in the early MVP conversation. The rest of the top five here is unchanged from last week.

Video: NYM@ATL: Albies launches a grand slam for his 16th HR

SECOND BASE
1. Ozzie Albies, Braves: 915,736
2. Javier Baez, Cubs: 767,417
3. Scooter Gennett, Reds: 743,979
4. Joe Panik, Giants: 194,634
5. Asdrubal Cabrera, Mets: 173,567

Panik pushed past Cabrera, but that's the only change here. It remains a three-way race between three fascinating players. Albies has taken the league by storm in his sophomore year, entering the week with the league's highest extra-base-hit total (39). Baez has come into his own as a more consistent power producer (.514 SLG) to go with his dynamic defensive presence. But neither guy has outpaced Gennett's .909 OPS.

Video: SF@LAD: Crawford makes smooth pick on sharp grounder

SHORTSTOP
1. Brandon Crawford, Giants: 1,120,031
2. Dansby Swanson, Braves: 568,400
3. Addison Russell, Cubs: 475,091
4. Trevor Story, Rockies: 315,532
5. Trea Turner, Nationals: 279,071

No changes here. Story has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball in June (.365 average, 1.071 OPS) but remains a distant fourth. The only thing stopping Crawford in the midst of his best offensive season (.315/.370/.492 slash line) was a brief paternity-leave break.

Video: COL@PHI: Arenado makes a great diving stop at third

THIRD BASE
1. Nolan Arenado, Rockies: 1,124,563
2. Kris Bryant, Cubs: 677,185
3. Johan Camargo, Braves: 395,389
4. Eugenio Suarez, Reds: 228,806
5. Evan Longoria, Giants; 221,100

Longoria bumped Justin Turner from the No. 5 spot this week, though his broken hand and subsequent surgery that will cost him up to two months is bound to impact his vote total moving forward. Anyway, the story here remains Arenado's march toward his second straight start. He's having a typically outstanding season, with a .310/.401/.551 slash line.

Video: SD@ATL: Markakis dives for stellar game-ending catch

OUTFIELD
1. Nick Markakis, Braves: 1,173,653
2. Bryce Harper, Nationals: 1,002,696
3. Matt Kemp, Dodgers: 925,697
4. Charlie Blackmon, Rockies: 678,831
5. Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves: 617,151
6. Ender Inciarte, Braves: 528,943
7. Jason Heyward, Cubs: 447,359
8. Kyle Schwarber, Cubs: 442,471
9. Ben Zobrist, Cubs: 434,943
10. Christian Yelich, Brewers: 364,286
11. Corey Dickerson, Pirates: 313,558
12. Odubel Herrera, Phillies: 263,903
13. Lorenzo Cain, Brewers: 242,827
14. Andrew McCutchen, Giants: 241,652
15. Matt Adams, Nationals: 237,165

Markakis is one of the best stories on this ballot. In 13 seasons, he's played north of 1,900 games, logged more than 2,100 hits, driven in more than 900 runs, scored more than 1,000 runs and drawn nearly 800 walks, but he's never been an All-Star. Not only is he on track to change that with a power resurgence in his age-34 season, but he's now overtaken Harper as the leading outfield vote-getter. But Harper is still on track to start in his Washington "hometown," and Kemp's comeback season continues to garner love at the online ballot box. The only other change of note here is McCutchen joining the top 15, bumping the injured A.J. Pollock, but it's going to be hard to catch Markakis, Harper and Kemp.

Fans may cast votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot until Thursday, July 5, at 11:59 p.m. ET. On smartphones and tablets, fans can also access the ballot via the MLB At Bat and MLB Ballpark mobile apps. Each fan can vote up to five times in any 24-hour period, for a maximum of 35 ballots cast.

Following the announcement of this year's All-Star starters, reserves and pitchers, fans should return to MLB.com and cast their 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Final Vote for the final player on each league's roster. Then on Tuesday, July 17, while watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, fans may visit MLB.com to submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.

For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Behind 11 straight, Astros top Power Rankings

Houston replaces fellow AL powerhouse Yanks at No. 1
MLB.com @alysonfooter

More than a week and a half ago, the Astros, coming off a win, departed for their longest road trip, and they were essentially in a neck-and-neck tie with the Mariners in what is turning out to be delightfully interesting American League West race.

Houston returns home with an 11-game win streak, having just completed a 10-0 run through Arlington, Oakland and Kansas City. Over their past 11 games, the Astros have outscored opponents, 81-40, posted a .327 cumulative batting average, knocked 21 homers and compiled sterling ERAs: 3.80 for the rotation; 1.29 for the bullpen.

More than a week and a half ago, the Astros, coming off a win, departed for their longest road trip, and they were essentially in a neck-and-neck tie with the Mariners in what is turning out to be delightfully interesting American League West race.

Houston returns home with an 11-game win streak, having just completed a 10-0 run through Arlington, Oakland and Kansas City. Over their past 11 games, the Astros have outscored opponents, 81-40, posted a .327 cumulative batting average, knocked 21 homers and compiled sterling ERAs: 3.80 for the rotation; 1.29 for the bullpen.

For historical context, the Astros' undefeated road trip is one of only seven that have stretched 10 games or longer since 1953. The most recent was the Indians' 11-0 roadie during their 22-game win streak in 2017. The others: Oakland in 2002 (10-0); Seattle in '02 (10-0); Atlanta in 1992 (10-0); Cincinnati in '57 (12-0); and the Yankees in '53 (14-0).

The win streak moved the Astros into first place, but the space between them and the Mariners is hardly comfortable. Seattle is 7-3 in its past 10 games and is only 1 1/2 games behind Houston in the AL West.

Morning Lineup Podcast looks at Astros' streak

Biggest jump: The D-backs jumped four spots, from No. 13 to No. 9. The season is proving to be one of inconsistency for Arizona, but after a rough patch, it has stabilized, posting an 11-5 record in June. Since the start of the month, the D-backs have scored a Major League-best 103 runs. That's already 26 more runs than they scored in all of May, when they posted an MLB-low 77.

Biggest drop: There wasn't a lot of movement in this area this week, unsurprising given we're almost three months into the season. The Cubs (No. 4 to No. 6), Braves (No. 6 to No. 8) and Angels (No. 11 to No. 13) all dropped two spots. In the case of Chicago and Atlanta, this is nothing more than trying to fit a bunch of very good teams into the top eight. The Halos' situation is a little more dire -- they put a whole mess of players on the DL in the past few days and have a challenge ahead of them while waiting for everyone to get healthy.

Power Rankings Top 5

1. Astros (2 last week)
An 11-game winning streak, by the numbers: Evan Gattis -- six homers, 21 RBIs and a .386 average; Jose Altuve -- 11 runs scored and a .480 on-base percentage; Alex Bregman -- .375 OBP, 13 runs scored, 11 RBIs, four homers. From the pitching side, relievers Chris Devenski, Hector Rondon, Tony Sipp and Collin McHugh all had 0.00 ERAs.

Video: HOU@KC: Bregman uncorks a 3-run homer to left field

2. Yankees (1)
The Yankees have won 13 of their past 17 games, and the bullpen has posted a 0.72 ERA over that span, allowing four earned runs over 49 2/3 innings. Among the top relievers are Aroldis Chapman, who has allowed one earned run in his past 15 2/3 innings, and Dellin Betances, who has strung together 10 consecutive scoreless innings. The Yanks have a heavy schedule ahead of them -- they'll play two in Washington on Monday, to make up for games lost due to weather during their rain-soaked road trip a month ago.

Video: TB@NYY: Chapman strikes out Wendle to earn 20th save

3. Red Sox (3)
After a 17-inning scoreless streak, the Red Sox bats came to life on Sunday in a 9-3 win over the Mariners, allowing them to gain a split of the four-game set in Seattle. The Red Sox, one win shy of 50 for the season, have relied on their strong starting pitching. Boston starters have held opponents to two earned runs or fewer in 12 of the past 14 games. The lineup has also feasted on right-handed starting pitching, posting a 41-15 record. Even before they tagged Mike Leake for five earned runs on Sunday, Sox hitters led the Majors with a .268 average and .475 slugging percentage off righties.

Video: BOS@SEA: Red Sox club three homers against Mariners

4. Mariners (7)
With its 46-26 start, half of Seattle's wins have been by one run (23-10). Since 1908, no other team has had 23 one-run wins in the first 71 games of a season. Also, the Mariners have the third-best home record in the Majors at 25-14. The only two teams ahead of them in that category happen to be the teams they're playing on the road this week -- they begin a three-game set with the Yankees on Tuesday, and then move on to Boston for three next weekend. If Mariners fans are looking for some more optimism to add to an already happy season, Seattle is 10-4 against the AL East this year.

Video: Must C Clutch: Span caps Mariners' terrific comeback

5. Brewers (8)
Though the Brewers lost to the Phillies on Sunday, the game wasn't without its positives. Eric Thames, who missed a month and a half with a torn ligament in his thumb, knocked two homers, a good sign that he's getting back into a groove after logging just one hit in 10 at-bats since coming off the DL. Other offensive contributors include Lorenzo Cain, who is slashing .370/.469/.593 in his past seven games, and Christian Yelich, who is batting .382 with nine homers and 28 RBIs in the 37 Milwaukee wins he's played in this year.

Video: PHI@MIL: Thames clobbers a homer to right in the 1st

The rest of the Top 20
6. Cubs (4)
7. Nationals (5)
8. Braves (6)
9. D-backs (13)
10. Indians (9)
11. Dodgers (10)
12. Cardinals (12)
13. Angels (11)
14. Phillies (14)
15. Rockies (15)
16. Athletics (16)
17. Giants (17)
18. Pirates (18)
19. Rays (20)
20. Blue Jays (19)

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Injury updates: Darvish, Teheran, Holland

MLB.com

Here's a roundup of the latest injury news across the Majors.

Yu Darvish and Javier Baez, Cubs

Here's a roundup of the latest injury news across the Majors.

Yu Darvish and Javier Baez, Cubs

With a pair of bullpen sessions already under his belt, Darvish is set to throw a simulated game June 19. Left-hander Mike Montgomery will once again start in place of Darvish, who has been out since May 26 due to a strained right triceps. More >

Baez, meanwhile, exited Sunday night's game after being plunked on the left elbow by Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty. After being replaced at shortstop by Addison Russell, Baez was eventually diagnosed with a contusion. Manager Joe Maddon indicated that he does not believe the injury to be serious, and Baez is considered day to day. More >

Video: CHC@STL: Baez exits after getting hit in the elbow

Julio Teheran, Braves

Teheran returned from the disabled list and tossed six no-hit innings with 11 strikeouts Sunday. His hamstring cramped up in the sixth inning, however. He limped off the field and did not return to the game.

"I wanted to stay in, but when I got to the dugout, I was still cramping and that's not a good sign," Teheran said. More >

Video: SD@ATL: Teheran, Snitker, Flowers on no-hit outing

Greg Holland, Cardinals

Holland is expected to be reinstated from the disabled list this week, according to Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, though a specific date for Holland's return was not provided. Holland's season-long struggles continued throughout his Minor League rehab assignment, and Matheny acknowledged that the veteran's results were "not ideal," though it seems the organization will allow Holland to attempt to sort things out at the Major League level. More >

Carlos Carrasco and Tyler Olson, Indians

The Indians placed Carrasco on the disabled list with a right elbow contusion Sunday.

Carrasco was originally diagnosed with a right forearm contusion after being struck by a line drive on Saturday, but X-rays revealed that the injury was to his elbow. He will be re-evaluated Monday morning.

Video: MIN@CLE: Indians place Carrasco on the 10-day DL

Olson was also placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left latissimus dorsi strain. More >

Jorge Soler, Royals

Soler was placed on the 10-day disabled list prior to Sunday's game against the Astros with a broken metatarsal bone in his left foot. He is expected to miss at least six weeks. More >

Video: HOU@KC: Soler fractures left first metatarsal

Jerad Eickhoff, Phillies

Eickhoff, who has not pitched this season, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday in Philadelphia. He opened the season on the disabled list with a strained right lat, but he had a setback when he felt the same tingling and weakness in the fingertips of his right hand that ended his 2017 season during a rehab start. Four specialists ruled out thoracic outlet syndrome, which could have required a rib to be surgically removed.

Eickhoff said doctors seem confident that the inflammation in his right wrist can be addressed with the injection and anti-inflammatories, but no one will truly know until he gets on the mound and starts throwing again. More >

Jimmy Nelson, Zach Davies and Wade Miley, Brewers

Sunday marked one month since Nelson's check-up with the doctor who performed his shoulder surgery, and Nelson told Milwaukee radio station 105.7 FM The Fan that "it's trending in the right direction right now."

There is still no timetable for Nelson to throw off a mound or return to the Brewers' rotation, because those benchmarks all depend on his repaired right shoulder. He is working back toward throwing 150 feet on flat ground, the distance he was at leading up to a shutdown period before and after a visit with Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Davies will begin another Minor League rehab assignment on Tuesday at Triple-A Colorado Springs, while Miley will join Double-A Biloxi later in the week as both starting pitchers work back from injuries.

Davies, in his second stint on the 10-day DL for right rotator cuff inflammation, is expected to make at least three starts in the Minors this time. Miley, who is on the 60-day DL with a strained right oblique, will probably pitch four times in the Minors, since he is not eligible for reinstatement until July 9. More >

Kurt Suzuki, Braves

Suzuki exited Sunday afternoon's game against the Padres for precautionary reasons after getting hit in the head by Raffy Lopez's backswing to end the second inning. Suzuki was evaluated and is day to day. More >

Video: SD@ATL: Suzuki injured by backswing and exits game

Whit Merrifield, Royals

Merrifield left Sunday's series finale against the Astros in the second inning after fouling a pitch off his left knee. He was diagnosed with a contusion and is day to day. More >

Video: KC@HOU: Merrifield leaves after fouling ball off knee

Shelby Miller, D-backs

In his latest rehab start for Class A Advanced Visalia on Saturday, the right-hander tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out 10 and walked none, throwing 81 pitches.

"He's getting close," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "With these outings and the feedback he's giving us, he's telling us that he's getting closer every day."

Lovullo said Miller, who had Tommy John surgery last May, is headed back to Arizona, where the athletic training staff will assess him. The staff will formulate a plan for his next steps, which Lovullo will know more about Monday when the D-backs are in Anaheim. More >

Tom Koehler, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dodgers

Koehler suffered a setback in his recovery from a right anterior capsule sprain of the shoulder and an expected return was pushed back to August, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Sunday. Koehler was nearing a rehab appearance when he threw a curveball this week and felt discomfort. He has been out since sustaining what was originally termed a mild sprain in his first Spring Training appearance.

Kershaw (lower back strain) threw on flat ground Sunday and still is expected to throw a simulated game Tuesday or Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Ryu had a Saturday bullpen session cut short at 20 pitches when he felt a little tightness in his strained groin, but Roberts did not call it a setback. More >

Nick Vincent, Juan Nicasio and Chris Herrmann, Mariners

Vincent, on the 10-day disabled list for the past three weeks with a strained right groin, will begin a Minor League rehab stint with Triple-A Tacoma on Monday and could be back with the team by next weekend in Boston. Vincent will pitch two rehab outings, with the second one slated for Double-A Arkansas on Wednesday, before being re-evaluated, according to manager Scott Servais.

Nicasio is also on the disabled list with a swollen right knee that has sidelined him for 10 days, but he threw live batting practice without issue on Saturday and the plan remains intact for him to come off the DL on Tuesday in New York.

Herrmann, who went on the DL on May 30 with a strained right oblique after playing one game for Seattle, is midway through a rehab stint with Tacoma and also could be activated soon. More >

Betts, J.D. or Sale? Each team's likeliest All-Star

A look at who could represent clubs at 89th Midsummer Classic
MLB.com @williamfleitch

Is the All-Star ballot stressing you out? If you think it's difficult for you, imagine how difficult it is for the All-Star managers, who have to make sure they get at least one player from every team. Oftentimes, this leads to strange choices, like Alex Colome making the All-Star Game instead of Evan Longoria, or Jonathan Schoop instead of Manny Machado. Getting everybody represented on the roster is tough, man.

So today at The Thirty, we look at the most deserving All-Star on every team. Some of these are obvious picks. Some of them will get pushed out by the roster crunch. But every single one of them, in a perfect world, would be on the team. They're all All-Stars in our hearts.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Is the All-Star ballot stressing you out? If you think it's difficult for you, imagine how difficult it is for the All-Star managers, who have to make sure they get at least one player from every team. Oftentimes, this leads to strange choices, like Alex Colome making the All-Star Game instead of Evan Longoria, or Jonathan Schoop instead of Manny Machado. Getting everybody represented on the roster is tough, man.

So today at The Thirty, we look at the most deserving All-Star on every team. Some of these are obvious picks. Some of them will get pushed out by the roster crunch. But every single one of them, in a perfect world, would be on the team. They're all All-Stars in our hearts.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Video: TOR@TB: Happ strikes out Adames looking in the 1st

Blue Jays: J.A. Happ
Key stat: 10.23 K/9 (9th in AL)

It is more difficult to find a Blue Jays All-Star than one suspects Toronto fans would find optimal. Happ has been their best starter all season and has been particularly excellent of late. Plus, he's 35 and has never made an All-Star Game. And the way the Jays' season is going, Happ is not going to be Jay for much longer.

Orioles: Manny Machado
Key stat: .945 OPS (6th in AL)

Speaking of players who likely won't be on their current team come August, Machado's fantastic first two months makes this the easiest call on the board. He has been nearly as good as Chris Davis has been bad.

Rays: Blake Snell
Key stat: 2.58 ERA (5th in AL)

The year the Rays have been waiting for has finally arrived: Snell is actually better right now than Chris Archer has ever been. Every team in baseball salivates when it sees Snell pitch.

Video: Must C Classic: Betts slugs 3 homers to lead comeback
Red Sox: Mookie Betts
Key stat: .699 SLG percentage (1st in MLB)

J.D. Martinez may be second in the Majors in homers, and Chris Sale is Chris Sale, but Mookie is essentially the platonic ideal of what a baseball player should be right now.

Video: Must C Clutch: Judge rips go-ahead HR vs. Mets in 8th
Yankees: Aaron Judge
Key stat: 18 HR (tied for 5th in AL)

I'll listen to your Luis Severino arguments, and it's sort of amazing how Brett Gardner might be having the best year of his career at the age of 34, but Judge is a national monument at this point who is somehow matching his breakthrough 2017 season.

AL CENTRAL

Video: CLE@DET: Kluber picks up 1,300th strikeout of career
Indians: Corey Kluber
Key stat: 9.64 K/BB (1st in MLB)

You feel terrible leaving Jose Ramirez off here, but Kluber is having the best season of his career. Pretty impressive when you consider he has already won two AL Cy Young Awards.

Royals: Kelvin Herrera
Key stat: 0.7 BB/9 (2nd among MLB relievers)

Apologies to Whit Merrifield -- who is proving to be anything but a fluke -- but Herrera might be the most dominant closer in the game right now ... when he actually gets the opportunity to save a game.

Tigers: Matthew Boyd
Key stat: 6 HR allowed (tied for 2nd fewest in AL)

Boyd's success this year has mostly been with smoke and mirrors -- he actually has the lowest K rate of his career and has been helped mostly by defense and batted ball luck -- but it's undeniable that he has been the Tigers' best starter, and maybe their most steady performer.

Twins: Eddie Rosario
Key stat: .579 SLG percentage (tied for 5th in AL)

Eduardo Escobar is close, but while we were all obsessing about Byron Buxton, the Twins may have been hiding their eventual actual superstar in plain sight all along.

White Sox: Jose Abreu
Key stat: 26 doubles (2nd in MLB)

It is perhaps a motif that the losing teams we've talked about so far often will be shopping their most deserving All-Star come July.

AL WEST

Video: Trout's back-to-back two-homer games at Safeco
Angels: Mike Trout
Key stat: 1.147 OPS (1st in MLB)

Yeah, Trout is only on pace for one of the 10 best seasons of all time.

Video: Justin Verlander wins AL Pitcher of the Month
Astros: Justin Verlander
Key stat: 1.61 ERA (1st in AL)

There are four, maybe five Astros who would be the most deserving pick on nearly every other team, but when in doubt, go with the guy making his Hall of Fame push with the most amazing work of his whole career.

Athletics: Matt Chapman
Key stat: 18 defensive runs saved (1st in MLB)

Chapman's hitting gets him close to All-Star consideration, but his otherworldly ability to play third base pushes him way over the top.

Mariners: Mitch Haniger
Key stat: 16 HR (tied for 10th in AL)

Haniger has essentially become a superhero since coming over from Arizona, and if the Mariners end their postseason drought this season, he'll be the primary reason why.

Rangers: Shin-Soo Choo
Key stat: .384 OBP (7th in AL)

I know, I'm supposed to pick Bartolo Colon here. But Choo, at last fully healthy, is almost just as good a story.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Video: ATL@SD: Freeman homers, collects 4 hits vs. Padres
Braves: Freddie Freeman
Key stat: 1.012 OPS (1st in NL)

Freeman has navigated the past few seasons of Braves turmoil and now looks for all the world like your NL MVP Award favorite for one of the most exciting young teams in baseball.

Marlins: Brian Anderson
Key stat: .378 OBP (10th in NL)

The Marlins are a little bit better than you thought they were going to be, and Anderson is a happy surprise reason why.

Video: CHC@NYM: deGrom K's 13 over 7 dominant innings
Mets: Jacob deGrom
Key stat: 1.55 ERA (1st in MLB)

deGrom is pitching so well this season that he has a chance to win nine, maybe 10 games for the Mets this season!

Video: Martinez on Scherzer's work ethic, analytical mindset
Nationals: Max Scherzer
Key stat: 152 strikeouts (1st in MLB)

Scherzer is on pace to have the most strikeouts in more than 15 years. At some point he's going to strike out more batters than he faces. I don't know how. But Scherzer will find a way.

Phillies: Aaron Nola
Key stat: 2.55 ERA (6th in NL)

Nola has knocked a full run-and-a-quarter off his ERA since last season and would look mighty pretty starting an NL Wild Card Game, if it came to that.

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: Lorenzo Cain
Key stat: .393 OBP (5th in NL)

Many analytically-minded folks argued that Cain was the free-agent steal of the offseason. Cain is making them look extremely smart.

Video: PIT@STL: Wacha takes no-no into 9th in dominant game
Cardinals: Michael Wacha
Key stat: 3.24 ERA (10th in NL)

If you're feeling whimsical, you can go with Japan League import Miles Mikolas, but the resurgence of Wacha, who looks as good as he did when he exploded on the scene during the 2013 postseason, has helped keep the Cardinals afloat during an injury-plagued first half.

Video: Must C Catch: Baez tumbles over brick wall for grab
Cubs: Javier Baez
Key stat: 46 RBIs (tied for 5th in NL)

The on-base percentage is still a problem, but Baez remains as purely enjoyable a baseball player -- both at bat and (especially) in the field -- to watch as there is in the game. (There is also never anything wrong with a Kris Bryant vote.)

Pirates: Francisco Cervelli
Key stat: .386 OBP (10th in NL)

Remember when Cervelli was a Yankees backup? He is currently the best hitting catcher in the NL, and possibly the Majors.

Video: CIN@KC: Votto rips a go-ahead 3-run triple in 10th
Reds: Joey Votto
Key stat: .425 OBP (2nd in NL)

The answer to all Reds-related All-Star questions is always Votto. But wow, Scooter Gennett is making it awfully close.

NL WEST

D-backs: Patrick Corbin
Key stat: 117 strikeouts (2nd in NL)

If A.J. Pollock weren't hurt again, it would clearly be him. Remember the Golden D-backs Rule: When Pollock is healthy, Arizona is excellent; and when he's not, look out below.

Video: LAD@PIT: Kemp homers, drives in 5 runs vs. Pirates
Dodgers: Matt Kemp
Key stat: .579 SLG percentage (2nd in NL)

There are few more wonderfully hilarious and enjoyable stories this season than Kemp not only being a leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game, but absolutely earning the honor.

Giants: Brandon Belt
Key stat: .548 SLG percentage (5th in NL)

Fittingly, Belt is finally becoming a superstar just in time for everyone else on his team to get old and fall off.

Padres: Eric Hosmer
Key stats: 20 doubles (tied for 2nd in NL)

While you were making fun of the Padres for spending so much on him in the offseason, Hosmer was busy getting off to the best start of his career.

Video: SF@COL: Arenado crushes 447-foot homer at 104.8 mph
Rockies: Nolan Arenado
Key stat: .952 OPS (4th in NL)

Eventually Arenado's going to try to make his Hall of Fame case, and every time he's named to the All-Star Game will help. He just turned 27, and this year would be his fourth.

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

This week: M's invade the Bronx, Boston

Astros seek 12th straight win; Mariners face Yanks, Red Sox
MLB.com @RichardJustice

We see it in their dugouts and postgame celebrations. No two teams are having more fun than the Mariners and Astros right now. We admit we didn't think the American League West race would be this good.

To put it bluntly, we didn't think the Mariners were good enough to hang with the Astros. And yet here we are with both teams on pace to win 100 games and possibly fight for a division championship.

We see it in their dugouts and postgame celebrations. No two teams are having more fun than the Mariners and Astros right now. We admit we didn't think the American League West race would be this good.

To put it bluntly, we didn't think the Mariners were good enough to hang with the Astros. And yet here we are with both teams on pace to win 100 games and possibly fight for a division championship.

The Astros lead the Mariners by 1 1/2 games despite finishing a 10-0 road trip on Sunday with a 7-4 victory in Kansas City. They've won 11 in a row overall and will try to tie the Houston franchise record of 12 straight wins on Monday night at Minute Maid Park against the Rays.

Meanwhile, the Mariners have been crazy good for more than a month -- 22-7 since May 18 after Sunday's 9-3 loss to the Red Sox at Safeco Field. They're winning one-run games at a historic pace -- 13 of 16 and 23-10 overall. Their bullpen has been spectacularly good.

Video: Must C Clutch: Span caps Mariners' terrific comeback

Here's the thing about a team like the Mariners, a team that began the season with a touch of uncertainty concerning how good it was after a disappointing 78-84 record in 2017.

As they've kept winning and seamlessly absorbed the loss of their best player, Robinson Cano, to suspension, their confidence has soared. These are dangerous teams for the rest of baseball.

It's logical to argue that winning a historically high percentage of one-run games isn't sustainable, and history says it's not. But if you're the team winning those games, you say they're a tribute to grit and determination and resilience. That's what the Rangers said in 2016 when they were 36-11 in one-run games, and like the Orioles (29-9) in '12.

The Astros and Mariners don't play each other until July 30 when they go at it seven times in a two-week period. Until then, they can continue to shadow one another from afar.

So in picking the best game each day this week, the AL West leaders will be getting the nod:

Monday: Rays at Astros (8:10 p.m. ET, MLB.TV)
The Astros return to Minute Maid Park for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals and Blue Jays after the best road trip in franchise history. They're 10 for 10 since beginning a stretch of 36 straight games against teams below .500.

Tuesday: Mariners at Yankees (7:05 p.m. ET, MLB.TV)
For the Mariners, this is the start of a three-city, 10-game road trip to play the Yankees, Red Sox and Orioles. The Mariners have lost back-to-back games once since May 18 and have had four walk-off celebrations. Meanwhile, the Yankees have won 13 of 17 and are in a virtual tie with the Red Sox in the AL East.

Video: Must C Combo: Stanton, Sanchez hit back-to-back HRs

Wednesday: Dodgers at Cubs (2:20 p.m. ET, MLB Network, MLB.TV)
This is a matchup of two teams that appear headed for the postseason after slow starts. The Dodgers have overcome a laundry list of injuries and a 16-26 start to win 21 of 28 overall and 11 of 14 this month. Super utility man Max Muncy has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the season. As for the Cubs, they've rushed back into the mix in the National League Central after falling 4 1/2 out in late May.

Thursday: Cardinals at Brewers (8:10 p.m. ET, MLB.TV)
This suddenly is an important series for the Cardinals, who've had a tough week and are trying to keep the Brewers and Cubs within shouting distance in the NL Central. Meanwhile, the Brewers have lost eight of 14 this month.

Video: PHI@MIL: Thames clobbers a homer to right in the 1st

Friday: Mariners at Red Sox (7:10 p.m. ET, MLB.TV)
The Mariners attempt to keep the magic going against a team that has been atop the AL East for 62 games and appears to have few weaknesses. If there's any suspense around the Red Sox, it might be whether J.D. Martinez or Mookie Betts will get closer to Mike Trout in the AL MVP balloting.

Saturday: Padres at Giants (4:05 p.m. ET, MLB.TV)
The Giants believed getting Madison Bumgarner back might be the spark they needed. That might be the case at some point, but with Evan Longoria, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija on the disabled list, they've fallen behind the D-backs, Dodgers and Rockies in the NL West.

Sunday: Phillies at Nationals (8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN)
The Nationals remain solid favorites to win the NL East, but injuries have kept them from overtaking the Braves. The Phillies have won five of seven since a 1-7 slide.

Video: Soto youngest with 2-HR game since Andruw Jones

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Quiz time: Did Yaz play with Roger Clemens?

Fashion yourself a baseball historian? Committed whole lineups to memory? We've got the challenge for you: Below are ten pairs of players, and you have to tell us whether they were teammates at any point in their Major League careers. If that sounds simple enough, well, good luck:

Mariners keep rolling with eyes on the prize

Seattle has gone MLB-best 24-9 since Cano's suspension
MLB.com @jonmorosi

Robinson Cano's most recent game with the Mariners was a loss to the Tigers on May 13.

Since then, Seattle has gone 24-9 -- the best record in the Major Leagues.

Robinson Cano's most recent game with the Mariners was a loss to the Tigers on May 13.

Since then, Seattle has gone 24-9 -- the best record in the Major Leagues.

There are two truths in that statistic:

1.The Mariners are playing well enough that general manager Jerry Dipoto is almost certain to upgrade the roster before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Mariners have the longest playoff drought in major North American professional sports, and Dipoto needs little urging to make moves under any circumstances. (Since he took over in Seattle less than three years ago, no GM has made more trades.)

2. There will be robust debate over how much Cano ought to play when he returns in mid-August from an 80-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Cano's ineligibility for the postseason -- if the Mariners reach the playoffs for the first time since 2001 -- is one factor for manager Scott Servais to consider. But separately, and perhaps more intriguingly, the Mariners have a better record this season without Cano in the lineup than when he plays.

Of the team's performance without Cano, shortstop Jean Segura said, "It's really good, but that doesn't mean we don't need Robbie. We need Robbie. But when we got that bad news, we said, 'We still have a good team.'"

Video: BOS@SEA: Gordon fully extends for a nice diving stop

One rival club official said recently that the Mariners are a more complete team with Dee Gordon's energy and range at second base in place of Cano. It's difficult to argue with that position -- based on the team's performance alone -- but the Mariners' needs could be different two months from now.

Segura has spoken with Cano regularly during the suspension.

"He's sad. I'm sad, too," said Segura, who has trained with Cano in the Dominican Republic during recent offseasons. "We're missing one of our best players. That's the first time he's missed this much time in his career. I'm pretty sure he's bored and frustrated. But he made a mistake, and he's paying for it."

If Dipoto makes a major move in the next six weeks, he'll probably look to fortify a quietly effective rotation. The Mariners have interest in Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ, and they tried to acquire left-hander Matthew Boyd -- a Seattle-area native -- in talks with the Tigers two offseasons ago.

In fact, the Mariners asked the Tigers for Boyd as part of a larger trade conversation involving J.D. Martinez during the winter of 2016-17. Seattle proposed sending right-hander Taijuan Walker and prospects to Detroit for Martinez and Boyd. When the Tigers declined, the Mariners dealt Walker and infielder Ketel Marte to the D-backs for two likely 2018 All-Stars: Segura and outfielder Mitch Haniger, along with left-hander Zac Curtis, who is now with the Phillies.

Boyd is one of the Tigers' most coveted players in trade talks, and he still could be dealt this year, despite Detroit's competitive first half. The left-hander is 4-4 with a 3.23 ERA in 13 starts, and his trade value has never been higher -- particularly in a market generally viewed as thin on starting pitching.

Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for MLB.com and MLB Network.

Seattle Mariners, Robinson Cano

Could Red Sox put Devers on trade block?

Beat reporter Ian Browne answers questions from Red Sox fans
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

Is it me or is Rafael Devers starting to hit a little more? I also saw an article about the potential of a Deadline trade with Devers involved. I can't imagine the Red Sox would do that.
-- @bbcoachshawn

Devers has looked a little better of late. Since June 6, he has hit .313 with four doubles, two homers and seven RBIs. Devers is only 21 years old, and it's far too early for the Red Sox to give up on him. Even with someone like Travis Shaw, it is evident how risky it can be to trade a power hitter. I'd be stunned if Boston traded Devers.

Is it me or is Rafael Devers starting to hit a little more? I also saw an article about the potential of a Deadline trade with Devers involved. I can't imagine the Red Sox would do that.
-- @bbcoachshawn

Devers has looked a little better of late. Since June 6, he has hit .313 with four doubles, two homers and seven RBIs. Devers is only 21 years old, and it's far too early for the Red Sox to give up on him. Even with someone like Travis Shaw, it is evident how risky it can be to trade a power hitter. I'd be stunned if Boston traded Devers.

What do think about trading Devers and a couple of prospects for Manny Machado? He knows how to play third base and the Sox have some good prospects coming up who can also play third in case they cannot sign Machado. I think it would really strengthen their chances of going all the way.
-- Stephen C., Seekonk, Mass.

I don't like that idea at all. Machado is a rental at this point and Devers could be a productive player at an affordable cost for another five years after this one. I'd hang on to Devers. He has a lot of power and a bright future.

:: Submit a question to the Red Sox Inbox ::

Who do the Red Sox need to pick up before the Trade Deadline and why?
-- @Jmighill

It seems like setup relief is their biggest area of need. Joe Kelly is a top eighth-inning guy and Matt Barnes is pretty solid in the seventh, but it feels like they could still use some more depth in front of closer Craig Kimbrel. A power lefty would fit in nicely with the rest of the group.

Will Brandon Workman still be on the team when Drew Pomeranz returns?
-- @steve_blundell

If Workman is pitching well, he could stay, even with Pomeranz. Hector Velazquez is one pitcher who still has Minor League options. Justin Haley is also currently on the roster, so he can certainly be sent down. The better question is this: How will Pomeranz be used when he does return, assuming he gets healthy? I feel like Pomeranz could turn into the lefty arm in the bullpen the team needs, much like David Price did late last season. Pitching in relief, his velocity could tick back up.

Mitch Moreland, Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi -- chances for the All-Star Game?
-- @abromson

At least by fan balloting, Moreland has the best chance at this point. In the most recent batch of voting, he was second behind Jose Abreu, and not trailing by that much. Benintendi belongs in the conversation. Among American League outfielders, Moreland ranks sixth in OPS -- and that includes J.D. Martinez, who has a strong chance to get voted on to the All-Star team as a designated hitter. Bogaerts has some tough competition in Machado, Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor.

What do you think of this lineup? Holt LF, Bogaerts SS, Benintendi CF, Betts RF, Martinez DH, Moreland 1B, Nunez 2B, Devers 3B, Leon/Vazquez C. This bolsters the middle of the order, keeps the lefties separated and improves the 7-8-9 spots.
-- Adam P., Apollo Beach, Fla.

Jackie Bradley Jr.'s defense is special, and I'd give him about another month to see if he can generate some momentum at the plate. I like Brock Holt much better as a bench player. He's always been more effective in that role. Manager Alex Cora isn't moving Mookie Betts out of the leadoff spot. He likes having his most dynamic player come to the plate as often as possible.

I see that Adam Lind has been signed to a Minor League contract. What are the plans for him? He could add some great depth off the bench as a September callup -- or before if three are more injuries.
-- Chris F., Portland, Maine

The plans are pretty much as you've outlined. Lind represents organizational depth. At this point, the Red Sox don't have a spot for Lind. But if something happens to Blake Swihart -- either a trade or an injury -- there could be a role for Lind, who had a pretty good 2017 season.

Dustin Pedroia is the heart and soul of the Red Sox. But how much longer can he play in the Majors with his bad knee?
-- Phil R., Dallas

The hope is that the extensive surgery Pedroia had will allow his left knee to get better, and for him to be able to play a few more years. His contract has another three seasons after this one. It's not a good sign that Pedroia suffered inflammation in the knee after just three games. But on the other hand, no position player has ever had this particular surgery, so it's a bit of an unknown how long it takes for a complete recovery. The Red Sox have pretty good depth at second right now between Eduardo Nunez and Holt, so the best course of action is for Pedroia to continue to take it slow and only come back when his knee feels completely right again.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Rafael Devers

Moonshot over Miami: Big Cat's biggest slam

On May 16, 2015, Miguel Cabrera reached a personal milestone by belting the 400th homer of his illustrious career. While it was a terrific feat, it meant even more to Cabrera because No. 400 also made him baseball's all-time home run leader among Venezuelan players. The man he passed was his childhood hero, Andres Galarraga, who turned 57 on Monday.

Throughout 19 years in the Majors, Galarraga paved the way for future Venezuelan sluggers by crushing 399 long balls for seven different teams. It didn't matter where he played because the ballpark could rarely contain Galarraga's pure power.

Hamilton's latest catch: 'Are you kidding me?'

Reds center fielder lays out to rob Cervelli on ball with 2% catch probability
MLB.com @m_sheldon

PITTSBURGH -- When the guy who was just robbed of a hit applauds the catch, it must have been really good.

In the bottom of the first inning of the Reds' 8-6 win over the Pirates on Sunday at PNC Park, Francisco Cervelli hit a two-out drive to deep right-center field. Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton reacted quickly, sprinting toward the wall before laying out to make a diving snowcone catch on the warning track.

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PITTSBURGH -- When the guy who was just robbed of a hit applauds the catch, it must have been really good.

In the bottom of the first inning of the Reds' 8-6 win over the Pirates on Sunday at PNC Park, Francisco Cervelli hit a two-out drive to deep right-center field. Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton reacted quickly, sprinting toward the wall before laying out to make a diving snowcone catch on the warning track.

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"That has to be up there with one of my top plays," Hamilton said. "That one, I came in and I was like, 'I don't know how I caught that one. I don't even know how I got close to it.'"

According to Statcast™, the play had only a 2 percent catch probability, tied with a catch by Milwaukee's Lorenzo Cain on March 30 for lowest this season. Hamilton covered 83 feet of ground in 4.3 seconds and reached a sprint speed of 30.1 feet per second.

Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani was the biggest beneficiary of the superb effort. At the time, it was a scoreless game.

"He saves pitchers all the time. He's just fun to watch out there. It's like video game stuff," said DeSclafani, who was aided by Hamilton last Sunday in a win vs. St. Louis with a great throw that nailed a runner at the plate.

Video: STL@CIN: Hamilton nabs Martinez at home

Watching the play as he rounded first base, Cervelli clapped after Hamilton secured the ball for the third out. He removed his helmet and also gestured his appreciation with raised arms and a smile.

"That was unbelievable. I think that's the only person who can catch that ball. It's amazing," Cervelli said.

Hamilton was still laying on his back trying to gather himself and didn't see Cervelli's appreciation of a good catch.

"I was just so excited I made the catch and we got out of the inning with the play," Hamilton said. "[Cervelli] is one of those guys, he always gives credit where credit is due. Even when you get a nice hit or something, he'll let you know that it was a great hit."

LISTEN: Morning Lineup Podcast on Hamilton's catch

The crowd at PNC Park also didn't seem to mind that Cervelli missed out on a hit, either: Pirates fans acknowledged the great catch with loud applause as Hamilton returned to the dugout.

"These are some great fans over here," Hamilton said. "They've always been great to me in the outfield. You can go some places where there are mean fans, like disrespectful fans. This is one stadium I can come to and enjoy myself, relax and play baseball."

Perhaps Hamilton's play energized him for the rest of the day. He was 3-for-4 with three singles, two stolen bases and three runs scored. Entering the day, he was 3-for-40 over his last 12 games with 15 strikeouts and batting .187 overall.

Video: CIN@PIT: Hamilton swipes his 12th base of 2018

"You make a play like that, you're like, 'OK, something good has got to happen.' I feel great, my body is feeling great, I just made a nice catch. I just take that happiness into the at-bat," Hamilton said. "That was an exciting catch for me coming into the at-bat, like, 'Oh yeah, let's go.' That's the boost I need."

Hamilton had one more strong defensive play in the eighth inning on Gregory Polanco's RBI double that made it 6-5. He made a perfect relay throw from right-center field to Jose Peraza, who threw to the plate to get Josh Bell and prevent the tying run from scoring.

Video: CIN@PIT: Peraza throws out Bell, review confirms

"I know once I get it out of my hands and get it to those guys, they are going to make great decisions," Hamilton said. "Peraza did a great job of getting the ball home and it was a big stop for us, to be honest with you."

Interim manager Jim Riggleman likes the consistent extra effort on defense Hamilton provides.

"We see him giving us tremendous plays regardless of whether he's struggling with the bat or not," Riggleman said.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Billy Hamilton

New dad feels late dad's presence before walk-off

Special to MLB.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jose Trevino had an uncanny feeling as he stood in the on-deck circle on Sunday, waiting his chance to come up as a pinch-hitter with the Rangers down one and the bases loaded and one out.

"I was talking to one of the security guards in the tunnel, and I said, 'I have a funny feeling about this.' I knew I was going to have help from an angel above," Trevino said.

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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jose Trevino had an uncanny feeling as he stood in the on-deck circle on Sunday, waiting his chance to come up as a pinch-hitter with the Rangers down one and the bases loaded and one out.

"I was talking to one of the security guards in the tunnel, and I said, 'I have a funny feeling about this.' I knew I was going to have help from an angel above," Trevino said.

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The angel was his dad, lost to the family in October 2014, the year Trevino was drafted out of Oral Roberts University.

Perhaps with the help of that angel, Trevino got it done, blooping a walk-off two-run single into shallow left field in the bottom of the ninth, scoring Rougned Odor and Isiah Kiner-Falefa to give the Rangers a wild 13-12 victory over the Rockies at Globe Life Park.

Video: COL@TEX: Trevino on Father's Day walk-off, tears up

Texas overcame two four-run deficits and scored four in the last frame off Wade Davis, who could not find the strike zone in a game that featured 25 hits and 10 walks, including four issued by the Colorado closer.

Jesse Chavez (3-1) earned the victory in relief for the Rangers, who have won two straight. Davis (0-2) suffered his fourth blown save.

"I knew if it got down to it, he wouldn't let me down," Trevino said.

It has been quite the week for the 25-year-old native of Corpus Christi, who made his Major League debut on Friday and got his first start on Saturday. And only a week ago, Trevino became a father himself.

"Pretty incredible week for the young man," Banister said. "To become a father, a big-leaguer and play a significant role in a couple of wins ... I think he'll look back on his first few days in the big leagues and think of how special they really were."

Video: COL@TEX: Rangers take the lead with a 5-run 6th

Down 5-1 in the sixth, the Rangers broke through with five runs on three hits, a walk and two Colorado errors. Jurickson Profar had two hits and four RBIs, including a three-run home run in the inning. Nomar Mazara, in his first game back after missing two straight with a sore left wrist, had two hits and three RBIs for Texas.

Gerardo Parra had three hits and four RBIs, one of eight Rockies hitters with an RBI. Trevor Story, local boy done good, from Irving, had a two-run home run in the ninth.

Offensively, Texas had very little to show early against right-hander Jon Gray, who struck out six of the first nine hitters he faced. Profar's blast off of Gray was his eighth homer of the season and sixth in his last 27 games.

Video: COL@TEX: Profar hammers a go-ahead 3-run home run

Another local boy done good was Yovani Gallardo, whose ideal Father's Day would have included a homecoming victory in his first start of the season.

He'll be happy with the consolation of a no-decision.

Video: COL@TEX: Gallardo's first K since rejoining Rangers

Gallardo, who was raised and still lives in nearby Fort Worth, began his second stint with the Rangers after pitching for them in 2015. He is now winless in 12 career starts after giving up five runs on six hits and three walks while striking out four over five innings.

DJ LeMahieu, the leadoff hitter, drove Gallardo's third pitch off the foul pole in left to put the Rockies up.

"I thought Yo threw the ball well," manager Jeff Banister said. "It was similar to what we've seen in the past from Yo. He gave up a couple of soft hits, the walks are something not typical of Yo, but he managed the game and was able to give us some length."

Video: COL@TEX: Banister on his team's passion in 13-12 win

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Joey Gallo had a day to forget. The Rangers' left-fielder had four strikeouts in his first four at-bats, including two looking, but Gallo worked a walk off Davis to drive in Texas' 11th run and set up Trevino's heroics.

SOUND SMART
Shin-Soo Choo's base hit, part of the Rangers' five-run sixth inning, extended his on-base streak to 31 consecutive games, an AL-best in 2018, and longest for a Texas player since Elvis Andrus reached 32 straight in 2012.

HE SAID IT
"I say it all the time. I'm one of the most blessed human beings alive to be able to have a group of guys who continue to come to the ballpark charged up and ready to play the game of baseball. They have the passion and love of the game. They don't quit. That's inherent in them. That's not coaching, it's inherent in you as a person and competitor. They have that." -- Jeff Banister

RUA SENT DOWN
After the game, the Rangers optioned Ryan Rua to Triple-A Round Rock, one of a couple of roster moves that will need to be made to make room for the long-awaited return of Andrus. The others will be made Monday morning.

UP NEXT
The Rangers begin a six-game road trip with the first of three in Kansas City on Monday at 7:15 p.m. CT. It might be the most welcome trip away from Arlington this season with Andrus expected to rejoin the team on Monday after missing more than two months with a fractured right elbow. Andrus has been on the shelf since being hit by a pitch from Angels closer Keynan Middleton on April 11.

Right-hander Bartolo Colon (3-4, 4.94 ERA) goes for Texas. The veteran is seeking career victory No. 244, a mark that would set a record for most wins by a pitcher from the Dominican Republic. Kansas City is set to send out right-hander Ian Kennedy, who is 1-6 with a 5.13 ERA.

John Henry is a contributor to MLB.com based in Arlington.

Texas Rangers, Jose Trevino

Mets stun D-backs with 2 HRs, 4 runs in 9th

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

PHOENIX -- It rained this weekend in Arizona, the type of biblical downpour that happens infrequently enough for some of the desert's more cynical dwellers to conclude, not entirely tongue-in-cheek, that a black cloud might be following the Mets. Losing 19 of 24 games coming into Sunday's play, the Mets could pin the blame on their bullpen, their offense, their defense -- anything, really, other than their starting pitching.

There was also the less quantifiable fact that the Mets never seemed to catch a break.

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PHOENIX -- It rained this weekend in Arizona, the type of biblical downpour that happens infrequently enough for some of the desert's more cynical dwellers to conclude, not entirely tongue-in-cheek, that a black cloud might be following the Mets. Losing 19 of 24 games coming into Sunday's play, the Mets could pin the blame on their bullpen, their offense, their defense -- anything, really, other than their starting pitching.

There was also the less quantifiable fact that the Mets never seemed to catch a break.

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In the ninth inning Sunday, they caught two, using a pair of Arizona defensive mistakes to give Brandon Nimmo a chance in a one-run game. And in the midst of a breakout season, Nimmo delivered, hitting a go-ahead, two-run homer in the ninth inning of the Mets' 5-3 win over the D-backs at Chase Field.

"We've been waiting for a big hit to happen," Nimmo said. "I don't know what it means for the future, but for right now, to get two wins in a row against a good D-backs team, that's awesome."

Video: NYM@ARI: Nimmo discusses his go-ahead home run in 9th

Consecutive wins may not seem like much, but for a Mets team that hadn't accomplished the feat in nearly a month, they were everything. Trailing for most of Sunday's game, Nimmo described a "tense" Mets dugout, staring down a series loss to a potential playoff team. Facing D-backs closer Brad Boxberger, who shut them down without issue Thursday and Friday, the Mets slid further into their shells when their first two batters in the ninth struck out.

Next up was Jose Reyes, the focal point for so many of the Mets' frustrations in recent weeks. Noticing a defensive overshift, Reyes dropped a bunt just in front of home plate, where catcher Alex Avila speared it rather than let it go foul. By the time Avila whirled around, ball in hand, Reyes was nearly at first base.

The Mets' second break happened moments later, when Jose Bautista punched an outside fastball down the right-field line. Though Bautista struck the ball well enough to send it close to the wall, it hung up for nearly five full seconds -- enough time for Statcast™ to register Jon Jay's catch probability at 99 percent. But Jay didn't catch it; the ball glanced off his glove, allowing Bautista to cruise into second with an RBI double.

Video: NYM@ARI: Bautista plates Reyes with a double to right

Still, the Mets trailed, but now the top of their order was up. Already with a single, a double and a run scored on the afternoon, Nimmo hammered a Boxberger changeup 419 feet over the fence, clapping his hands and grinning as he rounded first base. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a solo shot, and Robert Gsellman pitched around an error to record the final three outs in the ninth.

"Just elated," was how Nimmo described the moment. "It felt like a weight had been lifted off us."

Video: NYM@ARI: Gsellman induces line out to earn 3rd save

Much work remains for the Mets, who are still eight games under .500 and will play their next seven against the Rockies and Dodgers, both of whom also entered this season with playoff aspirations. But at least they now have hope. Nimmo is as hot as at any point this year. Michael Conforto is breaking out of his slump. And the Mets' starting pitching -- Zack Wheeler struck out eight over six innings of two-run ball Sunday -- continues to thrive, with the league's best ERA since May 21.

Video: NYM@ARI: Wheeler strikes out Jay looking in the 1st

Although manager Mickey Callaway noted that "the way we won is probably more significant than just getting a back-to-back win," the Mets will take the bump in the standings, too. Nimmo joked that their consecutive wins reminded him of a famous scene from "Major League II," in which fictional manager Lou Brown attempted to convince his players that winning streaks are, in spite of so much evidence to the contrary, possible.

"Yeah, it's been a while," Nimmo said, still grinning well after the game's official end. "And so for us to get that second win in a row, on a big hit, that's really good for our positivity going forward, our momentum going forward. Like I said, I don't know what it means for our future. I hope this team keeps fighting."

Video: NYM@ARI: Callaway on Mets' 5-3 win over the D-backs

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Making his own luck: Reyes' slump had grown long enough, and conspicuous enough, that he was beginning to have trouble escaping talk of the Mets releasing him. While the team did go that route with another slumping 30-something, Adrian Gonzalez, they offered Reyes a bit more rope.

He took advantage of it Sunday with one of his best games as a Met, making several slick defensive plays behind Wheeler before coming to the plate in the ninth. Pushing his bunt just far enough that Avila had to scramble out from behind the plate to grab it, Reyes dropped his head and reached a top sprint speed of 28.3 feet per second, per Statcast™ -- strong for anyone, elite for a 35-year-old. He then took second base on defensive indifference, scoring on Bautista's double.

Video: NYM@ARI: Reyes charges, fires on the run to nab Dyson

"He made a perfect bunt," Avila said. "The ball was just dead there in the grass and I was going to try to make a barehanded play."

"I just put it down and ran, man," added Reyes. "It means a lot, because I feel like I contributed today. I contributed to the ballclub. I contributed to this win."

VARGAS EJECTED
Although he did not appear in the game, Mets pitcher Jason Vargas chirped loud enough from the dugout that home-plate umpire Jim Reynolds ejected him during the fourth inning. Vargas appeared to take exception to Reynolds' calls during a four-pitch walk of Daniel Descalso, who took two pitches for balls that Statcast™ data showed as strikes.

After Reynolds ejected Vargas, Callaway emerged from the Mets' dugout for a brief conversation with the home-plate umpire. The situation escalated no further than that.

Video: NYM@ARI: Vargas ejected for arguing in the 4th inning

"I came in and told him, 'Thank you, I needed another little break to catch my breath,'" joked Wheeler, who allowed both of his runs in the fourth. "He sort of stuck up for me and voiced his opinion."

HE SAID IT
"It's a fresh breath of air. We needed that hit and he came through for us at the right time. He's becoming a very good player for us." -- Wheeler, on Nimmo's home run

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Mere minutes after his team took the lead in the ninth, first baseman Dominic Smith gave the D-backs a bit of life when he dropped Cabrera's throw on a routine ground ball, attempting to transfer it from his glove to his hand between his legs. Callaway challenged first-base umpire Bruce Dreckman's safe call, but the call would stand after a replay review. When Gsellman retired the next three batters to take him off the hook, Smith pointed to the sky in obvious relief.

"I don't think Dom Smith will try to transfer the ball in between his legs anymore," Callaway said.

Video: NYM@ARI: Avila reaches on error, call stands in 9th

UP NEXT
The Mets are 2-8 in the last 10 games Jacob deGrom has started, despite his 0.87 ERA in those contests. They can only hope a trip to hitter-happy Coors Field will help them give deGrom a bit more support. He'll open a four-game series there on Monday, starting an 8:40 p.m. ET game opposite left-hander Tyler Anderson.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

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