This Great Game Comebacker

The Week That Was in Baseball: June 9-15, 2014
2014’s Ten Biggest Disappointments to Date Farewell to Bob Welch
The Blue Jays, Nationals and Angels: Now You’re Good Bo Porter’s Switcheroo


Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
27 9 14 3 0 2 3 3 0 0 1

After Lonnie Chisenhall’s gargantuan night to start the week, we thought he’d have this honor locked up—but he stalled the rest of the way while teammate Brantley didn’t, picking up from a pretty decent Monday of his own. Brantley’s been pretty good from the get-go this season; with this stellar week, he’s now hitting .322 (tying him for the fifth-best mark in the AL) with 11 homers and 45 RBIs—numbers, dare we say, worthy of an All-Star.


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
29 5 14 4 0 4 13 4 1 0 2

For those who think the reigning NL MVP is a fringe candidate for the starting All-Star lineup, think again. McCutchen bolted to the top of the conversation with a sensational week in which he extended a run of consecutive games with multiple hits to eight; that, in turn, has jolted his season average to .325—and he’s now on pace to better his marquee numbers of last year. This is a man clearly in the prime of what may be a Hall-of-Fame career.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Yangervis Solarte, New York Yankees

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
18 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0

The rookie third baseman has impressed the Yankees for much of the year and even made them forget about Alex Rodriguez, but a hitless week with two double play grounders may leave Yankees brass thinking about putting A-Rod’s number back on the speed-dial chart. The hope is that Solarte’s bad week is nothing more than that and he’ll return to consistent .300 hitting, but murmurs are bubbling to the surface as to whether he should be playing everyday at this point.


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Brandon Hicks, San Francisco Giants

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

The Giants and their fans have been excusing Hicks’ sub-.200 average for much of the year because he comes with good power, a high number of walks and some sharp defense at second. But when he can’t even put the ball in play—as he did for much of this past week—that .170-something average suddenly doesn’t feel so good. Hicks needs to ramp up or the Giants will have no other choice but to start looking at other options. (Chase Utley, anyone?)


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
1-0 9 3 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 8

It took the Detroit ace 179 starts, but he finally logged his first career complete game this past Thursday when he shut down the Chicago White Sox on three hits. It also came at an opportune time, as Scherzer had struggled of late with a 6.84 ERA over his last four starts. Scherzer now owns a career 81-47 record and is 8-2 this year; you got to wonder if the Tigers are starting to regret their public criticism of his turning down a contract extension offer earlier this spring.


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals

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

This week’s tale of Sir Lance was a happy one; for the last few years, the big right-hander has had a knack for scooping up wins in spite of some less-than-dominant pitching. That’s changed this season; the wins are still coming, but Lynn has definitely been earning them as well. Case in point: Friday against Washington, where he outdueled the Nationals’ Jordan Zimmermann for eight shutout innings, allowing just two hits. Lynn is now 7-4 with a 3.16 ERA.


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Sam Deduno, Minnesota Twins

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 2.2 7 7 7 2 0 0 0 0 3

The 30-year-old Dominican had his second straight rough outing as he got hammered by the Tigers at Detroit this past Saturday, with two of the seven hits allowed going over the fence. Deduno has saved his worst for divisional opponents thus far; he’s 0-3 in five appearances (including three starts) with an 8.22 ERA. At some point, the Twins are going to have to dump or get off the pot in regards to this guy’s long-term prospects.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Juan Nicasio, Colorado Rockies

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 5.2 15 14 13 6 0 0 1 0 4

The 27-year-old righty has really lost his way after a strong May, and he looked utterly clueless in two short, painful starts this past week. Nicasio was shelled for ten runs in 3.2 innings on Tuesday at Coors Field against the Braves, and he still appeared to be in shock from that effort when he retook the mound on Sunday at San Francisco and struggled badly through two-plus innings with no signs of confidence. In his last four starts, Nicasio is 0-3 with a 14.36 ERA.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Kansas City Royals (5-0)

It didn’t seem long ago that the Royals were ready to fold shop and make all us of pundits who thought highly of them back in the spring look like total fools. Well, maybe the Royals will yet make us right with our picks. Kansas City started the week cooling off a hot Indians offense in a quick two-game sweep, then went north to Chicago and took three easy road victories over the White Sox by an aggregate score of 22-6. And now, the Royals head to Detroit for a four-game showdown, trailing the Tigers only by a game and a half.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Pittsburgh Pirates (5-2)

The Pirates have been among the NL Central’s walking dead, wandering in mindless lockstep after a sizzling revival last season. But this past week saw signs of a strong re-awakening even as they lost two key components to their roster (pitcher Francisco Liriano and second baseman Neil Walker) as a formidable effort from their starting outfield (McCutchen—see above—Starling Marte and rookie Gregory Polanco) hit a combined .400 to bring them within a game of .500. So look out; the sizzle may be back.


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Seattle Mariners (2-5)

It’s a best-to-worst turnaround for the Mariners, who followed up last week’s sterling road effort with an offensively dry effort at home against the Yankees (who swept them with the help of a revived Derek Jeter) and the Rangers, who took two of three over the weekend. Hitting just .229 for the week didn’t help, but hey—that’s an improvement over the Mariners’ home average of .221 for the entire season to date.


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
San Francisco Giants (1-6)

Is the infamous June Swoon ready to cripple the Giants yet again? In what was supposed to be the start of an advantageous stretch loaded with home games, the majors’ best team by the record got steamrolled in two series this past week. The Nationals first took three of four as they silenced the Giants’ bats; then came Colorado, and the S.F. offense awoke—just in time for the bullpen to fall apart. Three late Giants leads resulted in three weekend losses when closer Sergio Romo and Company couldn’t keep the Rockies pinned down.


Best and Worst of the Week

Monday, June 9
It’s an amazing night for Cleveland’s Lonnie Chisenhall in Texas. The 25-year-old third baseman belts three home runs to go along with a double, single and nine RBIs as the Indians punish the Rangers, 17-7. Chisenhall is the first player since Fred Lynn in 1975 to have at least five hits, three homers and nine RBIs in one game.

Scott Van Slyke, Los Angeles’s fifth outfielder, makes a strong case to earn a promotion as he goes deep twice, singles and walks twice in five plate appearances, knocking in four runs in the Dodgers’ 6-2 win at Cincinnati. It’s the second multi-homer game of Van Slyke’s career, and he joins father Andy Van Slyke to become one of three father-son combinations (Cecil-Prince Fielder and John-John Jr. Mayberry) in which each had at least two games with multiple homers.


Tuesday, June 10
The Angels go overtime to overcome the A’s and a spectacular outfield assist from Oakland outfielder Yoenis Cespedes at Anaheim, 2-1, when Collin Cowgill goes deep to provide the game-winner in the 14th inning. The victory improves the Angels’ season record to 36-28 and moves them to within 2.5 games of the front-running A’s in the AL West.

The Tampa Bay Rays may not win again this year, but at some point they will plate a run—we think. It doesn’t happen at St. Petersburg tonight against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals, as the Rays are shut out for the third straight game, 1-0. Tampa Bay, which has lost 14 of its last 15 games, has not scored in 28 innings—a franchise record.

Boston’s Brandon Workman stays sharp through two early rain delays totaling 90 minutes and keeps the Orioles hitless through the sixth inning, ultimately allowing one hit in 6.2 frames to earn a 1-0 win at Baltimore. The Red Sox had been 0-18 when scoring three or fewer runs this season; the 1-0 decision is also the first in Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 574 games, the second longest such streak in one ballpark since Denver’s Coors Field went its first 846 games without a 1-0 game.

Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon survives a bases-loaded situation in the ninth to secure the Phillies’ 5-2 win over the visiting San Diego Padres and become the 26th player to record 300 career saves. Among active players, only Joe Nathan (354) and Francisco Rodriguez (323) have more saves.


Wednesday, June 11
It’s a good day for the majors’ top two Japanese pitching imports. In Texas, the Rangers’ Yu Darvish throws his first career shutout, scattering six hits and three walks while striking out ten as he defeats the Marlins, 6-0, to end Miami’s record-tying 13-game win streak against AL opponents.

Meanwhile in Seattle, the New York Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka is two outs away from his second shutout but settles for a 4-2 win—his tenth of the year—over the Mariners after former Yankee Robinson Cano takes him deep for the only two runs he’ll allow.

The Rays erupt for four fourth-inning runs and end their scoreless-inning drought at 31—and even better, they win, holding off the Cardinals for a 6-3 triumph.

Phil Hughes throws seven shutout innings, strikes out nine and walks none—he’s only allowed two passes over his last 68.2 innings—as the Minnesota Twins triumph easily at Toronto, 7-2. The silver lining for the Blue Jays is two eighth-inning runs that will keep them from being shut out for the fourth time in five games.

The Kansas City Royals have had trouble going deep this season, but they go deep enough at Kauffman Stadium to record four sacrifice flies to bring in all four runs they’ll need to defeat the visiting Indians, 4-1. It’s only the second time since sac flies became a statistic that four such plays account for all of a team’s runs.

Southpaw Tyler Matzek makes his major league debut at Coors Field and shines for Colorado, allowing two runs on five hits and no walks through seven innings to lift the Rockies—losers of 11 of their previous 12 games—to an 8-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves. Matzek feels the thin air at the plate, earning his first hit in the seventh.


Thursday, June 12
It seems hard to believe, but in his 179th career start, Detroit’s Max Scherzer finally records his first complete game—and first shutout, a three-hitter—by handing the Chicago White Sox’ Chris Sale his first defeat of the year in the Tigers’ 4-0 win. Scherzer’s 178 starts without going the distance to begin a career had been the longest in major league history, toppling the 167 by Tony Armas Jr.; Baltimore’s Bud Norris now holds the longest active run at 139.

The Yankees sweep a three-game series against the Mariners at Seattle, winning 6-3 to break a 12-game streak of scoring four runs or less—their longest such skid since 1991. Derek Jeter aids the cause with three hits for his third straight multi-hit game.

The San Francisco Giants avoid a four-game sweep by the visiting Washington Nationals as Tim Hudson allows an unearned run in seven innings and lowers his ERA to a major league-leading 1.81 in a 7-1 victory.


Friday, June 13
The Pittsburgh Pirates blow a four-run lead in the ninth but prevail in extra innings, 8-6, thanks to Gregory Polanco—the hotshot prospect outfielder who, in his fourth career game, belts a two-run homer in the 13th to complete a five-hit night. No player had ever enjoyed five hits including a homer so quickly in his career.

Just off the disabled list, Matt Adams supplies the only punch of the night in St. Louis as his solo homer is the deciding factor in the 1-0 Cardinals’ win over the Nationals. Lance Lynn scatters two hits through eight shutout innings for the win, while Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann goes the distance and throws just 76 pitches—fewest by any player credited with a complete game since the Rockies’ Aaron Cook threw 74 in a 2007 game.

Score one for the old guys: In the New York Mets’ 6-2 win over the visiting Padres, 41-year-old Bartolo Colon picks up his fourth straight victory and now has a 1.78 ERA over his last five starts, while 40-year-old Bobby Abreu—batting .319 in part-time duty this season—supplies the offense with his first four-hit performance since 2011.

The Giants appear headed for victory at home against Colorado when closer Sergio Romo—tied for the major league lead with 20 saves—allows five baserunners on four singles and an intentional walk; they all score in the Rockies’ 7-4 win.


Saturday, June 14
Jimmy Rollins becomes Philadelphia’s all-time hit leader as his fifth-inning single surpasses Mike Schmidt on the list in the Phillies’ 7-4 win over the visiting Chicago Cubs. Rollins’ 2,235 career hits place him 168th among all major leaguers.

The Rockies foil Sergio Romo again in the ninth, this time in spectacular fashion as Brandon Barnes rips a two-out, two-run inside-the-park home run at San Francisco to give Colorado a 5-4 win. For Barnes, it’s his second homer of the season—and both have been inside the park. Adding irony, Barnes’ burst comes a little over a year after Angel Pagan rounded the bases within the walls to give the Giants a walk-off win…over the Rockies.

After blowing a four-run lead in the ninth and a one-run lead in the tenth, the Angels make sure these things don’t happen in threes by piling on five runs in the 13th to ultimately defeat the Braves at Atlanta, 11-6. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols each have a double, a home run and four RBIs; it’s only the second time in major league history where a team blew a lead of four runs or more in regulation, another lead in extras—and still won.

Scott Kazmir allows an unearned run on three hits over six innings to lower his season ERA to 2.05—second best in the AL—as the A’s top the Yankees at Oakland, 5-1. The game is interrupted for 38 minutes when the lights go out at the aging Coliseum.


Sunday, June 15
The Giants blow yet another late lead to the Rockies—and this time, Sergio Romo has nothing to do with it. The goat today is reliever Juan Guiterrez, who gives up four runs in the eighth inning—just enough for Colorado to edge San Francisco and sweep a three-game series, 8-7.


Ten Major Leaguers Who’d Like to Start the Season Over
As we approach the halfway point of the 2014 regular season, we take a step back and pick out ten players who may not necessarily represent the worst baseball has to offer, but certainly are among the game’s most disappointing thus far. So without further ado, here’s our alphabetical picks for those who’d rather just step back in a time machine, swing the destination needle back to February and try it all over again.

Jay Bruce. There was much reason to anticipate that, at 27 years of age, the young slugger would blossom toward the fringe of superstardom after three straight years of 30+ homers and 100ish RBIs. But Bruce has had a rough go at thus far in 2014, hitting just .215 while on pace for a mere 15 homers and 60 RBIs. A bum knee that kept him out of action for three weeks in May hasn’t helped his cause.

Clay Buchholz. Last year, the Boston right-hander was all but flawless, winning 12 of 13 decisions with a 1.74 ERA in a season split in two by a three-month DL stint. But so far in 2014 he’s struggled just to earn a quality start, and after he walked eight batters in a three-inning outing on May 26, the Red Sox shelved him with a hyperextended knee. He’s currently 2-4 with a 7.02 ERA.

Trevor Cahill. Once a promising star pitcher, he became the symbol of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ miserable start as lost his first five starts and was demoted first to the bullpen, then more recently to Class-A ball to sort out his mechanics. Visalia has proven to be no better than Phoenix; in his first minor league start, Cahill lasted two innings and gave up four runs on a single, home run and two hit batsmen.

Prince Fielder. Everybody thought he’d go 40, maybe 50 homers with the Texas Rangers playing half his games at hot, humid, offense-inducing Globe Life Park in Arlington. Instead, he only managed three in 42 games before conceding the season to neck surgery. The Rangers are hoping for a full recovery, because they owe the big guy a lot of money.

Jedd Gyorko. The 25-year-old third baseman was one of the game’s top rookies last year with 23 homers and 63 RBIs, but he’s been the epitome of an awful San Diego offense that’s last in the majors with a .215 team batting average; Gyorko’s .162 mark is the lowest among all qualifying major leaguers. A foot problem has landed him on the disabled list, but that’s a recent injury that has little to do with the bulk of his misery.

Jim Johnson. Oakland thought it had a sure-fire closing talent in Johnson, who saved 50-plus games in each of his two previous seasons at Baltimore. But things got off to a horrible start for the 30-year-old right-hander when he gave up at least two runs in four of his first six appearances and was stripped of his ninth-inning duties. For the moment, he’s just another reliever in the A’s bullpen with a 6.18 ERA.

Mike Moustakas. The third baseman’s career sub-.250 batting average will never have him confused with Rod Carew, but this season has been ridiculously bad even by his standards, hitting .152 before being sent to Triple-A to clear his head. His return has yielded some improvement, but he needs a major upgrade in his performance to right his overall numbers to something more honorable.

Joe Nathan. The veteran closer, after a superb year with Texas in 2013, was considered the Tigers’ bullpen savior—but he’s had trouble just saving himself as he’s struggled through four blown saves and a 6.57 ERA. There’s rumor of Nathan, who turns 40 in November, being yanked from the closer spot, but for now Detroit manager Brad Ausmus is holding firm.

Raul Ibanez. After a spirited revival with 29 homers for Seattle in 2013, it appears Ibanez has hit a wall at age 42 in Anaheim—where he’s hitting a horrid .146 with just three homers in 53 games for the Angels. Ibanez has become his worst critic, saying there’s “no excuses” for his bad start. “No more” may be more apt at this point.

Wei-Chang Wang. The Taiwanese import was a big hit early in the year not for what he did on the field but for a viral video in which he starring with other Milwaukee relievers evoking Wang Chung’s 1980s song “Everybody Have Fun Tonight.” Opponents sure have been having fun at Wang’s expense; in nine appearances against him, they’ve hit .406 against him as Wang has allowed 18 runs on 26 hits (including five homers) in just 12.2 innings for a 12.79 ERA.

A Little Late to Their Own Party
Before the start of the 2013 regular season, the preseason pundits were laying much of their proverbial money down on three teams in particular: The Toronto Blue Jays, who loaded up on talent via trades and acquisitions; the Washington Nationals, ready to spring to prominence with the continued evolution of ace Stephen Strasburg and wunderkind Bryce Harper; and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, sparked by the addition of Josh Hamilton and the majors’ youngest superman in Mike Trout.

Six months later, the pundits—we included—were left with a lot of egg on our faces. Injuries and underperformance wracked the Blue Jays into a last-place finish in the AL East; Harper’s full sprint into an outfield wall brought him and the rest of the Nationals crashing to the ground, as their 32-16 sprint to finish the year was far too little, too late; and in Anaheim, Hamilton bombed, the pitching bombed and the Angels, despite some late winning of their own, had their fate sealed long before with a 78-84 finish.

So here we are in 2014, and the best we can now say about our 2013 predictions was that we told you so; it’s just that we were a year off. Here’s how the Blue Jays, Nationals and Angels are looking now:

Toronto: The Blue Jays have taken advantage of an AL East otherwise grounded in disappointment; their 41-30 record is the American League’s second best. Jose Bautista is back on point, Juan Encarnacion is powering away, Melky Cabrera is playing like he’s on steroids again, and 35-year-old Mark Buehrle (10-3, 2.21 ERA) is enjoying a renaissance season at 35 to bolster a pitching corps that hasn’t been the team’s strength. Of course, here’s another key asset to the Blue Jays’ success thus far: Health. The disabled list has stayed minimal, in sharp contrast to last year’s MASH-like flooding of patients.

Washington: The injury bug has done its best to inflict pain upon the Nationals’ star players, with Harper and Ryan Zimmerman sidelined for significant parts of the season to date, but the team has nevertheless risen is vying for the NL East lead thanks to stellar pitching that includes the majors’ best bullpen by ERA (2.36); a rotation that includes Strasburg (3.06), Jordan Zimmermann (2.98), Doug Fister (3.08) and Tanner Roark (2.92) hasn’t been all that bad, either.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Trout is, well, Trout, but Hamilton is Hamilton again (when healthy) and Albert Pujols is trying his best to be Albert Pujols again. As a result, the Angels’ offense is among baseball’s most potent, and a once depthless rotation has solidified with the emergence of Garrett Richards (6-2, 2.87 ERA). The bullpen remains shaky, but the overall mix of performance in Anaheim has been good enough to make the Angels, by the record, the AL’s third-best team.

Bob Welch, RIP
Nobody has won more games in one season since Bob Welch racked up an amazing 27 in 1990 to earn the AL Cy Young Award and lift the Oakland A’s to their third straight pennant. That remarkable campaign may have been something of an anomaly, but it didn’t hide the fact that Welch, who died of a heart attack at age 57 this past week, was still a good pitcher who was featured on two teams who made a habit of making the postseason in part because of his efforts.

The tall, right-handed Detroit native played in eight League Championship Series and four World Series over 17 years; it might have been five had he not been passed over in the rotation during the A’s victorious 1989 sweep of San Francisco as Oakland manager Tony La Russa was able to use his top two pitchers (Dave Stewart and Mike Moore) twice because of a 12-day delay between Games Three and Four prompted by the Loma Prieta earthquake. To add insult to injury, Welch’s house in the Marina section of San Francisco was heavily damaged by the shaker.

Welch followed up the slight in 1990 with his magical 27-6 record, which he managed in 35 starts and with the aid of a generous five runs of support per outing. Runner-up for wins in his career was 17, in 1988 and 1989. Overall, he won 211 and lost 146.

Off the field, Welch’s biggest battle was with the bottle. His alcoholism was so bad that he occasionally showed up drunk to the ballpark; by 1980, he went into rehab and emerged dry, and two years later co-wrote (with the New York TimesGeorge Vecsey) a book about his experiences entitled Five O’Clock Comes Early.

Are There Any Ceiling Tile Debris on It?
The Derek Jeter Farewell Tour continued this past week as the Yankees visited Seattle for the last time in his career; as a parting gift, the Mariners gave the future Hall-of-Fame shortstop a seat from the extinct Seattle Kingdome, because that’s where he notched his first career hit back in 1995.

No, Jeremy Giambi is Not on the Gift List
When the Yankees flew from Seattle to Oakland, the A’s displayed a video tribute to Jeter. It did not include his famous shovel toss that completely turned the 2001 ALDS in the Yankees’ favor.

A Sipp Here, A Sipp There
Pulling an old Paul Richards stunt, Houston manager Bo Porter had Astros reliever Tony Sipp start the eighth inning at Arizona on Monday—then put him in right field, then brought him back to the mound. Faced with few options from an exhausted bullpen, Porter had the left-handed Sipp face left-handed hitting Gerardo Parra, who struck out. He then brought in right-hander Jerome Williams to face right-handed Diamondbacks star Paul Goldschmidt, but he didn’t take Sipp out of the game; instead, he moved him to right field, in essence saving him for the next batter, Miguel Montero—another left-handed bat. Williams walked Goldschmidt, Sipp returned to strike out Montero, and Porter removed Sipp for good by bringing in Kyle Farnsworth. The ploy worked well enough to preserve the Astros’ 4-3 lead, which was also the final score.

The Paul Richards reference is all about a similar instance in 1951 when the then-Chicago White Sox manager moved pitcher Harry Dorish temporarily to third and brought in left-hander Billy Pierce to face one Ted Williams—then returning Dorish to the mound after Williams popped out.

And With a Full Moon Over Miami
Leave it to the Elias Sports Bureau to come up with this one: There have been four 13-inning games played on Friday the 13th over the last century—with three of them played, and won, by the Pittsburgh Pirates. That includes this past Friday’s 8-6 comeback win at Miami.

Hold This
In that Pirates win at Miami, Pittsburgh reliever Jason Grilli faced five batters in the ninth inning, allowed four of them to reach (three by walks) and two of them eventually scored to tie the game after he departed—and he still technically got credit for a hold. Memo to MLB: Either rethink the qualification methods for this stat, or put in the trash bin along with the game-winning RBI.

The Kings of Dodger Stadium
The Dodgers and Diamondbacks were ho-humming their way along on Friday night at Los Angeles when an unexpected roar came from the crowd at Dodger Stadium. No, it wasn’t another earthquake or a scantly clad female intruder running onto the field, but the fans’ reaction at the moment hockey’s Los Angeles Kings completed another improbable Stanley Cup triumph with an overtime victory. And as always, Vin Scully was on top of it.

Who’s Minding the Record Book Anyway?
Rex Brothers became the first Colorado pitcher, the third pitcher in just two weeks—and fifth this year—to strike out a side on nine strikes, and when we mentioned last week that the four to date had tied a season mark, we apparently got bad information. MLB and Elias are apparently at odds on this, as the former said that five “immaculate” innings were thrown in 1998. So now the record is tied, again—until we’re told otherwise once more.

They Were There…For a Long Time
As Jimmy Rollins broke Mike Schmidt’s mark for most hits by a Philadelphia Phillie on Saturday,it was noted that five pitchers gave up hits to both players—a pretty cool thing to think about when you consider that Schmidt retired in 1989 and Rollins didn’t emerge for another 11 years. The five are: David Cone, John Franco, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz. (You mean Jamie Moyer wasn’t on the list? Oh, that’s right…he mostly pitched for the Phillies.)

Equal Odds He’ll Blank You
St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright has not allowed a run in seven of his first 15 starts, something only three other pitchers in the history of the game have accomplished—during pitching-rich eras: Three Finger Brown (1908), Harry Krause (1909) and Don Drysdale (1968).

One in Five Odds They’ll Blank You
Thanks in part to Wainwright, the Cardinals registered 14 shutout wins through their first 67 games; only one team in modern big league history—the 1969 Chicago Cubs—had ever racked up that many shutouts so quickly.

Waving it Off
It’s become something of a tradition in Arlington at Rangers games, and we like it; when fans attempt to do the wave, the scoreboard at Globe Life Park humorously suggests that they knock it off. When Rangers fans recently attempted the wave, the scoreboard sprang up with this: “The Republic of Texas Constitution written in 1836 states: a facility has the right, when playing a team from Miami, to turn off the air conditioning in the facility. If the wave continues, the AC will be turned off here tonight.” (Of course, what good is AC when they’re playing outside?) The fans get a kick out of it; in fact, we’re wondering if they’re tempted to do the wave just to get a rise from the Rangers and see what they next put up on the scoreboard to tell them to stop.

Freak Show
When celebrity boxing matches and reality shows failed to being in much-needed income, Jose Canseco has now gone back to his roots: He’s embarking on a “Home Run Tour” in which the steroid-fueled former MVP will travel his RV to 17 different cities and show up at minor league facilities and charity events to challenge younger players to hit a ball farther than he. It all starts this week in Minneapolis, so if you’ve got absolutely nothing better to do…stay home.

Giving Away Hamms at Busch
The St. Louis Cardinals will be giving away bobbleheads of Mad Men star Jon Hamm at Busch Stadium on August 18. Fine. Just let us know when Christina Hendricks Bobblehead Night comes around.

This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
Evan Gattis ends this past week with the majors’ longest active hitting streak at 15 games. The Atlanta catcher is hitting .411 with seven homers and 17 RBIs during his run.

League vs. League
After a recent surge to take the lead in the interleague wars, the American League continued to successfully stiff-arm the National League from evening the score as it won six of 11 games this week to quietly up their margin on the year to 75-65. Special merit goes to the last-place Houston Astros, who took three of four games against Arizona early in the week; they’ll get a tougher chore this coming week when they go to Washington for a pair of games.

Wounded of the Week
wounded of the weekThe annual breakdown of the Colorado Rockies continued this past week when outfielder Michael Cuddyer was lost for up to eight weeks with a fracture of the shoulder; he joins Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado as marquee Rockies players currently on the DL—and All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki nearly joined them all when he crashed his knee hard into second base during an attempted slide this past weekend. (Tulo is fine, for now.)

Also earning their way into the House of Pain this past week was Pittsburgh pitcher Francisco Liriano (oblique strain) and second baseman Neil Walker (appendectomy), Minnesota third baseman Trevor Plouffe (strained oblique), Seattle first baseman Justin Smoak (sore quad), Washington catcher Wilson Ramos (hamstring), Chicago Cubs second baseman Emilio Bonifacio (rib strain), Cincinnati reliever Sean Marshall (shoulder) and Texas pitcher Tanner Scheppers (elbow), increasing the Rangers’ DL list to 14 players—easily tops in the majors, ahead of second-place Arizona (nine).


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