This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: June, 2015
A Month of Milestones for A-Rod The Cardinals Perform ‘Hack-an-Astro’
Can the All-Star Voting Process be Reined in? David Ortiz, Clubhouse Cancer?

Best and Worst of the Week

Brett Gardner, New York Yankees

111 27 38 11 2 5 18 11 0 1 3

He’s not over 40, has never done steroids and doesn’t make for very good fodder in the New York tabloids. All Brett Gardner does is play as the most consistent and complete baseball player that the Yankees can claim over the last five years. Didn’t know that? It’s time you did. Gardner rose to the occasion this past month while designated leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury sat on the shelf, doing a little bit of everything and bringing up worthy talk of a spot on the AL All-Star roster. Let’s hope it happens, because he’s earned it.

Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

112 24 34 6 2 12 33 2 2 0 0

The 24-year-old third baseman is so defensively gifted, it’s often easy to overlook his hitting abilities. Except this past month. He doubled his home run output for the season with the help of three multi-homer games, two of them away from Coors Field, at San Francisco’s AT&T Park—the anti-Coors—and has already set career season marks for home runs (24) and RBIs (68) two weeks before the All-Star Break. Which, by the way, he shouldn’t be taking a break during, because he deserves to be the NL starter at third.

Mark Trumbo, Seattle Mariners

82 4 11 1 0 1 5 3 0 0 0

Well, so much for that trade. The Mariners started the month desperate for somebody to kickstart their offense, and they were hoping that their deal for Trumbo from Arizona would do just that. It didn’t. The cancer beat the cure as the slugger joined the rest of his Seattle mates in swinging a dead bat all month. How Trumbo must be pining for the desert heat of Chase Field right about now.

Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals

93 9 15 1 0 3 8 3 0 1 1

The 29-year-old infielder is one of those guys the Nationals likely squint their eyes in worry over, afraid of what he might do next at the plate or in the field (he’s already made 17 errors this year, but that’s another story as far as this topic is concerned). He’ll give you the good poke every so often and he has good baserunning skills, but then there’s the occasional month like this where it seems nothing goes right. Lowlighting Desmond’s June was 33 strikeouts, including two Golden Sombreros (four at-bats, four Ks).

Yovani Gallardo, Texas Rangers

2-0 33.1 20 3 2 9 0 0 2 0 25

The first-year Ranger wasn’t striking out everyone in sight like Chris Sale, but he gave up far fewer runs. Like two earned, in 33.1 innings. That’s sharp. Here’s something even sharper; Gallardo finishes the month having thrown 23.1 straight scoreless innings. The Rangers have a good rebound going from last year’s pain-induced bad dream, and the 29-year-old Mexican native is one of the primary reasons.

Jaime Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals

2-2 35 22 4 4 2 0 0 0 0 24

Well look who’s back. Once considered one of the more promising arms on the Cardinals (if not all of baseball), Garcia’s road to stardom was blunted by a number of major injuries that over the last few years reduced his playing time to nil and his status to those awful words a ballplayer never wants to hear: “Whatever happened to…?” After missing the first two months this year, Garcia returned hale, hearty and harsh on opponents who could rarely score off him. (If only the Cardinals could have done some scoring themselves, managing only 11 runs in his five June starts.) His durability may still not be confirmed as he dealt with groin issues in his last start, but overall this is promising.

John Danks, Chicago White Sox

0-4 22.1 33 22 17 4 0 0 1 0 12

The veteran southpaw’s month got off to a bad start when news hit that he was sued by a childhood friend for negligence during a night of rooftop hijinks some five years ago. He wasn’t going to find any escapism on the field, where he was largely ripped by one opponent after another. The White Sox, perhaps sensing something (like, bad pitching), gave him a week off—so here’s hoping the rest does Danks well and that he doesn’t remain preoccupied by off-field matters

Aaron Harang, Philadelphia Phillies

0-5 29.2 34 26 24 10 1 3 3 0 19

The big 37-year old entered June with one of baseball’s more snakebit set of pitching numbers—2.02 ERA, 4-5 record—but he became his own worst enemy this past month by constantly failing to keep foes locked down. Harang fared worse against the Reds, his former longtime employer; he walked five batters with one strikeout on June 4 (giving up six runs in 5.2 innings) and then five days later served up four homers to Cincinnati batters in a 11-2 thrashing. The awful Phillies continued to be of no help, providing just nine runs of support in five starts.

Toronto Blue Jays (18-9)

The Blue Jays may be having a hard time climbing up the AL East ladder given that just about everyone else in the division is acting pretty feisty these days, but at least they’ve regained their relevance. Thanks to a strong showing from outfielder Kevin Pillar and the usual veteran slugging muscle, the Jays averaged nearly six runs a game—and surprise, surprise, they could actually pitch a little as well, posting the AL’s second-best team ERA (3.17) this past month. If only they could snag a bona fide closer, the Jays might make a serious run at the postseason. After 20 years of playoff absence, it would be about time.

St. Louis Cardinals (18-8)

Hack this. Baseball’s best team continued to play above the tabloid news of front office employees nosing into the Astros’ servers, thrusting their way to one of the best starts in franchise history—and given the great times this team has had over the last century, that’s saying a lot. A revived Jaime Garcia (see above) fueled a staff that finished the month with a MLB-best 2.33 team ERA, while Jason Heyward and Yadier Molina appear to be waking up after modest-at-best starts. There’s some good baseball teams in the NL Central, but the Cardinals remain in a class by themselves for the time being

Chicago White Sox (10-16)

And not just the worst this month, but the worst to date for the entire season with a 33-42 mark. Okay, so that’s not Philadelphia-bad, but there’s still 14 AL teams that have better records. All you need to know is that Chris Sale, beyond dominant with 75 strikeouts in 45 innings, couldn’t win any of his last four starts of the month because the Pale Hose could only give him five total runs. And just how much longer can Sox fans be allowed to tolerate Alexis Ramirez and Gordon Beckham?

Philadelphia Phillies (8-18)

There was plenty of advance warning that the Phillies were going to be awful and that no one seemed to want to be a part of the experience. June has pretty much confirmed all of that. They have easily become the majors’ worst team, on schedule; manager Ryne Sandberg tired of no one listening to him and left; and a front office sea change is on the way. It would have been a whole lot worse for the Phillies had it not been for rookie Maikel Franco, who single-handedly slugged his way to nearly half of the team’s wins for the month

Wild Pitches

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

Targeting Irvine Over Inglewood
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim admitted they’ve been targeting the richer demographic and ignoring the poorer one because, in the actual words of team VP of Marketing & Sales Robert Alvarado: “We may not be reaching as many of the people on the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder, but those people, they may enjoy the game, but they pay less, and we’re not seeing the conversion on the per-caps. In doing so, the ticket price that we’re offering those people, it’s not like I can segregate them, because I’m offering it up to the public, and I’m basically downselling everybody else in order to accommodate them.” Owner Arte Moreno is furious with Alvarado’s comments and fires him a few weeks later.

Birdman to the Rescue
A Braves fan ruthlessly heckling away all night at Pittsburgh star Andrew McCutcheon during a game at Atlanta’s Turner Field was finally shut up by one Michael Keaton, sitting nearby and rooting for the Pirates. Keaton returned the trash talk and pointed to scoreboard, which showed the Bucs ahead.

Who’s Raising a Stink?
During a game at Dodger Stadium, the St. Louis Cardinals discovered a skunk in their dugout.

When Cleveland’s Brandon Moss hit his 100th career home run into the opponents’ bullpen in Kansas City, Moss wanted the ball for posterity—but the Royals said they’d return it only if they were given a laundry list of Apple items including iPads, iPhones and iWatches. A week later, Apple CEO Tim Cook said he would donate the items on Moss’ behalf. (From now on, you know what anyone who catches a milestone homer will be thinking.)

Can He Also Swim With Both Arms?
The Pendleton, Oregon-based East Oregonian newspaper accidentally referred to switch pitcher Pat Venditte as “amphibious” in a headline.

This Game-winning Hit is Sponsored by Your Local Dentist
It’s not Kendrys Morales bad, but the Mets’ Michael Cuddyer probably would have appreciated it had someone not thrown a batting helmet toward him after he connected on a walkoff single to give New York a 5-4 win over the Giants on June 11. He suffered a chipped tooth as a result.

Fat, Horny and Stupid is No Way to Get Through Baseball, Son
Boston’s Pablo Sandoval was benched for a night by the Red Sox after it was discovered that, while taking a bathroom break during a game, took out his mobile device and “liked” several pictures of sexy-looking women on Instagram.

Where’s the Boss?
The Giants’ team bus left Dodger Stadium after a game—leaving behind manager Bruce Bochy, who needed a last-minute bathroom trip. Perhaps he was on Instagram, too.

Sulkin’ Starlin
Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, who has a reputation to mentally wander on the field, let a bases-loaded ground ball from Minnesota’s Trevor Plouffe go through his legs to score two runs—and then when he received the ball from the outfield, he groaned with his back to the infield, thinking time had been called—when it hadn't. As a result of the gaffe, Eddie Rosario scored as well.

99 Bottles of Boggs on the Wall (Plus One)
Former Boston hitting star Wade Boggs confirmed—‘claimed’ might be a more accurate word—an urban legend in which he once consumed 100 beers in one day.

For Mature Audiences Only
Here’s a video snippit involving the Astros’ mascot Orbit that was too hot for most online news outlets to handle…except Deadspin, of course. As one reader responds: “If the game goes into extra innings, he may need to call his doctor.”

This Month’s Proof That Everybody’s Striking Out
There were 6,190 strikeouts total strikeouts in the majors in June, the tenth highest total in history.

League vs. League

There was no letting up for the American League in the interleague wars as it showed signs of pulling away from the National League in head-to-head play, winning 50 of 89 games in June—and increasing its lead over the NL for the season to 90-73. The AL is seeking to dominate over its rival for the 12th straight year.

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Monday, June 1
Jacob deGrom fires eight innings of two-hit shutout ball as the New York Mets easily reign at San Diego over the Padres, 7-0. Over his last three starts, deGrom is 3-0 with two runs allowed in 23.1 innings; he’s struck out 28 batters and walked none.

The Padres’ Andrew Cashner, in becoming the majors’ first eight-game loser despite a respectable 3.46 ERA, has an equally mixed-bag performance that’s unprecedented in major league history: He’s the first pitcher to give up ten or more hits and strike out at least ten in less than five innings of work. When the two teams meet again at Petco Park the next day, the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard will become the second pitcher, allowing ten hits in four innings while striking out ten.

The New York Yankees defeat the Mariners 7-2 and deny Felix Hernandez his ninth win with seven runs off the Seattle ace in less than five innings—the knockout blow coming on a Mark Teixeira grand slam. It’s Teixeira’s sixth career homer off of Hernandez.

Tuesday, June 2
Texas’ top prospect Joey Gallo, a prodigious slugger called straight up from Double-A Frisco to take the roster spot of the injured Adrian Beltre, has a big-time debut for the Rangers in their 15-2 rout of the Chicago White Sox at Arlington. In five plate appearances, the 21-year-old Gallo walks, singles, doubles off the top of the wall and crushes a 419-foot homer to the upper deck in right.

In the wake of Gallo’s debut, pictures begin circulating of him alongside Bryce Harper when the two were young little leaguers in Las Vegas, With the Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant also growing up in the area at the same time, it’s nice to know that Vegas-based parents were teaching something other than craps to their kids.

For the month, Gallo with hit .219 with five homers—with 43 strikeouts in 87 at-bats.

A day after losing 1-0 to Milwaukee at St. Louis, the Cardinals return the favor by the same score as Mark Reynolds’ second-inning single is enough to hold up Lance Lynn’s 7.2 scoreless innings of work. However, Matt Holliday’s NL-record streak of consecutive games reaching base to start a season at 45 comes to a controversial end in the seventh when the Cardinals outfielder is ejected for arguing a call third strike with umpire Joe West, ending his evening with a 0-for-3 performance.

Derek Jeter’s all-time mark of 53 games in 1999 remains safe.

The Colorado Rockies are three runs up and one out away from securing a day-night doubleheader sweep of the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers when Alex Guerrero launches a grand slam off Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt that will give the Dodgers a 9-8 win. It’s Guerrero’s tenth home run of the year in just 98 at-bats.

The Toronto Blue Jays salvage a split at Washington in another doubleheader caused by previously unplayable weather as Kevin Pillar becomes the first-ever right-handed hitter to belt two home runs in one game off Nationals ace Max Scherzer in a 7-3 win.

The Philadelphia Phillies are down 4-2 to Cincinnati and ace pitcher Johnny Cueto and looking at an eighth straight loss—but after Cueto departs, they rally. Maikel Franco’s two-run homer in the eighth ties the game, and Darin Ruf’s one-out single in the ninth beings home Odubel Herrera to complete a 5-4 victory.

Wednesday, June 3
Pitching for the first time in six weeks, Masahiro Tanaka exceeds expectations with seven innings of excellence in the New York Yankees’ 3-1 win at Seattle. Tanaka meets an 80-pitch limit over seven innings, allowing a run on three hits and no walks while striking out nine—all with increased velocity not expected from the Yankees.

It’s the fifth straight loss—all at home—for the Mariners, preseason darlings who drop to 24-29; afterward, they pull off baseball’s first significant trade of the year by landing Arizona’s Mark Trumbo and Vidal Nino for four nondescript players.

A day after blowing their three-run, ninth-inning lead to the Dodgers, the Rockies get even—rallying for three in the bottom of the ninth to take a 7-6 win at Coors Field. What’s leaving everyone scratching their heads is the absence of Dodgers closer Kanley Jensen; though available, he does not appear in the ninth and, after the game, the Dodgers are coy about why he is not used. Jensen himself will not talk about it.

A day later, the Dodgers will reveal that Jensen developed high blood pressure from the high Colorado altitude, which leaves us to ask: Why just say that, or at least state that it was a “medical issue” rather than leave everything on the table of speculation for reporters to publicly guess over?

In the loss, Los Angeles rookie outfielder Joc Peterson belts a home run in his fifth straight game.

After three decent starts to begin his big league career, 21-year-old Lance McCullers Jr. truly kicks it into gear—throwing a complete-game, 3-1 home win for Houston over the Chicago White Sox. The Tampa-born right-hander allows four hits, walks none and strikes out 11 batters.

McCullers Jr. is the youngest pitcher since Kerry Wood struck out a record 20 in 1998 to collect at least 10 K’s with no walks in a complete-game performance.

For the second straight day, Maikel Franco ties the game—this time in the ninth—with a two-run homer off Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman, and the Phillies triumph 5-4 in the 11th when Reds reliever Ryan Mattheus covers first on a routine Freddy Galvis grounder but has the ball glance off the top of his mitt, allowing Cody Asche to score the winning run.

Toronto’s Mark Buehrle throws his tenth career shutout, needing just 93 pitches to dispense of the Nationals in Washington, 8-0. Buehrle walks one and gives up six hits.

Thursday, June 4
Yuri Sucrat, the cousin of Alex Rodriguez, is sentenced to seven months in prison, an additional six months of house arrest and a $5,000 fine for his role in the Biogenesis scandal. Getting in the last word before sentencing, Sucrat apologizes but claims he provided steroids to multiple players “out of ignorance and necessity.”

Say goodbye soon to Tai’s Hill. The current ownership in Houston has decided it will bring in the center-field fences at Minute Maid Park and remove the grassy incline to the deepest part of the ballpark’s playing field, replacing it with bleacher seating and, behind it, a future Astros Hall of Fame. The Astros hope to have all amendments in place by the start of the 2016 season.

Beyond the financial element, the Astros want to remove the hill because, even though many people loved it, as many people were said to hate it.

Making his season debut after a spring exhibition injury, the Nationals’ Anthony Rendon has two hits and is looking for a third in the ninth with two outs and two on when visiting Cubs catcher David Ross catches Washington pinch-runner Clint Robinson too far off first and successfully picks him off to end the game and give Chicago a 2-1 decision.

Friday, June 5
In Oakland’s 4-2 loss at Boston, the A’s debut reliever Pat Venditte, the second switch-pitcher in major league history (after Greg Harris in 1995). Venditte pitches the final two innings, allowing a hit while striking out one.

Venditte’s performance is unfortunately overshadowed by a horrific moment in the second inning when the A’s Brett Lawrie breaks his bat on a Wade Miley pitch—and a sharp end of the bat enters the Fenway Park crowd and strikes a female fan just above her right eye, causing profuse bleeding and a “life-threatening injury.” She is rushed to a hospital where she’s listed in serious but stable condition; she’ll remain there for a week and then be transferred to a rehab facility.

Things go from bad to embarrassing in Chicago for the Detroit Tigers, who lose their eighth straight game. After closer Joakim Soria serves up a solo home run to the White Sox’ Adam LaRoche to tie the game in the ninth, reliever Alex Wilson works himself into a bases-loaded jam in the 11th when he next hits Avisail Garcia, giving the Sox a 4-3 win.

Texas rookie Chi Chi Gonzalez—not to be confused with golf legend Chi Chi Rodriguez—stymies the Royals with a three-hit, 4-0 shutout win at Kansas City. This follows up his debut six days earlier against Boston in which he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning—but wildness (five walks) kept him from going the distance then; today, he walks only two and throws 116 total pitches.

The New York Yankees load up early on Los Angeles of Anaheim and ace Jered Weaver, then hold on for dear life as the Angels really in the ninth for six runs—one shy of tying the game. Dellin Betances finally puts out the fire and preserves the Yankees’ 8-7 win, but he also allows his first earned run of the year over 30.1 innings. Offensively, the catalysts for the Yankees include Stephen Drew (two home runs) and Alex Rodriguez, who collects four hits and knocks in a run to surpass Barry Bonds on the all-time RBI list.

According to MLB, Rodriguez ‘officially’ now ranks second in career RBIs, behind only Hank Aaron. But wait. MLB cites the Elias Sports Bureau, which only counts RBIs after 1920 because that’s the year the statistic became official.

All of this confusion began a few weeks ago when Rodriguez was said to become the American League’s all-time RBI leader by passing Lou Gehrig at 1,993. But that’s Elias’ count; most other statistical sources have him at 1,995—meaning Rodriguez had only tied him. But what about Babe Ruth, who racked up 2,214 RBIs, all of them as an American Leaguer? Elias doesn’t count 224 of those RBIs because they came before 1920—so, in its official world, those RBIs never existed.

If you actually include everybody who ever played the game, Rodriguez is neither second nor even third; Cap Anson collected 2,075 RBIs, but he played his entire career in the 19th Century, a time when baseball was fast evolving and employed so many different rules from what we’re used to today. That’s why historians like us refer to anything after 1900, when the rulebook stabilized, as the modern era—and thus why Anson is not on the list.

But back to Rodriguez. He’s third on the modern list as cited by both and, yet second on Elias. But then there’s this:, which is owned by MLB, doesn’t even go by Elias and includes all pre-1920 RBIs! It’s utter confusion, folks.

Saturday, June 6
After six weeks on the disabled list, Yasiel Puig breaks a 0-0 tie with a seventh-inning RBI double while Clayton Kershaw masterfully shuts down the Cardinals on one hit with 11 strikeouts through eight innings in a 2-0 Dodgers win at Los Angeles.

After 201 homerless at-bats to start his career, Atlanta catcher Christian Bethancourt picks a fine moment to go deep for the first time. The 23-year-old Panamanian parks one down the right-field line in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves a 5-4 walkoff victory over the visiting Pirates.

Two long losing streaks end for respectable AL teams thanks to their top aces. At Chicago, the Tigers snap an eight-game skid behind David Price, who goes the distance and strikes out 11 White Sox—seven in succession at one stage—to earn the a 7-1 decision. Meanwhile out in Seattle, Felix Hernandez puts the breaks on the Mariners’ seven-game drought with seven sound frames to earn his ninth win of the year in a 2-1 victory at Tampa Bay.

Sunday, June 7
In Tampa Bay’s 3-1 win at Seattle, the Rays’ Chris Archer makes history by becoming the first modern-era pitcher to fan 10+ batters while allowing no walks in three straight appearances. The 26-year-old right-hander improves to 7-4 with a 1.84 ERA and a major league-leading 108 strikeouts.

With Archer, the Rays are quietly and unexpectedly playing solid ball under a new manager and general manager, trailing only the Yankees in the AL East at 31-27.

Chris Colabello matches the majors’ longest hitting streak of the year at 17 games in dramatic fashion—knocking in two runs with a walkoff single as the Blue Jays strike from behind to tip the Houston Astros at Toronto, 7-6. It’s the fourth straight loss for the Astros, their longest slide this season.

Colabello’s streak will end a few days later at 18.

After allowing back-to-back home runs in the first inning to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols—the latter shot allowing Pujols to pass Jimmie Foxx for 17th on the all-time HR list with 535—the Yankees’ CC Sabathia settles down and dials six strong innings before coming apart as he angrily takes issue with umpire Dan Bellino’s strike zone and gets ejected for the first time in his 15-year career. The Yankees roll, however, to a 6-2 win, handing the Angels their fifth straight loss.

Maybe we understand why the Colorado Rockies were so gung-ho to get Kyle Kendrick in the offseason: To neutralize Giancarlo Stanton, if even for a day. The Marlins’ star slugger goes 0-for-3 against Kendrick—who pitches seven solid innings overall at Coors Field—and is now hitless in his last 18 at-bats against the right-hander. But it’s still not enough for the Rockies, who lose to Miami in ten innings, 3-2.

Monday, June 8
With the first pick of the 2015 MLB amateur draft—50 years after the very first—the Arizona Diamondbacks select shortstop Dansby Swanson out of Vanderbilt. In fact, the first three players chosen are shortstops; after Swanson, the Astros take LSU’s Alex Bergman, and Colorado opts for Brendan Rodgers from Lake Mary High School in Florida.

Dansby Swanson. Sounds like a great name for a ballet dancer.

On the day the Astros get two of the top five picks in the draft, they debut Carlos Correa, the top pick in the 2012 draft. The 20-year-old shortstop from Puerto Rico has a RBI single that’s the lone highlight on the evening for Houston, as they fall prey to Chris Sale and the White Sox at Chicago, 3-1.

Sale has a whale of a day, striking out 14 in eight innings; he’s the first White Sox pitcher to record double-digit strikeout totals in four straight games, and the second major leaguer to K at least a dozen while allowing a run or less in three straight games. (Sandy Koufax, in 1965, was the other.)

Craig Kimbrel, who just turned 27, becomes the second youngest player to reach 200 career saves when he preserves San Diego’s 5-3, 11-inning win at Atlanta against his former team, the Braves. The irony is that Kimbrel gets the opportunity when his Atlanta replacement, Jason Grilli, blows a one-run lead in the ninth.

Francisco Rodriguez was four months younger when he reached 200 in 2008.

Tuesday, June 9
Many eyes are on New York pitching phenom Noah Syndergaard as the Mets host the visiting Giants, but it’s Chris Heston—on the San Francisco roster because of an injury to Matt Cain—who steals the spotlight in a huge way. The 27-year-old right-hander throws the first no-hitter of the 2015 season with a 5-0 win. The only three Mets baserunners who reach against Heston do so after getting hit by him; it’s the most HBPs by a pitcher tossing a no-no.

Not only is it the Giants’ fifth no-hitter in their last seven seasons (after having not thrown one in 33 previous years), but they become only the second team—after the 1962-65 Dodgers—to throw a no-no in four straight seasons.

Among modern-era pitchers with a no-hitter to their credit, only Bobo Holloman (three wins) has fewer career victories than Heston (six) currently owns.

The Angels snap a five-game losing streak at Tampa Bay, squashing the Rays 8-2 behind another good day for Albert Pujols—who ties Mickey Mantle for 16th on the all-time home run list with his 536th shot and moves into sole possession of 15th place on the of extra-base hit list (1,120), snapping a tie with George Brett.

Pujols will pass Mantle two days later; next on the list: Mike Schmidt at 548.

In the Reds’ 11-2 thrashing of Philadelphia at Cincinnati, Joey Votto hits three home runs for the third time in his career—matching Johnny Bench for the most hat tricks in Reds history.

Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Harang gets off to a bad start by walking the first batter; it’s the first time in 78 starts that Harang had walked the leadoff batter, the longest active streak in the majors.

Masahiro Tanaka easily outduels Max Scherzer as the Yankees ease past the Nationals at New York, 6-1; Stephen Drew leads the offensive carnage for the Yankees with his second two-homer performance in five games. Drew is on pace for 25 homers—and yet is hitting .175.

Wednesday, June 10
Kyle Seager’s grand slam in the third inning is all the Mariners need to take care of the Indians in Cleveland—and all they’ll need to break a streak of 13 straight games in which they scored three or fewer runs, the AL’s longest since pre-DH times (the 1972 Rangers) and the longest in the majors, period, since the 1981 Braves. Seattle tallies up five additional runs just to be safe and defeats the Tribe, 9-3.

The Nationals bounce back from a 4-2 deficit against the Yankees in the eighth when Michael Taylor goes long for a two-run homer, then go short in the 11th as Denard Span brings home Tyler Moore on an infield single to win at New York, 5-4. It’s the first time since August 27, 2012 that the Yankees have lost a game when leading by two or more runs after seven innings.

A night after being no-hit, the Mets revive their offense—but it’s not enough as ace Matt Harvey can’t contain the Giants in an 8-5 loss at Citi Field. Harvey gives up run-scoring extra-base hits to Buster Posey (a double) and Joe Panik (a home run) on 0-2 pitches, the first time he has ever allowed RBI hits with that count.

The Reds defeat the Phillies 5-2, but lose shortstop Zack Cozart for the year when he tears tendons and ligaments in his right knee trying to beat out a throw at first base. Cozart was on pace for a career-high 25 home runs and 75 RBIs.

Thursday, June 11
Scott Kazmir faces the Texas Rangers at Oakland for the first time since throwing seven innings of one-hit shutout ball on April 8—and this time allows a single hit through eight innings as the A’s roll, 7-0.

The Red Sox are swept at Baltimore by the Orioles with a 6-5 loss to cement their standing in the AL East basement (they’re 27-34 and drop three games behind the fourth-place O’s), but it’s even uglier than that; starter Wade Miley, who cedes five runs on nine hits (three of them homers) in just four innings, gets into a shouting match in the Boston dugout afterward with manager John Farrell.

Miley, after the game to reporters: “Between me and John, it is what it is.”

The Mets avoid a three-game sweep against the Giants when Michael Cuddyer belts a game-winning single in the ninth to give New York a 5-4 triumph. It’s the first walkoff for Cuddyer in his last 1,140 games, which had been the longest such drought for any active major leaguer.

Pitcher Erik Bedard steps down after 11 years in the majors and a career 71-82 record. The 36-year old right-hander had consecutive strong seasons for an otherwise awful Orioles pitching staff in 2006-07, then became increasingly fragile and turned to shoulder surgery that forced him out of the entire 2010 campaign. He wasn’t the same following the procedure, compiling a 20-39 record and 4.47 ERA.

Friday, June 12
The Toronto Blue Jays outlast the Red Sox at Boston, 13-10, in a game with many curious side notes: It ends a streak of 18 straight Toronto wins without a save, while the Jays’ Justin Smoak adds a triple to the carnage for the first three-bagger of his major league career after 2,047 at-bats.

Johnny Estrada, from 2001-08, has the all-time record for a career without a triple at 2,079 at-bats.

On this night, King Felix does not impress the Astros at Houston, as Felix Hernandez has his worst-ever start—lasting just a third of an inning while allowing eight runs on five hits, two walks and an error he himself commits to ignite the Astros toward a 10-0 rout.

Oakland switch-pitcher Pat Venditte is placed on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder; some would ask, why just go full-time with the left arm while the right side heals? That’s because the A’s don’t see the value in Venditte as a “one-armed” hurler.

Saturday, June 13
Alex Rodriguez becomes the third modern major leaguer to reach 2,000 career RBIs when his two-run homer ties the game at Baltimore, 4-4. But the Orioles will counter, scoring the next five runs to ease away with a 9-4 triumph.

Gerrit Cole becomes the majors’ first ten-game winner on the season with six solid frames in the Pirates’ 4-3 win at home over Philadelphia.

The Pirates haven’t had a long-serving, no-doubt-about-it ace in their ranks in generations. Hopefully Cole will stick around and be of superlative duty in Pittsburgh for some time to come.

For the second straight day, an Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher takes a no-hitter late into the proceedings at AT&T Park against San Francisco. Allen Webster, facing the Giants for the first time ever, takes a no-no into the sixth inning before wilting, but still gets credit for a 4-2 victory. A night earlier, Chase Anderson—also facing the Giants for the first time—had taken a no-hitter into the seventh.

Sunday, June 14
Top prospect
Byron Buxton makes his major league debut and, despite an 0-for-4 performance with two strikeouts, scores the game-winning run on a ninth-inning Eddie Rosario double after reaching on a fielder’s choice to give the Minnesota Twins a 4-3 win at Texas.

There’s an anomaly of sorts that takes place in the sixth inning when three Twins players (Eduardo Nunez, Shane Robinson and Eduardo Escobar) each collect a triple—yet only one run scores in the inning. This is explained when Robinson, who knocked in Nunez, is picked off third in advance of Escobar’s three-bagger.

Max Scherzer is on fire for the Nationals, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning at Milwaukee only to have it broken up on a broken-bat single by Carlos Gomez. It will be the only knock against the Washington ace as he goes the distance, earns a 4-0 shutout win and strikes out a career-high 16 batters.

For the second straight day, Starlin Castro emerges as the hero for the Cubs as he produces a walkoff single in the 11th—a night after notching a game-winning single in the ninth—to give Chicago a 2-1 victory over the visiting Reds.

Cincinnati loses despite five stolen bases by speedster Billy Hamilton.

San Diego manager Bud Black is fired after a 32-33 start amid great expectations as the Padres bulked up on talent during the offseason. He is the only skipper in the expanded (since 1969) postseason era to have managed the same team nine straight seasons and not once make the playoffs.

Monday, June 15
Attempting to extend their team-record win streak of 11, the Toronto Blue Jays tie New York in the top of the ninth on a solo
Jose Bautista home run and take the lead two innings later—but the Mets rally for two in the bottom of the frame to defeat the Jays, 4-3.

The Blue Jays averaged eight runs a game during their winning streak.

Atlanta’s Williams Perez throws six shutout innings to earn the win in the Braves’ 4-2 conquest of the Red Sox at Boston. With a save just two days earlier, followed by a win as starter three days before that, Perez is only the second major leaguer to collect a save and two wins as starter over a six-day span since the save became an official statistic in 1969.

Kansas City wins at Milwaukee 8-5 as Lorenzo Cain—facing the Brewers for the first time since the team traded him to the Royals—has a home run, single and two RBIs.

Yadier Molina belts his first home run in nearly a year (covering a career-long 342 at-bats), and it proves to be the ultimate winning run as the Cardinals edge the Twins at St. Louis, 3-2.

Tuesday, June 16
The New York Times reports that members of the St. Louis Cardinals’ front office hacked into the Houston Astros’ web site over a two-year period from 2012-14. Lifted and aired online was propriety information posted by sites such as Deadspin. The Cardinals’ top brass say they are not specifically to blame, instead putting the onus on “roguish elements” within the organization—and while motive is murky, some believe the hack was done to embarrass Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow, who left the Cardinals in 2011.

Whoever the culprits within the Cardinals were, they have nothing on North Korea when it comes to hacking expertise. The FBI, which is investigating the case, says that the hackers attempted to cover their tracks but did so in a sloppy and unsuccessful manner.

That the Cardinals are trying to disown the matter and blaming “rogues” within the front office should fall on deaf ears when MLB gets around to deciding a punishment. If this story is accurate, the fact is that these hackers were employees of the Cardinals and their resulting behaviors are the responsibility of the team, not themselves. Maybe the Cardinal culture didn’t encourage them—but MLB simply can’t assume that. Surely, the Cardinals will likely be far more careful in spelling out the policy of ethos when hiring future front office employees, because they’re going to pay heavily for what’s been done here. And they should.

The Orioles hit a franchise-record eight home runs in a 19-3 rout of the visiting Phillies, with Manny Machado leading off the first and second innings with long balls; only two other players have done that over the last 50 years. The seven homers yielded by Phillies relievers tie a major league record; the last of those seven is hit by Ryan Flaherty off Jeff Francoeur, coming in from the outfield for the seventh and eighth innings to rescue a depleted bullpen.

Boston ends a seven-game losing skid with a 9-4 home win over Atlanta thanks to Brock Holt, who becomes the first Red Sox player since John Valentin in 1996 to hit for the cycle. The Braves had not allowed anyone to earn the cycle since 1985, when Keith Hernandez accomplished it for the Mets in the crazy 19-inning marathon on the Fourth of July at old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

Holt, one of the few bright spots for the Red Sox last season, was shoved to a bench role to start 2015 with the arrival of Pablo Sandoval—but playing in place of injured second baseman Dustin Pedroia, he raises his season average to .309.

The Pirates win their sixth straight game—fifth by shutout—with a 3-0 blanking of the White Sox at PNC Park. Charlie Morton throws seven scoreless for the Bucs, who have won 19 of their last 24 games overall.

The last time the Bucs amassed so many shutouts in as short a period was in 1903—posting a record six straight shutouts in the year Pittsburgh reached the first modern World Series.

The Marlins give a rude hello to former Miami pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, who allows eight runs on nine hits in less than an inning before being pulled in the Yankees’ 12-2 loss in Florida. No pitcher in Yankees history has given up more hits while recording less than three outs.

Winning the game for Miami is David Phelps (two runs allowed on six hits over seven innings), who the Yankees traded to get Eovaldi.

Wednesday, June 17
The Texas Rangers score early and often enough to defeat the Dodgers at Los Angeles, 5-3, and end Clayton Kershaw’s long streak of 30 straight games at Dodger Stadium in which he had allowed three or fewer runs. Kershaw fell two games shy of tying the all-time mark of 32 games set by the White Sox’ Doc White from 1905-06.

The Chicago Cubs have a field day at Cleveland, pounding the Indians 17-0. But they only score in three innings, with six in the second, four in the third and seven in the ninth. By then, the Indians are turning to emergency pitcher/outfielder David Murphy to mop up—and Cubs rookie slugger Kris Bryant takes advantage with his first career grand slam. Even Mike Baxter gets into the act, finally knocking in his first run of the year after 125 plate appearances without one.

Days after seeing their 11-game win streak come to an end, the Blue Jays win their first game ever against the Mets at New York after 11 losses.

Thursday, June 18
Shades of Bobo Newsom, 1940: Two days after the death of his father, Toronto pitcher R.A. Dickey delays bereavement and heads to the mound, where he throws 7.1 strong innings for the Blue Jays in a 7-1 home win over his former team, the New York Mets.

It was the first time in Dickey’s first two-plus years with Toronto that he faced the Mets.

In the Astros’ 8-4 win at Colorado, rookie Carlos Correa becomes the third youngest major leaguer to steal three bases in a game. The two younger ones? None other than Rickey Henderson (1979) and Ty Cobb (1907).

Yunel Escobar collects five hits for the third time this season—the major league record is four—but it’s not enough as Washington loses at home to Tampa Bay, 5-3.

It’s a 1-0 balk-off victory for the Dodgers over Texas at Chavez Ravine when Rangers reliever Keone Kela hesitates toward a distractive Enrique Hernandez at third base after being in the set position, bringing Hernandez home on the balk in the bottom of the ninth. It’s the first time in over a year that a game has ended on a balk.

Nelson Doubleday, the great-great nephew of disputed baseball inventor Abner Doubleday who rescued the Mets from hard times by buying the team in 1980, dies at the age of 81. Along with partner Fred Wilpon (who gradually took over as the lead owner), Doubleday presided over a 1980s renaissance at New York that culminated with the Mets’ storied championship season of 1986.

With Royals fans stuffing the All-Star ballot box, 21st-Century style—by voting over and over again, online—MLB steps in and cancels out some 60 million of the 400 million votes thus far cast, assumedly negating those that favor Kansas City players which dominating the results. Bob Bowman, who runs the whole thing for MLB, says there is no reason to change the system.

But maybe there is. This current process of All-Star voting is threatening to become a runaway train. We know that everyone’s eager to vote and that’s great, but the 35-vote maximum is a bit much—especially when fans use multiple addresses and even create new ones to add to the digital stuffing. After all, some individuals have ISP plans that allow up to 100 emails per account. Who needs 100 emails? Rabid All-Star voters, perhaps.

And what’s with Kansas City trying to turn the AL All-Star team into the Royals? Could it simply be part of the momentum of enthusiasm after the team finally broke through to a league pennant last season? Or an effective, coordinated effort by the Royals to deploy the masses? Or could it be that, by being the only major league city outfitted with Google Fiber, they can send multiple numbers of votes at a fraction of the time that fans in other cities, still stuck in pre-ISDN times, can?

If it were up to us, it would be one vote, one person. We know that the logistics of policing that is near impossible, so it’s a pipedream. MLB wouldn’t have it anyway. They like fans coming to their site and voting over and over like they were the Energizer bunny. Why? More visits mean more eyeballs looking at the screen, which means more ads getting a look. Which ultimately means more money for MLB. And as we all know, it’s all about the money.

Especially in baseball. So what to do? Not much, if you want to preserve the fans’ right to vote. Just plug your nose and hope that you don’t find yourself shaking your head when they announce the starting lineups moments before the first pitch at the Midsummer Classic.

Friday, June 19
Redemption Tour II for Alex Rodriguez experiences a big-time highlight when the controversial Yankee star belts a first-inning solo homer off Detroit’s Justin Verlander at Yankee Stadium for his 3,000th career hit, sparking New York to a 7-2 win over the Tigers. Only two other players—Wade Boggs and Derek Jeter—have gone deep for their 3,000th hit.

The ball is caught by veteran ball snagger Zack Hample, who gets into something of a negotiating war with the Yankees over what he could get in return if he gave the ball back. Hample is said to have caught 8,000 baseballs, including Mike Trout’s first home run in 2011.

Two streaks come to an end for Houston against the Mariners at Seattle: A five-game win streak with a 5-2 loss, and a 27-game unbeaten streak to start the year when the Astros hit two or more home runs, as the team’s only two runs come on solo shots from George Springer and Marwin Gonzalez.

According to Elias, the Astros’ 27-0 run when homering twice fell just one game shy of the all-time mark or any time of year, still held by the 2002 Braves.

Chris Sale is utterly magnificent for the White Sox against Texas—allowing just two hits and no walks in eighth scoreless innings while striking out 14, his fifth straight start with at least 12—and then the Chicago bullpen has to come in and screw it all up as closer David Robertson gives up as Keith Moreland’s two-out single in the top of the ninth to ultimately gives the Rangers a 2-1 win.

The Giants outlast the Dodgers at Los Angeles 9-5 thanks to Buster Posey—who becomes only the second catcher in the last 28 years to hit a grand slam and steal a base in the same game.

Saturday, June 20
It’s a no-hitter for
Max Scherzer, but a bittersweet one; the Washington ace is one strike away from a perfect game when an inside change-up hits the Pirates’ Jose Tabata on his elbow guard. Not since 1908—when the Giants’ Hooks Wiltse hit the opposing pitcher, the Phillies’ George McQuillan—has a perfecto been lost when the potential last out ended in a HBP. Still, Scherzer gets the no-no and the win in Washington’s 6-0 win at Nationals Park.

Strong debate ensues over whether Tabata made any attempt to avoid getting hit. Some read the rules and say that Tabata did nothing wrong, but we’ll take the other side; it’s a slower change-up, which would have given Tabata, elbow guard and all, time to move back—and if he’s expecting one of Scherzer’s near-100 MPH heaters, why lean in rather than lift the arms up? We smell a rat.

Just one week later, the Pirates will designate Tabata for assignment.

It’s interesting to note: Scherzer is the sixth pitcher to throw a no-no a year after playing for the Detroit Tigers.

In Boston’s 7-4 loss at Kansas City, David Ortiz is ejected after he flips the bat high in the air and back in front of home plate after lining a single to center field. Home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman feels that the star Red Sox slugger is showing him up after being angered by a few earlier close strike calls.

This is probably not going to be a popular thought, but it does warrant conversation: Is Ortiz a clubhouse leader…or a clubhouse cancer? Yes, we know he was the point person in bringing the team and perhaps even the city together in 2013 in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon terrorist bombings, but that was a period of people living through extraordinary circumstances. So think about what else Ortiz has presided over of late. The debacle that was the last days of Manny Ramirez in Boston, and the fact that he was the irascible slugger’s lone supporter in the clubhouse. Or the near mutiny on manager Bobby Valentine. Or the whole chicken-and-beer fiasco. Or his constant bickering to the press, to baseball, and to the rules committee about being told to keep your butt in the batter’s box.

The Red Sox are a talented team that many felt would go far this year, but the faults that were well known (mostly the team’s pitching) have wider cracks than at first believed. Pablo Sandoval is having an okay year so far but still says and does dumb things—and that gut no longer is disciplined by a San Francisco diet. Coaches and players bark at one another in the dugout. Where’s Ortiz to sort things out? Another public F-bomb won’t work this time.

Perhaps we don’t know the man’s true M.O., but you’d think Ortiz would have the clubhouse power to wield an authoritarian discipline to set things straight. But it always seems turbulent in Boston. Willie Stargell, beloved as Pops, guided the troops with grace and confidence in Pittsburgh. Is Big Papi trying to do the same in Boston? And if so, is he effective enough at the job?

Sunday, June 21
For the first time, a female baseball player—from France, of all places—has been made eligible for the international registration list. It will be interesting to see if anyone takes a flier on Melissa Mayeux, a 16-year-old shortstop for France’s under-18 team, for anything other than publicity purposes.

It’s a good day to be a major leaguer with the last name Martinez at Yankee Stadium. The Tigers’ J.D. Martinez belts three home runs with six RBIs, while teammate Victor Martinez adds a trio hits and four RBIs as Detroit pounds the Yankees, 12-4. J.D. is the first opposing player to hit three round-trippers on Yankee soil since 1996.

The Astros may not be winning every time they hit at least two home runs anymore, but they just keep going deep. In their 6-2 win at Seattle, Houston sets a club record by hitting two-plus homers in their eighth straight game; it’s the longest such streak in the majors, period, since Boston went on a similar run in 2009.

The Nationals score nine first-inning runs off beleaguered Pittsburgh pitcher Charlie Morton—who came into the game with a 5-0 record—and then shut down their bats because, well, there’s no need to with the way Washington pitching has been firing blanks lately. The Bucs manage two oh-by-the-way runs in the ninth but it hardly causes a sweat for the Nats, who prevail, 9-2.

It’s the first time since 1988 that a team plated nine in the first inning and didn’t score the rest of the way.

Tampa Bay’s Alex Colome allows just one hit through seven shutout innings at Cleveland, but 24-year-old Cody Anderson matches him zero for zero through 7.2 innings (allowing six hits) in his major league debut. In the end, neither pitcher gets the decision as a 0-0 game is finally resolved in the bottom of the ninth on a David Murphy sac fly off the Rays’ Kevin Jepsen to give Cleveland victory.

Monday, June 22
Pete Rose may have to fudge the truth yet again. At first he denied that he ever bet on the Reds while he was a member of the team, then admitted 15 years after being banished from the game that he did—but only when he was the team’s manager. Now, ESPN is reporting that evidence has been uncovered showing that Rose also bet while playing for the Reds, in 1986 when he was the game’s last player-manager to date. “That does it. This closes the door,” says John Dowd, the prosecutor hired by baseball back in 1989 that led to Rose’s lifetime suspension; he had no previous knowledge of this new evidence.

This new information threatens to derail the momentum Rose has gained in pressuring current commissioner Rob Manfred to lift his suspension. The polls were favoring a reinstatement for Rose, and Manfred said he was willing to listen, put his finger in the air and make a choice based partially on the winds of public opinion.

But people tend to forget the severity of what Rose did. He gambled on his team, repeatedly. Never mind that he gambled on his team to win—he still gambled. It should serve anyone who cares about baseball that the game was crippled 100 years ago when eight members of the Chicago White Sox conspired to throw the 1919 World Series.

Here’s something else that hit us recently: A current major leaguer recently opined that while today’s game could survive a rash of steroid users, it would have a much harder time surviving a similar number of people gambling and potentially fixing games. You think the wages earned by major leaguers are too good for people to bother? Why do most people take steroids? Beyond the superstars who just want to get better (Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, et al), the usual suspects end up being borderline major leaguers who stand on the edge between dirt-poor minor league money and a minimum MLB salary of a half-million bucks. For these people, gambling and game-fixing is still very much a viable possibility.

So enough of the poor ol’ set-Pete-Rose-free song. It’s getting tired. He deserves what he got. And to let him back in the game would set a terrible precedent.

Hey Pete, here’s the safest bet in baseball today: Always bet the over on any game the Blue Jays are involved in. In St. Petersburg, Toronto rides three more home runs to an 8-5 victory over the Rays. The winning pitcher is Drew Hutchison, who is now 7-1 on the year—despite a 5.33 season ERA.

Toronto is far and away the major league leader in runs scored…but also owners of the fifth worst team ERA.

Darryl Hamilton, a 13-year veteran and father of three who for five teams, is shot to death by his girlfriend—who then turns the gun on herself. There is no known motive for the murder-suicide.

A day after J.D. Martinez goes wild on the Yankees, it’s Maikel Franco’s turn. The 22-year-old Dominican rookie, one of the few (if only) pleasant surprises on the Phillies thus far, is 4-for-5 with two home runs and five RBIs as Philadelphia outslugs the Yankees in the Bronx, 11-8.

Kris Bryant, one of Franco’s many competitors in a highly talented Rookie of the Year race, matches Franco with his first multi-homer game, knocking in three runs in the Cubs’ 4-2 conquest of the Dodgers at Wrigley Field.

Tuesday, June 23
This Maikel Franco kid is surely something. A night after driving in five runs against the Yankees at New York, the rookie from Philadelphia does it again—this time on a double and home run in the Phillies’ 11-6 win. Not only is it the first time a Phillie has knocked in five or more runs in consecutive games, it’s also the first time it’s ever happened against the Yankees.

The Yankees have allowed 11-plus runs in three straight home games for the first time since 1912, when they were playing at slipshod Hilltop Park.

In his fifth major league appearance, Seattle pitcher Mike Montgomery throws an impressive five-hit shutout of the Royals—the team that drafted him seven years ago—as the Mariners coast at Safeco Field, 7-0. Montgomery’s dominance is underscored by ten strikeouts and no walks through 105 pitches—77 of them for strikes.

Maybe this is the way the Dodgers’ hitters are rebutting to Zack Greinke’s outbursts toward them for not washing their hands when using the bathroom. Greinke throws six shutout innings, but gets no decision as L.A. bats are silent; the opposing Cubs are themselves quiet at the plate until a Chris Denorfia sac fly in the bottom of the tenth wins it at Wrigley, 1-0.

Greinke is now winless in his last nine starts despite a 1.79 ERA over that span.

The Marlins lose at home against the Cardinals, 4-3, but those among the 21,759 rooting for Miami get a consolation prize in witnessing Giancarlo Stanton hit the year’s longest home run—again. His 484-foot shot—his second of similar length in 18 days—in the first inning opens the scoring, but the Fish can’t hold onto a 3-0 lead.

According to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, Stanton has hit six of the 11 longest homers in the majors this year.

Wednesday, June 24
For the second straight game, Toronto pitcher Marco Estrada enters the eighth inning having allowed no hits—and today at Tampa Bay, no baserunners, period—but again gets nailed with a knock before the frame is over. Estrada will go 8.2 scoreless innings, allowing two hits while striking out ten Rays, and the Blue Jays must go 12 innings to escape with a 1-0 victory.

Thursday, June 25
Rumors of the A’s demise may yet be premature. After a horrible start to the year, Oakland is now 20-11 since May 22 and finish up a three-game sweep on the road at Texas as Rangers killer Sonny Gray earns credit for the 6-3 win.

In five career games at Arlington, Gray is 5-0 with a 0.96 ERA.

Brandon Phillips hits his first career extra-inning home run in 141 at-bats and provides some flashy defense as well to send the Reds to a 5-4 win at Pittsburgh.

Friday, June 26
For five-plus innings, the ghost of Johnny Vander Meer is sweating as Washington’s Max Scherzer takes a perfect game into the sixth before the Phillies’ Freddy Galvis doubles to end the ace’s bid for a second straight no-hitter. But Galvis’ hit is one of the few bright spots for the Phillies, as Scherzer rolls for eight innings to earn his 100th career victory, 5-2.

When Dominic Brown doubles in a run off Scherzer in the seventh, it ends a streak of 48 straight scoreless innings delivered by Nationals starting pitchers, a franchise record and just eight shy of the major league record.

Before the game, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg steps down after a turbulent two-year ride. His tenure was riddled with a sinking organization, unpopular benching of All-Stars (Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard in particular), and a week earlier reliever Ken Giles even publicly gestured his dissatisfaction with strategy when asked to intentionally walk a batter—leading to a dugout confrontation capped when Sandberg read Giles the riot act. But what probably sealed Sandberg’s decision was the impending overhaul expected in the Phillies’ front office.

Miami loses at home to the Dodgers, 7-1, but there’s even worse news for the Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton breaks a bone in his left hand while swinging a bat, saying that the bat “dug in a little” on his hand. It’s at first thought that Stanton will miss a month, but he’ll end up missing the rest of the season.

ESPN ad rates for the upcoming Home Run Derby, for which tape-measure artist Stanton was slated to appear, probably started trending downward upon the news of his injury.

Kyle Lohse avoids a tenth loss and is well supported in the Brewers’ 10-4 home win over Minnesota; he has now won at least one game against each of the 30 MLB teams, only the 14th pitcher to do so.

The Rangers are blasted at Toronto, 12-2, but history is made on the losing side when Prince Fielder connects on his 300th career home run for Texas. With it, he and father Cecil Fielder becomes part of the second father-and-son duo (Barry and Bobby Bonds being the other) to each accumulate at least 300 homers.

Cubs reliever Pedro Strop helps set up his team’s 3-2 loss at St. Louis when he allows a game-tying homer to Greg Garcia (his first career blast) in the eighth. When Strop follows that up with a hit batsman and walk, he is removed and leaves pointing upward, leaving Bob Costas—providing play-by-play for the MLB Network—to say: “Strop is on his way out, pointing toward the heavens. We can only ask, or wonder that he is asking some departed relative for forgiveness for this atrocious performance.” After the game, Costas reviews his words and realizes he “inadvertently appeared harsh toward Strop” and plans to personally apologize to him.

Costas’ comments come on the heels of a well-delivered rant by comedian Bill Maher, who complains that no one in America can take a joke anymore. Whether Costas crossed the line is opened to debate—avoiding the words “departed relative” might have been wise—but the online wrist-slappers that salivated in critical response of Costas need to chill, too. If it’s bland robots you want in the booth, devoid of a sense of humor and the occasional sarcasm, well then here’s to you and the 21st Century.

Saturday, June 27
Michael Wacha wins his tenth game of the year and the Cardinals are the first in the majors to reach 50 with an 8-1 thrashing of the visiting Cubs. With just 24 losses, the Redbirds are the fastest team to reach 50 since the White Sox did it in 72 games during their championship season of 2005. Also: St. Louis’ 28-7 start at home matches the 1955 Dodgers and 1979 Expos for the best in modern NL history.

While the Angels are warming up in the field before the bottom of the seventh at Seattle, rookie shortstop Taylor Featherston sends a throw high over first base—and plunks Mariners star Robinson Cano, standing on the top of the Seattle dugout, smack in the forehead. He is dazed and confused but avoids a concussion. The Angels will win the game, 4-2.

The Yankees charge out to a 6-0 lead in the second inning at Houston, and Astros pitcher Brett Oberholtzer is fed up; he next throws a heater inside to Alex Rodriguez that gets him ejected—and, after the game, demoted to Triple-A. Although it might seem tight that one would be ejected for throwing inside without hitting an opponent, Oberholtzer makes no argument of getting the thumb and stalks quietly off the field. After all of that, the Astros manage to tie the game but lose it in the late innings, 9-6, on a two-run Mark Teixeira double and Chase Headley solo homer.

Four of the six runs charged to Oberholtzer come courtesy of Yankee catcher Brian McCann, who belts his tenth career grand slam. Only Mike Piazza (14) and Gary Carter (11) have more among catchers.

Meet Yovani Gallardo, stopper. The Texas pitcher helps the Rangers rebound from a brutal Friday loss by throwing 8.1 shutout innings in his team’s 4-0 victory at Toronto. Gallardo is now 6-0 with a 0.88 ERA when he starts following a Texas loss.

And how is Gallardo when he pitches after a Texas win? Not so good; he’s 1-5 with a 4.39 ERA.

Sunday, June 28
It’s the Amazin’ Matz! Yet another promising New York pitcher, Steven Matz, makes his major league debut for the Mets and is sharp on the mound with two runs allowed on five hits over 7.2 innings. But he’s even better with the bat, and in a historic way: He becomes the first pitcher since 1898 to knock in four runs while winning his major league debut with a double and two singles in three trips to the plate. It all adds up to a 7-2 nightcap win over the Reds at Citi Field to wrap up a doubleheader sweep for the Mets.

Madison Bumgarner doesn’t have such a bad day at the plate either in defeating the Rockies at San Francisco, 6-3, notching two hits including a late home run, his second of the year. On the mound, he contributes with his 1,000th career strikeout, making him the second youngest pitcher in modern Giants history (after Christy Mathewson) to reach the milestone.

The Indians’ offense is AWOL at Camden Yards as Cleveland gets shut out in both ends of a doubleheader by the Orioles, 4-0 and 8-0. It’s only the second time since 1988 that a team has been swept in a twinbill without scoring a single run.

Monday, June 29
Cleveland’s Cody Anderson now has two starts in the majors, and the Rays have already seen enough of him. The young right-hander, who threw 7.2 scoreless innings against Tampa Bay eight days earlier, returns to the mound against the Rays at St. Petersburg and takes a perfect game into the seventh before former Indian Grady Sizemore—in his second game for the Rays after being acquired from the Phillies—belts a home run. Anderson settles for a 7-1 win, pitching eight innings while allowing just the one run on two hits.

In the Angels’ 4-1 victory over the Yankees at Anaheim, Mike Trout goes deep for the 20th time this year—making him the 11th youngest player to have hit 20 homers in four different seasons before turning 24.

Tuesday, June 30
Seven days after throwing a five-hit shutout in his fifth career outing, Seattle’s Mike Montgomery goes out for a sixth time—and fires a one-hit blanking of the Padres in San Diego, 5-0. The rookie has a no-hitter into the seventh before Yangervis Solarte doubles off of him; overall Montgomery walks four, hits a batter and throws 113 pitches to finish his first month in the bigs at 3-2 with a 1.62 ERA.

The last rookie pitcher to throw consecutive shutouts was Cleveland’s Jeremy Sowers in 2006.

For the second straight night, Cleveland pitching flirts with perfection, as Danny Salazar retires the first 15 batters at Tampa Bay before settling for allowing two runs on two hits through seven frames to give the Indians a 6-2 triumph.

The last pair of teammates to go perfect through at least five in back-to-back starts was Jim McAndrew and Nolan Ryan of the 1969 Miracle Mets.

Chris Sale ties Pedro Martinez’s season record of most consecutive starts with ten or more Ks when, for the eighth straight time, he goes double-digits with 12 strikeouts at St. Louis. However, Sale does not get the decision in spite of eight superlative innings as it takes the White Sox 11 innings to dispel of the Cardinals, 2-1.

Over two seasons, Martinez has a ten-game streak of ten or more Ks.

In the current battle for American League superiority, the host Houston Astros shut down the Royals 4-0 behind Dallas Keuchel’s eight shutout innings. Keuchel becomes the second ten-game winner among AL pitchers this season, and the Astros now hold the league’s best record at 46-34.

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