This Great Game Comebacker

The Week That Was in Baseball: June 24-30, 2013
TGG's Midseason Awards A-Rod and the Yankees Knock Heads in Public
Manny Machado Sits, Finally The Death of Baseball's Tattoo Man

Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
23 9 11 4 0 3 10 8 0 1 2

We all know, as All-Star voting reaches its peak, that y’all won’t be able to help but instinctively reach for that check box next to Robinson Cano’s name for starting AL second baseman. But before you punch Cano’s chad, take a close look at what Kipnis has quietly put together this year for the Indians. The 26-year-old Illinois native certainly has gotten the attention of opposing pitchers, who walked him eight times this past week as he otherwise muscled up at Baltimore and Chicago. The question is: Why did the Indians sit him on Sunday when he was so hot?


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
30 11 12 2 0 4 5 3 0 1 1

The Phillies have had to tolerate the bad with the good over the last four years in regards to the veteran second baseman. The bad consists of all those injuries; the good is a performance like this past week, as Utley reminded everyone that he can still play stellar baseball at a fragile 34. Utley’s two round-trippers on Saturday at Los Angeles represented his first multi-homer effort in nearly two years. He’s hitting .326 in nine games since returning from his latest injury.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay Rays

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

It was an up-and-down June for Joyce, who took best hitter honors on this very stage a few weeks back; since then, it’s been a downward slope to the dark side with Joyce hitting .103 (4-for-39) with only four runs scored playing primarily in the leadoff spot. He remains a puzzling choice to bat first, and if he can’t snap out of this latest funk, the Rays will be inclined to find him a new spot further down the lineup.


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies

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

Utley’s long-time complement in the batting order had a much different week, failing to get a single hit while striking out nine times and hitting into a double play. Unlike Utley, Howard has been an everyday fixture in the lineup so far this year—but also unlike his co-star, he’s not been performing at a vintage level with declining power, averages and percentages. This week’s collection of litter does spoil what had been his best month of the season.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
R.A. Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
1-0 9 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 6

There were a number of two-hit shutouts fired in the AL this past week, but Dickey’s was the most impressive of the batch because he only needed 93 pitches to complete the gem, faced only two batters above the minimum and—most happily for catcher Josh Thole—created no passed balls with his elusive knuckler. Whether this was just a one-time throwback to better days or a return to Cy Young Award form for the 38-year old remains to be seen, as he’s been wildly uneven of late.


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Vin Mazzaro, Pittsburgh Pirates

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

Vin-dication was at hand this past week for the man who made headlines two years ago with a disastrous relief outing in which he gave up 14 runs in 2.1 innings. But now that he’s been afflicted with the winning bug from the suddenly hot Pirates, those days seem comfortably behind. Mazzaro threw two shutout innings and picked up the win in the Bucs’ 4-2 win at Seattle on Wednesday, then took the mound after a two-hour rain delay on Sunday and proceeded to toss five hitless frames against Milwaukee to keep the Pirates in the running for a game they’d win in 14.


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
David Phelps, New York Yankees

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 2.1 9 9 9 2 0 0 0 0 1

Jim Phelps’ tapes self-destructed in five seconds back in the Mission: Impossible days. David Phelps’ start at Baltimore this past Saturday self-destructed in two and a third innings. The second-year right-hander is hardly going to be confused with pitching greats of pinstriped past, but with everything else going haywire in Yankeeland with A-Rod acting “bizarre” and no-namers infiltrating the lineup, this is not needed for a team looking for positive stability.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Justin De Fratus, Philadelphia Phillies

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-3 2 5 4 4 4 1 1 1 0 3

It’s bad enough when a reliever loses twice in a week—but the big young right-hander, who had never lost in 37 career appearances entering the week, got tagged with the Big “L” three times, failing to hold one lead and two ties. Here’s one silver lining; in his one innocuous outing on Sunday at Los Angeles, he kept Yasiel Puig from homering to hit for the cycle. But this trio of defeats will likely sting his psyche for a while.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (6-0)

Last week, it was the Blue Jays who rose from the dead and starting playing like the contenders everyone expected. This past week, the Halos followed suit with six straight wins on the road, including an impressive sweep of the AL Central-leading Tigers in Detroit. Pitching, the Angels’ Achilles Heel so far this year, played a key role, especially with a suddenly toughened bullpen. It would be a good time for the Angels to keep this momentum going; they have home series this coming week against St. Louis and Boston.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Pittsburgh Pirates (6-0)

Pirate Fever is spreading in Pittsburgh—and after 20 years of consistent failure, any fan who catches it will rightfully and deliriously decline treatment to cure it. The Pirates won games easy and won them tough, highlighting the week with a hard-earned 14-inning win over the Brewers on Sunday. Their nine-game winning streak, longest in nine years, puts them two games ahead of St. Louis with a 51-30 mark—yes, that’s halfway to 102-60. Let’s hope for their sake that the second half will be far kinder than the past two years.


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Chicago White Sox (1-5)

Say it ain’t so, Hawk; your Ashen Hose are officially the second worst team in the AL, just ahead of those awful Astros. The bats went cold when the pitchers gave them a chance (ask ace Chris Sale, who was 0-5 in June with a 3.19 ERA) and were hot when the staff was not—like in Friday’s doubleheader against Cleveland in which the Sox plated 18 total runs and couldn’t win either game. Even their one win wasn’t a source of pride; they had to bail themselves out with a walk-off rally after botching an infield fly ball against the Mets in the top of the ninth. The White Sox have now lost 23 of their last 31 games.


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Milwaukee Brewers (1-5)

The black-and-blue Brew Crew took a beating this week from the best and worst that the rest of the division has to offer. They began the way losing two of three at home to the Cubs, further cementing themselves into the NL Central basement; then they gave the red-hot Pirates a pretty good battle over the weekend but still got swept, dropping their season record to a abysmal 32-48. The fact that eight players have already made their major league debuts for the Brewers this year says much about the state of this injury-depleted team.


 

 

 

Best and Worst of the Week

Monday, June 24
The Tampa Bay Rays end Toronto’s 11-game winning streak with a 4-1 victory at St. Petersburg. The Rays’ main outburst takes place in the second inning with back-to-back-to-back home runs from James Loney, Wil Myers and Sam Fuld off of Blue Jay starter Esmil Rogers—who had allowed just three homers on the year coming into the game.

The legend of Yasiel Puig continues to grow. The Cuban phenom belts a first-inning, opposite-field home run against San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner, then singles in the go-ahead run in the eighth to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a 3-1 win over the Giants at Chavez Ravine. Puig is now batting .442 with seven homers and 14 RBIs in 77 at-bats.


Tuesday, June 25
The New York Yankees defeat the Texas Rangers 4-3 on four solo home runs—the last a game-winning, ninth-inning shot by veteran outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, only the second walk-off blast of his career. Suzuki’s first one came against Yankee closer Mariano Rivera; his homer tonight makes Rivera the winning pitcher.

The Baltimore Orioles defeat Cleveland, 6-3, to break a four-game losing skid with the help of homers from Chris Davis—whose 28th shot breaks a franchise record for the most before the end of June—and Alexi Casilla’s first round-tripper since last August 8. The pitcher serving up Casilla’s two homers, then and now: Indian starting pitcher Justin Masterson.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim roll over the Tigers at Detroit, 14-6, with the help of six Tiger errors—including two each from Miguel Cabrera and reliever Evan Reed—that lead to five unearned tallies. Rookie outfielder J.B. Shuck leads the Angels’ hit parade with three knocks and four RBIs.


Wednesday, June 26
The R.A. Dickey we knew from 2012 finally shows up for the Blue Jays. He deals a two-hit shutout—his first complete game of the year, let alone his first blanking—at Tampa Bay and salvages a 3-0 win for the Jays after losing the first two against the Rays. Dickey is still an unimpressive 7-8 with a 4.72 ERA on the year.

After a 0-9 start to the season, Shaun Marcum finally picks up his first win of the year when he throws eight shutout innings against the White Sox in Chicago, giving the Mets a 3-0 win. He’s the last active starting pitcher on the year to collect his first victory.

The streaking Pittsburgh Pirates take their sixth straight with clutch heroics, unknotting a 2-2 tie in the ninth on a Jordy Mercer two-run single. Combined with the Cardinals’ 4-3 loss at Houston, the Bucs now own a share of the NL Central lead with St. Louis—and a share of the majors’ best record at 48-30.


Thursday, June 27
In a game made up from April, the visiting New York Mets ride a two-run homer by Marlon Byrd to edge the Rockies at Denver, 3-2; the game-time temperature is 95 degrees, a stark contrast to the frigid 20s that greeted both teams two months earlier when they tried to get three games in. The silver lining in the Rockies’ loss is that Michael Cuddyer sets an all-time Colorado record by running his hitting streak to 24 games.

On a getaway Thursday matinee at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees field a lineup that bears more of a resemblance to their Triple-A team in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre—and they play like it. With only Ichiro Suzuki and Robinson Cano the only true regulars in the lineup, the Yankees are shut down 2-0 on just two hits by the Rangers’ Derek Holland, who throws his second shutout of the season; it’s the first two-hit (or less) blanking by a visiting southpaw at Yankee Stadium (old or new) since 1983.


Friday, June 28
The Indians go on the offensive at Chicago, sweeping a doubleheader from the White Sox by scores of 19-10 and 9-8. They score 14 unanswered runs in the first game after falling behind early 5-0, as everyone in the starting lineup but Mark Reynolds gets at least two hits; in the nightcap, the Tribe overcome an 8-5, ninth-inning deficit and rally for four runs with Nick Swisher’s solo shot representing the tie-breaker. Both games last a combined seven hours and 53 minutes—setting an all-time record for two nine-inning games in a doubleheader.

The Tigers’ Max Scherzer becomes baseball’s first 12-0 pitcher since Roger Clemens broke out to a 14-0 start in his memorable 1986 campaign. Detroit hands Scherzer a 6-3 win behind the bat of Miguel Cabrera, who for a record-breaking third time goes 4-for-4 with two homers. Only Lance Lynn of the Cardinals has received more run support (6.56 per game) than Scherzer (6.31). It’s official:

The Pirates are, by the record, the best team in the majors. Pittsburgh extends its winning streak to seven with a 10-3 trouncing of the Milwaukee Brewers before 36,000 at PNC Park, as Gerrit Cole becomes the first Pirate since Erv Brame in 1928 to earn victories in each of his first four career starts.

The Dodgers’ six-game winning streak—by far their longest of the year—comes crashing to an end as they suffer their worst home loss since moving to Los Angeles in a 16-1 trouncing by the visiting Philadelphia Phillies. One Young (Michael) sets the Phillies up with four hits, while another (Delmon Young) knock them in with six RBIs on the evening.

The Atlanta Braves, who’ve been on the wrong end of a major league-most 11 shutouts this year, gives Arizona its first shutout loss of the year. Julio Teheran (four hits allowed, ten strikeouts) outduels former Braves pitcher Randall Delgado for his sixth win on the year.


Saturday, June 29
The Orioles knock Yankee starter David Phelps off the mound before the third inning is over with nine runs and roll to an 11-3 rout. Chris Davis homers twice to become only the eighth major leaguer to reach 30 on the year before the end of June; along with five RBIs, Davis is now three homers and six RBIs shy of his entire 2012 output (33 and 85).

The Pirates keep rolling. Early home runs by Pedro Alvarez and Garret Jones are enough for Francisco Liriano and three relievers as the Bucs win their eighth straight, 2-1 over the Brewers, becoming the first team to reach 50 victories on the year. The last time Pittsburgh beat everyone else to 50 was in 1960—the year they famously won the World Series off of Bill Mazeroski’s bat.


Sunday, June 30
Justin Masterson throws his third shutout of the year—and his second against the White Sox—in the Indians’ 4-0 win at Chicago. At 10-6 with a 3.48 ERA, Masterson is halfway to 20 wins as the Indians reach the halfway point of the season.

Eric Hosmer’s ninth-inning insurance homer proves to be the game-winner as Kansas City clips the Twins at Minnesota, 9-8—but the big star on the day for the Royals is rookie outfielder David Lough, who doubles three times and hits his second homer of the year. He’s the first Royal since Lonnie Smith in 1986 to crank out four extra base hits, and the first rookie in all of baseball since the Yankees’ Shane Spencer in 1998.


81 Down, 81 to Go: TGG’s Midseason Awards
It’s Hump Week in baseball’s 2013 regular season as we hit the midway point with surprises, strong showings from the younger generation and the usual greatness from the usual suspects. This Great Game’s Eric Gouldsberry and Ed Attanasio have dissected the first 81 games for each team and come up with their choices for the midseason awards. Note: Usually we reserve these honors in a more expansive write-up in our Opinions section, but this year we thought it best to save the in-depth postmortems for the end of the year, as we used to do anyway.

NL MVP:
Eric:
Yadier Molina, St. Louis
Ed:
Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
Molina has evolved as the heart and soul of the Cardinals’ roster, and on top of that he’s in the midst of a career year, leading the NL in hitting and raising St. Louis to the top of the NL Central. Goldschmidt, meanwhile, has become the go-to power source that the Diamondbacks have been banking on since his arrival a few years ago, and has been the prime mover in giving Arizona the NL West lead.

AL MVP:
Eric:
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
Ed:
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
Baltimore’s
Chris Davis has put together a hell of season thus far, but Cabrera—the reigning AL MVP and triple-crown winner—remains the gold standard, leading all major leaguers in batting average, hits, RBIs and on-base percentage.

NL Cy:
Eric:
Matt Harvey, New York Mets
Ed:
Matt Harvey, New York Mets
A year ago at this time, the young right-hander had yet to step foot on a major league field. Now, he’s the guy National Leaguers want to face the least. Harvey is leading the NL in ERA, strikeouts, batting average allowed, and WHIP (walks and hits allowed per inning); the 7-1 pitcher would be leading in wins as well were it not for an underwhelming Mets offense and an overwhelmed bullpen.

AL Cy:
Eric:
Clay Buchholz, Boston
Ed:
Clay Buchholz, Boston
Max Scherzer is 12-0 (thanks in part to his gratuitous run support), Bartolo Colon is hot (thanks in part to his gratuitous Biogenesis past) and Hisashi Iwakuma has quietly put up stellar numbers in Seattle, but Buchholz (9-0, 1.71 ERA) remains the league’s best to this point—even if he’s missed the last month with a pain in the neck. He’ll need to return soon and pick up where he left off to win the actual year-end award.

NL Rookie of the First Half:
Eric:
Shelby Miller, St. Louis
Ed:
Shelby Miller, St. Louis
Among young pitchers, it’s been Matt Harvey this, Matt Harvey that…but there’s been little relative ink (or online bytes) spared for the 22-year-old Houston native who’s been impressively tough on opponents with a 2.79 ERA and .223 batting average allowed. He’s just the tonic that the Cardinals, sans
Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia, need.

AL Rookie of the First Half:
Eric:
Jose Iglesias, Boston
Ed:
Conor Gillaspie, Chicago White Sox
Split vote here: Igelsias is building up the mano e’ mano with Los Angeles sensation
Yasiel Puig to see who can remain above .400 the longest, while Gillaspie has shown a rock-like presence at third base even if his batting skills show room for improvement.

NL Manager of the First Half:
Eric:
Mike Matheny, St. Louis
Ed:
Kirk Gibson, Arizona
Eric likes the job Matheny has done in whipping the less-than-100% Cardinals to the league’s elite level; Ed gives his love to Gibson, who continues to forge better-than-expected success from Arizona.

AL Manager of the First Half:
Eric:
Terry Francona, Cleveland
Ed:
John Farrell, Boston
Francona has impressively lifted a Cleveland team few expected success from, as the Indians are breathing down the favored Tigers’ necks; his heir apparent (Farrell) in Boston has done exceptionally well in getting a talented (and egotistical) Red Sox squad to turn its back on the ugliness of the last two years.

NL Biggest Surprise (Team):
Eric: Colorado Rockies
Ed: Arizona Diamondbacks
The NL West has served up our two choices here. Eric is halfway to eating his words once again on the Rockies, who many others also felt had no chance this season; Ed didn’t see the Diamondbacks coming to break up the expected Dodger-Giant race.

AL Biggest Surprise (Team):
Eric: Cleveland Indians
Ed: Boston Red Sox
An echoing of the managerial picks above; Eric takes the Indians, who’ve been clobbering the ball and pitching far better than anticipated, while Ed goes with a Red Sox team that has admirably pulled itself from recent hard times in a very difficult division.

NL Biggest Disappointment (Team):
Eric: San Francisco Giants
Ed: Los Angeles Dodgers
Back to the West once more. There’s more bitterness than disappointment to be shared by Eric and Ed here, as the teams they live and die with (the Giants and Dodgers, respectively) are both nowhere near where they expected to be.

AL Biggest Disappointment (Team):
Eric: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Ed: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Not so long ago we made a habit of crowning the New York Mets as world champions in advance (through our springtime predictions) and looking like utter fools six months later when they sat at home with their tails between their legs in October. Now we have the Angels, preseason darlings for two years running—and, for a second straight season, are on pace to make us eat our sage. Lousy pitching and a terrible start for the team’s latest megastar (
Josh Hamilton) have doomed the Angels’ prospects.

NL Biggest Surprise (Player):
Eric:
Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee
Ed:
Matt Harvey, New York Mets
After so many years of below-par play (in golf, that’s a good thing; baseball, no), the once can’t-miss Gomez finally seems to have found the rhythm long expected of him, on pace for a .310 average, 25 homers, 15 triples, 75 RBIs and 30 steals. Ed, on the other hand, didn’t see Harvey evolving this good, this fast.

AL Biggest Surprise (Player):
Eric:
James Loney, Tampa Bay
Ed:
Bartolo Colon, Oakland
Loney (projected to finish .300-20-80) has found peace and prosperity in Tampa Bay after years of feeling the heat from a Dodger Nation pressing him to be the next
Steve Garvey. Then there’s Colon, who even at age 40 hasn’t suffered the anticipated post-Biogenesis letdown with a terrific 11-2 record and 2.79 ERA.

NL Biggest Disappointment (Player):
Eric:
B.J. Upton, Atlanta
Ed:
Matt Kemp, Los Angeles
Few anticipated a .256 average, pair of homers and 18 RBIs in 54 games from Kemp, just two years removed from a near 40-40 campaign, but at least he can blame it in on a bothersome hamstring. But what’s up with Upton, who crawled out of the starting gate and has struggled to regain speed with a poor .174 average, 19 runs and 17 RBIs in 70 games?

AL Biggest Disappointment (Player):
Eric:
Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles of Anaheim
Ed:
Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles of Anaheim
Things could be worse for the recovered addict who’s Arte Moreno’s latest nine-figure project. But between the lines, it’s been an utterly depressing start for the Angel slugger with a fair number of home runs (ten) and very little else, except a ton of strikeouts. A bum wrist may be to blame, so perhaps he needs to spend more time keeping it in game shape and less time signing “Jesus loves you” baseballs and tossing them into the crowd.

What is This, Courtesy Class?
The strained relationship between the New York Yankees and Alex Rodriguez spilled into the public this past week when Yankee general manager Brian Cashman, upset that Rodriguez was proclaiming his return to game-ready form via Twitter, told reporters that he wished A-Rod would “shut the f**k up.”

Over the next few days, everyone involved backtracked and refrained from further escalating the tension into baseball’s version of Glengarry Glen Ross. Cashman apologized for the language, and Rodriguez clarified his statement by saying that his personal doctor had given him his okay to play—admitting that this was not the official gospel from the Yankees’ doctors. “I will continue to work hard until my efforts get me back in pinstripes and help my team win,” Rodriguez typed. “The tweet was pure excitement about Dr. Kelly’s (A-Rod’s doctor) prognosis.”

Clarifications and apologies did not lead to kissing and making up. Instead, a long-distance war of words and paranoia between the Yankees and A-Rod ensued throughout the week. A team source called Rodriguez’s behavior “bizarre.” Rodriguez complained that the Yankees were trying to slow his return. And if Rodriguez didn’t have enough to worry about from the Yankees, the ongoing Biogenesis investigation continued to dog him—with the courts clearing MLB to depose his infamous cousin (and steroids bag man) Yuri Sucrat.

Are You Lonely Tonight?
About the only person coming to Rodriguez’s defense (outside of his lawyers and PR team) was teammate Derek Jeter, who’s been rehabbing along with A-Rod at the Yankees’ spring headquarters in Tampa. But Jeter’s statements were more an affirmation in the context of Yankee team unity, not in any sort of arms-around friendship with Rodriguez.

Rodriguez may become the loneliest man within the baseball world since Jose Canseco. His polished aloofness reportedly makes it hard to attract true friends in the clubhouse. He’s become a punching bag for reporters, especially in New York. Yankee management has become incensed for his inability to perform while he remains the game’s highest paid player. And historians are frowning on his continued connection to steroids, as it’s become clear he stands about as good a chance of making the Hall of Fame as Mark McGwire.

The feeling of rejection led to this theory from the New York Daily News: A-Rod could begin playing in rehab games, claim that his hip isn’t up to it after a few at-bats and retire—and per the basic agreement, could walk away and not lose a penny on the $114 million still owed to him by the Yankees (who would be covered for 80% of the payments through insurance). He’d have to hurry, though; if MLB nails him for Biogenesis before he begins any kind of game action, the paychecks will cease for the duration of however long baseball’s suspension of him will be.

It Was Nice While it Lasted
One of the reasons that the Yankees have managed to stay respectable in the standings in the midst of the injuries and gossip galore has been the play of cast-off veterans Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner—at least at the beginning of the year. In April, the two sluggers combined to hit .308 in 156 at-bats with 12 home runs, 30 RBIs, 22 walks and 31 strikeouts. Vintage in vogue, right? Not so fast. In May and June, Wells and Hafner returned to their more recent awful selves—batting .179 in a combined 311 at-bats with ten homers, 35 RBIs, just 20 walks and 76 strikeouts. Paging A-Rod…oh, never mind.

Good Company
Here’s one solid way to gauge Mike Trout’s young, terrific career to date. The Los Angeles of Anaheim outfielder recorded his 1,000th at-bat this past week, at which point he had collected 307 hits, 205 runs and 150 RBIs. The only other player to ever accumulate better numbers over his first 1,000 ABs? Ted Williams.

Benched by the Thumb
Besides the clutch hits and all those doubles, Baltimore’s Manny Machado has managed to do something even more impressive: Play in every inning since being called up to the majors last August 9 at age 19. (Even Cal Ripken Jr. was slowly edged into the everyday lineup after his arrival in 1981.) Machado’s streak came to an abrupt end at 1,206 this past Thursday when he protested Will Little’s third-strike call—Machado thought he got a piece of the ball—and was ejected in the fifth inning of the Orioles’ 7-3 win over Cleveland.

Let’s Hope the Gun and the Winner Won’t be Loaded
The Class-AA Huntsville Stars are holding “Second Amendment Night” this Wednesday and will give away three guns: A standard rifle, a scope rifle and a semi-automatic pistol. If you belong to the NRA, you’ll be given free admission. Hopefully, free beer also won’t be given to those members who arrive with a legally concealed handgun.

This Week’s Reminder That Everyone’s Striking Out
Even though the Cardinals struck out 14 times at Houston on Tuesday, they still won 13-5 on 15 hits. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that 28 times since 2000, a team has managed to knock out 14 hits while suffering 14 K’s in a game; in all of the 20th Century, it happened only nine times—and it didn’t happen once between 1900-66.

June Boon
Los Angeles rookie sensation
Yasiel Puig, who played his first major league game back on June 3, racked up 44 hits in the month; only Joe DiMaggio, with 48 hits in his debut month of May 1936, had more.

Justin Miller, RIP
It was reported on Friday that
Justin Miller, a pitcher who plied his trade for four different teams over seven major league seasons—most recently with the Dodgers in 2010—was found dead at the age of 35 in Florida. At upload time, authorities were tight-lipped about where he was found and what he died from. Miller, who was 24-14 with a 4.82 ERA over 216 big league appearances (mostly in relief), is best remembered for the creation of a rule in which pitchers with heavy tattoo coverage on their arms would be required to wear long sleeves to cover up and keep from distracting hitters.

He Said What?
“Miami.”—Detroit’s
Miguel Cabrera, asked to guess where Prince Fielder’s tape-measure blast at Tampa Bay on Friday against the Rays would have gone had it not hit the catwalk above the wall, bleachers and lights at Tropicana Field. The homer was officially listed at 414 feet, perhaps the most conservative estimate in the history of baseball.

League vs. League
The National League keeps trying, as handicapped as they are with the majority of games being played on American League turf, but they watched again as the AL once again slightly increased its lead in interleague competition. The AL took 12 of 23 games to finish the week with a 94-84 edge over the NL on the year. The AL home-field advantage continues this coming week, with three of four interleague series to be held in AL parks.

This Week’s Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
With a seeing-eye single in his last at-bat on Sunday against San Francisco, Colorado’s
Michael Cuddyer extended the majors’ longest hitting streak of the year at 27 games, almost halfway to Joltin’ Joe’s legendary achievement from 1941. Cuddyer’s run is the longest in Rockies history.

Wounded of the Week
wounded of the weekA relatively quiet week on the medical front was highlighted by those already sidelined raising the white flag on the season after holding hopes of coming back at some point. Yankee slugger Mark Teixeira (wrist), Milwaukee first baseman Corey Hart (knee) and Los Angeles pitcher Josh Beckett (neck) all opted for season-ending surgery this past week.

Those players who began the week active and ended it on the disabled list included Toronto’s Melky Cabrera (knee), Seattle outfielder Franklin Gutierrez (hamstring) and Cincinnati pitcher Johnny Cueto (lat), making his third appearance this year on the shelf.


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