This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: May, 2015
The Bryce is Very Right Is it Time to Legalize “Foreign Substances”?
More Fishy Business With the Marlins Barry Bonds Goes on the Offensive


Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
114 29 49 13 3 4 16 14 1 5 3

After a disappointing 2014 campaign followed by an even worse April to start 2015, the doubters upon the 28-year-old infielder must have been growing in numbers…but along came May, and the resurgence of the old Kip that Cleveland fell in love with in the early 2010s. (Yes, we did say, “the early 2010s.”) Kipnis had 15 multiple-hit games—eight of them with at least three hits—and tied an Indians record with 19 hits in one seven-game stretch. So Kipnis appears back to full strength; now if only the rest of the Cleveland offense (.238 without Kipnis) would follow suit…


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
86 24 31 4 1 13 28 21 1 1 2

But of course, as you might easily figure if you’ve already read the day-by-day highlights at left and see Harper’s name here, there and everywhere, hitting home run after home run and then some (like, getting ejected twice). It certainly looks like the man has arrived in superstar form, as predicted so many years ago when his high school exploits in Las Vegas made national headlines. Simple advice, though, to Harper as he moves forward: Don’t run full steam into any walls.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Coco Crisp, Oakland A's

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
45 4 2 1 0 0 0 7 0 0 1

After sitting out with a nagging neck injury held over from last season, the veteran outfielder said he was good to go early this month. That proclamation proved badly premature two weeks later when he went back on the disabled list with a return date totally unknown. In between, it was a woeful time at the plate for Crisp, who went hitless in his first 26 at-bats before finally notching a hit on an infield single. He was certainly of no help to the A’s, who were 2-11 when he appeared in the lineup.


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
A.J. Pierzynski, Atlanta Braves

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
62 5 9 3 0 0 3 2 0 2 0

So you think we’re rough picking on a 38-year-old catcher; hey, we were ready to go with Martin Maldanado until his big-time day to end the year (see May 31 at left). So we go with the guy everyone loves to hate, who followed up a pretty darn good April with a lousy May. The Braves would probably love to give the full-time catching gig to young Christian Bethancourt, but he’s only hitting .175 for the year. Which leaves Braves fans pining for the days of Brian McCann and Evan Gattis…


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Kyle Gibson, Minnesota Twins

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
3-1 39.2 33 7 6 7 2 3 1 0 24

The 27-year-old Indiana native was one of the few stabilizing forces in a mostly wayward rotation last year, even with a moderate late-season fade. And after an iffy start to 2014 (4.84 ERA, 12 walks and just six K’s), Gibson turned things around in May with a series of excellent starts, including two strong efforts against the White Sox (one run allowed on eight hits in 16 total innings). Gibson’s pitching was one of many keys to the Twins’ sudden rise in May.


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Shelby Miller, Atlanta Braves

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
2-1 38 20 4 4 6 0 3 1 0 26

Jason Heyward has done okay for St. Louis and Jordan Walden was just fine in the Cardinals bullpen before he got hurt, but you got to wonder if the Redbirds are starting to kick themselves for securing those two players in exchange for Miller, who ends May with a major league-leading 1.48 ERA. The 24-year-old Houston native was fantastic this past month, firing two shutouts—one of which came within an out of being a no-hitter—and his only loss came when the Braves failed to support him with a single run at San Francisco. Atlanta has some fine young throwers in its rotation, and Miller looks to be the cream of that crop.


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Danny Duffy, Kansas City Royals

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-3 9.2 15 14 14 10 0 2 2 0 7

The 26-year-old lefty was one of baseball’s more unfortunate pitchers last year, turning in a 9-12 record for a league champion despite a sweet 2.53 ERA. But he had no one but himself to blame for his results this past month, starting three games and losing them all as he showed little command of the strike zone. Bad biceps had much to do with it, landing him on the DL to end the month. When Duffy returns, the question becomes: Will there be a spot in the rotation for him?


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
1-3 16 26 20 18 6 0 1 1 0 15

While one Washington wunderkind blossoms to his full potential (see Bryce Harper above), it has to be said: Something is really wrong with Strasburg, the other prodigy who blew across the baseball landscape back in 2010 and has since held his own, until this season—and especially this month. The problem seems to be lying in both his neck and shoulder, which sent him to the DL after his final start of the month. His five May outings totaled a mere 16 innings—the fewest by a starter over a five-game stretch since the Angels’ Cory Rasmus from last season.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Minnesota Twins (20-7)

It appears after all that rookie manager Paul Molitor has lucked into something. Branded dead and buried after an expectedly bad April, the Twins sprang to surprising life in May with decent pitching and a sharp offense led by a revived 39-year old Torii Hunter, whose return to the Twin Cities has been a most pleasant one. Can this actually last? Their June home schedule includes the Royals, Cardinals and equally over-their-head Cubs, so the litmus test has been set.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
San Francisco Giants (21-9)

Never underestimate a defending world champion. The Giants were lost at sea in April, losing their first five games at home, scuffling at the plate and settling into the unusual spot of last place in the NL West. What a difference a month makes; the Giants have surged on the edge of first place as the offense hit nearly .300 for May, and they’ve really been on fire since Hunter Pence rejoined the team mid-month. Pablo who?…


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Boston Red Sox (10-19)

…Oh yeah, Pablo Sandoval—and just how is it going in Boston, Panda? Oh, ouch. A potent offense was to be the savior for a Boston team unsure of an unsettled pitching staff this year, but for this month it was the hitting that brought the team spiraling back into last place. The Red Sox just hit .237 for the month (Sandoval hit a Mendoza-like .200) and no team scored fewer runs in May than the Sox’ 82. Memo to Red Sox: There are no slackers in this AL East, so slap yourselves and wake up.


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Miami Marlins (10-19)

Just when it always appears the Marlins look like they finally have their heads screwed on right, they suddenly sink to a new low. This past month was yet another sterling example of that. The Fish overreacted and fired manager Mike Redmond after a 16-22 start—granted, not the start the team wanted, but c’mon, give him a chance—and worse, they inserted general manager Dan Jennings, with no previous piloting experience, into the position. The results have thus far been awful, with rumors running rampant of clubhouse dissension while other managers have openly criticized some of Jennings’ on-field decisions. Sometimes you just got to wonder: Are the Marlins baseball’s version of Scientology?



Wild Pitches

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

“The Selfie of All Selfies”
A fan standing behind the left-field fence at Dodger Stadium calmly—and rather amazingly—caught a home run ball from Arizona’s Aaron Hill with one hand while recording the whole thing with the other…

But This One May be Better
…and then three weeks later, he did it again.

What, No Jose Vizcaino Jokes?
Winding down its 22-year run on CBS, The Late Show With David Letterman welcomed the late Harry Caray (a.k.a. Will Ferrell) as he wished Ed, er, Dave, a final farewell.

Why Rescue? It’s Only Ueck in There…
The outside door handle to the Miller Park press booth with Brewers announcer Bob Uecker and Co. fell off during a broadcast, essentially locking everyone inside. Officials used a ladder to enter through the front window of the booth to fix the problem.

As Shifty as it Gets
In the Korean pro league, a third baseman was toldby his team to stand behind the catcher during an intentional walk as insurance in case the pitcher threw a wild pitch. The home plate umpire ordered him back between the lines.

Blowin’ its Stack
One of two smokestacks that spew celebratory fireworks at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark caught fire during a Reds-Giants game on May 15. The game was not halted, and firefighters arrived to put it out. The fire was blamed on faulty fireworks.

Now That’s a Stretch
As part of Yoga Day at Dodger Stadium on May 18, 1,000 fans were allowed on the field after the Dodgers-Rockies game and began stretching and meditating.

That’s Why They Call it a Daytimer
The Angels’ Matt Joyce showed up for a night game in Toronto only to find out that it was a day game instead; although he was present before the first pitch, the tardiness cost him a start in the outfield.

All in All, It’s Just Another Brick in the Dump
Confusion in the logistics of remaking Wrigley Field was exposed when some of the ballpark’s personalized bricks wound up at an Illinois landfill. The Cubs promised replacements for those who had paid up to $160 for them.

Don’t Forget the Cherry on Top
After watching how the Washington Nationals celebrated walkoff victories by pouring chocolate syrup on the heads of the game-winning heroes, Hershey sent a shipment of chocolate syrup to the team.

About Last Night…
Cincinnati manager Bryan Price was ejected from a May 23 game against Cleveland…before the game started. During the pregame exchange of lineup cards, Price got into it with umpires over the strike zone from the previous night.

Mood Swings
The Philadelphia Phillies complained that their batting practice at Washington’s Nationals Park was complimented with slow-moving, almost depressing tunes on the public address system—songs like Bette Midler’s The Rose, REM’s Everybody Hurts Sometime and Kansas’ Dust in the Wind. (It could have been worse; the Nats could have queued up The Host of Seraphim by Dead Can Dance.)

Count Your Balls
In the midst of Cincinnati's seven-run inning against the Nationals on May 31, the Reds' Joey Votto walked to first base on ball three—and neither the umpires nor the Nationals did anything to correct him. (No wonder Votto's on-base percentage is so high.)


League vs. League

If the National League is looking for respect from its younger sibling, the American League, they’re just not going to get it via interleague play. For 11 straight years, the AL has recorded a winning record against the NL in head-to-head play, and that trend continues into the first two months of this season as the AL leads the NL in interleague play by a 40-34 margin. Give large thanks to the AL Central, which has combined to beat NL opposition by a 20-10 count thus far.

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Friday, May 1
After starting the game on the bench to rest and clear his mind from an ongoing slump, Alex Rodriguez is summoned by the New York Yankees to hit in the eighth and delivers a tie-breaking home run over the Green Monster at Fenway Park for his 660th career home run, tying Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list. Amazingly, it’s the first pinch-hit homer of Rodriguez’s career; the Yankees prevail at Boston, 3-2.

Rodriguez’s contract calls for a $6 million “milestone” bonus for tying Mays (along with similar payouts for future home runs that would tie Babe Ruth’s 714, Hank Aaron’s 755 and Barry Bonds’ 762), but the Yankees, still infuriated by Rodriguez’s involvement with Biogenesis and the year-long suspension that followed, insist they will not pay it. Yankees GM Brian Cashman: “We have the right but not the obligation, in quotes, and it’s as simple as that…It’s not, ‘you do this, you get that.’” Commissioner Rob Manfred will later publicly side with the Yankees; experts currently believe the matter might go to arbitration after the season.

In a highly anticipated matchup of aces, the New York Mets’ Matt Harvey tosses seven shutout innings and wins his first game in as many starts over the visiting Washington Nationals and Max Scherzer, who allows just a run over seven frames of his own with ten strikeouts. A bases-clearing double by Daniel Murphy after Scherzer’s departure gives the Mets breathing room and, ultimately, a 4-0 victory.

Scherzer is now 1-3 on the year—with a 1.26 ERA. The Nationals have given him one or no runs in three of his first five starts.

It’s a positive day of firsts at Wrigley Field. Rookie Addison Russell belts his first career home run for what turns out to be the only tally of the game, and Jon Lester racks up his first victory in a Cubs uniform with seven shutout innings to give the Chicago a 1-0 win over the beleaguered (5-18) Milwaukee Brewers.

In a battle of the two AL Central’s two best teams, the Kansas City Royals stymie the Detroit Tigers, 4-1. Veteran Chris Young, making his first start of the year, throws five innings of no-hit ball before being removed after just 81 pitches; it’s not until the eighth that Kelvin Herrera, the second Royals reliever, gives up the Tigers’ first hit of the night.

The Texas Rangers are looking good to break a four-game losing streak at home with a 5-0 lead over Oakland through seven innings, but the A’s explode in the eighth for seven runs behind Mark Cahna’s two hits in the inning to steal a 7-5 victory.

Saturday, May 2
Break up the…Astros? Houston takes its ninth straight victory with authority—stroking five home runs to knock off the visiting Seattle Mariners, 11-4. Jose Altuve collects one of the home runs but fails to extend to ten a streak of multi-hit games that would have set a franchise record. Another mark is set, however: With the Mariners accounting for all of their runs with four solo homers, the nine total round-trippers are the most ever hit in a game played at Minute Maid Park.

Two of the Mariners’ homers come courtesy of Nelson Cruz, who now has 13 in 24 games.

It had been five years since a major league game ended with a batted ball hitting a baserunner, but today it happens on the West Coast—twice. In San Francisco, a ninth-inning comeback bid by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is cut short in self-inflicted fashion when Matt Joyce’s sharp grounder hits teammate Taylor Featherston—pinch running from first as the go-ahead run—to end the game in the Giants’ favor, 5-4. Later that evening down at Los Angeles, Arizona is rallying in the ninth when David Peralta’s grounder up the middle grazes baserunner Jordan Pacheco to put the coda on the Dodgers’ 6-4 win.

Had Featherston not been hit, the Giants probably still would have won as the ball was bound right at second baseman Joe Panik, who likely would have thrown out Joyce; this was not the case in Los Angeles, where Peralta’s grounder was headed into center field for a hit.

The St. Louis Cardinals survive 11 innings and constant threats by the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates to win, 2-1. In eight of 11 innings, the Bucs get a runner into scoring position but overall leave 18 men on base—their highest total since 1946.

Sunday, May 3
Milwaukee defeats the Cubs at Chicago, 5-3, and win consecutive games for the first time all year—but the short streak is too little, too late for Brewers manager Ron Reonicke, who is fired after the game. He is the majors’ first managerial casualty this season.

Although Roenicke had a winning record in over four years with Milwaukee and managed a first-place team for much of 2014, it all comes down to, “What have you done for us lately?” Here’s the answer to that question: They’re 16-40 since last August 25.

The Giants secure a sweep of the Angels, 5-0, thanks to Tim Lincecum—who shows off his vintage side with eight shutout innings. He’s also buffeted by back-to-back home runs from teammates Nori Aoki and Joe Panik to start the game; it’s the first time since 1964 that the Giants have gone deep in their first two at-bats.

Angel Pagan, batting third, nearly makes it back-to-back-to-back for the Giants—but his deep drive off the Angels’ Jered Weaver hits the top of the tall brick wall near the deepest part of AT&T Park, and he settles for a triple.

The Pirates are denied in extra frames again by the Cardinals, who become only the third team in major league history to sweep a series of at least three games with each victory clinched via overtime. This one ends in 14 innings with Kolten Wong delivering a one-out, 436-foot blast to right field to give St. Louis a 3-2 nod.

The Nationals win their series at New York over the Mets with, 1-0, on a first-inning run-scoring single from Ryan Zimmerman. Despite the score, the game requires ten total pitchers, five by each team; it’s the first time in a non-expanded roster situation (a.k.a., before September) in which those many arms were required in a 1-0 game.

Monday, May 4
The stars and planets seemed to be aligned for an 11th straight Astros win, with ace Dallas Keuchel at home against Texas—the American League’s worst team—and a winless pitcher (Ross Detwiler) with an ERA near 9.00. But it doesn’t work out in Houston’s favor, as the Rangers score single runs in the eighth and ninth to clip the Astros, 2-1. It’s the first time all year that the Astros have lost a game in which they at one point led.

Everything seems to be quickly getting alright for the Minnesota Twins: They win their fifth straight game (improving to 14-12), Phil Hughes picks up his first victory in six starts and even Danny Santana draws a walk—his first in nearly 100 plate appearances this season—as the Twins edge out the visiting A’s, 8-7.

The A’s lose despite a grand slam and five total RBIs from catcher Stephen Vogt, who’s now second in the majors in the latter category with 25—already just ten shy of his career mark, set last year in 84 games.

Craig Counsell’s managerial debut is an impressive success, given the challenge of facing the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw. The Brewers trail the Cy Young Award winner before a three-run rally in the seventh proves enough to defeat Los Angeles, 4-3, at Miller Park.

Toronto hitting coach Brook Jacoby is suspended for 14 games without pay after a postgame altercation with umpires underneath the stands at Boston’s Fenway Park on April 29. The National Post in Toronto reports that Jacoby got physical as well as verbal with umpires, and also that two of the umpires “were instrumental in escalating the confrontation,” suggesting that there’s more discipline to come.

In the wake of the incident, MLB sends out a memo to teams visiting Fenway to let the umpires take the clubhouse tunnel first before the visitors do, and not at the same time.

Tuesday, May 5
Tommy John surgery survivor Chad Billingsley makes his first major league appearance in two years. It doesn’t go well. The Braves score six runs (five earned) off the former Dodger in five innings as the visiting Philadelphia Phillies lose at Atlanta, 9-0. In contrast to Billingsley’s evening, things go very well for Shelby Miller, who fires a three-hit shutout—the third of his career.

Drew Smyly takes a no-hitter into the sixth inning for the Tampa Bay Rays at Boston, but Red Sox rookie Mookie Betts ends the bid with a leadoff home run—and adds a another solo shot two frames later to provide the game’s only scoring in a 2-0 victory.

According to Elias, only Carl Crawford, in 2013, has ever accounted for the lone two runs of a game via multiple solo shots from the leadoff spot.

After scoring twice in the eighth to tie the visiting Mariners, the Angels notch one in the ninth when Carlos Perez—making his major league debut—launches a walkoff home run to give the Halos a 5-4 win. Perez is the fourth player to hit a game-winning homer in his debut; Miguel Cabrera was the last to do it in 2003.

The Mets’ Bartolo Colon snags his fifth win of the year with 7.2 sharp innings to defeat the Orioles at New York, 3-2. On a historical note, Colon becomes the first pitching ever to defeat the same opponent while pitching for seven different teams, having previously beaten Baltimore for Cleveland, Boston, Oakland, the Yankees, the White Sox and the Angels.

Interleague play is a wonderful thing.

After a dreadful start (particularly at home), the Giants win their eighth straight game at AT&T Park—their third in a row by shutout—peak back over the .500 mark and take sole possession of second in the NL West with a 6-0 blanking of the San Diego Padres.

Wednesday, May 6
Bryce Harper goes deep in his first three at-bats to lift the Washington Nationals over the visiting Miami Marlins, 7-5. His chance for a fourth fails when he hits into a routine ground out.

The Twins take down the A’s, 13-0, for their biggest shutout win since Target Field debuted in 2010; opening the scoring for Minnesota in the third inning is Eddie Rosario, who makes his major league debut and becomes the 29th player (and the first in Twins franchise history) to homer on the first pitch he sees.

Mark Buerhle wins his first game against the Yankees since 2004, pitching the minimum five innings while his Toronto teammates ease to a 5-1 victory. Buehrle had been 0-12 with a 7.27 ERA in his past 17 starts against New York.

While Buerhle finally figures out the Yankees, the Pittsburgh Pirates are still trying to solve Mike Leake. The Cincinnati pitcher throws eight shutout innings to defeat the Bucs, 3-0, and remains undefeated against them over his last 15 starts (albeit with just six wins).

Despite the win, star Reds hitter Joey Votto blows a fuse after striking out and, in an ensuing argument, bumps home plate umpire Chris Conroy. Votto will be suspended a game for his actions.

Melky Cabrera’s three run-shot ignites a four-run eighth-inning rally to give the Chicago White Sox a 7-6 win over the visiting Detroit Tigers. Cabrera’s homer is the White Sox’ second of the game—and the first two hit by the team in nine games.

Thursday, May 7
Alex Rodriguez demotes Willie Mays to fifth on the all-time list with his 661st career home run, giving him sole possession of the four-spot. His third-inning blast off Baltimore’s Chris Tillman helps boost the Yankees to a 4-3 win at New York.

The Yankees are 18-11 with a three-game lead in the AL East, and although many are giving credit to Rodriguez for the team’s strong start, there’s this: The Yankees’ top two relievers, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, have yet to give up an earned run over 31 combined innings of work.

The Colorado Rockies thought they had themselves a honest-to-goodness A-list closer—and now they don’t. Adam Ottavino, who’s thrown 10.1 scoreless innings with three saves this season, undergoes Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of the year.

According to mlbreports.com, Ottavino is the 15th pro player with TJ surgery this season. Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb will join the list as the 16th a few days later.

The Dodgers rip away at the Brewers, 14-4 with catcher Yasmani Grandal leading the way; he smacks two home runs among four hits and knocks in eight runs.

Los Angeles rookie Joc Pederson, who came into the game with seven homers among his last seven hits, has a single in four at-bats.

The Marlins take care of the Giants in San Francisco, 7-2, as Miami’s Dee Gordon knocks out three more hits to give him a major league-leading 52 on the year; that’s the most through a team’s first 28 games since Rod Carew for the 1983 Angels. Gordon’s .437 batting average is far and away the majors’ highest. (The Rockies’ DJ LeMahieu is second at .368.)

Two of Gordon’s three hits come off of Giants starter Tim Hudson, who concedes 15 on the night—the most by a San Francisco pitcher since Gaylord Perry allowed 16 in a 1968 game…in which he won.

For the sixth time in six starts in 2015, Pittsburgh’s A.J. Burnett allows no more than two runs…but wins only for the first time, as Pirate bats finally support him well in a 7-2 victory over the Reds. The seven tallies match the total number scored for Burnett in his previous five starts.

Friday, May 8
After smacking three home runs in his previous game, Bryce Harper continues his power trip with two more shots to give him a major league record-tying five over two games; at 22, he’s the youngest to share the record. Adding a single and knocking in five more runs (giving him ten for two games), Harper’s display easily lifts the Nationals to a 9-2 home victory over the Braves.

Isn’t it time for Harper’s naysayers—and there are plenty of them out there—to suck it up, come out of denial and finally admit that this guy is fulfilling the high expectations loaded upon him six years ago when his high school feats made national news?

We get that he hasn’t been Babe Ruth out of the gate, as he’s struggled with injuries and some inconsistency, but remember that he’s still only 22. We saw how dangerous Harper could be in last year’s NLDS against the Giants (three homers in four games), as he appeared to be one on the precipice of true, MVP-level stardom. So far in 2015, that trajectory appears to be on schedule.

In a poll of major league players taken this spring, Harper was the runaway choice as the game’s most overrated player. Perhaps there’s some jealousy at work among those who wrote his name in; we’re betting each and every one of those who did so wishes they could be as good a player as Harper is at age 22. Yes, that he’s a cocky SOB probably doesn’t help, but as long as he’s not on steroids or lowering his standard of antics to that of Yordana Ventura—who wants to pick a fight with everyone—Harper should be embraced as a face of the game. Watch him, enjoy him and stop complaining that he’s not yet worthy of Cooperstown.

Starting in 2016, smokeless tobacco will be banned at San Francisco’s AT&T Park (as well as other playing fields within city limits) per a new city law. MLB, which already bans chew at all minor league facilities, approves, but the players’ union says that is has “no public comment at this time.”

Between this, the high taxes and AT&T’s tough hitting conditions, the Giants are going to find it even tougher to encourage free agents to come play for them.

With a horrible start to the year and news spreading of his fastball topping out at only 85, The Angels’ Jered Weaver turns everything on its end and fires a six-hit, 2-0 shutout of the visiting Astros at Anaheim.

According to Elias, only one other pitcher since 2000 has blanked a team entering a game with a 0-4 record and 6.00+ ERA—and that would be Jered’s brother Jeff Weaver, pitching for Seattle in 2007.

The Tigers retake the AL Central lead by a half-game over Kansas City by defeating the Royals at Comerica Park, 6-5, on a walk-off error committed by Royals pitcher Yohan Pino, who throws wildly past first while trying to eliminate Ian Kinsler on a bunt attempt.

It’s a strange and painful night for Tiger ace David Price; he allows a career-high 13 hits in 6.1 innings and leaves after hurting his foot slipping on a bat while backing up home plate. He will not miss a start.

Saturday, May 9
The Nationals are trying to unlock a 6-6 tie in the bottom of the ninth against the Braves…and Bryce Harper steps to the plate. The 22-year-old wunderkind delivers a two-run bomb, his sixth home run in his last three games, to give Washington the walkoff 8-6 win. Only Shawn Green (in 2002) has hit more homers over a three-game stretch.

In his 21st game and 74th major league at-bat, Kris Bryant finally belts his first career home run, a three-run shot that gives the Cubs a 3-2 lead in the third inning at Milwaukee—but it’s all Brewers from there, as they notch runs in five consecutive innings and run away with a 12-4 victory.

The Pirates overcome the Cardinals at Pittsburgh, 7-5, with the help of a late rally and, early on, a second-inning triple play in which second baseman Neil Walker makes an unexpected catch of Yadier Molina’s sizzling liner, throws to shortstop Jung Ho Kang (covering at third) to double up Jhonny Peralta, and receives a return throw to triple up Jason Heyward at second.

It is said to be the first 4-5-4 triple play in baseball history.

In his first major league start (after three earlier relief appearances), Chicago White Sox prospect Carlos Rodon—filling in for a suspended Jeff Samardzija—fires six solid innings with eight strikeouts to earn his first career win as the White Sox prevail over the Cincinnati Reds in the second half of a day-night doubleheader at U.S. Cellular Field, 8-2.

It’s a bad day for San Diego closer Craig Kimbrel, but the Padres survive it at Phoenix. Kimbrel blows a 4-2 lead in the ninth—ending a string of 35 successful save opportunities—thanks in part to his own throwing error, his first since his rookie 2010 season. Three innings later, Justin Upton goes deep against the Diamondbacks (his former team) to start a two-run rally and give the Padres a 6-4 triumph.

Sunday, May 10
Jerry Dior, the man who designed the MLB logo, dies in New Jersey at the age of 82. In 1968, Dior drew up the iconic identity that serves to the present day and has been mimicked by countless other sports organizations (especially the NBA).

Bartolo Colon becomes the majors’ first six-game winner and extends a streak of innings without issuing a walk to 40.1 as the Mets down the Phillies at Philadelphia, 7-4. Colon is still 32 frames shy of the major league record established by Greg Maddux in 2001.

Several hours later, Seattle’s Felix Hernandez becomes the second to reach six wins as the Mariners outlast the A’s, 4-3, and in the process records his 2,000th career strikeout, the fourth youngest major leaguer to do so.

The 29-year-old Hernandez is currently 72nd on the all-time list, but sixth among active players; the next guy on the active list who’s under 30 is Yovani Gallardo, with 1,256 K’s.

The Yankees maintain their AL East cushion with a 6-2 win over the Orioles at New York thanks to a dominant performance from Michael Pineda, who improves to 5-0 on the year with 16 strikeouts and no walks over seven innings of solid work. Not since Johan Santana in 2007 has any major league pitcher struck out 16 or more without issuing a walk—and no one in Yankee franchise history had previously ever done it.

Cleveland starter Danny Salazar gives up a leadoff, first-inning homer to the Twins’ Brian Dozier—and then retires the next 21 batters, 11 of them by strikeout, before departing for the day as the Indians ease to an 8-2 win at Progressive Field.

It’s a beautiful 83-degree Sunday at Cleveland, and only 14,000 show up; some of the few millennials there must look at the “455 the Fans” painted on a Progressive Field wall, hear the story behind it and wonder, “You’re kidding, right?”

In one last strong pitching effort of note on the day, the Angels’ Garrett Richards takes a no-hitter into the seventh inning before conceding the Astros’ first—and only—hit of the game; Richards lasts 6.2 innings on the day and picks up credit for a 3-1 victory at Anaheim.

Monday, May 11
Barry Bonds, recently freed from his BALCO conviction, sues Major League Baseball—claiming it colluded against him in 2008 when he sought free agency (no team offered and he eventually retired).

One would have thought, after all the money he had to burn defending himself in the BALCO case, that Bonds would have been in no mood to turn around and head back to court, even as a plaintiff. But here he comes. Unless he believes MLB is stupid enough to have smoking gun evidence (as it actually did during the collusion wars of the late 1980s) against his ability to receive multiple contract offers, it’s hard to think he has much of a chance here.

Our initial thought on this: Hey, Barry, let it go. You got cleared by the courts on BALCO. Live in peace.

They’re playing baseball in Baltimore again—and before an actual crowd. A gathering of over 20,000 shows up to watch the Orioles jump ahead on the visiting Blue Jays with two first-inning home runs (one each from Manny Machado and Chris Davis) and roll from there to a 5-2 victory. It’s the first “open” game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in over two weeks, since civic unrest in Baltimore led to riots and fires not far from the ballpark.

The Nationals’ Max Scherzer, who’s gotten almost no run support to start his first year with Washington, gets it in spades on the road in Arizona as the Nats sprint out to a 10-0 lead after just two innings, finishing with an 11-1 rout of the Diamondbacks. Yunel Escobar adds to the onslaught with five hits—his second such performance in eight days.

The last player to have multiple five-hit games within an eight-day period was Ichiro Suzuki in 2004.

Buoyed by five home runs—including Carlos Beltran’s second of the season (and second in as many days) and Alex Rodriguez’s 662nd career shot—CC Sabathia earns his first win in his last ten starts dating back a full year as the Yankees romp at Tampa Bay, 11-5.

The reconstructed left-field bleachers are finally open for fans at Wrigley Field, and Cubs rookie Kris Bryant says hello to them with a first-inning home run (his second of the year) off of the Mets’ Jacob deGrom; Anthony Rizzo will go deep to the still-unfinished right-field seats on the very next pitch. The Cubs will work their way to a 4-3 victory over New York.

In his first Bay Area visit since leaving the Giants, Pablo Sandoval smokes a tenth-inning home run to provide the difference for the Red Sox in a 5-4 win at Oakland. The A’s are now 0-6 in extra-inning games this season.

Before the game, Sandoval is greeted by Giants president Larry Baer, VP Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy in the Red Sox’ hotel lobby and presented with his 2014 World Series ring. There was said to be no tension in the ‘private’ ceremony, despite Sandoval’s recent comments ripping the Giants.

Tuesday, May 12
The Dodgers slice up the visiting Marlins 11-1 behind 21 hits, but the one everyone remembers on the night is the 478-foot bomb launched out of Dodger Stadium by the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton for their only run of the night. It’s the majors’ longest homer so far this season—and only the fifth to leave Dodger Stadium in its 53-plus years of operation.

The other four were hit by Willie Stargell (twice), Mike Piazza and Mark McGwire.

Highly touted pitching prospect Noah Syndengaard makes his major league debut for the Mets at Chicago, but he falls apart after five shutout innings; meanwhile, the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta delivers eight exceptional innings of work—allowing a run on two hits while striking out ten Mets in eight innings of work—to give Chicago a 6-1 win.

Just when you think the Giants have gotten too old, along come a couple of rookies to lift the team at Houston. Chris Heston fires a complete game allowing a run on two hits while striking out ten, while infielder Matt Duffy knocks in five runs on three hits to give San Francisco an 8-1 punishing of the Astros.

It’s the first time all season that the Giants have scored more than six runs.

Wednesday, May 13
After no wins and a 5.04 ERA over his first six starts, Corey Kluber is back—and better than ever. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner allows just one hit, but after eight shutout innings and 113 pitches is denied a chance of tying (or breaking) the major league record for most strikeouts in a nine-inning game when he is removed with 18; he does tie Bob Feller’s franchise record. Closer Cody Allen preserves a 2-0 Cleveland win over the visiting Cardinals. Randy Johnson, in 1992, is the only other pitcher who struck out 18 over eight innings before being taken out of a game.

The Cardinals’ Matt Holliday extends his streak of reaching base to start the year to 31—and painfully so, leaving the game after being hit by a first-inning Kluber pitch.

After walking the leadoff batter in the ninth—then allowing him to third on a pickoff attempt gone awry—Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon grabs the save in a 3-2 Phillies win over the Pirates with a little help from outfielder Jeff Francouer, who catches a fly ball for the second out and nails pinch-runner Steve Lombardozzi at the plate to end the game. It’s Papelbon’s 113th save for the Phillies, setting a franchise record.

Papelbon is also the all-time saves leader for the Red Sox; Robb Nen (Marlins and Giants) is the only other closer holding the top spot on multiple lists.

The Nationals’ Michael Taylor, pinch-hitting in the ninth after Bryce Harper was ejected for arguing a third strike two innings earlier, belts a grand slam to put Washington ahead to stay in Arizona, 9-6. The Nats win despite committing three errors and being outhit, 14-8.

Everything’s starting to collapse in Rockiesland—and the team’s not even yet depleted by injuries. At Anaheim, Colorado falls in 11 innings to the Angels, 2-1, for their 11th straight loss—two shy of the franchise record. If the losing streak isn’t bad enough for the Rockies, manager Walt Weiss misses the game due to appendicitis, while rumor has it that All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is mulling whether to ask the team to trade him.

Tulowitzki’s agent will later issue a denial regarding the trade rumors.

Thursday, May 14
Albert Hammond once sang that it never rains in Southern California—but on this night, he’s wrong. In San Diego, the Padres and Nationals wait out a rare dose of baseball-season rain and get the first pitch in two hours behind schedule—but the Padres quickly make up for lost time by bringing home seven runs over the first two innings on their way to an 8-3 victory. Cory Spangeberg hits his first two home runs of the year for San Diego.

Meanwhile up in Los Angeles, the game between the Dodgers and Rockies gets started on time but is delayed by incoming rain in the sixth inning. Once play resumes, the Rockies are two runs down and three outs away from their 12th straight loss—but Carlos Gonzalez comes to the rescue, belting a three-run homer off Yimi Garcia to close out a 5-4 victory.

The Rays take their third straight over the AL East-leading Yankees behind five innings of near-perfect shutout work from starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez, who allows just a hit and two walks in a 6-1 win. Catcher Rene Rivera, hitting in the nine spot, knocks in four of the Rays’ six runs.

Attendance at St. Petersburg is 44,937—for the entire four-game series against the Yankees, who normally travel well near their spring training base in nearby Tampa.

Friday, May 15
A wacky game at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and Pirates has a fitting end when a
Matt Szczur 12th-inning pop-up looks to be a sure out—except that Pittsburgh right field Gregory Polanco trips and stumbles to the turf, allowing the ball to drop and score the winning run in a 11-10 Cubs victory.

Wildness is hardly at a premium in this game. There are 17 walks, three hit batsmen and two wild pitches.

In his fifth attempt at it, Clayton Kershaw finally picks up his 100th career win as he strikes out 10 over 6.2 innings in the Dodgers’ 6-4 victory over Colorado.

The only other active pitcher under 30 with more wins than Kershaw—who just turned 27 in March—is 29-year-old Felix Hernandez.

Adrian Beltre provides a positive historical moment to Texas’ otherwise dreary 8-3 loss to Cleveland when he clouts his 400th career home run.

The Yankees are blown out at Kansas City 12-1 as Michael Pineda, who struck out 16 in last start for New York, registers only one in 5.1 innings of work. In perfect Kansas City tradition, the Royals hammer out seven extra-base hits—five doubles, two triples and no homers.

Perhaps the Yankees can blame jet lag; this is their first game out of 37 played outside of the Eastern time zone this season.

Saturday, May 16
For the second straight day, a major leaguer joins the 400 Home Run Club. At St. Louis, Miguel Cabrera pops a first-inning shot that ultimately matters in the Tigers’ 4-3, 10-inning win over the Cardinals. At 32 years and change, Cabrera is the eighth youngest player to reach 400—and becomes the all-time leader among Venezuelan-born players, surpassing Andres Galarraga.

The Mets end a five-game slide with a 14-1 rout over the visiting Milwaukee Brewers—and do so with a lineup that almost makes no sense but nevertheless works. Starting pitcher Jacob deGrom, batting eighth, is 3-for-3; behind him, batting ninth, is Wilmer Flores—the Mets’ current home run leader who again shows off his power with a grand slam to highlight a 10-run fourth for New York.

Rookie second baseman Jace Peterson—not to be confused with rookie Dodgers outfielder Joc Peterson—connects on a second-inning grand slam for his first career homer, a crucial blow that helps lift Atlanta to a 5-3 win at Miami. The Braves triumph despite another monster shot from the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton, who sends a third-inning blast 478 feet.

Stanton’s name appears four times on the list of the ten longest home runs hit so far in 2015.

The Giants welcome Hunter Pence, absent from a broken arm suffered during spring training, back into the fold with an 11-2 rout of the Reds in Cincinnati—racking up their highest run total on the year to date, edging by one the previous high set the night before. Pence reaches base three times in his season debut (double, single and walk) and scores each time.

Sunday, May 17
Atlanta’s Shelby Miller comes within one out of the year’s first no-hitter but allows successive hits to the Marlins before wrapping up a two-hit 6-0 shutout in Miami. The loss for the Marlins, which drops them to 16-22, is the final straw for management that fires manager Mike Redmond immediately after the game.

It’s interesting 2 note: In 2003, the Marlins fired Jeff Torborg—also after a 16-22 start—and replaced him with Jack McKeon, who woke the team up and rallied them to a World Series triumph over the Yankees. Could Miami owner Jeffrey Loria be trying to connect the coincidences? If so, he will do it with Dan Jennings, who was serving as the team’s general manager.

By the way, the Marlins are not only paying Redmond’s salary through 2017, but they’re also paying Redmond’s predecessor Ozzie Guillen through the end of this season.

The Braves’ shutout is one of seven on the day; the record is eight on June 4, 1972.

Philadelphia pitcher Sean O’Sullivan, who hasn’t earned a win in his last 18 appearances (including 13 starts) over the last four years, finally gets one today in a 6-0 whitewashing of the visiting Diamondbacks—but it doesn’t come easy, and not for the reason you’d think. In his final inning of work, O’Sullivan is communicating with his fielders when a return throw from catcher Cameron Rupp hits him square in the throat. The win is the Phillies’ fifth in a row.

The Giants’ bats—especially that of first baseman Brandon Belt—continue hot as San Francisco barely finishes off the Reds at Cincinnati, 9-8. Belt has homered in three straight games after failing to go deep in his previous 30 to start the year. The last player to do that? Brandon Belt, in 2012.

The save goes to Santiago Casilla, who pitches an “immaculate inning”—three strikeouts on nine pitches.

Monday, May 18
Lance McCullers Jr., 21 and one of many top-flight prospects in the Houston organization, makes his major league debut and falls an out short of a chance to earn a win—leaving a 1-1 game with two outs in the fifth after 93 pitches. But the Astros will not score again and McCullers Jr.’s replacement, Joe Thatcher, gives up a go-ahead sixth-inning run to the visiting A’s that will stand up in Oakland’s 2-1 victory.

The A’s win despite another error from shortstop Marcus Semien—his major league-leading 15th of the year—to run a team streak of consecutive games with at least one error to 15, the longest in the last 15 years.

Matt Harvey tosses eight shutout innings against the Cardinals at Citi Field, but his chance for a win goes out the door when Mets closer Jeurys Familia (13 saves) suffers his first blown save. The Mets will salvage the contest, 2-1, in the 14th when John Mayberry Jr. delivers an infield single with the bases loaded.

An expected pitching duel at Chicago between the White Sox’ Chris Sale and the Indians’ Corey Kluber does not disappoint as Sale allows a run on four hits over eight innings—while Kluber goes nine, allowing a run on five hits with 12 strikeouts. Yet neither pitcher gets a decision as the game goes overtime, settled 2-1 in the 10th when the Sox’ Carlos Sanchez knocks out a game-winning hit.

Tuesday, May 19
The Royals produce their second straight shutout win with a 3-0 triumph over the visiting Reds; it’s the team’s first back-to-back blankings since 1992, an all-time record span of 3,537 games. Yordano Ventura throws seven shutout innings in the victory.

The Rockies now own the longest active streak of not having delivered consecutive shutouts, at 1,424 games.

The Nationals best the Yankees at Washington in ten innings, 8-6, on Ryan Zimmerman’s tenth career walkoff home run, a two-run shot off New York reliever Andrew Miller—the first two runs he’s allowed this year in 18.1 innings. After a cool start to the year, the Nationals (23-17) have now tied the Mets (who have cooled off) for first in the NL East.

Only Albert Pujols and David Ortiz (11 each) have more lifetime walkoff homers than Zimmerman.

Three-time All-Star infielder Rafael Furcal, saddled with injuries and age (37) that limited his playing time to just nine major league games from 2013-14, decides to retire from the game. In 14 years, Furcal collected 1,817 hits, scored 1,063 runs, stole 314 bases and received one World Series ring as a member of the 2011 Cardinals.

Wednesday, May 20
The Cardinals drop the Mets into second place in the NL East with a 9-0 shellacking at New York. The losing pitcher is
Bartolo Colon, who after a strong start to the year has lost two straight while his ERA balloons to 4.85; he also walks two in 4.1 innings against St. Louis after allowing a mere one through his previous 51.1 innings thrown to start 2015.

Taking advantage of the Mets’ fall are the Nationals, who take sole possession of first in the East with a taut 3-2 win over the Yankees at Nationals Park. The game is overshadowed by the ejection of Nats star Bryce Harper—his second heave-ho in a week—after his manager Matt Williams is tossed for arguing a low strike call.

Harper maintains that home plate umpire Marvin Hunter ejected him for not getting back in the batter’s box—doesn’t that usually merit nothing more than a fine?—but Hunter, after the game, tells a pool reporter, “Had nothing to do with the box.” There was no elaboration.

Joe Mauer hits his first home run this season—and his first in 154 at-bats going back to last August—in the 13th inning to give the Twins a 4-3 win at Pittsburgh. The surprising Twins improve to 23-17; the Pirates are now 0-6 in extra-inning games.

Thursday, May 21
The Giants sweep the Dodgers at San Francisco and, in the process, do so without allowing a single run. Today’s 4-0 win is most satisfying for Giants fans: Madison Bumgarner not only outduels Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (now 2-3 with a 4.32 ERA) but also initiates the scoring with a third-inning home run. It’s the second time this month that the Giants have captured three straight shutout victories; the previous team to do that was the Miracle Mets in September 1969.

For the Dodgers, it’s the first time they’ve been blanked in a three-game series since June 2012…at San Francisco.

More bad news for the Dodgers: Cuban-born Erisbel Arruebarrena, who signed a $25 million pact early in 2014, has been suspended for the rest of the season for “repeated failures to comply with his contract.” Arruebarrena played briefly for the Dodgers last season and hit .195 in 22 games, but has thus far not played at any level this season. No further details are given on how he repeatedly failed to live up to his contract.

Arruebarrena will have his suspension reduced to 30 days and will end up playing 53 games in the minors in 2015, hitting .299.

The Atlanta Braves have it easy over the visiting Brewers with a 10-1 romp, but the biggest news of the night takes place during a seven-run seventh when Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez asks the umpires to check out the arm of Milwaukee reliever Will Smith—who is found to have a mix of sunscreen and rosin; he is immediately ejected and will be suspended eight games by MLB.

Smith acknowledges he had the foreign substances on his arm but claimed he forgot to rub it off before coming into the game.

Lucas Duda smacks a pair of first-pitch homers, and reigning NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom strikes out 11 and retires the last 23 batters he faces after giving up a one-out, first-inning single to Matt Carpenter to give the Mets a 5-0 win over the Cardinals at New York.

The Cubs are alright: At San Diego, rookie infielders Kris Bryant and Addison Russell each go deep while Liam Hendricks throws a five-hit shutout for his first career blanking—and his first win of the year, a 3-0 count over the Padres.

Chicago is now 23-17 for the NL’s third-best record.

Friday, May 22
In the Giants’ rain-delayed 11-8 win—their seventh straight—at Colorado, Brandon Belt becomes the first major leaguer to collect at least three hits including one home run in four straight road games. And what a homer it is: In the fifth inning, he drills a pitch 475 feet into the upper deck of Coors Field.

The Mariners quell the high-powered Blue Jays at Toronto, 4-3, as Felix Hernandez becomes the majors’ first seven-game winner while Nelson Cruz slugs out his 17th homer to also lead baseball, after Bryce Harper had tied him earlier in the evening.

Seattle is 8-1 when Hernandez starts—and 11-21 when he doesn’t.

The Yankees must be coming around on Alex Rodriguez after acting as if they didn’t want anything more to do with the two-time steroid cheat. The team protests the plans of the Class-A Charlotte Stone Crabs, an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, to hold A-Rod Juice Box Night. The Stone Crabs oblige and will not hold the promotion.

In Japan, the University of Tokyo baseball team defeats Hosei University, 6-4, to end a 94-game losing streak encompassing five years.

Saturday, May 23
After eight straight losses—five under new manager Dan Jennings—the Marlins finally triumph, but only after a Martin Prado single breaks up a 0-0 tie in the 13th inning to bring home the winning run against the Orioles. An inning earlier, Baltimore reliever Brian Matusz is ejected after the Marlins suspect that his arm contains illegal foreign substances, and the umpires confirm it.

Matusz is the second pitcher this week, after Milwaukee’s Will Smith two days earlier, to be ejected for using foreign substances. This is essentially a repeat of this time last year when a number of pitchers (most notably the Yankees’ Michael Pineda) were caught doing the same thing. Then, as now, the rash of ejections led to protests from players and pundits alike calling for the legalization (moderate or otherwise) of such substances. Because, hey—everyone’s doing it.

Well if everyone’s doing it, and the umpires and opposing managers aren’t caring to look—and if everyone, hitters included, seems to be in agreement that it’s a silly rule, then eliminate it.

But once you eliminate the rule, the danger becomes this: Pitchers, unbound, will suddenly begin lathering up their arms with all sorts of substances that risk a return to Deadball Era days when hurlers were allowed to do anything to the ball. Of course, they still won’t be able to use spit or cut up the ball like they did back then, but what’s to keep them from using, say, the good ‘ol Vaseline once employed by Gaylord Perry? And how much bandwidth will umpires be forced in order to enforce that, the difference between Vaseline and sunscreen?

It may have to come down to this: Along the rosin bag, just place a tube of sunscreen or whatever behind the mound and allow pitchers to apply it, as a means of controlling the substances. Otherwise, just the follow the rule as is and convince everyone that the practice is illegal as stated.

The Dodgers, whose rotation has become dangerously thin beyond Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke with the season-long losses of Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, may have found a glimmer a hope in Mike Bolsinger. The 27-year-old right-hander, after a 1-6 record and 5.50 ERA last year with Arizona, improves to 3-0 and 0.71 with Los Angeles after allowing a leadoff hit to the Padres’ Yangervis Solarte—then recording the next 24 outs without allowing another runner in the Dodgers’ 2-0 conquest of the Padres at Los Angeles.

With Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen pitching a perfect ninth, the Padres become the first team since the Mets in 1966 to bring the minimum 27 men to the plate despite getting the leadoff batter on base. (The Padres’ Solarte was erased on a double play; in 1966, Ron Hunt was caught stealing.)

It’s an ugly day at the Stadium for Yankee fans as CC Sabathia collapses in the third inning and, with the help of ineffective relief from Esmil Rogers and some poor defense, help the visiting Rangers rack up a ten-run frame in a 15-4 rout. It’s a rough ricochet for Sabathia, who was coming off his finest start of the year.

Sunday, May 24
Francisco Liriano strikes out 12 Mets over six innings as the Pirates ease to a 9-1 win and series sweep of New York at PNC Park. With Gerrit Cole and A.J. Burnett each striking out ten batters in the series’ first two wins, it’s the first time ever that a team has swept a three-game series with each starting pitcher recording at least ten K’s.

Having watched his Mets lose five of their last six games while being outscored 40-11, manager Terry Collins decides it’s time for a closed-door postgame meeting—baseball’s equivalent to a basketball timeout—to try and right the ship.

The Astros manage a honorable split of a four-game series at Detroit with a 10-8 win, the team’s 14th comeback victory to lead the AL. Leading the charge is rookie Preston Tucker, who becomes the first player in Astros history to hit two pinch-hit home runs in the same series.

Michael Wacha improves to 7-0 on the season by pitching the Cardinals to a 6-1 win at Kansas City. The 23-year-old right-hander already posted more wins than all of 2014, when he finished 5-6 over 19 starts in a frustrating, injury-marred follow-up to his late-season breakout campaign of 2013.

The Casey McGehee experiment appears to have ended in failure at San Francisco. The Giants, who were hoping the veteran would adequately fill the shoes of the departed Pablo Sandoval, designate him for assignment after an unimpressive start in which he hit .200 with a major league-leading 12 double play grounders.

Rather than opt for free agency, McGehee excepts a demotion to the Giants’ Triple-A club at Sacramento.

Monday, May 25
Josh Hamilton shows rust in his season debut with his once-and-current ballclub, the Texas Rangers—going 0-for-3 with a walk, two strikeouts and a run scored—but it doesn’t hurt his team, which wins its sixth straight by surviving the Indians at Cleveland, 10-8. Prince Fielder, who was all but AWOL last year with injuries, has three hits and is now 11-for-his-last-19 with four homers and 12 RBIs.

It’s a day for historians to remember and the Royals’ Jeremy Guthrie to forget. The veteran left-hander becomes the second starting pitcher in the last 100 years to give up 11 runs while registering only three outs, as the Yankees shake off a recent losing trend for the day and smash Kansas City, 14-1.

The other pitcher was the Astros’ Jason Jennings in 2007 at Houston.

The Brewers’ Khris Davis hits a first-inning blast off the Giants’ Tim Lincecum at Milwaukee, but hold on—the Giants claim that Davis skipped over home plate and never touched it when finishing his home run trot; home plate umpire Will Little agrees. The Brewers challenge and the replay crew in New York sides with the plaintiffs, overturning the out call and reinstating the home run for Davis. It’s a dubious silver lining of sorts in an otherwise bad afternoon for the Brewers, who lose 8-4.

If the replay crew in New York found ‘clear’ evidence that Davis touched home, we have yet to see it.

Davis will homer in his second at-bat and, this time, will make sure he touches home. When he does, the capacity crowd at Miller Park gives a special cheer.

Tuesday, May 26
The Reds end a nine-game losing streak —their longest since 1998—as Skip Schumaker’s seeing-eye double down the left-field line is enough to bring home Marlon Byrd in the ninth for a 2-1 victory at home over Colorado.

There’s even better news for the Reds on this day: It’s determined that ace Johnny Cueto has inflammation—nothing more—in his throwing arm after missing his last start.

In yet another wild one at Toronto, Josh Donaldson caps a brilliant day with a walkoff, three-run homer off White Sox closer David Robertson to give the Blue Jays a 10-9 win. The ex-Athletic has four hits (including a double and two homers), a walk, four RBIs and five runs scored.

Overall, Donaldson is hitting .315 and is on pace for 41 homers and 111 RBIs. So just what were the A’s (17-31) thinking this past winter when they dealt him to Toronto four years before being eligible for free agency?

Kyle Seager hits a grand slam in the eighth inning to put the Mariners ahead of the Rays at Tampa Bay—and then comes to the rescue again after Seattle blows a three-run ninth-inning lead, adding a solo shot in the tenth to secure a 7-6 win. Seager finishes the night with a career-high six RBIs.

The Future is now at ancient Wrigley Field: Young stars Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant—both of whom grew up admiring one another in Las Vegas—exchange home runs (Bryant’s blast is 463 feet) and rookie second baseman Addison Russell doubles in the winning run in the ninth to give the Cubs a 3-2 victory over the Nationals.

Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., known for saying some pretty frank things in public, performs the dangerous duty of ripping into Phillies fans who are loudly lobbying to have the team bring up some of their most cherished prospects in response to a bad start. He says on CSNPhilly.com: “(The fans) don't understand the game. They don't understand the process. There's a process. And then they bitch and complain because we don't have a plan. There's a plan in place and we're sticking with the plan.”

Amaro Jr. apologizes, but it may be time for him to hire M. Donald Grant’s bodyguard from the 1970s to keep him safe at the ballpark.

Wednesday, May 27
It’s a thoroughly enjoyable day for Noah Syndergaard and the Mets at New York. The rookie pitcher, making his fourth start, throws seven-plus shutout innings and goes 3-for-3 at the plate—including a 430-foot home run to center—to give the Mets a 7-0 win over the Phillies.

Nelson Cruz breaks up a scoreless duel at St. Petersburg in the ninth with a three-run homer—his 18th of the season—and Felix Hernandez takes it off from there to complete his 11th career shutout and bring the Mariners back to .500 on the year with a 3-0 win over the Rays.

Tampa Bay removes Chris Archer after eight scoreless innings in which he allowed two hits, struck out 12 and threw just 95 pitches. Was he really out of gas?

The Cardinals rally in the ninth and defeat the Diamondbacks at St. Louis when Arizona catcher Jordan Pacheco’s attempt to complete a bases-loaded double-play to first ends in a wild throw as his back leg is clipped by a sliding Peter Bourjos (running from third), allowing the winning run to score in a 4-3 St. Louis victory.

Matt Holliday singles and walks to establish a St. Louis franchise record for the most consecutive games reaching base safely to start a season at 43.

Max Scherzer is magnificent for the Nationals at Chicago, firing seven shutout innings while striking out 13 to give Washington a 3-0 win. Backing Scherzer is (surprise, surprise) Bryce Harper, who homers for the 18th time this year.

Jon Lester, who pitches admirably in defeat, breaks a major league record for the most consecutive hitless at-bats to start a career—but it’s not without suspense, as he flies out to deep center to pass Joey Hamilton’s old mark of 57.

It’s not a good day for an Oakland team not having a good year. Scott Kazmir leaves the game with shoulder tightness after three no-hit innings, former Athletic Yoenis Cespedes homers against his old team and the Tigers hand the A’s a 3-2 defeat—Oakland’s 12th straight one-run loss at home, the most since the Chicago Colts (Cubs) in 1894.

Thursday, May 28
The Red Sox, desperate to right its rotation, get a big boost from Eduardo Rodriguez. The 22-year-old prospect from Venezuela makes his major league debut and stifles the Rangers at Arlington with 7.2 innings of three-hit shutout ball, as Boston clinches an easy 5-1 victory.

It’s the most shutout innings thrown by any pitcher making a debut at the Rangers’ 21-year-old ballpark—and the most anywhere by a Red Sox hurler to also earn the win since Billy Rohr, who famously came within an out a no-hitter on Opening Day 1967, the year the Sox came from obscurity to win the AL flag.

What was originally scheduled to be a day off for the White Sox and Orioles is now a date to grind out a make-up doubleheader at Baltimore, after two earlier games between the teams had been postponed from civic unrest within the city. Chicago wins the first game 3-2 behind Chris Sale, who strikes out 12 Orioles over 7.2 shutout innings; the Orioles grab the nightcap 6-3 as everyone in the Baltimore lineup notches at least one hit. Attendance is 18,441.

Friday, May 29
In 240 unremarkable games with the Angels, Josh Hamilton hit multiple home runs in a game once. He’s matched that total within his first five games back with the Rangers. His two deep flies—his first since returning to Texas—are enough to help the Rangers sink the Red Sox, 7-4.

Colorado’s Chad Bettis has a no-hitter ruined by his own defensive alignment with two outs in the eighth inning at Philadelphia as the Phillies’ Carlos Ruiz singles the opposite way against the stacked-up right side of the infield. Along with Bettis’ gem, Troy Tulowitzki’s four hits—including two solo homers—lift the Rockies to a 4-1 victory.

This is the second longest a Rockies starting pitcher has taken a no-hitter, after Ubaldo Jimenez’s no-no in 2010.

After striking four times in his first four at-bats, the Padres’ Derek Norris hits a tie-breaking, game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the ninth to end Pittsburgh’s seven-game win streak and give San Diego a 6-2 victory.

Norris is the first player in history to follow up four strikeouts with a game-winning slam.

Saturday, May 30
The Angels take Detroit’s Shane Greene deep—over and over again. Greene lasts just 1.2 innings, allowing seven runs on six hits—five of them home runs—and the Tigers’ late rally falls short in an 8-6 loss.

Before Greene, no pitcher in major league history had given up five home runs in a starting assignment lasting less than two innings.

After being no-hit through five innings by the Cardinals’ Michael Wacha—and extending a road scoreless inning streak to a franchise-record 41 frames—the Dodgers break out for four runs in the sixth, three of them on a Yasmani Grandal homer, to win at St. Louis, 5-1.

Dallas Keuchel is masterful at Houston, firing his second career shutout by blanking the White Sox, 3-0, on four hits, no walks and 11 strikeouts. Keuchel had also thrown nine scoreless at Oakland on April 24 but got a no-decision as the game continued into extra frames.

A sideshow takes place around the Minute Maid Park playing field as unrelenting heavy rain causes flooding in the concourse and leaks through the retractable roof; the game itself is not affected.

Sunday, May 31
The Brewers outlast the Diamondbacks at Milwaukee in 17 innings, 7-6, when Martin Maldonado connects on a game-winning solo homer. He is the first catcher in major league history to play behind the plate for as many as 17 frames and hit a walkoff home run.

At five hours and 49 minutes, it’s the longest game by time ever played at Miller Park.

Is Bartolo Colon in line to win the Silver Slugger award for pitchers? The puffy 42-year-old, known for his extreme lack of hitting, punches out a RBI double—his third hit of the year—in the second inning to aid his own cause in the Mets’ 4-3 win over the Marlins at New York. Colon becomes the NL’s first eight-game winner this season.


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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