This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: August, 2015
Ichiro Suzuki Passes Ty Cobb...Or Does He? Merkle Boner II in Arizona?
The Dodgers: Ten Days, Two No-hit Losses Somebody Give Shelby Miller a Win

Best and Worst of the Week

Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays

105 29 34 7 1 11 35 16 0 1 2

“Make it rain,” the signs said at Rogers Centre, and the first-year Toronto third baseman made it a downpour in August as the primary catalyst for the smokin’ hot Jays offense while strengthening his credentials for the AL MVP. Yes, some of you might have been expecting teammate Edwin Encarnacion, who had a hit in every game in August and matched Donaldson in homers and RBIs, but Donaldson simply had the edge on the collection of offensive numbers—and wasn’t razor-thin, either.

Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds

86 20 27 8 0 6 14 34 4 0 2

The Reds may have done squat on offense throughout the month, but don’t put the blame on Votto. Of course, Reds fans will continue to criticize their star hitter for being too patient at the plate and accepting too many walks—we may have to go all the way back to Barry Bonds to find a guy who walked as many as 38 times in a month—but even without the passes, Votto was pretty damaging to opponents with 14 extra-base hits and 20 runs scored. Maybe the aggression isn’t there, but neither are many outs.

Omar Infante, Kansas City Royals

71 3 10 1 3 0 7 2 0 0 1

Will all the folks that voted Infante as the AL’s starting All-Star second baseman please stand up? Now, for those brave enough to stand, let us ask: What were you thinking? The veteran infielder wasn’t hitting all that well back when the votes were being tallied, but now he’s gotten even worse. The three triples look nice, so thank goodness for fast legs; too bad they couldn’t get him to reach even first base more often. For the season, Infante has an on-base percentage of .232. You may all sit down.

Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds

113 10 17 8 1 2 13 3 2 0 3

So with Joey Votto (above) staying sharp in an otherwise dreadful month for the Reds, it’s reasonable to deduct that most of his teammates were nowhere near as good. And the worst of that lot was Bruce, who hit a paltry .150 for the month and saw his season average plummet over 30 points—something of an eye-opener this late in the year when short samples no longer apply. Not long ago, Bruce appeared to be on the threshold of major stardom with his power stroke, but his overall numbers have suffered badly over the past few years. He gets one more year to reprove himself before he becomes a free agent in 2017.

Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians

1-1 30.2 16 5 5 5 0 1 0 0 33

It was a bittersweet month for the 28-year-old Venezuelan; the bitter was the reality of winning only won one of four starts and landing on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, but the sweet was pure dominance when he did manage to take the mound. Carrasco’s first start of the month was his best, allowing just one hit over nine shutout innings at Anaheim in what turned out to be a no-decision; he picked up his one W for August with another masterful effort at New York against the Yankees. The Indians have plenty of solid starting pitching, and Carrasco may be the most underappreciated within that circle.

Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs

6-0 42.1 19 4 2 10 0 2 2 0 31

Since being traded from Baltimore midway through 2013, the 29-year-old right-hander just keeps getting better and better—but will there be further room for improvement after wrapping up a 6-0 August with his first career no-hitter? His no-no effort on the Dodgers closes out a spectacular month in which he’s lowered his season ERA to 2.11 and, with a major league-leading 17 wins, is in great shape to reach 20 by season’s end. Here’s the Jekyll and Hyde on Arrieta’s career to date: With Baltimore, he’s 20-25 and a 5.46 ERA; With the Cubs, he’s 31-13 mark with a 2.48 ERA.

Jeff Samardzija, Chicago White Sox

0-6 33.2 47 33 33 13 0 5 2 0 31

Right about now, there’s a number of teams drawing a deep sigh of relief and thinking, “We’re glad we didn’t pull the trigger on that trade.” About a month ago, the tall veteran who looks like an extra from one of those Wyatt Earp flicks was highly rumored to be headed to a contender, but no such deal ever took place; in the wake of nothing, Samardzija started six games for the White Sox and lost them all. One of them, a 1-0 duel against the Angels’ Jered Weaver, wasn’t his fault; the other five were. When you’re 8-11 on the season with a 4.85 ERA, you’re not going to get lured with trade bait.

David Buchanan, Philadelphia Phillies

0-2 5.2 21 18 18 3 0 0 0 0 3

When the 26-year-old Atlanta native won his last two starts of July with decent effectiveness, the Phillies believed he had turned the corner after a 0-6 start. That corner apparently led to a dead end. He gave up seven runs to the Dodgers in four innings during his first start of August—and that was his good performance. The wheels completely came off during his second, allowing 11 runs in less than two frames at Arizona. These twin disasters catapulted Buchanan’s season ERA to a painful 9.00 and convinced the Phillies that Triple-A Lehigh Valley might be a better environment for the right-hander.

Toronto Blue Jays (21-6)

Playing practically as a team possessed, the Blue Jays took their game into juggernaut mode and steamrolled past the Yankees to grab first place in the AL East. The offense was scary as always—they led the majors in runs scored and had no less than three players (Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista) each with ten-plus homers—but what really spooked opponents is that the Jays’ pitching was the AL’s second-best in August with a 2.82 team ERA, and they may have found a legitimate closer in 20-year-old Roberto Osuna. The Jays are, right now and hands down, baseball’s most entertaining team.

New York Mets (20-8)

It’s often said that to be a good team, you got to beat the bad ones. That certainly applies to the Mets, who were graced with 15 August games against the NL’s three worst teams—Miami, Philadelphia and Colorado—and went 15-0. The team’s vaunted pitching was predictably good, but no one foresaw a resurgent offense that would lead the NL in runs and set a monthly team record with 45 homers. And after that puffball schedule in August, guess what: It gets easier for the Mets the rest of the way, with only nine of their remaining 31 games against teams with winning records—and six of those are against Washington, who’s barely hanging over .500.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (10-19)

It’s easy to say that as Mike Trout goes, so goes the Angels. And while Trout was unusually bad (.218, one homer, 31 strikeouts and three failed stole base attempts), the rest of the team didn’t exactly hold up their end of the bargain; the offense overall hit a major league-worst .221, and the starting rotation yielded a horrid 5.64 ERA. It all led to a terrible month that’s knocked the Angels out of the playoff picture, lest they turn fortunes on a dime in September. This has not been a year for the Angels to remember with fondness, on the field or off it; perhaps the sooner the season ends, the better.

Cincinnati Reds (8-21)

It was pretty well understood at the start of the year that the Reds were walking the tightrope, hoping to contend and make it worth their while to hold onto impending free agents Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake. But the balancing act failed, the Reds fell way back in the standings and, as of August 1, no more Cueto, no more Leake. Instead, the Reds have taken a different what-the-hell route with an all-rookie rotation for all of August. Result: Not so good. The 21st Century version of the Kiddie Korps posted a 5.52 ERA. But perhaps even more disappointing was a far more veteran offense that skidded through a month in which it hit a NL-low .235. Hang in there, Reds: October golf is just around the corner.

Wild Pitches

Yes, They Can’t Believe This Really Happened
(August 2015 Edition)

It’s a Great Play…Or Maybe, Not
Atlanta left fielder Eury Perez thought he made a nice catch.

If You Won’t Celebrate, I’ll do it Myself
Tampa Bay rookie Richie Shaffer hit his first career home run at Chicago against the White Sox, and once he noticed his teammates huddled away from him as he returned to the dugout, he decided to start high-fiving air.

Cash in the Wind
Someone broke down the Los Angeles Dodgers’ payroll and discovered that $87 million is going toward players…who are currently not on the Dodgers.

He Really Didn’t Mean to Say That…Right?
As the Angels’ Albert Pujols grounded out in an August 8 game against Baltimore, Orioles TV broadcaster Gary Thorne said this: “…and Pujols is retarded.”

Adding Injury to Insult
A Yankee Stadium bleacher fan who caught a home run from Toronto’s Jose Bautista and wasn’t happy about it and threw it back on the field—where it hit Yankee center fielder Brett Gardner in the back of the head.

Big-Top Distraction
A minor league game in Tampa between the Tampa Yankees and Clearwater Threshers was cancelled due to “distraction.” Let us explain: A circus tent topped by blinking lights and situated behind the ballpark to the right of the batter’s eye led umpires to conclude that hitters would lose their focus on the pitches. You’d think the Hooters Billboard, on the outfield wall and also to the right of the batter’s eye, would be distraction enough.

Now That’s Being Locked in on a Target
In a minor league game, a foul ball was lined into the dugout and knocked off the plastic top of a trash can, narrowly missing Johnny Monell of the Las Vegas 51s. Having fun, Monell decided to protect his head with the trash lid—which was struck by another foul ball on the very next pitch.

Always Keep Your Batting Helmet On
Upset after getting tagged out in a rundown from a botched stolen base attempt at Colorado on August 15, the Padres’ Justin Upton went back to the dugout and, in frustration, threw his batting helmet…which hit teammate Yonder Alonso on the head. Alonso was removed from the game and taken to the clubhouse to make sure he didn’t have a concussion.

Who Needs Cinemax When You Have the Royals?
Kansas City hospitals reported a record number of babies born in July, nine months after being conceived during the Royals’ playoff run.

Red, and Green
Rookie pitchers started every game in August for the Cincinnati Reds.

An Opportunity Bobbled
The Washington Nationals cancelled an August 30 promotion in which they were going to give out 25,000 bobbleheads reenacting Jayson Werth’s celebration of his walkoff home run in the 2012 NLDS, because they found the final product “unacceptable.” The Nationals didn’t get into detail about what upset them, but many opined that Werth’s face isn’t recognizable—but isn’t that the case with 90% of all baseball bobbleheads?

Maybe he Thought the Ball Was That Creepy Phantasm Orb
The Royals’ Kendrys Morales belted a deep fly to center that ricocheted off one of Tropicana Dome’s catwalks in St. Petersburg, but the way Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier looked scaling the wall, you would have thought he wanted nothing to do with it.

The Kids are Almighty
A record 155 home runs were hit by rookies during the month of August.

This Month’s Proof That Everybody’s Striking Out
If you sensed that a lot of major leaguers were striking out in August, then your intuition was correct. An all-time monthly record was set with 6,587 total strikeouts, breaking the previous high of 6,467 set last August.

League vs. League

The American League can almost taste another interleague trophy for its continued dominance over the National League. After the NL closed the gap on league vs. league play in July, the AL escaped the ropes and all but applied the knockout punch, winning 31 of 48 interleague battles to bring its season record against the NL to 147-123. The AL needs just four more victories to clinch its 12th straight year winning the regular season’s bragging rights against its older brother.

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Saturday, August 1
Clayton Kershaw deals eight innings of two-hit shutout ball and expands his streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 37 as the Los Angeles Dodgers hand the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim their fifth straight loss, 3-1, at Chavez Ravine. Along with Zack Greinke (who earlier didn’t allow a run over 43.2 straight frames), Kershaw is part of the first pair of teammates to fashion streaks of 30 or more innings since the New York Giants’ Sal Magile and Larry Jansen did it in 1950.

The Angels’ Mike Trout is for 0-for-3 with a strikeout against Kershaw in what is said to be the first time ever that reigning MVPs face off against one another at the plate in a regular season game.

Cole Hamels gives up fives runs in 7.2 innings and leaves with a two-run lead in his debut for Texas, but the Rangers’ bullpen can’t hold the advantage and lose at Arlington to the San Francisco Giants in 11 innings, 9-7.

After the Washington Nationals get two quick runs in the first inning at New York, Lucas Duda provides solo home runs for the Mets in the fourth and seventh before delivering a RBI double in the eighth that will ultimately give the Mets a 3-2 win and bring them to within a game of the Nationals for the NL East lead. Duda’s double ends his streak of eight straight hits that were all home runs.

Kansas City outlasts the Blue Jays at Toronto, 7-6, behind two home runs from Ben Zobrist—playing just his third game for the Royals after being traded from Oakland. Zobrist is one of seven players on the day with multiple homers, the most since June 13, 2010.

Jose Bautista’s solo shot in the eighth leaves the Jays short a run, but it’s the first time a player has gone deep off Royals reliever Wade Davis in nearly two years and 125.1 innings.

The Cincinnati Reds seem to have Gerrit Cole’s number. The Pittsburgh ace has failed to reach the sixth inning only four times this season—all against the Reds, who today deny him of his major league-leading 15th win with a 4-3 decision.

The Boston Red Sox announce that Larry Lucchino, the team’s CEO, president and one-third of the ownership group that bought the club in 2002, will be stepping down at the end of the year. Lucchino oversaw the Sox’ first three world titles since the 1910s, and although the team’s announcement is made to look amicable, many believe he is being pushed out as the Red Sox have underachieved, stuck in last place in the AL East.

On the field, the Red Sox are winners for a day thanks to rookie third baseman Travis Shaw, who has a double and two homers among four hits and scores five times in Boston’s 11-7 beating of Tampa Bay at Fenway Park.

If Shaw continues to play like this at third, don’t be surprised to see Pablo Sandoval—who continues to slug about overweight in what has been a most uninspiring debut at Boston—become one of the most expensive bench players in the majors.

Sunday, August 2
The Mets finish a three-game sweep of the Nationals and are now tied for first in the NL East with Washington following a 5-2 win. All five Mets runs score in the second inning off three home runs, and rookie pitcher Noah Syndergaard throws eight solid innings to lower his season ERA to 2.66.

The frisky Royals are back at it in Toronto—and get away with it. Both benches are warned after Kansas City starter Edinson Volquez hits Josh Donaldson; when two later pitches to Donaldson barely miss his head and Troy Tulowitzki gets hit on the hand from reliever Ryan Madson, home plate umpire Jim Wolf does nothing—but does eject Toronto reliever Aaron Sanchez after he plunks the Royals’ Alcides Escobar late in the game, infuriating the Blue Jays. In the end, the Jays leave as disgruntled 5-2 victors as R.A. Dickey fires seven shutout innings.

Volquez on Donaldson after the game: “He’s a little baby…He was crying like a baby.”

Adding injury to insult, MLB will suspend Sanchez for three games and Toronto manager John Gibbons for one; no Royals will be disciplined. Umpire Wolf may be given a chat at some point by MLB, though.

Andre Ethier comes to the Dodgers’ rescue, twice. After giving Los Angeles a 3-2 lead over the visiting Angels in the eighth inning, he delivers again after the Halos had tied it in the ninth, crushing a two-run shot in the tenth to win the game, 5-3. With the loss, the Angels are now four back of the AL West-leading Houston Astros.

Daniel Norris, the core component of the trade that sent David Price the other way to Toronto, makes his first start for Detroit and it’s a good one, scattering a run on four hits in 7.1 innings to give the Tigers an easy 6-1 win at Baltimore.

After eight scoreless innings at Minnesota, Nelson Cruz goes deep for the Seattle Mariners—only to be matched in the bottom of the ninth when the Twins’ Brian Dozier sends one out himself to tie the game. The Mariners will then bust things open in the 11th and win, 4-1. The

The Elias Sports Bureau claims it’s only the second time in major league history that a 0-0 game was followed in the ninth by a pair of solo homers to move the contest into overtime.

Monday, August 3
In a 12-9 rout of Houston in Arlington, the Rangers score all of their runs within the first five innings—and Adrian Beltre is at the center of it all. The veteran third baseman hits for the cycle, becoming only the third player in modern times—after Bob Meusel and Babe Herman—to have done it three times in a career.

David Price makes a sterling debut for the Blue Jays at Toronto, allowing just a run on three hits with 11 strikeouts through eight innings in a 5-1 home victory over the Twins. Price is now 8-0 in ten career starts at Rogers Centre.

Another recent acquisition, Yoenis Cespedes, belts three doubles and drives in four as the Mets throttle the Marlins at Miami, 12-1; coupled with Washington’s 6-4 home loss to Arizona, New York now has sole possession of the NL East lead.

The Giants blow three leads in a 9-8, 12-inning loss at Atlanta. The three leads include a 6-0 advantage midway through; a 7-5 lead in the ninth with two outs and two strikes, foiled on a two-run shot by the Braves’ A.J. Pierzynski; and an 8-7 lead in the final frame, erased on a two-run homer from the aptly-named Adonis Garcia.

There’s a new home run king—in the minor leagues. Mike Hessman, baseball’s real-life Crash Davis who had considered retiring after last season, belts his 433rd career minor league homer—a grand slam for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens—at age 37 to surpass Buzz Arlett on the all-time charts. Hessman has scant experience in the majors (five years, 109 games, 14 homers) and Japan (one year, six homers).

Hector Espino hit 484 home runs playing exclusively in the Mexican League, but most historians discount that figure because they were hit in an offensive-minded circuit not considered part of baseball’s “organized” system.

Tuesday, August 4
Dave Dombrowski, the long-time Detroit general manager who’s overseen the worse (43-119 in 2003) and best (AL pennants in 2006 and 2012) in recent Tigers history, is released from his duties in what’s considered a front office overhaul. Al Aliva, the father of Tigers catcher Alex Aliva. takes over as his replacement.

Few are shedding a tear for Dombrowski, one of baseball’s top execs who is not expected to be unemployed for very long; sure enough, the Boston Red Sox will bring him on as President of Baseball Operations on August 18.

This is how impressed industry execs have become with MLB’s Advanced Media arm: The National Hockey League has asked MLB to take over its streaming services and TV network. MLB will begin its partnership with the NHL this January.

Does this mean more outdoor Winter Classics held at MLB ballparks to be shown for free on

Before the New York Yankees’ 13-3 rout of the archrival Red Sox in the Bronx, Boston slugger David Ortiz is asked by the media what he thinks of Alex Rodriguez’s season, and he says: “(Rodriguez) is playing the right way now—as far as we know.”

Some take the comment to suggest that Ortiz is suspicious of Rodriguez, a two-time steroid cheat—as far as we know. But we read into it this way: We'll give Rodriguez the benefit of a doubt that he’s clean and having a strong comeback year—he’s hitting .281 and is on pace for 36 homers and 94 RBIs—but because A-Rod once went through the whole mea culpa routine before turning around and doing steroids all over again, he simply cannot be taken at his word.

Ortiz is right. Rodriguez might very well be clean, but we just don’t know. After all, we don’t want to get fooled again.

Nelson Cruz homers for the fifth straight game as the Seattle Mariners pound the Rockies in Denver, 10-4. It’s the second time this season Cruz has run up such a streak of five straight; only Harmon Killebrew, Frank Thomas, Barry Bonds and Chase Utley have been able to do that in the past.

Wednesday, August 5
Toronto makes it three straight over the Twins—and seven of their last eight overall—in their latest slugfest, a 9-7 victory to strengthen the Blue Jays’ wild card position over Minnesota. The Jays smash three home runs, including a grand slam from Jose Bautista, a 471-foot bomb from Edwin Encarnacion and the fifth in the last seven games for Josh Donaldson.

Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison again is the benefactor of generous run support in spite of an iffy outing, allowing seven runs—three earned—in five innings of work. He’s now 10-2 on the year, but with a 5.42 ERA.

The Mets build up an 8-0 lead at Miami and hold on for dear life when the Marlins rally in the bottom of the ninth for six runs—with the tying run at second base—before Jeurys Familia finally puts out the fire in an 8-6 victory, the Mets’ sixth straight. New York extends its lead in the NL East to two games.

The Yankees hand the ball to 21-year-old Luis Severino, making his major league debut after a 7-0 record and 1.91 ERA in 11 Triple-A starts. In five innings, he allows two hits, no walks and strikes out seven—but the visiting Red Sox get to him for two runs, one on a David Ortiz home run, and Boston rookie pitcher Steven Wright holds the Yankees down for eight superb innings to give the Sox a 2-1 win.

Thursday, August 6
Zack Greinke begins his start at Philadelphia with the majors’ best ERA at 1.41, but gives up five runs against the Phillies before recording his first out…and not only does he get back on track, he and the Dodgers get the win with the help of his own bat; he’s 3-for-3 with a home run in Los Angeles’ 10-8 victory.

Greinke is the first pitcher since Ralph Branca in 1949 to earn a win despite spotting an opponent five runs without a single out being recorded.

The Blue Jays finish off a sweep of the Twins, 9-3, behind the usual potent offense (14 hits, including four doubles and a home run) and a fine pitching effort from Mark Buerhle, who wins his 30th career game against Minnesota. Buehrle is only the sixth pitcher since the proliferation of expansion teams in 1961 to beat a single club 30 times.

The overachieving Twins, who once had a mild stranglehold on the top wild card spot, are now fifth in the wild card standings after dropping back to an even .500 with their 14th loss in their last 18 games.

In the first of four between two NL wild card contenders at Chicago, the Cubs score five early runs on the Giants as San Francisco rookie pitcher Chris Heston can’t find the strike zone to save his life, and it’s barely enough as the Cubs survive a pair of two-run homers from Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford to win, 5-4.

Jason Hammel starts for the Cubs but does not get the win because manager Joe Maddon pulls him with no one out in the fifth, after he had given up two runs. Hammel, visibly seething while being removed, says afterward: “I felt like I’d earned the right to kind of get out of the situation.”

Friday, August 7
Clayton Kershaw’s streak of 37 consecutive scoreless innings comes to a quick end at Pittsburgh when his very first pitch of the game is knocked out of the park by the Pirates’ Gregory Polanco; he’ll go on to cede four runs in six innings as he and the Dodgers duel Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, but neither get the decision as the game extends into the tenth inning and is won by the Bucs, 5-4, on a Pedro Alvarez single.

In the first of a vital three-game series between the top two teams in the AL East, the surging Blue Jays arrive in New York and best the first-place Yankees in ten innings, 2-1, on a Jose Bautista home run. Toronto is now 3.5 games behind the Yankees.

Just past the two-thirds point of the season, the St. Louis Cardinals become the first team in the majors to reach 70 wins with a 6-0 decision at Milwaukee. Lance Lynn throws six shutout innings in what is the 11th blanking by the Cardinals at Miller Park since the ballpark opened in 2001.

The Brewers will make it 12 the next day with a 3-0 shutout over the Brewers.

The Cubs have the next highest number of shutouts at Miller Park with seven—and that includes Carlos Zambrano’s 2008 no-hitter when the Houston Astros were the opponent, in a game moved from Texas as Hurricane Ike slammed the Gulf Coast.

Cole Hamels may not have done his homework on American League parks since his trade from Philadelphia to Texas. Homework like…they’ve recently moved the fences in at Seattle’s Safeco Field. With a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning, Hamels gives up back-to-back home runs to Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano, the first time in his last 168 starts he’s allowed consecutive long flies. The Mariners lean on the double-barreled blasts to win, 4-3.

Saturday, August 8
David Price is already showing extreme worth for the Blue Jays since being picked up at the trading deadline. The tall right-hander blanks the Yankees through seven innings on three hits, and Justin Smoak hits Toronto’s first-ever grand slam at either Yankee Stadium as the Blue Jays roll 6-0 and trim the Yankees’ lead in the AL East to 2.5 games.

The Washington Nationals, in desperate need of a boost to reverse recent misfortunes as the Mets have sailed past them in the NL East race, get one from Stephen Strasburg at home against Colorado. Pitching for the first time in five weeks, Strasburg allows a run on three hits with 12 strikeouts over seven innings and is 3-for-3 at the plate as the Nationals ease to a 6-1 win over the Rockies.

The Phillies, 15-5 since the All-Star Break, no longer have baseball’s worst record—nor even the NL East’s worst. That distinction now belongs to the Miami Marlins, who drop to 43-68 with their 13th loss in their last 15 games, a 7-2 defeat at Atlanta.

The fading Twins are destroyed by the Indians at Cleveland, 17-4, as the Tribe’s Abraham Almonte—in his first game with Cleveland after being picked up from the San Diego Padres—collects four hits including a home run.

Since the All-Star Break, the Twins are 6-15 with a 6.05 ERA—the worst in baseball.

The Rangers and Mariners score each of their three runs through the first ten innings in the fourth frame; in the 11th, Texas unlocks things in a big way. Eight runs—capped by a Prince Fielder home run—leads to an 11-3 win at Seattle and ties the AL record for the most scored by a team in the 11th; it is also the second most scored by the Rangers in any overtime inning.

Sunday, August 9
Merkle Boner redux in Arizona? With the game tied 3-3 and the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth, the Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings belts a fly ball over the head of Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton to bring home the winning run—but Reds players scramble to get the ball back in the infield and touch both second and third base because, they claim, runners moving up 90 feet to those bases didn’t bother and should be called out by force. All of this conjures up memories of the moment in 1908 when the New York Giants had a game-winning hit nullified against the Cubs because Fred Merkle, on first base, failed to advance to second on the play.

The umpires rule for the play to stand. Why? Because Owings’ hit comes with one out, not two outs—and in this case, only the game-winning run and the batter need to touch their respective bases. Why it should be different for a one-out situation as opposed to a two-out situation is beyond us. Anyone? Anyone?

It’s a three-game sweep in the Bronx for the Blue Jays, who have now won eight straight games. Early solo shots by Josh Donaldson (his 31st homer of the year) and Jose Bautista (his 26th) is all Marco Estrada and three relievers will need to shut down the Yankees, 3-0. The Yankees still lead the AL East by 1.5 games, but ten games remain to be played between themselves and the Blue Jays.

The Yankees fail to score in the final 26 innings of the series, and that’s their longest such drought at home since Walter Johnson threw three straight shutouts as part of a 33-inning scoreless run against the then-New York Highlanders in 1908.

While Toronto builds up that 26-inning streak, another comes to an end in Milwaukee as a 38-inning run thrown by the St. Louis pitching staff is stopped in the third inning with a pair of home runs for the Brewers, who go on to edge the Cardinals, 5-4. Khris Davis belts two homers himself, his second multi-homer performance in four games.

The Cubs take command of the final NL wild card spot by defeating the Giants at Wrigley, 2-0, and completing a four-game sweep. Jake Arrieta tosses 7.2 scoreless innings and Chicago closer Hector Rondón somehow gets through a scoreless ninth and secures the save despite throwing 36 pitches.

Following the game, a “credible” bomb threat is phoned into Wrigley Field, which is evacuated—although most fans and both teams have already left. No bomb is found.

The Giants may now have a better shot at catching the NL West-leading Dodgers than the Cubs for the wild card. At Pittsburgh, Los Angeles leads 5-3 going into the bottom of the seventh when the Pirates bust out for nine runs—eight charged to recently acquired Dodgers reliever (and one-time 50-save man for Baltimore) Jim Johnson in a 13-6 Pirates win.

Monday, August 10
After two losses pitching for the Royals on the road, Johnny Cueto makes his first home start in Kansas City and it’s a winner, a four-hit shutout of the Detroit Tigers. Cueto becomes the first Royals pitcher to throw a shutout in his home debut since 1983, and the first to throw one in both leagues during one season since Cliff Lee in 2009.

Washington comes to Chavez Ravine and tears the Dodgers apart, 8-3, behind eight shutout innings from Gio Gonzalez. Los Angeles has now lost a season-high four games in a row and is 16-28 against .500+ teams on the year.

Tuesday, August 11
For the first time since Major League Baseball expanded to 30 teams in 1998, all 15 home teams win their scheduled games on the day. In fact, it’s the highest total since May 23, 1914, when 12 games were won by the home team without a loss.

Historians among us must be scratching their heads and thinking, how were 12 games even played in 1914 when there were only 16 teams? Remember, 1914 was the first year of the short-lived, eight-team Federal League, and all four home teams from that circuit won on the day as well in addition to four each from the NL and AL.

The Yankees lose a heartbreaker at Cleveland in 16 innings, 5-4; combined with Toronto’s 4-2 home win over Oakland, New York’s lead in the AL East is a mere half-game. A chance for the Yankees to win is ruined in the tenth when Andrew Miller gives up two runs to allow the Indians to re-tie the game at 4-4; it’s Miller’s first blown save of the year.

Philadelphia pitcher David Buchanan enters his start at Arizona with a 7.23 ERA—and it gets worse, much worse. The Diamondbacks pound Buchanan for 11 runs in the second inning, three of them knocked in on two hits from Arizona pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, on their way to a 13-1 slaughter. Buchanan now has allowed 48 earned runs in 48 innings for—you guessed it—a 9.00 ERA.

Hellickson is the first pitcher with two RBI hits in one inning since Greg Maddux did it in 1999—also against Philadelphia.

There’s another curious stepping down of a general manager, and this time it’s in Milwaukee where Bob Melvin ends a 13-year run as Brewers GM by announcing his resignation. Unlike the surprising midseason departures of Boston’s Larry Lucchino and Detroit’s Dave Dombrowski, Melvin is expected to stay with the Brewers in an “advisory” role.

Wednesday, August 12
Hisashi Iwakuma throws the year’s fourth no-hitter, the second ever by a Japanese-born pitcher (after Hideo Nomo, who threw two), the fifth in Seattle history and the fourth thrown at Safeco Field as he dominates the Baltimore Orioles on 116 pitches, 3-0. The 34-year old is also the oldest pitcher to throw a no-no since Randy Johnson tossed a perfect game in 2004 at age 40, and he’s the first American League pitcher since teammate Felix Hernandez almost three years earlier to deny an opponent a hit.

Before Iwakuma, the last 11 no-hitters were all thrown by National League pitchers. The last three AL no-nos have all come courtesy of the Mariners, including Hernandez’s perfecto and a combined six-pitcher effort in June 2012.

Toronto racks up all ten of its runs over the first two innings and coast from there for a 10-2 romp of the A’s at Rogers Centre. It’s the Blue Jays’ tenth straight win, and they take the AL East lead as the stumbling Yankees (five straight losses) succumb to the Indians at Cleveland, 2-1.

The Royals lead at home over Detroit after seven innings, 4-2, and it’s time for their vaunted bullpen to take over and wrap things up—but instead they let starter Edinson Volquez slide into the eighth, where the Tigers get to him for two runs—and a third after set-up reliever Kelvin Herrera fails to hold the tie. The Tigers notch two more to defeat Kansas City, 7-4; the Royals snap a string of 111 straight wins in which they led after seven innings.

The Royals will also lose tomorrow’s game against the Angels after leading in the seventh.

Sharing the Achievement I: Minnesota’s Miguel Sano and Miami’s J.T. Realmuto become first-ever pair of rookies to each knock in six runs on the same day. Sano has two home runs in the Twins’ 11-1 rout of Texas; Realmuto cranks a grand slam and falls a double shy of the cycle as the Marlins pounds Boston, 14-6.

Sharing the Achievement II: Two veteran Mets, Juan Uribe and Michael Cuddyer, each connect on their 1,500th career hits in New York’s 3-0 home victory over Colorado.

Thursday, August 13
The red-hot Blue Jays just keep winning. With a 4-2 win over Oakland, the Jays have now 11 straight—matching a similar 11-game run in June, which itself tied an all-time franchise record. Toronto is the first team with two streaks of 11 wins or more in one season since the 1954 Cleveland Indians, which finished 111-43.

Just as hot are the Cubs, who win their seventh straight game and 13th over their last 14 with a 9-2 drubbing of the visiting Brewers. Leading the way is rookie Kyle Schwarber, who drills two homers and knocks in four.

Then there’s the Mets, who finish a four-game sweep of Colorado with a 12-3 thumping for their 14th win over their last 18 tries, while opening up a 4.5-game lead over Washington (3-1 losers at San Francisco). Noah Syndergaard fires seven innings to win his fifth straight start at home; in fact, all seven of his wins this season have come at Citi Field.

The Rockies, who entered the series leading the NL in runs scored, managed only five tallies in four losses at New York.

Pittsburgh salvages a win from an important three-game series at St. Louis, scoring seven runs and knocking Cardinals starter Lance Lynn (career home ERA at St. Louis: 2.68) out of the box before the end of the first inning. The Bucs’ 10-5 win still leaves them six behind the Cardinals.

Friday, August 14
Boston manager
John Farrell announces that he has stage 1 lymphoma and will step down for the rest of the season to concentrate on eliminating it, which doctors believe he has a good chance of doing. In his absence, the Red Sox—under interim manager Torey Lovullo—respond with their most dominant win on the year, a 15-1 spanking of the Mariners at Fenway Park.

Seattle is the first team in over 100 years to give up as many as 15 runs after pitching a no-hitter in its previous game.

The Yankees come into hostile territory before a full house to take on the red-hot Blue Jays—and come away with a silencing 4-3 victory thanks to Carlos Beltran’s pinch-hit three-run home run in the eighth, right after Toronto ace David Price had been removed from the game. Over is the Jays’ latest 11-game win streak; it’s also the first time in 15 games since they acquired Troy Tulowitzki that they’ve lost with him in the lineup.

The Yankees’ other run, a Chase Headley double just before Beltran’s shot, ends a run of 33 straight scoreless innings against Toronto. That’s the franchise’s longest drought against one opponent since 1909 when the St. Louis Browns (of all teams) kept the then-New York Highlanders scoreless for 36 straight frames.

Also to note: The Yankees have won the last four games in which they faced an opponent with a winning streak of 11 or more games.

The San Diego Padres have never thrown a no-hitter, but at least someone in their uniform finally hits for the cycle. That man is Matt Kemp, who has a home run, single, double and triple in succession at Colorado to give the Padres a 9-5 win.

Corey Kluber faces Minnesota for the second straight time—and throws his second straight complete game against them, this time a one-hitter as the Indians win at Target Field, 6-1. It’s the fourth time this season that Kluber has gone the distance, tying Toronto’s Mark Buehrle for the major league lead.

The Twins’ only hit comes from a Joe Mauer home run; it’s the second time in less than a month that Minnesota has been one-hit with a home run being the sole knock. No other team has done that once in the last five years.

Veteran closer Jose Valverde, last seen being released from a minor league team for the Nationals three weeks ago, is now going to find it very hard to catch on with another major league team. He’s been suspended for 80 games for use of the steroid Stanozolol. (No comment from Valverde.)

Saturday, August 15
David Denson, a 20-year old currently hitting .195 on Milwaukee’s Rookie League team in Helena, Montana, becomes the first active organized baseball player to announce that he’s gay.

Hopefully Denson won’t become a future teammate of the Nationals’ Yunel Escobar, who once wrote out within his eyeblack in Spanish: “You are a faggot.”

A first-inning single at St. Louis for Miami’s Ichiro Suzuki gives the 41-year old 4,192 hits in his professional career, passing Ty Cobb—or so we’re told. At issue is not Suzuki’s career total—we know he previously knocked out 1,278 hits while playing in Japan—but it seems to be noted by that Cobb had accumulated at least 166 hits in the minors before the 4,191 he produced while playing in the majors, which should give him a career total of at least 4,357.

Again, we get into the fuzzy math—or fuzzy record keeping—of ancient baseball records. Minor league stats are considered professional stats, so Cobb’s minor league totals should count unless he and everyone else in his league was playing for charity.

We tweeted John Thorn, MLB’s official historian, for clarification, and he demurred: “The cross-league counting doesn't amount to much, appealing only to Talmudists. Both (Suzuki and Cobb) are among the greats.”

According to a list we compiled a few years ago, Suzuki should be third on the list of all pro baseball players, behind Cobb and Pete Rose (4,683).

For the second straight day, the Pirates go extra innings to outlast the Mets at New York, posting two runs via small-ball hits in the 14th to win, 5-3. Six Pittsburgh relievers combine to allow three hits over 7.2 scoreless innings; the Bucs’ bullpen has now won 15 straight decisions, the longest streak since the Pirates themselves won 22 out of the pen way back in 1909.

A day after racking up 15 runs, the Boston offense really turns it on. The Red Sox pummel Seattle ace Felix Hernandez for ten runs through the first three innings, and don’t let up from there as they pound the Mariners, 22-10. Jackie Bradley Jr., batting ninth with a .203 average and two home runs on the year, has three doubles, two homers and seven RBIs; the five extra-base hits set a Red Sox record and tie a major league mark.

The ten runs are the most ever allowed by Hernandez; the 22 are the most ever allowed by Seattle.

It’s the first time any major league team has accumulated at least 15 runs and 21 hits on successive days since the Red Sox themselves did it back in 1950 when they piled a record 49 runs on the St. Louis Browns over a two-day period.

Bradley Jr. is 13-for-22 with four doubles, two triples, three homers and 13 RBIs over his last five games. Not bad for a guy who had been mired in the low .100’s throughout much of the year.

Finally, here’s a very useless stat you won’t even see the Elias Sports Bureau touch: Boston breaks a 15-game losing streak on games played on the birthday of actor-director Ben Affleck, a devoted Red Sox fan.

The Yankees make it two straight at Toronto as Masahiro Tanaka goes the distance, scattering five hits in a 4-1 win. Tanaka is the first Yankee pitcher to throw a complete game in almost a full year.

Sunday, August 16
It’s Madison Bumgarner’s day in San Francisco against Washington. The Giants ace throws his second straight complete game—this time it’s a shutout—strikes out 14 Nationals and hits his fourth home run of the year. The only other player to accomplish all of the above in one game was Early Wynn in 1959.

It’s Mayday time for the Nationals, most everyone’s pick to win the NL pennant; with their 5-0 loss to the Giants—their sixth straight overall—they are now below .500 (at 58-59) for the first time since May 6.

Trying not to be outdone, the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke hits a home run of his own—and it’s crucial as Los Angeles edges Cincinnati at Chavez Ravine, 2-1 and stays 2.5 games ahead of the Giants in the NL West. Greinke lowers his major league-best ERA to 1.58.

Shelby Miller just can’t get a break. Despite taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning against Arizona at Turner Field, he does not earn a decision as the Braves ultimately win in extras after his departure, 2-1. It’s Miller’s 16th straight start without a win, through no fault of his own; the Braves have averaged exactly two runs per start during this rut, during which his ERA has been an exemplary 3.03.

The Cubs’ seemingly unstoppable momentum crashes into Chris Sale, as the White Sox ace allows but a hit and two walks over seven scoreless innings while striking 15 in the White Sox’ 3-1 win, snapping the Cubs’ nine-game win streak.

After Boston goes bananas with the bats in each of the last two days, it’s Baltimore’s turn. The Orioles slap the A’s around at Camden Yards, 18-2, behind a franchise-tying 26 hits—including five from Gerardo Parra and two homers from Adam Jones.

Bizarre moment: In the eighth inning, the Orioles send to the plate a pitcher, reliever Jason Garcia—against A’s first baseman Ike Davis, on the mound doing emergency pitching duty to relieve an exhausted Oakland bullpen. Garcia walks on four pitches. Davis otherwise allows a hit in throwing a mercifully scoreless inning.

Monday, August 17
A come-from-behind Yankee win at home over Minnesota, 8-7 in ten innings, is marred by the departure of rookie pitcher Bryan Mitchell—who suffers a nasal fracture after being hit by a line-drive comebacker in the second inning. New York catcher Brian McCann has a better night to remember, knocking in five runs while nabbing three of five would-be Twins basestealers.

When Oakland’s Sonny Gray is given the lead, he usually keeps it—except today in Baltimore. The A’s ace has a streak of 29 games won when given a lead snapped as the Orioles take advantage of three errors and tack three unearned runs on the board to give them a 4-2 triumph.

Red-hot Orioles slugger Chris Davis (15 home runs in his last 24 games) is robbed of a home run for the fourth time since July 4, this time by Oakland outfielder Billy Burns.

Tuesday, August 18
Ex-Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski ends a two-week hiatus and moves in as the Red Sox’ new President of Baseball Operations; adding to the recent Boston front office turnover, current general manager Ben Cherington decides that he’ll step away from the team.

Alex Rodriguez extends his all-time career record with his 25th grand slam, a seventh-inning clearance of the bases that gives the Yankees a lead they will not relinquish in their 8-4 victory over the Twins at New York.

The Royals visit Cincinnati and end Reds closer Aroldis Chapman’s home streak of 56 straight saves when Ben Zobrist ties the game with a ninth-inning solo shot; they then rally in the 13th to deliver a 3-1 victory.

Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer ends his own streak of ten straight games with a RBI, the longest run so far this year in the majors.

The banged-up Giants, who today place Hunter Pence on the DL with oblique issues, resort to using pitching star Madison Bumgarner as a pinch-hitter—and it works, as his single starts a two-out rally in the seventh that adds insurance and brings San Francisco a 2-0 victory at St. Louis. The win goes to Ryan Vogelsong, replacing Mike Leake (continued hamstring issues).

Wednesday, August 19
The Phillies’ glory times of recent years become more of a memory with the team’s trading of 13-year star veteran Chase Utley to the Dodgers for two prospects. A six-time All-Star in a Philadelphia uniform, Utley leaves the team eighth among modern (post-1900) Phillies in hits, sixth in home runs and fifth in RBIs; in Los Angeles, he’ll reunite with long-time middle infield teammate Jimmy Rollins.

Ryan Braun becomes the all-time home run leader in Milwaukee Brewers history when he launches his 252th career shot in the sixth inning of the Brewers’ 8-7 home win over Miami. Wily Perlata gets the win despite allowing six runs in five innings.

The Tigers finish off a two-game sweep at Wrigley Field by ripping the Cubs, 15-8 on 21 hits—12 of them for extra bases. It’s also an eventful night for Detroit starting pitcher Daniel Norris; after showing off his slugging muscle by denting the new Wrigley scoreboard behind the bleachers in batting practice, he goes deep in the second inning to become the 19th pitcher to homer in his first career at-bat—then has to leave the game one out into the fifth with an oblique injury that will require a stay on the DL.

Youth gets it done for the Yankees, for a change. Rookie first baseman Greg Bird, playing in just his fifth major league game, accounts for all of New York’s runs with a pair of two-run homers, the first two of his career, to give the Yankees a 4-3 win over the visiting Twins.

Yadier Molina’s 100th career homer, his fourth of the year and his second in the Cardinals’ series against San Francisco, is an eighth-inning solo shot that is the difference in St. Louis’ 4-3 victory over the Giants.

Thursday, August 20
A pair of one-hitters headline the day. In Detroit,
Alfredo Simon enters his start against Texas with a 4.84 season ERA but delivers his first career shutout, allowing just a fifth-inning double to Rougned Odor in the Tigers’ 4-0 victory. Meanwhile down in Houston, the Rays’ Chris Archer—arguably baseball’s most underrated pitcher—fires his own one-hitter, also allowing a walk and striking out 11 within 98 total pitches to defeat the Astros, 1-0.

The Cubs’ Jake Arrieta becomes the majors’ first 15-game winner on the year as he breezes through six shutout innings while Anthony Rizzo’s three-run bomb opens things up in the third as Chicago takes care of Atlanta at Wrigley Field, 7-1.

The Braves have now last 18 of their last 20 road games—their worst such stretch since the awful 1935 team that finished at 38-115.

Friday, August 21
In his fourth start since being traded rather quietly to the Astros from Milwaukee, Mike Fiers fires a 134-pitch no-hitter—the 11th in Houston history—at Minute Maid Park over the Dodgers, the only other team with more no-no’s (12) since the Astros’ birth in 1962. Fiers walks three and strikes out ten in the 3-0 victory.

Fiers is the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter after being traded midseason since 1973 when Jim Bibby threw one for Texas, after starting the season with St. Louis.

Marlon Byrd comes to the rescue for the outfield-depleted Giants, as the 37-year old homers in his first at-bat and has three hits overall in his first game since being traded from Cincinnati in San Francisco’s 6-4 win at Pittsburgh. Also helping out for the Giants—again at the plate as well as on the mound—is Madison Bumgarner, who pokes a two-run homer (his fifth of the year) and throws six-plus innings for his 15th win of the year. The Giants are now just 1.5 games back of the Dodgers in the NL West.

The last Giants pitcher to homer five-plus times in a single season was Hal Schumacher, who had six for the 1934 New Yorkers.

The Mets are starting to think they got a good deal in acquiring Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers. The Cuban émigré launches three homers (including a grand slam) among five hits and knocks in seven runs as New York outlasts the Rockies 14-9 in a Coors Field special at Denver. In 18 games since being traded, Cespedes is hitting .316 with five homers and 15 RBIs.

In the battle for last place in the NL East, Philadelphia’s Jerad Eickhoff tosses six scoreless frames and knocks in two runs on a fourth-inning single as the Phillies roll at Miami, 7-1. Eickhoff is the first starting pitcher since Colorado’s Jason Jennings in 2001 to not allow a run while knocking in two or more runs in his debut.

Saturday, August 22
No, it’s not Groundhog Day: The Mets really do beat the Rockies at Denver again, 14-9. The slugfest features 16 extra-base hits (ten by the Mets), and Colorado starter Chris Rusin allows 11 runs in two innings after throwing a shutout in his previous start at Coors Field.

In the Braves’ 9-7 loss at Chicago, Atlanta switch-hitter Nick Swisher belts two home runs, one from each side of the plate; that’s the 14th time he has accomplished that feat, tying the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira for the most all-time.

The Blue Jays turn on the offense—again—with a 15-3 rout of the Angels at Anaheim. Leading the way—again—is Josh Donaldson, who has four hits including his 34th homer and drives in six to become the first major leaguer to reach 100 RBIs on the year. The win solidifies Toronto’s postseason hopes, while the loss for the Angels drops them a half-game back of Texas for the second wild card spot.

Don’t count out Minnesota from the playoff chase. The Twins reach back to within a game of the second wild card spot with a come-from-behind 3-2 win at Baltimore, with super-prospect Byron Buxton knocking in his first career RBI in his 51st major league at-bat.

Baltimore starter Chris Tillman takes a loss for the first time in 13 starts over nearly three months. He had been 7-0 in between defeats with a 3.47 ERA.

Sunday, August 23
Toronto survives a five-run first by the Angels and registers its 19th double-digit run total of the season to rout Los Angeles of Anaheim, 12-5, and finish off a three-game sweep with a franchise-record 36 runs.

R.A. Dickey becomes the first pitcher in Blue Jays annals to give up five first-inning runs and win.

The Blue Jays reclaim the AL East lead as the Yankees lose at home to Cleveland, 4-3. The news is worse for New York; they lose top pitcher CC Sabathia to the disabled list with a bad knee after lasting just 2.2 innings and allowing two runs on four hits and four walks.

The Mets also set a club mark for most runs scored in a three-game series by finishing off a 33-run sweep of the Rockies at Colorado with a 5-1 victory. As if the Mets don’t need more brilliant young starting pitching, they get it anyway from Logan Verrett, who in his first major league start tames the Rockies for a run over eight innings. It’s New York’s 11th straight victory over Colorado, the longest current win streak by one team over another.

The Cubs pummel the Braves, 9-3, behind five more home runs—including two from rookie Kris Bryant. The 12 homers in the series hit by the Cubs is one shy of the franchise record.

The game is overshadowed by the second serious injury to a fan from a foul ball in three days, the first happening Friday at Detroit. In both cases, the fans are taken to a hospital. Cubs manager Joe Maddon has this simple advice for those sitting close to the action: “When you’re at the ballpark and you're in those particular locations, watch what is going on. Don't turn your head away from the action. Every time a ball is pitched you look, you look and see, then you can go and talk.”

For the fourth time in eight games, the Astros win on a walkoff hit. Today it’s Jason Castro who delivers with a tenth-inning solo homer to give Houston a 3-2 win over the Dodgers, whose beleaguered bullpen fails to hold a 2-1 lead given to them by ace Clayton Kershaw after eight innings.

Is Detroit’s Comerica Park already getting old? After the Rangers defeat the Tigers, 4-2, a chunk of concrete falls onto the main concourse, but most fans had left the 15-year-old ballpark and no one is injured.

The game is the 2,528th played by the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, breaking Julio Franco’s record for the most by a Dominican-born player.

Monday, August 24
It’s Home Run Derby time at Philadelphia, where the Mets—continuing their resurgent hitting form after a series sweep in Colorado—set a franchise record with eight home runs and, along with three deep flies by the Phillies, help tie an all-time NL record with 11 in one game. A major league record is set with ten different players going deep. The Mets, who trail 7-2 before scoring 14 unanswered runs to pull away with a 16-7 rout, also add seven doubles; the 15 total extra-base hits are just two shy of the all-time mark.

The first of New York’s eight dingers comes from David Wright on his first swing since being placed on the shelf back in April with major back issues.

The Mets are just one of three teams on the day to score at least ten unanswered runs after falling behind by five runs. In Cincinnati, the Reds pin a dozen runs on Detroit after trailing 5-0, with ten of those coming in the sixth; Brandon Phillips homers and triples within that frame. And out west in Seattle, the A’s overcome their own 5-0 deficit, notching 11 runs over the final five innings to defeat the Mariners, 11-5.

The Cubs finish off a 14-3 stretch played in Chicago (with three “road” games across town against the White Sox) as Kris Bryant sends everyone home happy with a ninth-inning home run—his 20th overall on the year—to give Chicago a 2-1 victory over Cleveland.

Tuesday, August 25
A day after losing 1-0 at New York, the Astros make up for lost offense with a 15-1 drubbing of the Yankees—scoring all of their runs in the first, fifth and seventh innings. Dallas Keuchel throws seven shutout innings to improve his record to 15-6.

The Yankees take issue to newly acquired Carlos Gomez after he flips the bat while popping out in the sixth inning, leading to a brief clearing of the benches. At topic is the Yankees’ sensitivity to the fact that Gomez is overly upset about making an out when his team is up 9-0.

This is not the first time that Gomez has been yelled out for a frustrating bat flip; when he flips the bat and admires, as he did when hitting a home run at Atlanta a few years back, we can see the argument of the offending team. But when he’s upset with himself, regardless of the score—and that’s often only natural—there’s no reason for anyone else to get ticked off. Knock off the pettiness.

If the Yankees are upset about Gomez, they’re really going to get irate about what’s going on in Texas; the Blue Jays mount a two-run rally in the ninth to edge the Rangers at Arlington, 6-5, and reclaim sole possession of the AL East lead. The win goes to 42-year-old LaTroy Hawkins, while the save is recorded by 20-year-old Roberto Osuna.

The 22-year difference between winner and saver is the most seen in a big league game since Scott Bailes, 24, closed out a win for eventual Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, 48, in a 1987 game for Cleveland.

The Mets’ power is turned down—they only hit one homer at Philadelphia a night after smacking eight—but they’re still potent enough to churn out a 6-5 win over the Phillies. Noah Syndergaard survives a shaky four-run third inning to earn his first career road win, and eighth overall.

A day after blowing a 5-0 lead to Oakland, the Mariners get revenge by fighting back from a 5-0 deficit to beat the A’s, 6-5, at Safeco Field. Nelson Cruz sparks the Seattle comeback with a solo homer in the fourth, his league-leading 38th of the season.

Wednesday, August 26
Justin Verlander is three outs away from his third career no-hitter when the Angels’ Chris Iannetta leads off the ninth with a double to spoil the bid. The veteran ace completes the one-hit shutout, the seventh of his career, as the Tigers prevail at home, 5-0.

After a poor, injury-belated start to the year, Verlander is 2-3 over his last seven starts—but with a 1.38 ERA.

The hot-and-cold Twins are hot again, winning their sixth straight game with a 5-3 victory at Tampa Bay to reclaim the second spot in the AL wild card race. Shortstop Eduardo Escobar belts two home runs in the victory.

Shleby Miller’s hard-luck journey continues. The Atlanta pitcher can’t hold onto a 3-0 lead in the seventh as Colorado takes the lead, knocks him out and defeats the Braves at Turner Field, 6-3. It’s Miller’s 18th straight start without a win—easily the longest by an All-Star pitcher; the old record was 13 by Nolan Ryan.

The Blue Jays’ offense is so good, they don’t need help from opposing pitchers—but they get it anyway at Arlington as four Rangers combine to walk 11 Toronto batters while throwing three wild pitches, handing the Jays with another double-digit win, 12-4. David Price eases through six innings to take his 99th career victory on his 30th birthday.

Thursday, August 27
Barry Bonds’ bid to collect on his accusation of collusion is denied by an arbitrator, who rules that MLB teams did not conspire to keep him from playing beyond the 2007 season. The disputed home run king received no offers from any team to play in 2008, when he would have turned 43, despite a fairly potent swan song in San Francisco the year before when he hit 28 homers in 340 at-bats with a NL-best .480 on-base percentage.

The Mets finish off a four-game sweep in Philadelphia, coming from five runs down for the second time in four games against the Phillies with a 9-5, 13-inning triumph. It’s New York’s seventh straight win overall, and with three home runs tonight establish a monthly club mark with 43 blasts in August.

Shortly after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred discusses fan safety to media at Citizens Bank Park, a fan is hit in the head from a foul ball. She’s dazed and banged up from the incident but does not go to the hospital.

A day after David Price takes his 99th victory at Texas, the Rangers’ Yovani Gallardo does him one better by winning his 100th career game, helping the Rangers to salvage a 4-1 victory from the visiting Blue Jays and avoid a sweep. Gallardo is one of 32 active pitchers with at least 100 wins.

The Dodgers finish off a three-game sweep of the checked-out Reds (5-19 in August) with a 1-0 victory at Cincinnati, as Zack Greinke doesn’t allow a run for the tenth time this year while lowering his MLB-best season ERA to 1.61.

After the game, Reds owner Bob Castellini criticizes the Reds’ recent play but says that manager Bryan Price will not be fired—not before the end of the season, anyway.

Friday, August 28
Another general manager has been given a pink slip, and this time it’s Jack Zduriencik, whose often-combative reign comes to an end at Seattle for a Mariners team that has greatly disappointed in 2015. Zduriencik is the fifth GM to be fired this season.

Vin Scully, who turns 88 in November, announces that he’ll be returning to the Dodgers’ broadcast booth in 2016 for a 67th—and final—season. His schedule will likely remain the same, doing work at home games and selected regional road games only.

We’ve said all of this before but it’s worth repeating: It’s amazing that Scully has worked for the Dodgers for so long that he once broadcasted games at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field with Jackie Robinson in the lineup. In fact, we looked it up and, chances are, here’s some of the players Scully did play-by-play of during his first year broadcasting in 1950: Kirby Higbe, Walker Cooper, Harry Brecheen, Phil Cavarretta, Johnny Vander Meer and Dutch Leonard.

Scully is an absolute treasure, a walking collection of countless stories he seemingly and effortlessly picks out of his cranial filing cabinet to relay to numerous generations of fans during his broadcasts. And he does it all alone, tirelessly, for all nine innings every night. If you’re looking for a list of reasons to get for 2016, Scully’s presence on Dodgers home broadcasts should top it.

The Mets’ seven-game win streak is history, but do not blame Matt Harvey, who gives New York six scoreless innings with eight strikeouts before the bullpen blows things up and allows the visiting Red Sox to score six times over the next four innings, including three in the tenth to hand the Mets a 6-4 loss.

Catcher Blake Swihart ignites the tenth-inning rally for the Red Sox with what umpires rule an inside-the-park home run—even though the ball hit over the orange line on the Citi Field center-field wall. Boston declines to review the call since, either way, Swihart scores. He is credited with the first inside-the-parker at Citi Field since 2010.

This is Harvey’s 60th career start, and in a modern era-record 31 of them he has given up one or none runs; but of those 31, he has only won 14.

The Cardinals come to AT&T Park for the first time since losing the NLCS to the Giants last October and lose 5-4 on a ninth-inning, walkoff hit from Kelby Tomlinson. The first four runs by San Francisco comes off the bat of the recently acquired Marlon Byrd, who belts a third-inning grand slam—a San Francisco era-record eighth for the year—off Cardinals starter Michael Wacha, who served up Travis Ishikawa’s Game Five, series-winning blast last year. It was Byrd’s first hit in 19 career at-bats against Wacha.

In the NL West race, the Giants remain 2.5 games back of the first-place Dodgers, and they’re now 3.5 games behind Chicago for the final wild card spot after the Cubs lose at Los Angeles and Clayton Kershaw, 4-1.

Yankee shortstop Didi Gregorius may never fill the shoes of Derek Jeter, but he does something the retired legend never did; knock in six runs in one game, as he does tonight in New York’s 15-6 rout of the Braves at Atlanta.

Saturday, August 29
There continues to be no stopping the Toronto offense and, today especially, Edwin Encarnacion—who extends his hitting streak to a MLB season-high 24 games with a thunderous display during a 15-1 rout of Detroit. Encarnacion drills a three-run homer in the first, a two-run shot in the sixth and, an inning later, caps it off with a grand slam to give him three homers and a club record-tying nine RBIs. In pure hockey style, numerous Rogers Centre fans among the 46,444 in attendance celebrate Encarnacion’s third blast by throwing their caps on the field, delaying the game.

This is Encarnacion’s second career hat trick; he previously did it in 2010 for Toronto.

At Atlanta before a crowd of 49,243—the largest at Turner Field this season—the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez is approaching the plate for a pinch-hit role against the Braves in the top of the seventh when a 60-year-old season ticket holder seated in the upper deck approaches the front railing yelling at Rodriguez—and accidentally falls below to his death. Ballpark medics quickly try to revive the man to no avail as witnesses, many of them family members of the players on the field, are traumatized by what they see. The Yankees will win the game, 3-1, but needless to say a pall is cast over the proceedings.

The game is not stopped and, even more puzzling, the FS1 broadcast crew carrying the game nationally—after witnessing the fall and expressing initial shock on air—say nothing whatsoever about it for the remaining ten minutes of the half-inning, later giving updates throughout the rest of the game.

This is the third time a fan has died at Turner Field in its 18-plus years of operation. The last one, two years ago, was a suicide when a man jumped from the back of the upper level, away from the sight of seated spectators.

Sunday, August 30
Jake Arrieta becomes the most popular Jake in Chicago since Joliet Jake Blues. The Cubs’ ace—if you thought Jon Lester held that title, forget it—finishes off an incredible August (see NL Pitcher of the Month at right) by no-hitting the Dodgers at Los Angeles, 2-0. Arrieta strikes out 12 including the final three batters he faces, walks one and watches another reach base on an error.

It’s the second time in ten days that the Dodgers have been no-hit. That’s the shortest time span between being no-hit since the Philadelphia Athletics were victimized twice within four days in 1923. The Dodgers have also break a tie with the Phillies for the most times no-hit ever, at 19.

This is the 30th no-hitter thrown during the 2010s. There were only 15 tossed for all of the 2000s.

The game is also noted as the first nationally televised broadcast of a major league game with a woman as part of the play-by-play team. Jessica Mendoza fills in on the ESPN telecast for color commentator Curt Schilling, who was suspended for the week after posting an infographic on Twitter deemed insensitive by the network.

Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte pitches the final two innings of the A’s 7-4, 11-inning win at Arizona and picks up his first career win. He is now 1-2 with a 3.31 ERA in 13 appearances.

The Texas Rangers strengthen their hold on the second AL wild card spot with a 6-0 victory at Arlington over the Orioles, who have now lost nine of ten. Derek Holland is masterful for Texas, throwing a three-hit shutout—the seventh of his career—while striking out 11 in just his fourth start of the season.

After falling behind 10-2 in the first inning, Japan storms back to take the Little League World Series with an 18-11 victory over the top American team from Lewisberry, Pennsylvania. It’s the tenth time—and fourth in the last six years—that a Japanese team has won the LLWS title.

Monday, August 31
In the first of a three-game series between the NL West’s top two teams, the Dodgers need 14 innings and over five hours to outlast the Giants at Chavez Ravine, 5-4. The highly criticized Dodger bullpen allows just one run over nine innings of work; Los Angeles now holds a 4.5-game lead over San Francisco.

The Astros extend their lead in the AL West to four games with an 8-3 victory over the Mariners at Houston. Dallas Keuchel allows a run over seven innings and is now 12-0 at Minute Maid Park this season.

Shelby Miller takes the mound for the Braves—so naturally, his teammates take the night off. Once again, the All-Star pitcher easily throws well enough to earn the win—like Keuchel above, he yields but a run over seven frames—but the Braves do not cross the plate once against Miami in a 4-0 loss at Turner Field.

Miller is now winless in 19 straight starts, and is 5-12 for the year—with a 2.56 ERA that’s the NL’s seventh best.

The Comebacker's Greatest Hits: Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2008 season.

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