This Great Game Comebacker

The Week That Was in Baseball: September 9-15, 2013
Will Coors Field Curse Todd Helton's HOF Odds? Eye-Raising Stats from Japan
Who's Bobby Valentine Irking Now? What's Next for the Astrodome

Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Josh Donaldson, Oakland A's

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
18 8 8 1 0 2 6 7 0 1 1

The second-year third baseman was solid in April, and May, and June…and pitchers kept mumbling to themselves, “When is this balloon going to burst?” It still hasn’t happened, as Donaldson has powered through one month after another this season, outperforming expectations in what has become a breakout year. Best of all for the A’s, the 27-year-old Florida native has hit .343 with three homers against the division rival Rangers.


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
29 8 13 1 0 6 19 2 0 0 0

The Giants began the week acknowledging that they’ve been in talks to extend Pence’s contract; what followed on the field for the 30-year-old outfielder made it crystal clear as to why. Pence had a week for the ages, producing six RBIs on Tuesday against the Rockies, seven more on Saturday against the Dodgers followed by a two-homer performance on Sunday. The 19 RBIs in six games is a franchise record—and we’re having a hard time recalling anyone who’s brought in more runs in one week since we started the Comebacker eight years ago.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Will Middlebrooks, Boston Red Sox

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
17 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0

Just a week ago we were singing the praises of the young third baseman who seemed to have made all the right adjustments to get his hitting game back on track after a severe slump sank him to the minors. This may be a first in Comebacker annals: A Best of Week recipient immediately following up with a Worst of Week performance. Because the Red Sox are sitting pretty as the likely #1 seed for the postseason, they’ll be patient and give Middlebrooks time to perform yet another 180—but October could be a different story.


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Carl Crawford, Los Angeles Dodgers

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

Perhaps the 32-year-old outfielder’s best years are simply behind him, even if this 2013 season has been an improvement over his rotten (and thankfully) brief tenure in Boston. This past week was a bad exception, however, perhaps prompted by a bad back that kept him largely out of action during a weekend series against the Giants; his play beforehand showed that he’s got some work to do before becoming a factor in the postseason for the Dodgers.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Ubaldo Jimenez, Cleveland Indians

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
2-0 15.1 15 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 18

The rise and fall and rise of the 29-year-old Dominican right-hander may almost be complete. Three years removed from Cy Young consideration in Colorado and a year after a near-disastrous campaign with the Indians, Jimenez has come back strong and truly shined this past week with solid wins against the Royals and White Sox. Part of Jimenez’s revitalization comes from a renewed confidence in his fastball, even if it’s decidedly slower than it used to be; all those walks have become yesterday’s news, and he’s struck out ten batters in three of his last five starts—after doing it only twice in 66 previous outings with Cleveland.


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
2-0 14 8 1 1 5 0 0 1 0 16

Since joining the major league fold in mid-June, Cole hasn’t been brilliant but has shown a comforting knack of never breaking, allowing four runs or less in every start; this past week, he arguably put together his finest two efforts yet, including an outstanding victory at Texas in which he threw seven shutout innings and outdueled Yu Darvish. The former number one draft pick is now 8-7 on the year with a thumbs-up 3.33 ERA.


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Charlie Leesman, Chicago White Sox

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-0 4 8 9 9 6 0 0 1 0 2

We hate to pick on a call-up working clean-up for the hapless White Sox (two wins in their last 17 games), but it’s hard to ignore a guy who comes in and faces seven Cleveland hitters—and can’t get any of them out, walking four of them. That was the worst line of the week for the 26-year-old lefty getting his first taste of the bigs this month. Here’s the scary part: Even after all of this, the White Sox are still likely to give him a spot start. Instant scouting report: Make him prove he can throw a strike.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Tyler Cloyd, Philadelphia Phillies

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-2 8 19 12 12 0 0 0 1 0 5

Here’s yet another case of a young pitcher leading a Jekyll-and-Hyde existence; for every quality start he tucks into the game log, he stinks it up with outings like the two he started and didn’t get very far with this past week. The worst of the beatings came courtesy of the Padres on Tuesday, who knocked Cloyd around for seven runs in four innings; the Nationals were only slightly kinder on Sunday. The (somewhat) bright side: He didn’t walk a batter after giving up 21 over 45 innings coming into the week.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Oakland A's (5-1)

Time to get to know your Athletics—and we’re not just talking to the country as a whole, but to those living in the Bay Area who keep loading up the Giants’ ballpark but won’t fill even half of a Coliseum already tarped (in theory) to increase ticket demand. The A’s were foiled to start the week when the Twins rallied late on Tuesday, but Oakland hit overdrive afterward—including an 18-3 crushing of the Twins the next day and, to end the week, a definitive three-game sweep of divisional rival Texas in Arlington to all but close the door on the AL West race. With 13 games to play, the A’s magic number to win the division is at eight.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Washington Nationals (6-1)

Alright, so it took roughly five months for everything to come together for the Nationals—and lo and behold, it hasn’t come too late to write off their postseason chances. Everything seems to be clicking now for Washington; the Nats are knocking the knitting off the ball, Denard Span is almost halfway to Joe DiMaggio’s 56 and catcher Wilson Ramos (13 homers, 56 RBIs over his last 55 games) is channeling Johnny Bench. The Nationals still have a lot of work to do in order to catch the Reds for the final wild card spot (they’re 4.5 games back with two weeks to go), but their momentum is certainly headed in the right direction.


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Texas Rangers (0-6)

If repressed memories have any basis in fact, the Rangers will soon be asked about this past week of depressive downers and respond with, “Huh, what? Don’t remember that.” Texas was ready to prove its manhood with two home series against upstarts Pittsburgh and Oakland; six losses later, they’re all but out of the AL West race. The lousy part was, four of the defeats were by a single run. Now, the focus is just on making the postseason; the Rangers get a chance at redemption this week as they hit the road against wild card rivals Tampa Bay and Kansas City.


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Miami Marlins (2-6)

Same ol’ story for the Marlins: Decent pitching, awful hitting, more losses. Miami hurlers gave up barely three runs a game this past week, but barely averaged more than two at the plate. On top of that, any remaining flamboyance was put in a box and stowed away for winter when they ended rookie phenom Jose Fernandez’s season after he reached his 170-inning limit. The Marlins need to win eight of their remaining 13 games to avoid 100 losses on the year. Don’t bet on it.


 

 

 

Best and Worst of the Week

Monday, September 9
In their fifth try, the Pittsburgh Pirates win their 82nd game of the year to snap a professional sports-record streak of 20 straight years without a winning record. The Bucs do it in style; Gerrit Cole pitches seven shutout innings to outduel Texas ace Yu Darvish, 1-0 at Arlington.

For the third straight time, Max Scherzer fails to win his 20th game as he’s easily outpitched by White Sox ace Chris Sale in Chicago’s 5-1 home win over Detroit. The Tigers’ chances are handicapped in the first inning when star slugger Miguel Cabrera is ejected for arguing that a pitch hit him while checking his swing.

Juan Uribe becomes the first Dodger to hit three home runs in Dodger Stadium’s 52 years of play, and his teammates add three more to defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chavez Ravine, 7-1, to snap a four-game losing slide—their longest since early May. There’s added satisfaction for Dodger fans in that the victory officially eliminates the archrival, defending champion San Francisco Giants (who win in extras against Colorado) from the NL West race.

The Minnesota Twins defeat Jered Weaver and the visiting Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 6-3, to end a franchise record-tying ten-game losing skid at home. Rookie catcher Josmil Pinto has three doubles for the Twins and is now 13-for-23 (.565) since being called up; the announced crowd of 21,726 is the smallest in Target Field’s four years of operations, with the actual number in the park said to be much less.


Tuesday, September 10
In his first appearance since hitting the disabled list three months ago, Boston’s Clay Buchholz throws five shutout innings and strikes out six to lead the Red Sox to a 2-0 win at St. Petersburg over David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays.

Alfonso Soriano smacks two home runs, the second as part of a four-run rally in the eighth, to give the New York Yankees a come-from-behind, 7-5 win at Baltimore over the Orioles. It’s Soriano’s third multi-homer game since joining the Yankees from the Chicago Cubs in late July; he’s only the second player (Mark McGwire being the other) to have three or more multi-homer games for two different teams in one season.

The Angels pile up on the Blue Jays at Toronto, 12-6, thanks to a big day from Mark Trumbo—who hits three doubles and a homer among five hits to become the first Angel to go 5-for-5 with five runs scored in a game.


Wednesday, September 11
In his final start of the season as he reaches the 170-inning limit set by the Marlins, 21-year-old rookie phenom Jose Fernandez masters the Atlanta Braves at Miami, 5-2, with seven superb innings and, in his final at-bat, his first career home run. It’s that blast that sets off a confrontation between Fernandez—who stands at the plate and watches his drive for three seconds before running the bases—and the Braves, who strongly object, leading to a benches-clearing scrum at home plate with no punches thrown. Fernandez finishes the year at 12-6 with a terrific 2.19 ERA.

The Pirates finish an impressive three-game sweep of the Rangers at Arlington with a 7-5 win, but still trail the NL Central-leading Cardinals by a game as St. Louis wins its third straight over Milwaukee, 5-1, at Busch Stadium. For Pittsburgh—historically one of the worst interleague performers—it’s the ninth straight win on the road against AL teams, the longest by any team against the other league since interleague play began in 1997.

The Rangers’ loss further opens the gap between themselves and the AL West-leading Oakland A’s, who stomp on the Twins at Minnesota, 18-3. Ten of the A’s runs are plated in the fourth inning, with the help of a blown call when Jed Lowrie’s liner past first is initially (and correctly) ruled a foul ball—then changed to a ground-rule double after a successful lobbying effort by Oakland manager Bob Melvin. Every player in the A’s starting lineup has at least a run, hit and RBI—only the third time that’s happened in the A’s 113-year existence.


Thursday, September 12
The Yankees move 1.5 games ahead of the Orioles—and just one game back of the Rays—in the AL wild card race with a 6-5 win at Baltimore. Mariano Rivera preserves the victory in the bottom of the ninth to earn credit not for the save but the win—because the official scorer rules that David Robertson, who blows a three-run lead in the eighth, was “ineffective” and thus does not receive credit for the ‘accidental’ win “in the judgment of the official scorer,” as the rulebook states.

Don’t count the Washington Nationals out yet. Rookie Tanner Roark, making his 11th major league appearance and second start, improves to 6-0 with a 1.30 ERA, Denard Span extends his hitting streak to 23 games and the Nationals slam four homers to finish off a four-game sweep of the Mets at New York, 7-2; for the series, the Nats outhomered the Mets, 13-0. Washington is now five games behind Cincinnati for the final NL wild card spot.

In Los Angeles, the Dodgers edge the visiting Giants in ten innings, 3-2; the winning pitcher is former San Francisco closer Brian Wilson, who pitches a scoreless tenth in his first appearance against his old mates and is the pitcher of record when the Dodgers win it on an Adrian Gonzalez single.


Friday, September 13
The Orioles bounce back on the road at Toronto, overcoming a 3-0 deficit in the seventh and taking the lead in the eighth with a solo shot by Chris Davis—his 50th homer of the year, tying Brady Anderson’s 1996 franchise mark.

The A’s land in Texas and tighten their grip on the AL West at the expense of the Rangers—but it doesn’t come easy. The Rangers come to bat in the eighth trailing 9-2 but proceed to plate six runs before leave the tying run in scoring position; they also leave a runner at second in the ninth and lose to Oakland, 9-8, in the first of a pivotal three-game series.

The Cardinals eke out a 2-1, ten-inning win over the visiting Mariners, tying the game in the eighth on a fielder’s choice and, in overtime, scoring the winner when Seattle catcher Mike Zunino misplays an Oliver Perez pitch and lets it past him, bringing home Pete Kozma. Coupled with the Pirates’ 5-4 home loss to the Chicago Cubs, the Cardinals retake the NL Central lead.

After five winless starts against Kansas City (despite a 3.12 ERA), the Tigers’ Justin Verlander finally captures his first win against the Royals as Prince Fielder and Torii Hunter each knock in three runs to support the Detroit ace to a 6-3 win.

It takes eight Cleveland pitchers to hold the host White Sox to one run in nine innings; the first, rookie Danny Salazar, strikes out nine batters in just 3.2 innings of work. The Tribe’s 3-1 win is their tenth straight over the White Sox, and puts them 1.5 games behind Tampa Bay—who run up their own win streak against the Twins to ten with a 3-0 win at Minneapolis—for the second AL wild card spot.


Saturday, September 14
The A’s are starting to pull away. Bartolo Colon outpitches the Rangers’ Yu Darvish for a 1-0 victory at Arlington; For Colon, it’s the first 1-0 win of his career, while it’s the fourth 1-0 loss for Darvish this season. The game’s only tally occurs in the first inning when Brandon Moss doubles home Josh Donaldson.

The Giants strike early, late and often to score an early knockout on the Dodgers at Los Angeles, 19-3; it’s the most runs ever given up by the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Hunter Pence homers and drives in seven while Brandon Belt brings home six on five hits.

A day after Chris Davis reaches the 50-homer mark, another Orioles hits 50; it’s Manny Machado, who knocks out his 50th double to become only the second youngest major leaguer ever to achieve the feat (Alex Rodriguez was the youngest at 21 years and 43 days—Machado is 21 and 70). Machado’s milestone two-bagger isn’t enough for the Orioles, who drop a 4-3 decision at Toronto.


Sunday, September 15
Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano takes a no-hitter into the seventh but has to settle for a no-decision, his first in 24 starts this season; Justin Morneau’s single breaks a 2-2 tie and gives the Pirates a 3-2 win.

The Cardinals stay apace with the Bucs for the NL Central’s top spot with a 12-2 trashing to the Mariners. St. Louis snaps an 0-for-29 slide with men on base (after hitting well above .300 throughout the year) with 11 hits in such situations.

Max Scherzer pitches more than just well enough to earn his 20th win—allowing a run on five hits with 12 strikeouts (including the 1,000th of his career) through seven innings—but fails in his fourth straight bid to secure the milestone as his 2-1 lead is erased on an eighth inning wild pitch from Drew Smyly that allows the visiting Royals to tie the game. Alex Avila unknots it a half-inning later on a solo shot and the Tigers win at Comerica Park, 3-2.


Mr. Rockie Calls it a Day
Todd Helton announced this past week that the 2013 season will be his last as a major leaguer. Having just turned 40 last month, Helton has played 17 years—all with the Colorado Rockies—and has accumulated 2,505 hits, 367 home runs, 585 doubles, 1,397 RBIs and 1,333 walks; he currently possesses a career .317 average, .415 on-base percentage and .539 slugging mark. He’s been named to five All-Star teams, won three Gold Gloves at first base and four Silver Slugger awards.

Good enough to get you into the Hall of Fame, right? Not so fast, my friend. Every Cooperstown voter will remind you that any player who played the majority of his career with the Rockies means he has played half of his games in the thin-air of Denver’s mile-high Coors Field, where fattening up on offensive stats had become a time-honored tradition. Helton is a good example of this; he’s hit .345 at Coors as compared to a .287 mark on the road, while 225 of his 367 career jacks have come at home.

HOF voters might give Helton much stronger consideration had the second half of his career been anywhere near as good as the first half. After his first nine seasons, Helton held an outstanding .337 average with 271 homers; in the eight years since, he’s hit .289 with just 96 homers as he’s been beset by numerous injuries (mostly involving his back) that have sapped his power stroke.

Still, Helton’s steady, easy-going veteran presence will be badly missed in the Colorado clubhouse and organization. Helton says that post-baseball life will be “different”, “difficult” and “exciting,” adding: “If I could play 81 games at home next year, I could do it. I could do it for a couple of more years. And if they had the games scheduled for the same time so I could get a sleeping pattern, I would have a chance.”

Rockies fans will get one more homestand to give their heartfelt appreciation of Helton; the last home series of the year takes place when the Boston Red Sox come to Coors, bringing back memories of 2007 and Helton’s closest brush with a World Series ring—when the Rockies were swept in their lone Fall Classic appearance by the Red Sox.

With a Little Help From a Rabbit Ball
History was made in Japan on Sunday when Wladimir Balentien—a major league flameout who fled across the Pacific three years ago—broke the longstanding season home run record shared by Sadaharu Oh and (more recently) MLB expatriates Alex Cabrera and Tuffy Rhodes with his 56th home run for the Yakult Swallows. He followed that up with his 57th shot in the same game. It should be noted that the ball Balentien’s been hitting this year has more juice to it; Japanese baseball officials have revealed that they’ve introduced a more lively ball, an admission backed up by a mass increase in homers hit in Japan this season.

Could he be the Next Yu?
Japan’s rabbit ball doesn’t seem to have had an effect on Masahiro Tanaka. If you thought it was impressive to see Max Scherzer jump out to a 19-1 start this season, check this out: Tanaka has a 21-0 record and 1.23 ERA for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, establishing a record for the longest winning streak within one year at Japan. (Going back to last year, he’s won 25 straight.) The 6’2”, 205-pound right-hander, who turns 25 in November, may be dangled by the Golden Eagles in front of major league teams for the right price this coming winter; those said to be interested are the New York Yankees, Toronto, San Francisco, Oakland, Minnesota, Boston and Texas.

Hardly the Valentine NYC Was Hoping For
Bobby Valentine truly seems to have a special gift for getting under people’s skins. On the 12th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the man who was the manager of the New York Mets on that horrible day back in 2001 said that his team did more in the days and weeks that followed to lift the city’s spirits back on their feet than the crosstown Yankees, who he feels got too much credit.

“You couldn’t find a Yankee on the streets of New York City. You couldn’t find a Yankee down at Ground Zero, talking to the guys who were working 24/7,” Valentine said during a radio interview. “Many of them didn’t live here, and so it wasn’t their fault. And many of them did not partake in all that, so there was some of that jealousy going around. Like, ‘Why are we so tired? Why are we wasted? Why have we been to the funerals and the firehouses, and the Yankees are getting all the credit for bringing baseball back?’ And I said, ‘This isn’t about credit, guys. This is about doing the right thing.’”

The Yankees were not amused, and neither were many among New York City’s press that recalled how active the Yankees actually were in the days following the terrorist attacks, visiting hospitals while giving an emotional uplift to first responders and those awaiting word on whether their loved ones had died. Yankee president Randy Levine: “Bobby Valentine should know better than to be pointing fingers on a day like today…On this day, he would have been better to kept his thoughts to himself rather than seeking credit, which is very sad to me.”

And by the way, just who did Keith Olbermann name as his worst person of the world on Wednesday? You guessed it.

Upheld!
If you had invited Barry Bonds as a party guest to your home over the next 30 days, forget it. It’s not because the curmudgeon-like home run champ would refuse to show; it’s because he won’t be allowed. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled against Bonds in his attempt to overturn the Feds’ obstruction-of-justice conviction against him stemming from his involvement in BALCO, the steroids-feeding facility raided back in 2003. Bonds was “disappointed” in the ruling but said he would immediately serve his punishment, which calls for a month of house arrest and two years of probation.

The Eighth Enigma of the World
It’s been nearly 15 years since the Houston Astros left the Astrodome, which wowed the world when it opened as the first domed stadium back in 1965. Nobody has used it since the Astros’ departure, and for good reason: It recently was declared unfit to serve an event of any kind. There was talk of tearing it down, but the expense was too large. So what do you do with a decaying monument? Gizmodo posts a list of options being explored, and they’re quite interesting.

Could he be a Cano-riole?
The Yankees publicly stated that perennial All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano, a free agent this coming offseason, is not a player they plan to re-sign “at all costs.” If any team should take heed and drive the Brinks truck in front of Cano’s home, it’s the Baltimore Orioles. Why? Cano has a career .360 average at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, easily the highest among any player with 250 career at-bats.

That’s a Mighty Big Pot Talking About the Kettle
The NFL posted on its own web site a commentary about the rise in concussions—not in the NFL, but in baseball. The irony was dripping like Dennys Reyes’ hair on a hot, humid night: Talk about someone else’s problem when yours is much bigger. As a Deadspin reader laughingly responded: “Can’t wait for the NFL’s piece on baseball’s PED problem.”

Quantity Over Quality
Despite a career 4.55 ERA, Detroit’s Rick Porcello found himself in the company of Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, CC Sabathia as one of four active major league pitchers to win 60 games before turning 25. It helps that Porcello had an early enough start on his career (he debuted at age 20) and has consistently been blessed with excellent run support from the Tigers.

It’s Just Been That Kind of Year
On consecutive days, Milwaukee pitchers held opponents (in both cases, the Cardinals) to no hits through five innings, which qualified as a franchise first. And yet: The Brewers lost both games, 4-2 and 5-1.

The One-Hop Double
Corey Dickerson channels Vladimir Guerrero, Pablo Sandoval and a few other free swingers of lore during Friday’s game at Arizona when he connects on a pitch thrown on a hop by the Diamondbacks’ Will Harris. The bizarre hit ignited a five-run Colorado rally in the seventh, leading the Rockies to a 7-5 win.

Sometimes it Helps to Look at the Scoreboard
A few weeks ago, Yankee catcher Chris Stewart allowed two runs to score on a strike three pitch when he committed a passed ball and then threw wildly past first base trying to secure the out on the live batter. This past Thursday, while at bat in Baltimore, he struck out on three pitches—two of them strikes. Huh? He took the first pitch just off the outside corner, fouled the second pitch and swung and missed on the third. At that point, he turned and walked back to the dugout, thinking he had struck out because he believed the first pitch was called a strike. Nobody—not home plate umpire Jim Wolf, not even his own teammates or coaches—bothered to correct him and send him back to finish the at-bat. And to think: The Yankees are in a postseason race.

Perhaps he’s Conquering his Fear of Giant Furry Things
Red Sox fans don’t have the best reputation at St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field, home of the Rays. Last year, several Boston fans were ejected for urinating from their upper-deck seats. This past week, as the Red Sox separated themselves from the second-place Rays in the standings with light-speed precision, another Boston fan celebrated by twice reaching over the railing and grabbing the Rays’ mascot, Raymond, by the neck. The police report said that the fan was “staggering, slurring his words and smelled of alcohol.” And of course, he claimed to have drunk two beers. Only. For his troubles, he spent a night in jail and was released the next morning on a $100 bond.

Two by Muscle, One by Legs
The Pittsburgh Pirates hit back-to-back-to-back home runs on Friday against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park, but the rare circumstance for the Bucs’ three-peat was that it included an inside-the-park homer from
Pedro Alvarez, only the third time that’s happened over the last 50 years. Russell Martin and Garrett Jones were the other two Pirates to homer, more conventionally over the wall.

One Hit = One Monkey Off the Back
Houston’s
Cody Clark singled in his second at-bat on Friday against Los Angeles of Anaheim for his first major league hit—after starting out his career at 0-for-25. Among those to congratulate him in the dugout was Chris Carter, who began his career going hitless in 33 at-bats in 2011—two shy of the all-time record for a non-pitcher.

The Kings of Whiff, 2013 Edition
Here’s more news the Astros don’t want you to hear about: On Saturday against the Angels, Houston set an American League record for most strikeouts by a team in one season, knocking the 2012 A’s out of the record book. With 13 games still to play, the Astros need to average ten K’s a contest to establish the all-time major league mark set by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010 with 1,529.

Time For the Fans to Pay Their Fair Share
With new Dodger management shelling out massive amounts of money—first to buy the team, second to buy the players—the fans didn’t think they’d be paying the same ticket prices forever, did they? The Dodgers announced this past week that they’ll be raising prices on all tickets for the 2014 season, from $2 to $30 on the most expensive seats near home plate.

The Zenith of Major League Welfare
The New York Yankees will pay $29 million in luxury taxes this year. That’s easily more than the entire payroll of the Houston Astros—who, by the way, will receive some of that Yankee tax.

Zero Gain
Texas ace
Yu Darvish lost not one but two 1-0 games this past week, doubling the number of such losses he’s suffered this season. Darvish’s four 1-0 losses are the most by a pitcher since Orel Hershiser lost four back in 1989—a year in which he finished 15-15 for the Dodgers despite a 2.31 ERA that was baseball’s third best.

This Week’s Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
Washington's
Denard Span is a week away from making things interesting. He ends this past week with the majors’ longest active hitting streak at 26 games; extending the run one more game will tie him with Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer for the longest streak this season—and with five more, he’ll tie Vladimir Guerrero for the longest in Expos/Nationals history. Beyond all of that, still somewhat distantly, lies the mother of all hitting streaks: Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game ride in 1941. If Span can actually get that far, he’ll have to wait until he’s roughly 15 games into the 2014 season to tie it—and the question then becomes, will MLB honor such a long streak broken into two seasons? It’s worth asking because, in the past, baseball has not.

Wounded of the Week
wounded of the weekSomewhere, Asclepius—the Greek god of healing—was not smiling upon the New York Yankees. (Maybe he’s a Red Sox fan.) This past week alone, the Yankees’ postseason chances were badly clipped by numerous injuries; the most newsworthy of them came when Derek Jeter hit the disabled list for the fourth—and final, it was said—time, as his bothersome ankle continued to plague him. Reliever Boone Logan, who’s done solid work out of the Yankee bullpen this season but hasn’t pitched for over a week with a bum elbow, hasn’t yet landed on the disabled list—but has landed on the appointment book of Dr. James Andrews, whose name often evokes upcoming Tommy John surgery.

But perhaps the most crunching blow to the Yankees took place when speedy outfielder Brett Gardner, unequivocally the team’s unsung hero this season, was diagnosed with a Grade 1 sprain of his oblique. There’s serious questions as to whether he’ll return this season.


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