This Great Game Comebacker

The Week That Was in Baseball: May 26-June 1, 2014
The Best and Worst From the Month of May Cobb County's Sneaky Ballpark Nod
Dr. James Andrews’ Nine Commandments Zack Greinke's Newest Streak


Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
24 9 10 2 0 5 10 7 0 0 0

The veteran slugger continued to pound away this past week, wrapping up a monstrous month in which he tied Mickey Mantle’s all-time AL May record for homers; his first day of June, on Sunday, showed no let up as he went deep again. It isn’t merely that he’s hitting home runs; he’s crushing them with lofty high arcs that land well over 400 feet away from the plate. After totaling 42 and 36 homers in each of his last two seasons, Encarnacion is on pace to belt over 50 in 2014.


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
23 9 12 6 1 1 4 2 0 2 0

It’s a shame that a great week for the 26-year-old outfielder had to come to a painful halt when he had his hand broken by a Johnny Cueto pitch on Saturday, an injury that will cost him up to eight weeks. Until then, Pollock was on a rampage with a trio of three-hit games that lifted his May average to .372 and his season mark to .316. Nobody is more frustrated over the injury than the Diamondbacks, who were hoping to have Pollock lift them out of an early season funk.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
25 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0

Welcoming in a new child is always an occasion to celebrate and pass the cigars, but paternity leave did no favors for the Baltimore slugger upon his return to the game—too bad, because he had started to show off some of his remarkable 2013 form just prior to the due date. Instead, Davis showed off the subpar results that dragged him through April and into May. Davis’ season average is down to .230 with 52 strikeouts in 148 at-bats, something that looks more like the Davis from his woeful Texas days.


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Peter Bourjos, St. Louis Cardinals

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

Three years ago, the speedy outfielder looked like a star on the rise with a triple-double (at least ten doubles, triples and homers each) and 22 steals for the Angels; what’s followed are two part-time seasons and a trade to St. Louis—where his chance to return to everyday form just hasn’t worked out. Bourjos hit rock bottom this past week as his season average dropped to .204 while facing a possible demotion back to the bench with the promotion of Oscar Taveras from the minors.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
1-0 12 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 13

Went the White Sox ace went on the DL back in mid-April, everyone wished him the same thing: “Get well.” Get well is exactly what Sale has done—in fact, he’s been beyond well. The only thing that stopped him this past week was a two-hour rain delay in his Tuesday start against the Indians that cut his night short at three no-hit innings; otherwise, he threw a two-hitter on Sunday against San Diego for his sixth career complete game. Since coming off the shelf, Sale has allowed three hits and a walk over 18 innings with 23 strikeouts


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Josh Collmenter, Arizona Diamondbacks

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
1-0 9 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5

The 28-year-old right-hander from Homer, Michigan had an efficient night against Cincinnati on Thursday, firing a three-hit shutout and facing the minimum 27 batters as the three Reds who reached were eliminated via the double play. He’s the 13th pitcher to give up three-plus hits and still face just 27 batters in going the distance. Not bad for a guy who’s been bouncing back and forth between the bullpen and rotation over four seasons with the Diamondbacks.


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Aaron Brooks, Kansas City Royals

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 0.2 5 7 7 3 0 2 0 0 0

Four weeks to the day of his first major league appearance—giving up six runs in a late relief role—Brooks got his first start and fared even worse. Much worse. The first eight Blue Jays he faced reached safely—three by hits, three by walks and two by getting plunked. The ninth batter hit into a double play, but by then it was too little too late for manager Ned Yost, who removed Brooks. In his two appearances, Brooks has allowed 13 runs in 2.2 innings. For those trying to do the math, this is his ERA: 43.88.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Tim Stauffer, San Diego Padres

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 0.1 6 7 7 1 0 0 0 0 1

The Maine native has hung around the Padres for a decade as something of a soldier, getting long relief duty with the occasional start thrown in. The results haven’t been remarkable but also not catastrophic—that was, until this past Wednesday at Arizona when seven of the first eight batters to face him reached base. Stauffer didn’t get to face a ninth, as he was pulled in what was undoubtedly his shortest-ever stint as a starter. Strange, too, given he had allowed just two runs over 18 innings in nine previous appearances, all in relief; maybe that's just where he belongs.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Boston Red Sox (7-0)

Will the real Red Sox please stand up? After threatening to self-destruct under the weight of a ten-game losing skid, the defending champions rebounded and reeled in seven straight wins this past week, starting with a four-game, home-and-home sweep of Atlanta and ending with a most satisfying three-game weekend punishment on the Rays, who’ve really gotten under the skin of the Red Sox and David Ortiz in particular. The seven wins after a double-digit losing streak ties a major league record previously set twice.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
San Francisco Giants (5-2)

The Giants got the week off to a bad start when they were on the losing end of Jeff Samardzija’s first win while someone stole Hunter Pence’s scooter, but it was all San Francisco the rest of the week, as the pitching scooped up three shutout wins, the offense struck early and often in taking three of four on the road at St. Louis—and the scooter got returned. The Giants end the week with, easily, the majors’ best record at 37-20.


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Tampa Bay Rays (0-6)

While the Red Sox ascend back toward the top, the Rays continue to flatline. (These guys are supposed to win the AL, right?) Running into two hot teams on the road at Toronto and Boston didn’t help, but neither did sloppy play that plagued the team—such as Juan Carlos Oviedo’s ninth-inning error that cost the Rays one game, and the colliding outfielders at Boston a night later that cost them another. This team desperately needs to regroup to prove the pundits right.


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Colorado Rockies (1-5)

Remember a few weeks earlier when the Rockies were hitting .350 at home, .300 overall and everyone was actually healthy? How quickly the memories fade. Colorado has lost 14 of its last 20 and are right back to Square One—or, translated in baseball terms, the .500 mark. Coors Field is sorely needed after a long road trip, and the Rockies will get it this week with the start of a ten-game homestand—but one wonders if things will ever improve while the impressionable Nolan Arenado remains on the disabled list.


Best and Worst of the Week

Monday, May 26
A day after Josh Beckett throws a no-hitter, Dodgers teammate Hyun-jin Ryu nearly one-ups him as he takes a perfect game against Cincinnati into the eighth inning at Los Angeles. But the Reds’ Todd Frazier wraps a single to lead off the eighth, and Ryu spends the rest of his outing just trying to survive for the win, which the Dodgers do barely get, 4-3. Ryu’s perfection does extend a streak of hitless innings thrown by Dodgers pitching to 17, a franchise record.

Snake-bitten Jeff Samardzija gives up a season-high four runs in seven innings—but ironically picks up his first win of the year as the Chicago Cubs generously (and finally) support him with an 8-4 victory at San Francisco. Samardzija had previously gone winless in his ten starts to begin 2014—and 16 straight going back to last season—with a major league-leading 1.46 ERA.

Samardzija isn’t the only pitching feeling the rare thrill of victory. Philadelphia’s Ken Kendrick also wins for the first time in 16 starts, as the Phillies easily take care of the visiting Colorado Rockies, 9-0. During his slide, Kendrick was 0-10 with a 5.13 ERA.

The Boston Red Sox snap a ten-game losing streak—their longest in 20 years—despite Clay Buchholz spotting the Braves with an early five-run lead by allowing six runs on four hits and eight walks in three innings. David Ortiz comes to the rescue with four RBIs, including a three-run homer in a five-run fifth to win, 8-6. The Red Sox avoid an 11th straight loss that would have tied a record for a defending world champion.

The Baltimore Orioles rebound from a 6-3 deficit in the seventh to take the Brewers into extra innings and win in the tenth at Milwaukee, 7-6. The game-winning hit is supplied by Nick Hundley—playing his first game for the Orioles after being traded from the San Diego Padres.

Five different Oakland players homer as the A’s break a four-game losing skid and squash the still-struggling Detroit Tigers at the Coliseum, 10-0. The last of the five blasts is an eighth-inning grand slam by Derek Norris.


Tuesday, May 27
Mark Buehrle earns his major league-leading ninth win and Edwin Encarnacion goes deep for the tenth time in 12 games as the Blue Jays capture their eighth straight victory, a 9-6 decision over the visiting Tampa Bay Rays.

For the second night in a row, the Orioles bounce back from an early Milwaukee lead—this time, a 5-0 margin after four innings—and again take the Brewers into extra innings. But the story tonight has a different and more unique ending; Milwaukee wins it in the tenth, 7-6, when pitcher Yovani Gallardo—thrown in to pinch-hit with the Brewers out of position players—doubles deep to left-center with two outs to bring home Mark Reynolds from first.

Lance Lynn throws his first career complete game and shutout when he blanks the visiting New York Yankees on five hits at St. Louis, 6-0. Lynn throws 126 pitches and strikes out only two batters—while striking out all four times he appears at the plate.


Wednesday, May 28
Tim Lincecum, who threw a no-hitter on 148 pitches last season, is pulled after five no-hit innings that include four walks and 96 pitches—only 52 of them for strikes. The Giants bullpen carries the no-no into the seventh before the Cubs eventually get two hits, but still win handedly over Chicago, 5-0.

Anibal Sanchez’s attempt for a shutout at Oakland is ruined as he departs with one out in the ninth—and his chance to win the game is ruined when Detroit closer Joe Nathan concedes a three-run homer to Josh Donaldson, giving the host A’s a 3-1 walk-off win. Oakland pitcher Scott Kazmir goes the distance and earns only the second complete game victory in his ten-year career.

The Blue Jays pick up their ninth straight win on the strength of an unchallenged blown call and a ninth-inning error. Edwin Encarnacion’s two-run, first-inning single puts Toronto on the board, but Jose Bautista never touches home to end the play and the Rays don’t ask for a review. Tied 2-2 in the ninth, Anthony Gose’s sacrifice bunt attempt is botched by Tampa Bay closer Juan Carlos Oviedo when he throws it wildly down the right-field line; Kevin Pillar scores all the way from first for a 3-2, walk-off win.

Houston wins its fifth straight game as George Springer goes deep for the sixth time in as many games, while Chris Carter connects on two blasts to give the Astros an easy 9-3 road victory at struggling Kansas City. Springer’s nine blasts for May is a Houston rookie record.

The off-again, on-again Bartolo Colon is on as he tosses 7.1 shutout innings and racks up his 2,000th career strikeout to help the Mets glide past Pittsburgh at New York, 5-0. Among active pitchers (discounting the vacationing Ryan Dempster), only CC Sabathia (2,437) and A.J. Burnett (2,233) have more lifetime K’s.


Thursday, May 29
The Red Sox have now reeled off four consecutive wins—all against the Braves. Boston wraps up a four-game, home-and-home sweep of the Braves as its scores two in the eighth to tie, then the game-winner in the ninth as Atlanta third baseman Chris Johnson makes a nice dive on a Xander Bogaerts grounder but throws it wildly to second, allowing Jackie Bradley Jr. to score in a 4-3 victory.

Edwin Encarnacion stays hot; the Blue Jays don’t. The Toronto slugger goes deep twice for his fifth multi-homer game of the month to tie a MLB record also held by Harmon Killebrew (May 1959) and Albert Belle (September 1995), but the Jays’ bid for their tenth straight win is thrown away in the ninth when Jose Reyes’ two-out throwing error in the ninth ties the game for the visiting Royals; Kansas City takes an 8-6 triumph an inning later on a two-run Omar Infante single.

George Springer stays hot; so do the Astros, who take their sixth straight at Houston over Baltimore, 3-1. The rookie outfielder breaks a 1-1 tie in the seventh with a two-run homer, his seventh in seven days; among rookies, only Rudy York (in 1937) has accomplished that.

Arizona’s Josh Collmenter throws a beauty of a shutout, throwing just 94 pitches and facing the minimum 27 batters despite allowing three hits—all of who are retired on double plays. The 4-0 Diamondbacks victory over the visiting Reds is the first career blanking for Collmenter.


Friday, May 30
AL East rivals Tampa Bay and Boston spar yet again, as the benches clear in the fourth inning after Rays pitcher David Price—whose control is so sharp that he’s walked only nine batters in 84 innings on the season—hits his second Red Sox player of the night. Ultimately, four players including three Boston managers (yes, three) are ejected, and the Red Sox come back from a 2-0 deficit to win in ten on an A.J. Pierzynski triple, 3-2. It’s Boston’s fifth straight win after absorbing a ten-game losing streak, which had been their longest since an 11-game drought in 1994—and curiously, that skid was also followed by a five-game win streak.

In his first start since throwing a no-hitter, Los Angeles pitcher Josh Beckett allows two runs on five hits in five innings and takes a 2-1 loss to the visiting Pirates; earning the victory is Francisco Liriano, who had been the only ERA-qualified starter without a win.

In a game designated as the annual MLB Civil Rights Game, the Astros win their seventh straight when Jonathan Villar—mired in a 0-for-26 slump—hits a tie-breaking ground rule double in the seventh inning for a 2-1 triumph. It’s a good night for a rousing win; the crowd of 38,482 is the largest at Minute Maid Park since Opening Day against the Yankees.

Devin Mesoraco cranks two home runs—including a second-inning grand slam off former batterymate Bronson Arroyo—and knocks in five RBIs as the Cincinnati Reds prevail at Arizona, 6-4.


Saturday, May 31
Highly praised prospect Oscar Taveras makes his major league debut for the Cardinals and homers in his second at-bat to open the scoring against San Francisco in the fifth; Michael Wacha completes six shutout innings and St. Louis cools off the Giants, 2-0.

Even with their hottest pitcher, Dallas Keuchel, on the mound, the Astros can’t extend their winning streak as they bump into the Orioles’ hottest hitter, Nelson Cruz—who doubles, homers and knocks in three runs in Baltimore’s 4-1 win at Minute Maid Park. Cruz finishes May with 20 homers and 52 RBIs on the season to date; only seven other players have ever reached 20-50 before June.

A day after the Mets and Phillies tangle for 14 innings at Philadelphia, they do it again—with the Mets gaining revenge for their Friday loss with a 6-5 win thanks to David Wright’s two-out, run-scoring single. For the Phillies, it’s the first time in 132 seasons of existence that they’ve played back-to-back games of at least 14 innings.

It’s a big night for Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes before a rare sellout at the Coliseum (1974 world champion reunion night); he doubles, triples, homers, knocks in five runs and throws out two runners at home in the same inning as the A’s score ten runs over the seventh and eighth frames to pull away over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 11-3. Oakland expands its lead in the AL West to 3.5 games over the second-place Angels.

The Indians edge the visiting Rockies, 7-6, thanks to eighth-place hitter Lonnie Chisenhall and ninth-place hitter Mike Aviles, who combine to knock in all seven Cleveland runs. It’s only the same time ever that a team has scored seven or more runs with all RBIs recorded from the 8 and 9 spots in the lineup.


Sunday, June 1
Phil Hughes returns to Yankee Stadium as a member of the Minnesota Twins and tames his former team for eight strong innings, allowing two runs on three hits to improve to 6-1 on the year in the Twins’ 7-2 victory.

Mark Buehrle becomes the majors’ first ten-game winner with eight shutout innings and Edwin Encarnacion goes deep—again—as the Blue Jays shut down the Royals at Toronto, 4-0.

The Mets and Phillies are fit to be tied—again. This time, the two teams go 11 innings before Lucas Duda’s two-run shot gives New York a 4-3 win at Philadelphia. It’s the first time since 1991 that two teams have played three straight games of at least 11 innings.


The Anonymous Stars of May
When a major leaguer shoots out of the starting gate and has a terrific April—like Jose Abreu, Johnny Cueto and Charlie Blackmon all did this season—everyone knows about it because the statistics are right there. If they follow up with a lousy May, many fans won’t be clued into it because they still remember how good they were to start the year.

It doesn’t work the other way around. Have a lousy or even ordinary April and get hot in May, few will notice unless it’s shouted about in the press or if fans decide to go to an online stat page and see the May splits.

So, to give the stars (and busts) of May a bit of glory (or shame), here’s the best and worst players/teams the month had to offer:

Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion made the most noise, getting media attention for conking out 16 home runs—tying Mickey Mantle for the most ever hit in May.

Encarnacion’s power outburst helped the Blue Jays’ offense top the charts for the month in average (.277) and, easily, home runs (48) and runs (165). That, in turn, greatly helped Toronto sport the majors’ best May record at 21-9.

Yasiel Puig got a lot of attention in April, but notoriety had more to do with that. In May, his bat did all of the talking; he hit .398 with ten doubles, eight homers and 25 RBIs.

After a solid April, Nelson Cruz was even better in May—hitting .339 with 13 homers, second to Encarnacion. And to think: He was unsigned when training camps opened.

The Houston Astros turned in their first winning record (15-14) since September 2010 thanks to Jose Altuve’s .357 average and major league-leading 45 hits (plus an Al-leading 11 steals), rookie George Springer’s ten homers, and 24 walks from outfielder Dexter Fowler to lead all players.

It was a month for Washington’s Danny Espinosa to forget. He collected just ten hits in 80 at-bats for a .125 average and led all major leaguers with 37 strikeouts.

The heart of the Detroit Tigers’ order was a frightening prospect for opposing pitchers. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez combined to hit a staggering .376 (83-for-221) with 20 doubles, 17 homers and 55 RBIs. Cabrera’s 34 RBIs led all major leaguers.

Overall, the Tigers’ offense punched out 70 doubles to lead all teams—but was the only team unable to record a triple.

The substantial absences of Joey Votto and Jay Bruce had a big impact on the Cincinnati Reds, who scored fewer runs (86) and reached base less (.288 on-base percentage) than any other team.

Their was a power outage seen across Missouri. The St. Louis Cardinals (11 home runs) and Kansas City Royals (13) were easily the two worst teams in this category.

The Texas Rangers need to work on their basestealing skills. They swiped 14 bags in May—and were caught another 14 times.

The majors’ best May ERA belonged to the Chicago Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija, who penned a 1.32 figure despite an ongoing failure to rack up wins—finally getting his first of the season this past Monday.

Andrew Miller, meanwhile, was the Samardzija of relievers. In 15 appearances, Miller had a 0.86 WHIP, 2.57 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 14 innings—and still lost four games. (He finally won one on Friday.)

Cleveland’s Corey Kluber was 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA in six starts, but the real eye-opener among his May numbers was 60 strikeouts and just eight walks in 43 innings.

Minnesota’s Phil Hughes (3-0, 1.62 ERA) went the entire month without walking a single batter in 33.1 innings.

The Colorado Rockies recorded just two saves in May. They blew four other chances.

The Chicago Cubs had the third-best WHIP (1.19) but still finished with the majors’ second-worst record at 11-16.

Scorn on the Cobb
As we prepare to launch The Ballparks, our new section on This Great Game, it’s such a shame that the magnificence, beauty and genuine character of the modern palaces of baseball sometimes has to come at the cost of the erosion of government trust—or whatever’s left of it to erode.

A head-shaking case in point was to be found this past week in Cobb County, Georgia, where county commissioners gave approval to a $627 million ballpark/entertainment complex that will serve as the new home of the Atlanta Braves. According to multiple news sources, the commission quietly scheduled, late on Friday before Memorial Day, a public hearing for Tuesday to approve the facility. There were a dozen slots open for public voices to speak their opinion on the project, and they were already filled shortly after lunch on Tuesday, well before the hearing; pro-ballpark business interests, it was said, rallied supporters to get in line before the anti-ballpark crowd got wind of the meeting. Those of the latter ilk who tried to speak up at the meeting were escorted away by police. The five County commissioners unanimously approved the ballpark, 5-0, and county taxpayers will now be on the hook for $397 million to help pay for the new facility while the Braves will chip in $230 million. The closest thing to democracy that Cobb County citizens will experience in regards to the ballpark is the opportunity to vote the commissioners out of office, should they choose to do so.

The Braves, for one, are happy about that the public never got to vote; team president John Schuerholz admitted that early negotiations on the project were kept secret because, had they been aired out, “the deal would not have gotten done.” That led to a funny social media comment from a Deadspin reader who typed: “If the public had gotten wind of this, there might have been a few rounds of debate. And, as we've learned, the Braves almost never make it past the first round.”

As baseball historians, we’ll be all over this ballpark when it opens, to discover its quirks, its positives, its cool factor. But we’ll also be grimacing at the political mechanizations that forged it into existence.

Slow it Down and Throw Smart
The American Sports Medicine Institute, headed by Dr. James Andrews—the go-to for major league pitchers seeking opinions on whether their bothersome arms require Tommy John surgery—released a paper this past week spelling out nine ways a pitcher can minimize his chances of having to go under the knife. Among them are increased and honest communications with coaches and doctors, practicing or warming up at less than “maximum effort,” resting up during the winter and not pitching with “100% effort”—as the pitchers’ objective should be to “prevent baserunners and runs, not to light up the radar gun.”

The paper also debunks four urban legends regarding Tommy John surgery: That TJ makes you better and throw harder after surgery, that the curveball is a bigger risk than the 100-MPH fastball, that lowering the mound will reduce stress on the arms, and that Latin American players are less susceptible to injuries.

This is certain to become a dilemma for pitchers who understand the recommendations but also feel the need to fire away, since that’s their ticket to the big leagues. So whether they open up more to coaches and trainers (as they often don’t) when things start to go awry (as they often do, especially these days) will be interesting to follow.

Quotas and Challenges and Errors, Oh My…
This Week in MLB Video Replay Gone Wrong
wounded of the weekOne would have thought that the introduction of comprehensive video replay would reduce the number of manager-umpire arguments and ejections, as the final word from MLB’s War Room in New York would spread peace at ballparks across the nation in the wake of corrected calls. Not so. According to USA Today, ejections are up 22% over this time last year—and that was before the latest boxing bout this past Friday between Tampa Bay and Boston that led to four ejections.

Granted, some ejections have nothing to with instant replay, such as the aforementioned four in Boston that resulted from a beanball war. But it seemed a no-brainer conclusion that the number of managers getting the thumb would have decreased significantly with replay validating blown calls, right? Apparently, one thing expanded video replay has proven—whether done right as we suggest, or wrong as MLB has done—is that if a manager doesn’t get his way even when the evidence is too strong against him, he’ll still throw a fit. Maybe it’s just to fire his team up, or to intimidate the replay mavens back in New York—if that was ever possible.

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Sterling—But We Love You
The sale of basketball’s Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion—pending the signature of the unpredictable Donald Sterling—would be absolute music to MLB owners. Think about it: If a NBA team situated in a two-team market sharing a public arena with a far more storied franchise (the Lakers) can be valued that high, how much will the next buyer of the San Francisco Giants or Minnesota Twins or Miami Marlins fork out? The $2.15 billion that Magic Johnson and Company shelled out to rescue the Dodgers from Frank McCourt seemed astronomical at the time, but within five years it may be merely average.

So Who Autographs the Bat?
You may have saw this making the rounds via social media early this past week, but it’s worth another look; a first-row fan sitting behind the dugout at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field saves the day as a bat goes flying uncontrollably at him—while a mother and baby sitting behind him prepares for the worst.

Writing the Unwritten
ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian writes at great length about five unwritten rules of baseball and how players abide—or don’t abide—by them.

Congrats, You’ve Tied Duane Kuiper
It took 1,466 at-bats, but the Phillies’ Ben Revere finally poked out his first career home run on Tuesday against Colorado. It was the longest such stretch to start a career since Frank Taveras for the Pirates, who didn’t go deep until his 1,594th at-bat in 1977.

This Time, Definitely
A few weeks back, Los Angeles pitcher Zack Greinke was working a nice streak in which he put together 18 straight starts with five innings or more pitched and two or fewer runs allowed, breaking by one a record previously held by Ferdie Schupp in 1916. That got broken on May 5 when a lengthy rain delay in Washington limited his work to just three innings; but Greinke still didn’t allow more than two runs, so that streak continued. And then it ended last week, when he gave up three runs at New York against the Mets. But wait! One of those three runs was unearned, meaning he now had a streak of 22 straight starts with two or fewer earned runs allowed, which set another record previously held by Roger Clemens from 1990-91. Now that’s gone. When Greinke gave up a two-run homer to the Reds’ Devin Mesoraco in the eighth inning this past Tuesday, it gave him three runs allowed on the night, regardless of how they were earned.

Then came Sunday night against Pittsburgh; Greinke gave up four runs, ending a string of consecutive starts with no more than three runs allowed. He was five games shy of that record, set by Philadelphia's Chris Short from 1967-68.

This Week’s Reminder Not to Take Singles for Granted
It’s pretty rare to see right fielders throwing out runners at first base, but it happened two days in a row this past week. At the same ballpark. By the same player. That player was Toronto’s
Jose Bautista, who on Thursday against the visiting Kansas City Royals took a line drive single and turned it into a long ground out when he threw out slow-footed Billy Butler at first. The next day brought a more unusual scenario; Omar Infante hit a pop fly down the right field line he initially felt was going foul, given that he turned his back and sauntered around the plate—all before Bautista made a sliding grab and trapped the ball in fair territory, allowing him to get up and fire to first to beat a slow-reacting Infante.

A Chance to Sniff Greatness
Should the Chicago Cubs be told they can’t renovate Wrigley Field and have to get revenue elsewhere, they can start doing what they tried this past week: Selling clubhouse chairs sat upon by legends of the game. Tops on the list is a chair used by Derek Jeter when the Yankees recently visited Wrigley. Current bid: $250. Somewhere, the other 29 major league teams are mumbling to themselves: What a great idea!

Home Sale of the Week
Former slugger Jim Edmonds has reduced the price on his 10,000-square foot, three-story home in Irvine, California that he wants to sell. If you have $7 million floating around and are interested, here’s what it looks like.

Are You A-OK, Aoki? (No We Didn’t Think So)
They often say, no pain, no gain—but we don’t know what Kansas City outfielder Norichika Aoki had to gain from a pretty brutal week on the field. First, he whirled around and fell completely to the ground while swinging and missing at a pitch; then came Friday in Toronto, when he chased down a foul ball, only to have it land on the part of the body Steve Martin once referred to in The Jerk as his “special purpose.” Let’s just hope that Aoki was wearing a cup.

This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
Joltin’ Joe yawns anew as no one’s making an advanced run at his legendary mark of 56 straight games with a hit. This past week ends with the longest active run belonging to the Cardinals’
Matt Carpenter, who’s hit safely in 14 straight. During his streak, Carpenter is batting .390.

League vs. League
The American League opened up its league on its NL rivals this past week, winning 12 of 19 interleague games to improve its record on the year to 59-50. Ever since the NL had a 26-18 advantage a month ago, the AL has won 41 of 65 interleague matches; they’re trying to win the league vs. league wars for the 11th straight year.

Wounded of the Week
wounded of the weekThis week saw yet two more pitchers succumb to Tommy John surgery, both from the Southland: Los Angeles reliever Chris Withrow and Los Angeles of Anaheim reliever Sean Burnett are both scheduled to go under the knife. For Burnett, it’s his second TJ operation.

The Dodgers also got bad news on the injury front with ankle sprains to outfielder Carl Crawford and catcher A.J. Ellis—the latter occurring when he stepped on the mask of fellow catcher Drew Butera while celebrating Josh Beckett’s no-hitter a week ago.

The list of new entrants into MLB’s Medical Ward rounds out with injuries to Cleveland outfielder Nick Swisher (hyperextended knee), Boston pitcher Clay Buchholz (also with a hyperextended knee), St. Louis first baseman Matt Adams (calf) Tampa Bay catcher Ryan Hanigan (hamstring) and outfielder Wil Myers (wrist), and Arizona outfielder A.J. Pollock, who broke his hand while swinging and missing.

He Said What?
“If you're mad because I take you deep twice, let me let you know. I’ve got almost 500 homers in this league. It's part of the game, son.”—Boston’s
David Ortiz, ranting at Tampa Bay ace David Price, who plunked Ortiz during a 3-2 Red Sox victory on Friday.


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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