This Great Game Comebacker

The Week That Was in Baseball: June 10-16, 2013
Time to Cure the Strikeout Binge? Ryan Madson's Plea for HGH
The Angry D-Backs Take to Twitter MLB to Go Down Under for 2014

Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay Rays

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
26 5 10 2 0 4 5 5 0 1 1

It was an invigorating week for the left-handed hitting Tampa native, punching out opponents both figuratively and literally (ask the Red Sox) as he continues to easily pace himself towards a career mark in home runs with 14 to date (previous high: 19 in 2011). The Rays need a good power source to assist Evan Longoria in the lineup, and Joyce has been the choice even if he’s been doing it from the leadoff spot.


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
21 6 10 2 1 3 8 3 0 0 1

It appeared Gonzo was out for the count on Thursday when he was knocked down by an errant foul ball while standing on the on-deck circle. All it did was get him mad. Returning the next day, Gonzalez went 8-for-12 in a weekend series against the Phillies, continuing what has been a MVP-level campaign thus far with a .316 average and a NL-best 20 homers. With faithful sidekick Troy Tulowitzki out for the next month, the Rockies will need Gonzalez and his potent bat more than ever.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Adam Rosales, Oakland A's

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
15 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

For the second time in a month, we’re giving the 30-year-old infielder tough love with inclusion here in this category. The lowlight came in the A’s epic 18-inning win against the Yankees on Thursday when he entered as a pinch-hitter in the tenth—and struck out in each of his next four at-bats through overtime. Maybe it all goes back to that fateful day in Cleveland when umpires robbed him of a home run; since then, Rosales is hitting only .164.


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins

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

The 22-year-old Dominican made the jump from Double-A ball in May and has delighted as one of the few offensive bright spots for the miserable Marlins, entering the week hitting .331. But now he’ll need to learn how to mentally adjust himself out of a slump, because he suffered his first such skid with a mere hit while striking out five times and hitting into two double plays. He’ll keep getting the work because the Marlins have no one else to really turn to, so for his sake he can hopefully snap out of it.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Corey Kulber, Cleveland Indians

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
2-0 16 13 1 1 3 0 1 1 0 11

This is hardly the kind of week expected of a guy who entered with a 5-9 record and 5.01 ERA in 25 previous major league appearances—and a 0-6 mark in ten starts at home. But the 27-year-old right-hander was just the tonic the Indians needed, pitching eight innings strong in two outings: A Tuesday effort at Texas that ended an eight-game Cleveland losing streak, and a terrific Sunday gem in which he outdueled the Nationals’ venerable Stephen Strasburg. The Indians need unexpected pitching excellence to make a run at the postseason, and Kluber may just be their ticket if he keeps this up.


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
2-0 14 7 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 9

About a month ago we placed the Milwaukee ace on a short list of major leaguers hoping to hit the reset button after a lousy start to the season. This past week, at long last, he finally appeared to right the ship with his two best efforts of the year, throwing eight shutout innings at Miami on Monday, followed by six more scoreless frames on Saturday against the potent Reds. Historically, June has been Gallardo’s best month, with a career 2.88 ERA.


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-2 9.2 17 12 12 7 0 0 0 0 11

It was a troubling week for the 29-year-old southpaw who started the year so strongly and looked to turn the page on last year’s rotten performance. Lester was most unsettling on Tuesday at Tampa Bay, walking a career-high seven batters while giving up three homers, all within five innings; on Sunday at Baltimore, he got his control back but the Orioles still hit him hard for his first loss in 11 career starts at Camden Yards, raising his season ERA to 4.37—and 7.41 over his last six starts.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
David Hernandez, Arizona Diamondbacks

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-2 3.2 4 6 6 4 0 0 0 0 1

The set-up man in the Diamondbacks’ bullpen set himself up for big-time failure twice this past week, most irritably when he caved and gave the Dodgers the lead to keep in Tuesday’s beanball-infested loss at Los Angeles. Then came Sunday at San Diego, when he couldn’t hold a 1-1 tie as Kyle Blanks KO’d him with a late three-run homer. Hernandez has been something of a rock over the last few years, but lately it’s been all rocky.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Kansas City Royals (5-2)

It must be the sauce. Eric Hosmer stroked the game-winning hit on Wednesday against the division-leading Tigers and got feted afterward by a dousing of barbecue sauce (images of the red stuff gushing down Hosmer’s head led many to believe he’d taken a nasty hit), helping to start a badly-needed rebound in Kansas City from a recent slump in which the offense couldn’t hit a nickel’s worth. But thanks to clutch theatrics like those of Hosmer and stifling pitching—something badly lacking in Kansas City over the years—the Royals have re-energized their season at a critical juncture.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
San Diego Padres (6-0)

So look who’s come a little late to the NL West party? The surprising Padres put the screws on Atlanta early in the week, jumping out to sound leads and hanging on in the late innings—then with Arizona in town to finish the week, played catch-up, clutch ball highlighted by Kyle Blanks’ tie-breaking three-run shot in the eighth on Sunday to give the Padres an undefeated week and an above-.500 record in the suddenly tight West. The Padres will need to retain the magic this coming week, with the Giants and Dodgers on the menu.


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Texas Rangers (1-6)

A sinkhole grew and threatened to swallow the Rangers Ballpark mound before Tuesday’s game at Arlington; it was a fitting metaphor for the rest of the Rangers’ week, as they suffered their first six-game losing streak—all at home—since 2010. It was even worse than it looked; Texas was outscored by the Indians and Blue Jays by an aggregate count of 34-8 and made former star pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Chien-Ming Wang looked like their former, better selves. A sinking feeling, indeed.


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
New York Mets (2-4)

Here’s the good news for the Mets: All of their losses on the week didn’t take longer than nine innings, unlike the previous week’s wave of extra-inning heartbreaks. But they were losses all the same, and once more, they did the bulk of it in front of their own fans, giving the savage New York press more fodder to have fun with. It would have been worse, except the Mets got a gift win on Sunday thanks to the latest meltdown by Cubs closer Carlos Marmol.


 

 

 

Best and Worst of the Week

Monday, June 10
AL East rivals Tampa Bay and Boston show off what little love they hold for one another in a wild affair at St. Petersburg. The fun starts in the bottom of the sixth and the Red Sox barely ahead, 6-4—yet Boston starting pitcher John Lackey decides to plunk the Rays’ Matt Joyce, who had homered his last time up. Joyce takes exception and the benches clear. The Red Sox blow a 6-0 lead and, after taking an 8-6 edge with two runs in the tenth, lose that as the Rays tie it right back up on a bases-loaded walk. Finally, in the 14th, the Red Sox prevail 10-8 on a series of singles.

Heavy fog enshrouds both Chicago’s Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field, where the Cubs and White Sox are in action, respectively. The Cubs get lost in the fog thanks to the Cincinnati Reds and second baseman Brandon Phillips, who launches a third-inning grand slam into the gloamin’ and knocks in all six runs in the Reds’ 6-2 win. The White Sox do much better in the pea soup, riding a big day from big Adam Dunn (4-for-4, two home runs, five RBIs) as they topple Toronto, 10-6.


Tuesday, June 11
First, Los Angeles wonderboy Yasiel Puig gets nailed by Arizona’s Ian Kennedy. Then Arizona catcher Miguel Montero, who might have called for the inside pitch, gets plunked in the back by Dodger pitcher Zack Greinke. Finally, in the seventh, Greinke gets his—a fastball close to the head from Kennedy, who is immediately ejected. The ousting isn’t enough to cool tempers at Dodger Stadium, as both teams erupt into a six-minute skirmish with the coaches almost as much a violent part of it as the players. Six are ejected overall, and the Dodgers ride a three-run rally an inning later to defeat the Diamondbacks, 5-3.

Gerrit Cole, the number one pick in the 2011 amateur draft, is superb in his major league debut at Pittsburgh against the defending champion San Francisco Giants, throwing six shutout innings before finally faltering in the seventh; he walks none and knocks in the game’s first two runs on a bases-loaded single off Tim Lincecum, as the Pirates roll over the Giants, 8-2. Only three other major leaguers have ever won their debut and knocked in two or more runs at the same time.

In his first game back after a six-week layoff with a hamstring injury, Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton lifts the Marlins from a one-run, eight-inning deficit with a two-run blast to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers at Marlins Park, 5-4.


Wednesday, June 12
Todd Frazier’s seventh-inning, tie-breaking home run puts the Reds out in front to stay, defeating the Cubs 2-1 with the help of eight solid innings from starter Mike Leake (6-3, 2.76 ERA). For the Cubs, it’s the 12th straight loss at Wrigley Field against the Reds—the longest skid against any one opponent in nearly 100 years of play at the historic ballpark. (The Cubs will win the next day to end the slump.)

Seattle pitcher Jeremy Bonderman, in his third start since returning to the majors for the first time since 2010, shuts down the Houston Astros for eight innings on three hits, two walks and just 89 pitches—but the Mariners go to the bullpen anyway for the ninth and they self-destructs, giving up five hits, four walks and six runs as the Astros pull away at Safeco Field, 6-1.

Justin Verlander, once Bodnerman’s teammate, can feel his pain. Like Bonderman, the Detroit ace is blanking his opponent in the Kansas City Royals and exits late with a slim lead—and like Bonderman, he watches with disgust from the dugout as the bullpen blows it. The Royals’ Lorenzo Cain, who had struck out in his first three at-bats, hits a two-run homer off closer Jose Valverde in the ninth—and the Royals win it a frame later, 3-2, when Eric Hosmer knocks a two-out, run-scoring single to bring Miguel Tejada home.


Thursday, June 13
In a duel of two hot pitchers, St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright becomes the majors’ first ten-game winner on the year with seven shutout innings, outlasting the Mets’ young Matt Harvey—who loses his first game of the year, 2-1. Even though Harvey is 5-1 with a 2.06 ERA, the Mets have lost six of the last nine games in which he has started.

The Oakland A’s sweep the New York Yankees at the Coliseum with their sixth extra-inning win—tops in the AL—and their second game of the year to go 18 or more innings. The winning tally comes in from a Nate Freiman single off Yankee closer Mariano Rivera—who allows all three hitters he faces to reach base. Yankee hitters in the batting order’s 4-7 slots are a combined 0-for-28.

The Philadelphia Phillies become only the second team in history to score just three runs on no less than 16 hits and win, edging the Twins at Minneapolis, 3-2. The only other team to accomplish the feat: The 1954 Phillies, against Pittsburgh. The Phillies leave 16 men on base, and only secure the lead in the eighth inning on a two-run rally; the Twins get their pair of runs on just three hits and leave just one man on base for the entire day.


Friday, June 14
File this one under the “everyone was due” department. Oakland has an 11-game home winning streak snapped, 3-2, by the Mariners behind Joe Saunders, who wins his first road game of the year after registering a 0-4 record and 9.00 ERA in six previous starts away from home.

Chris Sale has a tremendous outing for the White Sox—striking out 14 Astros in eight strong innings—but is tagged with two unearned runs in the fifth thanks to a pair of errors by shortstop Alexi Ramirez that gives Houston a 2-1 win. Sale is only the third major league pitcher since 1900 to strike out 14, allow no earned runs and lose. Ramirez’s ten errors on the season are the most among all American Leaguers.


Saturday, June 15
The Rays become the first team in 13 tries to score four or more runs against Kansas City, defeating the Royals, 5-3—but the game is marred by yet another pitcher nailed by a wicked comebacker as Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb is drilled in the right ear by the Royals’ Eric Hosmer in the fifth inning. Cobb is carried off on a stretcher and later listed to have nothing more than a mild concussion.

Happy 27th birthday, Trevor Plouffe: The Minnesota third baseman’s cake certainly tastes sweet after a delightful day in which he comes off the disabled list and goes 3-for-3 with a double, home run and three RBIs in the Twins’ 6-3 win over the Tigers at Minneapolis.

The Washington Nationals hit five solo homers—the last on a go-ahead shot in the ninth from rookie Anthony Rendon, his first career blast—to defeat the Indians at Cleveland, 7-6. Chad Tracy’s pinch-hit solo homer an inning earlier had tied the game.


Sunday, June 16
It’s another one of those days where loyal Cub fans want to just grab something and heave it across the room—that’s because Carlos Marmol gives it away again. The wild and occasional closer is given a 3-0 lead to save in the bottom of the ninth at New York but hands the Mets a 4-3 win thanks to Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ three-run, walk-off shot. It’s Marmol’s third blown save in five attempts.

The Yankees end a five-game losing streak at Anaheim, but barely. They roar out early and take a 6-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but the Angels rally with five runs and have the bases loaded with two outs for Albert Pujols—who strikes out swinging against Yankee closer Mariano Rivera.


Let it Be
Sometime this week, Houston’s Chris Carter and Boston’s Mike Napoli will become the first two major leaguers this season to reach triple figures in striking out. They will have gotten their well before the season’s midway point—meaning they’re on pace to whiff 200 times, and possibly reach the all-time mark of 223 set by Mark Reynolds in 2009.

The frequency of strikeouts has reached near-epidemic proportions. The ten highest individual season totals in history have all occurred in the last six seasons. It was recently reported that the last ten full months of regular season play (through May) rank as the top ten highest in terms of total strikeouts committed. In 1998, the first year in which the current 30 MLB teams were in play, 75 different players struck out at least 100 times; in 2012, that number swelled to 111. As of this weekend, some 135 are on pace for 100 this year. Team records are being rewritten on a yearly basis, and a day almost doesn’t seem to go by without some pitcher somewhere setting a personal game high in strikeouts.

The trend has been unmistakable for years, and we opined whether the strikeout was overrated four years ago—coming to the conclusion that players just didn’t seem to consider the K as a defeatist stigma that past generations might have. Yet, some baseball experts, pundits and fans have been lamenting over the proliferation of strikeouts. Some have even begun to wonder aloud if baseball should do something about it.

Stop right there. Do something about it? What necessarily would they have in mind? Lower the pitching mound yet again? Eliminate strikes on foul balls? Make it four strikes and you’re out?

Messing with the rules isn’t the solution. That penalizes the pitcher when the hitter and his increased lack of discipline at the plate are solely to blame. Major leaguers are swinging and missing more than ever because they’re increasingly shooting for the moon. The bigger the hit, the bigger the payoff. Players would rather hit .260 with 35 home runs over hitting .320 with two, because it simply pays better. And when you’re going for .260-35-100 over .320-2-40, the strikeouts are bound to come in greater quantity.

So more Tony Gwynns and less Adam Dunns is the real solution. But nobody within baseball seems to mind. Certainly not the players, their agents or the general managers who embrace these guys. The only ones who seem to care these days are those clamoring for a change in the rules, someplace, somewhere.

“Medicinal” Steroids?
We’ve all but forgotten about Ryan Madson. Fans in Cincinnati never had a chance to remember him; he signed a one-year deal with the Reds in 2012 and never played thanks to a spring training injury that resulted in Tommy John surgery. Nearly three months into the 2013 season, the 32-year-old closer has still yet to return for his new team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He’s growing anxious and losing patience. And at this point, he wishes Human Growth Hormone (HGH) wasn’t banned by MLB.

“If HGH were legal, just in the process of healing, under a doctor’s recommendation, in the right dosage, while you’re on the (disabled list), I don’t think that’s such a bad idea,” Madson publicly spoke this past week. He recently suffered a setback in his recovery process, so his line of thought is understandable. But so is MLB’s on the subject of steroids, and for baseball to start allowing HGH for recovery purposes opens up a gray area subject to muddled interpretation that could all lead to more confusion, debate and the potential for yet more scandal.

We feel badly for Madson, but when you push yourself on the mound and get hurt as a result of it, that’s life in the majors. Those are the breaks. Some have said that Tommy John surgery is, in essence, a form of performance enhancement, and that’s why a few people have had it performed on them even though they weren't crippled. So perhaps Madson should be thankful that it’s not banned, either.

Twit of the Week
Ian Stewart hit a collective .236 in five years for Colorado. He hit .201 last season in 55 games for the Cubs. He’s batting .168 so far this year…for the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate in Iowa. And yet, he feels he’s getting slighted by not playing for the majors, either in Chicago or anywhere else. So Stewart aired out his frustration via Twitter, typing out in (we hope) not his best English this past Tuesday: “I meant they might as Well release since I have no shot of a call up….let me Sign elsewhere.” (The translation is character for character.)

The Cubs were not amused. They suspended Stewart indefinitely without pay. As for that request to play elsewhere? Really, is any MLB team ready to fall over another to snap up a .168 minor leaguer?

A Quartet of Quadruples
While one Cub’s stock was headed downward, another’s was rising. Javier Beaz, 20, hit four home runs during a Class-A game for the Daytona Cubs this past Monday, only the second player in the 95-year history of the Florida State League to do so.

Boiling More Hot Than the Desert Heat
Ian Stewart wasn’t the only one stewing on Twitter. The Arizona Diamondbacks took to the Twitterverse to vent their rage over the suspensions handed down upon them and—while claiming that the opposing Los Angeles Dodgers got off lightly in the aftermath of their Tuesday brawl at Dodger Stadium.

It all started when Cuban phenom Yasiel Puig was hit in the face by Arizona starting pitcher Ian Kennedy; after Diamondback catcher Miguel Montero later got firmly planted in the back by Dodger starter Zack Greinke, Kennedy retaliated anew by throwing a heater which just missed Greinke’s head, ricocheting off his shoulder instead. And that’s when the mayhem began, with a mass of players and coaches getting involved; the most eye-opening moment came when an intensely irate Mark McGwire, the former slugger now a Dodger coach, angrily vented in the face of Diamondback coach (and fellow former steroid user) Matt Williams.

Eight people in all were handed down suspensions by MLB. Kennedy, disciplined ten games, deservedly got the worse of it; but teammate Eric Hinske received a five-game suspension for “leaving the dugout and his aggressive actions during the incidents,” even though none of those actions seemed to be spotted on video replay. (And besides, didn’t everyone leave the dugout?) The biggest zap on the Dodgers was two games, each meted out to McGwire, infielder Skip Schumaker and reliever J.P. Howell. Puig, who was shown trying to land some definitive punches in the middle of the giant scrum, received no suspension whatsoever.

The Diamondbacks were incensed, and used Twitter to be their official spokesperson. There was this from Brandon McCarthy: “Hinske’s had the soup and ended up paying for someone else’s surf and turf.” And this from reliever Brad Ziegler: “MLB must’ve used the replay technology from Cleveland to review the brawl, (because) they sure missed a lot of what was happening in the scuffle.” And finally this from outfielder Adam Eaton: “(Was MLB) watching the same game that we were?”

Of course, all of the suspensions are eligible for appeal. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks and Dodgers are next scheduled to square off in Phoenix on July 8.

Will it be the Dingo Dodgers and Outbacks?
It seems fitting that on the same week that the Dodgers and Diamondbacks brawl, it’s announced that the two teams will open next year’s regular season in the land originally established by the British as a penal colony: Australia. After years of rumor, MLB will finally have real action in the Land Down Under, with Arizona officially playing “host” to Los Angeles at the Sydney Cricket Ground on March 22 and 23. Both teams will break spring training roughly a week early and return back to stateside action a week after the two games so to better re-acclimate themselves from the immense jet lag because, as we were told in Inception, Sydney to Los Angeles is the world’s longest nonstop flight.

Fukuoka Off, A-Rod
The New York Times reported this past week that the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan were interested in doing something the New York Yankees had been dreaming of: Taking Alex Rodriguez off their hands. The query apparently took place last November, but the Yankees, as eager as they are to not employ Rodriguez five more years for $114 million—and this was before his link to Biogenesis became known—declined. Why? Because they had just been informed that Rodriguez had suffered another hip muscle tear that would require extensive rehab, and that likely would have shied the Hawks away. Even if not for that, Rodriguez would have had the final say on moving to Japan; with his standing in the lifetime home run count, do you think he would have agreed? We didn’t think so, either.

And the Game Played On
Prep baseball played amid a fire in Colorado Springs Is this Mother Nature’s idea of a hitter’s backdrop? While a devastating fire raged in Colorado Springs, Colorado this past week, they decided to play baseball at Pine Creek High School, which was taking on Greeley West High. The photo was snapped by Pine Creek High player Peter McEvoy and displayed on his Twitter page under the hashtag #prayforcolorado. It looked like there was more playing than praying going on based on this image.

This Year’s Challenger to Earl Webb
It’s almost an annual occurrence: A major leaguer racks up enough doubles before the midway point of the season to put him on pace to set the all-time record, established in 1931 by the Red Sox’ Earl Webb when he rapped out 67 two-baggers. This year’s race for the record has added historic significance; Baltimore’s Manny Machado, 20, became the fastest player under the age of 21 to reach 30 doubles in a season when he got there in the Orioles’ 68th game of the year. He ends this past week with 32 and is on pace to collect 74, which would beat Webb; we’ll see if Machado can keep up the pace, as countless others before him have failed to do.

Something to Remember Before the Next Summer Meltdown
Here’s some strong signs of hope for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In their 3-0 defeat of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday at PNC Park, they reached 40 wins on the year faster (within 67 games) than any of the previous 20 editions of the Bucs, all of whom finished with losing campaigns. Also: The last four Pirate teams to start the year 40-27 or better—those from 1960, 1971, 1972 and 1992—all made the postseason.

Catching a Great Idea
In this age of complex marketing and digital overload, what the Orioles whipped up on Father’s Day seemed so simple and cool, it’s amazing no one ever though of it earlier: They opened up the field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards before Sunday’s game with the Boston Red Sox and allowed fathers to play catch with their kids. Nice touch.

The Rook’s on a Roll
It was all eyes on the major league debut of
Gerrit Cole, the majors’ number one draft pick from 2011, earlier this past week in Pittsburgh, but another Bucco quietly made history in his first-ever outing at the big-league level on Saturday. Right-hander Brandon Cumpton struck out the first four Dodgers he faced, the first pitcher to do in one game to start a career since Pete Richert in 1962. Cumpton struck out only one more batter before finishing the evening allowing three runs in five innings; the Pirates lost in 11 innings to Los Angeles, 5-3.

Protection Works
You can pitch around reigning AL MVP and triple crown winner
Miguel Cabrera all you want, but that usually means having to deal next with Prince Fielder, his Detroit teammate in the lineup. And this is what Fielder had done this season after Cabrera has walked: Hit .471 (16-for-34) with 24 RBIs.

Ouch
This is sometimes what happens when you have one too many beers at the ballpark.

He Said What?
“I didn’t see all those home runs go out, so that’s cool.”—Chicago White Sox pitcher
Dylan Alexrod, trying to find a bright (or dim) side in a rough start at fog-shrouded U.S. Cellular Field against Toronto this past Monday. Axelrod gave up three homers in four innings.

League vs. League
The American League padded their slim margin on the year against National League competition thanks to two interleague series held this past week in AL cities. Minnesota and Cleveland took two of three each against, respectively, Philadelphia and Washington to up the AL’s year-to-date record to 72-66. Look for the AL to further extend its advantage on the NL this week with four of six interleague series held at AL locales.

This Week’s Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
Jose Iglesias, who’s earned his way into the Boston starting lineup (to say the least) ends this past week with the majors’ longest active hitting streak at 17 games. Since being called up from the minors late in May, Iglesias has hit safely in 19 of 20 games and is batting .438 in 27 overall games this year.

Wounded of the Week
wounded of the weekTroy Tulowitzki simply can’t help himself. He gets the love, the big money, even time off to refresh himself and stay sharp both at the plate (where he’s having a fabulous season) and at short, so long as he doesn’t abuse himself as few others at his position do. But then came Thursday at Coors Field, when he dove hard for a grounder and came up breathing with a good dose of difficulty. Afterward, it was revealed: The Rockies’ star will miss at least a month to a broken rib. Tulowitzki has missed an average of 47 games over each of the last five seasons; with this, he’s likely to match that figure in 2013.

Also knocking themselves out of action this past week were Chicago Cub outfielder David DeJesus, who sprained his shoulder crashing into the Citi Field wall at New York; San Diego’s Cameron Maybin, out a month with a sprained knee; teammate Jedd Gyorko, out 15 days with a sprained groin; San Francisco third baseman Pablo Sandoval, whose foot got sprained under the weight of his near 300-pound frame; Pittsburgh pitcher A.J. Burnett, out with a sprained calf; Cincinnati closer Jonathan Broxton (strained elbow), Minnesota rookie outfielder Aaron Hicks (strained hamstring), Yankee infielder Kevin Youkilis (strained back) and Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, making his first-ever trip to the disabled list with a thumb contusion.

We wrap up with two strange episodes. The Giants’ Marco Scutaro was hit by a pitch with such force, it permanently bent his pinky; at upload time, the veteran second baseman said he would avoid a DL trip and attempt to play with it. And in Texas, part-time outfielder Jeff Baker was given a high-five by a congratulatory teammate with such force, it sprained his thumb; Baker, too, is trying to keep from being added to the shelf—and he’s not naming the offending player.


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