This Great Game Comebacker

The Week That Was in Baseball: June 30-July 13, 2014
Our Picks for the All-Star Game's Starters Is Any Expansion Era Team Over .500?
A.J. Pierzynski Wears Out His Welcome—Again Jury to Dodgers: Pay Bryan Stow


Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
27 7 12 4 0 2 5 4 0 0 0

The 2014 season has been something of an extended roller coaster for the fourth year Royal; he was hitting over .300 through mid-May, then tripped up through the end of June with his mark dipping into the .240s. Now it’s July, Hosmer has a 13-game hitting streak and his average is back near .270 thanks to a solid week with four multiple-hit performances and six extra base hits. The Royals need a sure and steady Hosmer for the balance of the year to up their chances at the postseason.


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Chris Coghlan, Chicago Cubs

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
31 8 14 6 0 3 9 5 0 1 2

The 29-year-old outfielder is on our list of former Rookies of the Year who quickly flamed out—but if he continues to hit the ball like this as he attempts a renaissance in Chicago, a little revisionism may be in order. Coghlan was so 2009 this past week, starting with four hits on Monday at Cincinnati and later with three homers for the week—an impressive feat considering his career high is nine, from that glorious first campaign.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland A's

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

The talented Cuban outfielder will defend his Home Run Derby title this week. Consider it much-needed batting practice, because he all but flamed out at this plate against real competition this past week, adding on to an extended slump that has seen him go 3-for-45 in July to drop his season average from the .270s to .246. It hasn’t impacted his defense as he continues to nail runners at the plate, but still, it’s time to take some hacks with the stars.


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Brooks Conrad, San Diego Padres

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

The Padres will take what they can get at the plate right now, and the well-traveled infielder was looking good at his latest stop in Triple-A El Paso. Then Conrad came to San Diego to start July, and he’s so far followed the team rhythm to, basically, not hit. He certainly wasn’t doing that this past week, going hitless with nine strikeouts and a double play grounder. Dating back to September 2011, Conrad is hitting .115 in 131 big-league at-bats; maybe more El Paso is needed.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Scott Carroll, Chicago White Sox

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
2-0 11.2 3 0 0 3 0 1 0 0 8

For the 29-year-old rookie, it’s never too late to make a first impression—even if it’s in your second go-around in the rotation. After being demoted to the bullpen following a subpar collection of starts in early May, Carroll put together two terrific outings this past week in which he allowed no runs and just three hits; his second stint, at Cleveland, was cut short when his back began acting up on him. For a White Sox rotation among the majors’ worst, Carroll could be a sorely needed revelation.


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds

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

To paraphrase Alicia Keys, this flamethrower is on fire. Here’s an idea of what we mean: Chapman faced 18 batters this past week and struck out 13 of them, including the last six. The Cuban émigré also entered the record book by extending a streak of relief appearances with at least one strikeout to 41, breaking the old mark held by Bruce Sutter. Oh, and he saved four games to keep the Reds in the divisional hunt. Back to the K’s: Chapman is averaging 18.20 strikeouts per nine innings—which, if it holds, will shatter another mark for relievers.


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Colby Lewis, Texas Rangers

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 2.1 13 13 11 0 0 0 0 0 1

It was a horrible week on the mound for Texas pitchers in general, but Lewis’ line against the Angels at Arlington on Thursday was heads and shoulders above them all as the very worst—and probably the worst we’ve seen all year from any pitcher. Lewis allowed the first four batters to reach in the first, and again in the second; when Mike Trout homered to make it three of four batters to reach in the third, the white flag came out—mercifully, to say the least. The silver lining is that Lewis hasn’t walked a batter over his last 20.2 innings; maybe it’s a sign that he’s throwing too many easy strikes.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Edwin Jackson, Chicago Cubs

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-2 9.2 14 13 13 6 0 0 1 0 9

The veteran workhorse keeps chugging along, racking up almost as many runs and hits allowed as he does innings, the latter of which is the given excuse as to why he’s still in the majors. This past week was almost vintage Jackson; he had an okay outing on Monday at Cincinnati, but then got slammed on Saturday at Wrigley against the Braves, giving up nine runs in 3.2 innings. These two losses give the 30-year-old 99 career defeats; no younger pitcher in the game has lost more.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (6-1)

Look out Oakland, because here come the Angels—winner of 26 of their last 35 games and, at the All-Star Break, owners of the majors’ second best record, a game and a half behind the A’s. We’ll also consider them repeat winners of this honor as they were 6-1 the previous week while TGG took time off in Kauai. The Angels started the week taking two of three from the Jays at Anaheim before hitting the road and sweeping the badly fading Rangers; they start the season’s second half with a ten-game homestand.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
New York Mets (6-1)

Joke about them all you want, but the Mets finished off a nice 8-2 homestand by taking three of four from the front-running Braves before sweeping the Marlins in a weekend series. David Wright is hitting like an All-Star (even if he didn’t make the NL team), Travis d’Arnaud has awakened at the plate after earning a demotion to the minors in June, and even the Mets’ pitchers—who went 0-for almost the first two months—collected three hits. They’re still five games below .500, but the New York tabloids have to look elsewhere right now for their fodder.


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Texas Rangers (0-7)

Somewhere, Nolan Ryan and Ian Kinsler, the unceremoniously dumped from Arlington, are having a good chuckle about the Rangers’ misfortunes. The pitching was abysmal from start to finish, a long way off from the sage advice Ryan used to give this staff; not even ace Yu Darvish could control the Astros, the team he usually has so much fun against. As for Kinsler, the current Tiger, the Rangers will do better than the 0-162 he hoped—but he’ll take them at 38-57, currently the worst record in the majors.


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Milwaukee Brewers (1-6)

When we last chimed in here two weeks ago, the Brewers were sitting atop baseball with a young, gregarious roster as the first team to reach 50 wins. The rest of the NL Central, meanwhile, was saying to itself: At some point, these guys have to crack. That came to fruition this past week (and really, the week before) as the Brewers slid so far back that their once lengthy lead vanished after losing for the seventh straight time on Saturday to the Cardinals. A 10-2 rout on Sunday bailed them back alone into first, but the All-Star Break couldn’t have come at a better time for this reeling club.


Best and Worst of the Week

Monday, July 7
In his first appearance back at Tampa Bay wearing the uniform of the Kansas City Royals, ex-Rays pitcher James Shields torments his ex-mates for seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits while striking out ten, to lead the Royals to an easy 6-0 win at St. Petersburg.

A 2-2 tie is broken open in the 11th when the Baltimore Orioles pile on six runs with the help of three homers—including back-to-back shots from Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy—to defeat the Nationals at Washington, 8-2.

St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright and Pittsburgh’s Charlie Morton exchange zeroes for seven innings, but the Cardinals win the bullpen battle after both depart as Matt Adams takes Justin Wilson deep in the ninth to deliver a 2-0, walk-off win over the Pirates. Wainwright has now thrown seven or more scoreless innings in nine of 18 starts, something no pitcher has ever done.


Tuesday, July 8
Three teams bolt out to early 5-0 leads…only to lose:

In Detroit, the Los Angeles Dodgers bunch five tallies off Justin Verlander, but the Tigers ace settles in and throws five shutout innings to follow—while his teammates ramp up and plate 14 unanswered runs to win a rout, 14-5.

In Milwaukee, the Brewers also rack up five runs in the first, but Philadelphia counters repeatedly to ultimately win by a 9-7 count. Phillies starter Ken Kendrick gets the victory despite allowing seven runs in 5.2 innings.

In Cincinnati, the Chicago Cubs need three innings to take their 5-0 lead, but that’s still not enough, either; the Reds rally and win in the ninth, 6-5, as Billy Hamilton ropes a walk-off, game-winning single to complete a day-night doubleheader sweep.

In what will be his last appearance before it’s revealed later in the week that he’s suffered a partially torn muscle in his pitching arm, the New York’s Masahiro Tanaka has his weakest outing yet as a Yankee as the host Cleveland Indians compile five runs on ten hits in 6.2 innings off him. Michael Brantley shows off his All-Star muscle with a home run, two doubles and three RBIs to lead the Tribe.


Wednesday, July 9
No Miguel Cabrera? No Victor Martinez? No problem. With Max Scherzer on the mound, the Tigers outlast the Dodgers and Zack Greinke without the help of their two star hitters, 4-1.

The Cardinals tap past the Pirates, 5-2, and give starting pitcher Lance Lynn his tenth win of the year; it’s the third straight season in which Lynn has reached double-digit win totals before the All-Star Break.

Yu Darvish gets roughed up for six runs in six innings, Houston’s Robbie Grossman breaks out of a 0-for-28 slump with four hits and the Astros glide past slumping Texas, 8-4, to drop the Rangers percentage points into the AL West cellar.

Miami notches two runs in the top of the tenth to take a 3-1 lead over the Diamondbacks at Arizona—but the D-Backs respond with three runs, the last two coming on a Paul Goldschmidt double—to tip the Marlins, 4-3. Goldschmidt now has extra-base hits in eight straight games.

After tossing seven shutout innings, the Chicago White Sox’ Chris Sale cracks in the eighth at Boston—and the White Sox bullpen falls apart from there, allowing the Red Sox (starting five rookies) to mount a 5-4 comeback victory. By the way: there have been four games since last September in which a team has squandered a four-run lead after seven innings and lost—and all four times, that losing team has been the White Sox.


Thursday, July 10
Clayton Kershaw’s consecutive scoreless inning streak comes to an end at 41 when San Diego’s Chase Headley takes him deep in the sixth inning at Los Angeles. However, it’s the only blemish on the night for the Dodgers’ ace as he goes the distance and picks up his eighth straight win in as many starts, 2-1 over the Padres. Kershaw’s streak was the third longest in franchise history, behind the two longest in major league history: Orel Hershiser’s 59-inning run in 1988, and Don Drysdale’s 58.2-inning mark in 1968. It’s also the longest in the majors since Brandon Webb pitched 42 straight for Arizona in 2007.

Derek Jeter singles twice for his 1,000th career game with multiple hits, but the Yankees blow a 3-0 lead in the seventh as the Indians score nine unanswered times to run away with victory. Besides Jeter, only Pete Rose, Stan Musial and Hank Aaron can claim 1,000 or more multiple-hit games.

After scoring 14 runs the day before, the Tigers’ offensive march continues as they come to divisional rival Kansas City and pound the Royals, 16-4, increasing their AL Central lead to 5.5 games. Six different Tigers have multiple hits and multiple RBIs, a franchise first.

Milwaukee's Matt Garza no-hits the Phillies through six innings…and then the roof caves in. Philadelphia notches seven in the eighth and two more in the ninth to roll over the host Brewers, 9-1, to finish a four-game sweep of the fading NL Central leaders.


Friday, July 11
Former Cub Jeff Samardzija, in his second start for Oakland, goes the distance for the A’s at Seattle but is grounded by a problem familiar to him back in Chicago: Bad run support. Yet his teammates can’t be too shamed in losing to the Mariners, 3-2; the opposing pitcher is Felix Hernandez, who throws eight solid innings and improves to 11-2 with a 2.12 ERA.

The Brewers blow another early, big lead as the visiting Cardinals swoop in and overcome a 6-0 deficit, capped in the ninth inning when Matt Holliday’s two-out solo home run off Francisco Rodriguez gives St. Louis a 7-6 win. The Cardinals are now just a game behind Milwaukee (losers of 10 of its last 11 games) for the NL Central lead.

The Royals get at least one hit in every inning and put runners in scoring position is six of those innings, but they can only manage one run (in the first) and lose to the visiting Tigers, 2-1.

Nick Hundley singles in Manny Machado in the bottom of the tenth to secure a 3-2 Baltimore win over the Yankees at Camden Yards, as the Orioles retain their three-game lead in the AL East while dropping New York back to .500, five games back.


Saturday, July 12
It’s gotten so bad for the Brewers that, today, there is no lead to give up. The Cardinals strike early and often and run away with a 10-2 rout at Milwaukee, handing the Brewers their seventh straight defeat and tying them for first in the NL Central. Adam Wainwright earns his 12th win to tie Alfredo Simon for the NL lead, while Kolten Wong goes deep for the fifth time in seven games—after netting just one homer in 77 previous career games.

After blowing a 4-0 lead in the sixth, the Pirates prevail in 11 innings at Cincinnati when Andrew McCutchen ties it on a solo blast in the ninth—then belts another in the 11th to win, 6-5.

Shane Greene becomes the first player since Eric Rasmussen 31 years earlier to take a no-hitter into the fifth inning in each of his first two career starts as the Yankee right-hander goes on to allow four hits and strike out ten in 7.1 innings of New York’s 3-0 victory at Baltimore.


Sunday, July 13
The San Francisco Giants grab all of their runs in an 8-4 win over Arizona on two swings of the bat: A fifth-inning grand slam by Buster Posey, followed one frame later by another one from starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner. It’s the first time that a starting catcher and pitcher from the same team have hit slams in the same game; for Bumgarner, it’s his second slam of the season—making him only the second pitcher (after Atlanta’s Tony Cloninger, who did it in one game in 1966) with two in a year.

The Brewers take a big lead and, finally, hold it—ending a seven-game losing skid with an 11-2 smashing the Cardinals at Miller Park. The top four hitters in the Brewers’ lineup collect a combined total of 11 hits.

Boston drubs the Astros at Houston, 11-0, behind a three-hit shutout from Clay Buchholz (who entered the game with a 6.11 ERA) and five hits from rookie Brock Holt, raising his season average to .327.


If We Picked the All-Stars, 2014 Edition
This Great Game’s Eric Gouldsberry and Ed Attanasio have surveyed the numbers, absorbed what they’ve seen, embraced all that has wowed them to date and stirred it all into the sagacious blender of baseball wisdom to give you their picks for this year’s starting lineup for both All-Star teams—injuries notwithstanding, as numerous choices below are stuck on the disabled list. See if you agree.

Catcher, American League
Ed:
Salvador Perez, Kansas City
Eric:
Salvador Perez, Kansas City
The People's Choice:
Matt Wieters, Baltimore
No one sticks out and there’s pros and cons to be weighed both offensively and defensively, but in the end we go with the best overall package to this point—and that’s the young Kansas City catcher who’s really come into his own.

Catcher, National League
Ed:
Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee
Eric:
Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee
The People's Choice:
Yadier Molina, St. Louis
Lucroy doesn’t have defensive numbers to warrant a slam dunk (thanks, Molina), but he’s been so good with his bat and so effective in the clutch—and we’ve been repeatedly warning of his All-Star worthiness given his multiple TGG Hitter of the Week Awards—that it would simply be hard to argue against him. He’ll get the start anyway with Molina now out for two months.

First Base, American League
Ed:
Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto
Eric:
Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto
The People's Choice:
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
Great choices abound here with the default star presence of Cabrera and the knockout debut performance of
Jose Abreu—but Encarnacion, despite his defensive handicaps at first base, has simply been the prime power source that has lit up the Blue Jays when they have needed it the most this year. (And like Wieters and Molina, he’s unavailable due to injury as well.)

First Base, National League
Ed:
Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
Eric:
Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
The People's Choice:
Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
Finally, something we can all agree on, but this is a fairly easy choice in spite of the list of good (if not great) performances permeating the qualifying list. Goldschmidt is clearly showing that last year’s near-MVP effort was not fluke.

Second Base, American League
Ed:
Jose Altuve, Houston
Eric:
Jose Altuve, Houston
The People's Choice:
Robinson Cano, Seattle
Cano has been excellent in his new Northwest surroundings and
Ian Kinsler’s having a terrific first year at Detroit, but Altuve has been short of Mr. Everything for the rising Astros, doing it all defensively, at the plate and on the basepaths. Somewhere, Joe Morgan is watching this guy and seeing himself in his prime.

Second Base, National League
Ed:
Scooter Gennett, Milwaukee
Eric:
Dee Gordon, Los Angeles
The People's Choice:
Chase Utley, Philadelphia
The first disagreement. Ed likes the gritty output from Gennett in just his first full year at Milwaukee; for Eric, it’s Gordon’s mix of aggression at the plate and on base that, in his opinion, makes for a better package. The fans, meanwhile, default to Utley and his reputation that precedes him.

Shortstop, American League
Ed:
Alexi Ramirez, Chicago
Eric:
Alcides Escobar, Kansas City
The People's Choice:
Derek Jeter, New York
Split opinion again. Eric goes with the overall effort put forth from Escobar, while Ed rides the Cuban Missile in Ramirez. There is one thing they both agree on with this very tight batch of nominees: Jeter can’t make the starting nine on sentimentality alone.

Shortstop, National League
Ed:
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado
Eric:
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado
The People's Choice:
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado
Easy choice. Offensively and defensively.

Third Base, American League
Ed:
Kyle Seager, Seattle
Eric:
Kyle Seager, Seattle
The People's Choice:
Josh Donaldson, Oakland
Most everyone went with Donaldson because of his power and because it was felt he got shafted in last year’s vote, but despite strong arguments for himself,
Adrian Beltre and Lonnie Chisenhall, the TGG guys like was Seager has shown thus far in Seattle in terms of his bat and glove.

Third Base, National League
Ed:
Casey McGehee, Miami
Eric:
Nolan Arenado, Colorado
The People's Choice:
Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee
Though he dropped from the radar for over a month due to injury, Arenado’s amazing glovework and solid (if not spectacular) hitting has him on the cusp of superstardom, and Eric feels he’s earned the spot at this stage. Ed, Meanwhile, loves the renaissance output from McGehee, proving he belongs back in the majors after a year away in Japan. (And really, fans: Aramis Ramirez?)

Outfield, American League
Ed:
Mike Trout, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Nelson Cruz, Baltimore; Jose Bautista, Toronto
Eric: Mike Trout, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Michael Brantley, Cleveland; Jose Bautista, Toronto

The People's Choice: Mike Trout, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Adam Jones, Baltimore; Jose Bautista, Toronto

Tough to leave out the perennial choice in Jones, but Eric and Ed offer alternative suggestions: Eric with Brantley, having a dynamite season for the Indians, and Ed with Cruz, who’ll likely get the front job at the DH spot. Trout, of course, is a no-brainer.

Outfield, National League
Ed:
Giancarlo Stanton, Miami; Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee; Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles
Eric: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh; Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles

The People's Choice: Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh; Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles

A small matter of difference here. Puig gets three out of three votes above, but plenty of shares otherwise for the big Miami boomer in Stanton, the sparkplug dynamo in Gomez, and the reigning MVP in McCutchen.

Pitcher, American League
Ed:
Masahiro Tanaka, New York
Eric:
Masahiro Tanaka, New York
The People's Choice:
Felix Hernandez, Seattle
Metrically speaking, Hernandez m
ay be having the better year, but Tanaka is who everyone wants to see on the mound—and his numbers (12-4, 2.51 ERA) show him to be anything but a first-year slouch. It’s a shame he won’t be able to show off on the big stage due to the recent discovery of a partial muscle tear.

Pitcher, National League
Ed:
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
Eric:
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
The People's Choice:
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
Perhaps not the sexy choice with the likes of
Clayton Kershaw and Johnny Cueto to be considered, but Wainwright has been on point from the first pitch on this season to date.

Earning a Belated Respect
There was a curious item that made the rounds early this past week when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s all-time record went above the .500 mark for the first time since after their very first game in 1961, which they won before losing eight straight to more accurately set the tone for an inaugural 70-91 season.

This led us to ask: How are the other 13 “expansion era” teams—the oldest of whom is the Texas Rangers, who began their existence along with the Angels in 1961 as the second Washington Senators—faring these days in their lifetime win-loss numbers? The answer is definitive: Not good. In fact, none of the other teams have an accumulative winning record.

Some teams did manage to keep their heads above .500 waters for some time. That included the Arizona Diamondbacks, who after a first-year 65-97 record reeled off five straight winning seasons (including a World Series-winning performance in 2001) before getting slammed with a 51-111 mark in 2004 that reversed fortunes and, over the next few years, dropped them back below .500—where they have remained ever since, albeit closely.

On April 20, 2007, the Houston Astros were within a game of .500 for their entire existence, but then lost seven in a row; they’ve never come as close since, freefalling away over the last three, horrendous seasons of 100-plus losses each.

After winning back-to-back world titles in 1992-93, the Toronto Blue Jays reached six games above the .500 mark through their first 17 seasons of play. But four straight losing campaigns followed as star members of those memorable rosters either deteriorated or fled, and their existing winning percentage now checks in at .495, 62 games below .500.

All the other expansion era teams remain well below .500. Worst among them is the San Diego Padres, who end this past week 535 games below the .500 barrier. It will take years—if not decades—for the Padres to ever glimpse the view above .500.

Interesting to note: Of the 16 “original” teams, only four have career losing records: The Minnesota Twins, saddled for years playing as the original (and often awful) version of the Senators; the Baltimore Orioles, likewise as the St. Louis Browns; the Oakland A’s, scarred by Connie Mack’s fire sales of the early 20th Century and owner Charles Finley’s mishandling of the franchise during its Kansas City days; and the Philadelphia Phillies, who for the majority of their first 100 years of existence were just plain bad.

No Country for Old Men
A few eyebrows were raised this past week when two veterans were designated for assignment (read: released): New York Yankees outfielder Alfonso Soriano and Boston catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

What made the Pierzynski DFA intriguing was the drama attached to it. At first the Red Sox simply stated that the 37-year-old wasn’t supplying enough left-handed power to warrant keeping him on the roster while salivating over the prospect of young Christian Vazquez as his replacement. But then came the more tabloid-oriented aspects of Pierzynski’s release, which brought back memories not only of his rocky departures from previous teams but also the bad ol’ days of Red Sox Babylon in the few years prior to Boston’s unity-driven, championship campaign of a year ago. Reports surfaced of internal friction between Pierzynski and his teammates, with one claiming that he was spending too much time on his phone in front of his locker…during games.

While Pierzynski may not get another shot, it would be surprising to see Soriano remain on the sidelines. The 38-year-old slugger is notorious for running from ice cold to white hot in an instant, as he proved last year when he was the former with the Chicago Cubs and the latter with the Yankees, slamming 17 homers with 50 RBIs in 58 games for New York. His .221-6-23 combo in 67 games this season is awful indeed, but he has the knack to take it from park to high gear in a heartbeat. It will be curious to see how his bat responds should he get a second chance.

There’s Something About Jorge
Taking the mound at Coors Field? Sometimes a cattle prod is needed by your pitching coach to get you out there and face the mile-high music of opposing hitters likely to slam you into oblivion. But not Jorge De La Rosa. The 33-year-old southpaw, now in his seventh season pitching for the Colorado Rockies, loves the challenge of Coors Field. And why not? His career record at Coors is an astonishing 41-14. The ERA is at 4.11, hardly Sandy Koufax territory but something to be pretty darn proud of at 5,280 feet. Meanwhile, De La Rosa is 24-26 away from Coors with a higher (4.43) ERA.

So what’s De La Rosa’s home cooking recipe? Part of it lies in the fact that he has acclimated himself to pitching in the thin air—perhaps too much, recently telling MLB.com, “I can command my pitches (at Coors Field)…When I go on the road the breaking ball breaks too much. I have trouble keeping it in the strike zone.”

Breaking down the numbers, it’s easy to see where his better control at home kicks in. He walks fewer batters at Coors—a vital key for any pitcher’s success there—and has given up fewer home runs, a sign that he knows his territory and goads hitters into driving it to the deepest part of the field where an outfielder will often catch up to it.

So if you’re a pitcher and ever get assigned to Colorado, read the Book of Jorge. It might be a lifesaver.

Twin Killer
Seattle pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma has started five games against Minnesota since arriving on the major league scene two years ago—and has won all five, all while allowing no earned runs. (He has conceded two unearned tallies.) The last pitcher to not allow an earned run in his first five starts against one team was St. Louis’ Larry Jaster, who famously threw five shutouts in five starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1966.

Will he Fall Asleep in Court?
Of course, the real question is whether a fan who was made fun of on a recent telecast of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball for taking an extended nap during a Yankees-Red Sox game will ever get his $10 million lawsuit against the network, the Yankees and Major League Baseball into a court of law. The suit claims that ESPN announcers Dan Shulman and John Kruk used an “avalanche of disparaging words” including “stupor, fatty, unintelligent and stupid.” If those words were indeed used, there hasn’t been any evidence of it via social media with the many, many videos being replayed—and trust us, once broadcast, nothing escapes the Internet. So maybe ESPN was making fun of him, but the guy likely needs to keep his arguments accurate.

How Hard Have the Red Sox Fallen?
The Boston Red Sox’ 39-51 record (established after Tuesday’s 8-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox) is the second worst by a defending World Series champion, surpassed only by the 1998 Florida Marlins (34-56).

For Magic & Co., Guilt by Association
Bryan Stow, the San Francisco Giants fan beaten and left brain-damaged after the Dodgers’ first home game at Los Angeles in 2011, was awarded $18 million in damages this past Wednesday by a Los Angeles jury who determined that 25% (or $4.5 million) of that money should be paid out by the Dodgers—never mind that an entirely different regime is in place at Chavez Ravine—and that the remaining damages should be forked over by the two assailants, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood. The Dodgers have the money; Sanchez and Norwood likely have nothing to give.

And once again, former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt gets away scot free, even though he was the man running the show at the time of the incident.

In their defense, the Dodgers had to play the heartless court defendants and argue that security was up to snuff that night and that the only responsible parties were the assailants and Stow, who they claimed had a 0.18 blood alcohol level—twice the legal limit. The jury apparently disagreed with the security boast; no word on whether the Dodgers will appeal.

Is This Your Warped Idea of a Tribute?
A day after the Stow verdict was read, a woman outside of San Francisco’s AT&T Park was knocked unconscious following a Giants-A’s game when her head hit the ground after being punched trying to break up a fight. She was taken to the hospital and, we’re happy to say, was reportedly well enough to leave the next day. A Sacramento man has been arrested in connection with the brawl.

Everyone Wants to be The Captain
Derek Jeter may not be leading the majors in any statistical figures on the field, but he’s the runaway leader when it comes to jersey sales. In a joint announcement from MLB and the players’ union, Jeter jerseys are outselling all other major leaguers; he’s followed in the Top Ten (from no. 2 to 10) by Buster Posey, Clayton Kershaw, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Yadier Molina, Mike Trout, David Wright, Yasiel Puig and Miguel Cabrera.

There’s Always a “K” in “Relief”
Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman set a major league record this past Friday when he accumulated at least one strikeout in his 40th straight relief appearance, breaking the mark previously held by Bruce Sutter in 1977 when he struck out the side to lock up the Reds’ 6-5 win over Pittsburgh. During his run, Chapman has struck out 83 batters, walked 18 and produced a 1.71 ERA.

He Said What?
“By the way you talk maybe Denver doesn’t deserve a franchise, maybe time for it to find a new home. Thanks.”—Colorado owner Dick Monfort, responding to an angry season ticket holder. Monfort later claimed that he meant that maybe he didn’t deserve to own the franchise; when that cover story wore down, he apologized.

This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals heads into the All-Star Break with the majors’ longest active hitting streak, at a mere 13 games—which, as we all know, is a long, long way away from challenging Joe DiMaggio’s immortal 56-game skein in 1941. It’s nevertheless a career high for Hosmer, who’s batting .426 during his run.

League vs. League
While away for an additional week, we thought we’d give the National League time to make an effort to even the score with the American League in interleague action—but the Senior Circuit just wasn’t up to it. The AL has won 14 of its last 23 games against the NL and now secured its margin on the season to 102-88 as it attempts to win the interleague wars for the 11th straight year. Yes, the All-Star Game takes place this week, but that doesn’t count.

Wounded of the Week
wounded of the weekLike something out of a Final Destination movie, numerous All-Star-level talents were cut down by injury just a week shy of the Midsummer Classic. Among them was rookie Yankee ace Masahiro Tanaka, who will miss at least six weeks and maybe more if the partial tear of his collateral ligament requires Tommy John surgery; Toronto slugger Edwin Encarnacion, out 15 days with a strained right quad; Los Angeles of Anaheim pitcher C.J. Wilson, out 15 days with an ankle sprain; Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips, out six-to-eight weeks with torn ligaments in his thumb, St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina, out eight-to-12 weeks with a similar injury; Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto, out 15 days with a strained left quad; and Los Angeles pitcher Josh Beckett, out 15 days with a hip issue.

Bizarre injuries befell other players in Yankee outfielder Carlos Beltran, who suffered a broken nose after being hit by a ball in the clubhouse batting cage; Kansas City pitcher Jason Vargas, sidelined by a appendectomy; and Baltimore pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, expected to miss a few weeks with after spraining an ankle taking an awkward step into a pothole in the parking lot of his apartment complex.

This week’s voluminous list rounds out with a broken foot to Toronto’s Adam Lind (out for over a month), Cleveland pitcher Justin Masterson (knee inflammation) and outfielder Michael Bourn (hamstring), Houston pitcher Colin McHugh (right fingernail avulsion, whatever the heck that is), Minnesota pitcher Ricky Nolasco (elbow strain), Tampa Bay outfielder Jerry Sands (out for the year with a damaged wrist) and Arizona pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who was told this week that he will need to undergo Tommy John surgery a few weeks after making the disabled list for the first time in his 15-year career.


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