This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: June, 2016
The Amateur Draft Recap At What Level Should Ichiro’s Pro Hits Count?
Yordano Ventura Goes “Off-Balance,” Again Home Runs: Making a Comeback

Best and Worst of the Week

Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays

91 29 28 6 0 11 30 22 1 1 2

It’s not often we bestow someone in this category with numbers that included a 0-for-19 slump, but that’s the nature of the highs and lows that Encarnacion has made an art form out of. The 33-year-old slugger ended that skid with a game-winning home run against Baltimore on June 10, and began one of his patented bat-on-fire sequences, belting five homers over the next five games. By averaging over a RBI per game for the month, Encarnacion now leads the majors at month’s end with 70.

Wil Myers, San Diego Padres

95 24 31 9 0 11 31 17 0 0 5

Four years ago, in his last season spent exclusively in the minors, Myers hit .314 with 37 homers and 109 RBIs. He’s caught up to major league speed and put himself on pace for very similar numbers with the Padres, thanks in large part to a spectacular June in which he displayed ferocious power and a knack for both patience and run production. And if you think it’s impressive that he accomplished all of this while playing half his games at pitching-friendly Petco Park, dig this: Nine of his 11 homers this month came at that ballpark.

Byung Ho Park, Minnesota Twins

66 8 9 2 0 3 6 8 0 0 0

The Korean import had a lot of Twins fans excited in Spring Training, and that enthusiasm carried over into April when he connected on six home runs. But opposing pitchers have now read the book on Park and they’ve got him figured out; yes, he still wields some power and is among the team leaders in homers with 12, but a 2-for-34 slide to end the month is not what the Twins envisioned when they plucked him out of the Orient. Park’s average is sinking (he’s at .191 for the year), the strikeouts (80) are piling up, and the bench has become his occasional home of late.

Michael Conforto, New York Mets

59 6 7 1 0 2 6 4 1 0 0

The 23-year-old outfielder held so much promise entering this campaign after an impressive late-season 2015 debut, we listed him as one of the year’s strong breakout candidates. And then, this. Conforto just seemed to get worse and worse as the month went along—a bothersome wrist didn’t help—and the Mets finally decided it was best to send him to Triple-A Las Vegas, soak in the desert heat, play a few hands of blackjack and recollect himself. The year is not yet a loss for Conforto; the Mets do expect to call him back up soon, and he did hit .365 in April, for all it’s worth. So for anyone who took our advice, don’t throw away your betting stub yet.

Michael Fulmer, Detroit Tigers

3-1 29.2 14 2 2 13 0 3 0 0 24

When the 23-year-old Oklahoma City native was dealt with another minor leaguer to Detroit for Yoenis Cespedes late last year, Tiger fans shrugged—thinking that if all went well, maybe they’d see him make an impact two to three years down the line. To their pleasant surprise, Fulmer has taken the fast track to success, breaking out this month with a run of 34 straight scoreless innings—the longest by a rookie since Fernando Valenzuela’s spectacular 1981 debut. Fulmer’s last two starts, although still sharp, suggests that he may be cruising on worn-out treads, and given that he’s never pitched more than 124 innings in a professional season, the Tigers were cautious enough to give him eight days of rest before his first July start. Still, it’s hard not to be excited about what this kid has done, and where he may be going

Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs

4-0 44.2 28 8 7 7 0 2 0 0 44

With Jake Arrieta showing a little mortality, the 32-year-old star southpaw stepped up to become Ace of the Month for the first-place Cubs. Lester allowed just one earned run through his first three starts of the month, and followed that up with three less dominant but still quality outings to improve his season ERA to 2.03, a figure bettered only by Clayton Kershaw. Moving forward, here’s the trick for Lester: If they’re going to hit home runs off you, make sure they’re solo shots—like the five he gave up in June.

James Shields, Chicago White Sox

1-2 20.1 37 26 25 14 0 0 2 0 13

Big Game James was looking for a change of scenery when he got drilled for ten runs in his last start of May—and his last in a San Diego uniform. He got it with a trade to the White Sox, but after three equally horrific starts, one began to wonder if yet another change of scenery was in the cards. But Chicago stuck with Shields and, although he got mostly back on track with his last two starts of the month, his collective damage was second to none in the majors. Yes, his momentum is swinging in the positive, so who knows—maybe he can even get his White Sox ERA down below 10.00 after another start or two.

Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies

1-3 19 40 25 22 9 0 4 0 0 23

A fine, young model of consistency in a Phillies rotation that badly needs it, Nola began the month with six shutout innings against Milwaukee to bring his season ERA down to an impressive 2.65. But out went Dr. Jekyll and in came Mr. Hyde, and things got consistently ugly over his next four starts, none of which he survived through the fourth inning as he got repeatedly pounded. In his final June outing, at San Francisco, he lost total control by hitting three Giants before conceding to the showers. For the sake of Phillies fans, here’s hoping the potion wears off and Dr. Jekyll soon returns.

Cleveland Indians (22-6)

After the Indians got swept in three games at Kansas City in mid-month, they found themselves in a flat-footed tie with the defending champions for first in the AL Central. Since then, it’s been all Cleveland. They won a franchise record-tying 13 games to end June, were unbeaten at home all month and are now six games ahead of the Royals. Sterling pitching, which was far and away the majors’ best in June (with a 2.42 ERA) had much to do with their success. Now if they can just draw some fans; they enter July with the worst home attendance of all 30 MLB teams.

San Francisco Giants (17-10)

The Giants have become kind of like the Terminator, getting dented, battered and grinded down—and yet, when they all look dead and forgotten, they somehow find a way to strike more fear into their opponents. At month’s end, the NL West leaders were without three injured key players (Hunter Pence, Joe Panik and Matt Duffy) and stuck with a bullpen whose trust factor has taken a beating. Nevertheless, the Giants make the grade here for the second straight month and with their divisional rivals scuffling about, their healthy lead in the West should stay safe for a while.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (8-19)

Don’t say we didn’t warn you. In our season preview, we looked at the Angels and saw them as “a team on the precipice of big trouble.” Looks like they’re awfully close to that edge, after a rough month that saw them slide into last place in the AL West with the majors’ fourth-worst record, on pace for nearly 100 losses. How do you fix this? You can’t trade prospects for win-now vets, because the Angels have little of the former. Maybe the team will listen to what some pundits have been saying, and that is to instantly refresh your future by trading Mike Trout for half of some other team’s farm system.

Pittsburgh Pirates (9-19)

You would think a team with so much talent and balance wouldn’t be susceptible to enlistment in this category, but when the dominoes start falling, anything’s possible. Catcher Francisco Cervelli was lost for practically the whole month, and not only did his replacements hit poorly (.134) but they couldn’t steer a rotation that got kicked around without ace Gerrit Cole, also lost to injury. Then there’s Andrew McCutchen, who barely hit over .200 for the month and is suddenly the subject of trade rumors. If you’re looking to make the playoffs, the NL Central is the wrong division to get yourself into a deep funk. As such, the month of June may have sunk the Bucs.

Wild Pitches

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

Dude, Where’s My Car?
It’s in center field at Minute Maid Park, Tyler White. The Astros’ rookie walked out onto the field to discover his white Range Rover sitting deep in the outfield as part a prank. White walked out to move it but didn’t have his keys, so he walked all the way back to find them; eventually a team employee moved it for him—but not before several Astros struck it with batting practice drives.

…And the Strike Zone Suddenly Got Small
Instead of playing walk-up music that’s requested by players coming to bat, the Dodgers used country music recorded by umpire Joe West during the team’s first run through the batting order on June 5 at Los Angeles against the Braves. Four of those first nine hitters collected hits while another walked; of the 35 pitches Atlanta pitcher Matt Wisler threw, only 18 of them were strikes with West behind the plate. Just noting…

This Bud’s For You
A disgruntled Philadelphia fan threw a bottle onto the field that nearly hit fading Phillies slugger Ryan Howard. After an intensive manhunt, the fan in question turned himself in, paid a $200 fine and was ordered to take a class on why it’s not cool to do such things.

Scorn on the Cobb
Georgia’s Cobb County announced that $40 million in park improvements, approved by voters in 2008, will need to be raised through more taxes. Why? Because the money originally earmarked for the improvements have gone instead toward building SunTrust Park, the Braves’ new home.

Hey Jimmy, the Ocean Called—They’re Running Out of Crabs
Baltimore-based Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, which offered slugger Chris Davis crab cakes for life to stay with the Orioles last winter (he stayed), offered free crabs for life to Manny Machado after engaging Kansas City pitcher Yordana Ventura in a June 7 brawl in Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Passion is in the Eye of the Beholder
A 7-year-old Cubs fan, afflicted with cancer of the right eye, had it removed for a prosthetic eye—with the Cubs logo in the center.

Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That
Mickey Moniak, this year’s #1 pick in the amateur draft, won a bet with friend Ethan Abrams by being among the first ten players drafted. By losing the wager, Abrams will now have to have Moniak’s name tattooed on his butt.

More Inky Boy
Star Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta lost a tattoo bet of his own when TCU, his alma mater, lost in the College World Series to Coastal Carolina, where teammate Tommy La Stella attended. So Arrieta will have the Coastal Carolina logo branded upon him. Where, we don’t know.

Attack of the Clones
With the 216th pick of the 2016 MLB draft, the Angels chose second baseman Jordan Zimmerman from Michigan State. (Yes, we know his name has only one 'n' at the end, but still...)

Bat into Limbo
The Giants’ Buster Posey lost the grip on his bat, which ended up stuck in the protective netting…in back-to-back games.

If You Want Attention, You’ll Get Attention
Laurence Leavy, a.k.a. "Marlins Man" because he pops up everywhere at major league games sitting in the best seats and wearing a bright orange Marlins jersey and visor, was harassed by Indians fans while attending a game at Cleveland and vowed never to return. True, the fans are dweebs for getting nasty, but here’s a tip for Laurence to avoid future angst: Maybe you should stop wearing the damn jersey and visor all the time—because, is it really worth the attention?

A Thorn in his Own Side
It’s been tough getting a hit off Milwaukee pitcher Taylor Thornburg when the bases are loaded; opponents are only 1-for-13 in such situations. It seems the better thing for do against him is to do nothing at all—because he’s also walked six batters and hit another when there’s nowhere to put them.

I’d Lather be in the Dugout
A University of Arizona ballplayer got his hair shampooed in the dugout during a College World Series game.

Midnight Shun
The Midnight Sun Baseball Game, played annually on the Summer Solstice in Fairbanks, Alaska, was called in the seventh inning because of…darkness. Blame storm clouds that made the sky blacker than normally expected after 1:30 in the morning.

That’s Not How he Used to do it, Son
Mariners minor leaguer Boog Powell—no relation to the Orioles’ namesake who terrorized pitchers in the 1960s—was given an 80-game suspension for PED use.

Ninety Feet From Glory, Embarrassment
Houston second baseman, Jose Altuve, who had singled, doubled and homered against the Royals on June 25, launched a drive into the gap and was headed for third to complete the cycle…when this happened.

Balls and Strikes
Do not expect this hit-and-run attempt by the Yankees to make their 2016 highlight reel—though it does have an excellent chance of making the cut in a future sports bloopers show.

Not Your Uncle Whitey’s Cardinals
St. Louis attempted ten steals in June. They were successful only three times.

This Month’s Proof That Everybody’s Striking Out
After a record-breaking May in which the bar for total monthly strikeouts was raised, sluggers calmed down a bit and whiffed 6,491 times in June, about a 4% drop—but it’s still the fourth highest total ever recorded in any full baseball calendar month.

League vs. League

The American League, seeking to win interleague bragging rights for a remarkable 13th straight year, made strong gains toward that goal in June by winning 50 of 88 games to take a 92-73 lead over the National League for the season. It’s all the more amazing considering how the NL appeared so strong against the AL during the middle of the month, but a late AL surge propelled the junior circuit well back in front.

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Wednesday, June 1
Marlon Byrd, a previous PED user and once unapologetic client of Victor Conte after the BALCO scandal, is tagged with another positive test that leads to a 162-game suspension. In 34 games for the Cleveland Indians, Byrd was hitting .270 with five home runs and 19 runs batted in—but some believe this second suspension will probably end his career at age 38.

Like almost everyone else who’s been suspended for PED use, Byrd pleads ignorance and claims he unknowingly took the offending substance. C’mon, knock it off. You think these athletes would use extreme caution to make sure they’re not taking such substances, or that the legitimate ones they’re using don’t include traces of something illegal. Just maybe, they should be afforded the benefit of a doubt. But it wouldn’t be wise to bet the house on their claims of innocence.

A day after smacking three home runs at Baltimore, Boston’s Mookie Betts continues the rampage by going deep in his first two at-bats before Orioles pitchers wise up and walk him twice in three more plate appearances on the night. Despite Betts’ extended damage and another hit for Xander Bogaerts—who runs his active hitting streak to 25 games—the Red Sox cannot overcome Baltimore bats as the Orioles prevail in a 13-9 shootout. The losing pitcher for Boston is Joe Kelly, who allows seven runs in 2.1 innings to raise his season earned run average to 8.46; it will cost him a demotion to the minors immediately following the game.

Betts’ five homers over two straight games ties a major league record held by many players, last done in 2015 by Bryce Harper. He’s the first player to hit a home run in each of the first two innings in consecutive games.

Somehow, the Chicago White Sox escape with a 2-1, 13-inning victory at New York despite walking 13 Mets. The winning run also comes in unexpected fashion; reliever Matt Albers, who hadn’t batted since 2009, is asked to hit with no other players available and belts a ground-rule double to lead off the 13th; he’ll score the eventual winning run on Jose Abreu’s sacrifice fly. The Mets become only the second team since 1900 to walk 13 or more times and score just one run.

Thursday, June 2
The Padres have what appears to be an ironclad 12-2 lead on Seattle after five innings at pitcher-friendly Petco Park, but the Mariners storm back like it’s Coors Field—notching 14 unanswered runs over the next two innings to take a 16-13 victory. It’s the largest comeback in Seattle history and the most total runs scored in a game at Petco. The Mariners’ Dae-Ho Lee is 3-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs, all after entering the game in the sixth.

A night after outlasting the Red Sox with 13 runs and no homers, the Orioles run it up again at Baltimore with a 12-7 victory—this time, with all of their runs scoring on seven home runs, including two each from Mark Trumbo and Adam Jones. In defeat, Boston’s Xander Bogaerts extends his hitting streak to 26 games with two singles.

Friday, June 3
Los Angeles rookie Corey Seager hits solo home runs in the fourth, sixth and eighth innings to lift the Dodgers to a 4-2 win over Atlanta at Dodger Stadium. Two of Seager’s bombs are given up by Braves starter Julio Teheran, who otherwise pitches well and continues to prove that he has taken over the mantle from ex-teammate Shelby Miller as the majors’ unluckiest pitcher. He’s now 1-6 with a 2.92 ERA, as the Braves have averaged barely two runs per start for him.

Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey tames the Red Sox and ends Xander Bogaerts’ 26-game hitting streak in a 5-2 Blue Jays win at Fenway Park. Dickey walks five, hits one and forces a passed ball on catcher Josh Thole, but he also allows just an unearned run on two hits through 6.2 frames to bewilder Boston.

The Mets triumph at Miami, 6-2, behind another strong effort from Noah Syndergaard and the first home run in a Mets uniform for veteran first baseman James Loney, released earlier by Tampa Bay (despite being owed $8 million) and just picked up earlier in the week by New York after an injury to Lucas Duda.

As Elias notes, Loney becomes the second Met whose first homer for the team is the 100th of his career. The other was the eccentric Jimmy Piersall—who celebrated his 1963 milestone by running around the bases backward.

Just as the game ends, the Marlins post on their large video board news that boxing legend Muhammad Ali has passed away—even though news outlets won’t get an official confirmation for another two hours. Miami president David Samson later tells the press that a family insider for Ali, who threw the first ceremonial pitch when Marlins Park opened, gave them advanced word of his death.

Saturday, June 4
In the majors’ first significant trade of the 2016 season, the Padres send workhorse pitcher James Shields—who allowed ten runs in his last start—packing to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Erik Johnson and 17-year-old minor leaguer Fernando Tatis Jr. The Padres will pay $27 million of the remaining $58 million left on Shields’ contract.

The White Sox make the move to right what might be a sinking ship after a strong start; they’ve lost 17 of their last 23 games and posting a 23-10 record through May 9. The Padres, meanwhile, continue to tear apart what they quickly built before the 2015 season, only to never see it come to positive fruition.

Arizona’s Jake Lamb belts a first-inning, two-run homer at Chicago against the Cubs, but it’s the only blemish on the day for Cubs starting pitcher Jason Hammel, who allows no other hits through seven innings of work—and helps achieves victory by breaking a 2-2 tie in the fourth with a two-run single.

The Cubs’ 5-3 win moves them to 39-15 on the year—the best start in the majors since the 2001 Mariners opened at 42-12, on their way to an AL-record 116 wins—and their +154 run margin is the highest after 54 games since the 1939 Yankees.

Looking to become the season’s first ten-game winner, Washington’s Stephen Strasburg cramps up in the sixth inning at Cincinnati and is forced to leave with a 2-1 lead; the roof then caves on as Nationals relievers, who allow five unanswered runs the rest of the way to give the Reds their fourth straight victory, 6-3. A three-run, tie-breaking blast from relative unknown Adam Duvall—his 16th of the year to place him second in the NL—is the crunching blow.

Before departing, Strasburg collects his 1,000th career strikeout and becomes, barely, the second fastest player to reach the milestone, achieving it within 855.1 innings; Kerry Wood remain at the top of that list at 853.2 frames.

After allowing five home runs through his first 80 innings thrown on the year, San Francisco’s Jeff Samardzija gives up four over an inning-plus at St. Louis, as the Cardinals erase an early 4-0 Giants lead and run away with a 7-4 victory.

One would think that Jacoby Ellsbury’s steal of home—giving the New York Yankees a 7-0 lead at Baltimore in the sixth inning—might be considered rubbing it in. But the Orioles don’t get mad, they get even—almost, anyway. An inning later, the O’s strike back with six runs, but the comeback ends there as the Yankees survive with an 8-6 win. Alex Rodriguez has three singles and pulls his season average back up to an even .200.

Sunday, June 5
Carl Hubbell can breathe easier. Arizona defeats the Cubs at Chicago, 3-2, and Jake Arrieta is charged with the loss—despite striking out 12 Diamondbacks over five innings—ending his streak of 20 consecutive wins, four shy of Hubbell’s mark from 1936-37. Ironically, the Cubs finish a ten-game homestand at Wrigley Field in which they only lose twice—both times with Arrieta on the mound.

In triumph, the Diamondbacks strike out a team record-tying 18 times.

The Marlins’ Jose Fernandez is sensational in a 1-0 win over Matt Harvey and the Mets at Miami, tossing seven shutout innings while striking out 14 and walking none to tie Chris Hammond’s team record for most consecutive starts won (eight). Over his last six starts, Fernandez has allowed just three runs and struck out 63 over 41 innings; he’ll lose his next start on June 11 to those streak-killers, the Diamondbacks, to end his run.

The Blue Jays defeat the Red Sox at Boston, 5-4, on the strength of four hits—all home runs—and a no-hitter taken into the eighth inning by Marco Estrada before the Red Sox break it up and make a close game of it toward the end. It’s the third time since the start of last season that Estrada has taken a no-no into the eighth—and the third time that he’s failed to complete it.

With too many teammates on the outfielding depth chart and too little production of late, Carl Crawford is designated for assignment by the Dodgers. Once one of the more productive players in the game (see Tampa Bay, 2003-10), Crawford’s output has greatly diminished since scoring a major deal with the Red Sox that was absorbed by the Dodgers when they traded for him in 2011; so far this year, the 34-year old is hitting .185 in 30 games as continued injuries have taken their toll.

Monday, June 6
In his third game back after serving his seven-game suspension for punching out Jose Bautista, Texas’ Rougned Odor knocks home the winning run on a ninth-inning double to defeat Houston, 6-5, and keep the Rangers undefeated on the season against the Astros in seven games. Odor also knocks in runs earlier in the game on a solo homer and sacrifice fly.

Tyler Chatwood tosses eight innings of one-hit ball and rookie shortstop Trevor Story belts his 16th home run of the year, driving in three, to give Colorado a 6-1 win at Los Angeles. Chatwood is now 5-0 with a 0.65 ERA away from Coors Field; at home, he’s 2-4 with a 5.30 mark.

Tuesday, June 7
The Kansas City Royals lose their sixth straight game—and their composure to boot. Pitcher Yordano Ventura, no stranger to on-field controversy, pitches up and in several times to Baltimore’s Manny Machado in his first at-bat, then hits him square in the back in the fifth—enraging Machado, who limps toward the mound and wrestles Machado to the ground. Both players are ejected and will ultimately be suspended—Ventura for nine games, Machado for four; the Orioles immediately greet Ventura’s replacement Chien-Ming Wang (remember him?) with back-to-back homers from Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis, and the Orioles roll to a most satisfying 9-1 rout.

Trumbo’s homer is his 20th of the year, making him the third Orioles in the last four years to be the first in the majors to reach that figure. He hit 22 for all of last season.

Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones on Ventura, after the game: “The talent is all there, but between the ears, there is a circuit board off-balance.”

After appearing to settle down emotionally after igniting a series of bench-clearing scrums early last year by turning nothing into something, this latest incident shows a relapse of stupidity that hopefully can be promptly stuffed back inside the box. The Royals are wondering if they can; teammates are reportedly starting to tire of his antics—because it ultimately gets them involved—and it’s been written that management has been trying to find a way to get rid of him.

His benefit of a doubt long gone, Ventura needs to grow up—because the next time he initiates another needless confrontation, he may find himself as the only one on the field defending himself.

The Pirates double their pleasure by knocking off the Mets twice in a day-night doubleheader at Pittsburgh, each by a 3-1 score. Ex-Met Jonathon Niese tosses seven shutout innings in the first game, while closer Mark Melancon pitches 1-2-3 ninths in both wins to earn two saves on the day. The Pirates have now won nine straight against New York.

Zack Greinke appears to be coming around after a rough start to his expensive tenure with Arizona. The $34 million-a-year ace fires a three-hit shutout and extends to 16 a streak of consecutive scoreless innings as the Diamondbacks groove to a 5-0 win over Tampa Bay at Phoenix. Greinke had come into game with a 6.54 home ERA.

Carlos Beltran’s two-run homer in the first sets the tone for the Yankees’ 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at New York. The 39-year-old slugger thus becomes the fourth switch-hitter to achieve 1,000 career extra-base hits; the other three are Eddie Murray, Chipper Jones and Pete Rose.

Wednesday, June 8
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for James Shields. He gave up ten runs in what would be his last start for San Diego, before getting publicly grilled by Padres management and then being traded to the Chicago White Sox. Tonight, in his first start for the Pale Hose, Shields stinks anew—serving up seven runs to the Washington Nationals in just two-plus innings of work before being booed off the field by a home crowd of 15,273. Max Scherzer gets in seven scoreless and the Nats’ top three hitters in the lineup (Ben Revere, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper) each get three hits to secure an 11-4 rout.

For the second straight night, a Milwaukee starting pitcher takes a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Chase Anderson, who just three weeks earlier took a no-no into the eighth against the Cubs, doesn’t allow a hit to the visiting Oakland A’s until one out in the sixth and finishes the night giving up just two hits over 6.2 frames to give the Brewers a 4-0 win.

Chris Parmalee, making his first start of the year for New York for the DL-bitten Mark Teixeira, drills two home runs and a double and knocks in three as the Yankees beat up on Jered Weaver and the Angels in the Bronx, 12-7. Only one other Yankee can claim a pair of home runs in his first start in pinstripes: Roger Maris.

Parmalee himself will go on the shelf a few days later after injuring a hamstring. He will be the fourth Yankee first baseman to hit the disabled list this season.

The Giants snap a 1-1 tie in the eighth at San Francisco when rookie outfielder Mac Williamson connects on his first career homer against the Red Sox and David Price—but causes a bit of drama in the ninth when he botches a fly ball from Boston leadoff batter Hanley Ramirez, who reaches second. A trio of Giants relievers comes to the rescue and closes out the Red Sox, 2-1, with Ramirez left stranded at second.

The Astros finally win at Texas, breaking their own 1-1 tie on a two-run Jose Altuve double in the seventh to win, 3-1. It’s Houston’s first win at Arlington after 12 losses, which tied a franchise record for the longest losing streak in one city.

A run-scoring single by Daniel Descalso is all the Colorado Rockies need to upend the Dodgers at Los Angeles, 1-0. Starting Rockies pitcher Chris Rusin and four relievers combine to blank the Dodgers on four hits, lowering the team ERA away from Coors Field to 3.63—seventh best in the majors among road teams.

It’s the fourth time this year that the Rockies have won a game despite scoring two or fewer runs—matching their entire total for 2015.

Thursday, June 9
With the first pick in the 2016 MLB amateur draft, the Philadelphia Phillies select Carlsbad, California-based high school outfielder Mickey Moniak; Cincinnati, picking second, opts for University of Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel, while Atlanta grabs prep pitcher Ian Anderson as the #3 selection.

The draft always seems to yield interesting and familiar names, and so it goes with the day’s list of names covering the first two rounds. There’s Corey Pint (who at 6’4, 210 lbs and wearing a 14-size shoe is anything but pint-sized), A.J. Puk (that’s pronounced “puck,” not “puke”), Corey Ray (drafted by Milwaukee—but how apt would it had been if the Tampa Bay Rays took him), Corey Lux (taken by the Lux-urious spending Dodgers), Carter Kieboom (who might wield a powerful bat that goes “Kie-boom!”), Chris Okey (who hails from Florida, not Oklahoma), Keegan Akin (to whom, we don’t know), Logan Ice (now that’s a cool name) and Akil Baddoo (your joke inserted here).

Among the legacies that will be selected over the entire draft are #8 pick Cal Quantrill, son of former major league pitcher Paul Quantrill, picked by San Diego; Matt Manning, son of ex-basketball star Rick Manning, taken ninth by Detroit; Bo Bichette (son of former Colorado slugger Dante Bichette) and Cavan Biggio (son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio) taken by Toronto at, respectively, #66 and #162; and with the 211th pick, Baltimore opted for Preston Palmeiro, son of ex-slugger Rafael Palmeiro. In later rounds, Torii Hunter Jr. will be selected by the Angels, and in a poignant pick, the Seattle Mariners choose Trey Griffey, son of Ken Griffey Jr., in the 24th round—even though he hasn’t formally played baseball for years.

The Rangers get a home run from struggling slugger Prince Fielder (whose drive smashes the cell phone of a female fan trying to catch it) to defeat the Astros in a matinee at Arlington, 5-3. Houston loses more than just the game; young star Carlos Correa sprains his left ankle stepping awkwardly on first base while trying to beat out a throw and is day-to-day.

Friday, June 10
After a shaky start to the evening, Stephen Strasburg settles in and becomes the majors’ first ten-game winner on the year, striking out ten batters over seven innings and improving to 10-0 in Washington’s 7-4 home win over Philadelphia. Strasburg has now won 13 straight decisions, a franchise record—and the longest by a D.C.-based pitcher since Walter Johnson ran off 13 in a row in 1924.

Chris Sale will also win his tenth game of the year an hour after Strasburg gets his, earning credit for the White Sox’ 7-5 victory over Kansas City at Chicago. It’s the eighth straight loss for the defending champion Royals, but at least they’re scoring; their five runs is more than they’ve notched in the previous six games combined.

All but out of bench options in the 12th inning of a 3-3 tie at Pittsburgh, the Cardinals bring pitcher Adam Wainwright to the plate with two runners on base—and they both score as the St. Louis ace hammers a double that ignites a six-run rally that leads to a 9-3 victory. Wainwright’s double is his sixth hit of the year; all of them have gone for extra bases.

The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (13 strikeouts, no walks) and the Giants’ Johnny Cueto (8 K’s, no walks) duel to a 2-2 tie after eight innings at San Francisco, but Los Angeles comes away with the win as Justin Turner’s leadoff homer in the ninth off Giants reliever Santiago Casilla seals the deal.

Kershaw now has 122 strikeouts—and just six walks—on the season. He’s 18-7 with a 1.62 ERA in 34 career appearances against the Giants.

Saturday, June 11
Cheslor Cuthbert—playing in the place of Mike Moustakas, out for the year—belts two home runs, and Danny Duffy strikes out ten over six scoreless innings as the Royals snap an eight-game losing skid and defeat the White Sox at Chicago, 4-1. A loss would have put the Royals, who were in first place at the start of their slide, below .500.

Trailing 2-1 going into the seventh inning at St. Petersburg, the Astros score a run in each of the next three frames to emerge with a 4-3 win over the Rays, dodging a ninth-inning Tampa Ray rally in which both the tying and winning runs are left stranded in scoring position. It’s the first time all year that Houston has won a game when trailing after six innings; all other MLB teams has done it at least twice.

After snapping out of a 0-for-19 slump the day before with a walkoff home run, Toronto slugger Edwin Encarnacion keeps up the newly minted momentum by smoking two home runs and a double while knocking in five runs to help the Blue Jays destroy the Orioles, 11-6.

Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts cranks out four hits for the second straight day at Minneapolis to raise his season average to an AL-leading .358 mark, and the Red Sox drill away at the Twins (18-43) for an 15-4 rout.

Sunday, June 12
Michael Fulmer is making the trade of Yoenis Cespedes to the Mets last summer look more and more agreeable to Detroit fans. The 23-year-old ex-Met, who entered the season never having pitched above Double-A ball, throws six shutout innings in a 4-1 Tigers win at New York against the Yankees, extends to 28.1 a streak of consecutive scoreless innings and becomes the first hurler ever to throw at least six shutout frames while allowing three or fewer hits in four straight games.

The Mets get a scare shortly before their scheduled game at Milwaukee when manager Terry Collins is rushed to a hospital with shortness of breath. He’ll remain overnight as the Mets lose to the Brewers 5-3 under the direction of emergency pilot Dick Scott, but will be released and back in uniform for their next game.

It’s something of a rough day at Anaheim between the Angels and Indians. With the Tribe ahead 5-0, Mike Trout launches a 106-MPH ground ball that ricochets off the groin of Cleveland third baseman Juan Uribe—who’s in so much pain, he has to taken off the field by a cart. Trout himself becomes a victim in the eighth, plunked on the wrist by a Tommy Hunter pitch; X-rays confirm there is no break, Trout is listed as day-to-day, and the Angels breathe a massive sigh of relief. The AL Central-leading Indians prevail 8-3 on the strength of three homers, two by Carlos Santana.

Minnesota outfielder Max Kepler emerges as the hero for the Twins by smashing a three-run homer—the first of his career—to end a 7-4, 10-inning victory over the Red Sox at Target Field.

Monday, June 13
In a battle of top NL teams, the Nationals take down the Cubs 4-1 at Washington as Max Scherzer strikes out nine of the first ten Chicago batters he faces, on his way to accumulating 11 K’s over seven innings while allowing just a run on two hits.

The White Sox overcome another bad James Shields outing and a seven-run deficit, scoring twice in the ninth (on a Jose Abreu homer) to force overtime and one in the 12th to defeat the Tigers at Chicago, 10-9.

Shields has now allowed at least seven runs in the first three innings in each of his last three starts; no pitcher ever had previously done that.

With the Golden State Warriors trying to wrap up a NBA title next door (they can’t), the Oakland A’s thrash the Rangers by a 14-5 count, scoring at least four runs in three straight innings (third, fourth and fifth). Khris Davis knocks in five runs and connects on his 15th home run, but is still second in the majors among those whose name sounds exactly the same (Baltimore’s Chris Davis has 16).

Tuesday, June 14
Pitching in the place of the injured Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon—making just his second big league start—takes a no-hitter into the seventh inning at New York’s Citi Field and settles for eight innings of two-hit, shutout ball as the Pirates take care of the Mets, 4-0.

Zack Eflin doesn’t quite fare as well as Taillon in his major league debut. In fact, he’s historically bad. The 22-year-old Philadelphia right-hander becomes only the third pitcher in history to allow as many as nine runs in less than three innings of work in his first start, as the Phillies get romped at Toronto, 11-3. The Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson, in particular, destroys Eflin—racking up two home runs, a double and five RBIs in his three at-bats against the young hurler before he departs.

In a Coors Field special, Colorado builds up a 12-3 lead before sweating a late rally by the Yankees to survive, 13-10. Veteran Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa throws five shutout innings before departing; he’s never allowed a run in four career starts against the Yankees.

Wednesday, June 15
In Miami’s 6-3 defeat at San Diego, Ichiro Suzuki knocks out two singles to reach 4,257 professional hits, one more than Pete Rose garnered over his voluminous major league career. Some praise Suzuki, who needs just 21 more hits to reach 3,000 in America, for “surpassing” Rose, but Rose won’t have it—stating via social media that people in Japan are trying to make him out to be the “Hit Queen.”

We’ve sounded off on the value of hits between certain leagues before, and we’ll repeat what we’ve said in the past: Hits in Japan should not be on a par with those earned in MLB. In terms of quality, the two Japanese leagues are really no better than the Triple-A circuits; for anyone who disagrees, they should look at the long list of major league washouts who’ve exiled themselves to Japan and thrived. Currently to wit: Brad Eldred, who’s bounced in and out of the majors for a decade and owns a career .204 MLB average, yet this season is hitting .319 for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in 66 games with 16 homers.

There really should be two hits lists: One for major league hits, and another for hits as a professional, meaning any minor league. Rose tops both lists; the 4,256 in the majors you surely know about, but also note that he accumulated 427 hits in the minors before joining the Reds in 1963, meaning he knocked out 4,683 as a professional. Rose is rightfully exonerated from the game for his gambling, but his career ledger still counts. Suzuki is deservedly headed for Cooperstown, but Rose still has him beat.

Even though he’s been cleared to resume playing after a two-month suspension for spousal abuse, veteran shortstop Jose Reyes—the Rockies’ highest-paid player—is designated for assignment. There is almost no chance that another team will pick up both Reyes and the $35 million tab that Colorado still is obligated to pay him through 2017.

Washington’s Stephen Strasburg takes his 10-0 record to the mound against the mighty Cubs, but he leaves seven innings later after dueling to a 1-1 draw with opposite Chicago number Jason Hammel. From there, both bullpens play Alphonse and Gaston before the Nationals rally for two runs in the 12th to defeat the Cubs, 5-4.

After gifting the Reds two runs in the 13th with three walks and an error, the Braves rebound with three runs in the bottom of the inning to come away with a 9-8 victory at Atlanta. In triumph, Freddie Freeman becomes the sixth Brave—and first this year for all the majors—to hit for the cycle, albeit clinching the accomplishment in extras with a single.

Thursday, June 16
The Royals designate for assignment veteran second baseman Omar Infante, hitting poorly for the second straight year while rookie Whit Merrifield has excelled in his place. Royals fans apparently still love him, as he currently ranks third among AL second baseman in All-Star voting.

The Rangers’ Colby Lewis, earlier noted here for picking up win after win despite a lackluster ERA, gets a well deserved victory in Oakland, to say the least. The 36-year-old right-hander doesn’t allow a baserunner until the eighth and his first hit until the ninth, emerging with a complete-game 5-1 triumph over the A’s to improve to 6-0 over 14 starts with a 2.81 ERA.

Incidentally, the Rangers’ last no-hitter remains the 1994 perfect game thrown by Kenny Rogers.

It’s an extreme day of results for the Martinez’s in Detroit’s 10-4 romp at Kansas City. Victor Martinez belts three solo home runs to aid the offense, while J.D. Martinez breaks his elbow colliding with the outfield wall and will miss up to six weeks of action.

At 37, Martinez is the second oldest Tiger to launch three homers in a game; the oldest remains Ty Cobb in 1925, the 38-year-old embracer of the Deadball Era who famously told reporters before a game that he would finally “try” to hit home runs—and then went out and hit three of them among six total hits.

Tampa Bay, errorless in its previous eight games, commits three gaffes against Seattle that leads to four unearned runs and a 6-2 Mariners win at St. Petersburg.

Friday, June 17
On the day the Blue Jays place Jose Bautista on the disabled list with a sprained toe, Michael Saunders picks up the slack. The 29-year-old Canadian native belts three home runs and knocks in eight runs to easily push Toronto past the Orioles at Baltimore, 13-3. Saunders has 15 homers on the year, just four shy of his career high from 2012 while playing for Seattle.

The Blue Jays, whose offense had been sputtering after being far and away the majors’ most productive offense in 2015, have now scored ten or more runs in five of their last seven games.

Detroit’s Michael Fulmer engages in a scoreless duel with the Royals’ Yordano Ventura (apparently back to being on his best behavior) but caves in when Salavdor Perez launches a sixth-inning home run that ends his streak of consecutive scoreless innings at 34—the longest by a rookie in Tigers history, and the longest by any rookie since Fernando Valenzuela ran up a 35-frame streak in 1981. When Fulmer is removed shortly afterward, the Detroit bullpen collapses by giving up nine runs in 2.1 innings, and the Royals coast to a 10-4 win.

The Mariners’ Franklin Gutierrez, RBI-less over his last nine games, drills two home runs and a bases-loaded double, knocking in six to lead Seattle to an 8-4 win over the Red Sox at Boston. Robinson Cano adds a solo homer, his 247th as a second baseman—breaking the AL record previously held by Joe Gordon.

The Rays draw their largest crowd in ten years (40,135) as Pride Night is declared in memory of the 49 people killed earlier in the week by a lone wolf terrorist at a gay nightclub in nearby Orlando. After a lengthy pregame ceremony that includes a prerecorded message of solidarity from commissioner Rob Manfred, the Giants go out and defeat the Rays 5-1 behind Jeff Samardzija’s complete-game effort; a chance at a shutout is ruined with two outs in the ninth when Brad Miller goes deep. It’s the major league-leading fifth time this season that a Giants pitcher has gone the distance.

Saturday, June 18
Tim Lincecum, making his debut with the Angels and pitching in the majors for the first time in nearly a year after nine seasons with San Francisco, allows a run on four hits over six innings in a 7-1 victory over the A’s at Oakland. The crowd of 25,078 includes many Giants fans watching one of their past favorites.

In a classic case of watching those “who we thought they were,” Zack Greinke throws eight strong innings while Paul Goldschmidt has two hits (including his 14th homer) to lead Arizona to a 4-1 defeat of the Phillies at Philadelphia. Greinke has now won seven straight starts after starting the year with a 3-3 record and 5.26 ERA; Goldschmidt, batting .223 as late as May 16, is hitting .377 over 29 games since; and the Phillies have lost 22 of 28 after starting the year with a surprising 24-17 record.

Never count out the Texas Rangers. Trailing at St. Louis 3-0 after Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez departs with seven shutout innings, the Rangers plate two runs in each of the final two innings against Cardinals relievers to prevail, 4-3. It’s the seventh time this year that Texas has bounced back to win after trailing by three or more runs; it currently owns the AL’s best record at 44-25.

Sunday, June 19
The Cubs simply refuse to become yesterday’s news. On Sunday Night Baseball at Wrigley Field, they obliterate the Pirates and prized rookie Jameson Taillon, 10-5, behind five home runs—one by rookie catcher Willson Contreras, baseball’s #1 catching prospect who becomes the first Cub since 1992 to go deep on the first major league pitch he sees. The Cubs are now 47-20 and 12.5 games in first place—their biggest margin at any point of a season since 1929—and their run differential now stands at +171, more than double the next best team (Boston, at +83). The Pirates, meanwhile, have lost ten of 11 and are three games below .500.

For the Mets, Father’s Day 2017 will hopefully mean never having to face Julio Teheran again. On this year’s Dad’s Day, the Braves ace stymies the Mets with a one-hit shutout, as Michael Conforto’s leadoff single in the third makes him the Mets’ only baserunner on the day. A year earlier, Teheran also faced the Mets on Father’s Day—and allowed only one hit through seven shutout frames.

It’s only the second sweep of the year for Atlanta, which still owns the NL’s worst record at 23-46.

Despite a 4-for-4 day with two homers and a double for Washington leadoff hitter Michael Taylor, the Padres survive with a 6-3 victory over the Nationals at San Diego and finally win for the first time all year on a Sunday after ten straight losses—and 12 extending back to the end of 2015.

Who needs a fastball? Veteran Angels pitcher Jered Weaver, whose heater currently maxes out in the mid-80s, produces a three-hit, 2-0 shutout of the A’s at Oakland on just 95 pitches. It’s the eighth blanking of his career.

Monday, June 20
The Rockies defeat the Marlins in a 5-3 game in which all eight runs are the product of solo homers—the most ever hit in a major league contest with no other runs scored. (The old record is five.) Colorado’s Mark Reynolds and Miami’s Marcell Ozuna each hit two over the fence.

You would have thought, Rockies, home run record…Coors Field, right? Nope, this took place at Marlins Park, which mostly remains a dead zone for power hitters even with the fences moved in here and there this season.

The Nationals-Dodgers game at Los Angeles is built up as a terrific pitching matchup between Stephen Strasburg (10-0) and Clayton Kershaw (10-1), but Strasburg is scratched shortly before the first pitch with a back issue. Yusmeiro Petit does well in Strasburg’s place, but he’s no match for Kershaw—who remains both stellar and accurate (no walks, once again) for seven innings as the Dodgers roll to a 4-1 victory. Kanley Jansen pitches a perfect ninth to secure his 20th save of the season and 162nd of his career, placing him ahead of Eric Gagne for first on the Dodgers’ all-time list.

San Francisco’s eight-game winning streak comes to an end as the Pirates squeak by with a 1-0 victory at Pittsburgh. The lone tally is an unlikely one to say the least; backup catcher Erik Kratz, with two hits in 44 at-bats on the year, pokes one down the left-field line off ace Madison Bumgarner that the Giants’ Angel Pagan appears to catch over the wall—until Pagan comes down and angrily slams his glove to the ground, sans ball.

The Phillies lose to Arizona 3-1 and end a disastrous homestand in which they lost all six games while scoring two runs or less in each. It is, in fact, Philadelphia’s worst homestand since its infamous 0-7 stretch late in 1964, part of a ten-game losing slide that cost the Phillies the NL pennant.

Tuesday, June 21
The Phillies rack up more runs than in all of their previous six games combined—and still lose, 14-10 at Minnesota. Kurt Suzuki leads the way for the Twins with six RBIs on four hits (including two doubles and a homer); it’s the first time since Target Field opened in 2010 that both teams have reached double digits in the same game.

Corey Kluber deals his second shutout of the season, a three-hitter to give the Indians (five straight wins, ten straight at home) a 6-0 victory over Tampa Bay (six straight defeats).

A day after being shut out, the Giants establish a MLB season-high 22 hits in demolishing the Pirates at Pittsburgh, 15-4. Angel Pagan makes up for his near-over-the-wall grab the day before by smashing a fourth-inning grand slam to ignite the Giants’ outburst.

In the Rockies’ 8-4 win at New York over the Yankees, rookie Trevor Story becomes the first major leaguer on the year to reach 100 strikeouts. Story may be on course to win NL Rookie of the Year honors, but he’s also on pace to strike out 231 times and break Mark Reynolds’ all-time season mark.

Wednesday, June 22
Trailing 3-2 in the ninth inning with a man on base, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig—playing his second game after a three-week absence from hamstring woes—lines a base hit to center that goes under the glove of Washington outfielder Michael Taylor. The ball rolls all the way to the wall, and Puig rounds the bases with a single plus three-base error to win the game at Los Angeles, 4-3.

Don’t dismiss the Houston Astros quite yet. With a 3-2 win over the Angels at Minute Maid Park behind Jose Altuve’s 12th homer of the year (his career high is 15), the Astros have won 20 of their last 28 games and are above .500 for the first time since Opening Day.

A patient Cardinals team forces out Cubs ace Jake Arrieta after five innings and then hammer away at the Chicago bullpen, easing to a 7-2 win at Wrigley Field. It’s the first time this season that the Cubs have been swept in any series—and the first time since 1988 that the Cardinals have swept the Cubs at Chicago.

Thursday, June 23
The Phillies avoid being swept by the team with the majors’ worst record and end a nine-game losing skid with a 7-3 road victory over the Twins. Freddy Galvis, batting eighth in the order, sets a career high with five RBIs.

Arizona closer Brad Ziegler is asked to enter a difficult situation—one out, tying run at third and go-ahead run at first—and record a five-out save in the mile-high air of Denver’s Coors Field. He won’t meet the challenge, as D.J. LaMahieu’s bunt single ties the game for Colorado and ends Ziegler’s franchise-record streak of 43 straight successful save opportunities. But Ziegler gets credit for the win as the Diamondbacks strike for one in the ninth and come away with a 7-6 victory.

Act II of Tim Lincecum’s tour with the Angels doesn’t go as well as Act I. Pitching again against the A’s, Lincecum is beat up for four runs on seven hits and two walks through three innings before being removed, and a late Angels rally comes up short in a 5-4 loss at Anaheim.

Friday, June 24
It’s another wild—and long—night at Coors Field between the Diamondbacks and Rockies, with Arizona emerging with a 10-9 win preserved by Rickie Weeks Jr.’s game-saving catch of Todd Hundley’s ninth-inning deep fly at the top of the left-field wall. The game includes 16 pitchers, 30 hits, 13 walks, four errors, three wild pitches, two balks and 381 total pitches; at four hours and 30 minutes, it’s the longest nine-inning game in National League history.

The old record was the 2001 game in San Francisco in which Barry Bonds broke Mark McGwire’s season home run record.

The Astros and George Springer spring out to a huge, early lead in Kansas City at the expense of Royals starter Edinson Volquez. Springer leads off the game with a triple and caps a nine-run rally later in the first with a grand slam—making him the first leadoff batter since 1986 to hit a bases-loaded homer in the first, and the first ever to have both a triple and a grand slam in the opening frame. When Houston racks up another three runs to start the second, the Royals pull the plug on Volquez—who becomes the first starting pitcher in the modern era to allow 12 runs (11 earned) while only recording three outs. The Astros romp, 13-4.

A crowd of 40,000 joins in a reunion of the Big Red Machine at Cincinnati, but it’s the visiting Padres who are running on all cylinders in the game to follow. San Diego scores at least one run in each of the first eight innings—a bid to become only the fourth team in history to score in every frame is denied when they are retired in order in the ninth—and easily defeat the Reds, 13-4.

The Red Sox are rallying in the ninth at Texas but still down three runs with no outs to spare. Yet they get the job done as Mookie Betts ties the game with a two-run homer off Rangers reliever Matt Bush; Dustin Pedroia next singles, moves to third on a Xander Bogaerts hit, then scores on Bush’s wild pitch to give Boston an 8-7 win at Arlington.

Saturday, June 25
The White Sox smash seven home runs against the visiting Blue Jays—and still lose, 10-8. Only twice before (by Detroit, in 1995 and 2004) has a team hit as many homers and not won; the White Sox are the first ever to outhomer their opponents by six in a losing effort.

What’s even stranger is that five of the seven White Sox homers are from players who came into the game with three or less on the season.

Albert Pujols now owns the #11 spot on the all-time home run list all by himself when he cracks his 574th dinger, breaking a tie with Harmon Killebrew, in the Angels’ 7-3 loss to Oakland at Anaheim.

Nothing’s going right for the Tampa Bay Rays. They get swept in a day-night doubleheader at Baltimore and run their losing streak to ten games with 5-0 and 8-6 losses to the Orioles. Perhaps most frustrating for the Rays is a first-game matchup pitting their 6-0 pitcher (Matt Andriese) against a 0-5 opponent (Kevin Gausman) in and losing. The Rays are now 31-42 and six games in the AL East cellar.

In a move that’s been rumored all week, the Mets reunite with infielder Jose Reyes, earlier released by the Rockies after a violent offseason altercation with his wife led to a season-opening suspension. The 33-year-old Reyes, who enjoyed his best campaigns with the Mets during a nine-year tenure from 2003-11, will report first to the team’s Class-A affiliate to begin a warmup assignment.

The Mets will take some heat from advocacy groups by bringing back a man charged with domestic violence (his wife became “uncooperative” with police and later dropped the charges), but business is business. The Mets need help in the infield and Reyes is available on the cheap as the Rockies remain obligated to paying him nearly $35 million over the next year-plus.

Jim Hickman, a member of four major league teams including the infamous (40-120) 1962 Mets, passes away at the age of 79. Nobody experienced the thrill of losing in a Mets uniform more than Hickman, who was traded after 1966 having performed in more games, with more home runs and RBIs, than any other Mets player to date; he also was the first Met to both hit for the cycle and belt three homers in a game. As a Chicago Cub, Hickman put up average numbers except for an out-of-body 1970 campaign in which he hit .315 with 32 home runs, 115 RBIs and 102 runs scored; selected to his only All-Star Game that year, it was his single in the 12th inning that brought home Pete Rose, barreling over Ray Fosse, to give the NL a 5-4 triumph.

Sunday, June 26
Clayton Kershaw is mortal, for a night. Not only does he allow four Pittsburgh runs (all scored in the second inning) over six frames, but he even walks two batters, increasing his total on the year to a still-mere nine. It ends an 18-start streak in which the Dodgers’ ace had walked one or none batters. The Pirates get the unlikely 4-3 victory behind rookie Chad Kuhl, who gives his team five serviceable innings in his major league debut.

Kershaw will later be flown back to Los Angeles, where he is diagnosed with a mild herniated disc; he'll be placed on the 15-day disabled list, but will not appear on the mound for another 75 days.

Fifty-two homers are hit throughout the majors—the highest total since June 11, 2006—and the Twins are primarily responsible by hitting six of them in a 7-1 beating of the Yankees in New York. It’s the Twins’ highest number of dingers in nine years, and their most ever against the Yankees since they began play in 1901.

There’s no stopping the Indians. They explode for six runs in the fifth on the strength of four home runs—all hit off of Detroit’s Justin Verlander—to win their ninth straight game, and their ninth of the year (with no losses) against the Tigers. Cleveland maintains a five-game lead in the AL Central.

Verlander is the first Tigers pitcher ever to allow four jacks in one inning.

The Cubs may still have the majors’ best record by the percentages (.649 on a 48-26 record), but two teams end the day with more wins: The Rangers and the Giants. Texas continues its impressive first-half performance with a 6-2 home win over Boston to improve to 49-27—good for a ten-game lead in the AL West—while the Giants have to overcome three comebacks from the Phillies to win on Conor Gillaspie’s walkoff double in the ninth to win their 49th game, 8-7.

The Giants’ win is the 800th for Bruce Bochy since taking over the reins at San Francisco; with 951 other victories for San Diego, he becomes only the second manager (after Sparky Anderson) to have at least 800 for two different teams.

Monday, June 27
Kris Bryant has a game for the ages, becoming the first player ever to connect on three home runs while also adding two doubles in the Cubs’ 11-8 slugfest over the Reds at Cincinnati. His 16 total bases set a franchise record, and it helps bail out Jake Arrieta—who, in his first start in Cincinnati since throwing a no-hitter on April 21, has one of his worst efforts in recent memory, allowing five runs with five walks over five innings. But, he still gets the win not only because of Bryant’s bat but his own, with two hits including a solo homer in the fifth.

Tampa Bay explodes for nine runs over the first three innings and defeats the Red Sox at St. Petersburg, 13-7, to end an 11-game losing streak. Oft-used Nick Franklin, getting his second start of the season, knocks in five runs for the Rays; prized pitching prospect Ian Snell collects his first major league win in his fourth try.

The Royals ground the Cardinals at home, 6-2, as Danny Duffy becomes the first Kansas City pitcher this year to throw at least eight innings in a game. Every other major league team had done it at least once this season.

The Yankees and closer Aroldis Chapman lead the Rangers in the top of the ninth at New York, 6-5, when rains that have been hanging around all night become too intense and force a delay that will last three hours and 35 minutes; when play resumes after 2:00 in the morning, Chapman is gone, Texas gets a second wind and plates four runs off struggling (5.72 ERA) Yankees reliever Kirby Yates to ultimately win, 9-6.

The lengthy, late-night rain delay—which ends with only 100 fans left in Yankee Stadium—perturbs both managers, but especially Yankee manager Joe Girardi because his team ended up with the loss: “It's hard for me to understand what happened tonight, how it got to this point. But it did and we lost.”

Tuesday, June 28
Despite walking six over six innings, the Dodgers’ Julio Urias gives up just two runs and earns his first career win as Los Angeles withstands a late Brewers rally to prevail at Milwaukee, 6-5. At age 19, Urias is the first pitcher since Felix Hernandez to collect a win before turning 20.

On the day pitcher Phil Hughes is confirmed lost for the season due to shoulder surgery, the Twins get seven shutout innings from Kyle Gibson (who picks up his first win of the year after a 0-5 start) while Brian Dozier belts two homers and knocks in all four runs in a 4-0 triumph over the White Sox at Chicago. Dozier ties a franchise record with his ninth straight game collecting at least one extra-base hit.

Javier Baez’s grand slam constitutes the bulk of a five-run rally in the 15th to give the Cubs a 7-2 victory over the Reds at Cincinnati. The win goes to Spencer Patton, who entered the game in the 14th to play left field; he’s one of three Cubs pitchers asked to play the outfield after the team runs out of position players.

Baez’s slam is only the third ever to be hit in the 15th inning or later of a major league game.

Lucas Giolito, one of baseball’s top five prospects entering the season, makes his major league debut for Washington at home against the Mets and is stopped only by an 83-minute rain delay which forces him out after four sharp scoreless innings. The Nationals’ bullpen takes over after the rain and locks down a 5-0 win; Matt Harvey is tagged with the loss for New York and is now 4-10 on the year.

Wednesday, June 29
Two days after collapsing in the ninth inning against Texas, the Yankees get even. Trailing 7-3 after eight and a half innings, they strike for six runs largely on the strength of two home runs—a three-run shot by Brian McCann (his second in as many innings) to tie the score, and a two-run, game-winning blast from Didi Gregorius to defeat the Rangers, 9-7.

The only person wearing a Rangers shirt and cap who could have caught either of the Yankees’ ninth-inning homers—a fan sitting in the right-field bleachers—drops both.

Daniel Murphy, in his first year with the Nationals, continues to save his best for the Mets, his previous employer. The second baseman clubs two homers and drives in three, providing the bulk of the support for Max Scherzer (7.1 scoreless innings, ten strikeouts) as Washington sweeps a three-game series from New York at Nationals Park, 4-0. The Nationals have now won four straight since ending a seven-game losing skid; Murphy is 15-for-35 (.429) with four homers and 11 RBIs against the Mets this season.

Cleveland wins its 12th straight game—one shy of the all-time franchise record—with a 3-0 victory at Atlanta behind Danny Salazar’s seven shutout innings. Salazar is currently tied for second in AL wins with ten and is a lone second in league ERA at 2.22.

The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera becomes the 50th player to homer against all 30 MLB teams, completing the list with a fourth-inning solo shot against the team he began his career with, the Miami Marlins, in Detroit’s 10-3 drubbing.

Thursday, June 30
The Indians tie a franchise record with their 13th straight win, a 4-1 conquest of the Blue Jays in Toronto. As usual, it’s Cleveland starting pitching that headlines the night; Carlos Carrasco strikes out 14 batters over 7.1 innings and allows just a run on three hits.

The Tigers score eight times in the ninth to overcome the Rays at St. Petersburg, 10-7. Cameron Maybin’s bases-clearing double caps the rally and breaks a 7-7 tie.

The Orioles lose at Seattle, 5-3, but in the process set a major league record for home runs in June when Hyun Soo Kim’s seventh-inning shot is the 56th hit by a Baltimore batter for the month. The 1996 Oakland A’s held the previous record with 55; the all-time mark for any month remains 58.

For the first time in 40 years, a team decides to forgo using a designated hitter and allows the pitcher to hit when the Giants put Madison Bumgarner in the starting lineup for an interleague game against the A’s. The plan works out; Bumgarner doubles in his first at-bat, igniting a six-run rally in the third that sets the tone for the Giants’ 12-6 victory.

Bumgarner's double only heightens the interest of his possible inclusion in the upcoming Home Run Derby, but the players' association has already told the Giants' ace that he is not to participate.

The Marlins’ infield almost makes it through the month of June without an error. In the eighth inning of Miami’s 8-5 loss at Atlanta, Marlins third baseman Martin Prado boots Emilio Bonifacio’s grounder for the first official gaffe by a Miami infielder in 28 games, the longest such streak in major league history.

Matt Imhof, a Class-A pitcher and the Phillies’ second-round draft pick from 2014, has his right eye removed in the aftermath of a freak training injury that also broke his nose and two other facial bones. The incident happened a week earlier when the metal brace holding a rubber resistance band snapped loose from a wall and struck Imhof in the face. He’ll announce his retirement from baseball seven months later.

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

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