This Great Game Comebacker

The Week That Was in Baseball: June 23-29, 2014
TGG’s Picks for the Best and Worst Players/Teams of the Season's First Half
Is Tim Lincecum Among the Giants' All-Time Best? Double No-Hit in Wilmington


Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
24 5 14 3 0 2 8 0 0 0 0

The 26-year-old third baseman had a terrific week with five multi-hit games to jump his season average to .277; anyone who can come close to doing that is a godsend to the offensively weak Mariners. After looking mildly reliable over the past two years, Seager is now evolving into something of a star in Seattle; halfway through the year, he’s on pace for 40 doubles, 24 homers and 110 RBIs. Gotta like that, Mariners fans.


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
25 6 10 2 1 1 7 3 0 0 1

The disgraced former MVP had one of the best weeks of his post-Biogenesis baseball life, reaching safely each night with his usual balance of power, speed and clutch game. (He could have done without the moment where he and All-Star teammate Carlos Gomez collided, but what can you do.) Braun doesn’t have the numbers to parallel his superstar, pre-suspension years, but maybe that’ll change if he can leverage this run of success to the second half.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Leury Garcia, Chicago White Sox

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
16 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

The 23-year-old Dominican is versatile enough that he can be plugged in just about anywhere on the field, as he was this past week with Adam Eaton and Alexei Ramirez missing time for various reasons. If only he had such versatility at the plate. Not this week, where Garcia had a dreadful time with 16 hitless at-bats—three of them resulting in double plays. He did steal one base, which leads us to wonder how he ever made it to first to begin with.


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals

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

The fifth-year infielder began the week bragging about a wider batting stance that led to a strong June to date; such exultations disappeared quickly this past week as he crashed and burned with a hitless week compounded by 11 strikeouts. The Nationals finally decided to give him a break on the weekend, limiting his duty to pinch-hit roles in a Saturday doubleheader. He was called upon late in both games…and how did he do? You guessed it. He struck out both times.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Josh Tomlin, Cleveland Indians

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

Somewhere, the ghost of Bob Feller is smiling. On Saturday at Seattle, the 29-year-old common player was utterly uncommon with a sparkling one-hit shutout—the first blanking in 64 career starts—and 11 strikeouts. The Elias Sports Bureau tried to find a cool connection to history and found this: Tomlin is just the third Cleveland pitcher to shut out an opponent while allowing a single baserunner (by hit, walk or hit batsman) and striking out ten or more batters. No, Mr. Feller, you weren’t one of the other two; they were Dennis Eckersley (in 1977) and Len Barker (in 1981).


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
1-0 9 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 6

Clayton Kershaw continued his post-no-hitter brilliance, but we give the honor to the guy who threw a no-no this week—and it’s the former two-time Cy Young Award winner, now a two-time no-hit pitcher after clamping down on the Padres for the second time in as many years. Only he and Christy Mathewson have thrown multiple no-hitters in Giants franchise history; Addie Joss is the only other pitcher to throw two against the same team. Just as amazing: After throwing 148 pitches to secure his no-no last year, Lincecum needed just 113 this time around.


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Chase Whitley, New York Yankees

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-2 7.1 19 13 13 5 0 0 1 0 3

The 25-year-old Alabaman came into the week feeling pretty good about himself, having started his career 3-0 in eight starts wearing pinstripes. This week, reality set in. Whitley was hammered at Toronto on Monday before taking a less-brutal (but still punishing) beating from the Red Sox on Sunday Night Baseball. Just as troubling is the walk-strikeout ratio; it was 4-26 coming into the week, but 5-3 over these two wretched outings.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-2 7.2 13 9 9 8 0 0 0 0 6

The young Cardinals starter was doing quite well through mid-May, but the wheels may be coming off. They barely got into high gear in his first start of the week when a bad back kept him restricted to less than three innings of a forgettable effort in Colorado; he was humming along on Sunday at Los Angeles until he hit a wall and gave up six runs over the fourth and fifth innings. Miller has won only one of his last eight starts with a 4.79 ERA.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Oakland A's (4-1)

American League teams have long since fell victim to the never-say-die tactics of the Amazin’ A’s, but this week it was the National League’s turn to experience it first-hand. Oakland set off for the East Coast and, after a two-game split with the Mets, swept away the Marlins in three thanks to a series of late-inning heroics; even when breakout closer Sean Doolittle finally screws up (as he did on Saturday), the A’s find a way to win. How good is Oakland? Their plus-134 run differential is the highest by any team at the midway point since the 2001 Mariners of 116-46 fame.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Cincinnati Reds (6-1)

The Reds appear to be roaring into summer with its roster finally intact after a subpar, injury-riddled spring. Cincinnati began the week taking of two of three from the Cubs at Chicago, then spun around the reeling Giants (see below) with a four-game sweep on the weekend. Outside of a late-inning meltdown against the Cubs on Tuesday, the pitching was excellent; and now, the Reds are firmly above .500 and second in the NL Central—and they now get a shot at first-place Milwaukee with three home games against the Brewers this coming weekend


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Minnesota Twins (1-5)

Along with the Indians and White Sox, the Twins have been hanging in there as one of the three AL Central weaklings holding their own thus far. But could Minnesota’s house of cards be about ready to topple? They began the week by getting swept on the road at Anaheim, which could be excused given how well the Angels have been playing—but then they lost two more games at Texas against a Rangers team struggling on their own before avoiding the winless week with a 3-2 Sunday victory.


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

Once upon a time, the Giants were noted for their fabled June Swoons—but this one may top them all. The Giants began the month with a ten-game lead in the NL West and were looking at a sweet stretch of 25 games that included 20 at home; rather than seize the division and lock it up, they’ve staggered through of baseball’s great midseason collapses. Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter on Wednesday was the only positive note on the week (that, and the fact that June is now over); the negatives include a four-game sweep by the Reds—the first the Giants have suffered at home since AT&T Park opened—and the complete erasure of that once-great lead over the Dodgers.


Best and Worst of the Week

Monday, June 23
Los Angeles’ Zack Greinke pitches for the third time in Kansas City since being traded away by the Royals after 2009, but the Kauffman Stadium crowd of 21,615 treat him as if it was the first. Greinke has his worst outing in over a year—allowing five runs in 11 hits over five-plus innings—and is showered with boos as he departs as he and the Dodgers succumb to the Royals, 5-3.

In the midst of a horrible hitting slump and benched by the Orioles, Chris Davis atones in the bottom of the ninth by becoming the first Baltimore pinch-hitter to hit a walk-off home run since 1988 with a three-run shot that gives the O’s a 6-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

Cuban émigré Odrisamer Despaigne, called up from Triple-A El Paso despite a 7.61 ERA there, becomes the first pitcher in six years to throw seven (or more) scoreless innings with no walks in his major league debut as he and the San Diego Padres curb the Giants at San Francisco, 6-0.

St. Louis’ Lance Lynn is masterful at Coors Field, allowing three hits and no walks over eight shutout innings—and he’s well supported by Mike Adams, who drills two home runs and knocks in six to give the Cardinals an easy 8-0 romp over the Rockies.


Tuesday, June 24
In his return to Arlington following his trade to the Detroit Tigers, Ian Kinsler haunts his ex-Texas teammates by homering in his first at-bat, then waives at the Rangers bench while circling the bases; he later drives in two on a single as the Tigers pull away late to defeat the Rangers, 8-2. Kinsler says of his waive, “It was nothing personal at all. I was just saying hi.”

In his first start since throwing a dominant no-hitter, Clayton Kershaw is still pretty darn good—tossing eight shutout innings to help the Dodgers manage a 2-0 victory at Kansas City.

A couple of former Oakland players haunt their former team as the New York Mets clobber the A’s at Citi Field, 10-1. Bartolo Colon pitches eight strong innings while outfielder Chris Young belts two homers. Colon is now 6-1 with a 1.58 ERA since starting the year at 2-5 and 5.84.

For the first time since 1952, the New York Yankees allow their opponents—in this case, the Toronto Blue Jays—to score the first six or more runs in consecutive games, but fight back to knot the game going into the bottom of the ninth. Yet the Jays unknot it when Yangervis Solarte’s wild throw on a Melky Cabrera sac bunt attempt allows the winning run to score. Side note: Cabrera’s 20-game hit streak against the Yankees comes to an end.

The Chicago Cubs’ Jake Arrieta, quietly having a superb year in the shadows of Jeff Samardzija’s hard-luck efforts, makes some noise of his own by taking a perfect game into the seventh inning—but has it ruined when Billy Hamilton singles with two outs, sparking a two-run Cincinnati rally. The Cubs hold on to defeat the Reds at Wrigley Field, 7-3, as Arrieta improves his season record to 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA.

It takes 16 innings, but the Washington Nationals finally prevail at Milwaukee, 4-2, when slump-ridden Ryan Zimmerman parks a two-run shot over the left-center-field fence. The game at Miller Park lasts five hours and 22 minutes.


Wednesday, June 25
Nearly one full year after his no-hitter against the Padres, the Giants’ Tim Lincecum does it again to San Diego—this time before the home fans and with much fewer pitches (113) than the 148 he labored through for his first career no-no, as the Giants win, 4-0. Lincecum’s only blemish is a second-inning walk; he becomes the second pitcher, after Addie Joss over 100 years earlier, to no-hit the same team twice.

David Price, growing visibly frustrated over rampant rumors of his imminent departure out of Tampa Bay, allows just a run with 11 strikeouts over 8.1 innings to give the Rays a 5-1 win over the Pirates; he becomes the seventh pitcher ever to collect ten or more K’s in five straight starts.

Cincinnati’s Mat Latos picks up his first decision of the year with seven strong innings to earn a 4-1 win at Chicago. Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco singles in four trips but otherwise goes homerless after going deep in five previous games.


Thursday, June 26
Detroit’s Rick Porcello throws his first career shutout when he blanks Texas on three hits and helps wrap up a sweep of the Rangers in Arlington. For the 25-year-old right-hander, it’s his tenth win of the year, and he joins CC Sabathia, Tim Hudson and Jered Weaver among active pitchers as those who won ten or more games in each of their first six seasons.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim finish off a 6-0 homestand with a 6-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins. The Angles now own the majors’ fifth-best record, but remain 3.5 games behind the team that tops them all, the A’s.


Friday, June 27
The Milwaukee Brewers are the first team to reach 50 victories on the season, and they do it in dramatic fashion; after Colorado’s Josh Rutledge homers to tie the game in the ninth off closer Francisco Rodriguez, Ryan Braun counters in the bottom of the frame with a two-out, run-scoring single to give the Brewers a 3-2 win.

After blowing a 4-0 lead midway through at Miami, the A’s tie the game in the eighth and then, in the ninth, pile four runs on the Marlins with the aid of an overturned call to give them a 9-5 win.


Saturday, June 28
The Boston Red Sox survive the Yankees and Masahiro Tanaka when Mike Napoli lines an opposite-field home run off the rookie New York ace in the ninth to win, 2-1; Jon Lester gets the victory for Boston by allowing just an unearned run over eight innings.

Having looked shaky in three previous defeats, Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin takes the mound at Seattle and hurls his first career shutout, allowing just two baserunners—one on a Kyle Seager single, the other on a Yan Gomes error—and strikes out 11 as the Indians prevail, 5-0.


Sunday, June 29
In their 83rd game of the season, the Chicago White Sox become the last major league team on the season to record a shutout as they down the Blue Jays at Toronto, 4-0. (By comparison, the Cardinals already have 15 shutouts.) It was the Sox’ first shutout in 121 games; last season, their first blanking took place on Opening Day.

Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey almost does what Tim Lincecum did earlier in the week; no-hit the same time for the second time in as many years. Bailey takes a no-no into the seventh inning at San Francisco, but with two outs the Giants finally connect with a pair of hits. But that’s essentially all the struggling Giants can muster as they’re shut out by Bailey and the Reds, 4-0.

The Dodgers, who just three weeks earlier were ten games back of the Giants, are now in a tie for the NL West lead after blanking the Cardinals at Los Angeles, 6-0. Clayton Kershaw throws seven more shutout innings, extending an impressive run in which he’s thrown 24 straight scoreless innings while striking out 36 batters.

In Houston’s 6-4 win over Detroit, Jose Altuve becomes the first player since Ray Chapman in 1917 to have multiple steals in four straight games—and the first in baseball’s post-1900 modern era to also rack up multiple hits as well during that same stretch. Altuve now leads the AL leader with a .347 average and 36 steals, and he tops all major leaguers with 116 hits.


81 Down, 81 to Go: TGG’s Midseason Awards
With everyone hitting the midway of the season this weekend, it’s obviously a neat time to look back through the first three months of the year and determine who’s the best, most surprising and most disappointing thus far through 81-ish games. Check out the list below and see if you agree with us.

NL MVP
Eric:
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado
Ed:
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado
Tulo is having such a terrific year, and few other players on contending teams are shining at a level that’s head and shoulders above the rest, it’s an easy choice to grant him this honor even though his Rockies appear to be headed nowhere. To keep it going through September, Tulowitzki will have the dodge the injury bug that’s bitten him repeatedly over the years.

AL MVP
Eric:
Mike Trout, Los Angeles of Anaheim
Ed:
Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto
There’s so many nominees to consider here, so it’s not surprising there’s a split among Eric and Ed. Eric’s giving his nod to Trout—and no, not because it’s a make-up for his finishing second in the last two season-end votes, but because he’s leading an Angels team that’s among the AL’s best right now. Ed sides with Edwin, whose okay .270 average is offset by the fact that his monster power has come up big and often as the Jays have shot to the forefront of the AL East.

NL Cy
Eric:
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
Ed:
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
In another area with no clear-cut favorites, we have agreement on the St. Louis ace who more than anyone represents the whole package of success thus far. Wainwright is a top-five presence in almost every single pitching category.

AL Cy:
Eric:
Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
Ed:
Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
Mark Buehrle is having a resurgence in Toronto and Seattle’s Felix Hernandez is, well, Felix Hernandez, but Tanaka’s initial entry into the major league field has simply been a wow. With numbers right at the top in wins, ERA and WHIP, it’s easy to understand how this guy went 24-0 against inferior Japanese competition last season.

NL Rookie of the First Half:
Eric:
Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati
Ed:
Chris Owings, Arizona
Ed likes the steady shortstop play of Owings, who’s certainly making a positive initial impression on an Arizona team short on good vibes so far; Eric sides with Hamilton, who after a slow start is on pace to steal 70 bags and is beginning to fulfill some of the loftier expectations pinned upon him.

AL Rookie of the First Half:
Eric:
Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
Ed:
Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
We both go with Tanaka, which you would think is an easy choice—but we thought long and hard about
Jose Abreu’s sensational start (25 homers and 63 RBIs in his first 67 games) at Chicago with the White Sox. But as good as Abreu has been, Tanaka looks like something truly special. So far.

NL Manager of the First Half:
Eric:
Ron Roenicke, Milwaukee
Ed:
Matt Williams, Washington
Maybe the Brewers’ players should get all the credit for their blazing start, but Eric still believes no one else has forged their team to overachieve to the point of picking anyone else other than Roenicke. Ed likes the rookie effort thus far from Williams, whose Nationals have muscled their way toward the top of the NL East despite some critical, injury-related roster depletions.

AL Manager of the First Half:
Eric:
Buck Showalter, Baltimore
Ed:
Bob Melvin, Oakland
It’s hard to argue with Ed on his choice for Melvin, who continues to oversee the magic his Oakland team puts out on an almost daily basis. But Eric thinks
Billy Beane is as much to thank for the A’s rousing state of affairs; he instead goes with Showalter, who’s managed to keep the Orioles near the top of the AL East despite an iffy rotation, a major drop-off from Chris Davis and the near-total absence of Manny Machado.

NL Biggest Surprise (Team):
Eric: Milwaukee Brewers
Ed: Milwaukee Brewers
No surprise here. Eric actually had the Brewers (74-88 last season) making the postseason in our springtime preview, but even he’s been amazed by just how good Milwaukee has been thus far.

AL Biggest Surprise (Team):
Eric: Toronto Blue Jays
Ed: Toronto Blue Jays
Again, no controversy to talk about. Last year’s biggest disappointment has stepped up to the plate and made up for lost chances, topping the AL East with a crew that’s managed to stay in one piece.

NL Biggest Disappointment (Team):
Eric: Cincinnati Reds
Ed: Cincinnati Reds
We both had the Reds tabbed to win the NL Central before Opening Day, and even though injuries to a majority of their star players have weighed down the team’s performance thus far, it’s still a big letdown, though they’re starting to show signs of getting over it.

AL Biggest Disappointment (Team):
Eric: Tampa Bay Rays
Ed: Texas Rangers
The disabled list need not apply as an excuse to rip the Rangers as they struggle to make a dent in the AL West, or so Ed tells us from his pick. Eric, meanwhile, finds a slam-dunk choice in the Rays, who he and a whole lot of other pundits felt were headed to the World Series this year; instead, they’re on pace to lose nearly 100 games.

NL Biggest Surprise (Player):
Eric:
Alfredo Simon, Cincinnati
Ed:
Tim Hudson, San Francisco
Simon, a career reliever more known for his off-field troubles, is on pace for 20 wins in Cincinnati; if that isn’t surprising, opines Eric, not much else is. Then there’s Ed’s pick in Hudson, the veteran ace who’s made a remarkable return to prime form after a bruising ankle injury last year and a modest salary awarded him by the Giants.

AL Biggest Surprise (Player):
Eric:
Dallas Keuchel, Houston
Ed:
Sean Doolittle, Oakland
Keuchel’s been one of the main keys to the Astros’ rise back to respectability (if not .500) with more wins already than last year and half the ERA of his shoddy 2013 effort; Doolittle has come out of nowhere for Ed with his incredible ability to throw strikes—and nothing else.

NL Biggest Disappointment (Player):
Eric:
Dan Uggla, Atlanta
Ed:
Curtis Granderson, New York Mets
The guys go with a couple of old, tired-looking warhorses. The Braves have all but given up on former All-Star Uggla—with a .163 average and two homers in 43 games, you might, too—while Granderson, although nowhere near as disastrous, hasn’t brought the house down yet for Mets fans.

AL Biggest Disappointment (Player):
Eric:
Justin Verlander, Detroit
Ed:
Carlos Santana, Cleveland
Has Verlander, the venerable Detroit ace, finally hit a wall? Eric wonders that too, given the 5.00-ish ERA. Ed pshaws on Santana, who’s had far fewer hits than that other Carlos Santana of fame (you know, Black Magic Woman, etc.) but quite a few walks. Still, that’s not good enough.

Where’s Timmy?
It may seem strange but true. This Great Game has a list of the ten greatest pitchers in New York-San Francisco Giants history, and Tim Lincecum is not on it. C’mon, you gotta be kidding, right? This is a guy, Lineceum, who’s won two Cy Young Awards, won two World Series rings—and this past week pitched the second no-hitter of his eight-year career, all spent with the Giants. All this, and he’s not on the list?

Perspective is often the best pill to take when reading through these lists. With rare exceptions, our top ten/five lists are not based on opinion, but rather a quality combination of production and efficiency based on the metrics. Even with that considered, you think Lincecum with his two Cys would easily qualify. Well, not really. Keep this in mind; he’s had four really good seasons—and four pretty bad ones. Most players who make the lists—especially one as hallowed as the Giants’—have had many, many good seasons.

Also to note; the lists include pitchers who’ve had complete careers. Lincecum is 30 and still has some time to wield his magic and make this list. We’ll say this: He’s actually one good year away from possibly doing just that. Lincecum is so beloved by the Giants and their fans, it wouldn’t surprise us to think that the Giants will resign him after his current two-year, $35 million deal expires at the end of next season, giving him more opportunities to break the current Top Ten.

Quotas and Challenges and Errors, Oh My…
This Week in MLB Video Replay Gone Wrong
wounded of the weekThere’s been so much confusion for catchers, umpires and, well, everyone else in regards to the revised enforcement of home plate collisions this season, and there was some clarity given from Major League Baseball this past week—but only as it applies to a force play at home. In essence, MLB is now saying that a catcher can block the plate on a force because, in order to make the play, he has to put his foot on the plate, right?

This all came up after umpires initially ruled that Cincinnati’s Devin Mesoraco was called out at home on a force play on July 18—then overturned the call via video replay after the Reds complained that catcher Russell Martin of the opposing Pittsburgh Pirates got in the way. MLB saw the errors of this way and decided that this would no longer be applied to the force.

The Case of the Criminal Wiener, Continued
Some five years ago, a man attending a Kansas City Royals game was struck in the eye by a hotdog thrown by the team mascot, Sluggerrr—and sued the Royals, claiming he suffered a detached retina from the incident. He lost in court, then appealed—and won. The Royals appealed themselves, taking the case to the State Supreme Court—which upheld the first appeal and ordered a new trial. No word on whether Sluggerrr will testify in character.

Fan-Cam
Where’s Mom when we need her?

Northwest Green and Navy Blue is the New Orange
Last year, the wife of then-Seattle Mariners benchwarmer Carlos Peguero was arrested for racking up $180,000 in online store purchases using a credit card belonging to the wife of Mariners ace Felix Hernandez—without permission. Sentencing day came this past week, and Maria Peguero will serve a year and a day in prison for her actions. (It’s almost as if the extra day adds insult to injury.)

But before major leaguers rejoice over the fact that there’s one less bad wife on the street, there’s this: Anna Benson is a free woman. She’s the estranged (among other adjectives) wife of ex-pitcher Kris Benson, who was arrested last summer for breaking into Kris’ home literally dressed to kill; she wore a bulletproof vest, an ammunition belt and a knife. Anna demanded $30,000 from her ex and began tearing the place apart when he didn’t immediately comply, all before authorities showed up and took care of her. Benson spent time in jail and underwent three months of psychiatric therapy; now she’s out and feeling better, saying she’s cut out drinking, tobacco and pot. Kris, we’re sure, will have the final say on that—should by chance they meet again.

Lake Concussion
Junior Lake found out the hard way—and we mean, the hard way—that Wrigley Field has some unpadded, un-ivied sections of the outfield wall. The addition of padding to those maintenance doors will hopefully be part of the Cubs’ Wrigley Field upgrade plans.

The Bryce is Right—in Double-A, at Least
It appears that Bryce Harper is ready to return to the majors. In a rehab game with Double-A Harrisburg this past Saturday, the Washington outfielder was 4-for-5 with three homers and five RBIs.

Vander Meered
The Wilmington Blue Rocks of the Class A Carolina League apparently couldn’t but a hit over a two-day stretch this past week when the Lynchburg Hillcats no-hit them in consecutive games. In both contests, the Lynchburg starters threw the first seven innings; the final two frames were worked by a single reliever. Good news for the Atlanta Braves: The Hillcats are their affiliate. Conversely, it’s bad news for the Kansas City Royals, who oversee the Blue Rocks.

They Like it Close
The San Diego Padres are 16-9 in one-run games this season; otherwise, they are 19-38.

…And Off to Little Rock it Went
A Pacific Coast League game in El Paso was canceled this past Thursday when the visiting Tacoma Rainiers arrived in town without their uniforms and equipment—which apparently got left behind in Houston while the team changed planes.

Make Sure to Wear Your Ear Flaps…Always
Miguel Olivo, the veteran catcher who was banished from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ organization when he bit off part of teammate Alex Guerrero’s ear in anger during a minor league game, has signed with the Tijuana Tacos of the Mexican League.

Deep Stuff
Los Angeles of Anaheim’ Mike Trout has often been compared to Mickey Mantle, and here’s 489 feet worth of one reason as to why.

Yo, Avoid Yoenis
Oakland outfielder Yoenis Cespedes earned his MLB-leading tenth assist in Saturday’s 9-5 win over Miami. We’re not sure what amazes us more; that Cespedes has racked up that many assists or that opposing runners keep daring him to throw them out.

The Ceremonial First Homecoming
Just when it looked as if the ceremonial first pitch had reached self-indulgent proportions, the Royals used it as a poignant way to surprise an 11-year-old boy throwing out the pitch before Wednesday’s game against the Dodgers; unbeknownst to the boy, his father—just back from military duty in Iraq—was the catcher. Take a look.

He Said What?
“What an idiot!” —Boston’s Mike Napoli to his teammates after punching out a game-winning home run off of Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka in the ninth inning of Saturday’s 2-1 victory at New York. Napoli apparently couldn’t believe that Tanaka didn’t serve up his famed split-fingered fastball, and later said he meant no disrespect to Tanaka.

This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
Jose Abreu’s marvel of a first impression upon the major league scene has taken on a whole new tact as the Chicago White Sox slugger finishes this past week with the majors’ longest active hitting streak at 14 games. He’s homered in nearly half of them, conking six over the fence while hitting .351 during his run.

League vs. League
The American League held off, for the time being, a slow and steady advance from the rival National League as it split 16 interleague games this past week to maintain a nine-game advantage over the NL at 88-79. The Juniors are halfway home to their 11th straight year of interleague domination.

Wounded of the Week
wounded of the weekAn exceptionally quiet week for injuries within baseball included DL additions for only a few everyday players: Arizona rookie infielder Chris Owings (shoulder) and Oakland outfielder Josh Reddick (knee). Even more amazing: A whole week passed without anyone on the Texas Rangers (14 players currently shelved) getting hurt.

TGG Programming Note
The Comebacker is taking the week of July 7 off, so look for the next edition on July 14 with our picks for the upcoming All-Star Game.


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


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

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

© 2016 This Great Game.