This Great Game Comebacker

The Week That Was in Baseball: May 27-June 2, 2013
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The Latest First-Round "Bust" in Tampa Bay The 111-Year-Old Yankees Fan

Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
27 10 13 1 0 4 6 1 0 0 0

The belated legend continues to grow. We say “belated” because of all those seemingly hopeless years it took Davis to get his career into any kind of gear with the Rangers; look at him now. He’s second in the majors with a .357 average, first with 20 homers, second with 52 RBIs, third in doubles and first in slugging percentage. He’s gotten so good, even Miguel Cabrera is looking at his numbers somewhere and replying, “Wow.”


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Dominic Brown, Philadelphia Phillies

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
27 8 12 0 1 7 13 1 1 0 2

Finally, the Phillies appear to have a young guy they can look to lift this aging, beat-up team. After four homers in four games against the Red Sox to start the week, Brown continued the damage in a weekend series against the Brewers with three more blasts, and fell just a double shy of the cycle on Sunday. Brown’s 16 homers and 40 RBIs through the Phillies’ first 56 games have the look of vintage Ryan Howard…and he’s only 25.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Dayan Viciedo, Chicago White Sox

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
21 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

There’s an adage about Caribbean ballplayers: You don’t walk off the island, you hit off it. Now that Viciedo has been off his native Cuban soil for three years, he’s doing neither—at least not this past week, in which he could only managed a simple single while striking out ten times as his average plummeted 40 points to .244. That’s still seven points better than the White Sox as a whole, so the team is really relying on this guy to wake up and return to April-May form.


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Ruben Tejada, New York Mets

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
13 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

The Mets were mildly pleased with the young Panamanian’s performance at short in Year One AR (After Reyes), but that was then; this is now. Tejada’s 2013 campaign to date (.209) has been one of misery, and after three more lousy days to start this past week, the Mets blamed it all on a bothersome quad. Better the disabled list than Triple-A, which was where the Mets were seriously thinking of sending him.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Bartolo Colon, Oakland A's

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

Yes, we all know what we’re thinking: He’s 40, he recently did time for steroid usage, and he just became the oldest major leaguer to throw a shutout since Miguel Batista in 2011. So what’s Colon been buying from the pharmacist lately? Who knows; it just might be that the veteran right-hander who refuses to go away simply knows how to effectively pitch without all the new age trimmings, legal or otherwise. Colon’s shutout of the White Sox on Friday increased his streak of consecutive scoreless innings thrown to 18.


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
1-0 9 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7

To paraphrase Duran Duran: His name is Ryu and he dances on the land…and when he shines he really shows you all he can. The shine was definitely there on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, as the 25-year-old Korean import dazzled for nine fabulous innings of two-hit ball against the Angels for his first major league shutout (and complete game); it raised his record to 6-2 while lowering his ERA to 2.89. Maybe the dancing part was too much; he was scratched from a Sunday start at Colorado due to a sore foot.


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Jeremy Bonderman, Seattle Mariners

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 4.2 9 7 7 1 0 0 0 0 1

Once considered a rising star in the Tiger rotation before Justin Verlander became that man (a series of injuries that sidetracked his career didn’t help), Bonderman resurfaced with the Mariners on Sunday and made his first major league appearance since 2010—and performed like deadwood, getting tattooed for three homers at spacious Target Field in Minnesota before exiting partway through the fifth inning. If his minor league ERA prior to his return was 4.52, were the Mariners that desperate to bring him up?


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Matt Magill, Los Angeles Dodgers

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 6 5 7 6 8 1 0 0 0 5

Ryu’s replacement on Sunday at Denver obviously didn’t learn the golden rule of pitching in Coors Field: Don’t walk anyone. The young Californian right-hander broke that axiom with reckless abandon, serving up more bases on balls by a pitcher in one game since Ian Kennedy in 2010. The wildness (he threw 55 balls and 55 strikes) set Magill up for a pounding as the Rockies drilled four homers off him before the white flag was finally raised on his day. Mr. Magoo would have had better strike zone accuracy.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Houston Astros (6-1) (!)

This truly is a weird week when the Marlins sweep a series and you have the Astros playing the best ball of all major league teams. They did it with something they’ve badly lacked for most of the year: Solid pitching, quelling the potent Rockies in an early-week home-and-home series, then sweeping the faux-mighty Angels at Anaheim in a three-game weekend series (this time without making an illegal pitching change). Have the Astros turned the corner? If they have, look out—because the next two-plus weeks are full of softball opponents.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
St. Louis Cardinals (5-2)

We gave preseason praise to the Redbirds as the team to beat in the NL Central, but we had no idea they were going to be this good. Call-up pitchers are channeling Chris Carpenter, the staff has a sub-3.00 ERA and they’re hitting an obscene .340 with runners in scoring position (no other team is above .300). They might have gone undefeated for the week, but they couldn’t get the umpires to revert back to the eighth inning (and a 2-1 lead) in Thursday’s rain-soaked marathon loss to the Royals, while a questionable ejection of Yadier Molina ruined the vibe in a close Sunday loss to the Giants.


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Chicago White Sox (0-6)

This might be a good time for Hawk Harrelson’s wife to consider sleeping in the guest bedroom while her husband tosses and turns and curses the Pale Hittin’ Hose in his sleep. It was blasphemy enough that White Sox got swept by the lowly crosstown Cubs to start the week, but the A’s threw salt on the sore spot by shutting them out twice in a three-and-out weekend series loss; Chicago’s only shot at victory ended in the tenth inning on Saturday when they walked the winning run home for Oakland. Dadgum it!


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

Here, there and everywhere, the Giants are getting dented and bruised like a demolition derby car; it seems like it’s a matter of time that the whole vehicle collapses into a million pieces like the Bluesmobile. The defending champs were lousy in the clutch, an unfortunate player on the trainer’s table (Angel Pagan, Pablo Sandoval) and, for all that pitching greatness, it seems strange that their own two wins of the week were credited to Barry Zito and Chad Gaudin. Watch your broadside, boys!


 

 

 

Best and Worst of the Week

Monday, May 27
The Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija throws his first career shutout, two-hitting the crosstown White Sox for an easy 7-0 win. Samardzija strikes out eight and walks two; the top four hitters in the Cubs’ lineup combine for all nine of the team’s hits.

With Clay Buchholz (7-0) scratched, the Boston Red Sox pin their hopes against Philadelphia on beleaguered reliever Alfredo Aceves (1-1, 8.20 ERA)—and Aceves delivers, allowing a run in six innings as the Red Sox romp, 9-3.

The Arizona Diamondbacks sweep a day-night doubleheader from the visiting Texas Rangers despite striking out 14 times in the nighttime affair against Texas ace Yu Darvish, who becomes the first pitcher to reach 100 K’s for the year—and only the fourth American Leaguer (after Sam McDowell, Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez) to hit triple-digits through his first 11 starts of the year. But his eighth-inning home run to the D-Backs’ Didi Gregorious ties the game at 4-4; Arizona wins it in the ninth on a Cliff Pennington single.

Despite a 1-5 record and 8.58 ERA coming into the game, Seattle’s Aaron Harang gets it together and tosses a four-hit shutout against San Diego, his first blanking since 2009 and seventh of his career. Maybe next time it will be Clayton Richard’s turn; with the loss, the Padre pitcher is now 0-5 with an 8.35 ERA.


Tuesday, May 28
The New York Mets’ Matt Harvey (eight innings, one run allowed and ten strikeouts) and the Yankees’ Hiroki Kuroda (seven shutout innings) both deserve to win at Citi Field, but Mariano Rivera has a historic off-night. Leading 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth, the Yankee closer takes the mound and allows hits to all three batters he faces—with two of them scoring to give the Mets a 2-1 win. Not only is it Rivera’s first blown save in 19 tries this year, it’s the first time in his long Hall-of-Fame career that he’s failed to earn the save and not retire a single batter in the process.

Milwaukee’s Jean Segura collects six hits (all singles) to take over the NL batting race at .365, but it’s not enough as the Brewers are tipped in 14 innings by the Minnesota Twins at Miller Park, 6-5. Playing the role of hero for the Twins is rookie center fielder Aaron Hicks, who homers, robs another from the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez in the second inning and scores the eventual game-winning run in the 14th after doubling.


Wednesday, May 29
Catcher Dioner Navarro, all but forgotten since his All-Star turn in 2008 for Tampa Bay, gets a start for the Cubs and cranks out three home runs with six RBIs in a 9-3 whipping of the White Sox at Wrigley Field. Navarro, who’s bounced around numerous organizations since being let go by the Rays in 2010, had previously never hit two in a game.

Ryan Zimmerman homers in his first three at-bats to spring Washington to a 6-2, fifth-inning lead at Baltimore, but the Orioles come charging back with seven unanswered runs, including a six-run rally in the seventh capped by Chris Davis’ second blast of the night to win, 9-6. Davis finishes 4-for-4 and now leads the majors with 19 homers; Zimmerman’s hat trick, combined with that of Navarro’s, makes it the first time that two players have gone deep three times on the same day since last October 3, when Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria and Cleveland’s Dan Johnson did it.

Jered Weaver, who suffered a broken arm in his second start of the year back on April 7, returns to the mound and stymies the Dodgers for six innings (allowing a run on five hits and no walks while striking out seven) to hand the Angels a 4-3 win at Anaheim.


Thursday, May 30
The Kansas City Royals snap an eight-game skid with a 4-2 win at St. Louis that starts at 7:30—and ends at 3:14 in the morning, after nearly two rain delays totaling five and a half hours. (See story at right.) Held to just a run on two hits through the first eight innings thanks to Cardinal starting pitcher Michael Wacha (making his major league debut) and two relievers, the Royals spring to life with three ninth-inning runs off the beleaguered Mitchell Boggs (11.05 ERA), including Jeff Francoeur’s long-awaited second homer of the year. Torrential rains immediately follow, and the game is put on hold for four hours and 32 minutes before the ninth inning can be completed.

Jacoby Ellsbury sets an all-time Boston Red Sox mark with five steals in a 9-2 win at Philadelphia. The five swipes gives Ellsbury the major league lead at 21. The loss is the first for the Phillies’ Jonathan Pettibone after a 3-0 record in seven previous starts.

The Seattle Mariners give thumbs up to the moved-in fences at San Diego’s Petco Park. They club five home runs—tied for the most by a Padre opponent in Petco history—including the first two of Nick Franklin’s career in a 7-1 thrashing of the Padres. Seattle ace Felix Hernandez is unaffected by the reduced dimensions, allowing just a run on three hits through eight innings.


Friday, May 31
After failing to get a win in seven starts this year, San Diego’s Clayton Richard is thrown into emergency relief duty as the Padres run out of relievers in the 16th inning against Toronto—and throws two shutout innings to earn his elusive first victory of the year at Petco Park, 4-3. Jesus Guzman’s run-scoring single in the 17th secures the win for Richards and the Padres.

The Marlins end their latest skid—this one at nine games—and win for only the 14th time this year with a 5-1 triumph over the Mets at Marlins Park. A two-run double by pinch-hitter Jordan Brown caps a four-run, seventh-inning rally that breaks a scoreless tie.

The Orioles, who have blown one late lead after another of late, get even. Trailing 5-3 headed into the bottom of the ninth against Detroit, they pound two home runs—the second a three-run shot by Chris Dickerson to end the game—off Tiger closer Jose Valverde to secure a 7-5 win. Valverde’s blown save keeps Detroit starter Max Scherzer from improving to 7-0 on the year.


Saturday, June 1
Blown Call at Philadelphia The Phillies, rallying in the bottom of the ninth against Milwaukee, have the Brewers and closer Francisco Rodriguez on the ropes—but to the rescue comes second base umpire Mike Estabrook, who doesn’t see that Milwaukee second baseman Jean Segura never has control of the ball on a pick-off play (above) and calls pinch-runner Kyle Kendrick out. The blown call hinders the Phillie rally, which ends up a run short in a 4-3 loss.

Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila start the Tigers’ fourth inning with back-to-back-to-back home runs at Baltimore—and Miguel Cabrera caps an eight-run outburst with his fourth career grand slam to give Detroit a 10-3 win over the Orioles. Through 54 games, Cabrera has 65 RBIs, 14 more than second-place Chris Davis—and for all it’s worth, is on pace for 195, which would break Hack Wilson’s all-time mark.


Sunday, June 2
The Marlins collect a season-high 16 hits and surprisingly outmuscle the Mets and emerging ace Matt Harvey, 11-6, giving Miami its first series sweep in nearly a year. Marlin rookie outfielder Marcell Ozuna knocks out a single, double and triple—raising his season average to .333 in 31 games—and knocks in four runs.

Chris Davis becomes the first major leaguer this season to reach 20 homers, and his solo blast in the seventh inning ignites a three-run rally that gives the Orioles a lead they’ll keep against the Tigers, ultimately winning by a 4-2 count.


It Happened in May
Major league ballplayers love to do well in April because, besides just wanting to get the season out to a good start, their numbers will look good on paper since there’s no other perspective for fans to parse. For instance, a player who leads the majors with 12 homers in April gets noticed because, hey, he’s leading the majors in home runs!

So what about the guy who hits 12 out of the park in May? Where’s his glory? There isn’t much, since the monthly numbers are more hidden into the season-to-date totals, and the fans don’t notice it as much. So to give love (and yes, some rough critiques) on those who played white-hot or flamed out in the majors’ second full month of the year, here’s our picks for some of the more interesting facts and feats from May—in case you missed it. And you might have.

Adrian Beltre collected 44 hits, tied with Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera and Baltimore’s young Manny Machado. The Texas third baseman got there thanks to four four-hit games, the most in a month since Jose Reyes in June 2006.

Philadelphia’s Dominic Brown co-led the majors in home runs with Cabrera—and drew no walks in 109 at-bats.

Someone actually struck out more than Chicago White Sox über-slugger Adam Dunn, and that man was Boston’s Mike Napoli, who out-whiffed Dunn, 38-37.

Los Angeles of Anaheim catcher Chris Iannetta drew 21 walks, the month’s third-highest total—but did it playing part-time, logging only 57 at-bats.

San Francisco second baseman Marco Scutaro, after hitting .240 in April, reversed those first two numerals and hit .420 in May, easily the majors’ best.

The Tampa Bay Rays, after a languid April, had an AL-best 18-10 record and scored far more runs than anyone else with 166 (six per game).

The led-footed Atlanta Braves attempted just six steals—and succeeded on just two. Oakland had the next lowest total of swipes with seven.

The Miami Marlins remained a mess. No team had a worse record (6-22), scored fewer runs, hit for a lower average and drew fewer walks than the Floppin’ Fish.

One team did match the Marlins in the standings: The Milwaukee Brewers, burdened with the NL’s worst team ERA (4.91), also finished an abysmal 6-22.

Despite a 15-13 record, the Baltimore Orioles tied the Houston Astros for the majors’ worst ERA at 5.06.

Detroit pitchers struck out 280 batters, a figure matched only by Cleveland; 203 of those came from its rotation, only the third time starters have accrued at least 200 in a month.

Opponents hits just .213 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who furnished the majors’ best team ERA at 2.51.

Although they finished the month with a lackluster 10-18 record, the Houston Astros led the majors with 23 holds. They also led with eight blown saves, which might explain things.

Chicago Cub pitchers collectively knocked in 19 runs, the highest monthly total in National League history.

Baltimore’s Jim Johnson and Tampa Bay’s Fernando Rodney, who between them blew just five saves in 2012, failed on a combined eight opportunities in May with a 7.52 ERA.

The Angels’ Jason Vargas—a 42-53 lifetime pitcher entering May—finished the month at 5-0, a figure matched only by Arizona sophomore Pat Corbin.

The Phillies’ Cole Hamels lost all six of his starts, despite a not-that-awful 4.90 ERA.

The Orioles’ Chris Tillman served up 11 home runs in 36.2 innings.

The Astros’ Lucas Harrell walked 21 batters—and struck out only 11.

The Late, Late, Late Show
In 1985, the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets played a memorable Fourth of July contest in Georgia that ended nearly ten hours after the first pitch thanks to 19 innings and numerous rain delays. In the end—at 4:30 in the morning—the few thousand fans that remained from the sellout crowd got what they had likely come for in the first place: A postgame fireworks show.

There was no such reward for fans in St. Louis on Thursday, or in Cleveland a night (and early morning) later, except for reduced concession prices and the badge of honor they could proudly wear that said, “I survived the graveyard shift at the ballpark.”

The weather, which has been anything but kind to Midwest-based MLB games so far in 2013, reared its ugly head again on Thursday as a series of severe thunderstorms belted Busch Stadium while the Cardinals and Kansas City Royals tried to play baseball. There had already been one delay when, with the Royals suddenly coming alive in the top of the ninth with three runs to take a 4-2 lead, the rains came again, fast and furious. Experienced ground crews struggled to react with similar speed to cover the infield. Under normal circumstances, the umpires would have called the game and resumed it at a later date—but because these two teams would not be scheduled to see each other again, and with off days rare in today’s compressed, don’t-you-dare-play-a-doubleheader environment, the likelihood of the teams grouping together for six measly outs three months down the line seemed slim at best.

But the umpires had an out: An interpretation added to the rulebook this year stipulates that, in a scenario where the teams would not be scheduled to play again, they could revert to the last completed inning and call the game final—meaning, in this case, that the Royals’ three-run rally would have been wiped out and the Cardinals declared 2-1 victors. That would have been too cruel for the Royals, so desperate for offense and a win of late that they hastily lured the legendary George Brett into the fold to become the team’s new hitting coach. Fortunately for K.C., the umpires had a heart, saying that the game would be completed that night, come hell or high water. The latter prophecy nearly came true, as rains continued to pound the St. Louis area.

Go the @#$% to Sleep, Ump!
Cardinal manager Mike Matheny continuously lobbied the umpires to call it all off and declare his team the winner, perhaps whispering to them that even though his team had a home game the next day, the Royals had to get out of Dodge and play in Texas the next evening; the umpires declined the request, telling Matheny: Hey, we got a day game tomorrow up at Chicago, and we don’t mind.

After four hours and 32 minutes of wetness, play resumed. The Royals were able to hang on, probably because the Cardinals had simply fallen asleep. The game ended at 3:14 in the morning—and the few fans who stayed, entertained by little more than a lightning strike that connected with the Gateway Arch during the lengthy delay, probably wondered why they had bothered to hang out.

Cleveland After Midnight
It’s understandable why the Cardinals and Royals had to finish their game at that moment, but what was the excuse the next night in Cleveland, the first game of a weekend series between the Indians and Tampa Bay Rays? Here it was: Heavy rains were expected to continue all weekend, and umpires fretted over the possibility that all three games might get washed away. And, yes: This series would be the last time the Indians and Rays would see each other this year. So they sat out the rain, again and again and again. After three delays totaling five hours, they finally got one game in the books—Tampa Bay cruised, 9-2—and the fraction of the first-pitch crowd who stuck it out left for home at 2:53 a.m.—all after realizing that a postgame fireworks show had been canceled.

The Lesson to be Learned
Nobody within baseball likes doubleheaders. Players hate it because it’s a long day at the ballpark. Owners hate it because, with most single games these days selling out or close to it, twinbills eat into their profits. But the madness that Mother Nature unleashes so upon the modern baseball schedule (further complicated this year with non-stop interleague play) suggests that something needs to be addressed to free up the dates so there’s more down days and, yes, a few more double-dips without starting the season in mid-March or ending it on Thanksgiving—times of year when the weather gods really enjoy wrecking havoc upon the Earth.

Not For Sale
The 2013 MLB Draft is this Thursday—and the Tampa Bay Rays must wonder why they even bother to participate anymore. The Rays have had far more than their share of angst dealing with previous number one picks; Josh Hamilton descended into substance abuse hell before he was given up on and sent to Cincinnati, Delmon Young threw bats at umpires in the minors, and Matt Bush—a troubled number one pick by the Padres given a feeler by the Rays last year—is currently serving a four-year sentence in Florida state prison for a DUI hit-and-run incident.

Now there’s Josh Sale, the team’s top pick from 2010. He just finished serving a 50-game suspension for doping on amphetamines in the minors. So how did he celebrate? He recently posted this on Facebook: “Threw 50 cents at a stripper tonight. First time. Got kicked out and she got so pissed thought she was gonna cry…you’re a stripper. Be thankful. Hoe.” Forty-two people “liked” it; the Rays weren’t one of them. They’ve suspended Sale indefinitely.

A Witness to Yesteryear
We’ll run into or hear about people old enough to have memories of attending baseball games at old ballparks like the original Yankee Stadium, perhaps even way back when Babe Ruth was playing. But this past weekend, new Yankee Stadium was paid a visit by Bernardo LaPallo, who claims to be 111 and says his first ballgame he ever attended took place 100 years ago at Hilltop Park when the Yankees were still called the New York Highlanders. LaPallo also vividly recalls meeting Ruth when he came to New York after his trade from the Boston Red Sox. “I shook his hand and he said, ‘My greatest admirer, my youngest admirer,’” LaPallo recalls. “I remember that like yesterday.” (In light of his story, Guinness World Records publicly disputes LaPallo's claim to be 111, saying he was actually born in 1910. LaPallo's family denies it.)

Among LaPallo’s secrets to a long life is that he’s never eaten a hotdog—except one time when he was encouraged by a friend; the hotdog didn’t go down well and he had to get his stomach pumped.

This Week’s Reminder That Everyone’s Striking Out
The last nine full months of regular season action (dating back to September 2011) have seen more strikeouts per game than any month prior to that in baseball history. The highest of those months was last September, when there were 15.47 K’s per game; the May average of 14.98 was the fifth highest during that span and, thus, the fifth highest, ever.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?
Bad Royals Graphic Take a good look at this image of Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and see what’s not right. Is it the graphic? Is it the player? Is it his wardrobe? Answer below.

League vs. League
The American League, attempting to win its yearly round of interleague play against the National League for the tenth straight season, withstood a admirable assault and survived the first full-blown week of interleague action and maintained its slim season edge by a 63-58 count.

Interleague Play is Just Fine With Justin
The AL can owe some of its recent dominance to Detroit ace
Justin Verlander, who’s had more fun against the NL than any other AL pitcher. With a pretty solid effort this week against Pittsburgh (striking out a season-high 13 batters while allowing three runs in seven innings), Verlander is now 20-2 in 26 starts against the NL with a 2.68 ERA. His only two losses came in 2009 (against St. Louis) and 2010 (against the Mets).

The Bizarro World of the New York Mets
How do the Mets sweep the first-place Yankees in their four-game, home-and-home interleague series to start the week—jaw-droppingly striking out 34 Yankees while walking none over the last three of those wins—then get swept by the very lowly Marlins on the weekend? (And in case you’re wondering: That strikeout-to-walk ratio against the Marlins? It was 12-12.)

Masters of the ‘ol 1-0
The Pittsburgh Pirates, who as we noted above had an exceptional month of May on the mound, highlighted the excellence with four 1-0 wins within a seven-day span—a feat not achieved since the deadball era when the Washington Senators put up a similar number of like victories in 1918. Two of the shutout wins were 11-inning battles against Detroit over a three-day period.

Brother, Can You Spare a Out?
It’s not exactly the intensity of Cain and Abel, but it’s worth noting that Toronto’s Colby Rasmus came up to the plate this past Monday against his younger brother, Atlanta pitcher Cory Rasmus—making just the second major league appearance of his career. Big Brother won the battle; Colby doubled in the seventh inning of the Blue Jays’ 9-3 victory. “It was a strange feeling,” Colby said of the duel. “Lot of emotions going on. It was awesome and terrible at the same time.” The last time brother faced one another in a major league game was back on June 23, 2010, when Los Angeles pitcher Jeff Weaver struck out against his younger brother, Los Angeles of Anaheim ace Jered Weaver.

A Third-World Series?
In case you’re wondering: The Miami Marlins (16-41) and Houston Astros (20-37) do not play each other this year.

Super Nova
Ivan Nova, trying to work his way back into the Yankee starting rotation after an elbow injury, certainly pitched like he was ready this past Wednesday against the crosstown Mets. Among his five innings of sterling mop-up work during his team’s 9-4 loss was a 1-2-3 eighth where he struck out all three Mets batters—on nine pitches. It’s the 50th time a major league pitcher has accomplished that, and only three players have done it twice: Hall of Famers Lefty Grove, Nolan Ryan and Greg Maddux. How did the Yankees reward Nova? By demoting him to Triple-A.

One Pitch is All it Takes
After throwing just one pitch to finish off the eighth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Royals, St. Louis reliever
Randy Choate became the benefactor of four Cardinal runs in the bottom of the inning and picked up the win, his first decision in 103 appearances. That was the third-longest such streak in major league history; Trever Miller is the holder of the longest mark overall, appearing in 121 straight games from 2007-08 without a decision.

Making Up For Lost Opportunities
In their first 51 games of the 2013 season, the Cubs failed to hit a home run with more than one man on base. That streak ended on Wednesday when
Dioner Navarro hit one of his three homers with two men on base—and the Cubs followed up with grand slams by pitcher Travis Wood and outfielder Scott Hairston on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

The Point is, They Didn’t Score
Twice this year, a team has shut out an opponent while allowing ten or more hits. In both cases, the team throwing the shutout was the Cincinnati Reds—and in both cases, the starting pitcher was
Mike Leake. It happened on May 15 against Miami when Leake and the Reds blanked the Marlins on 11 hits; it happened again this past Saturday when they allowed ten hits but no runs at Pittsburgh. In both games, Leake did not go the distance.

What’s Wrong With This Picture? (Answer)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia came to bat this past week and did the unwise thing of wearing a batting helmet…with the earflap not facing the pitcher. We’re assuming he didn’t take a headshot, for otherwise the news would be that he’s dead.

This Week’s Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
It hasn’t been the best of campaigns thus far for St. Louis third baseman
David Freese, but he’ll be happy to take the majors’ longest active hitting streak with him into the new week. Freese’s 12-game run has included all three homers he’s hit so far this year and raised his batting average from the Mendoza Line to a more tolerable .256 mark.

Wounded of the Week
wounded of the weekWith a bum hamstring that he’s never seemed to recover from since injuring it late last year, it seemed just a matter of when and not if Matt Kemp would return to the disabled list to once and for all get rid of the pain. The Dodger star outfielder finally hit the shelf this past week after just two home runs and a .251 average in 51 appearances this season.

Washington prodigy Bryce Harper also succumbed to the inevitable and went on the DL with knee issues that have bedeviled him since running into the Dodger Stadium wall at full speed a few weeks back. Fellow National star Stephen Strasburg was rumored to be following Harper to the Ouch Couch, but a MRI revealed little damage to his oblique, and the star pitcher will miss no more than a turn in the rotation.

Rounding out the Medical Watch this past week is Arizona pitcher Brandon McCarthy (shoulder) and oft-injured third baseman Eric Chavez (knee); Toronto pitcher Brandon Morrow (arm) and third baseman Brett Lawrie (ankle); calf injuries to Minnesota third baseman Trevor Plouffe and San Diego closer Huston Street; Colorado closer Rafael Betancourt (groin), New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada (quad) and Chicago reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, out for the season after undergoing elbow surgery.


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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