This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: May, 2016
Bautista v. Odor Bryce Harper Walks the Walk in Chicago—Over and Over Again
The New Ballpark at Arlington? The Red Sox Just Can’t Stop Hitting

Best and Worst of the Week

Mike Trout, L.A. Angels of Anaheim

99 26 30 8 1 9 23 15 0 2 1

We can’t count on one hand the number of months the Angels’ Chosen One has finished runner-up in this category. But this month, he’s tops—and that’s happened a few times as well. Yahoo SportsJeff Passan recently wrote about how many of us seem to take Trout’s magnificence for granted—that the Angels are ‘meh’ only adds to his under-the-radar presence—but trust us, fans in Anaheim will know how much they’ll miss him when he’s gone. And he nearly was, if you believe any one of many stories written by pundits this past month advocating a trade of Trout for a boatload of prospects to ‘save’ the team.

Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs

101 25 41 7 0 6 25 16 1 1 1

The 35-year-old infielder was picked up by the Cubs to be nothing more that supporting glue to back up the big bats, but no one came close to carrying a bigger stick in May at Wrigley Field. His most electric power surge took place in the month’s first week when he belted four homers over three games, roughly about the time the Nationals were in town watching Bryce Harper get walked to death; maybe that should have influenced their approach to Zobrist, who is now well on pace to set career highs in runs, RBIs and, yes, walks.

Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees

82 5 13 4 0 0 2 6 0 0 0

When potential rising star Greg Bird was lost for the season before it even began, the Yankees lost their insurance policy on Teixeira, who at 36 may not have the stamina to play everyday—or even any day, if this past month was any indication. Tex not only couldn’t shoot for power (no homers), but he could rarely hit at all, lowering his season average below .200 and looking like another aging, overpriced Yankee whose tank is running on empty. Let us know when you get better, Greg.

Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies

69 5 7 2 0 3 9 5 0 0 0

The burned-out Phillies bopper can still hammer a home run or two, but not much of anything else. This past month was a revealing reflection of Howard’s over-the-hill status, as he rarely reached base and continued striking out at a dizzying pace. The K’s were forgiven back in the day when he was mashing 50-plus homers, but his game has dropped so low that the Phillies are now platooning him with rookie Tommy Joseph. Yes, Howard is a link to a more glorious Phillies past, but nostalgia doesn’t win games.

CC Sabathia, New York Yankees

2-2 27 16 5 3 5 0 2 0 0 26

Well at least there’s one old Yankee geezer who’s got some vintage game left in him. And frankly, we didn’t see this coming from the 16-year veteran who came into 2016 having gone 23-27 with a 4.81 ERA and a trip to alcohol rehab over the last three years. After a shaky April that suggested that nothing had changed (except, we hope, an emptied-out liquor cabinet), Sabathia got it back on track with one quality start after another—starting with seven shutout innings on May 4 at Baltimore, where his personal life unraveled at the end of last season. Good to see him Home and Dry, as Gerry Rafferty once sang.

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

5-0 49.2 24 5 5 2 0 0 0 2 65

Lost in all this Jake Arrieta talk over the last year is that Clayton Kershaw remains a pretty damn good pitcher. The Dodgers ace reconfirmed his dominance with a number of amazing feats; one was the number of shutouts thrown (three) this past month alone, the other his highly impressive 65-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. A few years ago, the Twins’ Phil Hughes set a record for the highest K-to-BB ratio at 11.63-1, but Kershaw is on pace to shatter that—setting a record for the fewest walks (five) permitted with his first 100 strikeouts on the year. Your move, Jake.

Sonny Gray, Oakland A's

0-3 19.2 31 25 21 9 0 0 7 0 15

Less Sonny, more Gray this past month in Oakland as the A’s young ace lost his control, his starts and then his spot on the active roster when it was determined that a strained upper shoulder was to blame for the breakdown. The wildness was particularly unusual for Gray, and it may have led to more forced strikes—and thus, more home runs (five) allowed. The A’s are hoping Gray returns quickly and gets back to form, or Billy Beane is going to lose a valuable trading chip.

Caleb Cotham, Cincinnati Reds

0-3 11.2 20 16 16 7 0 2 0 0 11

We could have picked any one of a number of Reds pitchers (again), as they were collectively as bad in May as they were in April. But we’ll take it out on Cotham, who was repeatedly battered by opponents until his shoulder gave out and got him placed on the disabled list at month’s end. (So, he had nothing to do with the Reds losing 17-4 at Colorado on May 31, which again speaks to the overall malaise of bad Cincinnati pitching.) Cotham’s worst outing came on May 7 when he faced five Milwaukee batters; they all got hits, and they all scored.

Boston Red Sox (18-10)

Unstoppable. That’s pretty much how to describe the Red Sox and their incredibly potent offense that recalled the days of Ted Williams and Jim Rice, hitting .305 as a team in May while averaging nearly seven runs a game (and given how often they tallied, it seems amazing that the average isn’t higher). The lineup featured two players (Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts) running hit streaks up to 24 games or more—no two teammates have done that in a calendar month since 1922—Mookie Betts hitting three home runs in one game, and David Ortiz doing what David Ortiz does best: Killing the baseball, even at age 40. If not for shaky pitching, the Red Sox very well could have gone undefeated in May.

San Francisco Giants (21-8)

Much was made in the offseason of the Giants forking out money—too much, some thought—for Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija in attempt to strengthen a wobbly rotation. It’s looking like the money has become well spent. Along with Madison Bumgarner, Cueto and Samardzija have formed a nice new Big Three in baseball to be reckoned with; the trio combined to go 12-2 with a 1.73 ERA in May, and propelled the Giants well ahead in the NL West even as their offense hit modestly at best.

Minnesota Twins (8-19)

Here’s a helpful hint for the Twins as they begin the month of June: Win early. After losing their first nine games of the season in April, they started May on an even worse note, losing their first ten of the month. Some will point the fingers of contempt at young, highly touted Minnesota hitters who haven’t been producing as hoped, but the true issue has been a pitching staff that opponents hit .305 and slugged .530 against. In perhaps an unrelated story, Twins pitching coach and recovered alcoholic Neil Allen fell off the wagon.

Cincinnati Reds (7-20)

It’s hard trying to bounce back in the standings with a pitching staff that less than a year ago included Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman, but now has a bunch of young cadets in their place. Without either a true ace or experienced closer—and a whole lot of mediocrity in between—the Reds’ pitching made it tough for a pretty good lineup to catch up. Every time manager Bryan Price had to go to the bullpen, more runs usually followed; at least one Cincinnati reliever gave up at least one run in a record 23 straight games. The Reds endured another unworthy streak toward month’s end: A 12-game losing skid, longest in the majors so far this year.

Wild Pitches

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

Schill Out
ESPN, which fired Curt Schilling in April for ‘insensitive’ social media posts, edited out his “bloody sock” game portion of a 30 for 30 episode on the 2004 ALCS because a softball game that proceeded it went long and the network had to shorten the program for time.

An Erroneous Suggestion
The Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen said that the official scorer at PNC Park should be fired if an error he made against the Cubs was not changed to a hit. He later apologized.

The Charles Finley Memorial Walk, 2016 Edition
It seems like it happens at least once every year, and so it we had Jose Altuve getting a walk after taking ball three against Seattle. With almost nothing left unnoticed these days at a ballpark by video, coaches and other prying eyes, it seems crazy that something like this occurs without someone (besides the broadcasters) righting the wrong.

Jarred and Surprised
The Nationals’ Bryce Harper gave a jar of money to a homeless person in Chicago, because he had to do something after the Cubs took the bat out of his hands and walked him 13 times in a four-game series.

Dirty Tricks
It was claimed that a high school umpire in Texas was trying to “sabotage” a playoff game by kicking dirt over home plate so a player who just hit a home run would have a harder time trying to find it and thus not touch it. If a ruse, it didn’t work. Judge for yourself.

Hello Kitty
A tabby said to a stray cat living at Angels Stadium of Anaheim sprinted onto the field and off it during an Angels game against St. Louis. The charming part is watching the crowd once it goes into the stands. Happy ending: The cat will be adopted. Sad ending, for Angels fans: Tabby failed in its bid to become a Rally Cat, as the Angels were outlasted by the Cardinals, 12-10.

Better Too Late Than Never
After failing to get his former players to, for some reason, chip in money for his future personalized tombstone, baseball pioneer James Whyte “Too Late” Davis—given the nickname because he showed up late for games—finally got his wish courtesy of MLB and SABR (Society for American Baseball Research), which replaced the unmarked stone that stood above his grave since his death in 1899.

That’s so Premature of You
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez was accidentally tipped off to his own firing when the Braves emailed him a flight itinerary of a Pittsburgh-to-Atlanta flight three days before the Braves were due to finish a series against the Pirates

Punch Like Rougned
The Frisco Rough Riders, the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate, is selling an alcoholic energy drink called Rougie’s Red Punch in honor of Rougned Odor’s right hook at Toronto’s Jose Bautista.

The Chicken Bone’s Connected to the Throat Bone
The Braves’ Erick Aybar got a chicken bone stuck in his throat shortly before a game at Pittsburgh and was rushed to a doctor to have it removed.

Yet Another Code Brown
The plumbing failed once again at the Oakland Coliseum, with an unwanted overflow of sewage water seeping into the visitor’s dugout while the Yankees were in town.

Okay—Which One of You Republicans Are Behind This?
A gay choir ready to sing the National Anthem before a game at San Diego’s Petco Park was upstaged when the Padres accidentally played the tape of a woman singing the anthem instead. The choir threatened to sue, the Padres fired the staffer responsible and then rehired him once they realized it was all just a terrible mistake.

This is How the Joker Got Started, Too
The Cubs were ready to dump a cooler of liquid over David Ross after he hit his 100th career home run—until, at the last second, they realized the liquid was ammonia.

This Month’s Proof That Everybody’s Striking Out
Baseball is looking into reducing the strike zone, and not a moment too soon. Maybe a redefinition will put an end to the monthly strikeout record continuously resetting itself. It happened again in May, with 6,726 K’s recorded—toppling the record 6,591 posted just last September. Don’t bet against us chatting next month about yet another raising of the bar.

League vs. League

After a guardedly optimistic April, the National League saw its dreams of ending 12 years of interleague dominance by the rival American League quickly muted in May as the AL won 32 of 57 games to take a 45-41 lead for the season. Yes, it’s still a close tally, but the momentum doesn’t bode well for the senior circuit.

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Sunday, May 1
Almost single-handedly, Clayton Kershaw ends a six-game losing streak for the Los Angeles Dodgers not only by throwing a three-hit, 1-0 shutout of the visiting San Diego Padres, but by knocking in the only run on a third-inning single. Kershaw’s 13th career shutout includes 14 strikeouts and no walks.

The Toronto Blue Jays break open a 1-1 tie in the ninth at St. Petersburg with four runs—three of them on a Troy Tulowitzki homer—to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-1. Marcus Stroman improves to 4-0 with his best effort yet, allowing a run on three hits through eight innings.

Despite the win, two attempted Blue Jays basestealers are nabbed by Rays catcher Hank Conger—snapping a streak of 47 straight who successfully stole off of him.

At Pittsburgh, the Pirates tie the Cincinnati Reds in the seventh at 3-3, in the eighth at 4-4 and the ninth at 5-5—but cannot counter in the 11th when the Reds retake the lead, again, and ultimately triumph, 6-5. According to Elias, the Bucs are the only team in the modern era (since 1900) to tie a game in seventh, eighth and ninth innings only to lose in extras—and they’ve done it three times.

Alex Rodriguez belts his 692nd career home run, a long double and drives in four runs at Fenway Park, but it’s not enough as the Boston Red Sox outlast the New York Yankees, 8-7. David Price improves to 4-0 on the season—despite a 6.14 ERA.

The Yankees end the day with the majors’ fourth worst record at 8-15; it’s their worst start since 1984. Unlike then, George Steinbrenner isn’t around to feel the inclination to fire manager Joe Girardi.

Monday, May 2
How bad are things for the Houston Astros? Dallas Keuchel can’t even win at home. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner loses 6-2 to Minnesota after winning a franchise-record 17 games at Minute Maid Park, matching the Twins for the AL’s worst record at 8-18.

Trailing 3-0 in the fourth, the St. Louis Cardinals notch ten unanswered runs on the strength of five homers—including the seventh career shot for starting pitcher Adam Wainwright—to defeat Philadelphia at Busch Stadium, ending a four-game losing skid while stopping a six-game win streak for the Phillies.

Jason Hammel continues to do his best Jake Arrieta impression for the Chicago Cubs. Though pitching only five innings, Hammel is efficient enough and leaves with a big lead as the Cubs go on to defeat the Pirates at Pittsburgh, 7-2. Hammel, like Arrieta, has allowed only four runs through his first five starts; they are the two teammates ever to claim that figure in the same year.

You’d think the Cubs’ first appearance at Pittsburgh in 2016 would draw a pretty big gathering, but the announced crowd count at PNC Park is a somewhat disappointing 18,376. Possible reason: The NHL’s Penguins are fighting it out across town with Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitols.

Pablo Sandoval’s miserable second season with the Boston Red Sox is over before it really ever got started. After showing up to spring camp overweight (as always), disappointing play and an embarrassing moment when his belt buckle became undone while at the plate (that’s home plate, not the dinner plate), it is announced that Sandoval will undergo shoulder surgery and miss the rest of the 2016 season. The 29-year-old infielder was hitless in his only six at-bats of the year, striking out four times and drawing one walk.

Tuesday, May 3
Washington star hitter Bryce Harper signs what is said to be the largest endorsement deal in baseball history when he re-inks with Under Armour for ten years and an undisclosed sum of money—though it is thought to be higher than the $1 million per year Alex Rodriguez received in a ten-year deal with Nike in 2005.

With Cincinnati tied at 1-1 against the San Francisco Giants in the sixth inning, the words no Reds fan wants to hear are uttered: “There’s activity in the Reds’ bullpen.” Sure enough, shortly after starter John Lamb leaves the game, the relievers fail to hold it, as Caleb Cotham gives up two runs in the eighth, and the Giants prevail 3-1 behind Buster Posey’s three doubles and Jeff Samardzija’s masterful (eight innings, one run allowed on three hits) effort.

The Reds’ bullpen has now allowed at least one run in 21 straight games, and that’s a major league record. Relievers for the 2004 Indians conceded a run in 30 straight games in which they appeared, a streak interrupted by complete game performances from the rotation.

Jake Arrieta continues to dazzle. The Cubs’ ace deals seven shutout innings while allowing just two hits, taking his 17th straight win in Chicago’s 7-1 victory at Pittsburgh. Arrieta is now 22-1 over his last 26 starts with a 0.86 ERA.

Only the 1902 Pirates (+97) and 1905 Giants (+94) amassed higher run differentials through their first 25 games than the Cubs (+89) have this year.

Toronto’s Justin Smoak leads off the ninth with a solo homer to tie the Texas Rangers—and ends the game an inning later when he goes deep again, a two-run shot to give the Blue Jays a walk-off 3-1 victory. Smoak is the first player since the Chicago White Sox’ Joe Crede in 2002 to tie a game in the ninth and decide it in the tenth on multiple homers.

After a 0-4 start with a 7.25 ERA, long-time White Sock John Danks is released—even though Chicago owes him $15 million this season. Danks has struggled since a solid stretch of pitching from 2007-09, compiling a 33-60 record with a 4.79 ERA since.

Wednesday, May 4
CC Sabathia throws seven shutout innings—his best effort in three years—and the Yankees end a six-game losing skid against the Orioles at Baltimore. Jacoby Ellsbury reaches base five times and steals two bases to help out New York on offense.

Corey Kluber tosses his second career shutout as the Indians stymie Detroit at Cleveland, 4-0. The effort doesn’t come easily; Kluber escapes a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the second and gets out of another mess in the fourth with the help of the Tigers’ Justin Upton, who inexplicably doesn’t trot home from third while the Indians are contentedly turning a double play.

There is obviously something about Erisbel Arruebarrena that the Dodgers are not happy about. The 26-year-old Cuban émigré, who signed a five-year, $25 million deal with Los Angeles in 2013, has been suspended for the rest of the season for “repeated failures to comply with his contract.” This is the second straight year Arruebarrena has been given a year-end penalty by the team. Like then, the Dodgers do not get into specifics as to what the “repeated failures” are.

Arruebarrena, stuck in Double-A ball, will likely hope that history repeats itself in another way; his suspension last year was reduced to 30 games after an appeal.

Thursday, May 5
The Giants and Colorado Rockies put a mile-high accent on normally pitching-friendly AT&T Park, with 24 runs scored in the first five innings—17 of them by the Rockies, with 13 of those in the fifth inning alone, the most scored by any MLB team in a single frame since 2010. But nothing is scored after the fifth, and the Rockies breeze to a 17-7 romp.

After allowing 12 runs to the Mets in one inning the previous week, the Giants become the second team in modern history (after the 2005 Tampa Bay Devil Rays) to concede a dozen or more tallies in one frame twice in a season.

Matt Cain gives up the first four runs in the Rockies’ 13-run fifth; Vin Mazzaro gives up the other nine, giving him nightmarish flashbacks to his spectacularly bad relief effort in 2011 when he allowed 14 runs in just 2.1 innings of work for Kansas City. The Giants will designate Mazzaro for assignment after the game.

Almost, San Diego, almost…again. The Padres, who’ve never thrown a no-hitter in 47 years of play, get close once more as starter Colin Rea takes a no-no into the seventh inning before the visiting Mets break it up. Rea’s bid for a shutout ends in the ninth, but he and the Padres still defeat New York, 5-3.

This was the 49th time a Padres pitcher brought a no-hitter into the seventh inning, only to eventually fail in the quest to complete it.

Kyle Hendricks maintains the Cubs rotation’s superb showing of late, tossing six shutout innings while Ben Zobrist knocks in four runs to give Chicago a 5-2 win over the visiting Washington Nationals in a highly anticipated matchup at Wrigley Field. In defeat, Washington star Bryce Harper singles and walks three times in four trips to the plate.

Friday, May 6
Two games scheduled between Miami and Pittsburgh in Puerto Rico on May 30-31 have been moved to Miami after MLB and the players’ association agree that it would be too risky to play on an island reportedly hard-hit by the Zika virus. The major concern was that the players’ wives, all of child-bearing age, could be infected by the virus—which leads to birth defects such as abnormally small heads.

Maybe they should move the series to Canada; while there have been some 800 cases of Zika reported in Puerto Rico, there's been 42 reported in Miami alone.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are dealt a crippling blow when it’s reported that hard-throwing ace Garrett Richards will undergo Tommy John surgery on his elbow and not return until mid-2017. The 27-year-old pitcher started the year at 1-3 but had a stellar 2.34 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 34.2 innings.

Richards will later attempt to avoid TJ surgery (see May 16)—but still, with a subpar start, several other starting pitchers on the shelf and a thoroughly depleted farm system, the Angels are in quite a bind with this news. Some within the media are opining that the Angels should seriously look into trading Mike Trout for a boatload of prospects to boost their future.

Welcome back, Jung Ho Kang. The Pittsburgh infielder, playing his first game since tearing up his knee last September, belts two homers and knocks in three as the Pirates defeat the Cardinals at St. Louis, 4-2.

The Yankees take a 3-2 home victory over the Red Sox as New York closer Andrew Miller escapes a bases-loaded jam in the ninth thanks in part to home plate umpire Ron Kulpa—who calls two very questionable strike calls on David Ortiz that leads to a strikeout—and ejection—of the Boston star. (Red Sox manager John Farrell is given the thumb as well.) Boston loses despite 13 hits, one of them a two-run, first-inning homer by Ortiz—his 50th against the Yankees.

The Reds defeat Milwaukee at Cincinnati, 5-1, but that’s not all; after Tim Adleman throws five innings for the Reds, the bullpen takes over and doesn’t allow a run for the remaining four innings—snapping their record 23-game streak of games in which at least one Cincinnati reliever had given up one or more runs.

In the Astros’ 6-2 win over Seattle at Houston, Marwin Gonzalez hits his 26th career home run—and his first with men on base. His 25 solo shots to begin a career had established a major league record.

Saturday, May 7
The Mets’ Bartolo Colon, 17 days shy of his 43rd birthday, becomes the oldest pitcher in baseball history to hit his first home run, depositing a two-run shot in the second inning at San Diego’s Petco Park (of all places). His pitching isn’t all that bad, either, improving to 3-1 on the year with a 2.82 ERA as New York takes down the Padres, 6-3.

Aaron Hill drills home runs in the sixth, eighth and tenth innings, the last a grand slam that punctuates a seven-run Milwaukee outburst that’s the most runs scored by the franchise in an extra inning. The Brewers take a 13-7 victory at Cincinnati.

It feels like home again for Shelby Miller. The Arizona pitcher, bringing an 8.49 ERA into his seventh start of the year at Atlanta—where he pitched well last season despite earning no offensive support by his Braves teammates—comes back to life with his best effort and first win of this year, scattering two runs in four hits over six innings to defeat the Braves, 4-2.

Atlanta, playing its final year at Turner Field, is now 1-14 at home—the second worst such start in modern history, surpassed only by the 1913 Yankees (0-17) in their first year playing at the Polo Grounds.

Chris Sale wins his seventh start in as many games, and every member of the White Sox’ starting lineup earns at least one hit as the White Sox roll over the visiting Twins, 7-2. Chicago has the AL’s best record at 21-10; the Twins the worst, at 8-22.

The defending champion Kansas City Royals, staggering of late (eight losses in their last 11 games), glide over the Indians at Cleveland, 7-0, behind Kendrys Morales’ homer and four RBIs. Morales had gone RBI-less in his last 12 games—the longest drought by a designated hitter since it was established by the AL in 1973.

Sunday, May 8
Despite a less-than-stellar start for Jake Arrieta, the Cubs finish off a four-game sweep of the visiting Nationals with a 13-inning, 4-3 decision while continuing to show the best way to pitch Washington star hitter Bryce Harper, and that is to not pitch to him at all. Harper reaches base seven times on the day—all without the benefit of a hit—walking a major league record-tying six times (three intentionally) and getting hit by a pitch.

Harper sets all kinds of records on the day; he’s the first player ever to go 0-for-0 in a game despite making seven plate appearances, the first in the modern era to go 0-for-0 in consecutive games without being subbed for, and has a streak of 12 straight appearances without either gaining a hit or making an out. His 13 walks in a series also establish a new mark.

The Cubs have won seven straight games and improve to 24-6, the best 30-game start since the Detroit Tigers’ fabled hot start during their 1984 championship season.

Texas catcher Bobby Wilson, traded from Detroit earlier in the week, haunts his old teammates with an eighth-inning grand slam, part of a seven-run outburst off Tigers relievers that ruins Justin Verlander’s bid for a win (he throws seven shutout innings before) and sends the Rangers to an easy 8-3 victory and three-game sweep at Comerica Park. Wilson started two of the three games and went 5-for-8.

The Orioles spot the Oakland A’s three runs in the first and then pile on 11 unanswered runs—all coming off of six home runs, two by Manny Machado—for an 11-3 rout at Baltimore.

The fifth Oakland pitcher on the day is backup catcher Josh Phegley, who retires the only two batters he faces—including a strikeout of Adam Jones.

David Ortiz stays hot against the Yankees—in a good way, a few days after getting ejected—and launches two more homers at Yankee Stadium to become second on the Red Sox’ all-time home run list (distantly trailing Ted Williams by 67) while knuckleballer Steven Wright goes the distance, scattering a run on three hits in a 5-1 Boston win.

Ortiz does overtake Williams in one aspect by increasing his home run total at Yankee Stadium (old and new) among Red Sox players to 31, one ahead of Teddy Ballgame. He’s now only one behind Goose Goslin for the most by any opponent at the Bronx.

Monday, May 9
One of baseball’s prime free agents for the upcoming offseason will not be available, as Washington re-ups pitcher Stephen Strasburg for seven years and $175 million. The 27-year old isn’t rewarded for a win on the day, however, as he leaves a home start in the seventh against Detroit tied at 4-4 before the Nationals’ Clint Robinson breaks it up in the bottom of the ninth with a walk-off homer.

Bryce Harper is at least pitched to—sort of, going 0-for-2 with two walks. In his final at-bat, he takes a high strike three from umpire Brian Knight, and is ejected moments later for barking back from the dugout. When Robinson comes home with the game-winning run, Harper joins the celebration, turns to Knight and shouts an obscenity toward him at close range. MLB will fine Harper and suspend him one game for that action.

Felix Hernandez rewards his King Court at Safeco Field, throwing seven sharp innings and becoming the Mariners’ all-time winningest pitcher in a 5-2 victory over Tampa Bay. Shortstop Ketel Marte is Hernandez’s prime supporter on offense, going 4-for-5 with two doubles and his first home run of the season.

Miami ace Jose Fernandez dazzles for seven shutout innings and 11 strikeouts to defeat Milwaukee at Marlins Park, 4-1. Although Fernandez has enough support, he could have gotten more of it were it not for a baserunning blunder by J.T. Realmuto—who belts a second-inning, two-run home run but has it reduced to a one-run single when he accidentally passes up Marcell Ozuna on the basepaths. It’s the first such gaffe seen in the majors since 2006.

The Yankees hit five solo homers in the first three innings off Kansas City starter Chris Young, giving them enough fuel to ease to a 6-3 win at New York. It’s the first time that the Royals (15-16) have been below .500 since July 22, 2014.

Tuesday, May 10
Lorenzo Cain smacks three home runs for the Royals, but it’s not enough as the Yankees bat around for five late runs and topple Kansas City, 10-7. Aroldis Chapman, making his second appearance since the end of his 30-day domestic violence suspension, earns his first save with a scoreless ninth.

The Braves lose at home, again—and the Phillies win by a run, again. Adam Morgan’s sound seven innings, backed by three hits (including a home run) by Maikel Franco gets Philadelphia past Atlanta, 3-2, for its seventh consecutive one-run triumph. The Braves drop to 1-16 at Turner Field, the worst start by a team at home in 103 years.

In a wild seesaw affair interrupted by an hour-plus rain delay, the Texas Rangers notch seven runs in the eighth to defeat the White Sox at Arlington, 13-11. Chicago had a 10-5 lead after just four innings, but the White Sox’ bullpen—one of the league’s best coming into the evening—can’t hold it.

Some of Chicago’s early damage comes courtesy of Texas reliever Anthony Ranaudo, who allows five runs on and five walks—and no hits.

Wednesday, May 11
The Nationals’ Max Scherzer becomes the fourth pitcher to strike out 20 batters within nine innings as he outduels ex-Nat Jordan Zimmermann and defeats the Tigers at Washington, 3-2. A chance to hit 21 is denied when the last Detroit batter, James McCann, grounds into the final out. The astonishing thing about Scherzer’s effort in comparison to other 20-K performances is that only 23 of his 119 pitches are taken for a ball; the 80.7% strike rate is the highest by a starting pitcher throwing 110 or more pitches since Curt Schilling’s 82.5% (94 of 114) in a 2002 contest.

New York’s Noah Syndergaard pitches—and hits—his way to a 4-3 win at Los Angeles. The tall, young flamethrower not only tosses eight solid innings, but also knocks in all four runs on two homers, making him only the second Mets pitcher (after Walt Terrell in 1983) to go deep twice in a game. He’s also the first visiting pitcher to do it at Dodger Stadium.

The Cubs lose consecutive games for the first time all year—both on the same day. The Padres take the first game of a day-night doubleheader, 7-4, and then get six shutout innings (with ten strikeouts) from Drew Pomeranz, who lowers his season ERA to 1.80 in a 1-0 nightcap.

Boston throttles the A’s 13-3 at Fenway Park, finishing off a three-game sweep in which the Red Sox scored at least 13 runs with each win. (For Oakland, it’s the fourth straight game allowing 11 or more.) Jackie Bradley Jr.—still batting ninth for the Red Sox, for some reason—knocks in six runs for the second time in three nights; he becomes the first player ever to twice collect at least six RBIs while batting last in the order.

In their last four games, A’s starting pitchers have combined to allow 25 runs on 27 hits over just 11.2 innings; none of them have made it through the fourth inning.

Thursday, May 12
A new opponent doesn’t stop the Red Sox’ offensive rampage. Boston reaches double figures for the fourth straight game, upending the Astros and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel at Fenway Park, 11-1; everyone in the starting lineup chimes in with at least one hit. It’s the first time since 1950 that the Red Sox have scored ten-plus runs in four straight games.

For historians who may be wondering, the Red Sox’ previous four-game run in 1950 did not include the back-to-back 20-4 and 29-4 routs of the St. Louis Browns; those two came one game after the four-game streak ended.

Clayton Kershaw is once more suburb and reaches record territory; the Dodgers ace becomes the first major leaguer to strike out at least ten batters with no more than one walk in five straight starts, locking down the Mets with a three-hit, 5-0 shutout punctuated with 13 Ks.

The Giants peg a loss on Arizona ace Zack Greinke for the first time ever, defeating the Diamondbacks in Phoenix, 4-2. Greinke had previously been victorious in all eight of his decisions against San Francisco. But the end doesn’t come easy for the Giants, and not without controversy to boot; closer Santiago Casilla confirms his hotheaded reputation by angrily showing up manager Bruce Bochy after being asked to leave with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with two outs; an irate Bochy tells him to come back and leave the mound more properly. Javier Lopez gets the final out and the save.

The Yankees make it three out of four from the Royals at New York with a 7-3 decision made noteworthy by Yankee third baseman Chase Headley’s first extra-base hit of the year, a second-inning homer in this, the 33rd game of the season. It’s the longest an everyday Yankee has gone without a long hit to start a season since Roy White in 1973.

Friday, May 13
Chris Sale improves his record to 8-0—no one else has yet to win seven—and becomes the first pitcher since Brandon Webb in 2008 to win each of his season’s first eight starts as he needs just 99 pitches to go the distance and dispense of the Yankees at New York, 7-1. Chicago’s record improves to an AL-best 24-12.

Toronto breaks open a tight ballgame at Texas in the eighth on Troy Tulowitzki’s 200th career home run to defeat the Rangers, 5-0, but the game is most noteworthy for a ninth-inning appearance by Texas reliever Matt Bush, finally making his major league debut 12 years after being selected as the #1 pick in the amateur draft by San Diego. Bush, whose career was nearly derailed by his own doing via alcoholism and a 2012 hit-and-run that cost him three years in prison, retires all three Blue Jays he faces.

Colorado snaps a skid of 11 straight losses against the Mets by defeating New York and Matt Harvey at Coors Field, 5-2. Harvey drops to 3-5 with a 4.93 ERA and laments afterward, “It’s just frustrating being out there right now.”

Under the category of “only the folks at Elias Sports Bureau can come up with this,” the Rockies are 13-1 since 2002 when playing on Friday the 13th.

The Dodgers are gifted an 8-4 decision by the Cardinals thanks to four errors—including three from rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz—that lead to five unearned runs. Diaz is second in the majors with a .387 average and, with 13 doubles and six homers in 111 at-bats, first in slugging at .685—but his trio of miscues also puts him atop the error leaderboard with nine.

Saturday, May 14
David Ortiz’s first triple in nearly three years ties the game for the Red Sox against Houston in the bottom of the ninth; two innings later, he’ll smack his 600th career double to give Boston a 6-5 win. Along with a home run earlier in the game, the 40-year-old Ortiz is the oldest player to collect a double, triple and homer in one game.

Ortiz becomes the third player, after Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds, to have at least 500 home runs and 600 doubles.

The Baltimore Orioles stay a half-game ahead of Boston in the AL East by virtue of their seventh straight victory, handing the visiting Tigers their sixth straight loss in a 9-3 drubbing. Jonathan Schoop hits two home runs and knocks in five runs.

This is the Orioles’ second win streak of at least seven games this season—matching their total over the previous 16 seasons combined.

With Bryce Harper sitting out via suspension in the second game of a day-nioght doubleheader at Washington, the visiting Marlins ease to a 7-1 win even though starting pitcher Kendry Flores departs after three innings with a shoulder strain. In victory, the Marlins sets a major league record by failing to have a starting pitcher go the distance for the 302nd straight game—breaking a mark they established themselves back in 2008.

Sunday, May 15
The bad blood left over from the postseason between the Rangers and Blue Jays boils over in Arlington. With Toronto at bat trailing 7-6 in the seventh, Jose Bautista—on first after getting plunked by the Rangers’ Matt Bush—goes in hard and illegally (sliding over the bag) on second baseman Rougned Odor, who responds by shoving Bautista before landing an on-target (and costly) right hook to the jaw of the Blue Jays’ star. Bautista’s teammates are incensed and race out of the dugout to go after Odor, but fortunately things do not spiral further out of control. The Rangers will hold on for the one-run victory.

In all, four players (including Odor and Bautista), Toronto manager John Gibbons—who was given the thumb earlier in the game yet returned to the field during the melee—and three coaches are ejected in this, the final game of the regular season between the two teams. Unless, of course, they meet again in the postseason.

There’s clearly no love lost between the Rangers and Bautista after his home run and epic, in-your-face bat flip that helped end Texas’ season in last year’s ALDS—but for the Rangers to intentionally plunk him as the tying run in the eighth inning seems a bit risky. Still, the Blue Jays and numerous other baseball insiders think that’s exactly what the Rangers did, with Gibbons calling the HBP “gutless” and Bautista himself calling it “cowardly.” Bautista will also admit that he intentionally slid hard into Odor to “send him a message.”

Odor will be given an eight-game suspension—later reduced to seven—for his antics while Gibbons is benched for three; Bautista gets away with only one—but as ESPN’s Buster Olney explains, he’ll have to “pay the price for this incident indefinitely” by having the video of Odor’s punch played over and over again, here, there and everywhere. Still, Bautista thinks the suspension is one game too much, and after losing his appeal rants that “(MLB owes) it to fans who pay money to come watch me play and give the specific reason why I'm not playing.”

Danny Valencia becomes the 23rd player in the long history of the A’s to hit three home runs—the last a two-run shot in the ninth that ultimately gives Oakland a 7-6 win over the Rays at St. Petersburg. The 31-year-old native Floridian has five homers on the year—all hit within the last three games.

Carlos Beltran enters the 400 Club, becoming the 54th player—and fourth switch-hitter—to reach the home run milestone to help the Yankees defeat the White Sox, 7-5. Beltran’s total is the sixth highest among active players; teammate Mark Teixeira is next on the list, at 397.

After being swept by Arizona a few weeks earlier on their home turf, the Giants gain revenge by putting the finishing touches on their own four-game sweep of the Diamondbacks at Phoenix with a 3-2 win. San Francisco scores only 14 runs in the series at Chase Field, which is normally full of offense; it’s the fewest runs the Giants have scored in a four-game sweep since notching 13 runs in a 1910 series at Philadelphia’s Baker Bowl against the Phillies.

Sammy Ellis, a brief wonder for the Reds and long-time coach for numerous MLB teams, passes away in Florida at the age of 75. The right-hander’s best year came in 1965 when he posted a 22-10 record and 3.57 ERA for Cincinnati, but he never had a winning season afterward and quickly faded out of the game. He most recently served as the pitching coach for Baltimore in 2000.

Monday, May 16
It’s a nice day for the Angels, for a change. They defeat the crosstown Dodgers and Kenta Maeda (who’s slowly beginning to show his mortality after a terrific start), 7-6, but off the field the pitching staff receives a double dose of good news. Garrett Richards, who over a week ago looked ready to face Tommy John surgery, has decided to opt for a stem cell injection and rehab in hopes of avoiding it—while the team has also signed former free agent and two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum to a one-year deal after being impressed by his showcase workout earlier in the month.

Back home in Toronto, the Blue Jays are beat up—not on the field with fists, but on the scoreboard—as the Rays come into town and inflict a 13-2 drubbing. Nevertheless, it’s still too much for Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, who’s ejected for the second straight day after arguing balls and strikes in the fourth inning. J.A. Happ is shelled for eight runs in two-plus innings and loses his first game of the year after five wins; it’s the first time in 19 games that a Toronto starting pitcher has failed to log six innings.

The Rays will make it a second straight rout the next day, 12-2—only the second time in franchise history that they’ll scored 10-plus runs in back-to-back games.

Dick McAuliffe, a three-time AL All-Star and middle infield stalwart for Detroit during the 1960s, passes away at the age of 76. Though he weighed in on the light side (176 lbs.), McAuliffe wielded enough power to surpass 20 homers three times, and he ranks eighth among all Tigers in both triples (70) and walks (842). And here’s his one odd statistical legacy: He led the AL with 95 runs in 1968, the so-called Year of the Pitcher, while not grounding into one double play.

Tuesday, May 17
Fredi Gonzalez becomes the Fall Guy for Atlanta’s plundering of talent. With the Braves off to a franchise-worst 9-28 start and admittedly reloading by trading one prime players for younger prospects, Gonzalez becomes the first managerial casualty on the season. This leaves the majors currently without a Latino manager.

Brian Snitker feels Gonzalez’s pain in his first outing as Atlanta interim manager. The Braves and starting pitcher Aaron Blair give up seven first-inning runs and two more in the second to the Pirates at Pittsburgh, before fighting back to make a game of it and losing, 12-9. Rookie Mallex Smith homers twice in defeat, giving the Braves 13 on the year. Philadelphia has the next fewest—with 30.

Khris Davis’ third home run of the night is a grand slam and a game winner, giving the A’s an 8-5 win over the Rangers at Oakland. It’s the second time in just three days that a member of the A’s has thrice gone deep in a game; before that, the team’s last two three-homer performances took place over a 15-year period.

Texas closer Steve Tolleson, who gives up Davis’ walk-off slam, now has four blown saves and a 9.20 ERA in 18 appearances after blowing just two opps for all of last season. He will be demoted from his ninth-inning role for this latest disaster.

Proving once more than anything can happen on any given day in baseball, the potent Chicago Cubs are no-hit through the first seven innings by Milwaukee’s Chase Anderson—who entered the game with a 6.11 ERA for a Brewers rotation that’s the worst, by the numbers. Ben Zobrist finally breaks the no-no with a leadoff double in eighth, and a ninth-inning Chicago rally falls short as the Cubs lose, 4-2.

Cincinnati’s pitching is indeed bad as advertised, and it seems to be getting even worse. The Reds lose at Cleveland, 13-1—a night after being trashed, 14-6—as Alfredo Simon surrenders ten runs on 14 hits before departing midway through the fifth. Then, Simon’s replacement, Steve Delabar, walks four straight batters, each with the bases loaded.

Wednesday, May 18
The Tigers defeat the Twins, 6-3, as Ian Kinsler becomes the first Detroit player ever to homer in four straight games while Justin Verlander strikes out ten to surpass 2,000 for his career. Only Mickey Lolich (2,679) has more K’s in a Tiger uniform than Verlander.

Kinsler’s home run is his tenth of the year—just one shy of his total for all of last season.

With the loss, the Twins “catch up” and share the majors’ worst record (10-29) with the woebegone Braves, 3-1 winners at Pittsburgh.

The Nationals draw 11 walks—including four more to Bryce Harper, who’s on pace for 182—and ease to a 7-1 win over the Mets at New York. Five of the walks are given up by Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon, who may be distracted after reports surface earlier in the day of a lawsuit from an alleged mistress claiming he owes her child support.

A couple of Orioles who were once property of Seattle bite back at the Mariners in a 5-2 victory at Baltimore. Chris Tillman, drafted in 2006 by the Mariners and traded to Baltimore along with Adam Jones and two other players for Erik Bedard in 2008, improves to 6-1 on the year—and 7-0 lifetime against Seattle—with 6.1 solid frames, while Mark Trumbo belts his 12th homer of the season.

Milwaukee closer Jim Jeffress blows a 1-0 lead in the ninth when the Cubs rally to tie, and Carlos Torres can’t hold the tie in the 13th when he hits one batter and walks two—the last a bases-loaded walk to Chicago pitcher Travis Wood—that leads to a 2-1 Cubs win at Miller Park.

The White Sox lose their fourth straight game with a 5-3 home defeat to Houston, but they turn their second triple play of the year; no team has turned two since the 2007 Phillies, and the last team with three was both Oakland and Boston in 1979.

Thursday, May 19
The White Sox’ Chris Sale keeps rolling along, firing a complete-game, 2-1 win over the Astros at Chicago. He becomes the first White Sox pitcher to win his first nine starts of the year since Eddie Cicotte during the infamous Black Sox 1919 campaign, and the first anywhere in the majors to do so with a sub-2.00 ERA since the Giants’ Sal Maglie in 1952.

San Francisco finishes a three-game sweep at San Diego behind Jeff Samardzija, who deals eight strong innings and finally allows the Giants’ bullpen to get some work in for the first time in four days when Santiago Casilla saves the 3-1 win in the ninth. The Giants’ 7-0 road trip is their first unbeaten run of at least eight since 1913.

It just gets worse for Matt Harvey. The Mets’ ace surrenders a career-high nine runs (six earned) in just 2.2 innings and his ERA rises to 5.77 as the rival Nationals romp at New York, 9-1. Former Met Daniel Murphy, currently leading the majors with a .397 average, haunts his old team with a double and home run; Stephen Strasburg easily improves to 7-0 on the year with ten strikeouts over six innings.

Jim Ray Hart, who over a five-year stretch in the 1960s remained under the radar of fellow Giants Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda despite putting up admiral numbers, dies at the age of 74. Hart hit .285 and averaged 28 home runs and 89 RBIs from 1964-68, but his subpar defense at third base and the outfield proved his undoing in the decade before the designated hitter; he found himself on the bench for the next five years before the Yankees brought him as the DH became reality in 1973, with brief and fair-at-best success.

Friday, May 20
As Atlanta’s Turner Field plays through its final season barely 20 years after being built, it is announced that another ballpark from the recent retro era may also have its days numbered. The City of Arlington says that it is proposing a new facility for the Texas Rangers that will feature a retractable roof to keep out the violent springtime thunderstorms and blazing summer heat. The Rangers will spring for half the cost of the $1 billion project; if approved by both the City Council and voters in November, the new ballpark will hope to be built and opened by 2021, three years before the Rangers’ current lease at Globe Life Park—constructed in 1994—expires.

The residents of Arlington, a city which has become a sports and entertainment Mecca in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, have always been accommodating when asked to contribute public money toward sports facilities. And sure enough, they've approve of the new ballpark by a hefty margin in November.

Jayson Stark of ESPN reports what has been circulating through the baseball rumor mill of late: That MLB will move forward with implementing a revised strike zone and eliminating the need to throw four pitches to complete an intentional walk. Regarding the zone, the idea is that pitches at or below the knees will no longer be called strikes in an effort to enhance offense, while just telling a batter to take first base without four pitches will be hoped to shave time off the game. The changes could take effect next season and do not need union approval.

Jake Arrieta’s streak continues at the expense of that of the Giants’. The Chicago ace is on target for seven innings and is well supported in an 8-1 Cubs win at San Francisco, ending the Giants’ eight-game win streak while enhancing many of his own. Arrieta has now won 19 straight decisions while the Cubs have won the last 22 games he has started, one shy of the all-time record.

Across the bay in Oakland, the Yankees’ CC Sabathia, seemingly improving with every start, fires six strong innings to give the Yankees an easy 8-3 win over the A’s while giving himself his 100th career victory in pinstripes. He thus becomes the eighth pitcher since 1900 to collect 100 career wins for two different teams, having previously won 106 for Cleveland.

In defeat, Oakland ace Sonny Gray continues to be problematic. In 3.1 innings of work, he surrenders five runs, four walks and throws three wild pitches; over his last five starts, Gray is 0-4 with a 10.38 ERA. A few days later, he'll be placed on the disabled list.

Saturday, May 21
In his first start in nearly two weeks, 42-year-old Ichiro Suzuki becomes the second oldest player ever to collect four hits in a game, helping the Marlins to a 3-2 win over the Nationals at Miami. Suzuki is batting .373 on the year and is 46 hits shy of 3,000 for his major league career.

Suzuki will get another four hits just two days later as the Marlins wisely begin to get that he should put him in the lineup more often.

Boston’s Joe Kelly takes a no-hitter into the seventh inning before the Indians’ Juan Uribe breaks it up with a double, but the Red Sox have little to sweat about as they roll to a 9-1 win at Fenway Park. Mookie Betts belts two homers (including a grand slam) with five RBIs, and Jackie Bradley Jr. extends his hitting streak to 26 games—the majors’ longest this year, and eight games shy of the all-time Red Sox mark held by Dom DiMaggio in 1949.

Sunday, May 22
A day after Ichiro Suzuki goes 4-for-4, another fortysomething does the same as 40-year-old David Ortiz knocks out a single, two doubles and his 11th homer of the year in a 5-2 Boston win over Cleveland. Ortiz misses out on his first career cycle when a drive to Fenway Park’s deep center skips into the crowd on a hop for a ground rule double, all while the crowd was hoping it would stay in the field of play and give Ortiz a shot at a triple.

The Mets’ Noah Syndergaard allows an unearned run through seven innings while striking out 11 and walking none during New York’s 3-1 home win over Milwaukee. Syndergaard is only the fourth pitcher in the last 100 years to strike out at least ten batters while not giving up a walk or earned run in successive starts.

Not even Dallas Keuchel, so unbeatable last year at home, can save the Astros from getting swept by the cross-state rival Rangers at Houston. Cole Hamels improves to 5-0 on the year and has won his last 12 decisions for Texas—tying a franchise record—while Keuchel surrenders seven runs on nine hits over six innings as the Rangers triumph 9-2 and drop the Astros to 17-28.

Keuchel, the reigning AL Cy Young winner, is now 2-6 on the season with a 5.92 ERA—the eighth worst among qualified starters in the majors.

In the longest game by innings on the year to date, the Dodgers need 17 frames to dispense of the Padres at San Diego, 9-5. Ross Stripling, scheduled to start in two days, is called into emergency relief by Los Angeles and pitches the final three innings to pick up the win.

The Royals absorb more than just a 3-2 loss at Chicago against the White Sox, as Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas scissor one another chasing a pop foul in the seventh and fall to the ground; both initially appear to be fine, but within a few days it’s revealed that Gordon has a fractured wrist that will cost him four weeks—while Moustakas is discovered to have an ACL tear that will cost him the rest of the year.

The Giants take two out of three from the Cubs at San Francisco as Madison Bumgarner both pitches (7.2 shutout innings) and hits (a fifth-inning RBI double) his way to a 1-0 Sunday evening victory. Chicago is now 4-7 over its last 11 games after a 25-6 start.

Monday, May 23
It’s tough trying to score even a single run on the night against any one of the five California-based teams. The Giants, A’s, Dodgers and Angels all earn shutout victories—while San Diego only surrenders a run as one of the victims of the above as San Francisco’s Hunter Pence delivers a pinch-hit bloop in the ninth to tally the only run in a 1-0 win over the Padres. Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw blanks the visiting Reds 1-0 for his third shutout of the year—already matching his career high; in Seattle, the A’s get a lift from Rich Hill (7-3, 2.18 ERA), who becomes the first Oakland starting pitcher in 84 games to work pitch into the eighth and continues to prove that his late-season flourish with Boston last year was no fluke; and the Angels shut down the Rangers in Texas, 2-0, as Albert Pujols clocks his 569th career homer to tie Rafael Palmeiro for 12th on the all-time list.

The Rangers’ loss is hardly their only one on the day. Shin-Soo Choo, just activated a few days earlier after missing five weeks with calf issues, is put back on the disabled list with a strained hamstring—while Josh Hamilton, hoping to make his season debut soon, will have to wait until 2017 as the Rangers announce he’ll undergo knee surgery and miss the rest of the year.

A make-up contest in Pittsburgh between the Pirates and Rockies includes a rough moment as Bucs starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong, batting in the second, is hit in the cheek by a 92 MPH fastball from the Rockies’ Jordan Lyles. Vogelsong will suffer multiple facial fractures.

Unfortunately, the HBP parade will continue the next day at PNC Park, with two Arizona players hit in the head by Pirates reliever Arquimedes Caminero—who will be immediately be placed on the disabled list with a left quad strain, though one wonders if the Pirates simply put him on the shelf for his own protection from angry Diamondbacks players.

The family of Tony Gwynn, who died in 2014 from cancer of the mouth after years of using smokeless tobacco, files a wrongful death lawsuit against Big Tobacco—saying that it purposely targeted and provided free samples of smokeless dip to African-American athletes like Gwynn in their younger years. “Our dad was an elite athlete who didn’t drink or smoke because he cared about his health and performance,” said son and former ballplayer Tony Gwynn Jr. “If he had known how addictive and harmful to his health dip was, he would not have started using it in college, become addicted and died so young.”

Tuesday, May 24
Chris Sale finally blows a tire, and Josh Tomiln and the Indians take advantage. Cleveland renders the White Sox’ ace mortal and stops him from becoming the majors’ first ten-game winner on the year, scoring six times on seven hits and four walks through the first 3.1 innings before knocking him out of the game. Tomlin, meanwhile, throws eight sharp frames and improves to 7-0 on the season in a 6-2 victory at Chicago.

Francisco Rodriguez, the career leader in saves among active players, becomes the sixth major leaguer to collect 400 saves, allowing a run but keeping a lid enough on the Phillies to preserve a 3-1 Detroit victory at Comerica Park. Justin Verlander pitches eight scoreless to set Rodriguez up for the ninth.

Wednesday, May 25
Jake Arrieta is far from his best, but it’s still good enough for the Cubs as they tip the Cardinals in an unexpectedly high-scoring affair at St. Louis, 9-8. It’s the 23rd straight win for Chicago when Arrieta pitches—tying a major league record set by Kris Medlen and the 2012 Braves—and the 20th straight win for Arrieta, who also becomes the first Cub since Ken Holtzman in 1969 to start a year at 9-0. But he fails to break another mark when he allows a first-inning run for the first time in 32 starts (thus keeping him tied in the record books with Rick Rhoden, 1982-83) and gives up more than three runs for the first time in 30 starts.

The Rangers outpace the Angels at Arlington, 15-9, a slugfest highlighted by Texas rookie Nomar Mazara’s 491-foot home run in the second inning, the longest recorded blast in the majors this season. (Your move, Giancarlo Stanton.) Each member of the Rangers’ lineup scores and knocks in at least one run each, the first time that’s occurred in a major league game since 2013 and the second time ever in Texas franchise history.

The benefactor of the Rangers’ 15 runs is Colby Lewis, who earns the win although he allows six runs in five innings. Lewis has a career 75-67 record despite a lifetime 4.73 ERA, thanks to the fact that his teammates support him with an average of 5.29 runs per start—one of the more generous figures among active pitchers.

On a day when the Nationals’ Bryce Harper is given a “mental day off,” the Mets and Steven Matz take advantage. Matz delivers eight scoreless innings and becomes the fifth rookie pitcher to win seven straight starts while allowing two or fewer runs in each. Wrapping up the 2-0 victory at Washington is closer Jeurys Familia, who sets a Mets record by converting his 32nd straight save.

Familia’s streak will come to an end in his next appearance, two days later against the Dodgers.

Thursday, May 26
Perhaps in an attempt to enhance his odds of continuing the majors’ longest hitting streak of the year, the Red Sox move Jackie Bradley Jr. to the leadoff spot against the Rockies—and wouldn’t you know it, he comes up hitless. Bradley Jr. is left on deck in the ninth, his last chance to extend his streak to 30 games denied by a failed ninth-inning rally—which falls way short as Colorado heads out of Fenway Park with an 8-2 win.

With Bradley Jr.’s streak snapped, the majors’ longest active run now belongs to his teammate, Xander Bogaerts—who extends his streak to 19 games with a single.

The Astros secure their first three-game win streak of the season with a 4-2 home victory over the Orioles, who strike out 52 times in three losses—easily breaking a major league record for the most in a three-game series, previously set just last month when the Nationals K’d 47 Twins. The Astros also became the first team ever to strike out at least 15 in three straight games.

Friday, May 27
All eyes are on New York’s Citi Field and 19-year-old Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias, the majors’ top prospect making his big league debut against the Mets. Does Urias deliver? Um, no; he allows three runs on five hits and walks four before being removed in the third. But after the Mets build up a 5-1 lead into the ninth, the Dodgers strike for four runs—the final three on a bases-loaded double by Chase Utley, voraciously booed by Mets fans in his first game at New York since breaking Ruben Tejada’s leg with a rough slide in last year’s NLDS. The Mets rebound and win, 6-5, on the very first pitch of their ninth as Curtis Granderson pokes a walk-off home run down the right-field line.

On the night Jose Bautista serves his one-game suspension for his role in his fight with Texas’ Rougned Odor, Josh Donaldson makes up with a prodigious—and timely—night. The reigning AL MVP has four RBI hits, all of which break a tie score, and the last one of which is a two-run homer in the eighth to cap a 7-5 Toronto win over the visiting Red Sox. Overall, Donaldson has a single, double, two home runs and five RBIs.

According to Elias, Donaldson is the first player since Eddie Mathews in 1965 to have four hits that all knock in go-ahead runs in the same game.

Cole Hamels finally takes a loss for the Rangers, getting shelled 9-1 by the Pirates at Arlington. It snaps a string of 19 starts in which Hamels had not lost, going 12-0 with a 3.04 ERA during that stretch.

The Yankees prevail 4-1 at St. Petersburg over the Rays as Masahiro Tanaka pitches two-hit shutout ball through seven innings and Alex Rodriguez, in his second game back after missing over three weeks to injury, belts his 693rd career homer—and his 30th at Tropicana Field. Rodriguez has now homered at least 30 times in nine different ballparks, tying Babe Ruth’s record.

So, how does Ruth hit at least 30 home runs in nine different ballparks when there were only eight AL teams during his day? During his time, the Yankees played in two different ballparks: The Polo Grounds before 1923, and Yankee Stadium after. Ruth hit 85 at the former, 259 at the latter. (The fewest he hit among all AL parks was 34 at Washington’s Griffith Stadium, at the time a very difficult place to collect four-baggers.)

Saturday, May 28
It’s a most satisfying night for the Dodgers and Chase Utley in New York. Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard is ejected in the third inning of a scoreless game after throwing behind the vilified Utley, and the relievers to follow can only hold the fort down for a few more innings before the Dodgers break it open for an 9-1 victory—with Utley belting both a solo home run and grand slam for a five-RBI evening.

Whether Syndergaard threw behind Utley intentionally may not be debated as much as whether home plate umpire Adam Hamari was too quick to eject him; after all, Utley wasn’t hit. Perhaps a warning would have been a better move, especially early in the game.

Utley is the first leadoff batter to knock in four-plus runs in consecutive games since David Eckstein in 2002.

The White Sox appear to have a win in the bag as they take a 7-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth at Kansas City. But these are the defending champion Royals were talking about. Kansas City stuns Chicago closer David Robertson, getting some work in during what is, at first, a non-save situation, and Tommy Kahnle for seven runs; the winning tally is knocked in on a single by Brett Eibner, playing in only his second major league game; it’s the third hit of his career, and his second in the inning. The biggest ninth-inning comeback in Royals history knocks the White Sox out of first place in the AL Central for the first time since April 22.

A bad case of déjà vu haunts the Royals when catcher Salvador Perez gets the worst of a collision with teammate Cheslor Cuthbert while chasing a pop foul and suffers a bruised thigh, which will keep him out of action for at least a week. This comes almost a week after Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas suffer significant injuries on a similar play in a game also against the White Sox.

The Rangers’ Yu Darvish returns to the mound for the first time since August 2014 and looks pretty much to be his old pre-Tommy John self. Placed on an 80-pitch limit, Darvish allows a run on three hits with seven strikeouts through five innings and gets support from Adrian Beltre, who becomes the 54th player to surpass 1,500 RBIs, to earn a 5-1 home win over Pittsburgh.

In an entertaining, back-and-forth contest, the Blue Jays get to Boston closer Craig Kimbrel not once, but twice—taking the lead off him in the eighth, then winning it 10-9 in the ninth on Devon Travis’ infield hit after the Red Sox had re-taken the lead in the top of the frame.

So the question is: Should Kimbrel be charged with two blown saves in the same game? According to the rules, no. It could only happen if a reliever blows one lead, switches positions on the field, and then returns to the mound with a new lead and blows that one as well.

The Giants’ Buster Posey, struggling of late, finds the perfect cure: Coors Field. The star catcher belts two three-run homers, the second giving San Francisco a late lead it will not surrender in a 10-5 runaway romp over the Rockies at Denver. Posey is now hitting .385 with 11 career homers in 49 career games at Coors Field.

The Reds snap a 12-game losing streak—the majors’ longest so far this year—with the help of replay in Milwaukee. An inning-ending double play in the ninth is overturned by umpires after it’s shown that Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett didn’t have his foot on the bag for the first out, allowing Joey Votto to notch the ultimate game-winning run. Cincinnati’s 7-6 victory includes six batters hit by pitches—including both starting pitchers, hit by one another; the Reds’ Alfredo Simon, who conks the Brewers’ Chase Anderson after he’d been hit earlier, is ejected for retaliation.

Sunday, May 29
In a promotional stunt that only an independent league dares to do, former Olympic softball star Jennie Finch becomes the first woman to manage an organized pro baseball team when the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League lets her be manager for a day. Under her guidance, the Bluefish defeat the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, 3-1, in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The Bluefish have a thing for guest managers; Pete Rose and Paul O’Neill have been given one-day shots at piloting the club in the past, and Roger Clemens will have a chance as well in August.

The Yankees only get one hit on the day at St. Petersburg, but it’s enough as Starlin Castro’s two-run shot off Jake Odorizzi in the seventh is the difference in a 2-1 victory over the Rays. It’s the sixth time this year that a team has been held to a hit—and three of those teams have won.

The Twins win their fourth straight game (after previously winning just four of 21 May games), with Miguel Sano going deep in each, to finish off a three-game sweep of the Mariners at Seattle, 5-4.

The Giants double their pleasure in an 8-3 win at Colorado with the help of a San Francisco era-record eight doubles, three by Hunter Pence.

The never-say-die Royals pull off their third straight come-from-behind win over the White Sox, denying Chicago pitcher Chris Sale a shot at his tenth win of the year with a 5-4 victory fueled by a three-run eighth. According to Elias, the Royals are only the second team in the last ten years to win three straight games while trailing by two or more runs after seven innings.

Monday, May 30
After struggling for a long stretch that threatened to have him branded as Worst NL Pitcher of the Month, the Mets’ Matt Harvey gets it right and avoids the Dishonor Roll. Flashing a revived fastball that hits as high as 98 on the radar, Harvey prevails in a showdown with the White Sox’ Jose Quintana, tossing seven shutout innings with just two hits allowed; Neil Walker provides the only offense on the day with a solo homer in the seventh to give the Mets a 1-0 win and stick Chicago with its seventh straight loss.

For the second time in three days, the Dodgers watch an opposing starting pitcher leave early—after Noah Syndergaard’s ejection, it’s the Cubs’ Jason Hammel leaving after two frames with leg cramps—but this time, they can’t take advantage of the bullpen. In fact, the Cubs’ relief corps—considered the weak link on a top-tier team—retire all 21 batters it faces as Chicago comes away with a 2-0 win at Wrigley Field.

You have to go all the way back to 1917 and Ernie Shore’s famous “perfect relief game,” in which he retired 27 batters following the departure of ejected Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth, to find a game where the bullpen threw at least seven perfect innings.

The Pirates clobber the Marlins at Miami, 10-0, as Jeff Locke throws a three-hit shutout and becomes the first Pittsburgh pitcher to dial up a complete game since July 28, 2014.

Speaking of complete games, that’s exactly what the Angels and Astros need—and get—after facing off for 13 frames the day before and using a combined total of 13 relievers throwing 15 innings. In Arizona, Collin McHugh goes the distance for the first time ever, helping Houston in its 8-3 win over the Diamondbacks; out in Anaheim the Angels’ Jhoulys Chacin throws his first complete game since 2011, allowing a run on four hits, an intentional walk and ten K’s in a 5-1 victory over Detroit.

Tuesday, May 31
The Cubs finally lose a game started by Jake Arrieta—but only after he departs, leaving a 0-0 game to retain a personal 20-game winning streak. The Dodgers dump five late runs on the Cubs’ bullpen to prevail, 5-0, as Scott Kazmir and two Los Angeles relievers combine to shut down the Cubs on just one hit.

It’s the first time in their last 23 Arrieta starts that the Cubs have lost; the previous time they were defeated, they were no-hit by Cole Hamels, pitching his final game for the Phillies.

Mookie Betts belts three home runs and knocks in five as the Red Sox defeat the Orioles at Baltimore, 6-2. Xander Bogaerts, meanwhile, extends his hitting streak to 24 games, thus becoming part of the first pair of teammates (along with Jackie Bradley Jr.) to amass hitting streaks of at least 24 games in one calendar month.

The old record came in August 1922 with George Sisler and Ken Williams of the St. Louis Browns accomplished ran up streaks of 23-plus games.

Colorado tees off on a hapless Reds pitching staff at Denver, blasting seven home runs—a Rockies record at Coors Field—and an all-time team record 13 extra base hits in a 17-4 rout. Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon each hit two homers for Colorado; the Reds now own the majors’ worst team ERA (5.93) and have surrendered 82 home runs, 13 more than 29th-place Minnesota.

Seattle drubs the Padres at Safeco Field, 16-4, as San Diego starter James Shields allowing ten runs for the fifth time in his career. Only the transitory Bobo Newsom (seven games) has done it more often in the modern era.

Shields will be called out the next morning on San Diego sports talk by a clearly frustrated Padres executive chairman Ross Fowler, who says: "To have a starter like Shields perform as poorly as he did yesterday is an embarrassment to the team, an embarrassment to him."

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