This Great Game Comebacker

The Week That Was in Baseball: July 28-August 3, 2014
July's Best and Worst The Tigers and A's One-Up Each Other at the Deadline
Where Did Brandon Poulson Come From? Orioles v. Nats, Over TV Money


Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Brett Gardner, New York Yankees

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
23 8 11 3 0 5 7 5 0 0 1

The plucky, speedy outfielder has been one of the game’s most underrated players, but he drew some long-overdue attention this past week with a superb display highlighted by some unprecedented power. Gardner homered four times during a three-game series at Texas to start the week, then walked, hit and stole his way over the Red Sox at Boston. His 14 round trippers are nearly double his career high, with a third of the season still to play.


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
30 10 12 3 1 4 5 3 0 0 0

The versatile 27-year-old has settled in at third base, in part because he fends the position well (as opposed to the error-prone Pedro Alvarez), but also because he can hit. Harrison certainly showed off the latter aptitude this past week, starting the week by homering in three straight games at San Francisco (extending an overall streak to four) and then going deep, down the lines and into the gaps for a weekend series at Arizona. As long as Harrison hits, Alvarez sits.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
17 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

The 23-year-old rookie opened the season with solid hype, and he lived up to it—for about a week. Since then it’s been a daily battle to climb his average out of the low .200s, and now he’s suffering through his worst drought as evidenced by the numbers above. Nine times this past week, he was retired on strikes. He’s a great outfielder and he’ll keep playing now that the Red Sox have raised the white flag, so he’ll have plenty of opportunities to snap out of this current funk.


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies

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

A few weeks ago, there were murmurs of the Phillies wanting to put the former MVP on waivers as he’s lumbered and slumbered through the season, and he responded by waking up and knocking the ball around for some three or so games. Maybe a new round of rumors need to float about in order to spark him once more. He smacked a RBI double in an 11-2 loss at New York on Wednesday, but otherwise it was a long, fruitless week for the 34-year-old boomer with a season average down at a career-low .215.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
1-0 9 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8

This past Wednesday, the big right-hander tossed his first career shutout—and the way he’s progressing, expect many more to come. Kluber outdueled Felix Hernandez and allowed just three hits—facing one over the minimum—while throwing a total of just 85 pitches, the fewest thrown in a complete game since 2007. This comes on the heel of two previous starts, the first of which he fell one out shy of a complete game and the second in which he did go nine innings but not the distance (the Tribe took the game overtime). Kluber gets two starts this week: Monday against Cincinnati, Saturday at New York against the Yankees. Check him out.


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
1-1 15 10 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 14

Like Howard above, Hamels has been rumored to be on the trading block prior to the July 31 swapping deadline. But unlike Howard, the 30-year-old southpaw is clearly in his prime and would have fetched a lot more in return for the Phillies. In a microcosm of his season to date, Hamels put together two excellent outings this past week but only got the win in one, losing on Sunday at Washington when his teammates let him down both with the bats and with the gloves. Hamels’ 2.42 season ERA should be earning him far better than a 6-6 record.


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-1 10 15 14 14 9 0 1 0 0 9

With Lester, Lackey and Peavy suddenly all gone, Buchholz is the vet, the man, the one who’s to lead the new Boston cadets by example. If this is the way he’s going to do it, God help the Red Sox. Never a model of stability, the sometimes hot, sometimes not Buchholz was way off his best game this past week, getting shelled in two separate outings at home. Sunday’s latest dud against the Yankees rose his season ERA to 6.20—and to think, at this time last year he was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Tyler Matzek, Colorado Rockies

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-2 4.2 11 9 9 2 1 1 0 0 2

The 23-year-old rookie followed up his best start yet (seven shutout innings at Coors Field against the Pirates) by having his worst week thus far in the majors. He was pushed into duty in Tuesday’s 16-inning marathon at Chicago when the Rockies ran out of relievers, and he promptly lost the game. Getting a start four days later at Detroit, Matzek set the tone for a miserable day by allowing runs in each of the five innings he pitched; the Rockies bullpen allowed runs in the next three. He is obviously a work in progress.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Houston Astros (5-2)

Houston fans, think these numbers hard: 34 and 17. That’s the number of wins and losses, respectively, that the Astros need to reach .500 to end the season. Maybe that’s a pipedream, but the Astros played well enough this past week at home against two of the AL’s better teams (Oakland and Toronto) to give one high hopes, if even on a delusional level. They might have gone undefeated had the bullpen not blown late leads in the team’s two losses.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Chicago Cubs (5-2)

Okay, weird week; the Astros and Cubs are baseball’s best. So here’s Chicago’s story: Four tight, well-pitched games at home against the Rockies—even catcher John Baker was throwing the ball well when called upon to bail out a depleted bullpen on Tuesday—and then it was on to Los Angeles, where the Cubs impressively grabbed two of three games from a Dodgers team playing very well of late. The Cubbies are increasingly shedding their walkover status and look primed to burden contenders with some stiff competition.


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Boston Red Sox (1-5)

Oh, how fleeting success can be. The defending champions are a shell of their glorious selves, seemingly trading away half the team before the trading deadline this past week; the lack of veteran starting pitching showed badly as the Red Sox got pummeled for 41 runs in six games—all at home. Here’s how bad it is: Only the Rangers and Astros have worse records in the AL. And now, the Red Sox take to the road for eight tough games against the Cardinals, Angels and Reds.


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Colorado Rockies (1-6)

Things just keep going downhill for the Mile-Highlers, crashing through the Great Lakes region this past week with a painful thud. The bruise to the team’s ego was supplied by the Cubs, who won three of four games to take over the Rockies’ spot as the NL’s second worst team—winning one when Colorado couldn’t score a 16th-inning run off their catcher on Tuesday. All that was followed by a weekend sweep at the hands of the powerful Tigers. The Rockies need to go 21-30 or better the rest of the way to avoid their worst finish ever. The way things are going, that might not be so easy.


Best and Worst of the Week

Monday, July 28
In a 4-2 loss at Texas, the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter knocks out three hits to increase his career total to 3,420 and pass Carl Yastzremski for seventh on the all-time hit list. Next is Cap Anson, at 3,435.

The Pittsburgh Pirates jump on the struggling Giants at San Francisco for five quick runs in the first two innings off of Madison Bumgarner, and Vance Worley throws his first career shutout by scattering four hits and a walk for a 5-0 win.

Trailing 6-0, the Miami Marlins plate two runs in the seventh, one in the eighth—and four in the ninth, capped by John Baker’s game-winning hit to tip the visiting Washington Nationals for their fifth straight victory.

The Chicago Cubs take care of the Colorado Rockies at Wrigley Field behind seven sharp innings from Tsuyoshi Wada, making his first major league start (and third appearance) at age 33. Wada had pitched three years in the minors, and nine before that in Japan.

Exactly one week after losing at home to Boston, 14-1, the Toronto Blue Jays return the favor by belting the Red Sox at Fenway Park by the same score. The Jays blow it open with a nine-run sixth inning; Melky Cabrera goes deep twice and knocks in five runs.


Tuesday, July 29
The Yankees explode for seven runs in the sixth, add more late and hold off a feverish series of Texas rallies to edge the Rangers at Arlington, 12-11. Despite the loss, it’s a big night for Texas first baseman J.P. Arencibia; he homers twice, doubles twice and knocks in seven runs.

At Detroit, Chicago rookie Jose Abreu clubs his major league-leading 31st homer as part of a seven-run outburst in the seventh as the White Sox pound the Tigers, 11-4. Abreu also extends his hitting streak to 18, matching a career high from just a month earlier; only Ichiro Suzuki had multiple hit streaks (21 and 23, in 2001) as a rookie that were longer.

Seattle wins at Cleveland, 5-2, behind another strong road performance from pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma; he’s now 9-0 in his last 14 starts away from home with a 2.17 ERA.

Many fans assembled at Wrigley Field to watch two of the majors’ worst teams—the Cubs and the visiting Colorado Rockies—probably felt like they were in for a long night even before the first pitch, but they had no idea how long the game to follow would actually take. After six hours and 27 minutes—the longest by the clock for both teams, ever—the Cubs crack the deadlock in the 16th when catcher John Baker scores on Starlin Castro’s single. Baker is not only the hero on offense but on the mound; with the Cubs out of available pitchers, he throws a scoreless 16th, allowing only a walk, and becomes the first position player in Cubs history to gain credit for a win.


Wednesday, July 30
The Giants end a six-game slide—the last five at home—with a 7-5 victory over the Pirates; the run output on the day eclipses by one their total for those previous six losses. The game also features what may be the first-ever instance of a batter walking into a double play; after Chris Stewart reaches first on ball four to load the bases with one out in the sixth, Giants reliever Jean Machi spots Travis Snider wandering between second and third and starts a pickle to tag him out—and seconds later, Gaby Sanchez, hedging toward home, is also picked off to end the inning.

On the day the Indians trade Justin Masterson to St. Louis, Corey Kluber clearly establishes himself as the team’s new ace. He shuts out the Mariners on three hits and just 85 pitches, facing just one batter over the minimum for the second straight start—something no pitcher has done since Jim Scott, exactly 100 years ago—as Cleveland takes a 2-0 victory. The consolation prize for losing Seattle starter Felix Hernandez is that he allows two or fewer runs in seven or more innings for the 14th straight time—breaking a record previously held by Tom Seaver.

A feverish ninth-inning rally by the Marlins falls short, as the Nationals put an end to Miami’s streak of six straight wins with a 4-3 decision at Marlins Park. Tanner Roark improves to 11-6 on the year with the victory.


Thursday, July 31
Andy Marte, once a can’t-miss prospect who never clicked in Cleveland, makes his first major league appearance since 2010 and belts a two-run, pinch-hit home run for Arizona to break a 3-3 tie with Pittsburgh; the Diamondbacks don’t look back, defeating the Bucs by a 7-4 count.

Cincinnati racks up three runs in the eighth at Miami when it should have scored none. The Reds’ Zack Cozart is easily out on an attempt to score on a fly out, but after a six-minute review, umpires reverse the call—stating that catcher Jeff Mathis was blocking the plate. Instead of being the third out, Cozart’s run counts and Ryan Ludwick next strokes a two-run single to put the Reds ahead of the Marlins to stay, 3-1.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim edge the Orioles at Baltimore in 13 innings, 1-0, on a RBI single from Albert Pujols; it’s his 15th game-winning RBI in extra innings, second among active players (Raul Ibanez has 16). Angels starter Tyler Skaggs no-hits the Orioles for 4.2 innings before departing with an injury; Huston Street picks up his fourth save in as many opps since being picked up from San Diego.

Another start for Clayton Kershaw, another nine innings and a victory. The Dodger ace goes the distance for the fifth time this year—and the fourth in the last month-plus—scattering a run on nine hits, no walks and nine strikeouts to outduel Julio Teheran and the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium, 2-1.


Friday, August 1
In the opening contest of a big three-game series between the NL Central’s top two teams, the front-running Milwaukee Brewers lay a rare beating on Adam Wainwright—pummeling the St. Louis ace for seven runs on nine hits in five-plus innings en route to a 7-4 victory at Busch Stadium. Wily Peralta gets the win for Milwaukee and matches Wainwright’s record at 13-6.

In their first game without Boston-bound slugger Yoenis Cespedes, the Oakland A’s are shut down by Kansas City’s Jeremy Guthrie and three relievers in the Royals’ 1-0 win. The lone run comes courtesy of 42-year-old, once-and-current Royal Raul Ibanez.

The veteran pitching-depleted Red Sox get a spark from Anthony Ranaudo, who makes his major league debut on the mound at Fenway Park and proceeds to stifle the visiting Yankees for six innings in a 4-2 Boston victory.

Ryan Vogelsong quickly dispenses of the Mets at New York, allowing a run on two hits while going the distance for only the second time in his career as the Giants take a 5-1 victory. The two hours and six minutes it takes to complete the contest is the second shortest this season, and the shortest in the six-year history of Citi Field.

Behind Wei-Yin Chen’s seven sharp innings and 12th win of the year, the Orioles squeak past the visiting Mariners by a 2-1 count in what is Baltimore’s eighth straight one-run contest, tying a franchise record. (The streak will come to an end with Saturday’s 6-3 loss to Seattle.)


Saturday, August 2
The Mets’ Jacob deGrom and the Giants’ Jake Peavy both take no-hitters into the seventh inning at New York, but that’s where both bids come to an end—a crashing end in Peavy’s case, as the Mets pile four runs quickly on him to defeat San Francisco, 4-2. For Peavy, it’s the first time since 2002 that a pitcher has taken a perfect game into the seventh but was ultimately tagged with a loss; he also extends a streak of consecutive defeats to 11, the most ever by a former Cy Young Award winner.

Detroit scores in each of the eight innings they will need to defeat the visiting Colorado Rockies, 11-5; it’s the first time the Tigers have scored in every inning of a game since 1912, and only the fifth time that’s happened by any major league team since 1979. Not surprisingly, every member in the Detroit starting lineup has at least one hit and a run.

The Nationals destroy the Phillies at Washington, 11-0, scoring all of their runs in the first four innings; Anthony Rendon’s second-inning home run is also the first hit by the Nationals after a nine-game drought, the longest since the team moved from Montreal in 2005.

Minnesota rallies for four late runs off a lousy White Sox bullpen to drop an 8-6 victory at Chicago. The Pale Hose get 12 hits in defeat, but none of them come off the bat of rookie Jose Abreu, ending his 21-game hitting streak—although he still has an active 25-game run on the road, one shy of a major league mark for rookies.


Sunday, August 3
Texas is two outs away from a 3-1 win when former Ranger David Murphy—who doubled earlier to bring in the first Cleveland run—homers off closer Neftali Feliz to tie the game; three frames later, Michael Brantley will go deep to give the Indians a 4-3 victory. Murphy on his contribution: “It’s fun to play against your friends.”

Trailing 3-1 after five, the Twins erupt for three runs in the sixth—then nine in the eighth, then three more in the ninth—to finish a 16-3 pounding on the White Sox at Chicago. Danny Santana has a five-hit game with two steals, while Chris Parmalee, Oswaldo Arcia and Eric Fryer hit consecutive homers in the ninth. It could have been worse for the White Sox; the Twins leave 15 men on base.

The Giants’ rotation earns a second complete-game win in three days, as Madison Bumgarner two-hits the Mets for his second career blanking. Hunter Pence belts two of San Francisco’s four homers in a 9-0 rout.

The Angels strike for five quick runs in the first inning at Tampa Bay, while lightning later strikes a nearby power substation that darkens Tropicana Field and causes a 19-minute delay. The Rays fight back when the lights fire back up, but it’s not enough as they lose, 7-5.

The Best and Worst of July
July ended this past week and here’s our lowdown on some of the best and worst we saw from major leaguers during the month:

A renaissance may be in the cards for former Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan, who lit up box scores all month for the Chicago Cubs by hitting .376 with three homers, ten doubles and 13 runs batted in.

Jose Abreu strengthened an already solid case to win this year’s American League rookie honors—if not the MVP—with an impressive month that included a .374 average, 11 doubles, six homers and 19 RBIs; he went hitless in just one game.

Torii Hunter came back to life in Detroit. He jumped his season average nearly 30 points with a .364 mark, six homers and 24 RBIs.

Despite hitting .250 for a team that’s all but thrown in the towel, Boston’s David Ortiz knocked in more runs—25—than any other major leaguer.

It was an excellent month for Los Angeles Dodgers star outfielder Yasiel Puig, who lashed out ten doubles and five triples—three in one game—to go with a .351 average.

Sam Fuld, on his way back to Oakland, led all major leaguers in July with a .476 on-base percentage. He walked 16 times and struck out just nine.

Chris Davis is playing very much to his vintage Texas years—and that’s not good. Rangers fans will remember monthly numbers close to this: A .167 average and 38 strikeouts in 78 at-bats.

Here’s one reason why the Cardinals traded Allen Craig to Boston; he hit .122 in July with a single home run.

Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds pumped out three homers, but did so while batting just .139.

Recent arrivals Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester may give Oakland ace presence, but the A’s appear to already have one in Sonny Gray, who won all five of his July starts with a 1.06 ERA.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim picked up closer Huston Street from San Diego midway through the month, but the way Joe Smith was pitching before his arrival, you had to wonder why the Angels bothered; in nine appearances over a 13-day period, Smith saved eight games and won the other—over nine hitless innings. For all of July, he pitched 16 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits.

Clayton Kershaw is in cruise control: The Dodger ace was 4-0 in five starts with a 1.07 ERA, a 0.64 WHIP and 43 strikeouts compared to just four walks. Meanwhile, the Dodgers stood pat at the trading deadline and are crossing their fingers that Dan Haren will get better…a lot better. He suffered with the majors’ worst ERA (9.47) while losing all four of his July starts.

Interesting to note: No pitcher suffered multiple blown saves in July.

If you were looking for runs, the Seattle Mariners were not the team to watch. They easily scored fewer runs (73) than anyone else, but their staff had the majors’ best ERA at 2.57.

The injury blues finally caught up with the Texas Rangers. No team had a worse record (6-20), a worse ERA (5.74) and gave up more home runs (33). If you’re looking for a silver lining, they were the only team to be rewarded a base on catcher’s interference—and did so twice.

The Angels could use a refresher course in stealing bases after being successful on only eight of 19 attempts.

Finally, the total number of strikeouts in July was 5,857—down from the 6,265 in June. Is this a sign that the strikeout epidemic is easing off? Not so fast, my friend. Because fewer games were played in July owing to the All-Star break, the number of strikeouts per game was slightly up to 15.38 from June’s 15.32 figure.

Deciphering Trade Day
All was quiet on the trading front to start the final day of July—suggesting that the last chance to make direct trades would go by with little news to report. That soon changed, and in a hurry.

The biggest story of the day involved two postseason rivals of recent years, the Oakland A’s and Detroit Tigers. First, the A’s sent a few shock waves by sending talented (but erratic) Cuban émigré Yoenis Cespedes to Boston for ace pitcher Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes. Oakland general manager Billy Beane made it plain: By nabbing Lester for what’s bound to be a brief stay (he’s a free agent at season’s end and will command the kind of money the A’s won’t pay) while shipping off Cespedes, who still has a year left on his contract, it’s now or never for the A’s in their quest to dress Moneyball with a championship banner.

The second blockbuster of the day took place only as a response to the first. Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski, seeing the Lester/Gomes move by the A’s as a threat given that both teams are likely headed on another collision course toward the postseason, decided to one-up Beane by convincing the Tampa Bay Rays to give up on David Price—sending the star pitcher to the Tigers as part of a three-way deal that moved Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson to Seattle and numerous players back to Tampa Bay. The addition of Price to a rotation that already includes Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez (and don’t forget Rick Porcello, having a solid year at Detroit) puts the Tigers on a par or better with the A’s come October.

The Sale That Didn’t Happen
Beane, after hearing news of the Price deal, aimed a message directly at Dombrowski that said: “And you only gave me a minute to try and get Chris Sale.”

The Second Remake of Boston
The other eye-opening development to come from the trading deadline revolved around the Boston Red Sox, who’ve struggled in defense of their world championship and, for the second time in three years, underwent a massive midseason overhaul—this time, however, without controversy and mutiny.

Besides dealing Lester and Gomes to Oakland, the Red Sox also shipped away veteran pitcher John Lackey to St. Louis for young pitcher Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig. Additionally, the Red Sox traded infielder Stephen Drew to the New York Yankees and pitcher Andrew Miller to Baltimore. With Jake Peavy having gone to San Francisco a week earlier, the Red Sox in the space of a week washed their hands of three veteran pitchers (Lester, Lackey and Peavy) who started 12 of 16 postseason games—winning seven—last season.

Gone But Not Forgotten
Here’s a tip for the marketing department of any major league team: Know the contract status of your players before determining the timing for any promotional giveaway. It’s happened in years past and happened again this past weekend, when the A’s gave away 10,000 shirts with an illustrated image of Yoenis Cespedes on Saturday—two days after he was traded to the Red Sox.

Who is This Guy?
Brandon Poulson may not be Sidd Fynch—the mythical character whipped up by George Plimpton for Sports Illustrated back in the 1980s that had many believing the New York Mets had found a pitcher returned from Himalayan self-exile with a 168-MPH fastball—but he’s come from out of nowhere enough to make people recall that hoax.

A big guy at 6’6” and 240 pounds, the 24-year-old Paulson had previously been so bad that he couldn’t make his high school baseball team; he make the cut for San Francisco’s Academy of Art baseball team—which surprised us, because we didn’t know that a school known for churning out graphic designers and CGI whizzes had a baseball team—and languished with an 8.38 ERA, discouraging him to the point that he all but quit the game and began focusing more on helping out his father in the excavation trade.

Yet he decided to give it another shot in a summer league up in Northern California’s wine country, and with some tweaking to his delivery suddenly began throwing a fastball at 100 MPH. Paulson became a new man; he dominated the league, caught the attention of major league scouts and, this past week, signed a $250,000 deal to play in the Minnesota Twins’ organization. He’ll report to the Twins’ rookie league affiliate in Tennessee.

You Won’t Hear About This on MASN
The Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles, based a mere 50 miles apart, make for pretty good interleague rivals. They’ve become even bigger rivals in the courtroom.

When the Nationals moved to Washington from Montreal, Major League Baseball placated the Orioles—who weren’t crazy with another franchise muscling in on their regional turf—by giving them virtual control and a majority of revenue of MASN, the regional TV network that carry games for both teams. But by 2012, the revenue model was to shift and allow the Nationals to start receiving money based on “fair market value.” Both teams had a different idea, however, of what fair market value was, and so MLB set up an arbitration panel that ruled in favor of the Nationals. But the Orioles and the lawyers representing MASN aren’t cooperating, even as commissioner Bud Selig has expressed both disgust at the “unfathomable inability” to come to an agreement and the threat of imposing the “strongest sanctions available.” The Nationals are now throwing this into court, asking a judge to force the Orioles to abide by the arbitration panel’s decision.

This makes you wonder who’s pulling the strings behind all of this, but given the weird, dictatorial mannerisms of late by Orioles owner Peter Angelos—well, there’s your answer. This will be a test to see if Selig, in his final days as commissioner, will have the guts to follow through on his “strongest sanctions available,” which could mean something as nasty as the removal of a team’s owner. And if that were to happen, then you have a court battle.

Go Ahead, Take Us Past Midnight
In their 16-plus years of existence, the Arizona Diamondbacks are 13-1 when they play 15 or more innings. Their latest marathon win came on Monday when they edged the Reds at Cincinnati in 15 frames, 2-1.

Fast Chap
In that Diamondbacks-Reds game, Cincinnati closer
Aroldis Chapman threw a pitch 104.6 miles against Paul Goldschmidt, who fouled off the pitch in advance of striking out. That velocity came close to breaking the all-time MLB speed of 105.1, set by Chapman in September of 2010.

They Might be Giants—Except This Guy
The
Dan Uggla experiment in San Francisco, where the Giants have been beyond desperate for a second baseman, ended almost as quickly as it began. The veteran slugger, ushered out of Atlanta last month after a dismal start (on top of a dismal second half in 2013), showed zero signs of a renaissance with the Giants; he was 0-for-11 with six strikeouts, and committed three errors during his brief work in the field. He’s been designated for assignment—or, in layman’s terms, released.

One Expensive Swing
In 2007, minor league catcher Johnathan Nathans had his baseball career come to an end when he suffered head injuries from the bat of former major leaguer Jose Offerman, who was going batty in the midst of a nasty minor-league melee that evoked horrid memories of Juan Marichal and Johnny Roseboro. Now Nathans is a lawyer in Portland, Maine, where he filed a lawsuit—against Offerman.

This past week, a jury ordered Offerman to pay Nathans to the tune of $940,000. Nathans had asked for $4.8 million and may have gotten the full amount, but there’s never been any smoking gun evidence that Offerman actually hit Nathans; there are still pictures of Offerman swinging the bat during the brawl, but no video.

The Exploding Beer
This is almost as cool as one of those National Geographic shows that used to show a bullet going through an apple in super-super-super-slow motion.

Tough Shift, Tommy
Last week, Sports Illustrated’s
Tom Verducci made waves by suggesting that baseball should look into banning the modern version of the Williams Shift, where a team stacks three of its infielders to one side of second base. Playing in a game this past week between media members from New York and Boston, Verducci stepped to the plate and was greeted by the shift; he grounded out into it.

No, Dora, Left Field is Not For You to Explore
I remember going to an Oakland A’s game in the 1990s with my brother-in-law and his son, the latter of whom at one point really wanted to jump onto the field and run around—during the game. We said no. Apparently, a little girl in Miami wouldn’t take no for an answer. Thank goodness this wasn’t a NFL game with an angry linebacker nearby itching to take out his aggression. —
Eric

This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
This past week ends with the longest active hitting streak belonging to a guy who hasn’t played in over a month. Minnesota star hitter
Joe Mauer, who’s just getting back into rehab action after an oblique injury, has a 12-game streak that last got enhanced on July 1 before he went on the disabled list. He’s hitting .362 during his delayed run.

League vs. League
This was not a good week for the National League in its rapidly difficult attempt to catch up with the American League and claim a winning record in interleague play for the first time since 2003. Milwaukee could only muster a win in three tries at Tampa Bay, and fading Colorado fared worse later in the week by being swept at Detroit. So now, the AL holds a 115-95 advantage over the NL; 151 wins puts the AL over the top for the 11th straight year in interleague play, so the NL has to go 56-36 the rest of the way to keep that from happening.

Wounded of the Week
wounded of the weekPaul Goldschmidt, who arguably could have been a MVP last year and is putting up similar numbers this season, had his hand broken when hit by a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday; he’s out for the season. The Diamondbacks tried to get even the next night by plunking the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen—who did win the MVP in 2013—square in the back with a 95 MPH fastball. McCutchen’s okay, but a bit angry.

Injuries elsewhere in baseball this past week included a broken finger for Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer (out three-to-six weeks), a bum elbow for Philadelphia ace Cliff Lee (rumor has it he may not pitch again this year), right shoulder inflammation for Miami pitcher Henderson Alvarez (out 15 days), and Los Angeles of Anaheim pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who had to depart from a no-hit bid in the fifth inning of Thursday’s game at Baltimore with a forearm issue; there’s no definitive date for him to return to action.


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