This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: August, 2016
The Sad Last Week of Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankee It's Gary Sanchez's Show
Francisco Mejia’s Big Minor Hit Streak Ichiro Suzuki at 3,000

Best and Worst of the Week

Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins

126 27 38 9 2 13 27 10 1 0 3

How did the Twins lose 13 in a row the way this guy was raking? (Oh yeah, it was the pitching. See below.) While 13 was quite the unlucky number for the Twinkees, the 29-year-old leadoff slugger could embrace the number personally after smashing that many homers for the month—two shy of the franchise record set by Harmon Killebrew in May 1959. (His 24 extra-base hits did set a team mark.) With Minnesota playing for nothing more than simple respect in September, Dozier will probably get a rest here and there—otherwise, he’s a lock for his third straight season of 100+ runs and has a shot at 40 homers, something no Twin has done since…you guessed it, Killebrew, back in 1970.

Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

104 27 37 4 1 10 36 16 2 0 0

There was a time when New Yorkers used to argue over who was the better center fielder in town—Mays, Mantle or Snider? The hottest debate today might be who’s the better third baseman in the majors: The Cubs’ Kris Bryant, or Arenado? Both had a spectacular month, but we’ll give the edge to Arenado, the 25-year-old slugger who’s on his way to his second straight season of 40-plus homers and 130-plus RBIs—assuming he stays on pace. (All this, and his glove remains among the game’s best.) The MVP talk will center more on Bryant because the Cubs are gunning for a world title while the Rockies are again below .500, but as we said when picking our All-Stars back in June: If you had first pick in a fantasy league and could choose between these two, who would you really go with? We thought so.

Jose Iglesias, Detroit Tigers

42 1 6 0 0 0 1 2 0 2 0

There was a time not so long ago when the Cuban shortstop looked to be a rising star with the Red Sox, but now his spot is taken by Xander Bogaerts, and Iglesias has been all but forgotten at Fenway. Sad thing is, he might also become forgotten at Comerica Park if he has more months like August. Granted, Iglesias’ lousy numbers above weren’t helped by a hamstring injury that kept him out at mid-month. He could be and has been a .300 hitter, but this recent slide has dropped his season average to a weak .245, with the usual lack of power.

Josh Reddick, Los Angeles Dodgers

87 11 14 1 0 0 1 6 0 0 1

One of the main reasons the Dodgers sent Yasiel Puig to the minors (and then on waivers) was their pick-up of the veteran outfielder from Oakland a month earlier—but it’s too bad Reddick left his bat up in the Bay Area. He didn’t even have a RBI until his final at-bat of the month—remember, he once hit 32 homers in a season—and his defense and baserunning was unusually suspect to boot. Maybe the Dodgers are at their wits’ end with Puig, but surely he could have done better than this

Carlos Rodon, Chicago White Sox

3-0 30.2 24 6 5 7 0 1 0 2 26

We often see this guy’s last name and can’t help but to confuse it with that noxious gas (oh, that’s radon) or that flying pterodactyl of Japanese monster movie fame (oh, that’s Rodan). Maybe we’ll have it memorized better after a wonderfully consistent month in which he gave the White Sox some six solid innings of work every time he was given the ball, solidifying his season numbers after entering August with a 2-8 record and 4.67 ERA. If he can keep this up, it will be one more reason for the White Sox not to performing below .500.

Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs

4-0 42.1 26 6 6 6 1 1 0 0 36

With reigning Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and two big-time veterans in Jon Lester and John Lackey in the Cubs’ rotation fold, Hendricks has quietly become the team’s John Entwistle; he’s not the first guy you think about, but the band might fall apart without him. (That’s a Who reference, for those still scratching their heads.) But now the lanky 26-year old Californian enters the season’s final month as a possible Cy guy, lowering his season ERA to a MLB-best 2.09 while having not allowed more than three earned runs in each of his last 19 starts, the longest active streak in the bigs. You’re front and center, my man; just don’t play Boris the Spider.

James Shields, Chicago White Sox

0-4 26 46 34 33 11 0 5 1 0 17

Big James’ big-ass rollercoaster ride of 2016 uncontrollably continues. After righting the ship in July after a terrible June, the 35-year-old vet fell off the rails once again in August, getting hammered with a .383 opposing average and an eye-opening 12 home runs allowed as he dropped to 5-16 between the Padres and White Sox this season. Shields’ season ERA sits at a deplorable 5.89, but at this point the White Sox would be thrilled if he gave up just 5.89 runs per nine innings.

Logan Verrett, New York Mets

0-3 11.1 17 17 17 8 0 2 1 0 8

The Mets have so many fine young pitchers, but the 26-year-old Texan right-hander hasn’t been pitching like one of them of late. Verrett only got the call to the rotation because of injuries to others and couldn’t make it happen, barely surviving one start against the Yankees before getting knocked silly in later outings against the Tigers and Padres. That latter effort—in which he surrendered four homers in less than three innings to San Diego—is what finally forced the Mets to give him some minor league R&R in Vegas

Kansas City Royals (20-9)

Our reports of the Royals’ demise last month appear to have been greatly exaggerated. Back then it seemed that the stat nerds had finally won the day and bragged about a Kansas City team that could no longer play above its numbers-challenged head. Oh, but not so fast, my Big Bang Theorist friends. The defending champs sprung off the canvas floor with a remarkable rebound that included excellent starting pitching from Ian Kennedy and Danny Duffy, a revived bullpen that put together baseball’s longest consecutive scoreless inning streak in 50 years, and a return to aggressive screw-your-metrics hitting. Kansas City began August below .500—and ends it thick of the wild card race

Chicago Cubs (22-6)

After a brief mid-summer recess, the Cubs are firmly back in class and have re-established themselves as the best team in the majors. Not since 1945—coincidentally, the last year the Cubs made it to the World Series—has this team won more games in a month; they did it with knockout pitching (led by Kyle Hendricks, above) and a relentless offense paced by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, two guys currently joisting for MVP bragging rights. Everything’s all fine and dandy now, but the biggest obstacle yet remains: Winning it all.

Minnesota Twins (9-20)

If you parlayed on betting the over and against the Twins for all their games in August, congratulations—you’re rich. Just when Minnesota felt it was finally getting its bearings straight, it all went out of whack—again. A 13-game losing skid—longest in the majors this year—spun the Twins back into the abyss after a 9-7 start to the month; it’s their third streak of eight more losses this season. The offense was not to blame; only two AL teams scored more runs. That leaves us with the pitching, for whom opponents hit .301 against while all starters not named Ervin Santana posted an 8.16 ERA. Even Atlanta now has a better record than these guys.

Milwaukee Brewers (10-20)

If you like it fast, loose and sloppy, then skip the midnight lounge and slide over to Miller Park, where you’ll find a Brewers team that leads the majors in steals, strikeouts and errors. Okay, so one out of three ain’t bad, but the Black & Blue Crew took a beating this past month and is threatening to slip to the NL Central basement as the Reds continue to turn the corner from their own recent miseries. Some will say that losing Jonathan Lucroy to the Rangers last month hurt—but honestly, the team was never that good with him, either.

Wild Pitches

Yes, They Can’t Believe This Really Happened
(August 2016 Edition)

Maybe the Fan Mistook Him for Santa Claus
During a Giants-Phillies game in Philadelphia, home plate umpire Bob Davidson ejected a fan sitting behind one of the dugouts after being heckled with both foul language and sexual references. “You could have your wife, girlfriend, kids; they buy tickets,” Davidson said after the game. “They don’t have to come here and listen to that.” But maybe they should expect that in Philadelphia.

When Will You Little Fans Ever Learn
Joey Votto was so incensed that a first-row Reds fan interfered with his catching a foul ball that he briefly grabbed the fan’s shirt in anger before turning and walking away. Realizing he went a little too far, Votto later gave the fan a ball with his autograph and an apology written upon it, and even posed with him for a picture in between innings.

Thank Goodness for the Souvenir Store
San Diego pitcher Paul Clemens had to switch to a uniform with a different number and the name “Player” atop it after soiling his regular jersey with so much pine tar that umpires wouldn’t allow him to wear it.

Bobb’s Your Uncle Tom
At the last minute, the Red Sox decided against giving out David Ortiz bobbleheads for an August 9 game because they looked too “racially insensitive.” You make the call.

Last in the AL Central, First in Weather Forecasting
On August 10, the Astros and Twins were rained out at Minneapolis on a night that umbrellas were handed out to the first 10,000 fans as a scheduled promotion.

That’s Nacho Good for You
A Pirates fan got himself a little messy trying to catch a foul ball.

At Least it Didn’t Smell
In the latest snafu at the Oakland Coliseum, a Star Wars-themed postgame fireworks show was muffled when the sound system providing music and sound effects went dead. As A’s beat writer Susan Slusser noted, the only sound heard at that point: “Boos.”

Smack My Ballpark D.J. Up
A Cubs employee queued up and played Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up as Aroldis Chapman, suspended earlier in the year for a domestic abuse incident, left the mound during a game at Wrigley Field. Needless to say, that employee was promptly fired.

Okay, Who Let Flo do the Valet Parking?
The great news for Brandon Thomas of the Independent Frontier League’s Gateway Grizzlies was that he drilled a grand slam. The bad news? The ball made a direct hit and smashed the windshield of his own truck.

Shoe on This
The A’s Danny Valencia punched teammate Billy Butler in the head—landing him on the seven-day concussion list—after Butler recommended that a shoe rep cancel an endorsement deal with Valencia because he was wearing a competitor’s shoes during games.

Just Change Your Name to Thor and Be Done With It
MLB Shop put up an ad on the Mets’ web site showing a fan wearing a Noah Syndergaard jersey—except that the name was spelled “Synedrgaard.” The young pitcher picked up on it and tweeted, “Now you’re messing with me right?”

Urine in Big Trouble
Texas reliever Jeremy Jeffress accidentally relieved himself twice while stumbling through a sobriety test after getting pulled over by Dallas County cops on August 26. He was booked and jailed on a DUI charge, but released on bail the next morning.

From QB to OB?
Former would-be wunderkind quarterback Tim Tebow decided that he might also be not so good at baseball and held a tryout that actually drew the interest of 20 MLB clubs. He got one immediate offer, from a baseball team in the Venezuelan winter league.

This Month’s Proof That Everybody’s Striking Out
Like a cancerous growth, baseball’s malady of strikeouts continues to worsen as officials keep banging their heads against the wall trying to find a cure. There was a total of 6,786 Ks recorded in August, tipping the previous mark for a month set just this past May (6,726). It was just six years ago that the majors hit 6,000 for the first time; we’re not far away from a 7,000-K month.

More Proof That Everybody’s Striking Out
On August 7 against Texas, Houston reliever Ken Giles struck out six batters…in 1.2 innings. One of those K’s came on a third-strike wild pitch that allowed the batter to reach safely, a strikeout for which Giles still gets credit for—even though it’s officially not an out. We’ll explain it all someday.

League vs. League

All hail the American League once more. With the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim sweeping the Cincinnati Reds to end the month, the Junior Circuit clinched its 13th straight year of interleague dominance, reaching 151 wins out of 300 to be played this year. Overall, the AL enjoys a 152-122 advantage over the National League after a terrific (37-23) August.

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Monday, August 1
The transaction wire runs fast and furious as several big names are dealt before today’s trading deadline. Among those involved:

The Texas Rangers, mostly in need of starting pitching, bulk up just about everywhere else on their roster. Arriving is catcher Jonathan Lucroy and closer Jeremy Jeffress (from Milwaukee), and 39-year-old slugger Carlos Beltran from the New York Yankees.

The Rangers, leading the AL West, are going to cross their fingers and hope that their fragile rotation doesn’t fall apart down the stretch. And while Beltran is a loaner (he’s a free agent at season’s end), Lucroy is theirs through 2017 and Jeffress is arbitration-eligible over each of the next three years.

The Yankees, having already dealt relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, continue to be in a giving mood. Besides Beltran, they also deal starting pitcher Ivan Nova to Pittsburgh.

All of these trades net the Yankees a load of prospects to help regenerate an organization that has historically relied on big-name, big-budget veteran talent; a couple of key retirement speeches in the days to come will further establish the Yankees as a team in rebuild mode.

The top two teams in the NL West are active in tweaking their rosters. First-place San Francisco acquires Matt Moore from the Rays in a deal that sends young third baseman Matt Duffy to Tampa Bay, while also picking reliever Will Smith from the Brewers. The Los Angeles Dodgers, meanwhile, acquire outfielder Josh Reddick and starting pitcher Rich Hill from Oakland.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers send one-time All-Star outfielder Yasiel Puig, scuffling and hurt for much of the past season-plus, to the minors.

The defending NL champion New York Mets, trying to stay relevant in this year’s playoff race, acquire outfielder Jay Bruce from the Cincinnati Reds. Bruce, who has gotten himself back on track after a couple of subpar seasons, has a $13 million club option for 2017.

The Bruce deal vindicates one of the easier predictions from our 2016 season preview; that between Bruce, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, one of them would be traded by the Reds by August 1.

Several players go back to where they once belonged. The Pirates send Jonathon Niese back to the New York Mets, less than a year after leaving them for free agency. Tampa Bay sends platoon veteran Steve Pearce back to the Baltimore Orioles. And pitcher Colin Rea, just acquired by Miami along with Andrew Cashner, is returned to San Diego after hurting his elbow and being placed on the disabled list after just one start with the Marlins.

Minnesota rookie Max Kepler becomes the 13th player this season—and the first ever by a major leaguer born in Berlin, Germany—to hit three home runs in a game. Kepler’s hat trick, along with six RBIs, propels the Twins to a 12-5 rout of the Indians in Cleveland.

Kepler has hit 12 of his 15 homers within the last calendar month.

Kansas City’s Danny Duffy strikes out a Royals record 16 and takes a no-hitter into the eight inning before Tampa Bay’s Desmond Jennings breaks it up with a leadoff double. Duffy leaves after the eighth and gets credit for the 3-0 win over the Rays; taking the loss is Chris Archer, who now leads the majors with 15 defeats.

Meanwhile, Washington’s Stephen Strasburg is the first pitcher to get to 15 wins, getting plenty of help on offense—including from himself, with three hits—as the Nationals stomp all over the Diamondbacks at Phoenix, 14-1.

Kyle Hendricks tosses a seven-hit shutout and lowers his season ERA to 2.22—good for third best in the majors—as the Cubs roll over the Marlins at Chicago, 5-0. Anthony Rizzo stars for the Cubs on offense, finishing a home run short of a cycle.

Tuesday, August 2
It’s a painfully active day for major leaguers being admitted to the disabled list. Two shortstops who are top NL Rookie of the Year candidates—Colorado’s Trevor Story and St. Louis Aledmys Diaz—both go on the shelf with thumb injuries; Story, who was on pace for 40 homers, is out for the season while Diaz may miss up to a month. Also hitting the Ouch Couch is Cleveland pitcher (and AL Cy Young Award candidate) Danny Salazar (right elbow inflammation), Atlanta ace Julio Teheran (strained right lat muscle), the Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes (strained quad) and young Philadelphia pitcher Aaron Nolan (sprained right elbow).

The injuries to Story and Diaz all but assure that Los Angeles shortstop Corey Seager will now win NL rookie honors.

Jose Bautista belts his 300th career home run, Edwin Encarnacion adds another solo shot and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey deals seven sharp innings (no walks, no passed balls) to give the Toronto Blue Jays a 2-1 edge over the Astros at Houston.

It’s interesting to note: Bautista didn’t belt his first career homer until his 134th at-bat. Only three other players with 300 homers accrued more at-bats to start a career without a long ball: Ivan Rodriguez, Andre Dawson and Rogers Hornsby.

In his first appearance for the Boston Red Sox after being traded by Minnesota, reliever Fernando Abad gives up a three-run homer to the Mariners’ Robinson Cano in the eighth inning, giving Seattle a 5-4 lead that will stick to the end. Abad now owns a career 6-25 record.

Wednesday, August 3
Miami closer A.J. Ramos is called upon to save a 4-2 Marlins lead at Chicago in the ninth, but a wild Ramos can’t even save himself. He walks three, hits another batter and, with the game-winning run at third base, uncorks a wild pitch that misses home plate by five feet and wins the game for the Cubs. 5-4. Of the 35 pitches Ramos throws in his fateful inning, only 13 are for strikes.

The Marlins had previously won all 53 games this season in which they led going into the ninth inning.

As the Indians are getting beat up once more against Minnesota—as the Twins go double-digits for the third night in a row—their lead in the AL Central shrinks to two games as the second-place Detroit Tigers pick up their eight straight win, 2-1 over the visiting Chicago White Sox. The hero for the Tigers is J.D. Martinez, who takes the first pitch he sees in 48 days over the wall in the eighth for the ultimate game-winning run. Chris Sale goes the distance and absorbs the loss for Chicago.

The Giants squander an early 4-0 lead as the Phillies bounce back and take a 5-4 win in 12 innings on Maikel Franco’s RBI single. For a moment, it looks like the Merkle Boner all over again when Aaron Altherr, running from first, never bothers to touch second. The run would have been nullified had there been two outs—but because there’s only one, the run counts, and Franco’s single is reduced to a fielder’s choice.

The International Olympic Committee announces that baseball will return to the Summer Olympics in 2020 after a 12-year absence. The decision was probably based on a bit of lobbying from Japan, which will host the 2020 games. As before, the United States will likely fill their Olympics roster with college players instead of major leaguers who would have to break from the middle of the 2020 season.

Thursday, August 4
Francisco Mejia, a top Cleveland prospect who nearly became part of the Milwaukee organization until Jonathan Lucroy vetoed a trade from the Brewers to the Indians, collects a hit in his 46th straight game for Single-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League—giving him the longest hitting streak seen in the minors since 1954. Mejia is 23 games shy of the all-time professional record set in 1919 by Joe Wilhoit, who chalked up a 69-game run playing for Wichita of the Western League.

In case you were wondering, Wilhoit never played a day in the majors. The man who’s second on the minors’ all-time hit streak list did: Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 61 straight games for the 1933 San Francisco Seals, eight years before embarking on his legendary 56-game run for the Yankees.

Los Angeles of Anaheim rookie Ji-Man Choi belts two homers—and is robbed of a third by Oakland outfielder Coco Crisp—but it’s all not enough as the A’s outlast the Angels at Anaheim in ten innings, 8-6.

Had Choi gotten his three homers, he would have been the third rookie to do so this season, a major league first.

Jay Bruce’s first home run as a member of the Mets is a three-run blast that caps a four-run fifth, and Bartolo Colon throws 6.2 solid innings to earn his tenth win of the year in a 4-1 victory. Colon now matches CC Sabathia for the most seasons (13) with ten-plus wins among active pitchers; he matches Bobo Newsom by defeating the Yankees for a fifth different team; and is the first player to win games for both the Mets and Yankees in the Subway Series.

The Reds, who collapsed down the stretch to end last season, are so far showing to be one of the hottest teams since the All-Star break, taking their sixth straight series (their longest such streak since 1999) with a 7-0 silencing of the visiting St. Louis Cardinals. Brandon Finnegan tosses six innings of two-hit shutout ball for Cincinnati.

The Indians reverse recent misfortune and finally quell the Twins, 9-2, on four homers—none of them hit by Mike Napoli, who sees the end of a personal streak of five straight games going deep. Nevertheless, the Indians increase their lead in the AL Central to three games as the Tigers have their eight-game win streak snapped at home by the White Sox, 6-3.

Elias notes that the game marks the first time that a team’s four starting infielders each go deep—while at the same time, all three starting outfielders have an assist on defense.

Friday, August 5
Mark Teixeira, wrapping up an eight-year, $180 million deal at age 36, announces that this will be his final season in the majors. He had hoped to play as much as another five years, but constant pain in his neck and other recent maladies led him to think otherwise. “If I’m going to grind through seasons not being healthy, I’d rather be home with my kids,” he tearfully admits in a press conference.

The wear and tear of the last five years has caught up to Teixeira, who early in his career had something of an iron-man reputation—logging all 162 games in successive seasons for the Rangers (in 2005-06) and playing in at least 156 games over his first three years with New York. The switch-hitter has hit 30 homers in a year nine times, knocked in 100 runs in eight, and scored 100 or more in five.

Teixeira’s 404 career home runs and .269 average will probably not be enough to get him to Cooperstown, but he’ll get more than just a few votes.

We know what you might be thinking, but it isn’t so: The Yankees will not play the Red Sox on the final day of the regular season, which would have been a cool thing with both Teixeira and David Ortiz playing their last game.

Devon Travis belts a leadoff home run to open the Blue Jays’ game at Kansas City, then goes deep a second time with two outs in the ninth to give Toronto a 4-3 victory over the Royals and keep the Jays tied for first in the AL East with Baltimore. Travis is only the fourth player ever to hit a homer to lead off a game and then drill a game-winning shot with two outs in the final frame.

The defending champion Royals, now owners of the AL’s fifth worst record (51-58), set a franchise record by scoring three or fewer runs in their ninth straight game.

Boston stays within two games of the Orioles and Jays with a 9-0 rout of the Dodgers in Los Angeles behind knuckleballer Steven Wright—who throws his first career shutout and fourth complete game of the year some 15 miles north of his birthplace in Torrance. Wright is now 13-5 on the season.

Also throwing a three-hit shutout is Dallas Keuchel in easily his best (and most important, to date) performance of the year, defeating first-place Texas at Houston 5-0 to pull the Astros to within 5.5 games of the Rangers. It is only the second win in 11 tries for the Astros against Texas this season.

It appears that the Tim Lincecum experiment in Anaheim can be officially termed a failure. After Albert Pujols puts the Angels ahead in the top of the first at Seattle with a three-run jack, the former two-time Cy Young Award winner allows the Mariners to chalk up six runs in the bottom half of the frame. That initial outburst is all the Mariners need to preserve a 6-4 victory. After the game, Lincecum—2-6 with a 9.16 ERA in nine starts for the Angels—will be designated for assignment.

Oakland strength and conditioning coach Mike Henriques is suspended by the A’s after he admitted installing a hidden camera in the team’s weight room to check on rehabbing players without their knowledge. “This was the misguided action of one employee,” said A’s executive vice president Billy Beane. “While (his) intentions were good his judgment was very poor.”

Saturday, August 6
The Marlins head into the sixth inning at Colorado with a 3-1 lead over the Rockies, but at Coors Field, that’s nothing—and sure enough, the Rockies explode for ten runs over the next two innings and eventually romp, 12-6, to move to .500 on the season and stay relevant in the wild card chase. Miami loses despite Ichiro Suzuki’s 2,999th career hit and a 504-foot home run from Giancarlo Stanton, the longest in Coors Field history; the Rockies’ win is aided by rookie David Dahl, who collects three hits and now has at least one in each of his first 12 games as a major leaguer—five short of the all-time record to start a career, held by Chuck Aleno in 1941.

The Indians poke out single runs in five of the last six innings and defeat the Yankees at New York, 5-2; getting a 1-2-3 save for Cleveland is Andrew Miller, traded from the Yankees just a week earlier.

Jonathan Lucroy, who exed a deal to the Brewers, smokes two solo home runs for the Rangers—the team he did accept a trade to—and it proves crucial in a 3-2 win at Houston.

The Brewers are finding life without Lucroy to be no problem, especially on this day at Phoenix. Milwaukee pounds the Diamondbacks, 15-6, with 30 batters reaching base (19 hits, ten walks and a hit batsman), highlighted by Ryan Braun’s two homers and seven RBIs and a five-hit day for rookie Keon Broxton (who entered the day hitting .170).

Things have gone from bad to worse for Arizona, who had such high hopes before Opening Day. Its 44-66 record is tied for the majors’ second worst, its 18-39 mark at home is far and away the worst, and its staff ERA in 20 games since the All-Star break is a horrid 6.72.

Sunday, August 7
Alex Rodriguez, having just turned 41 and reduced to a bench role for the Yankees amid a year-long drought, announces at a Sunday morning press conference that he’ll be stepping down from the game on August 12 after a series of discussions with team management. Based on his own comments and those of the Yankee brass to follow, it seems somewhat apparent that Rodriguez was forced into bowing out after being threatened with an outright release. As part of the deal to step down, Rodriguez will remain with the club as a special advisor, helping to tutor up-and-coming players in the Yankee organization. He will be paid the remaining $28 million on a contract that runs through 2017.

Rodriguez, who has 696 career home runs, does not play in the Yankees’ 3-2 victory later in the day over Cleveland, and it’s unlikely he’ll get many at-bats—if any at all—in the four remaining games before his final game on August 12 against Tampa Bay at Yankee Stadium. This likely means he’ll finish his career shy of the 700 mark surpassed by the three players ahead of him on the all-time home run list—Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds.

Ichiro Suzuki becomes the majors’ 30th member of the 3,000-hit club when he launches a triple to deep right field in the seventh inning of the Marlins’ 10-7 win over Colorado at Coors Field. He is the first Japanese native to reach the milestone, the second oldest (after Cap Anson, way back in 1897) to do so, and only the second (after Paul Molitor) to do it with a triple.

Singles have made up 81.5% of Suzuki’s career hit total, the highest among the 30 players with 3,000 or more hits.

Baltimore’s Manny Machado goes deep in each of the first three innings—only the second major leaguer to do so (Carl Reynolds, 1930 Yankees) and knocks in seven runs as the Orioles blast the White Sox at Chicago, 10-2. Machado has three additional at-bats to add to the carnage, but is retired each time—twice on grounders, the other on a line out.

Mike Cameron also homered within his first three innings of his four-homer effort in 2002, but not in each of the first three frames; two of them came amid a ten-run, first-inning rally.

Adrian Gonzalez launches his 300th career home run and Rob Segedin sets a Dodger record with four RBIs in his major league debut to give Los Angeles an 8-5 home win over Boston. The victory moves the Dodgers to within a game of the NL West-leading Giants (1-0 losers at Washington).

Miguel Sano is too big for Tropicana Field—literally, in one instance. In the Twins’ 6-3 win over Tampa Bay, the Minnesota slugger cranks out two homers and, in another at-bat, becomes the first player ever to hit the top of the domed ballpark’s ceiling before falling back down and into the glove of the Rays’ Evan Longoria for a pop out.

Monday, August 8
Brandon Crawford becomes the first major leaguer in 41 years—and the third National Leaguer ever—with seven hits in a game, his final one a RBI single in the 14th that ultimately gives the Giants an 8-7 win over the Marlins at Miami. Having trailed earlier in the game 5-1, the Giants have now won five times this season after trailing by four or more runs. Only one other team has as many such wins, and that team is…

…the Cardinals, who are down 4-0 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth before embarking on a frenzied rally to defeat the Reds, 5-4. Two Cincinnati relievers—Tony Cingrani and Russ Ohlendorf—combine in the ninth to allow three hits, three walks and two hit batters—the last of those, to Yadier Molina, forcing in the winning run.

The Rangers show off some comeback bark of their own, notching three runs in the top of the ninth to overcome the Rockies at Colorado, 4-3. It’s the fifth time this season that Texas has won when trailing in the ninth inning or later.

Toronto defeats Tampa Bay, 7-5, behind four hits from red-hot Devon Travis, who’s 12-for-22 over his last five games. The result affirms the far different directions both teams have been going since the Rays swept the Blue Jays in mid-May. With this win, the Jays are a major league-best 45-26; the Rays are the worst, at 26-47.

Hisashi Iwakuma, the pitcher almost nobody wanted during the offseason—the Dodgers briefly tagged him before letting him go—throws seven shutout innings and wins his eighth straight home start, a Seattle record, in the Mariners’ 3-0 blanking of Detroit.

Tuesday, August 9
With a 9-3 home win over Philadelphia, the Dodgers catch up and tie the Giants (2-0 losers at Miami) for first in the NL West as they pound Phillies starter Vince Velasquez for nine runs on 11 hits—seven for extra bases—in 4.2 innings.

After their midseason funk, the Cubs have firmly re-established their dominant standing in the majors. With a 5-1 win at Chicago over the Angels behind John Lackey’s excellent eight innings of work (one run, three hits allowed), the Cubs have the majors’ best record, are the first to reach 70 wins on the year and are a comfortable 12 games in front of second-place St. Louis in the NL Central.

The Cardinals drop back further thanks to the Reds and speedster Billy Hamilton, who continues to be on fire. In a 7-4 victory over St. Louis, Hamilton reaches base four times, steals three bases and scores three times. He has stolen 26 of his 48 bases in just the last three-plus weeks, and he’s swiped nine over his last three games—a feat matched or surpassed by only two players (Rodney Scott and Rickey Henderson) in post-1900 big league history.

Rick Porcello throws eight strong innings to improve to 11-0 at Fenway Park this year, Andrew Benintendi is 3-for-3 in his major league debut with a home run-turned-double after video review, and Matt Barnes bails out closer Craig Kimbrel (who walks four in the ninth) to nail down the last out and secure a 5-3 Boston victory over the Yankees.

The Yankees continue to leave the soon-to-be-released Alex Rodriguez on the bench, and even Red Sox fans are wondering why; as the Yankees rally in the ninth, Fenway fans chant “We Want A-Rod.”

Max Scherzer strikes out ten batters, becomes the first to reach 200 K’s on the year and takes a no-hitter into the seventh before the Indians rally for two runs in that frame, on their way to a 3-1 victory over the Nationals at Washington.

After the Tigers’ Victor Martinez breaks up a 4-4 stalemate in the top of the 15th with a solo home run, the Mariners bounce back with two tallies in the bottom of the inning, capped by a Mike Zunino sacrifice fly, to give Seattle a 6-5 win over Detroit. The Mariners have now won five straight and remain second in the AL West, seven games behind Texas.

Wednesday, August 10
Texas slugger Prince Fielder, beset by his second neck injury in three years, is told by doctors that he can’t play baseball anymore—and thus announces he is stepping down from the game at age 32. In 89 games this season, Fielder hit just .212 with eight home runs after a fine .305-23-98 campaign in 2015. Because he is medically unable to play, he will still be owed the $102 million left on his contract with the Rangers.

Fielder’s career arc is not unlike that of Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner: Short, powerful and curbed by injury. Will he thus make Cooperstown? Probably not. Unlike Kiner, Fielder didn’t lead the league in home runs seven straight years. (He did once, in 2007, with 50.)

Like father, like son: Fielder ends his career with 319 home runs—the same exact total as his father, Cecil Fielder.

Later in the evening, the Rangers win one for Prince—once again, coming back from behind late against the Rockies. For the third game in a row, Colorado blows a late lead when Adrian Beltre’s bases-loaded single in the eighth brings home two runs and gives Texas a 5-4 lead that will stick.

Until Beltre’s notch, the Rangers had gone hitless in a franchise-record 22 at-bats with the bags loaded.

Two days after poking out seven hits, the Giants’ Brandon Crawford has just one—but it’s a big one, a solo homer that is the source of the game’s lone score in a 1-0 victory that gives San Francisco sole possession of the NL West lead. What most will remember about this game is that ex-Giant and current Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds is ejected in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes.

The Blue Jays also breaks a knot at the top and reclaim the AL East lead with a 7-0 thrashing of Rays at Toronto. J.A. Happ tosses six shutout innings to become the majors’ first 16-game winner, while Troy Tulowitzki knocks in five runs, three of them on a first-inning home run—breaking a string of 17 straight homers the Jays had hit with no one on base.

The news on the day is not all good for Toronto; slugger Jose Bautista is re-admitted to the disabled list with a bum knee.

Thursday, August 11
After three straight frustrating games against the Rangers, it’s the Rockies turn to get the last laugh. Colorado plates five runs in the eighth, the last three on a pinch-hit, bases-loaded double from Carlos Gonzalez, to defeat Texas at Arlington, 12-9. Historical significance is added from rookie David Dahl, who hits safely in his 17th straight game to start a career—tying Chuck Aleno’s 1941 record.

Dahl will go hitless the next night to end his run, keeping Aleno’s name in the record book alongside his.

Anthony Rizzo’s bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 11th—on a pitch from the Cardinals’ Zach Duke that appears to be right down the middle—unknots a 3-3 tie against St. Louis at Wrigley Field to give the Cubs their tenth straight victory, their longest run since 2001. If dropping 13 games behind the Cubs isn’t bad enough, the Cardinals lose slugger Matt Holliday to the disabled list for roughly a month with a broken thumb after getting hit by a pitch in the tenth.

Chicago closer Aroldis Chapman helps keep the Cubs alive into overtime by throwing a 1-2-3 ninth. Literally; he only throws three pitches to get three outs.

The Astros may be struggling to stay above water in the playoff chase, but don’t blame Jose Altuve for their inconsistent woes this season. The very viable AL MVP candidate has his second straight four-hit game and eighth on the year, scoring three and knocking in three during Houston’s 15-7 rout of the Twins in the first game of a doubleheader at Minnesota.

Seven of Altuve’s four-hit performances have come on the road—tying an AL record previously set in 1922 by George Sisler (the year he hit a career-high .420) and in 2004 by Ichiro Suzuki (the year he stroked 262 hits to break Sisler’s all-time mark).

In closing out Baltimore’s 9-6 win at Oakland, Orioles closer Zach Britton sets a major league record by not allowing an earned run in his 39th straight appearance. He breaks the mark previously co-owned by Craig Kimbrel in 2011 and Toronto’s Brett Cecil at the start of this season.

The Brewers score in every inning but the ninth (because they’re ahead and they’re at home) to wallop the Braves, 11-3. The last team to pull that off was the Detroit Tigers in August 2014.

Friday, August 12
Playing his final game as a Yankee—and likely his final game, period—Alex Rodriguez strokes a RBI double in his first at-bat, then grounds out twice and strikes out as New York secures a 6-3 win over Tampa Bay before 46,539 at Yankee Stadium. For the final inning, Rodriguez is allowed to play the field (at third base) for the first time all season, and walks off after just one out to a thunderous standing ovation.

Before the first pitch, an ominous, dark cloud hangs over the ballpark, an apropos setting as Rodriguez is honored for his accomplishments in a career stained by multiple steroid revelations—including one that cost him participation for the entire 2014 season. A downpour from the above blackness cuts the ceremony short.

After the game, Rodriguez understands the bittersweet emotions being felt by the fans. “I’ve given these fans a lot of headaches over the years and I’ve disappointed a lot of people. But like I’ve always said, you don’t have to be defined by your mistakes.”

Hall-of-Fame voters will do just that, however. Rodriguez certainly has the numbers—3,115 hits, 696 home runs, 2,086 RBIs, 2,021 runs scored and 329 stolen bases—to be considered a lock for Cooperstown. But the fury over his past steroid use—and his thoroughly inexplicable decision to get back on the juice just a year after the 2009 scandal that brought him to admit past steroid use—will likely doom any chance of induction into the Hall. Barry Bonds can’t even break 50% approval with the annual ballot, and it’s well documented that he was at least clean through the first 14 years of his career with numbers that merited strong Hall-of-Fame consideration. But with Rodriguez’s steroid use rumored to date all the way back to his high school days, his entire career becomes suspect. And that will hurt his Hall-of-Fame chances. Badly.

Rodriguez’s first-inning double spares him the indignity of finishing his final season with a sub-.200 average. In total, his final season numbers for the Yankees include a .200 batting average in 65 games with nine home runs and 31 RBIs.

The optics on Rodriguez’s final week as a Yankee shows a team that basically wanted him out. With the exception of his final game, Rodriguez rarely came off the bench—manager Joe Girardi coldly remarked at one point, “I don’t manage farewell tours”—and as a result, sympathy began to grow from the general public toward Rodriguez, if that was ever possible; even Red Sox fans were vocally lobbying him to come to bat earlier in the week when the Yankees played at Boston. It’s clear the Yankees wanted to get rid of Rodriguez, but within a young team barely on the fringe of postseason relevance, they should have given him more respect. Just for a week.

Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon becomes the latest major leaguer with three homers—each of them solo—but he’s trumped by fading Philadelphia slugger Ryan Howard, who comes alive for a night with a fifth-inning grand slam. It’s the highlight of a 3-for-5, five-RBI night as the Phillies thump the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park, 10-6. As for Blackmon, he’s 19-for-33 with six homers over his last seven games—but the Rockies have only won two of them.

Some ten days after Jose Bautista hit his 300th career homer, Toronto teammate Edwin Encarnacion joins him with a ninth-inning blast against Houston that puts him at 300. It’s not enough on the night for the Blue Jays, however, as they fall to the visiting Astros, 5-3.

Cleveland matches a team record by stealing eight bases—all within the first six innings—as they run wild over the Angels at Progressive Field, 13-3. Rajai Davis and Jose Ramirez each swipe three bags for the Indians.

Saturday, August 13
The post-A-Rod era gets off to a historic start in New York. On the day Rodriguez is officially released, two players called up for the first time—first baseman Tyler Austin and massive (6’7”, 255 pounds) outfielder Aaron Judge—each belt a home run, one after another, in the second inning of the Yankees’ 8-4 win over Tampa Bay. It’s the first time ever that a pair of teammates have gone yard back-to-back in each of their first major league at-bats.

An opportunity may open up for Rodriguez to resume his career in his hometown of Miami. Marlins star slugger Giancarlo Stanton, attempting to reach second base on a two-out hit in the ninth against the White Sox, stumbles and suffers a groin injury that will cost him the rest of the season. Adding insult to injury, he’s tagged for the final out of the Marlins’ 8-7 loss at home.

The next day, Stanton is declared out for the season—though he'll actually return in less than a month. Still, a Marlins official says that the team is seriously looking at the possibility of bringing Rodriguez out of his brief exile—but Rodriguez, through a spokesman, says he's not interested.

Pittsburgh out-walks the Dodgers at Los Angeles, 11-0—but they do not outscore them. Despite the generous opportunities given to them, the Bucs lose 8-4 as they strand a franchise record-tying 18 men on base, while the Dodgers knock out 17 hits—including at least two from each of the top seven batters in the order—to stay a game back of the Giants (6-2 winners over Baltimore) in the NL West race.

The Dodgers are the first team since 1953 to give up at least ten walks while drawing none themselves—and win.

Los Angeles starter Brandon McCarthy concedes five of the 11 walks in just 1.2 innings before being removed. Normally one of the more accurate throwers in the game—he had allowed 1.5 walks per nine innings from 2011-15—McCarthy has walked 15 over his last 7.1 innings thrown; a bad hip is apparently to blame, as he’s placed on the disabled list after the game.

Like the Dodgers, the Phillies survive in spite the opposite side getting most of the chances. The visiting Rockies have six more singles, two more doubles, one more triple and one more home run than Philadelphia, but only manage three runs from it all and lose 6-3. One thing, besides the runs, that the Phillies do get more of: Batters getting hit by pitches. One of those leads to a benches-clearing squabble when Maikel Franco, in his first at-bat after belting a home run, is drilled in the knee by Colorado’s Tyler Anderson—who’s ejected without a warning.

Jonathan Papelbon’s short and not-so-sweet tenure with the Nationals is over. The veteran closer is granted his wish and released by the club after losing his job to recently acquired Mark Melancon. The Washington clubhouse will probably not miss his presence, especially after his notorious chokehold on star teammate Bryce Harper at the end of last season. (The Nationals’ Jayson Werth recently referred to Papelbon as the “D.C. Strangler.”)

Minor leaguer Francisco Mejia’s long hitting streak looks to be over…and then, it’s back on again. The Single-A catcher finishes a 10-inning game hitless, reaching base once on a two-base error when the opposing third baseman cannot backhand his chopper down the line. But after a long discussion—and perhaps some lobbying from Mejia’s Lynchburg team—following the game, the home scorer changes the ruling from an error to a double, keeping Mejia’s hitting streak intact at 50 games.

Looking at the replay, it appears that the third baseman could have easily thrown Mejia out had he cleanly gloved the ball and made a throw. But technically, an error can’t be given if a player fails to touch the ball—and the scorer decided, in retrospect, that the ball was out of the third baseman’s range anyway.

This is why official scorers detest doing their job when a long hitting streak is on the line.

Sunday, August 14
Francisco Mejia’s minor league hit streak comes to an end, again—and this time, there’s nothing the official scorer can do to bail him out. Mejia walks once but is otherwise 0-for-3 for Lynchburg, ending his run at 50 games. The streak was tied for the fourth longest in minor league history, the longest in 62 years, and the longest ever by a catcher in organized baseball history.

Boston’s Mookie Betts makes a strong statement with his bat in regards to his AL MVP chances, drilling three homers for the second time this year while knocking in eight as the Red Sox clobber Zack Greinke (1.2 innings, nine runs allowed) and the Diamondbacks at Fenway Park, 16-2. Ted Williams, in 1957, is the only other Red Sox player to homer thrice in a game twice in one year.

Betts is the youngest player ever with two 3-homer games in a season. Williams, who did it at age 38, is the oldest.

Rick Porcello is once again the benefactor of prodigious Red Sox support, improving to 12-0 in 13 home starts for Boston this season; the Red Sox are averaging 7.8 runs every time he starts at Fenway.

Detroit’s Michael Fulmer stifles the Rangers with a four-hit shutout at Arlington, striking out nine and walking none in an easy 7-0 win. In improving to 10-3 on the year, the 23-year-old rookie right-hander also now has enough innings pitched to qualify for the AL ERA lead—which he easily owns with a 2.25 mark. (The Royals’ Danny Duffy is second, at 2.82).

The Giants squander a 7-1 lead after seven innings as their bullpen implodes, most especially closer Santiago Casilla—who gets charged with his sixth blown save of the year—as the Orioles come from behind to triumph at San Francisco, 8-7. Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters chips in with a career-high five hits, including a ninth-inning triple—the first three-base hit for the Orioles in 68 games dating back to May 30.

With four triples overall on the year, the Orioles are well on pace to set the record for the fewest hit in one season—a mark they themselves established in 1998 when they collected 11.

Ryan Braun knocks in six runs on two homers and a double—all within the first four innings—to propel the Brewers to a 7-3 win over the Reds at Milwaukee. It’s the second time this month that Braun has knocked in at least six, collecting seven RBIs just eight days earlier.

Monday, August 15
The Rangers are the first AL team to reach 70 wins with a 5-2 home victory over the A’s, with grand help from Adrian Beltre—who smacks his tenth career grand slam in the fifth inning. But the win is muted by the latest injury to outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who has his arm broken by a Ross Detwiler pitch and gets placed on the disabled list for the fourth time this year.

The Mariners keep pace with the Rangers—and more importantly stay active in the wild card race—as Felix Hernandez chalks up his 150th career win with a 3-2 decision at Anaheim over the Angels, who extend their losing streak to 11. Hernandez’s eight strikeouts give him 328 in his career against the Angels, the most ever notched by any pitcher against Los Angeles/California/Anaheim/Los Angeles of Anaheim.

A silver lining for the Angels is that Mike Trout steals his 20th base, giving him three 20-20 seasons to date—the most by any active player. And he just turned 25.

The youthful Yankees do it again. Chad Green, in just his fifth major league start, allows just two hits and strikes out 11 in six shutout innings against the potent Blue Jays, and Aaron Judge’s RBI double in the fourth accounts for the game’s lone run in a 1-0 victory at New York.

Arizona pounces on the Mets and Bartolo Colon, 10-6, as the 42-year-old veteran pitcher is denied a chance to defeat the Diamondbacks for the very first time and claim at least one win against every MLB team. The good news? Colon walks for the very first time in 282 career plate appearances.

Tuesday, August 16
Jose Altuve racks up three more hits to reach 1,000 through his first 786 games, becoming the fastest Astro to reach the barrier in franchise history—and the fastest in the majors since Ichiro Suzuki needed only 696 games. But it’s not enough for Houston, which loses 8-5 at home to the Cardinals. Dallas Keuchel, 15-0 at Minute Maid Park on his way to the AL Cy Young Award last season, allows six runs in five innings and is now 3-5 at home this year.

Red-hot Mookie Betts blasts two home runs and knocks in all five Boston runs to lift the Red Sox to a 5-3 win at Baltimore in the first game of a short but crucial AL East series. Betts now has hit seven homers in Oriole Park at Camden Yards this season.

The Red Sox’ win ties them for second with the Orioles in the East, one game behind Toronto—which storms back from a 6-0 deficit at New York with 12 unanswered runs to rout the Yankees, 12-6. Edwin Encarnacion belts his 34th home run to tie the Orioles’ Mark Trumbo for the major league lead, and later brings home a run on a fielder’s choice during the Blue Jays’ eight-run eighth inning to become the first player this season to reach 100 RBIs. Encarnacion has knocked in at least 100 in four of his last five seasons—it would be five straight had he not missed 34 games in 2014, when he knocked in 98—and he’s easily on pace to break his career mark of 111, set last year.

In his first game back at Philadelphia since being traded by the Phillies almost exactly a year earlier, Chase Utley hits two homers and drives in five as the Dodgers burst for 13 runs over a late three-inning stretch and deliver a 15-5 knockout blow.

The recent trend of walk-off wild pitches, balks and hit batters to win games continues, this time in Arlington. After falling behind 4-2 in the top of the tenth inning, the Rangers rally to tie the game and, after Oakland reliever Mark Rzepczynski gives an intentional pass to Adrian Beltre to load the bases, he hits Rougned Odor with the next pitch to give Texas a 5-4 win over the A’s.

The Angels are trailing Seattle 4-1 after five innings and look destined to lose their 12th straight game when their bats bust out; they hit three homers and a triple to bring home six runs between the sixth and eighth innings to tip the Mariners, 7-6, ending their longest skid since 1999.

Wednesday, August 17
Stephen Strasburg’s recent woes continue, matching a career-high by allowing seven earned runs in the first inning alone—and nine by the time he’s removed midway through the second—as the Rockies jump out to a huge lead before holding on for dear life, outlasting the Nationals at Coors Field, 12-10. Strasburg has now lost his last three games after a 15-1 start, giving up 19 runs over 11.2 innings.

In defeat, the Nationals score in seven different innings, something not done by a losing side since 2010.

Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez, owner of the majors’ worst ERA among pitchers with 100 ore more innings, takes a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Eric Hosmer doubles to break up the no-no for the Royals. It gets worse for the Tigers and better for Hosmer and the Royals; his two-run homer is the big blow in a three-run ninth that lifts Kansas City over the Tigers, 4-1, giving the Royals a three-game sweep and prompting boos from Comerica Field fans.

With the Tigers’ loss, Cleveland looks ready to increase its AL Central lead to seven games, but a 7-5 ninth-inning lead turns into a 10-7 home loss to the White Sox thanks primarily to Adam Eaton’s one-out grand slam.

In his big league debut, shortstop Dansby Swanson—the majors’ top draft pick in 2015—notches two singles in four at-bats for the Braves, but the visiting Twins prevail 10-3 behind a complete-game effort from Kyle Gibson, the first by a Minnesota pitcher on the road since 2012.

Thursday, August 18
The Cubs stay hot—and so does Kris Bryant, to say the least. The sophomore third baseman is on a massive tear, going 5-for-5 with two homers (giving him 30 to tie Nolan Arenado for the NL lead) and five RBIs to hoist the Cubs to a 9-6 home victory over the Brewers. Chicago improves to 18-3 over its last 21 games in spite of a lackluster effort from Jake Arrieta, who allows five runs on three hits—two of them home runs—and a career-high seven walks over 5.2 innings.

Bryant is only the second major leaguer to register two 5-for-5 games with multiple homers in one season. The other was Joe Carter in 1986.

An expected pitching duel between the Mets’ Jacob deGrom and the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park quickly turns into a slugfest. After Justin Ruggiano’s grand slam gives New York a 4-0 lead in the fourth, Bumgarner caps a five-run San Francisco response in the bottom of the frame with a two-run shot, the 14th of his career, to give the Giants a lead it will not relinquish in a 10-7 victory.

Bumgarner is the first pitcher since the Reds’ Hal Jeffcoat in 1957 to allow a grand slam and hit a go-ahead homer in the same inning.

Miguel Cabrera’s RBI single in the eighth is his 1,000th as a Tiger and ignites a three-run Detroit rally to take a 4-3 lead over Boston that will hold to the end. Cabrera is the 11th Tiger to reach 1,000.

The Orioles mash six home runs—including two each from Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy—to extend their major league lead to 183 and clobber the Astros at Baltimore, 13-5.

Friday, August 19
The Orioles pick right up where they left off the night before, becoming the first team ever to hit four homers in their first five at-bats—but after winning the sprint, they lost the long-distance battle as the visiting Astros ultimately outrun them 15-8 with four homers of their own. Jose Altuve enhances his AL MVP credentials with three more hits (raising his average to a major league-leading .365) and five RBIs.

The Indians hit two solo home runs in the bottom of the ninth—one by Jose Ramirez to tie, the other an inside-the park job from Tyler Naquin—to defeat the Blue Jays at Cleveland, 3-2. Naquin’s spin around the bases is the first to win a game in the majors since 2013, and the first by an Indians player in almost exactly 100 years.

Just to prove that you can’t believe everything you read, SB Nation shouts in a headline that Naquin’s game-winner was the second inside-the-park homer in Indians history. Someone didn’t read the fine print.

A two-run shot in the ninth by the Cardinals’ Jedd Gyorko not only ties the Phillies at Philadelphia, but ties an all-time record as St. Louis now gone deep at least twice in nine straight games. Randal Grichuk, who hit St. Louis’ first homer earlier, wins it in the 11th with a RBI double, 4-3.

After the Braves rally for three in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game at 6-6, Washington scratches a run in the top of the ninth to triumph at Atlanta, 7-6. Despite the win, the Nationals’ Jayson Werth does not reach base in five plate appearances, ending a franchise record-tying streak of 46 straight games in which he had safely reached.

Brent Suter makes his major league debut and becomes the first left-handed pitcher to start for Milwaukee since 2013—and teammate Chris Carter bangs out the longest home run in Safeco Field history at 465 feet—but it’s all not enough for the Brewers, who fall to the Mariners, 7-6. The Brewers’ streak of right-handed starts is well short of the major league record of 681 games set by the Dodgers from 1992-97.

In a game only commissioner Rob Manfred could love, the A’s and White Sox need only two hours and 23 minutes to complete a 9-0 Oakland victory. Kendall Graveman, still carrying the burden of proving that the A’s deal to get him for Josh Donaldson was a good one, needs just 97 pitches to fire his first career shutout, a two-hitter.

Saturday, August 20
Albert Pujols reaches the Top Ten in all-time home runs when his solo shot in the ninth gives him 583 for his career, tying Mark McGwire. Beyond the historical context, the homer does little for the Angels, who lose 5-1 to the visiting Yankees for their 14th defeat in 16 tries.

The Royals are feeling it again, and they’re back in the wild care race after blitzing the Twins at Kansas City, 10-0, for their seventh straight victory. Ian Kennedy tosses six sharp scoreless innings and has now allowed a run or less in each of his last five starts, tying a Royals record.

For the first time since starting the All-Star Game over five weeks ago, Chris Sale earns a victory as he allows just three hits over eight shutout innings in the White Sox’ 6-2 win over Oakland at Chicago. Sale had been 0-4 with a 3.03 ERA and a short tantrum-related suspension since mid-July.

Sunday, August 21
The Cubs’ Jason Hammel gets the Coors Field treatment, getting battered for ten runs in 3.1 innings—three Chicago errors don’t help—and he becomes the first Cubs starting pitcher to be charged with a loss in over three weeks as the Rockies romp, 11-4. Nolan Arenado snaps out of a brief funk with a four-hit day that includes two homers and six RBIs (the latter number giving him a major league-leading 104 on the year) while DJ LeMahieu bangs out three hits to tie the Nationals’ Daniel Murphy for the NL batting lead at .345.

Justin Upton, fighting his own, much deeper slump—with five hits over his last 47 at-bats and not a single RBI for the first 20 days of August—belts two long home runs and drives in six to give the Tigers a 10-5 victory over the Red Sox at Detroit.

The Cardinals’ Jeremy Hazelbaker, pinch-hitting for Mike Leake (seven shutout innings) sends a two-run shot over the fence at Philadelphia for the 14th pinch-hit homer on the year for St. Louis—matching both the Giants and Diamondbacks from 2001. Hazlebaker’s blast is one four hit by St. Louis on the day in a 9-0 rout of the Phillies.

Yulieski Gurriel, a veteran 32-year-old slugger from Cuba, makes his big league debut after recently signing with Houston and collects a single and walk in three trips to the plate in the Astros’ 5-3 win at Baltimore.

Monday, August 22
Adrian Gonzalez becomes the latest player to belt three homers in a game, adding eight RBIs as the Dodgers as a whole belt seven over the fence and wallop the Reds at Cincinnati, 18-9. It’s the most runs scored by a team in Great American Ball Park history, and the seven dingers given up by the Reds tie a franchise record.

The emerging legend of Gary Sanchez continues. The 23-year old New York catcher, who’s pushed Brian McCann into the designated hitter role, belts two home runs to become the first Yankee with eight playing his first 19 games in pinstripes. But even with Starlin Castro adding two homers of his own, it’s not enough for the Yankees, who lose 7-5 at Seattle against the Mariners—who have now won 15 of their last 20.

It’s a kind-of, sort-of reunion the Diamondbacks would rather not make a big deal about: The Atlanta Braves come to town and start two players—outfielder Ender Inciarte and Dansby Swanson, the #1 draft pick from 2015—traded by the Diamondbacks before the start of the year for now-struggling starting pitcher Shelby Miller. Inciarte is 2-for-4 with a triple, two runs and a walk, while Dansby has a single in four at-bats—yet after the Braves bolt out to an early 5-0 lead, the Diamondbacks fight back and win it in the ninth on a leadoff homer from Paul Goldschmidt, 9-8.

Tuesday, August 23
In the first game of a crucial NL West series, the Dodgers batter the Giants and Madison Bumgarner 9-5 and take a two-game lead in the division as their red-hot 3-4-5 hitters—Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Adrian Gonzalez—go a combined 8-for-12. All this, on the day Los Angeles places two more starting pitchers (Scott Kazmir and Brett Anderson) on the disabled list, giving them 27 players who have been on the shelf at some point this season—tying the all-time record set just two years earlier by Texas.

When the Rangers initially set the mark in 2014, they ended up with the AL’s worst record. The Dodgers, meanwhile, appear to be playoff-bound. This is either a testament to the team’s immense depth, and/or the work of rookie manager Dave Roberts.

The Giants, who once held a healthy lead in the NL West, have the majors’ worst record (11-24) since the All-Star break. They've been out-homered 50-27 during this stretch and have been miserable with runners in scoring position.

The never-say-die Royals continue their ascent from near-elimination, winning their ninth straight with a 1-0 victory at Miami. Yordano Ventura starts with six scoreless innings, and three Kansas City relievers follow with a combined three of their own—running an overall bullpen streak to 32 straight shutout frames, a franchise record.

Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer is good but not good enough, losing a 2-1 decision to Clay Buchholz and the Red Sox at St. Petersburg. It’s Archer’s tenth straight loss against Boston—the longest active skid by any pitcher against one team—and his 17 defeats overall on the year put him in danger of becoming baseball’s second 20-game loser since 1980.

Josh Hamilton, already out for the season after undergoing knee surgery in May, is released by the Rangers. The 35-year-old former MVP is still owed $30 million in 2017—with the Angels, who gave up on him a year ago and sent him back to Texas, on the hook for $28.41 million of those wages.

Between all that cash and the combined $46 million due to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols next year, it’s little wonder the Angels are struggling to rebuild.

Wednesday, August 24
David Ortiz becomes the oldest major leaguer, at 40 years and 280 days old, to hit his 30th homer in a season; his two-run, first-inning poke at Tampa Bay also makes him the first Red Sox player with ten 100-RBI seasons. But it’s all not enough as Boston loses a 4-3, 11-inning contest to the Rays.

Albert Pujols also achieves history on a first-inning homer, taking sole possession of tenth on the all-time list with his 584th career clout—part of a 4-for-4 night that helps the Angels break an 11-game road losing streak and defeat the Blue Jays at Toronto, 8-2.

The Rangers’ Yu Darvish doesn’t get a win at Cincinnati, but he does earn something just as memorable when he belts his first career home run, part of a back-to-back dance as Ian Desmond follows with a blast of his own in the fifth inning. Adrian Beltre’s tie-breaking double in the eighth gives Texas a 6-5 win over the Reds.

The Orioles build a big 10-3 lead in the ninth on the strength of a 4-for-6, 4-RBI night for Manny Machado, but the Nationals put on a frantic rally that, while falling short by two runs, does put an end to Baltimore closer Zack Britton’s record 43-game streak of not having allowing an earned run. It’s Britton’s first run conceded since April 30, and his ERA rises to 0.69.

Jose Fernandez dials in seven scoreless innings, goes 2-for-2 at the plate, and his nine strikeouts give him a Marlins season-record 213 as Miami ends the Royals’ nine-game winning streak, 3-0. Fernandez now has a lifetime 27-2 record at Marlins Park.

If you thought changing New Comiskey Park’s name to U.S. Cellular Field back in 2003 was bad enough, just wait until you hear this: Starting in November, the White Sox will rename the 25-year-old ballpark Guaranteed Rate Field. The naming rights deal is contracted to last through 2029 and is said to be worth $6-7 million annually for the White Sox.

One online commenter suggests that the new ballpark name really should be “Guaranteed Loss Field.”

Thursday, August 25
The Giants’ Matt Moore is one out shy of a no-hitter when Corey Seager breaks it up with a soft single to short right field at Los Angeles, but San Francisco nails down a 4-0 victory to avoid a three-game sweep by the NL West-leading Dodgers. It’s the first win in five tries for Moore since joining the Giants from Tampa Bay, throwing 133 pitches (a career high and the most by any major leaguer this season) over 8.2 innings.

The last three no-hit bids lost with two outs in the ninth have all been broken up by rookies.

Moore’s near-no-no may not be the worse news on the day for the Dodgers—and certainly not for injured ace Clayton Kershaw. Before the game, Los Angeles swaps catchers by trading veteran A.J. Ellis, Kershaw’s personal backstop, to Philadelphia for 37-year-old Carlos Ruiz. Kershaw is said to be “shocked” by the deal, and he and Ellis “share a cry” in the clubhouse before breaking up.

With Ruiz leaving Philadelphia, that leaves only Ryan Howard as the only active Phillie who took part in the team’s recent glory times of the late 2000s.

Another day, another milestone for Albert Pujols. With a RBI single in the sixth at Toronto, the 36-year-old slugger reaches 100 for the 13th time in his career; only Alex Rodriguez (at 14) has more. Pujols and the Angels defeat the Blue Jays, 6-3, and deny J.A. Happ from becoming the majors’ first 18-game winner while ending his streak of 11 straight wins over 12 starts—for which he had received an average of 8.3 runs per start.

Lest anyone believes that Pujols has lost it, take note: His 40 RBIs since the All-Star break leads the majors.

Tampa Bay outfielder Mike Mahtook snaps out of a 0-for-34 skid in timely fashion when his RBI double in the seventh breaks up a tie and serves as the winning run for the Rays in a 2-1 triumph over Boston. Mahtook’s hit also allows Jake Odorizzi to earn the win; he’s now 6-0 with a 1.59 ERA since the All-Star break.

In his first at-bat since being picked up by the Rangers from rival Houston a week earlier, Carlos Gomez slams a three-run homer that initiates the scoring for Texas’ easy 9-0 home win over Cleveland. Cole Hamels tosses eight shutout innings and is now 21-5 in 38 starts for the Rangers since being traded from Philadelphia 13 months earlier.

Friday, August 26
The Cubs continue their Hot August Nights in comeback fashion, as Kris Bryant homers in the eighth and again in the tenth to lift Chicago to a 6-4 road victory at Los Angeles. Bryant’s twin blasts put him back ahead of Nolan Arenado in the NL home run race with 35.

Despite being outhit 15-9 by the Red Sox—who get five of their hits from Mookie Betts—the Royals knock three balls out of the park and prevail 6-3 at Boston for their 11th win in 12 tries. In victory, however, Kansas City reliever Peter Moylan is charged with a ninth-inning run that breaks the Royals’ bullpen’s streak of 41.1 straight innings without allowing a run—the longest in the majors since the Kansas City A’s logged 44 straight in 1966. With a ground-rule double in the third inning,

David Ortiz passes Hank Aaron for tenth on the all-time list with his 625th two-bagger. Unless he decides to return next year, Ortiz likely won’t catch up to ninth-place Honus Wagner (643).

Gary Sanchez continues to make like Shane Spencer. The rookie Yankee catcher has two homers, a double and four RBIs to lead the carnage in a 14-4 rout of the Orioles at New York. Sanchez is the first major league rookie to amass ten homers and 20 RBIs over his first 20 games.*

* - Sanchez actually played two games in 2015 (going 0-for-2), but the 20-game figure technically qualifies for a rookie “playing his first 20 games of the season.” Always read the fine print.

Chris Sale goes the distance and strikes out 14 without a walk, but all he gets out of it is a 3-1 loss as the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez concedes but a run over 7.1 innings to earn the win over the White Sox at Chicago.

Saturday, August 27
The Red Sox’ Dustin Pedroia runs up a streak of 11 straight hits—one shy of the major league record—and then bounces into a double play to end it at Fenway Park against the Royals. His four hits overall and the latest fine effort from David Price (2.44 ERA over his last seven starts) propel Boston to an 8-3 win over Kansas City.

Neither Gary Sanchez nor the Yankees in general are letting off the accelerator. The rookie catcher homers again while walking twice, becoming the first player with 11 homers over his first 23 games of a career (yes, we include his two brief appearances from last year) and the Yankees squash the visiting Orioles again, 13-5, behind 18 hits.

To say that the Tigers disagree with home plate umpire’s Mike Everitt’s strike zone is putting it mildly. Two Detroit players (Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez), coach Wally Joyner and manager Brad Ausmus get ejected by Everitt—all for arguing borderline strike calls—and the Tigers lose a close 3-2 contest to the visiting Angels. Ausmus says after the game that the debate over the pitches in question wasn’t over whether they were strikes or not, but why similar pitches weren’t being call strikes when Detroit pitchers were on the mound.

The Twins, trying to avoid their ninth straight loss, have a 7-3 lead at the seventh-inning stretch—but the Blue Jays rally for three in the bottom of the frame, and in the eighth get two more on a bloop single by Melvin Upton Jr. that gets past a diving Max Kepler, who then accidentally kicks the ball away when he goes back to retrieve it. It’s scored as a triple for Upton Jr., who scores on the play thanks to Kepler’s error, and the Blue Jays prevail 8-7.

In the latest sign that the worst of the Cincinnati Reds’ pitching struggles are behind them, Anthony DeSclafani fires a four-hit shutout and is well supported with 16 hits, five of them home runs, in a 13-0 rout of the Diamondbacks at Phoenix.

The Reds’ team ERA of 3.68 is the NL’s fourth best since the All-Star break; not bad for a team that earlier in the year couldn’t pitch if its life depended on it.

Sunday, August 28
Minnesota blows another lead, Josh Donaldson becomes the latest player with three homers in a game and the Blue Jays increase their AL East lead to two games with a come-from-behind 9-6 triumph over the Twins. Donaldson’s hat trick is the sixth this month by a major leaguer—one shy of the all-time monthly record of seven set back in August 2002. The loss for the Twins is their season-long tenth straight; they’ve had at least three skids of eight or more this year.

The Twins have given up at least eight runs in each of their last six games, something they have never done—and we include their sordid days as the Washington Senators.

Baltimore stays three games behind Toronto by blanking the Yankees at New York, 5-0. Mark Trumbo is the first major leaguer this season to cross the 40-homer threshold, while Kevin Gausman wins his first start on the road in over two years, a span of 25 outings in which he amassed a 0-16 record and 5.55 ERA.

The Giants become the fourth team since 1900 to belt four home runs and four triples in one game, with three of the triples coming in an eight-run eighth that seals a 13-4 rout of the visiting Braves. But San Francisco cannot gain ground on the Dodgers, who eke out a 1-0 win at Los Angeles over the Cubs and remain two games in front in the NL West.

San Diego’s Luis Perdomo, who looks to be getting better with every start—he had a 7.48 ERA at the All-Star break—goes the distance in a 3-1 victory at Miami with a little help from his friends; the Padres turn six double plays, five by ground ball.

All’s well that ends well for Endwell, New York—which wins the Little League World Series over South Korea, 2-1. It’s the first LLWS victory for an American team since 2011, and the first by a squad from New York in 52 years.

Monday, August 29
On a day in which four games are won in walk-off fashion, the craziest of them all takes place in Chicago where the Cubs twice overcome late Pittsburgh leads to defeat the Pirates, 8-7, in 13 innings. Jorge Soler’s solo homer in the ninth ties the game at 6-6, and then after the Bucs notch a run in the top of the 13th, the Cubs respond in the bottom of the frame as each of their first five batters reach safely, with two scoring to secure the win.

Milwaukee strikes out a franchise-record 19 times—13 of those courtesy of St. Louis starting pitcher Carlos Martinez, over six innings—but still has a shot to win until the ninth, when Jonathan Villar’s throwing error allows the winning run to score for the Cardinals in a 6-5 result.

Rick Porcello improves to 13-0 at Fenway Park and becomes the majors’ first 18-game winner this season, as he’s once again well supported by Red Sox bats in a 9-4 triumph over Tampa Bay. Mookie Betts hits his 30th homer and adds a double in the victory.

Tuesday, August 30
The Angels get a pair of home runs from C.J. Cron and defeat the Reds at Anaheim, 4-2, to help clinch the American League’s 13th straight season of interleague superiority over the National League. The AL has now won 151 of 273 games this season against the NL with 27 still left to play.

Randal Grichuk’s tenth-inning single provides the ultimate winning run for the Cardinals, who defeat the Brewers in Milwaukee, 2-1. The victory clinches the series win for St. Louis, which is now undefeated (14-0-1) in their last 15 series against the Brewers.

Manny Machado’s two-run homer in the fifth gives the Orioles the lead for keeps in a 5-3 triumph over J.A. Happ and the Blue Jays at Baltimore, now three back of Toronto in the AL East. Machado’s blast is the 100th of his career, making him the youngest Oriole (at 24 years and 55 days) to reach the milestone; he’s also the third Oriole this month with at least ten homers, something done by only three other teams in baseball history.

The Rangers continue to prove that their resiliency is second to none in the majors. Rougned Odor’s two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth sends Texas home as come-from behind winners for a major league-leading 40th time this year, defeating the Mariners at Arlington, 8-7. The Rangers are also now 30-8 in one-run games.

Wednesday, August 31
Another night, another loss for the Twins, beaten 8-4 by the Indians at Cleveland for their 13th straight loss, the longest in the majors this season. This, despite the 13th homer of the month—and 32nd this season—for leadoff man Brian Dozier.

It’s written here and there that the Twins’ skid is one shy of a franchise record. Well, yes and no. Although the Twins have never lost more than 14 games in a row since moving to Minnesota in 1961, the Washington Senators—for whom the franchise was known before moving to the Twin Cities—lost 18 straight twice, in 1948 and 1959. (They also had a 19-game winless streak from 1903-04 that included a tie.)

Forced to play a day-night doubleheader after getting washed out the night before, the Dodgers lose the first game at Colorado 7-0 and are down 8-2 after seven innings in the nightcap when they explode for eight unanswered runs to salvage a sweep, 10-8, and stay 1.5 games ahead of the Giants (4-2 winners over Arizona). Rookie Andrew Toles, a lightning rod in the Los Angeles outfield since being called up a month earlier, drives the final nail into the Rockies’ coffin with a grand slam in the ninth.

Colorado’s Stephen Cardullo, playing in just his fifth major league game—and celebrating his 29th birthday—homers in the first game and belts a grand slam himself in the second. It’s the first time in major league history that a pair of rookies has both hit slams in the same game.

Jeurys Familia earns his major league-leading 44th save—it also sets a Mets team record—after Kelly Johnson’s bases-clearing double in the eighth unlocks a tie and gives New York their third straight win over the visiting Marlins, 5-2. The defending NL champs end August 1.5 games behind St. Louis for the second wild card spot.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, lose at Milwaukee 3-1 but do set a franchise record by hitting a home run in their 20th straight game when Yadier Molina belts a solo shot in the fourth inning for their lone run.

Ricky Nolasco comes into the day leading the AL with 90 earned runs allowed, but as they say, these things tend to even out at some point. And it certainly does for Nolasco, who fires a four-hit shutout and puts an exclamation point on a three-game sweep of the Reds at Anaheim, 3-0.

After the game, the Angels get a scare when it’s learned that Mike Trout is involved in a serious freeway accident in nearby Tustin. Trout swerves to avoid the accident and his car gets dinged up—but says he’s “fine.”

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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