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MLB 5 Things: Cubs Down, Giants Up

By Sam McPherson

As Major League Baseball prepares to play its All-Star Game tonight in San Diego, here is what happened last week to get baseball fans to the Midsummer Classic.

Grandal goes downtown three times

There's nothing like a home run in Dodger Stadium, simply because it's a baseball cathedral. Add in the voice of Vin Scully, and it's a perfect baseball moment if you get to witness it in person.

Yasmani Grandal gave the hometown fans three different perfect moments last Friday night against the San Diego Padres. With L.A. star pitcher Clayton Kershaw hurt, the Dodgers hitters know they need to step—and Grandal didn't disappoint.

The Cubs come tumbling down

On June 19, the Chicago Cubs had a 47-20 record and were on top of MLB by a country mile. They even had a 12.5-game lead in the National League Central Division. Fast forward to Sunday, July 10, after the Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates for just their sixth win in the last 21 games. Chicago's division lead is now down to just seven games, and the Cubs no longer have the best record in the game. Getting swept by potential October opponents like the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals doesn't do a lot for Chicago's confidence.

A wild ninth inning in Houston that defies description

On Friday night in Houston, the Oakland Athletics entered the ninth inning trailing, 7-4. However, five runs later, the A's had a 9-7 lead and were ready to silence the home crowd. However, it didn't quite turn out that way.

The Astros pulled a similar trick two nights later to salvage a split in the four-game series, and now Houston trails Texas in the American League West Division by just 5.5 games despite a 1-9 record against the Rangers this year already.

San Francisco surges to the top thanks to easy schedule

The Giants now have the best record in baseball, and they've built that record up thanks to an imbalanced schedule. Of the six division leaders in baseball—Baltimore, Chicago (NL), Cleveland, San Francisco, Texas and Washington—the Giants have played the fewest games, by far, against teams with winning records in 2016. Of San Francisco's 57 wins, exactly 40 of them have come against teams with losing records. The Giants should be thankful this isn't college football, where a committee picks the playoff teams. Then again, all a team can do is play the teams put in front of them by the schedule makers.

Brewers take us all back to our Little League days

Fans usually expect professional athletes not to make the same mistakes as Little Leaguers, but last Monday on the Fourth of July in our national's capital, the Milwaukee Brewers gave us all pause to remember our own silly mistakes.

All's well that ends well, as the Brewers beat the Washington Nationals, 1-0, anyway. However, it still was one of those head-scratching moments that makes fans wonder just why professional athletes get paid so much money.

Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he's quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.

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