This Great Game Comebacker

The Week That Was in Baseball: August 4-17, 2014
Manfred Becomes the Man Can We Be Done With Jerry Reinsdorf?
The Rockies, With and Without Tulo and CarGo Rethinking Progressive Field


Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Chris Carter, Houston Astros

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
23 5 9 0 0 4 9 1 0 0 0

The Bay Area native, not to be confused with the former wide receiver or the creator of The X-Files, had a terrific week highlighted by a two-homer, five-RBI performance Tuesday against the Twins that certainly made a fan in the Crawford Boxes happy; he ended up with the ball on both blasts. Carter has been known so far for his power but also his low averages, but that may be changing; he’s hit .322 since the start of July, and is on pace to finish the year with 38 homers and 89 RBIs.


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Corey Dickerson, Colorado Rockies

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
28 6 11 4 0 3 11 6 0 0 0

The 25-year-old outfielder proved this past week that it didn’t matter whether it was pitcher-friendly Petco Park or hitter’s paradise Coors Field—he can take any ballpark on with equal effectiveness. Dickerson had five hits (two of them homers) in three games at the Padres’ voluminous venue to start the week before coming home to the mile-high conditions of Coors and driving the Reds nuts over the weekend. Consistency has been the name of Dickerson’s game all year, hitting over .300 in each month of the season.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Jim Adduci, Texas Rangers

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
17 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0

A solid if not spectacular hitter wherever he’s played professional (mostly in the minors), the 29-year-old Canadian had hit the ball well early on but played infrequently. Now he’s getting a chance to play everyday on an injury-depleted roster, and so he picks a fine time to get into a prolonged rut. Adduci was 0-for-the-week, striking out six times and grounding into a double play; he’ll desperately need to pick it up while the opportunity still affords itself, or the Rangers will be bidding arrivederci, Adduci. (Yes, you probably saw that one coming down the street.)


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Didi Gregorius, Arizona Diamondbacks

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
19 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0

It was a totally fruitless week for a young shortstop trying to get his baseball bearings straight at the plate but failing miserably. Gregorius started the week hitting .254 for the year—on par with his mark for last year—but ended it at .220 after a parade of outs. The Diamondbacks’ other young shortstop, Chris Owings, is on the mend and should return to the team soon with a much better (.277) average; don’t be surprised if we see less of Gregorius at that point.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Chris Young, Seattle Mariners

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
2-0 12 6 1 1 3 0 0 0 0 7

Comeback player of the year, anyone? Let’s start the chatter with the 35-year-old veteran whose career looked promising some years back with the Padres before becoming increasingly fragile. But he’s quietly emerged back on the scene with Seattle and this past week gave the Mariners two quality starts and, more importantly, two wins to equal his career high of 12 set with the 2005 Rangers. The big guy’s ERA currently stands at a solid 3.07, and his consistency is such that he’s allowed more than four runs just once in 24 starts this year.


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Doug Fister, Washington Nationals

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
1-0 14 12 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 8

One of the reasons the Nationals have been able to bolt out to the NL East lead is the winning presence of the tall right-hander from California’s Central Valley. Fister threw seven shutout innings on Tuesday at New York, and ceded only two unearned runs on Sunday in a solid effort against the Bucs (the Nats won, but the bullpen blew his lead). Fister has been good enough to win any of his last ten starts—he’s gotten credit for seven of them—and hasn’t allowed an earned run in 22.2 innings.


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Josh Fields, Houston Astros

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-2 2 5 5 5 4 1 0 0 0 3

Here are the monthly ERAs for the 28-year-old reliever’s first four months: 9.58, 4.66, 2.45 and 0.68. Clearly, a pattern of progress. Now comes August, and this past week: Crash. Fields couldn’t hold a 2-2 tie on Monday against Minnesota (Hey, Domingo Santana: What were you waiting for in the outfield?), gave up insurance tallies two days later to the Twins and, on Saturday, took a second loss when he allowed the Red Sox to go ahead to stay. Back to the monthly ERA totals: It’s currently at 14.40 in August.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Antonio Bastardo, Philadelphia Phillies

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-2 2.1 6 6 5 2 0 0 0 0 3

Of the numerous Phillies rumored to be on the trading block before the deadline, Bastardo stood out because he basically said to the team, “Please, deal me away!” This past week, the Phillies are probably wishing they had followed through on his wish. Bastardo self-destructed on Tuesday at Anaheim, providing the Angels with the bulk of their seven-run damage upon the Phillies; four days later in San Francisco, he couldn’t hold a 5-5 tie as the Giants rallied for the ultimate game-winner. His 4.64 ERA is the worst of his five full seasons to date.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Seattle Mariners (5-1)

With everyone talking about a terrific AL West race developing between the A’s and Angels, don’t pass on the Mariners. The pitching’s been there since the All-Star break (see Chris Young above), but the hitting has finally caught up as well as they easily battled past the Blue Jays at home to start the week, then did themselves a big favor in the wild card race by downing the Tigers twice in three weekend games at Detroit. The road trip continues this week with stops at down-and-out Philadelphia and Boston.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Washington Nationals (6-0)

To say the Nationals are rebounding after some recent struggles is an understatement. Yes, Northern Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, Bryce Harper does belong in the majors, Stephen Strasburg is getting run support and the NL East’s top spot is no longer a hot potato for teams who seemingly want nothing to do with it. The Nats ran the table on the week, sweeping the Mets at New York (where they’ve now won 11 straight) and took care of the Pirates on the weekend, winning the last two games in walk-off fashion; they now own a healthy division lead and, as of this past Sunday, the NL’s best record.


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Oakland A's (1-6)

Have the A’s peaked? The team that began the week with the majors’ best record ends it second in their own division, albeit by percentage points, after a rough road ride that included a season-worst five-game losing slide. Some experts are starting to second-guess the wisdom of the trade that brought Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to Oakland in exchange for slugger/Clemente-like throwing arm Yoenis Cespedes; since that deal, the A’s are 7-10. For Oakland’s sake, they’d better snap out of this; they play the Angels seven times over the next two weeks.


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Cincinnati Reds (1-5)

This hurt. The Reds had a lead in every game this week yet ended up winning only one; maybe it will be found out that they sabotaged the water main outside of Coors Field. If true, it only delayed the inevitable of giving up 20 runs in a Sunday doubleheader—including a horrible ninth inning in the first game in which closer Aroldis Chapman walked the first four batters he faced (they all scored). The Reds may only be 4.5 games out of the final wild card spot, but they’re below .500 and there’s five teams ahead of them vying for those two spots. Not likely.


Best and Worst of the Week

Monday, August 11
It’s a very good day for the Kansas City Royals—and a lousy one for the Detroit Tigers. The Royals, who just three weeks earlier were eight games behind the Tigers, win their eighth straight game with a hard-fought 3-2 win over the majors’ best team (by the record) in the Oakland A’s; meanwhile at Pittsburgh, Detroit ace Justin Verlander allows five runs in what will be his shortest-ever start (at one inning), is removed with shoulder issues and afterward undergoes a MRI; the bullpen is no better on the mound and the Pirates help knock the Tigers off the AL Central’s top floor with an 11-6 rout. Verlander had won 14 straight games against interleague opponents.

Felix Hernandez extends his record streak of starts with seven-plus innings and two or fewer runs allowed to 16 as he allowds a run on three hits, no walks and eight strikeouts through seven while his Seattle teammates easily support him in an 11-1 drubbing of the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.

Giancarlo Stanton belts two homers—the second sent a whopping 470 feet—and the Miami Marlins survive a ninth-inning uprising from the visiting St. Louis Cardinals to triumph, 6-5. Stanton’s two blasts breaks a Marlins record for multi-homer games with 13; his 31 on the year is tied for the major league lead; and his 148 lifetime shots ties Hanley Ramirez for second on the all-time Marlins list—and he needs just six to tie Dan Uggla at the top of the list.

Drew Smyly, making his second start for Tampa Bay since being traded to the Rays in the deal that sent David Price to Detroit, throws 7.2 scoreless innings and strikes out nine at Arlington as the Rays breeze past the Rangers, 7-0.


Tuesday, August 12
The A’s pound away with 20 hits and end the Royals’ winning streak with an 11-3 rout at Kansas City. Josh Donaldson smacks two homers late in the game, both off reliever Bruce Chen. The Royals remain in first after the Tigers’ 4-2 loss at Pittsburgh.

After just four games at the Triple-A level, Michael Taylor is given his major league debut by the Washington Nationals—and the 23-year-old outfielder makes the most of it, collecting two hits including one of four homers hit on the night by the Nats in their 7-1 thrashing of the Mets at New York. Taylor is not be confused with his namesake who has toiled in the minors for some eight years in the Philadelphia, Oakland and now Chicago White Sox organizations.

One pitch after being brushed back by chin music from Cincinnati reliever Jonathan Broxton, Boston’s Yoenis Cespedes nails a two-run homer in the eighth inning that will put the Red Sox ahead of the Reds to stay, 3-2. Starter Joe Kelly doesn’t get the win, but he does become the first Red Sox pitcher since 1969 to steal a base—and the first since 1959 to steal third.


Wednesday, August 13
Jake Peavy, you’re a winner…finally. The former Cy Young Award recipient throws seven strong innings and gets a rare dose of support when the San Francisco Giants score seven times in the seventh inning—thanks in large part to another questionable plate-blockage call from the umpires that sets Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura into an absolute rage. The 7-1 victory ends a run of 18 winless starts for Peavy going back to April 25.

Arizona and Cleveland split a doubleheader lasting a total of over seven hours with rookie heroics on both sides. In the opener at Progressive Field, the Indians’ Zach Walters—playing his first game at Cleveland since a trade from Washington last month—snaps a 2-2 tie with a walk-off homer; the nightcap goes scoreless into the 12th inning, when Diamondbacks rookie Tuffy Gosewisch muscles a ground ball through the middle to bring him the game’s only run. Arizona pitcher Randall Delgado, who lost the first game, gets credit for the win in the second—making him the first player to both win and lose a game on the same day since Philadelphia’s Geoff Geary in 2006.

The Royals move past the the A’s 3-0 behind Jason Vargas, who allows three early hits but retires the final 23 Oakland batters to secure his sixth career shutout on only 97 pitches.

Michael Pineda makes his return to the mound for the first time in nearly four months and pitches well—allowing just a run on two hits through five innings—but the Yankee bullpen fails him as the Orioles muscle up for four eighth-inning runs, three on an Adam Jones homer, to give Baltimore a 5-3 win over New York. The Orioles, up 7.5 games over second-place Toronto, are now all but running away with the AL East; the Yankees are eight back.


Thursday, August 14
Stephen Stasburg allows an unearned run over seven innings and Bryce Harper goes deep for the third time within a week to give the Nationals a 4-1 win over the Mets; it’s Washington’s 11th straight victory at Citi Field, the longest such road streak in franchise history—and the Mets’ longest-ever drought at home. (Yes—the miserable early Mets teams of the 1960s were never this bad.)

The Red Sox rally for seven runs in the sixth inning to overcome a three-run deficit and defeat the Astros at Fenway Park, 9-4. Houston has still never won a game at Boston, having now lost in all eight attempts; only Colorado (0-9) has lost more games at a major league opponent (Toronto) without a win.

Milwaukee’s Matt Fiers tosses six shutout innings and strikes out 14 Cubs as the Brewers roll at Wrigley Field, 6-2. Only Max Scherzer, in 2010, has ever left a game with six or fewer shutout innings and 14 K’s; Chicago rookie Javier Baez strikes out all four times he reaches the plate.


Friday, August 15
Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto becomes the majors’ first 15-game winner, throwing eight strong innings at Colorado and becoming the benefactor of a ninth-inning, go-ahead run in the Reds’ 3-2 victory over the Rockies. Kris Negron’s fourth hit of the night brings home the game-winner.

Alex Cobb and two relievers shut down the Yankees on seven hits as the Rays—who just two months earlier had the majors’ worst record—climb back to .500 on the season with a 5-0 victory at St. Petersburg. Only twice since 1900 has a major league team reached the .500 mark after having previously been 18 games or more below the mark; the 2004 Devil Rays were one of them.

Kansas City’s Josh Willingham, recently acquired from Minnesota, returns to Target Field in an enemy uniform and sets the tone for a five-run fourth inning by stroking a bases-clearing double; the Royals will go on to beat the Twins, 6-5, for their 19th win in 23 tries.


Saturday, August 16
It’s a big night for Big Papi. In the Red Sox’ 10-7 defeat of the Astros at Boston, David Ortiz doubles, smacks two homers—including his 400th since joining the Red Sox in 2003—and knocks in six runs. Ortiz now leads all major leaguers with 91 RBIs; only Ted Williams (521) and Carl Yastrzemski (452) have more homers in a Red Sox uniform, while the Giants are the only other team that can vouch three players with 400-plus hit for them (Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Barry Bonds).

In a terrific matchup of aces at an overflowing Comerica Park in Detroit, David Price (eight innings, one run allowed on three hits) outlasts Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, who has to depart in after five innings in which several comebackers hit off of him, in the Tigers’ 4-2 victory. Hernandez’s run of consecutive starts with seven-plus innings and two or fewer runs allowed ends at 16; however, he still has an active streak of starts with just the two runs or less given up (regardless of innings pitched) at 17.

The A’s no longer have the majors’ best record—and are no longer on top of the AL West. Oakland drops a 4-3 decision at Atlanta, while the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim top the Rangers in Texas, 5-4, to take a percentage-points lead over the A’s in West.

Clayton Kershaw goes the distance for the Los Angeles Dodgers at home against Milwaukee, but it’s not enough. Behind eight strong innings from Yovani Gallardo and home runs from Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez, the Brewers tip the Dodgers 3-2 and end Kershaw’s 11-game win streak.

It’s a beautiful day at Coors Field for the Rockies and Reds, but the game is postponed because of a major water main break just outside the ballpark’s front entrance that cuts off water to restrooms and concessions inside. The game will be made up as part of a Sunday doubleheader.


Sunday, August 17
The Angels blow an opportunity to take sole possession of first in the AL West (beyond percentage points) when closer Huston Street allows the only four Texas batters he faces to reach in the ninth; two of them score to give the Rangers a 3-2 victory, ending a nine-game losing skid against Los Angeles of Anaheim. It’s the first blown save—and first runs allowed—for Street in 13 appearances since being traded from San Diego.

The Rockies, who have won just 21 games over the previous 88 days, sweep a day-night doubleheader over the Reds with a premium of excitement. In the first game, Colorado rallies for five ninth-inning runs with the help of Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman, who walks the only four batters he faces; they all score, the final two on the strength of Drew Stubbs’ three-run homer to win the game, 10-9. In the nightcap, the Rockies find more ease in triumphing with a 10-5 decision, as Michael Cuddyer—on his first day back in action after two-plus months—becomes the seventh Rockie to hit for the cycle.

The resilient Nationals, after blowing a 5-3 lead to the Pirates in the ninth, tie it back up in the bottom of the inning on an Asdrubal Cabrera single—then wins it in the 11th as Jayson Werth comes home on a Scott Hairston sac fly. The 6-5 victory is Washington’s sixth in a row.

Bud Light
As had been widely anticipated for months, Rob Manfred was voted in as baseball’s new commissioner by major league owners this past week. But it wasn’t easy.

Election Day on Thursday began with three candidates vying for MLB’s top job: Manfred, Boston Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner and MLB VP of Business Tim Brosnan. The slate narrowed to two when Brosnan dropped out in the morning. That left Manfred, Bud Selig’s Number Two and the guy long groomed for the post, and Werner—a protest candidate of sorts, propped up by anti-Manfred elements led by Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf.

The first vote gave Manfred 20 votes—three shy of what was needed for election. Manfred received one more vote on a second ballot as Werner got the other nine, which according to voting rules eliminated him because he failed to receive ten. So from that point on, it became a weird process of Manfred basically trying to get more votes while basically running against no one. Only in MLB.

Eventually Manfred got the 23 needed—and it was later announced that a final, official vote had him being elected unanimously, meaning Selig twisted enough arms to warrant a strong dose of Tylenol or, more simply, the anti-Manfred faction realized it just wasn’t going to win.

Protest…What, Exactly?
Why Manfred had to sweat it out over Werner is beyond us. With Selig, Manfred has overseen 20 years of utterly explosive financial growth, labor peace and an evolving era of aggressive PED enforcement. Like George H. Bush after Ronald Reagan, Manfred will likely stay the course and maintain the positive status quo, although he will have to absorb and perfect Selig’s uncanny negotiating prowess.

Werner, meanwhile, may have seen success with the Red Sox in his ten years there, but he’s not the one running the show—and he’s not on our list of the ten worst owners ever for nothing, having experienced a disastrous short reign with the San Diego Padres back in the early 1990s. Had Werner succeeded in the vote, he almost certainly would have been on puppet strings by Reinsdorf and a few other owners—most notably Los Angeles of Anaheim’s Arte Moreno—to do their bidding and get confrontational with the union, potentially bringing baseball back to the dark ages of union-management horn locking.

Sit Down, Jerry—Better Yet, Leave
We’re hoping this is the end of Reinsdorf’s power run in baseball. As the longest tenured (33 years) owner currently in the majors, the 78-year-old Reinsdorf has riled enough people that we really wish it was Philip Bosco from My Best Friend’s Wedding running the White Sox instead.

Reinsdorf is the man who almost stole the White Sox away to Florida before local politicos gave him a sweetheart deal to build a terrible new version of Comiskey Park. He’s the man who led the coup to get rid of Fay Vincent and recreate the commissionership as one that would oversee the best interests of the owners, not the game. He’s the man who led the hard line against players that led to the 1994 strike, canceling that year’s postseason. He’s the man who lectured fellow owners about the evils of massive long-term deals, then turned on his own philosophy by signing Albert Belle to a record contract, infuriating the lecturees. He’s the man who threw up the white flag on the 1997 White Sox by dealing away three of his best pitchers at the trading deadline—even though they were just two games behind the divisional leader.

Rob Manfred has many issues to deal with as he takes over Selig’s chair. Shorter games. New Biogenesis-related revelations. Where to move the Oakland A’s. The Orioles-Nationals fistfight over local TV revenue. Maybe he should put this item toward the top of his to-do list: Kindly ushering Jerry Reinsdorf out of baseball. The game would be far better for it.

Will it Play in Amsterdam?
As possibly one of his last moves as commissioner, Selig is working on a regular season opener set in Europe. London and Amsterdam are considered the favorites for such a game, but the latter location would likely win out given that they are said to have a baseball-ready facility. If this takes place, it will continue the trend of overseas regular season matchups that have grown more extensive over the years, with games first in Japan, then Australia. Who knows; maybe the Middle East will be next. (On second thought, maybe not.)

My 19-inning Game is Better Than Years
The previous weekend, the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim played 19 innings in what was the season’s longest game—that was, until the Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers matched them inning for inning the next day with a marathon of their only. But there were plenty of numbers to throw out that easily made the Jays-Tigers game at Toronto all the more eye-popping. Consider this:

* The Jays-Tigers game lasted six hours and 37 minutes.

* For Toronto, it was the longest game by time and innings in its history.

* There were a total of 639 pitches thrown in the game.

* A total of 43 men were left on base.

* Toronto’s Melky Cabrera reached base eight times—three by hits, five by walks.

* There were 33 strikeouts and 19 walks—seven of them intentional.

A Fragile Criticism
All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki vented his frustration on the Colorado Rockies’ recent run of losing seasons, telling the Denver Post: “…I’m sick and tired of losing….That lineup we featured in April, and some of our pitchers being healthy, was good enough to win. But things kind of fell apart and fell apart quickly.”

Unless the team trainer isn’t doing his job, Tulowitzki can’t blame much of anybody for the Rockies’ troubles. Every year seems like a broken record in Colorado: Strong start, followed by a mass of injuries, followed by a rotten second half played by a virtual B-team.

We did some research and we discovered this: When the Rockies’ two biggest hitting threats—Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez—are in the lineup together, the team’s record over the last five years is 196-216. Not great to be sure, but not horrible. But when both players are out of the lineup—something that seems to happen more than just occasionally, especially as the season winds down—the Rockies are 145-213. (Both players are out for the rest of this season.)

Now that’s not good. There’s been a lot of criticism levied of late on Rockies owner Dick Monfort for not building a better team, but the bigger problem for now is that the team that he has built keeps breaking down too easily and too quickly.

Southpaw Madness
Not that it’s helped the Rockies’ plight of late, but it’s worth noting: Colorado recently set a major league record by starting left-handed pitchers in 20 straight games, breaking the mark held by the Kansas City Royals in 1982. The Rockies lost 15 of those 20 games.

Quotas and Challenges and Errors, Oh My…
This Week in MLB Video Replay Gone Wrong
wounded of the weekFile this one under “It ain’t over until it’s over:” Wednesday before last at Colorado, Chicago Cubs manager
Rick Renteria decided to challenge an out call at first base with two men gone in the top of the ninth—and the Cubs trailing, 13-4. A two-minute review ensued with the umpires telling Renteria that the initial call was right and that it was past time to go home.

Hard Hat Advice
Miami reliever
Dan Jennings was drilled in the side of the head from a sharp comebacker off the bat of the Pirates’ Jordy Mercer a few weeks back at Pittsburgh; the ball was hit so hard that it ricocheted high into the air and was caught by shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria for the out. Jennings, meanwhile, stumbled about on the mound clearly looking confused before dropping to the ground. He was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion, but nothing more. Thankfully.

Pitchers have been mocking the oversized protective cap now available for use; San Diego’s Alex Torres is the only one to dare wear it. But listen up: It’s possible that if Jennings was wearing the special cap, he might have been spared the concussion.

No Longer Afraid of Alfredo
Midnight has come early for one of baseball’s Cinderella stories, that of Cincinnati pitcher
Alfredo Simon. He was named to the National League All-Star team with a league-leading 12 wins (against three losses) and a 2.70 ERA, but the post-break portion of the season hasn’t been kind to the 33-year-old Dominican whose spent the bulk of his career as a reliever. In his six starts since the break, Simon is 0-5 with a 5.46 ERA; he’s lasted longer than five innings in only one of those starts, suggesting that the exhaust from all the innings thrown thus far (a career high 148) is starting to catch up to him.

This Ain’t No Lawrence Welk Show
The Los Angeles Dodgers were told by MLB to stop using a bubble machine it puts into action in the dugout whenever one of their players hits a home run. No one knows why baseball wanted to put the kibosh on it, and MLB even declined comment when pressed by the Los Angeles Times for comment.

The Longest No-Hitter
The Triple-A Rochester Red Wings finished up a no-hitter this past Monday that had begun 18 days earlier. Yes, weather had a lot to do with it. It all started back on July 24 when
Trevor May threw three no-hit innings against the Durham Bulls in North Carolina, but heavy rains ensued and stopped the game. They picked it back up on Monday—back at the Red Wings’ home in upstate New York—and Logan Darnell took over for May to finish the no-no. Was May there to celebrate? No. He had since been called up by the parent club in Minnesota.

Progressively Less
There was a time when the Cleveland Indians would have been crazy to reduce the capacity to what was then called Jacobs Field, back when the team was in the midst of a then-record run of 455 straight sellouts at the new, 43,000-seat facility. But as the Tribe have fallen way back in the attendance charts—they’ve only draw over 30,000 four times this year, once for Opening Day, once for July 4 fireworks and twice because the nearby Tigers were in town—there’s less need for all the seats that sit mostly unoccupied.

The bulk of the change-up will be done behind right field, where seats will be removed in favor of an open-air patio, restaurants and bars, an expanded kid’s playground and relocated, elevated bullpens. The renovation will reduce capacity to 35,000 and will be paid for privately between the Indians and the team’s concessionaire, Delaware North.

Catch of the Year
And it came from 65-year-old
Mike Pullin, who kept the ball in the park…literally, stretching beyond the back-row railing in Wrigley Field’s left field from going onto Waveland Avenue. The crowd cheered even more wildly when he threw the ball back on the field—except it’s not the one he caught. Devious man, he. Perhaps he saw the value in the ball, hit off the bat of Milwaukee’s Mark Reynolds—who with the blast reached 20 homers for the seventh straight year with his fifth team during that span.

Catches of the Year
Probably the only guy more satisfied than Pullin was
Tim Pinkard, who was sitting in the Crawford Boxes at Houston’s Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night. The Astros’ Chris Carter banged two homers over the short left-field wall, and Pinkard snared them both. You’re probably thinking Astros, bad team, bleachers…only one guy sitting there. Nope; they were half filled.

League of Their Blown
It may not have been as blatant as misspelling
Troy Tulowitzki’s name on the back of a giveaway jersey, but those looking closely at the Miguel Cabrera MVP bobbleheads given out to 10,000 fans at Detroit’s Comerica Park on Friday night nevertheless spotted a slight inaccuracy. Engraved on the MVP plaque held by the bobbling Cabrera was “Most Valuable Player, National League.” Maybe it would have all made sense if Cabrera had won a MVP with the Florida Marlins—but he never did.

Oh, I Thought It Was Kilometers Per Hour
It was revealed this past week that Washington outfielder
Jayson Werth was caught speeding in Northern Virginia last month. And he was cranking at 105 MPH in a 55 zone. The charge is reckless driving, and he could face jail time for it—though we’re betting he probably won’t. His court date has been set for November 12.

From Us
We apologize, by the way, for the unscheduled week off from the Comebacker last week. Sometimes the bandwidth gets a bit too wide; it was, in our ten years of the daily/weekly, our first miss. It’s not a total loss; some of the material we prepped for the Comebacker that never was appears here this week.

This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
This past week ends with the longest active hitting streak belonging to a guy who hasn’t played in over a month. Minnesota star hitter
Joe Mauer, who’s just getting back into rehab action after an oblique injury, has a 12-game streak that last got enhanced on July 1 before he went on the disabled list. He’s hitting .362 during his delayed run.

League vs. League
Time is running out for the National League to keep the rival American League from being crowned interleague champs for the 11th straight year. Of the 44 interleague games left this year, the AL only needs to win 11 to clinch, so obviously the NL has its work cut out for them.

Wounded of the Week
wounded of the weekIt was a tough week for contenders trying to hold their rosters together as a rash of injuries hit baseball in general. The Los Angeles Dodgers lost shortstop Hanley Ramirez (strained oblique), pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu (strained hip) and third baseman Juan Uribe (strained hamstring), though all are expected back within the 15-day minimum; the Detroit Tigers lost pitcher Anibal Sanchez (pectoral strain, 3-4 weeks) and reliever Joakim Soria (strained oblique, at least three weeks); the Cincinnati Reds lost pitcher Homer Bailey to a bum elbow that may take more than 15 days to heal; the Oakland A’s lost infielder Jed Lowrie with a broken finger (15 days), while the rival Angels lost pitcher Tyler Skaggs to a season-ending elbow injury; and AL East-leading Baltimore lost third baseman Manny Machado to a sprained right knee, the same one he beat up late last year that cost him the rest of that season. This time, the Orioles are hoping he’s out for only the minimum 15 days.

Among the non-contenders, injuries benched New York Mets rookie pitcher Jacob deGrom (tendinitis), Texas ace Yu Darvish (elbow inflammation), Cleveland outfielder David Murphy (oblique, out one month), and fragile Colorado pitcher Brett Anderson, who’s out for the rest of the year—again—after undergoing back surgery. Since his 2009 rookie season with Oakland (in which he started 30 games), Anderson has roughly been on the shelf two-thirds of the time.


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


share this page with a friendShare this page with a friend.

Have a comment, question or request? Contact us at This Great Game.

© 2014 This Great Game.