Murphy slam leads Nats to 7th straight win

Murphy slam leads Nats to 7th straight win

NEW YORK -- Daniel Murphy provided the early offense, and Max Scherzer made it hold up, tossing eight strong innings to lead the Nationals to a 6-3 victory Sunday night at Citi Field to complete a three-game sweep over the Mets.

Murphy launched a grand slam in the first inning off Zack Wheeler and Ryan Zimmerman added some insurance with a two-run homer in the eighth, which was more than enough for Scherzer.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Danny Knobler is a contributor for MLB.com based in New York.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phils hit 3 straight homers, sweep Braves

Phils hit 3 straight homers, sweep Braves

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are not a home run-hitting team, but they showed some serious muscle late in Sunday afternoon's 5-2 victory over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

They hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to break a tie and sweep the Braves. Cesar Hernandez hit a two-run home run off Arodys Vizcaino to hand the Phillies a two-run lead. Aaron Altherr followed and ripped a solo homer into the Phillies' bullpen in center field, and Odubel Herrera hit a solo shot to left-center field against Ian Krol to make it a four-run game. The Phillies have won six of their last eight games to improve to 9-9.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Yu know it: Rangers rally to take 4 from Royals

Yu know it: Rangers rally to take 4 from Royals

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers completed a four-game sweep of the Royals with a 5-2 victory on Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Park. The Rangers have won 10 straight over the Royals dating to last season, their longest winning streak ever against Kansas City.

Rangers starter Yu Darvish allowed just two runs in eight innings to get the victory, giving up five hits and a walk while striking out eight. It was his first time pitching eight innings in a game since June 28, 2014. The runs came on back-to-back homers by Mike Moustakas and Jorge Bonifacio. The Royals scored just five runs in 40 innings over four games and they have crossed home plate just nine times in their last seven games.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com based in Texas and covered the Royals on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rox roll to first home sweep of Giants since '02

Rox roll to first home sweep of Giants since '02

DENVER -- The Colorado Rockies rewrote club history Sunday while adding another chapter to a season brimming with potential by defeating the San Francisco Giants, 8-0.

Gerardo Parra homered and drove in three runs to lead a balanced Rockies offense that complemented rookie left-hander Kyle Freeland's seven-inning effort. The combined shutout completed Colorado's first three-game home sweep of the Giants since May 24-26, 2002, and kept the Rockies (13-6) atop the National League West standings.

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Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Benintendi gets 5 hits; scary pitch irks Machado

Benintendi gets 5 hits; scary pitch irks Machado

BALTIMORE -- Struggling Orioles starter Kevin Gausman was a perfect elixir to a sluggish Boston lineup. The Sox homered three times, including Hanley Ramirez's first of the year, in Sunday afternoon's sweep-avoiding, 6-2 win over Baltimore at Camden Yards.

Boston, which had just two homers total in the previous first five games of its road trip, jumped on Gausman for four runs before he could record an out. Mookie Betts delivered the big three-run blow, with Ramirez following. Mitch Moreland also went deep in the fifth off Gausman, who lasted 5 1/3 innings and saw his season ERA rise to 7.50.

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Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Correa, McCann cap Astros' comeback vs. Rays

Correa, McCann cap Astros' comeback vs. Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- Veteran Astros catcher Brian McCann opened Houston's three-game series Friday against the Rays by scoring what turned out to be the winning run. On Sunday, he came through again -- this time with the bat.

McCann's single to shallow right field scored Carlos Beltran from third base in the 10th inning to lift the Astros to a 6-4 come-from-behind victory over Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field.

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Jeff Odom is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Rays on Sunday.

Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Astros on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Week Ahead: Opening month winds down

Power shift in AL East; Kipnis back for Tribe; NL West is wild

Week Ahead: Opening month winds down

It's officially not early anymore, baseball fans.

Once the week ahead comes to a close, we'll bid adieu to the first month of the Major League season. Sample sizes are getting large enough to possibly draw conclusions. Some teams need to get it in gear pronto if they're to right the ship and sail to October. Some are just waiting for the right opportunity to get hot, even as the weather occasionally keeps its spring chill.

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Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Joe Posnanski

Benintendi's 5 hits lead trip down rabbit hole

Benintendi's 5 hits lead trip down rabbit hole

Let's begin the week going down a quirky little baseball rabbit hole. One beautiful part of baseball is that one year leads to another, one accomplishment reminds of another, and so on, and the deeper you look the more stories you find.

On Sunday, Boston's remarkable rookie Andrew Benintendi cracked five hits. It was just his 51st game in the Majors, and it makes you wonder: Has anyone else had a five-hit game just 51 games into his big league career?

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Joe Posnanski is an executive columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bullpen of the Week: Houston Astros

Giles, Peacock, Gregerson deliver shutout performances

Bullpen of the Week: Houston Astros

They finished the week with another win on the road and extended their division lead, so it's no secret that the loaded Houston Astros are off to a great start as one of the best teams in baseball in the early part of 2017. As is often the case in today's game, a terrific bullpen is a large part of the reason.

Houston's talented and versatile relief corps shined on an almost daily basis during the past seven days of the Major League season and earned the collective group the honor of "MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford."

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Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Rivalries renewed: 10 things to watch this week

Dodgers-Giants, Yankees-Red Sox play; Astros travel to face Indians

Rivalries renewed: 10 things to watch this week

You know it's going to be a good week when Dodgers-Giants and Yankees-Red Sox are on the schedule.

And when an Astros-Indians series looks like it might be a preview of the American League Championship Series.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @richardjustice. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dodgers' big inning, McCarthy gem sink D-backs

Dodgers' big inning, McCarthy gem sink D-backs

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers avoided a series sweep Sunday, scoring six runs in the fifth inning of a 6-2 win over the D-backs at Chase Field.

Adrian Gonzalez doubled in two runs and Yasmani Grandal slugged a two-run homer in support of winning starter Brandon McCarthy (3-0), who recovered after Paul Goldschmidt's two-run homer in the first to pitch seven strong innings and give the weary Dodgers bullpen a break. It was the first time McCarthy went seven innings since 2015 Tommy John surgery.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Indians taking shape as contenders in AL

Tribe is healthy and beginning after slow start to 2017 season

Indians taking shape as contenders in AL

CHICAGO -- Yes, these are the Indians the way they were drawn up.

While the 10-8 record doesn't blow you away, it projects to 90 wins over 162 games, and it's only been in the last week that the reigning American League champions have hit their stride.

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Phil Rogers is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Machado in middle of 8th-inning tiff

Machado in middle of 8th-inning tiff

BALTIMORE -- Tensions from Friday night between the Orioles and Red Sox spilled over again in the eighth inning of Sunday's 6-2 Boston win as Orioles third baseman Manny Machado was nearly beaned by reliever Matt Barnes.

"I wasn't expecting anything, no," Machado said of the pitch. "I thought I did a good slide [on Friday]. Everyone knows. Everyone saw the replay on that side. That's on them. Whatever happened today, I'm going to keep doing me."

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Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Ben Standig contributed to this story.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boss-a Nova: Bucs win behind stellar ex-Yank

Boss-a Nova: Bucs win behind stellar ex-Yank

PITTSBURGH -- Yes, that's the same Ivan Nova. Facing his former team for the first time, Nova put together the kind of performance he's become known for since joining the Pirates, firing seven efficient innings and leading the Bucs to a 2-1 victory and series win over the Yankees on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park.

Nova, a Yankee from the time he signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2004 until he was traded this past August, held New York to four hits and a walk while striking out seven. He confidently pounded the strike zone, as he's done with confidence for the Pirates and worked quickly, two staples of his 15 starts with the Pirates.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Bob Cohn is a contributor to MLB.com based in Pittsburgh, who covered the Yankees on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Darvish comes up Yu-ge with 8-inning outing

Rangers right-hander rebounds from shaky start against Royals

Darvish comes up Yu-ge with 8-inning outing

ARLINGTON -- This was Yu Darvish's 22nd start since returning from Tommy John surgery last summer.

It was also his most exceptional beyond just a 5-2 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. Darvish himself provided Exhibit A in his postgame press conference.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Start your own season by purchasing R.B.I. Baseball

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Start your own season by purchasing R.B.I. Baseball

MLB's season opener may still be just days away, but if you've waited long enough and really just cannot wait any longer, fear not: R.B.I. Baseball 2017 is here, and it can be yours today.

The Corey Seager-adorned game (or Kevin Pillar  if you're in Canada) is available to purchase in North America at GameStop, Best Buy, Walmart, Target and MLB.com, among other participating outlets. Globally, it's accessible as a digital download on the Xbox Marketplace, PlayStation Store and the App Store on iPhone and iPad.

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Reds reward Arroyo with big hits to rip Cubs

Reds reward Arroyo with big hits to rip Cubs

CINCINNATI -- It's been a rough first few weeks of the season for Reds right fielder Scott Schebler. But pitcher Bronson Arroyo was fortunate to have Schebler's contributions supporting his strong start in a 7-5 victory over the Cubs as Cincinnati salvaged one game from its three-game series at Great American Ball Park on Sunday.

After Billy Hamilton gave the Reds a 1-0 lead in the first inning by singling, stealing second and third base and scoring on Joey Votto's sacrifice fly, Schebler hit a solo home run to right field in the second inning to make it 2-0 against John Lackey. Schebler then added a jam-shot of a bloop single to center field in the fourth to snap a 2-2 tie.

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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.

Andrew Call is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati and covered the Cubs on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

A grand opening for Nationals' Murphy

A grand opening for Nationals' Murphy

NEW YORK -- During his first season with the Nationals in 2016, Daniel Murphy routinely punished his former team during each of their 19 matchups. That theme continued Sunday night at Citi Field, when Murphy hammered a grand slam in the first inning off Zach Wheeler to help the Nationals to a 6-3 victory.

After Murphy, who spent the first seven seasons of his career in New York, collected a hit in all 19 games against the Mets in 2016, he collected a pair Saturday night and then Sunday's homer. He is now batting 34-for-88 (.386) against his former team with eight home runs and 25 RBIs.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

A rabbit crashing a Minor League team's Bark in the Park Day almost caused a hare-y situation

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A rabbit crashing a Minor League team's Bark in the Park Day almost caused a hare-y situation

It has been over 75 years since Hall of Famer Rabbit Maranville last stepped on a professional field, but that's not stopping his brethren from paying visits lately. During Sunday afternoon's game between the Quad Cities River Bandits and the Clinton LumberKings, another bunny decided to pay the baseball diamond a visit.

Never mind the fact that Easter was last Sunday and it happened to be Bark in the Park Day at Modern Woodmen Park. 

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Catcher Chris Gimenez kept it 'slow, slow, and slower' in his fourth career pitching appearance

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Catcher Chris Gimenez kept it 'slow, slow, and slower' in his fourth career pitching appearance

Veteran Chris Gimenez is no stranger to the mound. Over the course of a nine-year career and before Sunday, the backup catcher had taken the hill three times, first in 2014 for the Rangers and twice in 2016 for the Indians. So when Twins pitching suffered a tough day during a 13-4 loss to the Tigers on Sunday, skipper Paul Molitor knew that he had a bit of an ace in the hole with Gimenez.

Ryan Pressly was the Twins' sixth pitcher of the game, and after allowing three runs on three hits in the ninth inning, Molitor decided to make the move. He only needed someone to get one more out to end the frame. Enter position player pitching pro Chris Gimenez.

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Motter's slam lifts Gallardo, Seattle over A's

Motter's slam lifts Gallardo, Seattle over A's

OAKLAND -- The Mariners' dormant bats came alive in a big way Sunday, and veteran right-hander Yovani Gallardo made it count with 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball for his first win of the year as Seattle snapped the A's five-game win streak in an 11-1 runaway at the Coliseum.

Gallardo, 0-5 with a 5.29 ERA in six prior starts against Oakland in his career, had no such troubles in sailing through a four-hit outing with one walk and seven strikeouts, and helped the Mariners avoid their first four-game sweep at the Coliseum since 1992.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com based out of the Bay Area, and covered the Athletics on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

A giant flock of seagulls descended upon a fan in Oakland, threatened to carry her away forever

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A giant flock of seagulls descended upon a fan in Oakland, threatened to carry her away forever

This fan, during Sunday's Mariners-A's game, was a good fan. She stuck it out for her team's tough 11-1 loss in the upper deck -- staying until the final outs late into the Oakland afternoon. As a reward, a giant flock of seagulls descended upon the area and threatened to carry her off to their seagull kingdom -- where garbage hangs from the sky and this song plays on endless repeat. 

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Allard among top prospect performers Sunday

Allard among top prospect performers Sunday

It seems like every time he takes the mound, Kolby Allard keeps showing why the Braves drafted him No. 14 overall two years ago.

The 19-year-old left-hander, already pitching for Double-A Mississippi, has a 1.29 ERA through his first four starts of 2017 after tossing five scoreless innings against the Montgomery Biscuits on Sunday. Allard scattered five hits, walked one and struck out five.

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David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Marlins surge past Padres with 6-run 6th

Marlins surge past Padres with 6-run 6th

SAN DIEGO -- Stifled through five innings, the Marlins offense came alive quickly during a six-run sixth inning that sent Miami to a 7-3 series-clinching victory over the Padres on Sunday.

Each of Miami's first six hitters reached base in the fateful frame, and each of them came around to score -- the final three on Justin Bour's no-doubter into the right-field seats. Padres reliever Craig Stammen left a changeup over the heart of the plate, and Bour crushed it -- 403 feet with a 111 mph exit velocity, according to Statcast™.

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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Marlins on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mets hope Cespedes available Tuesday

Slugger takes indoor BP; aiming to rejoin lineup soon

Mets hope Cespedes available Tuesday

NEW YORK -- The Mets knew going into the weekend they likely wouldn't have Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup for any of the three games against the rival Nationals. Their hope was that Cespedes would return for Tuesday's game at Citi Field against the Braves.

That's still the hope, and Cespedes told manager Terry Collins that his strained left hamstring felt much better Sunday. Cespedes was even able to take batting practice for the first time since incurring the injury on Thursday, and there was hope he'd be available to pinch-hit Sunday night.

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Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Big flies seal Stroman's complete-game win

Big flies seal Stroman's complete-game win

ANAHEIM -- A dominant performance by Marcus Stroman and a trio of late home runs from Devon Travis, Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins helped propel the Blue Jays past the Angels for a 6-2 victory Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium. The win gave Toronto a 2-1 edge in the series heading into Monday's finale.

"I think the biggest thing was Stroman out there dealing, and it was just time for the offense to wake up a little bit and I'm just really thankful it worked out the way it did," Travis said.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. He covered the Blue Jays on Sunday.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. He covered the Angels on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stroman settles in after quick-pitch hiccup

Blue Jays righty strikes out five in complete game, gives 'pen a rest

Stroman settles in after quick-pitch hiccup

ANAHEIM -- The Blue Jays needed a win, and some rest for their bullpen, and starting pitcher Marcus Stroman delivered both with a complete-game victory Sunday against the Angels.

Stroman was efficient for nine innings, making 99 pitches to lead the Blue Jays to a 6-2 win over the Angels at Angel Stadium. With the dominant performance, Stroman became the first pitcher in the Major Leagues with a pair of complete games this season.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. He covered the Blue Jays on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Strasburg set to go on paternity leave

Nationals' pitcher and wife are expecting second child

Strasburg set to go on paternity leave

NEW YORK -- The Nationals will place right-hander Stephen Strasburg on paternity leave Monday as he and his wife, Rachel, are expecting their second child.

Strasburg left the team in New York on Sunday and can remain on paternity leave for up to three days. However, he will not pitch during their four-game series in Colorado this week.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pujols now at No. 1 on RBI list for Dominicans

Third-inning single puts him at 18th on MLB's all-time list

Pujols now at No. 1 on RBI list for Dominicans

ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols achieved several statistical milestones in Sunday's 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays, climbing MLB's all-time lists for RBIs and doubles.

Pujols' 1,832nd RBI moved him past Manny Ramirez for sole possession of 18th place all-time and put him ahead of Ramirez for first among Dominican-born Major Leaguers. He also clubbed the 605th double of his career, tying Paul Molitor for 12th in MLB history.

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Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. He covered the Angels on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nova's first '17 walk to NYY pitcher -- in first AB

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Nova's first '17 walk to NYY pitcher -- in first AB

Baseball can be unpredictable at nearly every turn. Any time you settle in to watch a game you have a pretty decent chance of seeing something unexpected, whether it's a major moment or one of the more nuanced, subtle things that also transpire on the diamond. 

Coming into his start against the Yankees on Sunday at PNC Park, Pirates right-hander Ivan Nova was the picture of pitching precision: He had yet to issue a walk this season. 

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