This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: May, 2017
Adam Jones and the Fenway Park Racists The Yankees Rest #2
Matt Harvey’s Late-Night Meltdown So Long, Jim Bunning


Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Carlos Correa, Houston Astros

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
101 24 39 8 0 7 26 13 1 0 0

After a nice but unspectacular sophomore campaign, the 22-year-old Puerto Rican native came into 2017 as something of a forgotten treasure. Well, he might have everyone’s attention again. As the Astros rampaged through the month, Correa was front-and-center, punishing opponents and putting himself on pace for a .310-30-100-ish campaign, and that’s MVP-level stuff. As young and talented as Correa is, it’s quite likely that his best stuff lies ahead—and we may be seeing the beginning of such effort right now.


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
117 24 42 6 5 6 22 4 0 2 3

Headline on the ESPN to end this month: “With Mike Trout out, Charlie Blackmon is baseball’s best center fielder.” There’s so much to get excited about in Denver with the surprising Rockies, including an impressive rookie-laden rotation and the resurgence of Greg Holland as an elite closer, but the 30-year-old Blackmon has become Colorado’s prime offensive spark for Colorado. He leads the majors in RBIs—batting leadoff, no less—and already has eight triples on the year, twice the runner-ups. In fact, he has a decent shot at accomplishing the rare feat of accruing 20 doubles, triples and home runs each in a season. Like Trout, keep an eye on him, he’s fun to watch—unless you’re rooting for the other team, of course.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Luke Maile, Toronto Blue Jays

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
52 4 4 0 0 2 4 2 0 1 1

Every now and then, Russell Martin needs a rest. And when he does, that unfortunately leaves the Blue Jays with Maile, who seemed to be giving himself a rest even when he was in the lineup. Okay, so he hit a few homers and played decent defense behind the plate, but Maile has so tired Toronto fans that even Jays manager John Gibbons had to impersonate a radio caller to a local sports talk station to defend his presence in the lineup


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
109 5 20 8 0 0 5 0 1 1 1

In a month where just about everything went wrong for the Phillies, the 25-year-old center fielder emerged as the ultimate microcosm, constantly failing to reach base in the many opportunities given to him. Need evidence that Herrera might be pressing? Try one walk and 30 strikeouts in May—and the walk was intentional. It’s a troubling development for one who’s looked so dynamic in his short career to date.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
1-0 12.2 1 0 0 1 0 0 3 0 25

After a somewhat shaky 2016 campaign, this closer has clearly got his groove back. Kimbrel was almost perfect for the month, allowing just two baserunners while striking out 25 batters, recording seven saves and a win. And if you’re a right-handed hitter, forget it; all 49 such hitters to face Kimbrel this year have been retired. Batters in general are hitting just .079 against him through the season’s first two months.


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Alex Wood, Los Angeles Dodgers

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
5-0 28.1 22 5 4 7 0 2 0 0 41

Here’s yet another one of those reclamation projects in La-La-Land who just can’t seem to stay healthy. The 26-year-old North Carolinian stayed intact just long enough to leave a strong impression—and four straight scoreless starts—before hitting the shelf with an inflamed shoulder, because that just seems to be the Dodger Way these days. (But don’t worry, True Blue fans; someone will rescue the rotation from Los Angeles’ seemingly bottomless minor league system.) The Dodgers are hoping for a quick return, because the more buddy-buddy someone can get to shoulder alongside Clayton Kershaw, the better.


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Dylan Covey, Chicago White Sox

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-3 23.1 34 23 23 8 0 0 3 1 16

In 2010, the promising right-handed pitcher was drafted in the first round by Milwaukee and, seven years later, has finally made it to the majors…where it looks like he still isn’t ready. Covey started five games this past month and gave up two home runs in each of them, while opponents in general hit .331 against him. By his last start, he—or more pointedly, his oblique—couldn’t take it anymore, landing him on the disabled list. He’s likely crossing his fingers that when he does get healthy, the White Sox will let him back in the rotation.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Jered Weaver, San Diego Padres

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-3 13.2 26 25 20 6 0 3 0 0 9

Let’s face it; it’s painful to see the pitching stars of not-too-distant times try and keep it going on an empty tank. We saw it last year with Tim Lincecum, and we’re seeing it now with Weaver, who very much looks to have run out of gas after all those years acing it for the Angels. He wasn’t so bad in April, but he wasn’t particularly great, either; in May, he was simply dreadful and, in what appears to be something of a trend in this column, he was placed on the DL with hip inflammation. As if he didn’t need any additional pressure, he got it from loudmouth Padres owner Ron Fowler, who publicly criticized Weaver and said that he would be on a “short leash.” What a way to treat a veteran.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Houston Astros (22-7)

What a difference a year makes. Last year, the Astros were probably the majors’ most disappointing team after collapsing out of the gate; they’ve obviously learned their lesson. After a 16-9 April, the Astros got even better in May; any way you looked at it, the Astros were the month’s best, whether it was on offense (leading the AL in batting average and runs scored) or pitching (easily tops in the AL in ERA). Individually, the top merits are rewarded to Carlos Correa (see above), and pitchers Dallas Keuchel (still undefeated for the season) and Lance McCullers Jr., who fashioned a 22-inning scoreless streak in May. If all of this isn’t peachy keen enough, the Astros finish May with a behemoth 11-game lead in the AL West.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Los Angeles Dodgers (19-9)

Everyone’s been talking about the rise of Colorado and Arizona in the NL West, which makes it all the more surprising to see the Dodgers sneak up and grab first place at the end of the month. It’s not for the reasons you would anticipate; the offense was led by previous unknowns Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor, and a predictably patchwork rotation unpredictably led by Alex Wood, whose own streak of 25.1 consecutive scoreless innings has been put on hold by a visit to the disabled list. If the veterans begin contributing according to their expectations, then all that noise about the Rockies and Diamondbacks might get reduced to wild card chatter.


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Chicago White Sox (11-18)

After a somewhat surprising April for a team that’s supposed to be in total rebuild mode, the White Sox finally came down to the Earth long reserved for them. The Pale Hose saved their ashen worst for early in the month when they won only twice in a 12-game stretch, just enough angst to perhaps drive Hawk Harrelson toward imminent retirement. There’s something about the White Sox as there once was about Mary, but they’re just so unrefined and without relative purpose with all the persistent trade rumors. So that’s not helping.


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Philadelphia Phillies (6-22)

Hear that ripping sound? That’s us taking our proverbial betting ticket predicting the over on wins for the Phillies this year and tearing it to shreds. And no team was shredded more this past month than the Phillies, who looked ready to impress this year with so many talented young faces and strong, mid-level veteran support. But it’s all fallen apart so far, with two of their most promising hitters (Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco) sputtering amid threats of being demoted to the minors. Phillies fans knew they were in for a rebuilding campaign, but they really don’t want to see it take a whole decade to complete.


Wild Pitches

Yes, They Can’t Believe This Really Happened
(May 2017 Edition)

First-time Caller, Long-time Manager
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons impersonated a caller named “John from the Bronx” on a Toronto sports talk radio program and defended the move by…Gibbons, to use catcher Luke Maile over Russell Martin in the Jays’ just-completed win at New York on May 1.

Ashes to Ashes, Duct to Duct
A deceased plumber had his wishes fulfilled by having a portion of his cremated remains flushed down the toilets of numerous major league ballparks.

Let’s Pass the Constitution Around While We’re at It
The Cubs’ World Series trophy was damaged at a charity concert put on by team president Theo Epstein when it was passed around and hoisted by the crowd in front of the stage. (It would be fixed up.)

Rattled
A Triple-A game in Reno was halted for a few minutes with a player on the field spotted a snake. Not knowing whether it was venomous or not, groundskeepers went out and removed the critter; turned out, it was a simple garden snake.

She Gave it Her Breast Effort
A Marlins fan sitting in the front row behind home plate attempted to distract Cardinals pitcher Jonathan Broxton using her two best assets.

Somebody Actually Ran Really Hard for Baltimore
It took 34 games, but the Orioles finally recorded their first triple of the year on May 12 when J.J. Hardy reached third at Kansas City. Baltimore set a major league record last season for the fewest triples by a team in one year, with six; they were the last team to hit a triple to start 2017.

This Little Pinky Put My Foot Asleep
Pink shoes worn on Mother’s Day by the Astros’ Jose Altuve were so tight, it hindered blood flow and caused his feet to go numb.

This Weiser’s For You
Kyle Schwarber knocked out the lights in the “Bud” portion of the Budweiser sign behind the right-field bleachers at Wrigley Field with a batting practice home run.

Attack of the Drones
A drone buzzed inside San Diego’s Petco Park during a May 21 game and crash-landed in the top row of the upper deck.

What Goes Up…
The Rays’ sure-gloved center fielder Kevin Kiermaier may have let two singles get past him for inside-the-park homers in one series in May, but this may have been a more embarrassing moment for him.

That Must Have Been Some Altercation
For some reason, an “altercation” at SunTrust Park’s Chophouse restaurant behind the right-field wall accidentally prompted an evacuation message to 25,040 fans on May 23 that was quickly taken down—followed by an apology by the Braves. Nevertheless, the false alarm was concerning enough a day after a terrorist bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England killed 22 people.

The New Curse
The Cubs have gone longer without winning Dancing With the Stars as they have a World Series, as former catcher David Ross finished second in the season’s finale to football running back Rasheed Jennings.

Rehearsal is for the On-deck Circle
A Double-A minor league hitter was called out on strikes when he took a practice swing at the plate while a very wild and slow pitch was rolling toward the plate.

Remember: Singles Hitters Drive Fords
The Padres’ Ryan Schimpf and the Rangers’ Joey Gallo, boomers both hitting under .200 for the season, became the first two major leaguers ever to have more than ten homers—but fewer than ten singles—through their first 50 games of the season.

If You Bet the Under, Congrats
The Elias Sports Bureau noted that on May 27, no team scored more than six runs in any of the 16 games played. In 703 previous days in which 16 games were played going all the way back to the beginning of big league ball in 1876, that had never happened.

How New York of You, Mr. Met
Whoever was playing the role of Mr. Met at Citi Field won't be again after someone caught him doing this. (What impresses us is that the mascot’s puffy glove is flexible enough to raise any one finger in the air by itself.)

And the Cricket Players Smiled
The Tampa BayRays were such a free-swinging team—setting a team record for home runs in May while setting the all-time mark for the most times striking out in the month—Corey Dickerson even managed to stroke a double on a one-hop pitch.

This Month’s Proof That Everybody’s Striking Out
The bar just keeps getting raised as yet another all-time monthly record for total strikeouts was reached. The existing standard of 6,786 from last August was easily toppled as major leaguers were rung up 6,911 times in May. More than pitching in was (as noted immediately above) were the Rays, who struck out 319 times—breaking the old monthly mark of 300 by the Cubs back in August 2014. It’s just a matter of time before we see the scale tip at 7,000, so tune in next month.

League vs. League

Alas, poor National League. The senior circuit held tight with the American League in April as it sought to win the interleague wars this season for the first time since 2003, but along came May and a fierce statement made once again by the AL, which won 45 of 71 head-to-head match-ups to take a commanding 60-39 lead for the season to date. It’s hard to explain these 13 years of AL dominance when a NL team has won the World Series eight of those seasons—though, the counterpoint to that would be the AL winning ten of 13 All-Star Games.



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The Ballparks on This Great Game


Monday, May 1
During Baltimore’s 5-2 win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Orioles outfielder Adam Jones reportedly endures through an evening of racial abuse by fans seated near him; he claims that several times he is called a “nigger,” and at one point has a bag of peanuts thrown at him. The Red Sox apologize for their fans’ actions and Major League Baseball will issue a statement reiterating their policy of removing fans from games for such behavior, saying they would be “subject to further action” if necessary.

But what to do? Arrest someone for a hate crime? Ban him or her for life from future MLB games—and how would you enforce that, short of subjecting every paying fan to ID checks at the gate? Baseball, its teams and local law enforcement need to come up with a synchronized strategy to better deal with the issue of abusive fans so there would be real teeth toward a go—without inconveniencing law-abiding fans.

After an awful April, the Kansas City Royals begin May by ending a nine-game losing snap, easing to a 6-1 home victory over the Chicago White Sox. It’s the Royals’ first victory of the season over an AL Central opponent; all six of their runs score on two-out hits.

The Cincinnati Reds survive three solo homers by the opposing Pittsburgh Pirates—the Bucs have no other hits—and emerge 4-3 victors in ten innings on Billy Hamilton’s walkoff double. It ends a streak of 11 straight extra-inning games that the Reds had lost at home—tying the all-time record previously set by the St. Louis Cardinals from 1945-46.

Tuesday, May 2
The Red Sox and Orioles reconvene at Fenway Park, and the nuttiness and drama continues. The Orioles turn a triple play that begins accidentally, Boston pitcher Chris Sale throws behind Manny Machado’s head—continuing the feud between the Red Sox and the All-Star third baseman that began last month when Machado overslid into Dustin Pedroia at second base—and the Red Sox prevail, 5-2, behind Hanley Ramirez’s two homers and Sale’s eight innings and 11 strikeouts. There is one pleasing moment when the Orioles’ Adam Jones—who the day before accused Red Sox fans of racism—is given warm applause and a partial standing ovation when he first appears at the plate…

…because you can’t really boo him, as what message would that send?

At least one Fenway fan decides to give his own message. After a Kenyan woman finishes singing the National Anthem, a fan leans over to another seated nearby and uses a racist term to describe the singer. The ear-witness, who is white and married to an African-American woman, quickly notifies ballpark security, which ejects the fan (who denies using the slur) and bans him for life from Fenway Park…but again, how will ticket-takers around the ballpark know if it’s him approaching the turnstile? Post his picture and make it available to the ushers? Check everyone’s ID? Hmmm…

Machado is starting to get tired of the Red Sox picking on him, as he launches into a profanity-laced rant to reporters after the game.

Sale ties Randy Johnson’s 1999 record with 63 strikeouts through his first six appearances for a new team.

Rookie Aaron Judge belts two more home runs to increase his season total to a major league-leading 12, and Brett Gardner has his second multi-homer game in four days as the New York Yankees clobber Toronto, 11-5, at Yankee Stadium. The Blue Jays’ Steve Pearce also adds two homers, making this game only the second over the last three years to feature three players hitting multiple blasts.

The Minnesota Twins, continuing to show bounceback from its 103-loss season of 2016, improve to 13-11 on the year with a 9-1 victory over Oakland on the strength of six home runs—the most they’ve ever hit at Target Field—and six shutout innings from Ervin Santana, who drops his season ERA to 0.66 and becomes only the second pitcher in Senators/Twins franchise history (the great Walter Johnson being the other, in 1913) to allow one or none runs in each of his season’s first six starts.

Two of the Twins’ six home runs are belted by Brian Dozier, who breaks a streak of 21 straight dingers hit against opponents within the AL Central.

Police in St. Louis believe that someone near Busch Stadium fired their gun in the air—and it landed in the ballpark, grazing the elbow of a 34-year-old woman seated in the upper deck during the Cardinals’ 2-1 win over Milwaukee. She is attended to, patched up and declared okay; police are still searching for the person who fired the bullet.

Sam Mele, a sound-hitting outfielder for ten years and manager of the Twins during their successful run in the mid-1960s following their move from Washington, dies at the age of 95. Mele debuted with the Red Sox in 1947 and hit .302, but his game receded over the next few years and he soon found himself with the Washington Senators—and then five other teams, putting up decent numbers along the way. Following his retirement from playing, he coached the Senators and was named manager of the relocated Twins midway through 1961. It was just then that the Twins began to turn things around after years of futility in Washington; by 1965, the team was strong enough to be guided under Mele to its first pennant in 32 years, losing a tough seven-game World Series to Sandy Koufax and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mele was fired after a 25-25 start in 1967, but remained as a scout and consultant for the Twins over the next 25 years.

Wednesday, May 3
Red Sox-Orioles, Round Three: Hours after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred personally weighs in on the drama both on the field and in the Fenway Park stands—pledging to clamp down hard on both—Baltimore starting pitcher Kevin Gausman hits Boston’s Xander Bogaerts square in the back to start the second inning and is promptly ejected by home plate umpire Sam Holbrook, leading to furious reactions from Gausman, catcher Caleb Joseph and Orioles manager Buck Showalter. The Red Sox will take advantage, scoring three runs (two unearned) off reliever Richard Bleier to give the Red Sox a 4-2 victory.

Aaron Judge remains white hot. In the Yankees’ 8-6 win over Toronto, the 25-year-old behemoth (6’7”, 282 lbs.) homers for the tenth time over his last 14 games and sets the major league record for the most homers (13) through the first 25 games of his career. He’s hitting .500 with six homers (and eight walks) over his last six games alone.

Vin Scully is back at Dodger Stadium—not as a broadcaster, but as an honoree as he’s inducted into the Dodgers’ Ring of Honor alongside many of the team greats he had the pleasure to know and do play-by-play of over his 67 years of work in the booth. In a ceremony held before Los Angeles’ 4-1, 11-inning loss to San Francisco, the 89-year-old Scully is as graceful, slick and witty as ever, saying to the crowd of 50,000: “It’s very emotional, even though I don’t show it. I’m pretty good at being stoic.”

The Colorado Rockies beat up the Padres at San Diego, 11-3, behind the first two home runs of the year by Ian Desmond—the offseason pick-up who broke his hand in spring training and is playing in just his third game since. Rookie Antonio Senzatela picks up the win to improve to 4-1 with a 2.84 earned run average; only one other Rockies pitcher (Christian Friedrich) has ever won four of his first six starts for the franchise.

Thursday, May 4
The Milwaukee Brewers defeat the Cardinals at St. Louis, 5-4, on Jesus Aguilar’s pinch-hit home run in the seventh. The victory gives the Brewers their first series win over the Cardinals in their last 17 tries (they had lost 15 and split two), a stretch from which they had won just 17 of 55 games.

Max Scherzer clamps down on the Arizona Diamondbacks—the first team he pitched for, from 2008-09—allowing a run on two hits while striking out 11 in Washington’s 4-2 victory; he’s now 5-0 in six starts against the Diamondbacks. The news is not all good for the Nationals; Bryce Harper leaves the game with a groin injury and is declared day-to-day.

The Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman, coming into the day with a major league-leading .427 average, has a single in three at-bats to end a ten-game streak with at least one extra-base hit. The all-time record is 14 games.

In the ninth inning of the Rockies’ 3-2, 11-inning victory over the Padres, San Diego catcher Hector Sanchez loses the grip on his bat and it flies into the first few rows behind the third-base dugout—striking two people including the head of a woman. The game is stopped for some ten minutes while the woman is attended to; she is escorted away with a bandage wrapped around her head and taken out of Petco Park in a wheelchair. The Padres had recently extended the netting at their 13-year-old ballpark; this may consider them to further lengthen the distance.

Friday, May 5
In a highly anticipated Friday matinee, the defending champion Cubs have the revived Yankees down to their final strike at Chicago with a 2-0 lead—and that’s when Brett Gardner launches a three-run homer off of the Cubs’ Hector Rondon, subbing in for an unavailable Wade Davis. Aroldis Chapman, the man who effectively closed out opponents for the Cubs late last season, finishes them off as a member of the Yankees with a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to give New York a 3-2 win.

The Cubs had previously won their last 152 games in which they entered the ninth with a lead of two or more runs—the longest such active streak in the majors.

Stephen Strasburg pitches—and hits—his way to a 4-2 win for the Nationals at Philadelphia. He throws 5.2 scoreless innings and belts a solo home run, the second of his career, in the second inning. The rejuvenated Ryan Zimmerman remains hot for Washington, with three hits including his 12th home run and 11th double to raise his season average to an impressive .433.

The save goes to Matt Albers, one of only two major leaguers since the official establishment of the save in 1969 to finish at least 100 games without earning one. The other is Ryan Webb (105 games), currently toiling for the Giants’ Triple-A team.

The Twins continue its winning ways as veteran Joe Mauer nails the first walkoff home run of his career, a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the Red Sox at Minnesota. The blast bails out Twins closer Brandon Kintzler, who suffers his first blown save of the year after successfully converting seven to begin the season in the place of (still) injured Glen Perkins.

It’s a rough night for pitchers to survive the mound physically intact. In Baltimore’s 4-2 home win over the Chicago White Sox, Orioles starter Wade Miley endures a particularly harsh first inning in which, against consecutive batters, he is knocked to the ground by line-drive comebackers. And in Seattle’s 3-1, 13-inning loss to the visiting Texas Rangers, two Mariners relievers depart with injuries in consecutive at-bats as Jean Machi suffers a hand injury—and his replacement, Evan Marshall, blows his right hamstring after throwing a pitch.

Saturday, May 6
With Adrian Gonzalez placed on the disabled list for the first time in his 14-year career, rookie Cody Bellinger takes over at first for the Dodgers and hammers two home runs with five RBIs to lift Los Angeles to a 10-2 rout of the Padres in San Diego. Bellinger has five homers through his first 11 major league games, establishing an all-time Dodgers record.

Benefitting from the onslaught is Clayton Kershaw, who allows a run in 7.1 innings; according to the Elias Sports Bureau, his 2.11 ERA over his last 200 starts is second among post-Deadball Era pitchers only to Greg Maddux, at 2.03 from 1992-98.

The Yankees make it two in a row at Wrigley Field as they post five quick runs on the Cubs and starting pitcher Brett Anderson, who lasts only a third of an inning and is headed to the disabled list after New York’s 11-6 thumping with a bad back. Aaron Hicks, who had three hits the day before in his first-ever game at Wrigley, collects four more today; the five-year outfielder, with a career .223 average coming into the season, is batting .355 in 62 at-bats thus far in 2017 with six homers.

The New York Mets are outhit at home by the Miami Marlins, 10-7, but nevertheless ease to an 11-3 romp thanks to seven walks, two hit batters, a wild pitch and three Miami errors that lead to five unearned runs.

Sunday, May 7
The Mets, a preseason pick for the postseason but currently one of the game’s most disappointing sides drenched in soap opera theatrics, suspend star pitcher Matt Harvey three days without pay after he failed to appear at Citi Field before a game against Miami; early reports say that Harvey golfed in the morning and complained of a headache that led to his absence. Harvey and his agent Scott Boras plan to file a complaint against the Mets.

It turns out there’s more to Harvey’s story that he initially leads everyone to believe. It will later be reported that Harvey, upset over seeing pictures of girlfriend supermodel Adriana Lima enjoying the night with an ex, goes on a party binge until 4:00 in the morning, then goes golfing, then misses the game. He’ll confess to all of this and apologize a few days later.

In Harvey’s place, Adam Wilk steps in and allows six runs in 3.2 innings and serves up three home runs—two to Giancarlo Stanton—while Miami’s Jose Urena, typically a long reliever, makes his first start of the year and allows just a hit through six scoreless innings. Three Marlins relievers do not allow a hit the rest of the way and Miami takes an easy one-hit, 6-0 shutout win at New York.

Stanton has hit 20 home runs in just 186 career at-bats at Citi Field—a feat all the more impressive considering the general difficulty most hitters have going deep at that ballpark. Though to be fair, the ultra-powerful Stanton is unlike most hitters.

The Cubs and Yankees player the rubber match of their three-game series at Wrigley Field and take it 18 innings—the longest game so far this season, and the longest in interleague history, World Series included—before Aaron Hicks scores on a ground out from Starlin Castro to give New York a 5-4 victory. The Cubs forge extras in the ninth when former Chicago closer Aroldis Chapman blows a three-run lead, conceding the tying run as he hits Anthony Rizzo with the bases loaded.

Both teams combine to strike out 48 times, setting an all-time record regardless of the number of innings played. The Cubs whiff 26 times to establish the mark by a National League team, also tying the overall record previously set by the California Angels during a 20-inning game in 1971. The first ten batters who come to bat in extra innings all strike out.

The Red Sox, who the day before had scored a season-high 11 runs at Minnesota, up the ante by piling on 17 more—ten alone in a runaway ninth—to smack the Twins, 17-6. Catcher Sandy Leon hits two of Boston’s five home runs on the day; In earning the victory, Chris Sale strikes out ten to reach double figures for the sixth straight start, and he outlasts Twins ace Ervin Santana—whose six runs allowed are double what he had conceded through his first 41 innings of the year.

The ten runs posted by Boston are the most it has ever scored in the ninth inning, while it’s the most ever allowed by the Twins in that same frame.

The struggling Giants (11-21) finish having their hat handed to them by the Reds at Cincinnati as journeyman pitcher Scott Feldman throws his third career shutout, yielding just four hits in a 4-0 victory. The Reds sweep the Giants by an aggregate score of 31-5; it’s the worst run differential experienced in a series by the Giants since they were outscored by 27 against Pittsburgh in a four-and-out at New York in 1922.

Adding insult, the Giants’ team bus breaks down on its way back to the airport; the team hitches a ride on another bus carrying the team’s broadcasters.

A scheduled game between the Dodgers and Padres in San Diego is rained out. It’s only the third time that a game has been canceled at Petco Park since its 2004 opening.

Monday, May 8
For the third straight game, the A’s win in their final at-bat as Jed Lowrie launches his second homer of the night to give Oakland a 3-2, 11-inning home victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Mike Trout sits out with a tight hamstring for the fourth time in the last five games; he missed only three over the past two years.

After slumping out to a 3-9 start, the St. Louis Cardinals have now won 14 of 19 and capture first place in the NL Central (albeit with a hardly impressive 17-14 record) as they score all nine of their runs through the first five innings—four of them brought in by starting pitcher Carlos Martinez—to defeat the Marlins at Miami, 9-4.

The high-powered Nationals mosey on down the Beltway to take on the Orioles, but it’s Baltimore’s bats that wow the fans with three first-inning home runs—including a blast from Mark Trumbo that reaches the plate neck-high—to set the pace for a 6-4 victory. The Orioles improve to 21-10, but remain a half-game behind the Yankees—10-4 winners at Cincinnati—in the AL East.

Ryan Howard, trying to regain his power stroke at age 37, is released by the Atlanta Braves after he struggled at the Triple-A level, batting just .184 with a home run in 11 games.

Young Pittsburgh pitcher Jameson Taillon, off to a fine (2-1, 3.31 ERA) start, undergoes surgery after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. After the procedure, he provides a statement via Twitter that partly reads: “Today I lost a piece of my ‘manhood.’ But, today I’m feeling like more of a man than I ever have.”

Tuesday, May 9
The Texas Rangers pounce on the Padres early at San Diego, scoring five times in the first on their way to an 11-0 rout. A.J. Griffin, born in nearby El Cajon, gets the job done on the mound with his second career shutout, a four-hitter than improves his season record to 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA.

The Rangers are one of a modern era-record six teams to score at least four first-inning runs on the day. It also happened twice in 1890, a few years before the pitcher’s mound was moved back to 60’6”.

The Brewers are one of those teams to strike early and often, collecting five runs in their first at-bat to propel themselves to an 11-7 victory over the visiting Red Sox. Eric Thames, who after a headline-making start to the year had gone homerless for nearly two weeks, goes deep for the second straight game when he ignites the scoring in the first frame; with 13 homers for the year, he ties Ryan Zimmerman and Aaron Judge for the major league lead.

Highly touted 20-year-old pitcher Julio Urias takes a no-hitter into the seventh inning at Los Angeles when the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen lines a leadoff ground-rule double barely beyond the reach of Dodgers left fielder Andrew Toles—who in pursuit tears an ACL and will miss the rest of the year. McCutchen’s hit revives the Pirates, who take a 3-2 lead into the ninth—but the Dodgers bounce back with single runs in both the ninth and tenth to prevail, 4-3.

Wednesday, May 10
Entering the ninth inning trailing New York by a run and looking at their seventh straight loss, the Giants rally for four runs—the last three on a bases-loaded double by rookie Christian Arroyo; Derek Law, filling in for injured Giants closer Mark Melancon, barely keeps the hometown Mets at bay in the bottom of the inning and nets the save for a 6-5 victory.

The Giants’ ninth-inning rally comes at the expense of Mets closer Jeurys Familia, who is discovered to have a blood clot in his pitching shoulder; it will require surgery that will keep him out through August.

San Francisco’s comeback victory comes two years to the day that it last won a game when trailing after eight innings.

After spotting the Marlins with four first-inning runs, the Cardinals come back to take a 7-5 victory and complete their first unbeaten road swing of at least six games in the franchise’s 126-year history.

Ex-Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters, saying hello to his former Orioles teammates, smacks a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth to finish the erasure of what had been a 6-2 Baltimore lead in the eighth, giving Washington a 7-6 walk-off victory.

Not to be outdone, Carlos Ruiz, another veteran star catcher, brings home three runs on a seventh-inning double in Philadelphia to pull the Seattle Mariners away to an 11-6 victory over the Phillies. It was the first time Ruiz, who starred for the Phillies from 2006-16, had started a game at Philadelphia for an opposing team.

The Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda, who had never taken a start into the eighth inning, goes one out into the ninth before calling it a night, and rookie Cody Bellinger continues his hot bat with his sixth home run in just 14 major league games as Los Angeles completes a home sweep of the Pirates, 5-2.

Thursday, May 11
Two days after being no-hit into the seventh by the Dodgers’ Julio Urias, the Pirates are held hitless into the eighth by Arizona ace Zack Greinke when Gregory Polanco belts a solo home run. But it’s the only blemish of the night off Greinke and the Diamondbacks, who edge out the Bucs, 2-1. It’s the closest Greinke has yet to get toward a no-hitter.

Trailing San Diego 2-1 headed to the bottom of the ninth at Arlington, the Rangers’ Mike Napoli—had had homered an inning earlier to remove Texas’ goose egg off the scoreboard—launches a three-run blast to complete a four-run rally and give the Rangers 5-2 win. For the Padres, it’s their first loss in their last 95 games when leading after eight innings, which had been the majors’ longest active streak.

At Colorado, the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu becomes the 40th pitcher to give up ten or more runs in a start at Coors Field since its 1995 opening, allowing ten runs—five earned—on eight hits and six walks through four innings before getting the hook. All this, and the Dodgers make the Rockies sweat with seven late runs, requiring Colorado closer Greg Holland to nail down a 10-7 win with his 15th save of the year.

No Rockies pitcher saved more than 15 games during the entire 2016 season.

After Coors Field, the ballpark yielding the most starts by a pitcher giving up ten or more runs since 1995 is Texas’ Globe Life Park, with 18.

Kansas City’s Jason Vargas shuts down the Rays through seven innings—it’s his fourth start not allowing a run this season—and improves his season ERA to a major league-leading 1.01 as the Royals win at Tampa Bay, 6-0. For the Rays, the four-game series is a bad one for their presence in the standings (they win only one), at the gate (less than 10,000 tickets are sold for each of the last three games) and Gold Glove outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who’s unusually atrocious with three errors in the series alone—two of them egregious miscues in which base hits roll under his glove, turning singles into inside-the-park home runs.

Kiermaier’s three errors in the series are one more than he had for all of 2016.

Friday, May 12
It’s a dark night for the Dark Knight as Matt Harvey is bombed out of Milwaukee in his first start since serving a three-game suspension for the Mets. He allows five runs on seven hits—three of them home runs—and walks five over five innings as the Brewers collect a 7-4 victory. Harvey’s season ERA stands at 5.63.

Clayton Kershaw tames Coors Field with seven solid innings to give the Dodgers a 6-2 win over the Rockies. It’s the 20th career victory over Colorado for Kershaw, more than any other player past or present; he’s also the first to win nine games as a visitor at Coors, breaking a tie with Greg Maddux.

The most wins by an active pitcher against any one team is 23 by Seattle’s Felix Hernandez against the A’s.

It takes 17 innings and five and a half hours, but the Giants outlast the Reds at San Francisco on a Buster Posey solo homer, 3-2. Cincinnati speedster Billy Hamilton, who had scored at least once in each of his previous 11 games, does not cross the plate as he goes hitless in seven at-bats with a walk.

The Rays build up a 5-0 lead over the Red Sox at Boston and hold on to win, 5-4. Defending AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello is dealt his fifth loss of the year, one more than he had all of last season—and it continues a trend of AL Cy Young winners who’ve stumbled in the year following their award-winning effort. Dallas Keuchel was 9-12 with a 4.55 ERA last season after taking 2015 honors, and Corey Kluber lost 18 games a year after nabbing the 2014 Cy.

Doug DeCinces, an unsung hitting star of the 1970s and 1980s, is found guilty on 14 counts of insider trading by a jury in Santa Ana, California. In 2009, DeCinces was given a heads up on a merger involving a medical device company for which he quickly invested money into—and made $1.3 million. The 66-year-old ex-Oriole and Angel faces up to 220 years in prison.

Saturday, May 13
Bryce Harper signs a $21.62 million deal for 2018—the largest one-year salary for an arbitration-eligible player—and then celebrates by launching a 438-foot bomb in the bottom of the ninth at Washington to give the Nationals a tie-breaking, 6-4 victory over Philadelphia. It’s the fifth walkoff homer of Harper’s career.

The bigger challenge for the Nationals will be whether they can retain Harper past 2018—when he becomes, potentially, the most lucrative free agent in sports history.

Another start, another ten-plus strikeouts for Chris Sale, who fans 12 Rays over seven solid innings, while Mookie Betts continues to thrive in the leadoff spot with a home run and three RBIs in the Red Sox’ 6-3 home win. Sale has now struck out ten or more batters in seven straight starts—one shy of the major league record held by former Red Sock Pedro Martinez.

In a microcosm of the Twins surprising start after an awful 2016, Jose Berrios allows just a run on two hits through 7.2 innings at Cleveland in his first start of the year, after posting a hideous 8.02 ERA in 14 starts for Minnesota last season. The Twins’ 4-1 victory improves their record to 19-14, good for a two-game cushion atop the AL Central.

In only his second game of the year after missing the start of the season with a sprained foot, J.D. Martinez belts two home runs—including a tie-breaking solo shot in the top of the ninth—to lift the Detroit Tigers to a 4-3 victory over the Angels at Anaheim. The Angels lose despite a night where Mike Trout reaches base in each of his four plate appearances (single, home run, walk, hit-by-pitch) and a fifth-inning double by Danny Espinosa, snapping a hitless skid of 36 at-bats—the longest in Angels history.

Sunday, May 14
Derek Jeter has his #2 uniform officially retired by the New York Yankees, meaning there are no longer any single-digit numbers available for active players (unless someone wants to wear ‘0’). Some 20 of Jeter’s former teammates and coaches (Alex Rodriguez is not among them) are part of a ceremony that also includes the unveiling of a plaque featuring the Yankee shortstop of 20 years, to be placed in Yankee Stadium’s prestigious Monument Park.

The Jeter ceremony becomes something of an intermission event between a pair of games played between the Yankees and visiting Houston Astros; the first game is a make-up of one washed away by rain the day before. In the first game, the Yankees power away with nine extra-base hits (including rookie Aaron Judge’s 14th home run) to outpace the Astros, 11-6. For the originally scheduled Sunday night affair, Houston gets even; George Springer and Josh Reddick hit back-to-back homers to start the game, and later in the inning Alex Bregman pounds out a grand slam as the Astros glide from there to a 10-7 victory.

It’s the first time in major league history that a team has hit back-to-back homers and later a grand slam, all in the first inning.

There’s some irony on the night in that Bregman’s slam is the first by a player at either Yankee Stadium wearing #2 since Jeter himself cleaned the bases in a 2005 game.

Also to note: Carlos Beltran’s double in the second game for Houston is the 545th of his career, putting him in sole possession of 32nd on the all-time list. The man he relegates to #33 on the list is…Jeter.

The Cubs drop to below .500 (18-19) for the first time since the end of the 2014 season as they drop a 5-0 decision to the Cardinals in St. Louis. Adam Wainwright throws seven shutout innings for the Redbirds while Yadier Molina goes deep twice.

The Mets may not have the majors’ worst record, but it seems a day doesn’t go by without some kind of grief on or off the field. Today’s evidence: New York builds a 7-1 lead midway through the sixth inning at Milwaukee—and then the Brewers hit away, notching ten runs through the next three innings to defeat the Mets, 11-9.

With two stolen bases and his third home run in as many days, Mike Trout becomes the youngest player (at age 25) to lay claim to at least 150 homers and 150 steals as the Angels defeat Justin Verlander and the Tigers at Anaheim, 4-1.

Steve Palermo, a rising star among umpires before being shot by an assailant outside of a Dallas diner in 1991 while trying to break up a robbery of two employees, dies of complications from cancer in Kansas City at age 67. At first paralyzed below the waist and told he’d never walk again, Palermo worked hard to defy the odds and beat them, recovering to the point that he would be able to walk with a cane.

Monday, May 15
The Cleveland Indians score early and often enough to barely hold off the visiting Tampa Bay Rays, 8-7, but absorb bad news when Carlos Carrasco—their only starting pitcher with a season ERA below 5.00—has to leave the game in the fourth inning with muscle tightness. Additionally, the Indians lose outfielder Abraham Almonte to the disabled list with a biceps injury.

Taking the defeat for Tampa Bay is ace Chris Archer, who has lost all six career starts against Cleveland with a 6.00 ERA.

The Astros, who badly stumbled out of the gate last year, continue to pull an about-face to start 2017. Yuli Gurriel’s sixth-inning grand slam—the second in as many days for the Astros, a franchise first—pulls Houston ahead to stay as it easily outpaces the Marlins at Miami, 7-2, despite behind outhit 12-8. The Astros’ 27-12 record is the majors’ best.

Freddie Freeman continues to share the wealth; his Atlanta Braves have faced ten teams so far in 2017, and he’s homered once against every one of them. His three-run shot in the sixth caps the Braves’ 10-6 win at Toronto.

Tuesday, May 16
Albert Pujols’ two-run single in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox puts him in sole possession of 13th place on the all-time RBI list with 1,846—and after Chicago’s wild ninth-inning sequence forces extra innings, he’ll add a 1,847th when his deep fly bounces off the head of White Sox center fielder Leury Garcia, bringing home the winning run in the Angels’ 7-6, 11-inning home victory.

The Cubs pound out four homers—including the second by Ian Happ in just his third major league game—to outpace the visiting Reds and give manager Joe Maddon his 1,000th career victory. There are seven other active managers with more wins, but they’ve managed more overall games.

The Orioles’ Chris Davis pounds out a solo homer in the 12th to ignite a three-run rally at Detroit—but after the Tigers respond with a trio of runs in the bottom of the frame, Davis returns in the 13th and deposits a two-run blast that will stand up in Baltimore’s 13-11 triumph.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Davis is only the second player since 1961 to hit multiple go-ahead homers in extra innings; the Cardinals’ Matt Adams, in 2013, was the other.

A day after demoting Edwin Diaz as the team’s closer, the Mariners watch as their replacements collapse in the ninth against Oakland. Neither Steve Cishek nor Mark Rzepczynski can hold the fort down as the A’s pile up five runs—with Mark Canha’s first homer of the year, a three-run shot, representing the big blow—and Seattle drops a 9-6 home decision.

At the end of the day, the Mariners’ bullpen holds a 5.40 ERA and ten blown saves—both figures being the worst in the majors.

Wednesday, May 17
Detroit’s Tyler Collins breaks out of a 0-for-30 skid with three hits including two home runs and four RBIs; it’s all crucial to the Tigers’ 5-4 victory over the visiting Orioles. No player had ever ended a hitless string of at least 30 at-bats with a pair of homers in one game.

A week after defeating the Rockies for the 20th time in his career, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw notches his 20th against San Francisco, easily taming the Giants and ending their five-game win streak with seven shutout innings in a 6-1 Los Angeles win. Only three other active pitchers—Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia and Bartolo Colon—have 20 or more lifetime wins against multiple teams.

Andrew Cashner puts together his fifth quality start (six or more innings, three or fewer runs allowed) of the year but finally his first win as the Rangers easily support him in a 9-3 victory over Philadelphia at Arlington. Cashner gets unlikely support from the eighth- and ninth-place hitters (Jared Hoying and Delino DeShields Jr., respectively), both of whom each go 4-for-4 at the plate, as the Rangers extend their win streak to eight.

The Atlanta Braves notch six runs before their first out, then survive a good deal of ugliness to defeat Toronto in Cobb County, 8-4. White-hot hitting star Freddie Freeman is knocked out for the next ten weeks after having his wrist broken by an Aaron Loup pitch; the Blue Jays’ Kevin Pillar, after striking out to end the seventh, allegedly shouts a homophobic slur toward Braves Jason Motte for throwing a quick pitch; and an inning later, Toronto’s Jose Bautista foolishly decides to emulate his epic bat flip of the 2015 AL playoffs after mashing a home run…that whittles Atlanta’s lead down to four.

As ESPN notes with a headline on its web site: “Jose Bautista’s latest bat flip shows he’s still MLB’s most hated player.”

Pillar will be suspended two games after MLB for saying what everyone thought he said.

Kansas City’s Jason Vargas gets roughed up for the first time this year, giving up six runs in just four innings to the visiting Yankees after he allowed just five runs in his first 44.2 frames over seven previous starts. New York’s 11-7 victory represents the seventh time in 37 games this year that the Yankees have scored ten or more runs.

Thursday, May 18
Rather than get mad, the Blue Jays get even—even after Jose Bautista gets plunked on the hip by Braves starter Julio Teheran—as they pound the Braves, 9-0. Starting pitcher Marcus Stroman and catcher Luke Maile both homer for Toronto, thus making them the first American League battery to go deep in the same interleague game against a National League opponent.

The Twins split a doubleheader (the first game of which had been postponed from the night before) with the Colorado Rockies, but do not homer in either game after having gone deep at least once in their previous 16 games—tying the club mark since moving to Minnesota in 1961.

Friday, May 19
Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Minnesota’s Kennys Vargas slams a one-out, two-run home run off Kansas City closer Kevin Herrera to tie the game; an inning later, Jorge Polanco will win it for the Twins on a sacrifice fly. The Twins had gone 0-for-their-last-138 when entering the ninth inning trailing, the longest active streak in the majors.

The Royals are a combined 0-10 against the Twins and Rangers in 2017; against everyone else, they’re 17-14.

Chris Sale ties Pedro Martinez’s all-time record by striking out ten or more betters for the eighth consecutive start, Dustin Pedroia extends his hitting streak against Oakland to 22 games—currently the longest streak by a major leaguer against a single team—and Jackie Bradley Jr. steals a game-winning homer away from the A’s Ryon Healy with two outs in the ninth. All this, and the Red Sox still lose in ten innings on Mark Canha’s solo shot—his second game-winning blow of the week—in a 3-2 Oakland home victory.

The Mets end a seven-game slide as Jacob deGrom throws seven shutout innings and Michael Conforto (.319 average, 11 homers and 27 RBIs in 37 games) continues his red-hot start to 2017 with two hits, including a home run, in New York’s 3-0 home victory over the Angels.

Texas extends its winning streak to ten—the majors’ longest so far in 2017—with a 5-3 triumph over the Tigers at Detroit. Two home runs by the Rangers include the 13th of the year for young slugger Joey Gallo, who’s emerging as a bit of an all-or-nothing, Rob Deer type; he’s hitting .188 with a strikeout in nearly every other at-bat, but is on pace for 50 dingers on the year.

In a week where a day hasn’t gone by without some sort of dugout-emptying event at a major league game, things get particularly edgy at Los Angeles when Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling throws behind Miami star slugger Giancarlo Stanton an inning after Marlins reliever plunked Brett Eibner, immediately following a Cody Bellinger home run. Cool heads prevail just when it looks that fisticuffs will; Stripling, Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren and Marlins (and ex-Dodgers) manager Don Mattingly will all get tossed. As for the game, Miami loses for the 19th time in their last 23 attempts as the Dodgers’ Alex Wood extends his consecutive scoreless string to 20.1 innings in a 7-2 Los Angeles victory.

Saturday, May 20
The Tigers put a decisive end to the Rangers’ ten-game win streak with back-to-back-to-back home runs in the first inning from Alex Avila, Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez—then add six more runs over the next three innings, all off of Texas starter A.J. Griffin, to sail to a 9-3 victory.

In securing Pittsburgh’s 6-3 home win over Philadelphia, Ivan Nova walks none over 7.1 innings and sets a major league record for the fewest walks (seven) through a pitcher’s first 20 starts for one team. Since his trade from the Yankees to the Pirates last August, Nova has a 9-5 record with five complete games, 88 strikeouts and the seven walks over 126 innings.

The Cardinals’ Carlos Martinez (nine shutout innings, two hits allowed) and the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija (eight shutout innings, five hits allowed) are both good enough to earn a victory at St. Louis, but neither come away with one as the game trudges into extra frames (and a rain delay) before the Giants finally prevail in the 13th, 3-1, with the help of a two-run Christian Arroyo double.

If you’re wondering if this is the longest a 0-0 game has gone in the dozen years of baseball at new Busch Stadium, do recall that the Cardinals and Mets took a scoreless duel into the 19th during a 2010 game.

Jose Reyes has three hits—including the 2,000th of his career—and knocks in two to advance the Mets to a 7-5 win over the Angels at New York. Reyes is the eighth active player with over 2,000 hits.

It’s not likely that Reyes will reach 3,000, but a few among the other active players over 2,000 probably will. Of course there’s Adrian Beltre, who’s been grounded to start the season but once back in action only needs 58 hits to pass the 3,000 milestone, while Albert Pujols is 135 shy and, with a strong push, could even get to 3,000 before the end of this year. Beyond that, Miguel Cabrera is at 2,546 but is still only 34, so barring a career-ending injury will most certainly get there; and Robinson Cano, also age 34, is at 2,250 and, like Cabrera, is still going quite strong.

After a blazing 7-0 start that recalls his 2015 Cy Young Award effort, Houston’s Dallas Keuchel is placed on the 10-day disabled list with a pinched nerve in his neck. But not to worry; he’ll likely miss just one start, and that’s the new normal in baseball as teams have become less hesitant to take advantage of the reduced DL time (formerly 15 days), allowing players to rest up with minor issues without absorbing the cost of too long an absence. Don’t be surprised if some teams even start using the 10-day DL as a means to give a beat-up player extended rest through the amphetamine-less marathon that the modern 162-game schedule has become—or to take advantage of an upcoming few days off to place an “injured” fifth starter on the list to bring up a reliever or bench player who might provide more value for the short run.

As of this date, 177 major leaguers are currently on the disabled list. That’s nearly 15% of the entire MLB workforce based on 40-man rosters. Not all of them are on the 10-day list, as that number also include players out for substantial time, including the entire season. But one wonders how many fewer players would be on the list if baseball still practiced the 15-day shutdown.

Sunday, May 21
For the second time this year, the Yankees strike out 17 times in a nine-inning game—and, as they did the first time, they win. Even as Matt Holliday and Aaron Judge both go 0-for-4 with 4 Ks, New York edges out the Rays at Tampa Bay, 3-2, to take a half-game lead in the AL East.

No other team in post-1900 history has ever won two nine-inning games in a season while striking out at least 17 times.

After getting blown out in the early innings by the Diamondbacks in the first two games of their series, the San Diego Padres finally keep the visiting Diamondbacks in check as Clayton Richard goes the distance, scattering a run on five hits to earn the 5-1 victory. It’s Richard’s fourth complete game of his career.

The Rangers get back on the winning track with a 5-2 Sunday night win at Detroit, thanks in part to Pete Kozma—who goes deep for the first time in his last 545 at-bats. That had been the longest active run by a player without a home run.

Yan Gomes knocks in five runs and the Indians survive four home runs from the host Houston Astros as they finish off a three-game sweep of, previously, the majors’ hottest team with an 8-6 victory. Houston has lost five of six games against the Indians this year; they are otherwise 28-10.

Monday, May 22
Shaking off a home sweep by Cleveland, the Astros become the first team to win 30 games on the year as four pitchers combine to deal a one-hit, 1-0 shutout of the visiting Tigers. Brad Peacock, filling in for injured Dallas Keuchel, allows a hit and two walks through 4.1 innings while striking out eight; three Houston relievers follow to deny Detroit any baserunners in completing the shutout.

For the first time this season, the Giants mash three home runs—all solo—to defeat the Cubs at Chicago, 6-4. San Francisco’s last 18 homers have all come with no one on base, three shy of the MLB record set by…the Giants, in 2011.

Tuesday, May 23
After quieting down for much of May after a prodigious start to the year, the Washington Nationals’ offense sparks back up in a 10-1 home blowout of the Mariners. Bryce Harper belts his 14th home run, Anthony Rendon has his second big day of the season (two home runs, a double and five RBIs), and spot starter Joe Ross becomes the beneficiary of his teammates’ output. In four starts for the Nationals this season, Ross has received 62 runs of support, the most ever given a pitcher in a four-game span since 1900.

Rendon has five home runs and 15 RBIs in Ross’ last two starts; he has two homers and 13 RBIs in 40 other games.

The Rockies continue to flat-out roll. German Marquez runs a streak of wins by rookie pitchers to eight, Charlie Blackmon smashes two homers and becomes the majors’ first 40-RBI man—from the leadoff spot, no less—and Colorado is the NL’s first team to reach 30 wins as they easily dismantle the slumping Phillies (4-19 after an 11-9 start) at Philadelphia, 8-2.

No major leaguer previously had knocked in more runs from the leadoff spot in fewer games than Blackmon, who needed just 47 games.

In a rematch of the 2016 NLDS Game Five that never happened at Wrigley Field, the Cubs’ Jon Lester easily gets the better of the Giants and Johnny Cueto as he hurls a four-hit, 4-1 complete-game gem for his 12th straight home win. Kyle Schwarber hits the longest of the Cubs’ three homers on the evening, a monstrous 470-foot shot that lands on Sheffield Avenue.

For the second time in three games, the Cardinals take a pitching duel into extra innings only to lose it in the 13th. This time it happens in Los Angeles, where Lance Lynn duels with Clayton Kershaw—whose wild pitch in the ninth allows St. Louis to tie the game—before Logan Forsythe’s two-out double in the 13th wins it for the Dodgers.

Wednesday, May 24
After scoring twice in the ninth to tie the game, the Pittsburgh Pirates power up once more in the tenth with seven runs—the last four courtesy of back-to-back-to-back home runs from David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer—to best the Braves at Atlanta, 12-5. It’s only the third time a major league team has hit three straight homers in overtime, having also been done by the 1964 Twins (who hit four in a row) and the 2002 Royals.

Chris Sale’s attempt to make history falls short, but the important thing is that he still triumphs on the day as he’s the benefactor of seven Boston runs in the seventh inning and earns his fifth win of the year in the Red Sox’ 9-4 home win over Texas. Sale strikes out six, four shy of what would have been a record ninth straight game in double digits.

In a daring play that showcases the majors’ fastest baserunner, the Reds defeat the Indians at Cleveland 4-3 on Zack Cozart’s two-run single in the ninth—the go-ahead run scoring when Billy Hamilton scores all the way on first after Cleveland left fielder Michael Brantley deflects Cozart’s line drive back toward the infield. It’s the first time since 2007 that a game-winning run has scored in the ninth inning or later from first base on a single.

Thursday, May 25
With Chris Sale watching, the Red Sox’ Drew Pomeranz and four Boston relievers combine to strike out 20 Rangers in the Red Sox’ 6-2 win at Fenway Park. It ties a major league record for the most Ks in a nine-inning game, done previously five times—including twice by the Red Sox when Roger Clemens started and finished with all 20.

One of Boston’s 20 strikeouts is dubious: In the ninth inning, the Rangers’ Nomar Mazara is hit in the foot while swinging, but umpires say he isn’t nicked and he makes it safely to first on what’s ruled a wild pitch. The Red Sox ask for a review, but there’s a miscommunication between the umpires and New York’s replay war room—the latter believing that the play is not reviewable—the call stands, and closer Craig Kimbrel “earns” the 73rd 4-K inning in major league history.

The Phillies avoid a four-game sweep at home and defeat the Rockies in 11 innings, 2-1—handing Colorado its first one-run loss of the year after nine such victories.

The Astros, who’ve hit a major league lead-tying 38 homers in May, hit four of them against the Tigers—and they need every one of them to earn a 7-6 victory, as Jake Marisnick’s solo homer in the eighth stands as the ultimate winning tally.

For what it’s worth: Ken Giles locks down the door in the ninth for his 13th save of the year—and the 50,000th since the save became an official stat in 1969.

Friday, May 26
Returning home from a successful 7-3 road trip and holding the NL’s best record, the Colorado Rockies can do no wrong in front of 40,000 Coors Field fans on a Friday night. Antonio Senzatela throws eight shutout innings to improve to a MLB-best seven wins, Charlie Blackmon goes 4-for-4 and finishes a double shy of a cycle, and stellar defense turns four double plays as the Rockies clobber the Cardinals, 10-0.

Rookie Colorado pitchers have won nine straight games without a loss, and have won 11 for the month—the most since Oakland rookies won 11 in September 2009.

Alex Wood fires five shutout innings to extend his consecutive scoreless inning streak to 25.1, Adrian Gonzalez finally hits his first home run of the year in his 121st at-bat, and the Dodgers’ bullpen allows no hits in four innings of relief after Wood’s departure to give Los Angeles a 4-0 home win over the Cubs.

The Mets’ Jacob deGrom fires 8.1 shutout innings in New York’s 8-1 win at Pittsburgh, which leads to this astonishing fact: It’s the first time a Mets starting pitcher has been able to throw into the eighth inning and record at least one out in their last 83 tries. What’s more, Fernando Salas is the only reliever needed for the Mets—ending a franchise-record streak of 26 straight games in which the Mets utilized at least three relievers. Offensively, the Mets are lifted by Neil Walker, who hits two homers and knocks in four runs against his former Pirates teammates.

Saturday, May 27
Jim Bunning, the Hall-of-Fame pitcher who went on to represent his home state of Kentucky for 24 years in Congress, passes away at age 85. While we recently wrote that the right-hander, with a career 224-184 record, was one of the players most undeserving of a plaque at Cooperstown, we certainly must acknowledge his many accomplishments. He won 20 games in his first year with Detroit in 1957, and narrowly missed the milestone numerous times afterward—winning 19 four times and, in 1967, winning 17 while losing five 1-0 decisions. Twice, Bunning threw no-hitters; once at Fenway Park in 1958, and in 1964 at New York’s Shea Stadium when the father of five threw the National League’s first perfect game in 84 years on Father’s Day.

It was that 1964 season with the Phillies that Bunning probably is best remembered, for better or for worse; after the perfecto, he and Chris Short were forced into pitching nearly every other day by manager Gene Mauch in a historic attempt to avert a late collapse from first place, but the Phillies blew a 6.5-game lead with 12 to play.

A three-time league leader in strikeouts, Bunning exhibited “amazing control” as recalled by TGG interview subject Bob Roselli, and his time with both the Tigers and Phillies was long and exemplary enough that he’s included on our all-time Top Ten lists of pitchers for both teams.

In his second start against the team that traded him over a year ago, the Brewers’ Chase Anderson takes a no-hitter into the eighth inning before giving up a leadoff single to Arizona’s Nick Ahmed, but overall strikes out 11 and defeats the Diamondbacks and ace Zack Greinke, 6-1.

Hello, thank you and goodbye: Brian Johnson, making his second-ever major league appearance, throws a five-hit, no-walk shutout with eight strikeouts as the Red Sox defeat the roiling Mariners, 6-0. Johnson will be thanked after the game by being sent back down to Triple-A to make room for David Price, who’s missed all season to date but is finally set to come off the disabled list.

The Mariners continue to have a rough go of it on offense, having scored just nine runs over their last eight games—seven of which have resulted in losses.

Stephen Strasburg strikes out a career-high 15 batters and allows just three hits over seven shutout innings as the Nationals defeat the Padres at Washington, 3-0. The Padres have struck out 31 times and scored just once through the first two games of the series.

Luis Roberts, Cuba’s top baseball prospect, officially signs a $26 million deal to play for the Chicago White Sox. The 19-year outfielder is considered to have five-tool promise and hit .315 with decent power through four years of play as a teenager in Cuba’s top league.

This is considered the last big payday for a foreign player as MLB’s more restrictive purchasing rules for international talent will soon take effect with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Sunday, May 28
The Angels lose more than just a ballgame at Miami, 9-2. While stealing second base in the sixth inning, Mike Trout tears a ligament in his left thumb and will be placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career. He will undergo surgery and is not expected back in the Angels’ lineup anywhere from six to eight weeks.

Trout, off to a sizzling start even by his standards, was batting .337 at the time of the injury; the rest of the Angels are hitting a collective .226.

An ace-level pitching duel at Los Angeles never materializes as both the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the Cubs’ Jon Lester are each knocked out of the box before the midway point of the Dodgers’ 9-4 win, finishing a three-game sweep of the defending world champions. Kershaw lasts 4.1 innings and allows four runs on 11 hits including three home runs—the latter two figures tying career highs—while Lester’s 3.1 innings or work, allowing six runs, is his shortest stint in his last 25 starts.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon, perhaps not trying to calm those who are lamenting the team’s current 25-24 record: “If you want to freak out, freak out.”

Two losing skids are broken up in Texas’ 3-1 victory at Toronto. It ends the Rangers’ five-game losing streak in general, while Andrew Cashner throws seven solid innings to end a run of 18 straight road starts without a win—the majors’ longest such active streak.

Miguel Gonzalez takes a perfect game into the seventh before the opposing Tigers end it by placing the first three batters of the seventh on base (the first via an error), but the Mexican right-hander still earns the win in the White Sox’ 7-3 victory.

Monday, May 29
Washington defeats the Giants at San Francisco, 3-0, in a game marred by an eighth-inning brawl involving Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and hard-throwing Giants reliever Hunter Strickland—facing Harper for the first time since the 2014 NLDS, when the young star ripped two monster home runs off of him. On his first pitch, Strickland hits Harper with a 98-MPH fastball on the thigh, setting Harper off; he charges Strickland, throws his batting helmet at him (missing badly) then engages in a few seconds of fisticuffs before everyone else joins in. Both players are ejected; Strickland will be given a suspension of six games, Harper four—to be reduced to three after an appeal.

If it was Strickland’s intention to hit Harper—he won’t admit it, of course—then it was a stupid gesture. Why, two and a half years later, would you want to deliver payback because you’re sore about the guy who hit two homers off you in a series your team won? Giants catcher Buster Posey was probably wondering that as well; he never moved from behind home plate as Harper and Strickland began to tango, a telling moment in which Posey likely was thinking, “This is on you, dude, it’s your fight.”

There’s collateral damage from the melee in that Giants bench slugger Michael Morse suffers a concussion and is placed on the seven-day disabled list.

David Price gets his first start of the year for the Red Sox after spending the first two months of the season on the shelf with a strained left elbow, and leaves after five innings with a 4-3 lead at Chicago. But Boston reliever Matt Barnes coughs up two runs and the lead in the seventh, and the White Sox go on take a 5-4 victory.

In 56 years of play, the Astros had never won a game trailing by more than six in the eighth inning or later…until today. Down 8-2 after seven at Minnesota, Houston’s bats come to life as 14 men bat and 11 of them score; they add three more in the ninth to finish a comeback rout over the Twins, 16-8.

The Blue Jays, who haven’t notched more than 12 hits in any of their first 50 games this season, explode for 23 hits—eight for extra bases—to destroy the visiting Reds, 17-2. The Reds’ last two pitchers, Robert Stevenson and Jake Buchanan, each give up ten hits—the first time any team has had multiple pitchers give up at least ten since the Reds’ 28-6 loss at Philadelphia in 1929.

Tuesday, May 30
The Diamondbacks’ Robbie Ray becomes the latest pitcher to build up a modest consecutive scoreless innings streak of note, taking his run to 23.2 frames as he throws his first career shutout, a four-hitter over the Pirates at Pittsburgh. Ray strikes out ten and walks none.

The Indians tie a franchise record by striking out 19 A’s in a 9-4 victory at Cleveland. (Conversely, the A’s tie a team mark for most Ks suffered within nine innings.) Trevor Bauer goes the first seven frames and strikes out 14; the bullpen chimes in with the other five. Former Indian (and would-be World Series hero) Rajai Davis and Trevor Plouffe—batting 1-2 for Oakland—is a combined 0-for-10 with 8 Ks.

Wednesday, May 31
The Astros finish the month in white-hot fashion, winning their seventh straight game with another annihilation of the Twins at Minnesota, 17-6. The carnage includes six home runs, one a 473-foot blast from Carlos Correa which is the majors’ second longest to date this season.

In their three-sweep of the Twins, Houston notches 40 runs—the most the team has ever scored in a three-game series.

Max Scherzer completes the Nationals’ three-game sweep of the Giants at San Francisco by going the distance for the sixth time in his career, scattering a run on five hits with 11 strikeouts (and no walks) to earn a 3-1 triumph. Ryan Zimmerman’s first-inning, three-run homer accounts for all of Washington’s scoring.

The Padres, 500-1 longshots to win the World Series, edge the Cubs (with preseason odds at 7-2), 2-1, and finish off their own three-game sweep—sending the defending champions two games below .500 at 25-27.


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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