This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: July, 2015
How to Count Consecutive Scoreless Innings The Computer Wore Umpire Shoes
Franchise Four: Dissing the Deadball Era Cole Hamels' Fanstastic Philly Farewell

Best and Worst of the Week

Mike Trout, L.A. Angels of Anaheim

79 20 29 1 1 12 24 10 0 4 1

If you’re not onboard the Mike Trout train at this point, what’s keeping you? Baesball’s best player finally nabs this spot after finishing runner-up or very close in every other month up to this point. He certainly deserves it, hitting .367 with 12 homers in just 21 games; no major leaguer has ever gone deep that often in fewer games over one month. And, oh yes, he spent his downtime winning his second straight All-Star Game MVP. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime, absolute thrill to watch. We should all be so lucky to be witnessing this talent—unless it’s your team he’s playing against.

Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

88 20 34 7 0 11 24 6 2 0 0

Usually around this time of year, CarGo pretty much has a fork in him and is done for the season with the latest injury. But, surprise, here we are going into August and the 29-year-old slugger is going strong—really, really strong. Gonzalez raised his season average nearly 40 points, doubled his home run output (with seven in a dizzying five-game stretch) and became The Man in the Colorado lineup once Troy Tulowitzki was sent packing to Canada. Now, Rockies fans are crossing their fingers that (a.) Gonzalez stays healthy and (b.) he doesn’t follow Tulo out of town.

Chris Parmelee, Baltimore Orioles

50 2 7 3 0 0 3 2 0 0 0

Three years ago we had a young Parmelee jotted down as one of our prized Teasers after a terrific call-up session with the 2011 Twins. Since then, he’s been scuffling about, and after settling in with the Orioles to start 2015—and spending the first two months at Triple-A—Parmelee was brought up in June and hit three homers in his first two games for the Orioles. There wasn’t much else to go but down from that kind of start, but Parmelee went way down in July as the above numbers reflect. The Long Beach native has September around the corner so any return to the minors may be short-lived, but the bench is going to be a familiar place to him if he doesn’t return to June strength.

Sean Rodriguez, Pittsburgh Pirates

53 4 6 1 0 0 1 2 0 1 0

A recent scribe compared the 30-year-old utility player’s looks to Al Pacino in Serpico, but the only corruption Rodriguez should be seeking out right now is that of his own hitting. He’s never been known for a solid batting average, but this was ridiculous; beyond the lack of hits, he can’t even draw a walk as he’s only accrued three in 152 ABs this year. On defense, Rodriguez has been great—he has yet to commit an error in 294 chances playing six different positions—and it’s likely he’ll see nothing but late-inning defensive duty now that Michael Morse has arrived to provide first base punch.

Scott Kazmir, Oakland-Houston

2-0 34 15 2 1 6 0 1 1 0 24

Kazmir started the month with the A’s and finished it with the Astros—and not long ago, that would have been awful news for any player. Things are different now. The Houston native is feeling quite at home and can relate to the recent miseries of the Astros as, like that team, he has clearly finished the quick and impressive comeback trail from the depths of hard times in 2012 when he languished for Houston’s other pro team—the independent Sugar Land Skeeters. After allowing just one earned run for the entire month, Kazmir looks primed to take the Astros toward the promised land of the postseason.

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

3-0 33 19 1 1 2 0 1 2 0 45

A rough season start followed by an ugly All-Star appearance (after he managed to sneak onto the roster) had some wondering if Kershaw’s best years might actually be behind him. Not so fast. The Cy Young winner was back in prime form for the month (the All-Star Game notwithstanding), racking up a streak of 29 consecutive scoreless innings and counting while lowering his season ERA to 2.51—good enough for sixth-best in the NL. All other statistical signs—first in the majors in strikeouts, fourth in WHIP, etc.—suggest that his early-season malaise, not his best years, is what’s actually behind him.

Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers

0-2 14.2 27 20 20 6 2 1 0 0 6

What’s worse than the Tigers trading David Price to Toronto? The idea that Greene may take his place in the rotation. For now, however, the Tigers are keeping him in the bullpen for long relief—and there’s a good reason for that. He started three games in July and never got past the fifth inning in any of them, struggling with control and the simple inability to get anyone out. (All this, mind you, after he had been sent to the minors for a month in an attempt to strengthen things out.) No pitcher this year has thrown more innings with a worse season ERA (6.97) than Greene.

John Axford, Colorado Rockies

2-4 9 14 9 9 6 4 0 0 0 10

The Rockies closer’s performance in July was like that of the Bluesmobile; it held together and did its job at first, then fell completely apart in an instant. Axford blew each of his last four save opportunities for the month, and Coors Field was not entirely to blame; two of the blows came on the road in Chicago and St. Louis. Control was also an issue; in that awful late-month stretch, he threw 131 pitches—less than half of them for strikes. It’s been a rollercoaster career for the 32-year-old Canadian, with some exceptional highs and, like now, some helpless lows.

New York Yankees (17-7)

There’s life in those old legs after all. The Yankees separated themselves from a pack of AL East teams trying to sort themselves out and assumed a near-commanding lead in the division. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira showed vintage slugging form, Chase Headley hit .364 and even shortstop Didi Gregorius is starting to shake off the ghost of Derek Jeter with a .329 mark for the month. More importantly, a wobbly rotation held together well enough for a strong bullpen to preserve one slim lead after another. The rest of the division isn’t going down without a fight as the Blue Jays, for one, are proving, but the Yankees should be less than weary from here; after their August-opening series at Chicago, they play the rest of their regular season games entirely within the Eastern time zone.

Pittsburgh Pirates (17-9)

The Buccos certainly served notice to the first-place Cardinals that they’re not going away—especially after thrilling come-from-behind, extra-inning wins at home against the Redbirds on consecutive nights right before the All-Star Break. After a sluggish start following the break, the Pirates have put themselves firmly back on track. The real find on the month was Korean import Jung Ho Kang, who lit up opponents with a .379 average and 13 extra base hits in July.

Tampa Bay Rays (9-16)

We hardly knew you, Rays. Really…in fact, just who were you guys anyway? We recognized maybe one or two of you. The No-Name Gang had us impressed for a while, and they started the month with a share of first place; but that’s far from the case now as the Rays extended a rough stretch from late June and finished July having lost 23 of their last 34 games. Even the front office—we don’t know who’s there, either—thought that midnight came for Cinderella, as it mildly played the role of sellers at the trading deadline.

Colorado Rockies (9-15)

Rockies fans don’t deserve this. They’re so lively and amenable, you almost have to bleed for them after what they’ve gone through since Rocktober all those years ago. Outside of a sweep of the Braves at mid-month, the Rockies were just terrible—and they weren’t even hitting, as strange as that sounds, until Carlos Gonzalez (above) single-handedly lifted the team. But it seemed that every time CarGo gave the Rockies a lead, closer John Axford (also see above) lost it. But the final straw for the Rockies’ frustrated faithful was the trade of Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto—for an older star (Jose Reyes) who the team will have to pay more money for. The fans may have a better idea: Trade owner Dick Monfort instead.

Wild Pitches

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

Your Turn, Joey Chestnut
Because there apparently was a record to break, Milwaukee bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel ate 23 Philly cheesesteaks during the Brewers’ four-game sweep of the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Barely Legal
A fan at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field was wearing a White Sox jersey that on the back had the name “Are You” and the number 18.

Of Eggheads and Knuckleheads
Engineering students in Toronto are attempting to build a pitching machine that throws knuckleballs. It wouldn’t so much come in handy for hitters as it would for Blue Jays catchers avoiding being charged with passed balls when fielding R.A. Dickey’s knucklers.

Blowin’ in the Wind
As rain and heavy wind pounded Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, the grounds crew lost control of the infield tarp and it swallowed up one of the workers in spectacular fashion. Several Pirates players including Andrew McCutchen were among those to help the poor guy out.

Can She Play First for the Mariners?
Evelyn Jones became the oldest person to throw a ceremonial first pitch before a major league game at Seattle on July 11 when she gave a soft toss to Felix Hernandez on her 108th birthday.

Hey, That’s Nothing—The Cubs Have Been Pretending for Over 100 Years
Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki, after another Rockies loss: “Hopefully I can be into every single pitch and pretend like something is on the line.” A week later, the long-time Rockie will be traded to Toronto.

Channeling Al Dark
ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd said on air that baseball can’t be too complex because “a third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic,” which is “not known in (his) lifetime as having world class academic abilities.” He was soon after blistered on social media, especially by Dominican-born Toronto slugger Jose Bautista; despite an apology, Cowherd was quickly let go by ESPN.

Save it for the Beer League
Texas second baseman Elvis Andrus stupidly threw his glove high in the air in a desperate attempt to keep Kole Calhoun’s arcing soft liner from going into right field in the Rangers’ 7-6 win at Anaheim on July 26. Not only was Andrus’ stunt silly, it would have been costly had the glove actually hit the ball; baseball rules state that any such contact will result in a three-base error.

Mr. McCutchen’s Wild Ride
On July 29 at Minnesota, the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen rounded the bases on what should have been a single—but boy, did that last 90 feet hurt.

He's Not Called Hesto Presto for Nothing
Rookie San Francisco pitcher Chris Heston got opponents to ground into 13 double plays in the month of July alone.

No Runs, No Hits, No Air
David Price was late to his introductory press conference in Toronto when the Jaguar he was driving from Baltimore got a flat tire. It's too bad he couldn't have been helped out by Daniel Norris, one of three pitchers he was traded for and perhaps going the other way in the VW van he is said to live out of.

This Month’s Proof That Everybody’s Striking Out
But not everybody, for a change. The 5,704 strikeouts in the majors this month is one of the lowest totals in recent years, and although the July schedule usually is a tad more truncated due to the four-day All-Star Break, it’s still the lowest number of K’s seen in July since 2011. So perhaps it’s a sign that the strikeout epidemic may finally be ebbing—or it could be that hitters were just lucky to put bat to ball. We’ll see what August brings.

This Month’s Proof That Every All-Star is Striking Out
The American League struck out 15 times in its 6-3 All-Star Game victory, setting the record for a nine-inning game at the Midsummer Classic. The old record? The previous All-Star Game in 2014, when 13 National Leaguers whiffed.

League vs. League

The National League may have lost the All-Star Game—again—but it otherwise showed some revitalized fight in the interleague wars, taking 33 of 59 games against the American League in July to narrow the AL’s season advantage down to ten games. But with its 116-106 margin, the AL only needs to go 35-43 or better over the final two months to clinch its 12th straight year of interleague dominance.

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Wednesday, July 1
For the third straight game at Tampa Bay, Cleveland pitching takes a perfect game into the sixth inning—and today, Carlos Carrasco is a mere strike away from completing a no-hitter when the Rays’ Joey Butler lines a base hit over the desperate, outstretched glove of Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis. Carrasco settles for a complete-game, 8-1 one-hitter as Brandon Moss knocks in five runs on a double and home run.

It’s the second time this year that a no-hitter was denied with an out to go; Atlanta’s Shelby Miller was the other to just miss.

Elias says it’s the first time in the Expansion Era (which started in 1961) that a team has held an opponent completely off base through the first five innings in three straight games. Apparently no reliable data exists on whether it had happened before that—though given how tough it was to hit during the Deadball Era, chances are that someone matched the Indians’ accomplishment.

Try and top that, Omar Infante: Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, strangely trailing behind the far less deserving Infante in the All-Star vote among American League second basemen, cranks out three hits, steals twice and scores the ultimate game-winning run in the seventh as the Astros finish off an impressive three-game sweep of the visiting Kansas City Royals and cement their status as the AL’s best team, by the record (47-34).

In Seattle’s 7-0 victory at San Diego, Robinson Cano collects four hits, including two off starting Padres pitcher James Shields—giving him 37 lifetime knocks (in 90 at-bats, for a .411 average) against Shields, the most by any active player against an active hurler.

The latest soap opera in Anaheim comes to an end as general manager Jerry Dipoto, who seldom sees eye to eye with veteran Angels manager Mike Scioscia, steps down from the job. Replacing him, temporarily we’re told, is former Angels GM Bill Stoneman.

Thursday, July 2
Jose Fernandez makes his first appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery over a year ago and it’s a success. He allows three runs over six innings with six strikeouts and belts a solo shot off San Francisco’s Matt Cain (making his first appearance in nearly a year) to lift the Miami Marlins over the Giants, 5-4.

Washington ace Max Scherzer is trying to send a 1-1 tie to the tenth at Atlanta but, with one out, Cameron Maybin bounces one down the line and over Yunel Escobar at third base to bring in the winning run for the Braves.

The Nationals believe Maybin’s chopper is foul and ask for a replay, but per the review rules no ball that hits fair in the infield is subject to review.

Jake Arrieta fires eight strong innings and the Chicago Cubs finish off a three-game sweep of the Mets in New York, allowing just one run in their three victories. It’s the lowest run total allowed by the Cubs in a three-game series away from Wrigley Field since 1918.

The Mets, early-season darlings, have dropped to an even .500 (40-40) on the year and have averaged just 1.6 runs in each of their last 14 games.

Matt Boyd learns that, besides crying, there are no mulligans in baseball. The Toronto rookie pitcher starts at home against the Boston Red Sox and faces seven batters—all of who reach and score—before he is given an early exit to the showers. The Red Sox ride their eight-run first inning to a 12-6 triumph, with Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts each collecting four hits.

The St. Louis Cardinals-Houston Astros hacking scandal claims its first employment casualty. Chris Correa, the Cardinals’ scouting director, is fired by the team amid reports that he was one of the people responsible for illegally nosing into the Astros’ servers. The Cardinals, however, will not reveal their reason for the firing.

Friday, July 3
Like the Corleones, the Yankees settle all of the “family business” in one shot regarding Alex Rodriguez. First, they have come to agreement with Rodriguez on a compromise for the $6 million bonus he was to receive for passing Willie Mays on the all-time home run list; instead, the Yankees will denote $3.5 million to multiple charities, with no money going directly into Rodriguez’s bank account. The Yankees also settle with Zach Hample, the professional ball snagger who caught Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit; they’ll donate $150,000 to Pitch in For Baseball, a charity that assists children worldwide through baseball, per a request from Hample.

It’s a cool, but costly, victory for the Detroit Tigers over Toronto at Comerica Park. Anibal Sanchez takes a no-hitter into eighth when the Blue Jays erupt for six runs, but the Tigers by then have already built up a huge lead to buffet the counterattack and they go on to defeat the Blue Jays, 8-6. The truly bad news for Detroit comes midway through the game when star first baseman Miguel Cabrera pulls up with a bad calf on a hit-and-run play and will be placed on the disabled list following the game; he is not expected to return for six weeks.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus on Cabrera’s injury: “I’m not optimistic at all. When Miggy says he can’t play, it is serious—because Miggy plays through everything.”

For the fourth straight game, Miami rookie Justin Bour punches out a home run—it’s his third straight to include the ultimate game-winning run—as the Marlins squeak past the Cubs at Chicago, 2-1.

The Cardinals have lost four straight for the first time all year. San Diego’s Jedd Gyorko sees to that as he homers to tie the game at 1-1 in the 7th, then knocks in the ultimate game-winning run in the ninth to give the Padres a 2-1 road victory.

Saturday, July 4
Two once-promising pitchers who missed all of 2014 to Tommy John surgery make their 2015 major league debuts—and both win. At Chicago, Clayton Richard allows two runs over 6.1 innings and the Cubs—despite being outhit 10-4—ease to a 7-2 home win over Miami as Kris Bryant drills two homers including his second career grand slam. Later out in Phoenix, Patrick Corbin throws the minimum five innings to make him eligible for the 7-3 Diamondbacks’ win over Colorado.

The Nationals earn a complete 9-3 triumph over Madison Bumgarner and the Giants at Washington. Bryce Harper, wielding a bat decorated in the stars and stripes, belts his 25th homer in the first inning, and the Nats become the first team in nearly 100 years to walk opponents two times or less in 17 straight games.

According to Elias, Harper is the third player to finish the Fourth of July with a .340-plus average and at least 25 homers, 60 RBIs and 60 walks. The other two: Frank Thomas and Babe Ruth.

After taking a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth against Baltimore, the Chicago White Sox hold on to dear life in the ninth as Chris Davis’ deep drive with home run distance is denied by Avisail Garcia, who leaps above the top of the wall to steal a potential game-tying shot and preserve the win.

C.J. Cron, recently returned from the minors, knocks in six runs on three hits (including a double and home run) as the Angels serve up the Rangers’ worst home shutout loss since moving to Arlington, 13-0.

Cron has 14 hits against Texas this season, one more than what he’s collected against the other 29 teams.

Kendall Graveman throws seven shutout innings for Oakland and the A’s get past the Seattle Mariners and Felix Hernandez, 2-0. Hernandez had not lost in any of his previous 13 starts at the Coliseum.

Despite the public lynching the A’s took for trading Josh Donaldson to Toronto, they’re certainly feeling better about the deal in that it has netted them Graveman, the 24-year-old rookie who’s thrown seven straight quality starts and is 6-4 with a 3.16 ERA.

Cleveland rookie C.J. Anderson has his third straight fantastic effort since arriving in the bigs, allowing a run on six hits through eight innings at Pittsburgh—but opposing hurler Jeff Locke is better, allowing just two hits in eight shutout innings while at one point retiring 19 straight Indians as the Pirates take a 1-0 squeaker.

Sunday, July 5
The starting lineups for the upcoming All-Star Game at Cincinnati are unveiled, and it shows more than ever that voting reform is needed. There is some sanity in that “only” four Kansas City players are named among AL starters after early tabulations had shown almost an all-Royals lineup. Starting for K.C. will be catcher Salvador Perez, shortstop Alcides Escobar and outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon. Four of the five other everyday Royals players finished second in the vote—including second baseman Omar Infante, who led late despite a powerless .230 average until the far more deserving Jose Altuve grabbed the top spot.

Overall, a staggering 620 million votes were cast, a whopping record increase over the previous high watermark of 390 million in 2012; if you divide that by the maximum 35 votes allowed per person, that’s nearly 18 million people participating. Individually, Toronto’s Josh Donaldson accumulated a record number of votes with 14,090,188—just 77,000 ahead of second-place Mike Trout. Bruce Harper, the only National League to amass over ten million votes, was third with 13,864,950.

Among some of the other head-scratching results from the All-Star vote, beyond the influence of Kansas City fans:

Final All-Star note: This is the first time ever that no player from either the Yankees or Red Sox made the AL’s starting lineup.

The Cardinals finish off the visiting Padres, 3-1; they have allowed two or fewer runs 48 times through their first 81 games. That’s the highest such number of games since the Deadball Era, when the 1907 (51) Cubs and 1907 White Sox (50) gave up two or fewer in their first 81.

His 80-game steroid suspension behind him, Ervin Santana makes his belated season debut for the Twins at Kansas City—where he played last season—and is sharp, allowing two runs on three hits through eight innings. But he exits with the game tied, and the Royals notch the 3-2 game-winner in the ninth thanks to their two starting All-Star outfielders—with Eric Hosmer doubling in Lorenzo Cain.

Tampa Bay ends a seven-game losing streak with an 8-1 drubbing of the Yankees at New York. The Rays began their skid in first place in the AL East; with this victory, they maintain a share of third, but are still only two games out.

The Boston Red Sox edge the visiting Astros, 5-4, in a game in which David Ortiz makes his first start at first base since 2006. (He had appeared 41 times at the position as a midgame replacement during the last nine years.) Turns out, the 39-year-old DH has little to do, playing the entire game at first without making a putout; that’s a first in the 115-year history of Red Sox baseball.

Monday, July 6
The White Sox score three unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth, and Chris Sale takes it from there to wrap up a complete-game, 4-2 home victory over Toronto. However, Sale fails to strike out ten batters (he collects six) and ends an eight-game streak of double-digit Ks that had tied Pedro Martinez’s 1999 major league record for one season. (Martinez still holds the record over two seasons at ten games.)

With both Sale and the Blue Jays’ Mark Buehrle going the distance—neither allows a walk—the game lasts a swift 1:54, the shortest seen in the majors over the last four years.

The White Sox have now scored four or fewer runs in 23 straight home games, setting a franchise record last set in 1968.

After scoring the tying run in the seventh, Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez knocks in the game-winner in the ninth on a two-out single to give the Pirates a 2-1 triumph over the visiting Padres. Here’s the irony: Alvarez is the son-in-law of opposing San Diego skipper Tom Murphy.

Atlanta ends a couple of streaks in Milwaukee, defeating the Brewers 5-3 to stop the Brew Crew’s eight-game win streak; they also keep Milwaukee first baseman Adam Lind from knocking in a run after he had collected at least one RBI in nine straight games, tying a franchise record.

The Braves’ A.J. Pierzynski has his second four-hit game of the year; at 38, he’s the oldest catcher since Carlton Fisk (age 41 in 1989) to have multiple four-hit games in a season.

The Mets face Chris Heston for the first time since the Giants rookie no-hit them last month, and he’s almost just as effective—allowing three hits in 7.1 scoreless innings—but his bullpen, to say nothing of his teammates’ bats, are no help as the Giants give up three in the ninth and lose 3-0 for their seventh straight loss.

After defeating the Dodgers the day before, 8-0, the Mets’ back-to-back shutouts of the Giants and Dodgers in California are the first by any opponent since the two teams moved to the West Coast in 1958.

In the Cubs’ 6-0 loss to St. Louis at Wrigley Field, Chicago pitcher Jon Lester finally picks up his first career hit after a 0-for-66 start when his sharp second-inning ground ball deflects off the knee off the Cardinals’ John Lackey and rolls to a stop, allowing Lester to easily reach first.

Lackey, a former teammate of Lester in Boston: “I’ll autograph (the ball), and I’ll put, ‘You lost, too.’”

Tuesday, July 7
Johnny Cueto earns himself quite a few “final votes” to complete the NL All-Star Game roster. The Cincinnati ace easily outduels projected NL starting pitcher Max Scherzer and fires a two-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts in the Reds’ 5-0 victory at Washington. Joey Votto becomes only the fourth player ever to collect three hits in a game off Scherzer, who lasts less than five frames.

The Royals take two at home from the Rays, 9-5 and 7-1, a day after the originally scheduled game was postponed due to torrential rains and (gasp) a tornado warning (one failed to materialize near Kaufmann Stadium). Paulo Orlando provides the winning stroke in the first game with a walkoff grand slam, while Alex Gordon has seven hits and six RBIs combined between the two games.

The Diamondbacks defeat the Rangers at Arlington, 4-2, and end Yovani Gallardo’s consecutive-inning scoreless streak at 33.1, the third longest in Rangers history.

In a month where pitchers will compile a number of impressive consecutive scoreless inning streaks, there seems to be a difference of opinion—or perhaps just confusion—over when a streak actually starts or ends. Look at Kenny Rogers, who owns the Rangers’ record that Gallardo was trying to break. Journalists following Gallardo’s run are being told that Rogers’ mark is 39 innings., our go-to for historical stats, has it at 40.1 innings. So we decided to look it up and came out with 40 flat.

So why can’t we all get along? This is the way we see it: Any streak of consecutive scoreless innings starts with an out. There’s one-third of an inning right there. Then it continues until the next run scores, after X number of outs—or thirds of innings—has been recorded. But others don’t see it that way; they think a streak should begin with the first full scoreless inning thrown. So if a pitcher gives up a three-run homer with nobody out and then retires the next three batters to end the inning, that to us should count as an inning. But others say no; because runs scored in the inning, those outs shouldn’t count. We disagree.

Wednesday, July 8
The Royals make it three in a row over the Rays as they beat up on Chris Archer (who entered the game with a 2.18 ERA) for nine runs in a 9-7 victory. The bad news for Kansas City: Alex Gordon severely strains his groin while trying to slow up in front of the outfield wall and will miss the next two months as well as the upcoming All-Star Game, for which he’s listed as a starter.

Gordon’s injury entirely sets the tone for the first game since 1997 in which two inside-the-park homers are hit. The Rays’ Logan Forsythe rounds the bases on the play Gordon hurts himself on; later, Jarrod Dyson—who replaces Gordon in the lineup—will also hit an inside-the-parker.

The Cardinals are one strike away from a 5-4 loss at Chicago when Jhonny Peralta connects on a two-run shot off Cubs closer Pedro Strop; the Cubs fail to rebut and lose the game at Wrigley Field, 6-5.

Trevor Bauer throws eight solid innings and strikes out nine as the Indians take care of the Astros at Cleveland, 4-2. Bauer joins three teammates (Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar) with 100 or more Ks in the Indians’ 84th game; it’s the shortest number of games, ever, in which four pitchers on one team have reached triple-digits.

A night after Johnny Cueto makes his case for the NL’s final All-Star vote, Clayton Kershaw makes his—and it’s just as good. The reigning NL Cy Young winner is in prime form, striking out 13 Phillies and scattering eight hits for his tenth career shutout as the Dodgers breeze at Chavez Ravine, 5-0.

Thursday, July 9
It’s a good day to be a star pitcher, as you’ll read next:

The Dodgers’ Zack Greinke allows just one hit through eight scoreless innings and extends his streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 35.2 in a 6-0 defeat of the Phillies.

In his second start back from Tommy John surgery, the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez is terrific over seven shutout innings at Miami, striking out nine and allowing six hits and no walks in the Marlins’ 2-0 win over the Reds. Fernandez is now 14-0 in 22 career starts at Marlins Park; the win total is two shy of a major league record to start a career at home, while the 22 starts do break the mark previous held by Montreal’s David Palmer from 1979-84.

In Seattle, the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez also tosses seven shutout innings to defeat the visiting Angels, 7-2; he extends a streak of starts against Los Angeles of Anaheim in which he allows one or no runs to eight, something accomplished only by two other pitchers in major league history against a single team: Juan Marichal against the New York Mets from 1964-66, and Jose Rijo against Houston from 1988-90.

Jeff Samardzija throws his second career shutout—both at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field—as the White Sox cool off the hot-hitting Blue Jays with a rare shutout, 2-0.

Samardzija’s other shutout at “The Cell” came as a visiting player, in 2013 when he pitched for the crosstown Cubs.

Masahiro Tanaka scatters just two hits through 7.2 innings, and Brett Gardner collects three hits including a home run on the day he finds out he’s been named an All-Star (filling in for an injured Alex Gordon) as the Yankees dump on the A’s in New York, 6-2.

The Yankees’ final two runs are tallied on a bad throw by Oakland shortstop Marcus Semien, who now has 28 errors on the year. That’s the highest number of errors committed before the All-Star Break since the majors switched to a 162-game schedule in 1961. Semien’s 28 goofs also aren’t far behind the 35 that the Los Angeles Dodgers have committed as a team.

Friday, July 10
Kansas City fans apparently haven’t been hit with All-Star voting fatigue. After six Royals were voted into the upcoming All-Star Game—with four in the starting lineup—a seventh is added when third baseman Mike Moustakas gets the nod in the “Final Vote” as selected from a group of five AL players who didn’t make the first cut. The NL winner is a bigger surprise, with St. Louis pitcher Carlos Martinez beating out star pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Johnny Cueto (who both had dazzling performances this week) to earn the final roster spot.

There just must be nothing better to do in Missouri than to go online and cast All-Star votes.

Minnesota’s Brian Dozier, who loses out to Moustakas for the AL’s final roster spot, takes out his frustration on the visiting Tigers at Target Field. With the Twins trailing 6-0 in the eighth, he singles in one run—and in the ninth, he clocks a three-run homer to cap a seven-run rally and give Minnesota an 8-6, come-from-behind win.

For the Twins, it’s their first comeback win from five or more runs down in the ninth since 1997. For Dozier, it’s his second walkoff homer this week, having dunked the Orioles five days earlier.

Atlanta’s Shelby Miller is going to the All-Star Game, but he’s also going as a pitcher who hasn’t won a game in his last ten starts over two months. Tonight he takes a drubbing from the Rockies, who knock him for five runs on 11 hits in five innings at Coors Field as the Braves lose, 5-3.

Miller hasn’t won since coming within an out of a no-hitter on May 17 at Miami; his 3.32 ERA during his drought is respectable, but the Braves at the same time have only given him an average of 2.4 runs per start.

The Angels are starting to make things interesting in the AL West. Mike Trout twice goes deep—he now has five homers in his last four games and is tied with teammate Albert Pujols atop the AL leaderboard with 26—and the Angels thump the Mariners at Seattle, 7-3. Coupled with the Astros’ fourth straight loss (a 3-1 defeat at Tampa Bay), the Angels are now just a half-game behind Houston for the division lead.

If Cole Hamels is sniffing to get out of Philadelphia, his performance at San Francisco does not make for a good audition. The star lefty concedes nine runs on 12 hits (including a Hunter Pence grand slam) as the Giants pound the Phillies, 15-2, on 22 hits—the most the Giants have collected in a nine-inning game since moving to San Francisco.

The Dodgers are trailing the Brewers 2-0 in the seventh when Milwaukee third baseman Hernan Perez—who had entered as a defensive replacement for Aramis Ramirez—boots a two-out grounder. That opens the floodgates for the Dodgers, who score three times to ultimately defeat the Brewers, 3-2.

Earning credit for the victory is reliever Chin-Hui Tsao, making his first appearance in the majors since 2007—and getting his first W since 2005. The last pitcher to go ten years between wins was Johnny Lindell, who went without a win between 1942 and 1953 because he played as an outfielder in between.

Saturday, July 11
There’s still a little less than half the season to go, but this prove could pivotal down the stretch: Andrew McCutchen’s come-from-behind, two-run shot in the bottom of the 14th sends the Pirates home as victors over the first-place Cardinals at PNC Park, bringing the Bucs to within 3.5 games of St. Louis in the NL Central. The Cardinals blow three separate leads in the game.

McCutchen’s homer comes after having gone hitless in seven trips to the plate (including three walks), and extends a personal hitting streak to 17 games. No player has ever kept a streak that long alive that late in a game.

The Marlins, scorers of 12 runs over their previous seven games, make up for lost offense by hammering the Reds at Miami, 14-3, on 21 hits—including a franchise-record nine in a row during an eight-run seventh inning. The bad news for the Fish: The first of those hits is an infield single by Dee Gordon, who dislocates a thumb sliding head-first into first base on the play and will miss at least two weeks.

Gordon’s injury now makes it five All-Star Game starters who will not be able to play this coming week—including both of Miami’s representatives in Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton.

The Giants come from behind to defeat the beleaguered Phillies (now 29-61), 8-5, and in the process draw in their 50 millionth fan since moving into AT&T Park in 2000. The 15+ years it takes to reach that figure is the shortest time span for any ballpark.

It’s a complete day for the Mets’ Matt Harvey, who throws seven sharp innings against the Diamondbacks at Citi Field and tags a go-ahead two-run homer that’s the first of his career in a 4-2 New York victory.

The Padres are a strike away from their seventh straight loss when Yangervis Solarte slams a two-run shot off Texas closer Shawn Tolleson, giving San Diego a 6-5 win at Arlington.

Sunday, July 12
The Mets’ Kirk Nieuwenhuis, batting .091 with no homers in 67 at-bats for the season, goes deep in each of his first three at-bats to give New York a 5-3 victory and three-game series sweep of Arizona. Nieuwenhius is the first Met ever to have a hat trick at home in the franchise’s 54-year history.

All 13 of the Mets’ runs in their sweep of Arizona came off of home runs; that hadn’t been done in a three-game sweep since Baltimore did it at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium in 1960.

For the second straight night, the Pirates thrill their PNC Park faithful with extra-inning, come-from-behind dramatics against the NL Central-leading Cardinals. Down 5-3 in the tenth after Randal Grichuk doubles in two for St. Louis, the Bucs forge a two-out rally as five straight Pirates reach, the last on a Gregory Polanco single that brings the winning run home in a 6-5 triumph.

It’s only the eighth time in major league history—and the third by the Pirates—in which a team has won consecutive games after trailing in extra innings.

For the first time in 84 days, we have a new leader in the AL West. Houston loses at Tampa Bay, 4-3—with Tommy John survivor Matt Moore picking up his first win for the Rays since 2013—while the Angels later pound the Mariners at Seattle 10-3 behind seven shutout innings from rookie Andrew Heaney to give the Halos a half-game lead in the division.

At the other end of the AL West, the cellar-dwelling A’s move within a game of fourth place thanks to ace Sonny Gray, who delivers a two-hit, 2-0 shutout win at Cleveland. It’s Gray’s second career blanking, both accomplished this year.

Jake Arrieta does it all for the Cubs at Wrigley Field; against the White Sox, the right-hander wins his tenth game of the year with a complete-game two-hitter while launching his first career homer to cap the Cubs’ scoring in a 3-1 decision.

With the Royals up 7-0 after five innings over Toronto, you know that the high-powered Blue Jays are going to have a say at some point. And they do, scoring eight runs in the sixth to temporarily take the lead. But the Royals counter and survive on the day, winning 11-10 despite four errors that lead to eight unearned Blue Jays runs.

Monday, July 13
It’s been a lousy year for the Reds, but Todd Frazier makes Cincinnati fans proud for a night as the third baseman wins the Home Run Derby over Albert Pujols. Frazier also hits the longest homer of any of the eight participants, at 489 feet, and becomes the third Red to win the Derby; the other two are Dave Parker in the very first Derby in 1985 and Eric Davis, who in 1989 shared the title with Ruben Sierra.

The Derby is played under a new format this year, in which participants must now hit as many home runs as possible within a five-minute time limit, reduced to four because of the threat of turbulent weather. It’s all about time for baseball these days.

Where was Yoenis Cespedes, who won the previous two Derbys? He declined this year, saying he would only participate if he was an All-Star. Kansas City fans said no.

An Oakland A’s season ticket holder files a lawsuit with a Federal court against baseball, asking that protective netting be placed at major league ballparks from pole to pole to prevent fans from being hit by foul balls and bats, broken or intact.

In response, MLB gives its “we’re doing our best” speech and says it is in talks with the players union to come up with a solution for fan safety.

It’s interesting to note that Gail Payne, the suit’s plaintiff, has tickets in the second deck of the Oakland Coliseum—not only does she not sit in the field level where the netting would likely be extended, but the Coliseum is the least coziest major league facility in use today in terms of spectator seating.

Tuesday, July 14
Zack Greinke starts the All-Star Game having thrown 35 consecutive scoreless innings, but Mike Trout isn’t impressed. The Angels superstar belts a leadoff, first-inning homer off the Dodgers ace to set the tone for a 6-3 AL victory over the NL at Cincinnati for its third straight victory and 15th over the last 18 (discounting the infamous 2002 tie).

Greinke’s streak is still alive, as it only counts regular season innings.

Trout wins the game’s MVP award for the second straight year—an All-Star Game first—and is now 5-for-10 in four ASGs with two doubles, a triple and a home run.

Lineup oddities: The AL fields a starting lineup that is all right-handed, only the second time that has occurred in All-Star Game history, while the NL’s starting nine features representatives of nine different teams, the first time that has happened.

At a luncheon before the game, commissioner Rob Manfred faces the press and discusses several hot-button baseball topics. On fan safety, Manfred says he doesn’t want to make “reactive” decisions based on recent events (such as a woman who was badly hurt by a runaway bat at Fenway Park) and any increased protection won’t be likely until 2016, if even then. Manfred also says that a new anti-domestic violence policy will soon be in place; a return to a 154-game schedule would result in economic “pressure” to review the postseason process; is open to expansion; and he would like to discuss implementing pitch clocks in major league games with the union, which is staunchly opposed to the concept.

Wednesday, July 15
People are responding to MLB’s release of each of the 30 teams’ “Franchise Four” from the day before. It is baseball’s idea of each team’s Mount Rushmore and who belongs there; we’ve done the same thing up for a few years now in our Teams section, though our selections includes owners, executives and managers—whereas MLB’s version includes only players.

Eight “nominees” were selected by those in the know, including the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, Elias and official MLB historian John Thorn. From there, the fans were asked to select the final four to be honored, wherever.

As with the selection of 1999’s All-Century Team, the Franchise Four results show that fans are history-challenged and probably blindly shrug when they hear names like Pete Alexander or Christy Mathewson. In some cases, the modern-day slant makes sense—such as the Reds’ final four of Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin and Joe Morgan, because before the 1960s nobody of major star consequence ever suited up for Cincinnati. (Apologies to Edd Roush.) But why pick four relatively recent players for the Chicago Cubs when they haven’t been to a World Series since 1945? Does anyone remember big-time names like Frank Chance, Three Finger Brown and Cap Anson, great players who earned the right to taste championship champagne in Chicago?

For our top ten tally of the most egregious omissions on the Franchise Four lists, go here.

Arizona state officials decide not to name a section of State Highway 51 after retired Diamondbacks ace Randy Johnson because it would replace the current name honoring the first female soldier who died in the Iraq War. The surviving family members of Lori Piestewa protested the plan; the politicians and Diamondbacks obliged with little counter-resistance.

And why name Highway 51 after Johnson? Because that was his uniform number with the Diamondbacks.

Friday, July 17
After the four-game All-Star Break, baseball resumes…or at least the Dodgers and Nationals try to resume things in Washington, but the Nationals Park electrical grid isn’t cooperating. Three times through the first six innings, the same bank of lights at the seven-year-old ballpark goes out, causing the game to be suspended for the evening with the Nationals ahead, 3-2. The game will resume Saturday afternoon with the Nats going on to win, 5-3.

Everybody—we mean, everybody—is back in action for the Giants in their 6-5, 12-inning win at Arizona. San Francisco uses ten pitchers, which is not a team record—but only if you count September games with expanded rosters and, thus, expanded bullpens. The game itself lasts just a shade over five hours.

A summertime deluge outside of Chase Field seeps through the roof, with something resembling a modest rain dropping right down atop the pitching mound, distracting some of the pitchers.

Mike Trout, coming off his MVP performance at the All-Star Game, belts a walkoff homer in the bottom of the ninth to give the Angels a 1-0 victory at Anaheim over the Red Sox. Trout’s blast was only the second hit of the game for the Angels, after Kole Calhoun broke up Wade Miley’s no-hit bid in the seventh with a double.

Houston ends a six-game losing streak (but remains a half-game behind the Angels in the AL West) with a 3-2 home win over Texas—despite 15 hits by the Rangers.

Dansby Swanson, the #1 pick in this year’s MLB amateur draft, signs with the Diamondbacks just minutes before the mandated signing deadline for $6.5 million—a little more than $2 million under the slotted maximum he could have received.

Saturday, July 18
Jon Lester takes a no-hitter into the eighth inning at Atlanta before the Braves finally get a couple of knocks off of him, but the Cubs still ease to a 4-0 triumph.

In the regularly scheduled game at Nationals Park following the completion of Friday’s darkly-lit affair between the Dodgers and Nationals, Clayton Kershaw atones for his All-Star Game loss by blanking Washington on three hits with 14 strikeouts through eight shutout innings in the Dodgers’ 4-2 win.

After an unusually mediocre start to his season, Kershaw is now 5-3 over his last ten starts—with a 1.36 ERA and 101 strikeouts (against 11 walks) in 72.2 innings.

The Angels’ Garrett Richards nails down the Red Sox, 3-0, on two hits for his tenth win of the season and second career shutout. Boston has been blanked in consecutive games at Anaheim to begin action—or a lack of it—after the All-Star Break.

Baltimore’s Chris Tillman allows a leadoff first-inning single to the Tigers’ Ian Kinsler at Detroit—then proceeds to allow only a walk through eight innings of shutout ball as the Orioles prevail, 3-0.

This is the second time Tillman has put up eight hitless zeroes in a game after allowing a leadoff hit. He also did it in 2012 against Boston.

Finally, some solid hitting to report on the day: Seattle’s Robinson Cano, at Yankee Stadium to play against his former team of nine seasons, has his first multi-homer game as a member of the Mariners in a 4-3 win.

According to Elias, the only other ex-Yankee to have his first multi-homer game against the Yankees was another star second baseman, Joe Gordon, in 1948.

Sunday, July 19
Zack Greinke is starting to see Orel Hershiser ahead in the distance. The Dodgers’ co-ace throw eight shutout innings at Washington, striking out 11, and extends his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 43.2—the longest since Hershiser’s record-breaking 59 in 1988. It’s also Greinke’s sixth straight start without allowing a run, which ties a major league record.

The Nationals’ Bryce Harper, who is 0-for-2 with a walk against Greinke, gives his assessment of the pitcher—and perhaps home plate umpire Bill Miller as well: “When you’re getting five to six inches off of the plate, you better win the game.”

It takes 18 innings, but the Mets outlast the Cardinals at St. Louis by a 3-1 count. In the process, they go 1-for-26 with runners in scoring position and leave 25 men on base—two shy of the major league record, and the most by a team that wins a game.

The loss is tagged on the Cardinals’ Carlos Martinez, who was scheduled to start in two days but was forced into the game because everyone else in the St. Louis bullpen had been used.

Cole Hamels is among the hottest targets as the trading deadline looms—but at this point, does anyone really want him? The southpaw gives up five runs on eight hits in three innings at home against Miami, and is now winless in his last nine starts with four losses and a 5.06 ERA. The Phillies, trailing when Hamels departs, mount a comeback and win it in the ninth, 8-7, on Jeff Francoeur’s two-run home run.

Tropical rains in Southern California cause rare rainouts in both Anaheim and San Diego. The Sunday night game at Angels Stadium between the Angels and Red Sox is called off, resulting in the first rainout at Angels Stadium in 20 years. Meanwhile, the Padres and Rockies can’t get it going in what will be only the second rainout since Petco Park opened in 2004.

Monday, July 20
Making up for lost time after a rainy Sunday, the Angels twice knock off the Red Sox, 11-1 and 7-3, in a doubleheader to finish off a four-game sweep of Boston.
Albert Pujols is the star on the day, belting three home runs and bolting past Mike Schmidt for 15th on the all-time list with 549; his 29 homers for the year leads all major leaguers.

In more obscure news, Pujols also skips past Schmidt on the all-time list of games with three or more RBIs with 167.

The four total runs scored by the Red Sox in the series are the lowest for any set of four games they have played since 1965. The four losses at Anaheim also place them at 42-51, tied with Seattle for the AL’s worst record.

Nick Markakis’ first-inning home run—his first of the year—puts the Braves on cue to defeat the Dodgers at Turner Field, 7-5. Markakis had never hit fewer than ten in any of his previous nine seasons; the Giants’ Angel Pagan now has the most at-bats (339) of any major leaguer without a home run on the year.

A.J. Burnett, who has pitched nine quality starts without a win this season, is beat up by the Royals at Kansas City with six runs allowed on 11 hits through six innings—but he gets the win as the Pirates manage to outslug the Royals, 10-7, behind once-and-current Pirate Travis Ishikawa’s two doubles, home run and four RBIs.

No other pitcher this season has allowed as many runs and hits and still won.

The Rockies bolt out to a 7-0 second-inning lead at Denver—but as we all know, no lead at Coors Field is safe, and the visiting Rangers prove that by fighting back with seven unanswered runs, including one in the ninth to tie. But Ben Paulsen saves the day for Colorado as he caps a bottom-of-the-ninth rally with a run-scoring single to give the Rockies an 8-7 triumph.

Tuesday, July 21
The Phillies, who could use some starting pitching—their rotation ERA is dead last at 5.39—give highly rated prospect Aaron Nola his major league debut. Nola does well, allowing a run in six innings—but that one run is a solo homer off the bat of Tampa Bay rookie pitcher Nathan Karns, which results in the lone run of the game as the Rays win at Philadelphia, 1-0.

It’s the first time in modern (since 1900) history in which a rookie pitcher hit a solo shot for the game’s only run.

The Rangers ease to a 9-0 rout of the Rockies at Coors Field behind six shutout innings from Matt Harrison—winning his first game since May 8, 2014—and Shin-Soo Choo, who becomes the ninth player in franchise history to hit for the cycle.

Choo, perhaps overly hungry for more, strikes out four times the next day at Denver.

Kyle Schwarber, yet another talented rookie on the Cubs’ roster, belts a two-run homer in the ninth to tie the Reds at Cincinnati, then pokes out a solo shot in the 13th to give Chicago a 5-4 win. Schwarber is now hitting .410 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 39 at-bats.

Toronto’s Josh Donaldson doubles twice in his first game back at Oakland, as the Jays breeze 7-1 past the A’s and Kendall Graveman, one of the prime players Donaldson was traded from Oakland for.

Mark Buehrle sets a Toronto record by pitching at least six innings and allowing two earned runs or fewer in his ninth straight start.

Wednesday, July 22
Jose Fernandez improves his season record to 3-0 and moves his career ERA to 2.30—third lowest in major league history after 40 starts, behind Vida Blue (1.99) and Howie Pollet (2.14)—in Miami’s 5-3 win at Arizona. A slight pall is cast over the game when Fernandez nails the Diamondbacks’ David Peralta in the head; Peralta will leave the game but avoids serious injury.

The Angels win their seventh straight at home against Minnesota, 5-2, as Huston Street easily preserves the victory in the ninth for his 300th career save. Street, 31, ties Jason Isringhausen and Bruce Sutter for 25th on the all-time list; he is fourth among active pitchers.

San Diego pitcher James Shields, who carries a reputation for eating up innings, is lifted after five scoreless innings and 93 pitches at Petco Park against the Giants—who proceed to thrash four Padres relievers with seven runs over the next three innings to ease away with a 7-1 triumph.

Thursday, July 23
Zack Greinke may be making news for racking up the zeroes, but he’s got company among his teammates in Clayton Kershaw. The reigning Cy Young Award winner is in peak form against a feeble Mets lineup at New York, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning and settling for a three-hit shutout, extending his own streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 29. The Mets entered the game with three of their starting position players hitting under .200 and the other five batting around .250.

Kershaw becomes the first pitcher in modern times to start three straight games and strike out at least ten while not allowing a run and walk.

The Red Sox finish off their first winless road trip of seven or more games since 1951 by being defeated at Houston, 5-4, on a walkoff home run from Jose Altuve.

Arizona’s Zack Godley, making his major league debut, becomes the first pitcher in the modern era to start with six shutout innings, seven or more strikeouts and no walks as the Diamondbacks stomp the visiting Marlins, 8-3.

As the trading deadline nears, the Oakland A’s make the first big move (while raising the white flag on their disappointing season) by dealing pitcher Scott Kazmir to Houston for two minor leaguers.

MLB announces the top jersey sales by name. Who’s the most popular? It’s the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, followed by the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, the Giants’ Buster Posey, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the Nationals’ Bryce Harper. Mike Trout is the first AL representative on the list at #7; in fact, only six of the top 20 names on the list hail from the Junior Circuit.

Friday, July 24
The Astros like what they see from Scott Kazmir. In his first start for Houston, a day after being traded from Oakland, Kazmir dials up seven shutout innings, allowing three hits in a 4-0 win at Kansas City.

Not to be outdone, the Royals two days later will pick up Johnny Cueto from Cincinnati.

In his first appearance at Anaheim since being let go by the Angels, Josh Hamilton answers a rain of boos with two hits and two runs to lift the Rangers to a 4-2 win.

Hamilton says to Angels catcher and former teammate Chris Ianetta during the game: “They booed me when I played here and they boo me when I’m not playing here.”

Facing Max Scherzer for the first time since he no-hit them on June 20, the Pirates fair much better as they clock three homers and bring in five runs in five innings against the Washington ace, as the Bucs outlast the Nationals, 7-5.

The Red Sox enter their game at Fenway against Detroit with eight straight losses; the opposing pitcher, Justin Verlander, hasn’t won in six starts so far this year. Something has to give. And it’s the Red Sox, who eke out a 2-1, 11-inning victory on Xander Bogaerts’ run-scoring single—all despite eight solid innings earlier from Verlander.

Saturday, July 25
Cole Hamels’ trade value gets a big-time boost. The ace for the Phillies—though how much longer, who knows—had gone winless in two months and looked awful of late but today no-hits the Cubs at Chicago, 5-0, walking two and striking out 13. With his trade to Texas four days later, Hamels is the second pitcher (after the Rangers' Bert Blyleven in 1977) to throw a no-no in his last start for a team.

The Cubs are no-hit for the first time in nearly 50 years and 7,920 games, since Sandy Koufax threw a perfect game against them at Dodger Stadium in 1965. Cincinnati now holds the longest such run, last failing to get a hit on June 3, 1971 against the Cubs’ Ken Holtzman.

Catching Hamels’ no-hitter is Carlos Ruiz, who has now caught a record-tying four (if, that is, you include the postseason no-no fired by Roy Halladay in 2010.)

Maybe it wasn’t as graceful as Steven Souza Jr.’s swan dive in the outfield to wrap up Jordan Zimmermann’s no-no on the final day of the 2014 season, but Odubel Herrera’s putout to end Hamels’ no-no was every bit as heart-pounding—if not more.

NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk had, in retrospect, a curiously funny headline the night before Hamels’ start: “Cole Hamels’ trade value shouldn’t change based on Saturday’s start, but it might.” Gee, you think?

Just two days before his 40th birthday, Alex Rodriguez belts three home runs for the fifth time in his career—one shy of the all-time record of six shared by Johnny Mize and Sammy Sosa; his third and final homer of the night sparks a four-run rally in the ninth to give the Yankees an 8-5 victory at Minnesota. For those keeping score, Rodriguez is not the oldest player ever to go deep thrice in one game; that honor belongs to Stan Musial, who accomplished the feat in his penultimate season of 1962 when he was 41 years and 229 days old. The Mets, ridiculed of late for poor hitting, finally come to life in a big way at Citi Field against the Dodgers—pounding out 21 hits in a 15-2 rout.

Sunday, July 26
It’s Enshrinement Day in Cooperstown as Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio are officially entered into the Hall of Fame. Martinez, a native of the Dominican Republic, fights recent comments by ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd saying that Dominican players excel at baseball because the game is not “complex.” Smoltz wears an outrageous wig during his speech to combat bald-headed jokes by former teammates (and fellow Cooperstown inductees) Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. And Johnson and Biggio make heartfelt speeches of the sacrifices made by members of their families to make their baseball dreams come true.

On the media side, Tom Gage is the recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for journalists—despite being laid off by both the Detroit News and Fox Sports Detroit in the last year.

Zack Greinke, whose scheduled start is pushed back to today following the birth of his child, sees his consecutive scoreless inning streak end at 45.2—the fourth longest in modern era history—when the Mets’ Kirk Nieuwenhuis scores on a ground out by opposing pitcher Jacob deGrom after getting hit to reach base. More frustration hounds the Dodgers in the tenth when Juan Uribe—who started the year with the Dodgers but has found his way to New York following a trade this week from Atlanta—singles in the game-winner in a 3-2 Mets conquest.

With the Giants finishing off a three-game sweep of the A’s, the Dodgers’ NL West lead has been pared to a single game.

Boston bats finally come to life thanks, in large part, to David Ortiz—who goes deep twice and drives in a career-high seven runs in the Red Sox’ 11-1 rout of Detroit.

If this is how the Reds’ pitching will be in the post-Johnny Cueto era, God help them. At Colorado, starter Michael Lorenzen and the first guy to replace him, Dylan Alexrod, combine to give up 16 runs on 12 hits and five walks in just four innings as the Rockies go on to trounce Cincinnati, 17-7. Carlos Gonzalez and Ben Paulsen each smack two homers for Colorado.

Monday, July 27
The swirling rumor mill revolving around All-Star infielder Troy Tulowitzki finally spins out some fact. The ten-year Colorado veteran is traded along with 42-year-old reliever LaTroy Hawkins to the Toronto Blue Jays for infielder Jose Reyes and three minor leaguers. Tulowitzki’s arrival in Toronto is expected to spark a Blue Jays offense that is already quite potent.

Tulowitzki is due to make $20 million per season through 2020; it will be interesting to see how the oft-injured shortstop, currently 30 years of age, holds up on Toronto’s artificial surface; that given, look for him to DH more in the years to come. But Reyes is older (32), is due even more money per year ($22 million through 2018) and although considered more of a table-setter in the lineup, he lacks Tulowitzki’s power and defensive skills. The imbalance of the trade leaves many believing that the Rockies will turn around and flip Reyes elsewhere in the coming days.

In his final game as a Rockie, Tulowitzki is 0-for-5 with a ground-out RBI amid a four-run, ninth-inning rally that gives Colorado an 8-7 lead at Chicago. But the Cubs bounce back as Kris Bryant takes Rockies closer John Axford deep for a two-run shot and a 9-8 victory at Wrigley Field.

The Rockies lose despite two more homers from Carlos Gonzalez—also rumored to be on the trading block—giving him seven over his last five games.

Alex Rodriguez celebrates his 40th birthday with a sixth-inning solo shot—his 24th homer of the year and 678th for his career—in the Yankees’ 6-2 win in Arlington over the Rangers. Rodriguez becomes only the fourth player to hit homers before his 20th birthday and on or after his 40th; the other three are Ty Cobb, Rusty Staub and Gary Sheffield.

It was also the sixth time Rodriguez has homered on his birthday, the most ever by any major leaguer.

Tuesday, July 28
Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia, active for less than a month after serving an 80-game suspension for steroid use, tests positive again—and this time, it will cost him 162 games. Mejia is said to use both Stanozolol—which got him nailed back in April—and Boldenone. Mets GM Sandy Alderson: “I think not surprisingly there’s a tremendous amount of disappointment. I think to some extent, anger.”

Mejia will be sweating out every drug test from this point on, because a third positive will result in a lifetime ban from the game.

Jonathan Papelbon can stop squawking. After publicly demanding a trade from the downtrodden Phillies for much of the season, the veteran closer is finally shifted over to the first-place Nationals, who send Double-A pitcher Nick Pivetta over to the Phillies in return.

The Rangers jump on the Yankees and starter Chris Capuano in the first inning, building up a quick 5-0 lead; after that, it’s all Yankees, who score 21 unanswered runs—including 11 in the second inning—and do not allow a Texas hit for the rest of the night in a 21-5 slaughter.

We know rules are rules, but it still takes some explaining as to how Yankee reliever Adam Warren can get a save for pitching the final three innings with his team ahead by 13-plus runs.

Overall, the pitching is so bad that two veteran pitchers who participate will be designated for assignment after the game: Capuano by the Yankees, and Wandy Rodriguez—who gives up seven of New York’s 11 second-inning runs as a reliever—by the Rangers.

Houston opens a three-game showdown at home against the AL West-leading Angels with a 10-5 victory, pulling away after several early deficits thanks to Jose Altuve, who knocks in a career-high five runs.

In the A’s 2-0 win at Los Angeles, Oakland’s Sonny Gray throws his second shutout of the month, on three hits—and in the process impresses the opposing Dodgers to the point that they might intensify conversations with A’s GM Billy Beane to trade for him because, what the heck, Beane’s traded just about everyone else away from his team in the last week.

Who is Curt Casali? The first rookie catcher to ever hit multiple home runs in consecutive games, that’s who. The 26-year old goes deep twice for the second straight night as the Rays thump on Detroit, 10-2. Casali now has seven homers in 50 at-bats; in five previous minor league campaigns, he never hit more than ten in any one season.

The Hall of Fame announces that voters who have not been actively involved in covering the game for ten or more years will no longer be eligible to vote.

Many read into this change in different ways; our take is that this move was done to weed out voters who might not be as informed about the game as they once were.

Wednesday, July 29
Cole Hamels is finally traded, and the winner is…the Texas Rangers (who, after losing 21-5 the previous night, could use some pitching). In return, a package of prospects is coming the Phillies’ way.

Troy Tulowitzki’s debut with the Blue Jays is a blast—literally. Given the unlikely task of batting leadoff, the former Rockies star drills two doubles and a 460-foot homer, with three runs and three RBIs in the Jays’ 8-2 romp of the Hamels-less Phillies at Toronto.

It took 54 years for a Mets player to go deep three times in a home game—and a mere three weeks more for a second to do it. After Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ unlikely hat trick earlier in the month, Lucas Duda hits three homers for New York at Citi Field against the Padres—but alas for the Mets, his shots are all solo and account for their only runs in a 7-3 loss.

It’s the sixth time in history in which a player accounted for all three runs with three solo homers while his team lost. The last to do it was also a Met: Ike Davis in 2012.

Proving that there is crying in baseball, Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores appears on the field midway through the game teary-eyed—all after being told that this would be his last game as a Met as he’s been sent packing to the Brewers with pitcher Zack Wheeler for outfielder Carlos Gomez. But then…the deal falls through when the Mets discover a possible hip issue with Gomez. The next day, Gomez will be sent to Houston.

Amid recent public criticism from players complaining that their clubhouse has become more “I” than “we”, the Indians avoid losing a seventh straight home game by crushing the Royals at Cleveland, 12-1; their first-inning tally is, in fact, the first time they had led at any point in a game since their last victory a week earlier. Corey Kluber (now 6-11 after winning a Cy Young award last season) goes the distance for the Indians.

At Seattle, Arizona wins its fifth straight game with ease, 8-2, as catcher and former Mariner Wellington Castillo belts two homers.

Castillo has eight homers for the Diamondbacks since the trade—while slugger Mark Trumbo, who the Mariners got in return primarily for punch, has only three for Seattle.

For the first time in organized baseball history, balls and strikes are called via computer at an independent minor league game in San Rafael, California. It works like this: A monitor showing the strike zone determines whether a pitch is a strike or not, and the call is made over the public address by former major leaguer Eric Byrnes, a computerized strike zone proponent. A home plate umpire remains behind the catcher to determine foul tips and in-play calls such as a runner being tagged at the plate, etc. This is the first night of a two-game experiment.

Does it work? The process seems legitimate. It’s just a matter of whether Baseball wants to move forward with instituting the technology to lower levels of minor league ball on an indefinite basis. But first, some kinks have to be ironed out—most specifically, the actual size of the strike zone as it relates to the batter, which is different depending on his height; after all, famed baseball midget Eddie (3’7”) Gaedel’s strike zone is going to be smaller than, say, that of Nate Freiman (6’8”). There’s also the issue of a player crouching down to reduce the zone, as Rod Carew successfully proved over 3,000 times.

Even if the process is perfected, expect Baseball to drag its heals on instituting it. MLB may only suggest its imminence as a veiled threat against umpires at contract time, or if it feels that the umps are continuing to deviate from the rulebook and are going by their own interpretation of the zone.

Balls and strikes are the last bastion of the game’s human element. Expect it to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, July 30
Two days after landing Troy Tulowitzki, the Blue Jays make it unmistakably clear that they’re going for broke by landing the top name left available on the trade market: David Price. The 29-year-old ace, a free agent at season’s end, is dealt from Detroit for a trio of left-handed minor league pitchers included highly touted Daniel Norris.

In his one calendar season with the Tigers, Price was 13-8 with a 2.89 ERA in 32 starts.

The Dodgers, who were said to be hot on the trail for Price, settle for Miami’s Mat Latos and Atlanta’s Alex Wood to buffet up a depth-challenged rotation as they complete a complex 13-player trade with the Marlins and Braves. Among the players going Atlanta’s way is Cuban émigré Hector Olivera, who the Dodgers paid $62 million to acquire last year; Miami will receive three low-level minor leaguers and will otherwise save payroll (surprise!) by writing off both Latos and outfielder-first baseman Michael Morse (sent to L.A. before being flipped to Pittsburgh the next day).

It’s a sweep for the Astros over the Angels, as Jason Castro launches a three-run homer to break a 0-0 tie in the bottom of the ninth and send Houston two games above Los Angeles of Anaheim in the AL West.

Notably absent for the Angels in their series defeat is Mike Trout, who misses the first two games and goes 0-for-3 with a walk in the third.

The surging White Sox, who suddenly have aspirations of a postseason run, fail to reach .500 and have a seven-game win streak snapped at Boston by the Red Sox, 8-2.

Also done is a run of eight straight multi-hit games and nine straight with a RBI for the White Sox’ Melky Cabrera, who is hitless in four plate appearances.

The Cardinals, rocked by the news that they’ve once again lost All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday to the disabled list, rally for a 9-8 home win over the Rockies with three runs in the ninth—capped when Rockies closer John Axford delivers a bases-loaded walk to rookie Greg Garcia. St. Louis stretches its lead in the NL Central to 5.5 games.

Friday, July 31
Wilmer Flores, who a few days earlier was reduced to tears on the field after hearing he’d part of a trade that eventually fell through, is happy again. He knocks in both New York runs—including a game-winning solo homer in the 12th inning—to give the Mets a 2-1 victory over the visiting Nationals and close Washington’s NL East-leading gap to two games.

Twice at Toronto, the Royals have a three-run lead—and twice, they blow the lead. After the Jays’ Josh Donaldson erases one of those leads by scoring the tying run in the seventh, he brings home the game-winner in the 11th on his second double of the night to give Toronto a 7-6 win. It’s the first time in 70 games that the Royals have lost despite scoring six runs.

It was the second such longest streak in major league history, surpassed only by the Chicago Cubs of 1905-09.

The Yankees’ Mark Teixeira finishes off a strong July with a record-breaking night against the White Sox at Chicago. For the 14th time in his career, the switch-hitter belts home runs from each side of the plate to surpass Nick Swisher in the record book. He also doubles and knocks in six in the Yankees’ 13-6 rout.

Seattle’s Taijuan Walker allows only one walk and a hit—a fourth inning homer to the Twins’ Miguel Sano—while striking out 11 in a masterful complete-game performance as the Mariners roll at Minnesota, 6-1. It’s the first time in 29 starts that the 22-year-old right-hander has gone the distance.

Billy Pierce, one of baseball’s most underrated pitchers, passes away at the age of 88 after a battle with cancer. The Detroit-born southpaw made seven All-Star Game appearances (starting three of them), twice won 20 games and nabbed the 1955 AL ERA title with a sparkling 1.97 mark. But he’s a question mark to casual baseball fans except for White Sox fans who frequent U.S. Cellular Field and see his statue behind the outfield bleachers. Pierce is the all-time White Sox leader in strikeouts and fourth in wins; he lists #3 on our list of the greatest White Sox pitchers.

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