2011 What Wild Wednesday Wrought

Surging September comebacks by the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays enliven a riveting final day of the regular season, ultimately setting the stage for one of the most memorable World Series ever played.

Boston’s Mike Aviles (left) and Atlanta’s Martin Prado display utter dejection after both the Red Sox and Braves complete historic collapses with regular season-ending losses that deny them entry into the postseason.

Baseball wanted its limelight back. Decades before, the game had the fall season all to itself, save for the weekends when football understandably held its own stake. Ten years into the new century, that landscape had dramatically changed; baseball now found itself increasingly shouting into a competitive autumn din, fighting for attention with hundreds of cable channels, YouTube, Netflix, the Kardashians and an overspread pro/college football schedule with games nationally broadcast almost every night. Realizing that the tradition of ending the season on a weekend had gradually become lost in the media warfare for one’s ear, Major League Baseball decided for 2011 to concede and end its season at midweek, when perhaps more people might watch and listen with a little less disruption.

The timing couldn’t have been any better to christen in the adjustment, as the game returned to center stage on a fabulous season-ending, late September Wednesday many now refer to as the greatest day in regular season history—and one that sprang an improbable postseason capped by one of the most sensational World Series comebacks ever witnessed.

The continuous suspense that delightfully gripped baseball fans at season’s end was not foreshadowed eight months earlier, when most experts settled on the Boston Red Sox to win it all. And why not; an already talented team, the Red Sox fattened themselves up with an embarrassment of riches by signing proficient free agent outfielder Carl Crawford and trading for San Diego slugger Adrian Goznalez, who was bound to make Fenway Park look positively tiny after grinding out hard-earned but impressive numbers at the Padres’ voluminous home field of Petco Park.

The Boston lineup looked impenetrable on paper, and its offseason moves seemed ready to jettison the team, frustrated from breathing down the necks of the rival New York Yankees, to the top of the American League’s Eastern Division while the Yankees seemed to hold dangerously pat with age and pitching depth issues. And what of Tampa Bay, the defending AL East champions? After a mass exodus of players that included Crawford’s move to Boston and a complete restocking of a once-mighty bullpen, nobody thought much of the Rays’ chances for 2011.

It was the Red Sox’ division to lose—and they nearly lost it only two weeks into the season when they badly stumbled out to a 2-10 start. The team recovered and, as the season progressed, it caught up and began boxing with the Yankees for first place—with the Rays a distant third—but its awful April brought about unexpected vulnerability that would persist throughout the year.

Over in the National League, there were few if any surprises hatching early on. The Philadelphia Phillies, again most everyone’s pick to take the NL pennant, expectedly steamrolled out to an early lead in the East, followed next by the Atlanta Braves—a frisky, more youthful group no longer managed by the retired Bobby CoxCox’s successor was Fredi Gonzalez, the former manager of the Florida Marlins., and spotlighted with an electric bullpen fronted by rookie closer Craig Kimbrel. By midseason, it was apparent that the Braves’ ambition was not to topple the Phillies, but to contentedly settle for the wild card spot—something that looked more and more assured as the summer rolled on and the other two divisions wallowed mostly in mediocrity.

Such encompassment of weakness proved especially endemic in the NL Central with a revolving door of first place teams; even the Pittsburgh Pirates—nearly two decades removed from their last finish above the .500 mark—held a share of the top spotAlas for the Pirates, they would crash over the season’s final two months and be stuck with their 19th straight losing record. as late as July 25. Eventually, a challenger pulled away from the pack: The Milwaukee Brewers, potently powered by the team’s slugging duo of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, and further fueled by newly-arrived pitching muscle in former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke and Shawn Marcum. And what of St. Louis, the perennial division favorite? With ace pitcher Adam Wainwright out for the season, Albert Pujols’ bad start and bad break (fractured arm in June), an underwhelming bullpen and a case of shingles for 66-year-old manager Tony La Russa, nobody thought much of the Cardinals’ chances down the stretch.

By early September, the eight postseason opponents already appeared to be set in stone, and commissioner Bud Selig’s vision of heightened season-ending drama—whether it took place on a Wednesday, the weekend, whatever—looked doomed as he rang more loudly his public kneejerk opinion that two more wild card teams should be added to the playoff mix for the future. Although the Red Sox were slipping behind the Yankees—who were getting the most out of a susceptible rotationThe Yankee rotation got unexpected lifts in 2011 from rookie Ivan Nova and reclamation projects Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia. beyond ace CC Sabathia—for first place in the AL East, they appeared to have the wild card spot all but sewn up as Tampa Bay, nine games behind, began to focus more on what the call-ups from their minor league system could offer. Ditto for the Cardinals, who found themselves 8.5 games behind the Braves for the NL wild card position with time quickly running out. In St. Louis as in Tampa Bay, the word “mathematical” was being freely used when the topic of their postseason chances were discussed.

The glimmers of hope grew a bit lighter for both teams on the second weekend of September; the Rays swept the Red Sox in St. Petersburg, while the Cardinals did the same at home against Atlanta. But there was still a bit of catch-up work to do—and even then, the Rays and Cardinals still had to cross their fingers and hope that Boston and Atlanta would accommodate them and fall flat down the stretch.

Lo and behold, the Red Sox and Braves were all too unhappy to oblige.

As the season’s end loomed larger, the wild card races grew tighter as the Red Sox and Braves helplessly loosened their grips on once-assured playoff spots. After 161 games, both teams’ increasingly slim edges had been reduced to nothing; Boston and Tampa Bay were deadlocked at 90-71 for the American League wild card spot, while St. Louis had caught up to Atlanta and went into the regular season finale with identical 89-72 records. Bud Selig’s dream of a cliffhanging conclusion suddenly became wild reality.

And thus arrived the day of Wednesday, September 28.

The Braves had what seemed on paper to be a difficult assignment hosting Philadelphia, but the Phillies had already clinched the division and home field advantage for the entire postseason and, resting up, had nothing to gain except to make the Braves’ lives miserable. That they did. Trailing 3-1 after six innings, the Phillies scratched one run in the seventh and, in the ninth against Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel—trying to extend not just the Braves’ season but his own rookie saves record to 47—they notched another tally to tie the game. As extra innings proceeded, the urgency factor ramped up for the Braves after learning that, 700 miles to the west, the Cardinals had wrapped up an all-too-easy 8-0 win over the hapless (56-106) Astros at Houston.

The comebacks of the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays in 2011 registered atop those with the biggest deficits in the month of September. Interesting to note: The Cardinals, in their three years listed below, went on to win the World Series each time.

By now playing mostly against Philadelphia benchwarmers and minor league call-ups, the Braves’ A-team furiously tried to keep the season alive. Past the tenth inning. Past the 11th. Past the 12th. Then came the 13th, an unlucky frame for the Braves; the Phillies’ Hunter Pence blooped a perfectly-placed pop fly behind the infield to score the go-ahead run, and Atlanta’s rebuttal rally was shut down in midstride when Freddie Freeman’s double play grounder ended the game—and the season—for the Braves.

With Atlanta’s implosion complete, all eyes turned to the American League and the climactic scenes to its wild card saga.

For three hours, it looked as if Boston would barely make good on its expensive investment and sneak into the postseason. Holding onto a one-run lead at Baltimore when heavy rain forced a delay, Red Sox players espied the out-of-town scoreboard and smiled with delight to see the Rays getting trounced by the Yankees after seven innings in St. Petersburg, 7-0. But the smiles began turning nervous as the score soon read 7-1. Then 7-2. Then 7-3. Then, suddenly, 7-6, when Evan Longoria walloped a three-run homer to cut deeply into the once-imposing Yankee lead. The Red Sox were relieved to see the scoreboard go from “8” to “9” under the inning column with no further scoring, and were hoping to see it go quickly to “F.” But such optimism was shredded when the Rays nudged the score to 7-7 as bench player Dan Johnson—hitting .108 and cornered to his team’s last strike in the ninth—kept Tampa Bay alive by parking a home run against Yankee reliever Cory Wade, who was given the job of closing out the game because incomparable New York closer Mariano RiveraJust nine days earlier, Rivera recorded his 602nd career save to surpass Trevor Hoffman’s all-time mark. was being rested up for the postseason.

Ten minutes later, the Red Sox and Orioles resumed play in the seventh inning as Boston maintained its 3-2 lead—but squandered several golden opportunities to add late insurance runs as the game headed to the bottom of the ninth. Veteran Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, brought in to seal the deal, struck out the first two Orioles he faced, but then gave up back-to-back doubles that tied the game; Robert Andino next struck a liner to short left that Carl Crawford, Boston’s free agent bust, couldn’t catch off his shoetops—nor could he throw out the winning run at home, plunging the Red Sox to defeat and leaving them helplessly watching the scoreboard to discover their postseason fate.

The denouement would be quick and painful.

Just three minutes later in St. Petersburg, Evan Longoria returned to the plate with one out in the bottom of the 12th and the game still tied at 7-7. But not for long. Longoria lined a shot that barely inserted itself over the fence right next to the left-field foul pole, ending the game and giving Tampa Bay the wild card spot in wild fashion to end a wild night.

For the highly disappointed Red Sox, the autopsy was almost as ugly as the crime itself. Manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein, who helped bring Boston its first two championships since the First World War, were let go as rumors flew wild of an out-of-control clubhouse in which starting pitchers drank beer, played video games and feasted on chicken during their off-days; of Francona distracted by a dissolved marriage, pain medications and a son serving in Iraq; of owner John Henry appeasing players angry of excessive travel from severe summer weather by giving them $300 headphones and a special evening on his yacht. A $163 million payroll not only failed to buy the Red Sox a playoff spot, it didn’t buy them happiness, either.

After all they did to deny the Red Sox, the Tampa Bay Rays’ celebratory advance into the postseason would be short-lived as they experienced a rerun of pain in the first round against, once again, the defending AL champion Texas Rangers—who by comparison coasted to their second straight AL West title with their usual dose of power offense and a firm starting rotation that boasted five pitchers with at least 13 wins. The Rays won the series opener at Arlington and appeared primed to continue its momentum-fueled march, but Texas quickly turned the tide and registered three straight close wins, the final two at Tampa BayOver their two ALDS losses to Texas from 2010-11, Tampa Bay was winless in five home games.—with the 4-3 clincher all but solely carried by veteran third baseman and first-year Ranger Adrian Beltre, who launched three solo home runs.

Having blunted the Rays, the Rangers moved on to the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, who prospered from an overpowering MVP performance from ace pitcher Justin Verlander (24 wins, five losses and a 2.40 earned run average) and star hitter Miguel Cabrera (AL-best .344 batting average, 30 home runs and 105 runs batted in); eliminating the top-seeded Yankees in the first round only made the Tigers something more of a favorite despite lacking home field advantage for the series. But Verlander was not at top form and, despite drilling 13 home runs, the Tigers buckled in six games to the Rangers and outfielder Nelson Cruz, a one-man wrecking crew who bashed six homers and 13 RBIs—both figures setting records for a major league postseason series.

After losing the World Series the year before, the Rangers now hoped to even the score in their return to the Fall Classic. Their opponent: The St. Louis Cardinals.

Unlike the Rays, the Cardinals did not wilt after Wild Wednesday. On the contrary, they only got stronger; they staggered the highly-favored Phillies in the first round, clinching the five-game series at Philadelphia when Chris Carpenter, who threw a shutout over the Astros on the Wednesday season finale, threw another—outdueling Phillie ace Roy Halladay, 1-0, with a three-hit gem. Next, St. Louis took on divisional titlist/rival Milwaukee and pulled away with a six-game triumph, taking advantage of seven Brewer errors over the final two games and riding off the superb hitting of Albert Pujols—long since recovered from his broken arm—outfielder Matt Holliday and locally-raised third baseman David Freese, all of whom combined to destroy Brewers pitching with a wowing .485 average, six homers and 23 RBIs.

The Texas Rangers are one strike away from their first-ever World Series title—until St. Louis’ David Freese hits this Neftali Feliz pitch for a two-run triple to tie the game. Two innings later, he’ll force Game Seven with a home run.

As Pujols went, so went the Cardinals in the first five games of the World Series against Texas. He unloaded on Ranger pitching in Game Three with five hits, including three homersPujols became the third player, after Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson, to hit three homers in a World Series game. and a Series-record 14 total bases in a 16-7 rout at Arlington; in the other four games, he was 0-for-12 as the Cardinals could only muster a collective total of six runs. That St. Louis had survived to Game Six at Busch Stadium was largely owed to reserve Allen Craig, who in each of the first two games slapped go-ahead pinch-hit singles in the seventh inning against Texas reliever Alexi Ogando; the Game One hit became a game-winner, but the Game Two knock was overcome by a successful ninth-inning Ranger rally initiated by a Pujols defensive gaffe.

For six innings in Game Six, both teams slogged through a tight, seesaw battle flawed by sloppy pitching and defense. In the seventh, the Rangers broke free; back-to-back homers by Beltre and Cruz highlighted a three-run rally that broke a 4-4 deadlock. The Cardinals scratched one run back in the eighth on a solo blast by Craig, but in the ninth against Texas closer Neftali Feliz, they still needed two runs to catch up and stay alive—circumstances that were hardly new for the Cardinals. In a sense, they had the Rangers exactly where they wanted them.

The Texas bullpen, so good in the Rangers’ first two postseason series, collapsed in the World Series against the Cardinals—greatly contributing to a Fall Classic-record 41 walks, ten of which resulted directly in St. Louis runs.

Pujols hit a one-out double, followed by a walk to Lance Berkman; after Craig whiffed for the second out, David Freese was down to his last strike before launching an opposite field drive to right field that Cruz tepidly appeared to approach—and as a result, couldn’t catch up to it, the ball hitting off the wall and back towards the infield as Pujols and Berkman both scored to send the game into extra innings.

The Rangers responded in the top of the tenth. Josh Hamilton, so badly hampered by an ailing groin that he easily would have been sidelined had it not been the World Series, punched out a two-run homer—his first of the postseason—to give Texas its lead back. Hamilton’s drive presented the Rangers with a second chance to close out the Cardinals; instead, it turned into a bad second case of déjà vu all over again.

The first two Cardinals singled to start the bottom of the tenth and both moved into scoring position with two outs for Pujols, as Cardinal fans by now had lost track of how many “final ovations” they had given their favorite star, due to be a free agent at season’s end. With first base open, Texas manager Ron Washington agonized over which of the two evils would be the lesser one: Pitching to Pujols, or giving him a free pass, loading the bases and letting right-handed pitcher Scott Feldman face the switch-hitting Berkman—the NL Comeback Player of the Year who was at his best hitting left-handed.

Washington decided to take his chances against Berkman. Feldman worked the count to 2-2. For the second straight inning, the Rangers were a strike away from their very first championship.

And for the second straight inning, they were denied. Berkman blooped a single to center, scoring two runs and continuing the game to the 11th.

After the Rangers failed to score, Mark Lowe—the eighth Texas pitcher on the night—took to the mound and battled tough with his first batter, David FreeseFreese finished the playoffs with 21 RBIs, a postseason record.; the man who had started the agony for the Rangers in the ninth ended it when he clubbed a straight-away drive over the center-field fence, giving the Cardinals the winning run in a game instantly hailed by those who witnessed it as, without question, one of the greatest in baseball history.

Emotionally spent and utterly let down from the Game Six experience, the Rangers had little bite left in the decisive seventh game at St. Louis. Texas did cross two first-inning runs across the plate, but the Cardinals matched that in the bottom of the frame and, with Chris Carpenter settling in on the mound, the Rangers had nothing more to give. Allen Craig’s third Series homer put the Cardinals ahead in the third, and they pulled away thereafter—capping one of baseball’s biggest comebacks from the dead with a 6-2 winGame Seven was the 11th played by the Cardinals in World Series history; it was their eighth win..

For rightfully delirious St. Louis fans, this would be the final hurrah for a team they had come to know and love over the past decade. Cardinal manager Tony La Russa, having piloted half his life in the majors, triumphantly called it quits after 33 years, six pennants and three world titles; more bitterly for Cardinal Nation, Pujols said goodbye and signed a ten-year, $240 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Meanwhile in Texas, dreams of a massive victory parade in the Metroplex for the Rangers were reduced to less than 60 loyal fans welcoming them back to DFW after midnight.

And they had wild Wednesday largely to blame.


2012 baseball historyForward to 2012: A Giant October Surprise The San Francisco Giants make it two world titles in three years after surviving a season full of injuries, challenges and handicaps.


2010 baseball historyBack to 2010: Joy and Torture Combining excellent pitching and edge-of-your-seat thrills, the San Francisco Giants finally win it all.


2010s baseball historyThe 2010s Page: A Call to Arms Stronger and faster than ever, major league pitchers restore the balance and then some—yet despite the decline in offense and rise in strikeouts, baseball continues to bring home the bacon through its lucrative online and regional network engagements.


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2011 Standings

National League East
Philadelphia Phillies
102
60
.630
---
Atlanta Braves
89
73
.549
13
Washington Nationals
80
81
.497
21.5
New York Mets
77
85
.475
25
Florida Marlins
72
90
.444
30
National League Central
Milwaukee Brewers
96
66
.593
---
St. Louis Cardinals (w)
90
72
.556
6
Cincinnati Reds
79
83
.488
17
Pittsburgh Pirates
72
90
.444
24
Chicago Cubs
71
91
.438
25
Houston Astros
56
106
.346
40
National League West
Arizona Diamondbacks
94
68
.580
---
San Francisco Giants
86
76
.531
8
Los Angeles Dodgers
82
79
.509
11.5
Colorado Rockies
73
89
.451
21
San Diego Padres
71
91
.438
23
American League East
New York Yankees
97
65
.599
---
Tampa Bay Rays (w)
91
71
.562
6
Boston Red Sox
90
72
.556
7
Toronto Blue Jays
81
81
.500
16
Baltimore Orioles
69
93
.426
28
American League Central
Detroit Tigers
95
67
.586
---
Cleveland Indians
80
82
.494
15
Chicago White Sox
79
83
.488
16
Kansas City Royals
71
91
.438
24
Minnesota Twins
63
99
.389
32
American League West
Texas Rangers
96
66
.593
---
L.A. Angels of Anaheim
86
76
.531
10
Oakland A's
74
88
.457
22
Seattle Mariners
67
95
.414
29

2011 Postseason Results
NLDS Milwaukee defeated Arizona, 3-2.
NLDS St. Louis defeated Philadelphia, 3-2.
ALDS Texas defeated Tampa Bay, 3-1.
ALDS Detroit defeated New York, 3-2.
NLCS St. Louis defeated Milwaukee, 4-2.
ALCS Texas defeated Detroit, 4-2.
World Series St. Louis (NL) defeated Texas (AL), 4-3.


It Happened in 2011

Bleeding Dodger Blue and Red
While it’s a decent year for the Los Angeles Dodgers on the field—finishing above the .500 mark with National League MVP runner-up Matt Kemp and Cy Young Award pitcher Clayton Kershaw—it’s a disaster off it. Co-owners Frank and Jamie McCourt slug it out in a nasty divorce battle that tears apart the team’s finances and leads to the once-proud franchise declaring bankruptcy. Actual attendance at Dodger Stadium plummets with fans staying away in part because of the McCourt mess, but also out of fear for their safety after a San Francisco Giant fan is severely beaten in the parking lot on Opening Day—intensifying the ballpark’s reputation as a magnet for gangs.

After Frank wins control of the team, he spends much of the year trying to maintain it against commissioner Bud Selig, who desperately wants him to sell; in November, McCourt finally agrees to do so. Six months later, Guggenheim Partners will buy him out for a record-shattering $2.15 billion.

Mo Legacy
New York Yankee closer Mariano Rivera, showing no sign of slowing down at age 41, becomes the majors’ all-time saves leader on September 19 when he closes out the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium in typical Rivera fashion—one-two-three—and preserves a 6-4 win for the Yankees. Rivera will finish the year with 603 lifetime saves—two ahead of former leader Trevor Hoffman, a year after his retirement—record his fourth straight earned run average of under 2.00, and become the first pitcher in major league history to appear in 1,000 games for the same team.

A Yankee at 3,000
Derek Jeter becomes the first player in Yankee franchise history to surpass 3,000 career hits when he homers off Tampa Bay’s David Price as part of a five-hit game in the Yankees’ 5-4 win over the Rays at New York on July 9. Because the ball ends up in the seats, its ownership becomes that of a fan who eventually earns $250,000 in auctioning it off. Oddly, the ball Jeter hits foul just before connecting for his milestone hit off Price also goes on the auction block—and someone pays $10,000 for it.

The Club Crowds Up
Jim Thome belts two home runs—the latter the 600th of his career—in Minnesota’s 9-6 win over the Tigers at Detroit on August 15. The 40-year-old Thome, playing part-time for the Twins—and later for the Cleveland Indians, where he began his career—is the eighth player and the fifth over the last ten years to reach the 600 mark.

These Runs Are Done
Three historic, record-breaking streaks are snapped in 2011. The Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, saddled by numerous injuries throughout the year that cause him to miss 60 games, finishes with 16 home runs and 62 runs batted in—well short of the 30 and 100 he had collected in each of his previous 13 seasons. In his 11th and final season for St. Louis, Albert Pujols fails for the first time to hit .300 with at least 30 knocks and 100 RBIs—and just barely, smashing 37 homers but batting .299 with 99 RBIs. And in Seattle, Ichiro Suzuki—beset for much of the year by mental exhaustion, as he’ll later admit—falls short of both a .300 average and 200 hits for the first time since joining the majors in 2001.

Your Tax Dollars at Overwork
The long, arduous and expensive court battle between Barry Bonds and the United States of America comes to a merciful end with the disputed home run king found guilty for obstruction of justice, stemming from his testimony during the 2003 BALCO grand jury proceedings; a mistrial is declared on four other counts. This is what the Federal Government gets for its reported $50 million tab on the case: Bonds is slapped with two years of probation, 250 hours of community service, a month of house arrest at his posh Beverly Hills home and a $4,000 fine. Bonds’ lawyers immediately appeal the sentence.

The Feds’ attempt to nail Roger Clemens on similar charges under a similar budget also goes awry. The trial has barely just started when a presenting prosecutor states evidence he and his team were clearly told not to introduce during the proceedings, and the judge declares a mistrial. A second trial a year later will result in a full legal exoneration for Clemens, found not guilty.

Grand Slam-a-Rama
The Yankees become the first team in major league history to belt three grand slams in a game, with Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and Robinson Cano each clearing the bases in a 22-9 rout of Oakland on August 25. Trailing 7-2 in the fifth, Cano connects for the first slam; Martin follows up an inning later, and in the eighth Granderson makes it three, as the Yankees pile up 20 runs over a four-inning span.

Death From the Bleachers
Tragedy strikes on July 8 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, which has seen far more than its share of falling fans since its 1994 opening. During a game between Texas and Oakland, a foul ball that ricochets into center field is scooped up by Ranger center fielder Josh Hamilton and innocuously tossed towards the front row of the outfield bleachers behind him; 39-year-old Shannon Stone, a fireman from Brownwood, Texas, reaches out to grab the ball and falls over the railing 20 feet below to an open area between the seats and the outfield wall—all to the horror of his six-year-old son, who was seated next to him. Stone is initially conscious and alert, but later dies at a hospital.

Hamilton is haunted by the accident, and the Rangers go out of their way to help the surviving members of Stone’s family, setting up a memorial fund and, for all it’s worth, erecting a statue outside the ballpark in honor of him. They also raise the height of the railings throughout the ballpark for the 2012 season.

Your Hitless Parade
The Dodgers’ Eugenio Velez sets two records he’s not likely to include in his resume. He finishes the season going hitless in 37 at-bats, the most ever accumulated by a position player; the string is part of a record drought of 46 straight at-bats that dates back to 2010—a slump that began after being conked on the head by a line drive as he sat in the dugout while in uniform for the Giants.

W, as in Wilson—and Win
Out of available pitchers and battling the Cincinnati Reds into the 19th inning on May 25, the Philadelphia Phillies turn to infielder Wilson Valdez to take the mound—and he responds by throwing just ten pitches to retire the Reds, allowing just one baserunner when he hits Scott Rolen. The Phillies reward him a half-frame later when Raul Ibanez’s sacrifice fly scores Jimmy Rollins to win the game, making Valdez the first position player in 11 years to earn credit for a major league victory.

Oh No, it’s Jo-Jo
Beleaguered Toronto pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes ties a major league record by going winless in 28 straight starts, a run that began back in 2008 while playing for the Atlanta Braves. Reyes will avoid setting the record by tossing a complete-game win over Cleveland on May 30.

A Fast Start
Minnesota ties a major league mark on June 21 at San Francisco when the Twins’ first eight batters get hits off Giant starter Madison Bumgarner. Pitcher Carl Pavano, making a rare plate appearance in an interleague game, strikes out as the ninth batter to end the run. The Twins win, 9-2.

It Pays to Pay Attention
The Seattle Mariners lose a 1-0 game to San Diego on July 2 when the Padres’ Cameron Maybin scores the game’s only run on a three-ball walk that neither team nor the umpires catch. Strangely, the Mariners will again be the victims of another errant three-ball walk just eight days later in Anaheim—though in this case, it will not lead to any runs nor will it have a direct impact on the final score, a 4-2 Angel win.

The Mark of a Good Switch-Hitter
Mark Teixeira sets a major league record by hitting home runs from both sides of the plate for the 12th time in his career on August 2, helping the Yankees to defeat the Chicago White Sox, 6-0, in a game shortened to six innings due to rain.

CauHGHt
In a year before mandatory testing for Human Growth Hormone (HGH) takes effect at the major league level, the first minor league player is nabbed with a positive result: Mike Jacobs, a former big league slugger trying to make a comeback through the Colorado Rockies’ organization. Jacobs publicly fesses up, saying he made a “terrible decision” to use HGH in order to overcome knee and back pains.

Never on Sunday
The Rockies lose 17 straight Sunday games, setting a record previously held three times—all by the Phillies, in 1927, 1928 and 1960.

Bruised Matusz
Baltimore starting pitcher Brian Matusz badly struggles to a season-ending 10.69 ERA—the worst by any major leaguer with at least ten starts in a year. He finishes the year with a 1-9 record, as opponents hit .372 with 18 home runs against him in 49.1 innings.

It Isn’t All Peachy Keen in St. Louis
In the world championship season, here’s one fact the Cardinals would rather downplay: They ground into a NL-record 169 double plays.


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