This Great Game Comebacker

The Week That Was in Baseball: July 1-7, 2013
If TGG Picked the All-Stars Homer Bailey's Second No-Hitter Within a Year
Chris Davis Eyes Roger Maris—And No One Else Raul Ibanez, Reborn

Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
29 9 12 3 0 1 6 5 0 0 4

With Matt Joyce failing the grade as the Rays’ leadoff hitter (see last week’s Comebacker), Jennings was bumped to the top of the order and the move paid off, as he greatly contributed to the Rays’ winning week. Maybe Jennings doesn’t have to hit like this every week (Joe Maddon certainly wouldn’t mind), but if he can keep his average at a healthier clip than his career .253 mark, he’ll be the guy the Rays have been looking for since Carl Crawford fled for free agency


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
25 8 12 3 2 1 2 2 0 0 0

While Yasiel Puig has been stealing all the headlines over the last month, there’s been Ramirez, quietly hitting .400 alongside the heralded rookie. The 29-year-old shortstop has put two DL stints behind him and is playing his best baseball since his sensational first five seasons with the Marlins (2006-10). The Dodgers are desperately hoping that Ramirez can stay healthy and continue Los Angeles on its overall recovery back to the top of the NL West.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Mark Reynolds, Cleveland Indians

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
19 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 1 0

After a hot start to the year that suggested he upshifted to a premier level of play, the veteran power hitter has regressed back to darker times—and it only got worse this week, going hitless while striking out ten times to put him over 100 for the year (and possibly on pace for, again, 200). Since May 12, Reynolds is hitting just .169 in 177 at-bats—with 80 strikeouts.


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
22 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0

A microcosm of the Giants’ hitting woes of present, Pence has always been known for having one of the game’s more unorthodox, fidgety mannerisms at the plate; as long as he hits well, Giant fans usually don’t mind. Right now, they mind. Pence hasn’t been striking out with the same kind of frequency as late last summer when he arrived in San Francisco—but the fact is, he’s just not hitting at all. He’s one of five NL players up for that last spot on the All-Star team, but his play of late isn’t going to endear him to the many who’ll vote.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
David Price, Tampa Bay Rays

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
2-0 16 11 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 15

Those seven weeks of R&R apparently did Price pretty darn well. In his first two starts since a long shelf stay with triceps issues, the tall right-hander returned to Cy Young Award form and then some against, admittedly, two of the AL’s weaker offenses (Houston and Chicago). But his dominance was special not just in its effectiveness, but in its efficiency; he averaged barely ten pitches per inning over both his victories, which included his first complete-game performance of the year on Sunday against the White Sox.


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds

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

The 27-year-old righty from La Grange, Texas was so dominant and on-target against the Giants in throwing his second no-hitter in less than a year, it’s hard to believe that he came into the game having won just one of his previous six starts with a 5.26 ERA. Maybe he deserves better than a 5-6 record, or perhaps he needs to stop running so hot and cold, but he’s got some white-hot momentum going into his next start—which, by the way, comes Monday at Milwaukee


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Jerome Williams, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 4.2 11 12 11 5 0 0 0 0 3

The 31-year-old Hawaiian native has been riding a decent second wave with the Angels after bouncing around one organization to another while failing to make a single major league appearance from 2008-10. But this past week was anything but progress. He was simply awful on Wednesday against the Cardinals, walking a season-high four batters in less than two innings and ruining the Angels’ seven-game winning streak; he then came back on two days’ rest (because he threw so few pitches on Wednesday) and fared only a little better against the Red Sox.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Robbie Erlin, San Diego Padres

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-2 7.2 11 12 12 7 0 0 2 0 4

We mentioned above how few pitches David Price threw in racking up 16 innings this past week; Erlin ended up racking up 30 more pitches (198) in half the amount of innings worked. After two promising starts in June that were the first of his career, the rookie southpaw collapsed on the road at Boston and Washington, as wildness got the better of him. Erlin is filling in for an injured Clayton Richard, so his role on the Padres’ starting rotation is likely to come to an end soon.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
New York Yankees (6-1)

No Jeter? No A-Rod? No Tex? No Grandyman? No matter. The no-name Yankees were a blown Mariano Rivera save on Sunday from an undefeated week, sweeping a four-game series at Minnesota before coming home and taking two of three from a tough Baltimore squad. Robinson Cano got the Yankees out to a bruising start by unraveling the Twins, then the New York staff took over—with wins from the likes of David Phelps and Ivan Nova, two guys who’ve been iffy.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Arizona Diamondbacks (5-2)

After two disappointing losses to start the week at New York against the Mets—extending a stretch in which they lost eight of nine games—the Diamondbacks pulled a Wednesday upset on young phenom Matt Harvey, and that sent the team’s confidence into skyrocket mode. They took the series finale on Thursday and then came home to sweep the regressing Rockies (allowing just two runs in three games) to take solid control of the NL West. As long as the rest of the division keeps falling over each other, the summer should be smooth sailing for the Snakes.


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Minnesota Twins (1-6)

The Twins have been giving it the good ol’ college try to become relevant in the AL Central, but this week they ran into a wall called the AL East. The Yankees and Jays both ripped Minnesota apart, with only Mike Pelfrey’s six shutout innings at Toronto on Saturday providing a rare moment of joy for Twins fans. If Minnesota’s looking for a return to lightweight competition this coming week, forget it; they’ve got seven road games split between Tampa Bay and Yankee Stadium.


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
San Diego Padres (0-7)

Just when the Padres started catching people’s attention by reaching the .500 mark, this happens: A nine-game losing streak, the bulk of which took place this week as the team finished a dreadful ten-game road swing across the Eastern Seaboard. Now, they’re back in last place. Timing, amongst everything else, was off for the Padres; they started the week putting precious few across the plate, and when the bats began waking up later at Washington, the pitching fell apart.


 

 

 

Best and Worst of the Week

Monday, July 1
In his first at-bat after a five-week layoff from knee problems, Bryce Harper smacks a first-inning home run to set the tone for Washington’s 10-5 rout of Milwaukee at Nationals Park. Jayson Werth contributes with five RBIs and pitcher Jordan Zimmermann extends an undefeated streak at home to 21 games in which he’s gone 14-0.

Miami rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez throws his best effort yet, silencing the San Diego Padres on two hits and a walk with a career-best ten strikeouts through eight shutout innings in the Marlins’ 4-0 win at Marlins Park. Catcher Jeff Mathis knocks in three of the Marlins’ four runs and now has 11 RBIs over his last four games after accumulating just three in his previous 17 appearances of the year.

Andy Pettitte surpasses Whitey Ford as the all-time strikeout leader for the New York Yankees, who pummel the Twins at Minnesota, 10-5, behind Robinson Cano’s two homers and a double. The 41-year-old Pettitte now has 1,958 career K’s for the Yankees.


Tuesday, July 2
Homer Bailey, who threw the last no-hitter of 2012, throws the first of 2013—silencing the San Francisco Giants on 109 pitches, 74 for strikes as the Reds win at Cincinnati, 3-0. The only Giant to reach against Bailey is Gregor Blanco, who walks on a 3-2 pitch in the seventh inning.

Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw tosses his second shutout of the year, a four-hit, no-walk gem at Coors Field in an 8-0 win over the Rockies. Not surprisingly, giving Kershaw a supportive hand with the bat is rookie Yasiel Puig, who racks up three more hits including a double and his eighth homer of the season.

The New York Mets pound Arizona, 9-1, to hand pitcher Pat Corbin his first loss of the year; after a 9-0 start over his first 11 outings, Corbin was involved in five straight no-decisions before taking the defeat. For the Mets, it’s the first time in 30 home games in which they’ve scored six or more runs; that had tied the NL record previously set by the 1984 Montreal Expos and 1988 Pittsburgh Pirates.

In his first game against his former St. Louis teammates, Albert Pujols goes 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts—but his current Angel mates pick him up and back starting pitcher Jered Weaver, who wins for only the second time this year in a 5-1 defeat of the Cardinals at Anaheim. It’s the Angels’ seventh straight win.


Wednesday, July 3
Max Scherzer keeps rolling along. The Tiger fireballer allows two runs in 6.1 innings and gets enough early support to breeze without stress to a 6-2 win at Toronto, improving his record to 13-0. Five of the Tigers’ six runs are unearned thanks to three Blue Jay errors—including two from starting pitcher Josh Johnson.

CC Sabathia becomes the fourth active pitcher to reach 200 career wins after throwing seven innings in the Yankees’ 3-2 win at Minnesota. The three other pitchers beyond 200 are Andy Pettitte (250), Roy Halladay and Tim Hudson (201 each); at age 32, Sabathia is easily the youngest of the group.

After being shut down through the first five innings against likely NL All-Star Game starter Matt Harvey, the Arizona Diamondbacks come to life and score five over the sixth and seventh frames to knock Harvey out of the box and take a lead that will hold. Credit for the 5-3 win goes to Randall Delgado, making him the first Arizona starting pitcher to earn the victory in 24 games, one shy of the modern NL record.

The Kansas City Royals survive a two-and-a-half-hour rain delay, a 12-minute power outage (at midnight) and an inside-the-park home run from Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis that left outfielder Alex Gordon banged up with a possible concussion to beat the Indians, 6-5. Eric Hosmer’s seventh-inning solo homer ends up being the winning tally.


Thursday, July 4
The Mets get game-tying home runs in the 13th and 14th innings (from Anthony Recker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, respectively), yet still lose 5-4 to the Diamondbacks when Craig Pennington—hitting .230 on the year, but 8-for-11 in extra innings—smacks a run-scoring single in the 15th. The last time a team hit two game-tying homers in extra innings and lost? Exactly 28 years earlier, in the famed 19-inning epic between the Mets and Braves at Atlanta (won, that time, by New York).

The previously moribund Josh Hamilton hits a two-run, game-tying homer in the ninth—and five batters later, Erick Aybar wins it on a single to give the Angels a 6-5, walk-off triumph over the Cardinals. The loss is tagged on St. Louis closer Edward Mujica, who blows his first save opportunity of the year—leaving Oakland’s Grant Belfour as the only full-time closer in the majors without a blown save this season.


Friday, July 5
The defending champion Giants continue to sink faster than the Titanic. A return home after a brutal nine-game road trip doesn’t cure the losing blues, as the archrival Dodgers come in and blow away the Giants, 10-2, with former Giant Juan Uribe knocking in seven runs. The Giants have now lost 13 of their last 15 games and are tied for last place in the NL West.

In the first of a four-game series between the AL Central’s two top teams, the front-running Tigers easily handle the Indians by a 7-0 count before over 40,000 at Progressive Field. Rick Porcello throws seven shutout innings for Detroit, while Victor Martinez goes 3-for-3 with two RBIs to improve his career batting average against his former team to .364—second highest among active players against the Tribe with at least 100 at-bats.

Mark Buerhle pitches seven shutout innings in Toronto’s 4-0 win over Minnesota, giving him 28 career victories against the Twins; that’s the highest total by any active pitcher against any one team, one ahead of Andy Pettitte’s 27 wins versus Baltimore.

Catching up: A night after knocking in five runs in his return to active duty since May 15, Washington catcher Wilson Ramos brings home three more in the Nationals’ 8-5 win at home against San Diego. Ramos’ eight RBIs in his last two games is two more than he accumulated in 14 games before going on the disabled list with hamstring issues.


Saturday, July 6
Pettitte catches up to Buehrle; the Yankee southpaw throws 6.2 adequate innings and gets just enough support to defeat the Orioles, 5-4, and improve his career mark against Baltimore to 28-6.

The Giants bounce back to defeat the Dodgers, 4-2, almost through no fault of their own; they lose a first-inning run when Buster Posey (who doubled in Gregor Blanco) is declared out for batting our of turn, and the four runs they do eventually get all come on walks, hit batsmen, bad defense by the Dodger infield and sacrifice flies. San Francisco’s pitching is stellar, however, as they get Dodger rookie sensation Yasiel Puig to strike out swinging in each of his four at-bats.

For the second time in three days, a rebounding Josh Hamilton plays the clutch hero for the Angels. His two-run homer in the 11th lifts Los Angeles of Anaheim to a 9-7 win at home over the Boston Red Sox. Hamilton had earlier singled home a run in the Angels’ four-run, ninth-inning rally to force overtime.


Sunday, July 7
The Yankees are three outs away from a series sweep of the Orioles and an undefeated week overall—but Mariano Rivera blows his second save of the year when Adam Jones belts his 16th home run of the year with one out to put Baltimore ahead to stay, 2-1.

Michael Brantley clubs two home runs—including the first ever surrendered by Detroit reliever Al Aburquerque—among three hits and knocks in five to lift the Indians over the Tigers by a 9-6 count.


If We Picked the All-Stars, 2013 Edition
While millions of fans tally billions of votes via MLB’s generous, profit-hungry All-Star Game selection process, you’ll only get one vote, one person from This Great Game’s Ed Attanasio and Eric Gouldsberry, and it’s listed below. As always, we shed out bias, seek out those deserving from under the radar of star-shrouded fog and present you with our honest selections of who should be the starting nine for each league at New York’s Citi Field on July 16.

Catcher, American League
Ed:
Joe Mauer, Minnesota
Eric:
Joe Mauer, Minnesota
The people's choice:
Joe Mauer, Minnesota
The veteran Twins catcher retains the throne behind the plate with a solid start (.312, eight homers), outpacing Baltimore’s
Matt Wieters—who continues to shine defensively but, with a .232 average, has wrecked any chance of earning the starting pole.

Catcher, National League
Ed:
Yadier Molina, St. Louis
Eric:
Yadier Molina, St. Louis
The people's choice:
Yadier Molina, St. Louis
A two-horse race between last year’s starter (and eventual MVP)
Buster Posey and Molina goes to the latter this year, and with good reason; Molina continues to shine behind the plate while pacing the NL with a .346 average.

First Base, American League
Ed:
Chris Davis, Baltimore
Eric:
Chris Davis, Baltimore
The people's choice:
Chris Davis, Baltimore
That Davis, the former washout at Texas who’s rediscovered himself in a huge way with the Orioles, is almost lapping the competition that includes Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols, is a testament to his astonishing rise to big-time stardom in just a few short years.

First Base, National League
Ed:
Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
Eric:
Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
The people's choice:
Joey Votto, Cincinnati
There’s solid competition here with strong arguments that could be made for Votto (the fans’ pick),
Allen Craig, Freddie Freeman and Adrian Gonzalez, but we’ll both take Goldschmidt, who’s out-powered, out-RBI’d and out-valued the others on this ballot.

Second Base, American League
Ed:
Robinson Cano, New York
Eric:
Dustin Pedroia, Boston
The people's choice:
Robinson Cano, New York
Cano is the default choice for many and has played well enough to merit the mindset, with numbers to date (.293-20-58) certainly strong enough to make his case; Eric gives the nod to Pedroia, who’s hitting for a higher average, reaching base more often and showing the form that made him the 2008 MVP. A citation of honorable mention must be given to Cleveland’s
Jason Kipnis (.296-13-54), who should make the team as a reserve.

Second Base, National League
Ed:
Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati
Eric:
Chase Utley, Philadelphia
The people's choice:
Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati
Phillips has been a prime component of the Reds’ success thus far and is defensively one of the game’s best, so it’s hard to argue with the choices of Ed and the fans. Eric, on the other hand, likes what he’s seen from Utley, who when not hurt has displayed the top-notch form that got him into five previous All-Star Games.

Shortstop, American League
Ed:
J.J. Hardy, Baltimore
Eric:
Jose Reyes, Toronto
The people's choice:
J.J. Hardy, Baltimore
Slim pickings to be found here, as no one’s shouting MVP with their numbers and
Derek Jeter remains in forced hibernation; so most are opting for Hardy because he’s smacking far more homers than anyone else on this list. Ed agrees, but Eric doesn’t; even though Reyes has only played a fraction of the season, what he’s shown is far more scintillating than any rival at this spot.

Shortstop, National League
Ed:
Ian Desmond, Washington
Eric:
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado
The people's choice:
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado
Tulowitzki gets the easy nod from the fans (and Eric) for his superb early play, never mind his recent rib woes—but Ed goes for the upset and picks the Nationals’ Desmond (.281-15-49), whose powering his way to a fine season. (Eric opts for Milwaukee’s
Jean Segura to replace Tulowitzki as the starter.)

Third Base, American League
Ed:
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
Eric:
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
The people's choice:
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
Like you really thought it would be anyone else.

Third Base, National League
Ed:
David Wright, New York
Eric:
David Wright, New York
The people's choice:
David Wright, New York
Wright deservedly gets the start here as he’s outpaced his competitors in just about every facet of his game—and for the cherry on top, he gets to perform in front of the home folks at Citi Field.

Outfield, American League
Ed:
Mike Trout, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Adam Jones, Baltimore; Jose Bautista, Toronto
Eric:
Mike Trout, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Adam Jones, Baltimore; Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston
The people's choice:
Mike Trout, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Adam Jones, Baltimore; Jose Bautista, Toronto
There’s a surprising dearth or talent and performance to be had at a position usually blessed with so much of both. Trout is a no-brainer choice and Jones gets in through his continued steady play for the Orioles, but Bautista, who’s smacked 20 homers but is hitting a fair .265, gets the reputation vote. Eric begs to differ, believing the pesky hitting and speed of Ellsbury is good enough to make the cut.

Outfield, National League
Ed:
Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado; Dominic Brown, Philadelphia; Andrew McCutcheon, Pittsburgh
Eric:
Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado; Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee; Michael Cuddyer, Colorado
The people's choice:
Carlos Beltran, St. Louis; Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado; Bryce Harper, Washington
Big difference of opinion here. Everyone’s agreed that Gonzalez makes the starting lineup with his numbers both home and away from Coors Field, but Ed breaks off from the fans’ vote and goes with the hard-hitting Brown and the multi-talented McCutcheon—while Eric likes what he sees in the finally-arrived Gomez and hot-hitting Cuddyer, whose stellar numbers have, like Gonzalez’s, not been Coors-pumped.

Starting Pitcher, American League
Ed:
Max Scherzer, Detroit
Eric:
Max Scherzer, Detroit
The manager's choice: To be announced
Clay Buchholz (9-0, 1.71 ERA) is still hurt, the very under-the-radar Hisashi Iwakuma has the next best ERA, Yu Darvish has all the strikeouts and Bartolo Colon has the endless youth thing going, but it’s going to be hard to deny a 13-0 pitcher (Scherzer) the starting nod.

Starting Pitcher, National League
Ed:
Matt Harvey, New York
Eric:
Matt Harvey, New York
The people's choice:
To be announced
Give it to Harvey—even if not for the stats, for the fact that he’ll be playing in his home ballpark.

Doh! He Did it Again!
After many close calls through the season’s first three months, the year’s first no-hitter finally went into the books this past Tuesday, courtesy of the pitcher to throw the last one in 2012: Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey. As with his first gem last season, Bailey only allowed one baserunner on a walk—this time, to the Giants’ Gregor Blanco in the seventh inning.

What was amazing about Bailey’s second no-hitter was how much of a groove he was in. Most no-hit artists dodge a few hard hit balls that the fielders behind him will catch up to or make a great play on, but Bailey’s mid-90s fastball was so effective toward the end of the game, his catcher (Ryan Hanigan) pretty much stopped telling him what to pitch; it was, basically, just throw the fastball and dare the Giants to hit it—to which they often didn’t, as Bailey racked up nine strikeouts.

It was Bailey himself who nearly spoiled the no-no. Shortly after walking Blanco, Buster Posey knocked a soft loop that first baseman Joey Votto short-hopped between first and second—but Bailey, perhaps thinking the ball would be caught, broke late to cover and looked to be in a dead heat to beat Posey to the bag. Seeing this, Votto found a fortuitous Plan B when he saw Blanco moving to third and threw there to get him easily tagged out.

Only three other pitchers achieved fewer overall wins when they earned their second no-hitter, a list led by the Reds’ Johnny Vander Meer—who famously threw consecutive no-nos in 1938 with less than ten career victories to his credit. Jim Maloney is the only other pitcher in Cincinnati history with multiple no-hitters.

Aspiring to be the Clean King
Chris Davis wants it to be known that he’s not after Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa. The Baltimore slugger wants to take aim at the still-iconic 61 homers smacked by Roger Maris back in 1961, as he believes Maris is still the true holder of the home run season record because he’s “clean.” Talking on ESPN’s Mike & Mike radio show this past week, Davis—whose 33 homers put him on pace to match Maris’ 61—also tackled evolving murmurs of suspicion over his sudden outburst of superpower, stating: “I actually think in a way that it’s a kind of backhanded compliment.”

Mannywood, Texas-style
It didn’t take long for Manny Ramirez to garner some love from the majors after his short yet productive tenure in Taiwan. The 41-year-old slugger signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers, if anything else as an insurance policy should one of their star hitters go down. The irony here is that Ramirez, twice suspended for MLB for steroid use, may be called into action in Arlington should Nelson Cruz be slapped with a suspension for his alleged relationship with Biogenesis.

By the way, a correction we need to make from our June 24 edition of the Comebacker: We reported that Ramirez would still have to serve 50 games for his second suspension (which was negotiated down from 100). Ramirez actually served that suspension at the start of the 2012 season after signing with the Oakland A’s, then reported to the A’s minor league system—where he quit shortly thereafter when he sensed he wouldn’t get a call-up to the bigs. Sorry for the confusion.

The Pitch May Not be the Only Thing High at the Plate
Nobody saw this one coming. With all the focus on drug testing for major league players, MLB this past week announced the dismissal of umpire Brian Runge for failing a drug test. It’s interesting that a violating player gets a 50-game suspension, but Runge, a 43-year-old, third-generation arbiter, gets life. At upload time, there was no information on what exactly Runge took.

Thanks Goodness the Hanzo Sword was Sold
John Franco, the retired reliever with 424 career saves primarily for the Mets, apparently still has a desire to play the game. Just ask Wendy King, who was asked to overlook an estate sale for him and his wife last year. She sued Franco for his alleged behavior after the sale, in which he became enraged over King’s claims of the Francos’ “interfering” with the sale process; according to the lawsuit, Franco berated her, imprisoned her for 15 minutes at his house and, at one point, grew so angry that he threw an autographed baseball towards her. Franco alleges that King owes him and his wife $30,000 from the sale.

Byproduct of a Smaller Park?
The third go-around for Raul Ibanez in Seattle may be his sweetest yet—even at the age of 41. The veteran outfielder became the oldest major leaguer to hit 20 homers before the All-Star Break, knocking Barry Bonds (who had 23 at age 39 in 2004) out of the record book. Ibanez has already gone deep more often than for all of 2012, and is on pace to set a career mark previously established in 2009 when he toiled for Philadelphia. Also to note: 13 of Ibanez’s 20 homers have come at Safeco Field, which had its fences moved in at the start of the season.

Is the Envy Starting to Show Through?
Poor Dirk Hayhurst. Earlier this year, the former pitcher now plying his trade as an in-studio TV analyst for the Toronto Blue Jays name-dropped Boston’s Clay Buchholz and Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee as pitchers he suspected of cheating. What he got in return was some searing, sarcastic references to his less-than-stellar major league resume (25 appearances, a 0-2 record and 5.72 ERA from 2008-09). This week, he and colleague Geoff Zahn (a retired veteran catcher of 16 years) took more heat, this time for criticizing the play of Toronto catcher J.P. (as in Justifiably Pissed) Arencibia, who’s always hit poorly for average but is on pace to power out 30 homers.

Arencibia didn’t take the dig too kindly—and responded in kind during a local radio interview this past week, saying, “There’s not one person in our clubhouse that respects (Hayhurst and Zaun),” while reminding Hayhurst of his “below-average” past and Zaun of his inclusion in the Mitchell Report as an alleged steroid user. Hayhurst later replied that Arencibia should have taken his criticism as constructive advice and not a cheap shot, but you gotta wonder how chilly the Toronto clubhouse gets whenever Hayhurst steps in—if he ever does, that is.

Torched by an Angel
Umpire
Angel Hernandez has been a target of ire in regards to several blown calls he’s made this year—and after ejecting Atlanta catcher Gerald Laird and manager Fredi Gonzalez this past Friday in a game ultimately lost by the Braves against Philadelphia, 5-4, Chipper Jones, had enough. The retired standout Brave tweeted: “Didn’t take Angel long to screw up the strike zone, did it???” Followed by: “I will not watch a game, any game, officiated by Angel Hernandez! His incompetence amazes me and I’m tired of MLB doing squat about it!”

Coming Full Circle
On July 4, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Red Sox owned the best records in each of their leagues; the last time that happened was back in 1903, when both teams met up in the very first World Series played between the NL and AL champions.

Overdue
When Kansas City’s
Salvador Perez cleaned the bases with a pinch-hit double to give the Royals a 10-7 win over Cleveland on the Fourth of July, he knocked in more runs (three) than the Royals had been able to generate in 46 previous pinch-hit appearances this season.

Macro-Series
It took the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Mets 16 hours and 40 minutes of elapsed time to put in a four-game series this past week, just 11 minutes shy of the all-time record. The series was bookended by 13- and 15-inning games that each lasted over five hours; the second game actually took only a crisp 2:24 to complete, the third 3:17. In 1989, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros knocked heads for a record 16:51.

He Said What?
“I just f***ing walked a guy.”—Cincinnati no-hit artist
Homer Bailey, in answering a postgame reporter’s question on live TV if his one walk on the night happened because he had just made the final out at the plate an inning before and might have been a little spent.

League vs. League
The American League’s home-field advantage in recent weeks have helped it pull away from the National League in head-to-head interleague action for the year, improving its record against the Senior Circuit to 103-87. But now the NL gets a chance to rebut; of the 11 interleague contests scheduled this coming week, ten of them will be hosted by NL cities. The AL is looking to finish the year with a winning mark against the NL for the tenth straight season.

This Week’s Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
It’s double the honors from our end for the Dodgers’
Hanley Ramirez, who not only gets the nod as our NL Hitter of the Week (see right) but also ends the week with the majors’ longest active hitting streak at 18 games, the longest of his distinguished career. It’s been a fat 18 to say the least; Ramirez is 33-for-69 (.478 average) with six doubles, two triples and six homers during his run.

Wounded of the Week
wounded of the weekThere was plenty of room to fill on the Ouch Couch this past week as only a small number of big boppers headlined the list of injuries. Minnesota’s Josh Willingham (knee tear, one month), the White Sox’ Paul Konerko (back, 15 days), and Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard (knee, 15 days) all have struggled for the most part this year, and these physical woes have likely been behind it.

Rounding out the list is Konerko’s bullpen teammate Jesse Crain (sprained right shoulder, possibly out a month), Arizona pitcher Trevor Cahill (right hip contusion, return expected within a month) and San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal, who damage ligaments in his right knee and may miss the rest of the year.


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


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