Vic Power – Last Player to Steal Home Twice in One Contest

PowerOn this Date (August 14) in 1958, Vic Power became just the eleventh player in MLB history to steal home twice in one game – a feat that has not been accomplished since.  Amazingly, those two steals represented 67 percent of his total for the season.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Here’s the story.

In a game against the Tigers (in Cleveland), Detroit on top of the Tribe 7-4 going into the bottom of the eighth inning – but the Indians fought back. Cleveland RF Rocky Colavito started the inning with his second home run of the game (his 26th of the season). Then pinch-hitter Gary Geiger (hitting for SS Woodie Held) walked. Next up was another pinch hitter – Vic Wertz – for pitcher Morrie Martin. Wertz tied the contest with a two-run long ball.

After a Detroit pitching chang e- Bill Fischer in for Tom Morgan – Indians’ 2B Bobby Avila reached on an error by Tigers’ 1B Gail Harris. Cleveland 1B Mickey Vernon sacrificed Avila to second and Power singled him home – moving to second on an error by Detroit catcher Charlie Lau.  And, the pesky Power was just warming up. He went to third on a wild pitch by Fischer and then stole home (after a short fly out to center by catcher Russ Nixon) to run the lead to 9-7. LF Minnie Minoso was up next and was hit by a pitch and stole second before CF Larry Doby flied out to end the inning.  The Tribe bullpen, however, could not hold the two-run lead – and the Tigers tied it in the top of the ninth. That opened the door for Power’s historic second steal of home – which came in the bottom of the tenth, with the bases loaded, two outs and one of the AL’s most dependable RBI men (Rocky Colavito, with 74 driven in  on the season) at the plate.

Here’s how that tenth went. Vernon grounded out. Then, Power singled to right (his third hit of the day, raising his average to .319).  Nixon followed with another single, Power moving to second.  Minoso grounded to short, with Power moving on to third, Nixon forced at second and Minoso reaching first on the fielder’s choice.  Larry Doby was intentionally walked, loading the bases and bringing Colavito to the dish. On the fourth pitch to the Indians’ slugger, Power – who had been scampering up and down the third base line – broke for the plate and ended the game on a “run off” steal of home.

Power, by the way, was not a likely candidate to swipe home twice in a game.  Going into that August 14 tilt, he had exactly one stolen base on the season – and he did not steal a single a bag (after the two steals of home) that campaign. The fact is, he was much more likely to beat you with his glove (seven Gold Gloves) or his bat (.284 career average) than his legs. In twelve MLB seasons, Power stole just 45 bases (and was caught 35 times).  He was a four-time All Star, who collected 1,716 hits, scored 765 runs and drove in 658. Note:  I was lucky enough to see the flamboyant Power often during his two seasons with the Minnesota Twins (1962-63), when he hit .280, with 26 home runs and 115 RBI – and impressed with his smooth and flashy fielding (sweeping one-handed grabs) and the unique pendulum-like way he swung that bat (one-handed) as he waited for the pitcher to deliver.

StealChart

Stealing Home Tid Bits:

  • Ty Cobb stole home an MLB-record 54 times.
  • Ty Cobb holds the MLB and AL record with eight steals of home in a season (Tigers, 1912); Pete Reiser holds the NL record at seven (Dodgers, 1946).
  • There have been 35 “run-off” (game-ending) steals of home; the most recent by Marquis Grissom (Indians) to end Game Three of the American League Championship Series (October 11, 1997).
  • An oddity: Both Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth notched double digit steals of home in their MLB careers (15 and 10, respectively). Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock and Maury Wills did not.

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Say It Ain’t So, Bobby – The End of Greg Maddux’ Record Run

MadduzOn this date (August 12) in 2001, future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux and his Braves faced off against the hard-hitting Arizona Diamondbacks in Atlanta.  Maddux was having a typical season – taking the mound with a 15-6 record and a 2.68 ERA.   He was also in hot pursuit of Bill Fischer’s record of 84 1/3 consecutive innings pitched without issuing a walk (1962 Kansas City Athletics). Maddux’ last free pass had come on June 20th – 70 innings ago.

Little did Maddux know, as he took the mound in the bottom of the first inning, that it would be a very un-Maddux-like afternoon – and that his walkless streak would end at 72 1/3 innings (still the NL record) on the orders of manager Bobby Cox.

Over the first two innings, Maddux gave up one run, but did not look sharp.  He was touched for three singles and hit a batter – but had not issued a walk.  Then in the third inning, things really went awry, as the Diamondbacks actually batted around against “The Professor.” It went like this, SS and leadoff  hitter Greg Counsell singled and stole second; 2B Junior Spivey singled, with Counsell going to third; LF Luis Gonzalez singled, scoring Counsell and sending Spivey to third; 1B Mark Grace hit a sacrifice fly scoring Spivey (Maddux’ walkless streak now at 72 1/3 innings); and 3B Matt Williams doubled, scoring Gonzalez.

Now, with Williams on second and one out, Cox made the traditional baseball move – ordering Maddux to intentionally walk CF Steve Finley to set up the double play. With that strategic move, Maddux’ streak was over and Fischer’s MLB record was safe. The next batter, RF Danny Bautista grounded to third base – with the runners moving up.  Cox then ordered another  intentional pass, this one to C Damian Miller – bringing up the pitcher. Pitcher Albie Lopez put an end to the inning with a ground out.  (After the second intentional walk, Maddux went 11 2/3 innings before his next unintentional free pass, which would still have left him 1/3 of an inning short of Fischer’s record.)

A few side notes:

  • Maddux walked only 27 batters in 233 innings in 2001 – and ten of those were intentional.
  • Maddux walked two or more batters in just nine of his 34 starts and had 18 starts with zero walks that season.
  • Maddux had nine consecutive starts with zero walks – and did not issue a single free pass in July.
  • The two (intentional) walks in that August 12th game represented one of only three two-walk innings for Maddux all season – and one of the other two was also comprised of a pair of intentional passes.
  • Maddux finished his career with only 999 free passes (3,371 strikeouts) in 5008 1/3 innings pitched.
  • In 23 MLB seasons, Maddux averaged only 1.8 walks per nine innings and, in 1991, walked just 20 batters (six intentional) in 232 2/3 innings.
  • He ended the 2001 season 17-11, 3.05 – and had a career record of 355-227, 3.16.

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Pitch Counts? This Guy Made Everyt Pitch Count!

BarrettOn this date (May 10) in 1944, 29-year-old RHP Charles “Red” Barrett faced a daunting challenge.  Barrett – 6-11, 4.53 on the season – was starting for the (43-60) Boston Braves against the (55-45) Cincinnati Reds.  His mound opponent was veteran and six-time All Star Bucky Walters, who took the mound with a 16-5, 2.36 record. Note:  Walters would finish the season 23-8, 2.40, while Barrett would go 9-16, 4.06.

On this day, however, Barrett would prevail 2-0, tossing a complete-game, two-hit shutout.  In the process, Barrett would set the record for the fewest pitchers ever thrown in an MLB nine-inning complete game – just 58 tossed to the plate.  Barrett walked none and struck out none, facing 29 batters (two pitches per plate appearance).  Clearly, if you stepped into the batter’s box that day, you better be ready to hit – Barrett was in no mood to “waste” a pitch.

Walters probably deserved better that day.  The losing pitcher gave up two runs (one earned) on just six hits, with one walk and one strikeout.  Together, Barrett and Walters combined to throw the shortest (time-wise) MLB night game ever – just 75 minutes.

RED BARRETT MAY HAVE CALLED HIS SHOT

The Braves’ Red Barrett, who used only 58 pitches to complete a 2-0 win over the Reds on May 10, 1944 (the fewest pitches ever in a nine-inning MLB complete game), may have “called his shot” six years earlier.

Here are a couple of excerpts from Barrett’s comments in a November 9, 1938 Los Angeles Times article:

         “These strikeout pitchers are chumps. Me, I try to make them hit the          first ball.”

“My idea is to throw as few pitches as possible. Even when you strikeout a batter, it generally takes four-to-seven, and sometimes even more, pitches. I’d rather get that batter out on one pitch and save my arm.”

Barrett was truly a “pitch to contact” hurler.  In eleven MLB seasosns, he went 69-69, 3.53 and, in 1,263 1/3 innings, walked just 312 batters and fanned 333.

Barrett's fine 1945 season earned him a spot on the cover of "life."

Barrett’s fine 1945 season earned him a spot on the cover of “life.”

Barrett’s best season came in 1945.  In mid-May he was a disappointing 2-3, 4.74; when he was traded to the Cardinals. He went on to win 21 games for the Redbirds – ending the campaign at 23-12, 3.00 and leading the NL in wins. complete games (24) and innings pitched (284 2/3). He made his only All Star squad that season, but the game was not played due to World War II travel (fuel-saving) restrictions. It was the only season Barrett won more than 12 games. (He was 12-18 in 1943 and 11-12 in 1947).

 

LONG LINE AT THE CONCESSION STAND. DID I MISS ANYTHING?

On September 28, 191, the New York Giants topped the Philadelphia Phillies in a nine-inning contest that took just 51 minutes – tho shortest nine-inning game in MLB history. What is somewhat surprising is that, while both pitchers – Lee Meadows (Phillies) and Jesse Barnes (Giants) – went the distance, the game featured seven runs, 18 hits and three walks.  Meadows gave up six runs (five earned) on 13 hits, while Barnes surrendered just one run on five safeties.

For those interested in such things, the shortest-ever 18-inning doubleheader (Remember those?) in MLB history took place between the Yankees and (St. Louis) Browns on September 26, 1926 – taking just two hours and seven minutes. The Brown swept the Bombers, winning Game One 6-1 in one hour and 12 minutes and taking Game Two 6-2 in just 55 minutes (the shortest-ever American League contest). The two games featured 45 hits and seven walks.  My, how the game has changed.

Barrett, while “starring” in only one MLB season, did show promise in the minors. He went 159-122, with a 3.41 ERA in 12 minor league seasons – including four seasons of twenty or more victories. In 1942, Barrett was the (Double A) International League’s Most Valuable player (for the Syracuse Chiefs), leading the league with 20 wins (12 losses); 34 starts; 25 complete games; and seven shutouts.  He also fanned a league-topping 114 batters in 268 innings.

Key resources:  Society for American Baseball Research; Baaseball-Reference.com; Baseball-Almanac.com.

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Ballpark Tours 2017 – Day Four – Baseball and Bloody Mary’s – Fist Bump

Sunday morning, and the last day of our baseball extended weekend.  The bus was leaving the hotel at 8:30 a.m. and the early morning saw groups of happy Ballpark Tour-ers hitting local coffee shops for hot java, baked goods and the sharing of tales from the night before.  (Note:  Some of those memories were a little fuzzy, but all of them were quite enjoyable – fine dinners, music and dancing, rib-tickling comedy and ample libation.  You get the idea.

My Saturday night included a meal at a nearby true “family” Italian restaurant, where our small group met an octogenarian who overheard the baseball chatter and immediately issued us a baseball trivia challenge.  (His first words were, “I’ve got one for you gentlemen (didn’t know us well), can you name – by position – all the players who have won consecutive Most Valuable Player Awards? ”  With that the game was on and the challenges flew back and forth.

But, back to Sunday, we rolled into Appleton, Wisconsin and the Fox Cities Stadium lot about an hour before game time.  Good thing, too.  There was lots going on.  A parking lot full of tailgaters, grills smoking and beverages raised in toast as our bus cruised through the lot.  Inside, we found some great concessions, a Sunday Bloody Mary Bar, a poster give-away, free programs, baseball Bingo and even a visit by Curious George.

Free MRI’s?

D4NeuThe full name of the ballpark in Appleton is “neuroscience group field at Fox Cities Stadium.”  (Their lower case on the first letters of neuroscience group field.

Appleton’s Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are in the same division in the same league (Class A – Midwest League) as the Beloit Snappers (who we visited on Day One), but there was no comparison. While Beloit drew a quiet crowd of just over 700 (and we all thought that was a generous accounting), the Timber Rattlers brought in close to 5,000 (4,844 announced) and they were into the action.  (For more on our Beloit experience, click here.). I thought it might be the quality of play, but I checked the standings once I got home and Beloit was one game over .500, while the Rattlers were 21-under.  I guess that Snappers really need that new stadium, they are raising money for.

Timber Rattlers’ Sunday Bloody Mary Bar

d4BloodyWell, how can you not give five stars to a Bloody Mary you make yourself?  We were at Fox Cities Stadium (Appleton, WI) as the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers hosted the Cedar Rapids Kernels. We were also – through our good luck or, perhaps, great planning by our tour operator – there on a Sunday.  That means we were in the house for Bloody Mary Day.

At two locations in the stadium, the Timber Rattlers set up make-your-own Bloody Mary Bars.  For $9.25, you get a very generous pour of vodka in a Timber Rattlers souvenir mug.  Then, you slide to the left and get to work on your own creation. You have a lot of choices as you “Build Your Bloody”:

  • Six mixes – from Classic to Super Spicy Jalapeño;
  • Bitters, Worcestershire, Tabasco;
  • Pepper and celery salt;
  • Cheese cubes, beef sticks, olives, marinated mushrooms, celery sticks, dill pickle spears.

I went with horseradish mix, bitters, Tabasco, cheese cubes (three), olives (two), mushrooms (two), a dill pickle spear and plenty of celery salt to top it off.  Pretty much everyone on the tour agrees – a solid, five-star, Bloody Mary experience. Many of our tourers left with the beginnings of a nice “set’ of Timber Rattlers’ mugs.

Ballpark Tours "spindoctor" visits the Bloody Mary Bar.

Ballpark Tours “spindoctor” visits the Bloody Mary Bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, to the game.

D4seatsWe had great seats, just behind home plate (and our tickets got us access to the bar and seating on the Fox Club Level).  The ballpark was beautiful (as MOST are) – bright green grass, sunshine, deep blue sky and a very informative scoreboard.  (If I had one complaint, it was a lack of vendors moving through the aisles, but the concessions stands were all very close.)

The game itself was crisply played – a 4-0 Cedar Rapids’ win, with no errors, a total of only 11 hits, and three or four nice defensive plays. I had a bit of an “Is this what the game has come to?” feeling, as – just as in Saturday’s Cubs/Nationals tilt – we saw too many strikeouts (23 in each contest).

D4CarrierThe star of the game – who was declared by our group as the King of the Cup Game (see the section of this post on The Cup Game) – was Cedar Rapids’ right fielder Shane Carrier.  Carrier – a 2016 eighth-round Twins’ draft pick – started the season with the Rookie Level Elizabethan Twins, where he hit .348, with five home runs and 32 RBI in 32 games.  (He went .275-6-29 at Elizabethan in 2016.) In the first 30 games since his promotion to Cedar Rapids, he had hit .214 with one home run.  He upped his game on Sunday.  In his first at bat, he pulled a home run to left field; in his second trip to the plate he launched a long home run to center; and in his third at bat, he banged a double off the wall in right.  He ended the day three-for-four with two runs scored, two RBI and ten total bases. Being from Minnesota, we will keep an eye on this 21-year-old.

Another Kernel who looked good was southpaw starting (and winning) pitcher Charlie Barnes – a fourth round Twins’ pick in 2017.  Barnes went 2-1, with a 1.19 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings pitched at Elizabethan before his promotion to Cedar Rapids. Yesterday, he went five innings giving up no runs, two hits and one walk – while fanning seven.  In his first professional season (at Elizabeth and Cedar Rapids combined), Barnes is 3-1, with a 0.85 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings.

d4concessSide Note:  I earlier noted the solid concession offerings.  A trio recommended by Ballpark Tour trekkers who tried them: Cajun Chicken Mac & Cheese Sandwich; Mad Dog & Merrill Piggy Burger (Burger topped with pulled port, Merrill BBQ sauce and Onion Tanglers; and Mad Dog and Merrill Pulled pork and Slaw. They run between $7.50 and $10 – and bring a fresh taste to the ballpark experience.  You can see the Cajun Chicken Mac & Cheese to the left. 

The Cup Game

A Ballpark Tours’ favorite pastime witthin the National Pastime is THE CUP GAME, which a group of eight of us played in Appleton.  Here’s the idea.  First, you need an empty beer cup.  (You can either ask a vendor for one, or buy a full one and empty it. I suggest the latter). Then you pick a batting order of Cup Game players (this determines the order in which you will receive the Sacred Cup).  As each hitter comes to the plate, the Cup is passed to the next Cup Game participant. 

If your player makes an out, gets hit by a pitch, is safe on error or fielder’s choice, you put a quarter in the Cup and pass it on to the next Cup Game participant. If your player gets a hit, you empty the Cup – you are an instant winner – and pass the empty Cup on.  If your player hits a home run, you empty the Cup, pass it on and get an extra quarter from each Cup Game participant.  Side note: The second time the cup came into my hands, the batter hit a home run – pretty much assuring me of a profitable outcome.

After the game, it was back on the bus, where the lively “Back of the Bus” crowd entertained with, literally, hours of group karaoke (think a flash mob singing 60’s-70’s-and 80’s rock to a boom box) and the front the bus kept wondering when the group at the back would finally tire out.  The trip home, back in Saint Paul by about 9:30 p.m., included a couple of rest stops (one for a fast food meal) and the usual BPT Awards ceremony. Awards go to those who achieve veteran status (three trips), the best rookies on the trip and, when so deserved, to those credited with memorable “missteps.”

So, that’s it for Ballpark Tours Bleacher Bums XXXV.  You can check out Day One, here; Day Two, here; Day Three, here.  Or look at past tours, using the link ats the top of the Baseball Roundtable home page.  You can also visit the Ballpark Tours website, here.

So long, for now.  You normally scheduled blogging will resume shortly.

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Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; Baseball Bloggers Association.

Ballpark Tours 2017 – Day Three – Back to Wrigley

Day Three of Ballpark Tours Bleacher Bums XXXV – saw our group headed back to Wrigley to watch a pair of division leaders (Nationals and Cubs) face off.  We were a bit luckier with the weather – 79 degrees and sunny. Today, we also got to see the home town Cubs bring home a victory (7-4) – which also meant we got to hear the crowd belt out the “Go, Cubs Go” victory song. Note: For the post on Day One, click here.  Day Two, here.

w3ballparkOur seats were on the lower deck just to the right of first base.  The overhanging deck did not turn out to be a problem in tracking game action, although we did have a restricted view of the video board. The Cubs get kudos for: 1) Not calling the multiple ceremonial pitches “first pitches,” but rather simply ceremonial pitches; and 2) Having only two ceremonial pitches.  However, it was perhaps the slowest version of the National Anthem I’ve heard at a ballpark (it is supposed to be sung/played at a brisk pace.). To be fair, the crowd loved it, so maybe I need to quite griping.

MORNING GLORY

In the morning, a number of BPT trekkers took in the multi-block Farmers’ Market on Division Street, just a half block from our hotel. Flowers, vegetables, great baked (read breakfast) treats, live music, arts and more.  A great way to start a Saturday.

Today’s ball game “seemed” to be pretty much decided early, as Nationals’ starter Edwin Jackson gave up hits to five of the first six batters he faced (two doubles, two singles and a home run). Ultimately, the Cubs scored four runs in the first – and it could have been worse. Nationals’ right fielder Bryce Harper, who had homered in the top of the first  (his 28th of the season) to give Washington a short-lived 1-0 lead, made a great one-hop throw to third base – cutting down Cubs’ LF Willson Contreras (yes, there are two L’s), who was attempting to go from first to third on a single by 2B Ben Zobrist. Remarkably,  starting with the final out of the first inning, Jackson righted the ship, retiring 12 of the next 13 batters (giving up just an infield single) – striking out eight. When he left (for a pinch hitter) after five innings the Nationals had closed to 4-3, and Cubs’ fans were getting nervous.

The Cubs tacked on some insurance with a two-run home run by Contreras (his 19th) in the sixth (newcomer Alex Avila hit a two-run shot in that disastrous first inning – his first hit as a Cub) and another run in the seventh.  Those were charged to a pair of relievers named Matt – Matt Grace for two tallies and Matt Albers for the other.  The Nationals scored once in the top of the eighth to keep it interesting and had Bryce Harper at the plate (as the tying run) with two out in the ninth. Cubs’ closer Wade Davis (who walked two and fanned two) struck out Harper swinging (with the crowd standing and cheering) for the final out and his 23rd save.

As with almost all games, there was plenty to see: a few sparkling defensive plays, three home runs, a couple of stolen bases – as well as three errors and too many walks (seven) and strikeouts (23). We saw a total of nine pitchers (five Cubs/four Nationals), the most effective of whom might have been Washington’s Sam Solis, whose 2017 ERA is 11.81, but who (in this contest) pitched 1 2/3 innings, facing six batters and striking out four.  Stars of the tilt: Cubs’ Willson Contreras (catcher turned left fielder) with a home run and a single in four at bats, a run scored and three RBI; Cubs’ catcher Alex Avila with a two-run homer in four at bats; Nationals’ RF Bryce Harper with a home run and a single in four at bats, two runs scored and an RBI; Cubs’ pitchers who gave up just two earned runs.

All in all, another pleasant and interesting afternoon at the ballpark.

BREAKFAST/BRUNCH

w3foodI should note that I joined with a group of trekkers that headed to the The Scout Waterhouse + Kitchen in the South Loop (1301 South Wabash Avenue) before the game.  The Scout is known as a friendly sports bar, with great pub food.  It did not disappoint – in terms of atmosphere, friendliness, service or food.

Our choices were Scout’s signature Foot-Long Triple Cheese Grilled Cheese (with tomato-basil dip); Fried Egg and Ham Foot-Long Grilled Cheese; Breakfast Burrito (pulled chicken, chorizo, multiple cheeses, scrambled eggs, black beans, corn, cholula sour cream – in a whole wheat tortilla), Pot Roast Benny (English muffin, Black Angus pot roast and poached eggs topped with chipotle hollandaise); and the more traditional scrambled eggs and smoked bacon.

w3cakeThe food was great, the service friendly and exceptional and – to top it off – the guys told our server I was celebrating my 70th birthday on the trip and she soon arrived with a birthday cake to share around the table. No wonder this place is so popular.w3waitress

 

 

 

 

THE NIGHT LIFE

Tonight, groups are heading out to a variety of ethnic restaurants, blues bars and comedy clubs. (Ballpark Tours always leaves ample unstructured time to enjoy local arts, food and culture.) Not sure where I’ll end up yet, but I am reporting on the day now (rather than tomorrow morning as is my custom on these tour diaries) because our bus leaves at 8:30 a.m. for a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game, so I won’t have time to blog tomorrow.

At any rate – more to come.

 

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Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  

Ballpark Tours 35th Anniversary (Day Two) – and My 70th Birthday – At Wrigley

Ballpark Tours - Day Two Wrigley!

Ballpark Tours – Day Two Wrigley!

Day Two of Bleacher Bums XXXV (Ballpark Tours 35th Anniversary Trek) started with a rather overcast Chicago sky. Still, it looked pretty good to our hardy group of trekkers. After all, we were going to a ballgame. For a look at Day 1 – Beloit Snapper, click here.

 From about 11:00 a.m. to noon, small groups gathered in the Hotel Indigo lobby and began to make their way to the EL for the short ($3) ride to Wrigleyville. As always, the EL ride was filled with fans decked out in Cubs (and, in this case, Nationals) gear – and the conversations focused on beer and baseball (as in “Where should we go for a beer before the baseball game?”).

w2cubbyOur group answered that question with “The Cubby Bear” – one of the many sports-themed bars near Wrigley Field.  No surprise, it was packed.  We spent some time there – think loud music, laughter and lots of appetizers flying out of the kitchen – before heading to the ballpark.  If you are going to Wrigley, you also have to go to Wrigleyville (pre- and post-game.)

Our seats for the Friday afternoon game where on the upper deck, right-field corner.  While it may sound like a long ways from home plate, the site lines were fine.  The wind chill, however was another story.  It was darn cold – 63 degrees, overcast and windy – and I was in a short-sleeve pullover shirt.  (By the fifth inning, I actually made my way to the gift shop to look over the Cubs’ sweatshirts and hoodies.  I discovered, however, that I was not $75 cold yet.  Fortunately, in the sixth, a fellow BPT trekker, who had and extra Ball Perk Tours 30th Anniversary windbreaker, made me a much welcomed loan.

 

w2bloodyThe Bloody Mary – from the Jim Beam Patio (below and behind the Press Box) – was solid. A generous pour, just the right amount of celery salt and you could order it spicy or mild (go for spicy). My only recommendation would be that the Cubbies go beyond the slice of lime in terms of condiments.  A couple of olives or a dill pickle spear would add just the right touch of flavor.  Still, worth the $10.50 – especially considering the Cubs are World Champions.  (I, however, am looking forward to the Timber Rattlers Sunday Bloody Mary Bar – reviewed on these pages before – a true Baseball and Bloody Mary Bargain.)

 

Putting on a poncho in the wind was a challenge.

Putting on a poncho in the wind was a challenge.

It was a good ball game (although we didn’t get to hear the Go, Cubs, Go victory song), won by the Nationals 4-2.  With these two clubs, there were plenty of All Stars in the lineups and Nationals’ 2B Daniel Murphy’s star shone the brightest. Murphy bashed his 18th and 19th home runs of the season – going three-for-four with two runs and three RBI. We also got to see the Nationals’ revamped bullpen at work.  In July, the Nats (who, at the time, had a bullpen ERA north of 5.00) acquired Brandon Kintzler from the Twins and two A’s with closing experience in Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. All three pitched (seventh, eighth and ninth) giving Washington 2 2/3 innings of one-hit, three-strikeout  ball, For a look at the major July moves by contenders, click here.

The Cubs also benefitted from the long ball, a seventh-inning, two-run shot by SS Javier Baez, but it wasn’t enough. From BBRT’s point of view, I was pleased to see lots of infield work – and a pair of groundball double plays.

The most unique play of the day came in the bottom of the second.  Cubs’ second baseman Ben Zobrist led off with a walk (Tanner Roark pitching for the Nationals). LF Kyle Schwarber then fanned, bringing up RF Jason Heyward, who lifted a soft fly to medium center field – a can of corn for CF Brian Goodwin.  Oops! Goodwin totally whiffed on the fly ball – don’t know if it even got near his glove. RF Bryce Harper was there to field it on a bounce and fire the ball to Roark (covering second because 2B Daniel Murphy had also given chase).  Zobrist, who had help up (like all of us, expecting the fly to be caught), was forced at second (right field-to-pitcher); the first time I can recall writing 9-1 on my scorecard. (Probably would have been a TWIN-GO winner.)

w2foodaAfter the game, small groups from the tour headed out for a post-contest libation – while we waited for the EL lines to dwindle a bit.  Our group chose the nearby Raw Bar – the three-block walk just far enough to thin the crowds some.  Later, it was back to the Lodge, which has become a sort of gathering place for BPTers, meeting to discuss what type of cuisine and atmosphere to pursue for the evening meal.

I ended up with a group of four at Eduardo’s (half block from the hotel), where we dined on a four-cheese appetizer, seared-tuna salad, Spaghetti Boulegnese, prosciutto and arugula pizza, pepperoni pizza and a nice Chianti.  Another Ballpark Tours group semi-anonymously picked up the tab on the wine (for my 70th birthday, now a day behind me) and the restaurant gave us a free round of Lemoncello for dessert.w2food

All in all a great day.  And for Saturday – another Cubs/Nationals tilt.

More to come.

 

 

 

 

 

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Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; Baseball Bloggers Alliance

Ballpark Tours – The Moving Feast (or Fest)

Thursday morning August 3, 2017 and Ballpark Tours is on the road again – and so am I.

Those who follow Baseball Roundtable may remember last year’s Ballpark Tours (BPT) trek – ten days-ten ball games-seven cities; with Independent, A, AA, AAA and Major League ball and extra nights in Memphis, Nashville and Kansas City.

This year’s trip is less ambitious as BPT is celebrating its 35th anniversary by revisiting its first trip.  So, it A-Ball in Beloit and Appleton, Wisconsin, sandwiched around a pair of games at Wrigley Field and three nights in Chicago. Topping it off for me is that I will celebrate my 70th birthday (August 4) at in Wrigleyville.

So, at about 9:30 a.m., 46 touring baseball fans – most friends from previous BPT trips (this is my 29th such adventure) – board our coach and headed for a Beloit Snappers/Peoria Chiefs game. Lots of smiles, hugs and baseball stories and we renew old frienships and begin new ones.

WshnirtIt started out like a typical BPT jaunt, plenty of music and noise at the back of the bus, a more subdued (almost studious) atmosphere at the front.  Then, of course, there was the usual BPT hoopla – some provided by the tour operator (Thanks, Julian), and even more by the paying customers (think Tom Sawyer and the fence whitewashing scheme.)  As we board, we received out upgraded tour T-shirts and the chance to purchase some ultra-fine BPT 35th Anniversary swag.

Then it was off to Beloit, with a stop at the Leinenkugel Brewery on the way. (Ballpark Tours in big on brewery stops.)  Even before we got to the brewery tours and ice cold beer samples, the festivities began on the bus.  First, complementary cognac shots – in honor of my birthday – then the (now traditional) mid-bus Bloody Mary Bar, which opened at 10.30 a.m. And, of course, the walking-down-the-aisle proof that tequila is not just for breakfast any more.  As we rolled, on travelers shared check mix, chocolate chip cookies, cherries, donuts, chips and more.  Then to top it off, the associate pope (who often appears on these trips) shared crackers, cheese, “mystery meats” and even pickled herring.  (And, we haven’t even had a lunch stop, yet.)

There was also a baseball book exchange, the announcement of the “Guess How Many Runs are scored in MLB this Weekend?” contest and distribution of the baseball trivia “K-Kwiz.”  By this time, the tunes being played at the back of the bus were being joined by on-the-bus voices.  We were clearly on an early roll.

I found a good seat for the brewery picnic.

I found a good seat for the brewery picnic.

First stop, the Lienie’s Brewery (tours and tastings), where we were quickly informed to “Form a single file line” … “Listen up, I’m only gonna say this once” … and a number of tour-specific rules (from wearing safety glass to no photos to don’t step across the yellow lines). A little stern, but remember, the ultimate goal was free beer.  After (and during) the tours/tastings, we gathered for a covered (Oh yes, it was raining) picnic lunch (bring your own) on the brewery patio.  (Like we all needed even more to eat.)

Then back on the bus to Beloit (arrival about 6 p.m.), where we were served a pre-game tailgate dinner (hot dogs, brats, potato salad, chips, fruit, water, soda and up to three beers each).

Now to the game. Rain was still threatening and (in a less than wise decision), the Beloit Snappers front office choose to move the 7:00 p.m. start to 7:40.  (During the interim only a few drizzling drops fell.)

Once the game was ready to start, two youngsters from our group were called upon to throw a pair of “first” pitches.  A thrill for the kids and kudos to the tourmaster. Still, my question remains, how “first” pitches can you have? Last night, there were five.

The Snapper mascot attempted to quiet one of our touring fans. Good luck with that!

The Snapper mascot attempted to quiet one of our touring fans. Good luck with that!

The game?  The unusual Class A fare.  The Peoria Chiefs jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first five innings, and then the Beloit Snappers (snapping turtle mascot) stormed back to win it 7-6 in ten innings. (Weather delay, extra innings and a couple hundred miles to Chicago post-game … not the ideal combination.)

I might add that the Snappers walked their way to victory, Chiefs’ reliever Dewin Perez walked the bases full in the bottom of the tenth (around one out) and then gave up a walk-off sacrifice fly to Snappers’ CF/Leadoff Mike Martin.  In fact, during the contest, Peoria pitchers walked nine batters – four of whom scored.  (And, the tying run scored in the eighth on a wild pitch.)

A few other highlights:

 

 

  • An announced crowd of 715 – which looked like about 300 fewer and sounded like 700 fewer. (It was disturbingly quiet when the stadium music wasn’t blasting. Except, perhaps in our section.)
  • Home runs by Peoria 1B Juan Yepez (his seventh) and Beloit 1B Miguel Mercedes (his 14th).
  • A couple very nifty backhand plays for Peoria 3B Danny Hudzina. (In fact, there were a half dozen fine fielding plays, sprinkled among a pair of errors by Beloit SS Eric Marinez.
  • A four-for-four night by Snappers’ number-nine hitter SS Kramer Robertson (makes up for those two errors), who came into the game hitting about .220 and left hitting .248.
  • Several “final calls” on the 50-50 Raffle (the team’s 50 percent was earmarked for new ballpark – which by all “appearances” would be a good idea.
  • Some snapping-turtle-based heckling. (For example, as the Snapper fell behind, “It a turtle disaster” and, as they made their comeback You’ve got ‘em shell-shocked now.”

FieldlerBeing from Minnesota, our group cheered loudest for Peoria RF Matt Fiedler, an Eagan, Minnesota native, who also played for the University of Minnesota – where he was the team’s ace pitcher and one of its top hitters. As a Junior, in 2016, Fiedler was named Big Ten Player of the Year and was Academic All Big Ten.  on the mound, he went 7-4, 4.32 in 16 starts (4-0, 3.33 in the Big Ten). At the plate, he hit .366 with eight home runs.

In 28 games for Peoria, Fiedler has hit .273-2-7 … but he’s been hot as of late, hitting .389 over his past ten games. 

After Beloit, it was back on the bus for the run to Chicago – lights were outs and, thankfully, the eating had ceased.  We checked into the Hotel Indigo in Chicago’s Gold Coast at about 12:30 a.m. (I had aged a year during the day).  Great hotel as always – thanks Ballpark Tours.  Today – Wrigley and the World Champion Cubs.

More to come.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro League’s Baseball Museum. Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Walk Up Music for the July Trade Deadlines Top Buyers

It’s All Over Now – The Rolling Stones (the cover was their first #1 hit)

The July 31 (Non-Waiver) Trade Deadline has passed and, as always, there was a flurry of activity as contenders looked to bolster their squads for the division races and post season – and non-contenders looked to bring new prospects into their systems.  In this post, Baseball Roundtable will take a look at some of the most significant acquisitions – made by the most active “buyers.”  Here’s my take on the nine teams that most improved their chances to be a part of the 2017 post-season – with a Walk-Up Song for each.

YANKEES – GRADE: A

Gray Skies Are Gonna Clear up – from Tony Bennet’s “Put On A Happy Face”

Sonny Gray Photo by Keith Allison

Sonny Gray    Photo by Keith Allison

The Bronx Bombers – in a battle with the rival Red Sox for the AL East – added pitching and power. They won the sweepstakes for much sought after right-handed starter (2015 All Star) Sonny GRAY of the A’s and added lefty starter Jaime Garcia (67-52, 3.65 over nine seasons) from the Braves (after Garcia made a one-appearance cameo with the Twins). Those moves addressed the Yankees’ biggest shortcoming – starting pitching.

The Yankees, however, did not stop there.  The pinstripers also added bullpen strength in David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle from the White Sox. Robertson is a former closer, with a 2.95 ERA over 561 career appearances, while Kahnle boasted a 2.50 ERA in 37 appearances this season.   And, to put just a little frosting on the cake, they picked up veteran power hitter Todd Frazier – also from the White Sox.  It was quite a July haul for the Bombers.

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DODGERS – GRADE: A

It Had to Be Y(o)u … Frank Sinatra

It had to be Yu Darvish. Photo by mikelachance816

It had to be Yu Darvish. Photo by mikelachance816

While they may have the best record in baseball, the Dodgers did not rest on their laurels – they were wheeling and dealing right up until the final bell. In fact, at the bell, they picked up the top prize of the trading season – four-time All Star RHP YU Darvish from the Rangers.  Darvish makes an already strong rotation even stronger; fills a temporary void left by Clayton Kershaw’s stint on the DL; and sets up a post-season rotation of Kershaw, Darvish, Rich Hill and Alex Wood.

But Darvish isn’t the only factor in Los Angeles’ “A” rating. The Dodgers also needed to bolster their portside bullpen options.  They earned a Tony Award there, with the acquisition of lefty relievers Tony Watson from the Pirates (3.66 ERA in 47 appearances this season) and Tony Cingrani (a 17-save season in 2016) from the Reds.  Watson is likely make the biggest difference of that pair.

So, the team with the best record in baseball got even better.  That’s clearly worth an A.

WHAT’S THE BIG HURRY?

For those who don’t know why there is such a rush to beat the deadline – trades after the July 31 Non-Waiver Deadline get a bit more complicated.  Before the deadline, teams can make trades without putting the affected players on waivers. After July 31, traded players must clear (revocable) waivers. This means any other team may claim the player – with claims considered in reverse order the teams’ won-loss records. The team with the worst record gets the first opportunity to make a claim, the team with the second-worst record (if the first team does not make a claim) gets the next opportunity and on up the line.

If a claim is made, the team putting the player’s name up can: 1) Make a trade with the claiming club; 2) Let the player go to the claiming club for no return; 3) Keep the player (take him off waivers). So, in order to make a preferred trade, the player has to make it through the waivers process (at least up the line to the waiver position of the team that the offering team wants to deal with.)

NATIONALS – GRADE: B+

Feelin’ Stronger Everyday – Chicago

The Nationals may be running away with the AL East, but they recognized the need to build a STRONGER bullpen (with its ERA north of 5.00) if they were going to advance in the post season. (Read, “Get past the Dodgers.”)

They earned a solid B+  by getting that job done.  The Nationals added Twins’ All Star closer Brandon Kintzler (28 saves this season) and two relievers from the A’s:  Ryan Madson (a 12-year veteran with a 2.06 ERA with Oakland this season and a 30-save season in 2016) and Sean Doolittle (an All Star closer for the A’s in 2014.)  Suddenly, a weakness has the potential to be a strength.

Earlier in July, Washington also added versatile Howie Kendrick – a dependable bat off the bench – who was hitting .340 in 39 games for the Phillies at the time of the trade. Kendrick a 12-year MLB veteran has a career average just over .290.

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE … FROM “BUYER” TO “SELLER”

The Twins went into their July 24 game with a 49-48 record, trailing the AL Central leading Indians by just 2 ½ games.  In the trade deadline market, they were buyers (not sellers) announcing the acquisition of Braves’ starting pitcher Jaime Garcia to bolster a suspect Minnesota rotation.  A week – and five losses in six games –  later,  the Twins were 50-53, seven games out and had become “sellers.”   Garcia, after just one start (the team’s lone win while he was on the Minnesota roster), was gone to the Yankees. Soon after, Twins’ All Star closer Brandon Kintzler (and his 28 saves) was on his way to the Nationals.

CUBS – GRADE: B+

This Could be the Start of Something Good – Exile

jOSE qUINTANA photo

Jose Quintana –   Photo by Keith Allison

The defending World Champions, who recently chased down the Brewers to take first place in the NL Central, made one of the earlier moves of the July “trading season,” acquiring STARTer Jose Quintana from the White Sox. The 2016 All Star was off to a bit of a rough start this season (4-8, 4.49 for the ChiSox), but went 2-1, 2.37 in three starts since moving across town. He should provide plenty of quality starts down the stretch and into the post season.

The Cubs also added reserve catcher Alex Avila and southpaw reliever Justin Wilson from the Tigers.  Avila provides a bit more punch from the backup-backstop spot, but the gem in the Tigers’ trade is Wilson – a proven power arm for the pen. At the time of the trade, Wilson had a 2.68 ERA in 42 appearances and had fanned 55 batters in 40 1/3 innings.

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DIAMONDBACKS – GRADE B

The Force Behind the Power – Diana Ross

jd MARTINEZ photo

Photo by GabboT

The D-backs added Tigers’ slugger J.D. Martinez (hitting .305-16-39 for Detroit) – adding a veteran POWER source to the lineup.  Martinez was the best offensive player moved in July.  Martinez’ bat bolsters the middle of the D-backs’ lineup and provides much-need protection for Arizona MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt. (Martinez hit five home runs in his first nine games for the D-backs.)

The D-backs also traded for A’s utility player Adam Rosales – to compensate for injuries to the infield corps – and added  veteran reliever David Hernandez from the Angels (2.23 ERA in 38 appearances this season) to help out in the bullpen. Not as flashy as some of the other contenders, but positive additions. Considering where the Dodgers are, the Diamondbacks are fighting for a Wild Card spot – and Martinez should win a few games for them.

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RED SOX – GRADE: B

Sparks Will Fly – Rolling Stones

Boston added depth to their offense by picking up Eduardo Nunez from the Giants. Nunez brings plenty of offensive SPARK.  In 2016, he hit .288, with 16 home runs and 40 stolen bases for the Twins/Giants – and he can hold his own defensively at multiple positions. The Red Sox also added hard-throwing southpaw Addison Reed to serve a key setup role in the pen. Reed consistently fans 1+  batters per inning and has 125 MLB saves to his credit.  Still, the Yankees appear to have won the July trade market battle – and perhaps the East Division as well.

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ROCKIES – GRADE: B-

Catcher in the Rye – Guns and Roses  (Dang, couldn’t come up with a Pat song)

Like Arizona, Colorado is a legitimate Wild Card contender. (Unfortunately, in the AL West 14 games over .500 leaves you 14 games out of the division lead.) The Rockies took a cautious approach to the July trade market, but did add to the offense and the bullpen.  Veteran reliever Pat Neshek (a two-time All Star with a 2.77 ERA over 11 seasons), acquired from the Phillies, should give the Rockies some solid innings. Neshek was an All Star this season and brought a 3-2 record with a 1.12 ERA to the Rocks.

In addition, the acquisition of CATCHER Jonathan Lucroy (Rangers) gives the Rockies a veteran presence to help a young pitching staff.  Lucroy – who hit .292, with 24 home runs, in 2016 – has the potential add to the offense (particularly in Coors’ light air).  At the time of the trade, he was hitting .242, with four homers and 27 RBI (in 77 gamers) for the Rangers. He’ll need to up is game to help the Rockies.

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RAYS – GRADE: B

Zip-A-Dee-“DOO-DAH ” – Johnny Mercer

lucas duda photo

Lucas Duda.     Photo by slgckgc

The Rays are trying to stay in the AL East chase, but a Wild Card spot seems more likely.  They added a needed power-bat in 1B/OF Lucas DUDA from the Mets. Duda is a solid 20-30 home run power source – and hit three homers in his first four games as a Ray. In addition, the Rays bolstered their bullpen with the acquisitions of three veteran arms in Sergio Romo (who was having a rough season with the Dodgers, but has a career 2.79 ERA over 10 campaigns);  Steve Cishek (who was carrying a 3.15 ERA with the Mariners and has a 2.81 ERA over eight MLB seasons) and Dan Jennings (with a 2.88 ERA over six seasons).

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ROYALS – GRADE: C

Hey, Hey, We’re the Melky(s) – The Monkees (Okay, I took some liberties here>)

The Royals reinserted themselves into the AL Central race and became buyers in the July marketplace. They added MELKY Cabrera from the White Sox. Cabrera was hitting .295-13-56, typical of the production you can expect from him.  The Royals also bolstered the rotation by picking up Trevor Cahill form the Padres (where he had a 3.69 ERA in 11 starts this season). Newcomers Brandon Mauer (Padres) and Ryan Buchter (Padres) may provide bullpen help.  Overall, Cabrera is likely to be the biggest difference maker. Still looks like the Indians have too much to be overtaken.

I tweet basesball @DavidBBRT

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Member:  Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

JULY WRAP – One team rakes at a .323 pace, another puts up a 2.60 ERA.

It’s August 1, which means it’s time for Baseball Roundtable’s look back at July – the stats, the stories and the highlights. We could call July Dodger Month, Beltre Month, Altuve Month,  Paxton Month or maybe even Devers Month.  Here are a few notable highlights:

  • Adrian Beltre had a milestone month – picking up his 3,000th base hit (July 30); 5,000th total base (July 7); and 1,600th RBI (July 14). Better start clearing a sport on the wall at Cooperstown.
  • The Dodgers went a sparkling 20-3 for the month, expanding their NL West Division lead to 14 games over the Diamondbacks.
  • The Astros’ Jose Altuve’s month of July included a 19-game hitting streak, during which he hit .524.
  • James Paxton was the only pitcher to win six games – going 6-0, with a 1.37 ERA for the Mariners – who went only 8-12 in the games Paxon didn’t start.
  • Boston Red Sox’ rookie Rafael Devers was a .296 hitter over four minor league seasons, but he appears to like major league pitching even better. The 20-year-old made his major league debut on July 25 (becoming MLB’s youngest active player) and, in six July games, hit .417 (10-for-24) with two home runs, four RBI and four runs scored.
  • The Astros hit a remarkable .323 at a team for July (the only team above .300), while the Dodgers put up a stingy 2.60 ERA for the montk (the only team below 3.00).

Still, the best moniker for July might be trade deadline month – as lots of players were moved as we approached the July 31 trade deadline.   We’ll take a look at all this and the month’s highlight and statistical leaders coming up.  But first the standings and Baseball Roundtable’s Players and Pitchers of the Month.

COMING SOON:  Baseball Roundtable’s look at July trades.

THE STANDINGS

The Dodgers went 20-3 for the month (an .870 winning percentagte) and are now 74-31 on the season – the only team playing .700 ball. Pitching led the way for the boys from LA, as their 2.60 earned run average was far and away the lowest in MLB for the month. While the Dodgers 107 runs scored in July ranked 22nd among MLB teams, they still managed to outscore the opposiution by 38 runs.  Leading the way for the Dodgers in July was the now DL-ed Clayton Kershaw (3-0, 0.72 ERA); the surpising Rich Hill (4-0, 1.45); and, of course, Kenley Jansen with nine saves in ten opportunities.

If you are looking for offense, the Astros rode a month in which they led the majors in runs scored (174); batting average (a resounding .323); and home runs (44) to a 15-9 July record – depite MLB’s ninth worst ERA for the month (5.08).  Leading the way for the Astros were Jose Altuve (.485 for the month); George Springer (.403); Alex Bregman (.329); and Evan Gattis (.322).

Other squads putting up solid July results (at least 15 wins) wer the Cubs and Nationals (16-8), Royals (16-10) and Indians  (15-11).

The worst July record belonged to the White Sox (6-19) in the AL and the Reds (8-18) in the NL.

If the season ended July 31, your playoff teams would be.

AL:  Division Leaders – Yankees, Indians, Astros. Wild Cards: Red Sox and Royals.

NL: Division Leaders: Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers; Wild Cards: Diamondbacks anad Rockies/

Notably, there are three competitive division races: In the NL Central, the Cubs lead the Brewers by 2 ½ games; in the AL Central the Royals are two games back of the Indians; and in the AL East, the Yankees jhold just a ½-game dge on the Red Sox.

A full chart of July 31 standings and month of July won-lost records appears at the end of this  post. 

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BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE PLAYERS AND PITCHERS OF THE MONTH

NL Player of the Montrh – Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies

I love those players who give you plenty of offense AND defense and no one does it better than four-time (in four seasons) Gold Glover at third base Nolan Arenado. He’s also a two-time NL RBI leader (and current 2017 leader) and two-time league home run champ. So, what did he do to earn Player of the Month for July? He hit .389, with eight home runs, 18 runs scored and an MLB-leading 30 RBI (in just 22 games played). Also under consideration were Rockies’ CF Charlie Blackmon, who hit .370, with seven home runs, 13 RBI and an MLB-leading 29 July runs scored. Blackmon also had three triples in July, adding to his season total of 13 three-baggers – six more than the next-best total.  I also took a look at the Marlins’  RF Giancalo Stanton. who led MLB with 12 July home runs – to go with a .289 average and 23 RBI. 

NL Pitcher of the Month – Rich Hill, LHP, Dodgers

This was a tough choice, but I went with Dodgers’ veteran Rich Hill. He went 4-0 in five starts (no NL pitcher won more than four games in July), with a nifty 1.45 ERA (behind only fellow Dodger Clayton Kershaw and the Phillies’ Aaron Nola among National Leaguers with at least 25 innings pitched in July).  The 37-year-old southpaw also walked just five batters, while fanning 40, in 31 innings. Also in the running were Kershaw (3-0, 0.72 in four starts); Nola (3-1, 1.32 with 43 strikeouts in 34 innings); and Max Scherzer (3-0, 2.84 with a league-topping 50 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings.)

AL Player of the Month – Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros

What can you say about a guy who hits an MLB-leading .485 for the month, raps out an MLB-tops 48 hits, gives you a little power (four home runs) and speed (eight stolen bases), while also scoring 22 times and driving  in 21? Jose  Altuve’s July totals incuded a 19-game hitting streak, during which he hit .524, with ten doubles, one triple, four home runs, 21 runs scored and 19 RBI. Clearly, Altuve does it all – and is a deserving Player of the Month.  Also considered were Rangers’ 3B Adrian Beltre who – as noted earlier –  achieved several milestone including his 3,000th MLB hit.  At age 38, Beltre went .341-4-14 for the month.  Clearly, twenty years into an MLB career and Beltre can still rake.   Orioles’ 2B Jonathan Schoop was also on the radar for this recogition after a .343-9-28 month of July. 

AL Pitcher of the Month – James Paxton, LHP, Mariners

James Paxton photo

Photo by hj_west

Mariners’ southpaw James Paxton put up stellar numbers in July – going 6-0, with a 1.37 ERA in six starts.  (Numbers which look even better given Seattle’s 14-12 record for the month.) Paxton also fanned 46 batters, while walking just six, in 39 1/3 Innings. The 28-year-old Paxton is now 11-3 on the season, with a 2.68 ERA.  So, how does it add up?  For July, Paxton was in the AL’s top five  in starts, wins, inning pitched, strikeouts and ERA. Coming into 2017, Paxton was 18-15, 3.43 in fifty MLB starts over four seasons.  Also in the running was Red Sox’ ace Chris Sale (3-1, 1.04 with a league-leading 56 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings.)  

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NOW FOR SOME JULY HIGHLIGHTS

WHAT GOES AROUND, COME AROUND

On July 15,  Cody Bellinger become the first Dodgers’  rookie to hit for the cycle – going four-for-five  – with the requisite single, double, triple and home run – notching three RBI and two runs scored in a 7-1 Dodgers’ win over the Marlins. It was the first four-hit game of the 22-year-old rookie’s career – and his 26th home run of the season. For a look at all the MLB rookies who have hit for the cycle, click here.

IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE HOME RUN – HOW ABOUT A WALK-OFF WALK

Dodgers’ rookie Cody Bellinger added four home runs to his rookie-season total in July – and ended the month at 28.  However, it wasn’t all about the long ball. On July 8, Bellinger propelled the Dodgers to their 60th win of the season (the first team to reach 60 wins in 2017) by waiting out a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the tenth inning – giving  the Dodgers a 5-4 win over Rays in LA.  Of course, as it seems is always the case this year, the long ball did play a part. Bellinger had tied the game with a home run in the bottom of the eighth. Keep an eye of this rookie.  After nine home runs in May and 13 in June, he slippeed to four in July.  Time for some adjustment?

LOOK OUT JOE! HERE COMES THE JUDGE!

Aaron Judge YANKEES photo

Photo by apardavila

On July 7, Yankees’ rookie phenom Aaron Judge hit his 30th home run of the season – eclipsing Joe DiMaggio’s Yankee rookie record of 29 home runs – with plenty of season left. Judege ended July with a stat line of .303-34-75 – leading MLB in home runs and slugging percentage and topping the AL in runs scored and walks. Oh yeah, and he won the All Star Game Home Run Derby.

 

 

CRUZIN’ TO NUMBER 300

On July 7, Seattle DH Nelson Cruz hit his 300th roundtripper as the Mariners bested the Oakland A’s 7-2 to snap an eight-game losing streak – it was his 16th home run of the season and his second in July.  He finished the month with seven July homers, 21 on the season and 305 career blasts.

WOMEN BELONG IN BASEBALL

On July 15, Stacy Piagno made her first start on the mound for the  Sonoma Stompers of the  (independent) Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs – as they took on the Pittsburg Diamonds. Piagno pitched seven innings, giving up just one run on four hits and notching four strikeouts as Sanoma prevailed 16-1.  With that outing, Piagno became the third women to notch a professional baseball victory since the 1950s – following Ila Borders and Eri Yoshida to victories from the hil.

HOW ABOUT SHOWING A LITTLE RESPECT

Max Scherzer - ambushed by the Diamondbacks. Photo by Keith Allison

Max Scherzer –
ambushed by the Diamondbacks.
Photo by Keith Allison

Two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer came into his July 21 start against the Diamondacks with an  11-5, record and a sparkling 2.01 ERA.  The Diamondbacks showed the Nationals’ ace very little respect, however.  After three batters and just ten pitches, the Diamondbacks had three homne runs and a 3-0 lead.  Leadoff hitter/RF  David Peralta homered to deep  right, followed by CF  A.J. Pollock’s blast down the left field line and 3B Jake Lamb’s RF home run. The three round trippers tied the MLB record for consecutive home runs to start a game.

How unexpected was the three-homer barrage? Scherzer had allowed just one home run over 34 2/3 innings in his past five starts. Scherzer did settle down and lasted five innings (eight hits, two walks, five runs and nine strikeouts – no decision) as the Nationals fell to the D-backs 6-5.

PARITY?

The MLB All Star competition is as even as can be: 43 AL wins, 43 NL wins, two ties – AND both teams have scored exactly 361 runs ovr the 88 games.

ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS

On July 23, The Orioles’ Zach Britton set a new AL record by converting his 55th straight save opportunity – pitching a scoreless ninth in a 9-7 win over the Astros.   Britton extended his record with saves (versus the Rangers) on July 29 and July 30.  He’s still a long way form the MLB record, however.  That belongs to  the Dodgers’ Eric Gagne, with 84 straight  conversions from August 28, 2002 to July 3, 2004.

A BALANCED ATTACK

Carlos Santana Indians photo

Photo by Keith Allison

On July 24, 1B Carlos Santana provide some well-blanced offense for the Indians.  The switch hitter homered both left-handed and right-handed, as the Indians stopped the Reds 6-2. It was the fourth time in his career that Santana had homered from both sides of the plate in the same game. For those interested – through June of this year, the feat had been accompliehdd 312 times at the major league level.  In 2017 alone, the Indians have accomplished it four times (Jose Ramirez twice, Francisco Lindor and Santana). Others to go yard from both sides in a game this season include the Yankees’ Aaron Hicks, Astros’ Marwin Gonzalez, Blue Jays’ Kendrys Morales, Dodgers’ Yasmani Grandal and Phillies’ Freddie Galvis. Nick Swisher and Mark Tiexiera share the MLB record for career games with home runs both left- and right-handed at 13.

 

MINOR LEAGUE NO-O-OTE

On Sunday, July 23, the Rookie Level Gulf Cost League (GCL) Nationals used four pitchers to throw a pair of seven-inning no-hitters. In Game One of a doubleheader (a 4-0 Nationals’ win over the Marlins), Joan Baez went six innings (no hits, one walk, seven strikeouts), with Jose Jimenez throwing the final frame. Game Two (Nationals 1 – Marlins 0) saw Jared Johnson go four no-hit innings (one walk, two strikeouts), with Gilberto Chu tossing the final three (no walks, four whiffs.)

A TRIPLE PLAY PRODUCES A RUN – A FIRST FOR FRAZIER

On July 25, in his first at bat at Yankee Stadium, Todd Frazier came to the plate in the bottom of the second inning, with the sacks full and no one out. Matt Holliday was on third, Didi Gregorious on second and Chase Headly on first.  All had reached via singles. Frazier, facing rookie starter Luis Castillo, hit a one-hopper to Reds’ SS Jose Peraza. Peraza tagged second for out number one, then threw to 1B Joey Votto for the second out.  As this traditonal double play was completed, Holliday scored from third. Things then got interesting. Gregorious, who had been on second, stopped between second and third and basically found himself in the proverbial “pickle” between Reds’ 3B Eugenio Suarez and Peraza.   In the end, the Reds recorded a 6-6-3-3-5-6 triple play and the Yankees recorded a run.  Ultimately, the Bronx Bombers prevailed 4-2 – but it was a pretty memorable first Yankee Stadium at bat for Frazieer.  It also was just the tenth time (in 712 triple plays) that a run has scored on an MLB triple killing.

BACK – TO BACK-TO BACK-TO BACK  … AND THEN SOME

On July 27, the Washington Nationals put an exclamaiton point on what some are calling “The Year of the Home Run” by tying a pair of MLB long-ball records – powering an MLB-record-tying four consecutive home runs and a record-tying five home runs  in an inning. The third-inning outburst led to seven runs as Washington topped the Brewers 15-2 in D.C.  It was the only the sixth time an MLB team has notched a five-dinger inning (and the eighth time a team had rappeed four consecutive home runs) and featured long balls by CF Brian Goodwin (his tenth of the season); SS Wilmer Difo (third of the season); RF Bryce Harper (27th); 1B Ryan Zimmerman (21st); and 3B Anthony Rendon (21st).  For full details on the other record holders, click  here.

WORKING ON THE SOUTH 40

No player has ever hit 40 home runs in a Royals’ uniform (they are the only team without a 40-HR player in their history), but Mike Moustakas seems to be on his way. On July 28, Moustakas ripped his 30th home run of the 2017 season – a three-run shot as the Royals topped the Red Sox 4-2 in Boston.  (It was the streaking Royals ninth straight win.)  The home run made “Moose” the fastest Royal to reach thirty long balls – coming in his 364th at bat of the season. Previously, another third sacker – Gary Gaetti – was the quickest Royal to thirty dingers in a campaign at 410 ats bats (in 1995).  Gaetti hit 35 that season, one short of Steve Balboni’s Royals’ record.  Nicknames seem to be all the rage for Royals’ home run hitters – Moustakas is known as “Moose,” Gaetti as “G-Man” or “Rat” and Balboni as “Bye Bye.”

 

——STAT TIME … FOR THE MONT OF JULY AND YEAR-TO-DATE (throogh July 31)—-

—–TEAM BATTING LEADERS … MONTH OF JULY—–

Average (MLB Average – .257)

NL:  Rockies- .297;  Marlins – .279; Dodgers – .275; Nationals – .275

AL: Astros – .323; Tigers – .280; Royals – 279

Runs Scored (MLB Average – 117)

NL: Rockies – 148; Marlins – 139; Nationals – 128

AL: Astros  – 174; Royals – 141; Indians – 135; Tigers – 135

WE’LL TAKE THE LOW ROAD

The White Sox and Angels plated the fewest runs in MLB in July – with only 88 runners  crossing the plate for each squad.  (The Reds were the lowest in the NL with 93 tallies.) The White Sox also had the lowest batting average for the month at .229; while the Giants showed the least power with an MLB-low 14 round trippers during the month. The Astros hit more than 100-points higher than the White Sox and bashed more than three times as many home runs as the Giants. 

Home Runs (MLB Average – 31)

NL: Cubs  – 40; Nationals – 37; Marlins – 35; Dodgers – 35

AL:  Astros – 44; Rangers – 41; Royals – 38

Stolen Bases (MLB Average – 12)

NL: Brewers – 20; Reds – 15; Braves – 15

AL: Astros – 23; Royals – 22; Indians – 20

I THINK I’LL JUST WAIT HERE

The Mets attempted (and achieved) MLB’s fewest stolen bases in July – going three-for-five in steals. The Blue Jays had the worst rate of success – swiping four bags in eight tries.

Walks (MLB Average – 82)

NL: D-backs – 101; Reds – 96; Marlins – 91

AL: A’s – 112; Indians – 106;  Blue Jays – 105

GRABBING A LITTLE AIR

The Brewers led all of MLB in strikeouts in July with 254 whiffs – which equatea to just over ten per game. 

—–TEAM PITCHING LEADERS … MONTH OF JULY—–

Earned Run Average (MLB Average – 4.37)

NL: Dodgers – 2.60; Cardinals – 3.06; D-backs – 3.48

AL:  Red Sox – 3.24; Indians – 3.36; Mariners – 3.68

PUTTING UP SOME CROOKED NUMBERS

Eleven teams had ERA’s over 5.00 for July. The White Sox led (trailed?) all of MLB at 5.68, while the Rockies gave up an NL-leading 5.38 earned runs per nine innings.

Fewest Runs Allowed (MLB Average – 117)

NL: Dodgers – 69; D-backs – 87; Cardinals -94; Pirates – 94.

AL: Indians – 94; Red Sox – 101;  Angels – 102

IT’S OUTTA HERE

Your team leader in home runs allowed in July was the White Sox – the ChiSox staff gave up 47 long balls; while the Reds topped the NL with 44. On the other side of the coin, the Dodgers gave up an MLB-low 17 July dingers.

Strikeouts (MLB Average – 209)

NL: Nationals – 229; Reds – 227; Brewers – 220

AL: Red Sox – 265; Yankees – 264; Indians – 251

Fewest Walks Allowed (MLB Average – 82)

NL: Dodgers – 49; D-backs – 62; Cardinals – 64

AL: Twins – 65; Indians – 68;  Orioles – 72

LET ME TAKE YOU ON A FREE RIDE

The Blue Jays gave up an MLB-high 118 walks in July; while the Braves provided an NL-leading 108 free passes.  The only other teams to exceed 100 walks allowed were the White Sox and Marlins (106 each).    

Saves (MLB average – 6)

NL: Dodgers – 10; Padres – 10; five with seven

AL: Rays – 9; Mariners – 8; two with seven

OUCH!

The Diamonbacks had the worst save/opportunity percentage in July – blowing five of seven save opportunities – for a 28.6 percent success rate.  The MLB average for the month was 66.0 percent. 

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—–INDIVIDUAL BATTING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF JUlY—–

Average (minimum 50 at bats)

NL:  Gerardo Parra, Rockies .443; Chris Taylor, Dodgers  – .394; Anthony Rendon, Nationals – .392

AL: Jose Altuve, Astros – .485;  George Springer, Astros – .403; Alex Pressley, Tigers – .380

Home Runs

NL: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 12; Bryce Harper, Nationals – 9; three with eight

AL: Rougned Odor, Rangers – 10; Mike Moustakas, Royals – 9; Jonathan Schoop, Orioles – 9

IT SEEMS LIKE HE’S ALWAYS ON BASE

Among players with at least 50 July at bats, only two got on base at least half the time.  Your on-base-percentage leaders were: Jose Altuve, Astros – .523; Anthony Rendon, Nationals – .500.

RBI

NL: Nolan Arenado, Rockies – 30;  Marcel Ozuna Marlins – 27; Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 23

AL: Jonatshan Schoop, Orioles – 28; Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox – 25; Mookie Betts, Red Sox – 23

Runs Scored

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 29; Bryce Harper, Nationals – 26; Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 25

AL: Alex Bregman, Astros – 24; Eric Hosmer, Royals – 22; Jose Altuve – Astros -22

WAIT FOR IT. WAIT FOR IT.

The Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson was MLB’s most patient hitter in July – averaging 4.83 pitched per plate appearance – edging the Twins’ Joe Mauer at 4.82. 

Stolen Bases

NL:  Billy Hamilotn, Reds – 11; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 9; four with five

AL: Rajai Davis, A’s – 9; Whit Merrifield, Royals – 9; Jose Altuve, Astros – 8

Walks

NL:  Joey Votto, Reds – 23; Paul Goldschjmidt, D-backs – 22; two with 19

AL: Edwin Encarnacion, Indians – 20; Brett Gardner , Yankees – 20; Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays – 19

WAY BELOW THE M-LINE

The lowest average (minimum 50 June at bats) for the month went to the Twins’  Jorge Polanco at .078 (four-for-51).  

—–INDIVIDUAL PITCHING LEADERS … THE MONTH OF JULY—–

Wins

NL:  Seven pitchers with four

AL:  James Paxton, Mariners – 6-0, 1.37;  three with four

ERA (Minimum 25 July innings)

NL:  Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers  – 0.72;  Aaron Nola, Phillies – 1.32; Rich Hill, Dodgers – 1.45

AL:  Chris Sale, Red Sox – 1.04; James Paxton, Mariners – 1.37; Sonny Gray, A’s – 1.48

GETTING UP THERE A BIT

The worst ERA among pitchers with at least four starts or 15 innings pitched in July went to the Marlins’ Tom Koehler, who had four July starts and put up a 9.87 ERA in 17 1/3 innings. Using those same parameters in the AL,we find the  Astros’ Lance McCullers Jr., with an ERA of   9.64 in four June starts (18 2/3 innings). 

Strikeouts

NL: Max Scherzer – 50 (31 2/3 IP); Aaron Nola, Phillies 43 (34 IP); Rich Hill, Dodgers – 40 (31 IP)

AL: Corey Kluber, Indians – 56 (34 1/3 IP); Chris Sale, Red Sox – 56 (34 2/3 IP); three with 46

Saves

NL:  Kenley Jansen, Dodgers – 9; Greg Holland, Rockies – 7; A.J. Ramos, Mets/Marlins – 7

AL: Alex Colome, Rays – 9; Edwin Diaz, Mariners – 8; two with seven

TOUGHEST OUTING OF THE MONTH

The Blue Jays’ Glenn Sparkman may have had the toughest outing of the month.  The rookie righty was brought into a July 2 game against the Red Sox in the top of the seventh and the Blue Jays already down 7-1.  Sparkman’s appearance went: single; single; single; strikeout; double; single; double; double. Ultimately, he gave up seven earned runs  in 1/3 of an inning – for a July ERA of 189.00.  In his only previous MLB apperance (June 30), also against the Red Sox, he went 2/3 of an inning, giving up no earned runs, despite allowing two hits and a walk.  There is clearly a potential for better things to come – Sparkman has a 2.65 ERA in five minor league seasons, with 267 strikeouts in 268 1/3 innings. 

_________________________________________________

NOW THE YEAR-TO-DATE STATS (Still with me?)

—–TEAM BATTING … YEAR-TO-DATE LEADERS—–

Average  (MLB Average – .255)

NL:  Nationals – .275; Rockies – .274; Marlins – .266

AL: Astros – .292; Indians – .264; Yankees – .262

THAT’LL DO IN A PINCH

No  team pinch hits more successfully than the St. Louis Cardinals – whose batters have gone 45-for-141 in pinch-hitting appearances this season, leading MLB in pinch hits and PH batting average (.319).  Just down I-70, you’ll find the Royals, with the fewest pinch hits (two) and the lowest pinch-hitting average through July (.105). 

Runs Scored (MLB average – 490)

NL: Nationals – 575; Rockies – 564; Dodgers – 535

AL: Astros – 623; Yankees – 557; Rangers – 516

THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT

Only the Astros topped 600 runs (through July) at 623.  The Padres, on the other hand, have scored more than 200 times fewer than Houston, with San Diego notching just 400 runs. The Astros also lead the majors with 172 home runs, with the Giants the only team under 100 round trippers (82).

Home Runs (MLB Average – 132)

NL: Nationals – 158; Brewers – 156; Mets – 152

AL:  Astros – 172; Rangers – 160;  Rays – 154

A SWING AND A MISS

Only two teams had more than 1,000 batters’ whiffs through July: the Brewers (1,040) and Rays (1,037).  Looks like a tight race for the most free-swinging squad. 

Stolen Bases (MLB Average – 55)

NL: Brewers – 89; Reds – 83; D-backs – 72

AL: Angels- 88; Rangers – 81; Red Sox – 65

—–TEAM PITCHING LEADERS … YEAR-TO-DATE (July 31)—–

Earned Run Average (MLB average – 4.35)

NL: Dodgers – 3.09; D-backs – 3.43; Cardinals – 3.82

AL: Red Sox 3.70; Indians –  3.71;  Yankees – 3.83

I’D GIVE IT A FIVE

Only two teams had ERA’s over five through July – The Reds at 5.28 and the Orioles at 5.07. 

Fewest Runs Allowed (MLB average – 490)

NL: Dodgers – 350; D-backs –  404; Cardinals – 445

AL: Indians – 409; Boston – 435; Yankees – 438

DODGERS’ STAFF AT THE TOP8888

The Dodgers’ rotation had the best starters’ ERA in the MLB (through July) at 3.25; while the Astros’ starters were best in the AL at 3.96.  In the bullpen, Cleveland ruled at 2.77.  The Dodgers had the best bullpen ERA in the NL (and second-best in MLB) at 2.83.

If you’re wondering why the Nationals (despite a big lead) were active in the trade deadline market for relievers, Washington was one of only two teams with a  bullpen ERA over 5.00 through July 31 – the Tigers at 5.25 and the Nationals at 5.05.

Strikeouts (MLB average – 866)

NL: Dodgers – 991; D-backs – 971; Nationals – 949

AL: Astros – 1064; Indians – 1022; Red Sox – 1007

Fewest Walks Allowed (MLB average – 343)

NL: Dodgers – 275; Pirates  – 297; Cardinals – 314

AL:  Indians – 288; Red Sox – 293; Yankees – 318

PUTTING UP SOME GOOD RATIOS

Through July, the Dodgers lead the NL in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 3.60; while the Indians top the AL at 3.55. Other teams with a better than three-to-one ratio: Red Sox (3.44); Astros (3.16); Yankees (3.12); D-backs (3.02). Common denominator? We’ll likely see all of them in the post season.   Also, only two teams are averaging at least ten strikeouts per nine innings: Astros (10.18); Indians (10.01).  

Saves (MLB Average – 25)

NL: Rockies – 35; Dodgers – 33; Brewers – 32

AL: Rays – 35; Twins – 29; Blue Jays – 29

LETS CONVERT 

The major-league team average for save conversions through July was 64 percent.  No team was under 50 percent, but Texas (17-for-34) was right at the low-water mark.  

—–INDIVIDUAL BATTING LEADERS YEAR TO DATE—-

Average (qualifying)

NL:  Justin Turner, Dodgers – .356; Daniel Murphy, Nationals – .332; Bryce Harper, Nationals – .329

AL: Jose Altuve, Astros – .368; Eric Hosmer, Royals – .323; Jean Segura, Mariners – 322

Home Runs

NL: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 33; Cody Bellinger, Dodgers – 28; four with 27

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 34;  Mike Moustakas, Royals – 30; Justin Smoak, Blue Jays – 30

HE KEEPS HITTING THOSE THREES

The Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon has 13 triples through July – no other player has more than seven.

RBI

NL: Nolan Arenado, Rockies – 91; Marcell Ozuna, Marlins – 81; two at 80

AL: Nelson Cruz, Mariners – 79;  Jonathan Schoop, Orioles – 77;  Aaron Judge, Yankees – 75

Runs Scored

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 93; Bryce Harper, Nationals – 86; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 82

 AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 83; George Springer, Astros – 82;  Jose Altuve, Astros – 74

Stolen Bases

NL:  Billy Hamilton, Reds – 44; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 38; Trea Turner, Nationals – 35

AL: Cameron Maybin, Angels – 25; Jarrod Dyson, Mariners – 23; Jose Altuve, Astros 22

LEADERS IN A FEW OTHER CATEGORIES

Base Hits: Jose Altuve Astros (AL) – 148; Charlie Blackmon, Rockies (NL) – 141

On Base Pct: Justin Turner, Dodgers (NL) – .455; Jose Altuve, Astros  (AL) – .430

Slugging Pct: Aaron Judge, Yankees (AL) – .639; Bryce Harper, Nationals (NL) – .627

Strikeouts:  Miguel Sano, Twins (AL) – 144; Will Myers,Padres (NL) – 127

—–PITCHING LEADERS … YEAR TO DATE (July 31)—–

Wins

NL:  Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 15-2, 2.04; Zack Greinke, D-backs – 13-4, 2.84; four with 12

AL:  Chris Sale, Red Sox – 13-4, 2.37; Jason Vargas, Royals – 13-4, 3.00;  two with 11

ONE (or more) THAT GOT AWAY

Rick Porcello of the Red Sox leads MLB in pitcher’s losses – with 14 losses (versus just four wins) to go with a 4.55 ERA (that would indicate he deseerved better).  Over in the NL the loss leader is the Padres’ Clayton Richard (5-12, 5.40).

ERA (qualifying) 

NL:  Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 2.04; Max Scherzer, Natiounals – 2.23; Gio Gonzalez, Nationals – 2.66

AL:  Chris Sale, Red Sox – 2.37; James Paxton, Mariners – 2.68; Corey Kluber, Indians – 2.90

Strikeouts

NL: Max Scherzer, Nationals – 201 (145 1/3 IP); Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 168 (141 1/3 IP); Jacob deGrom, Mets – 162 (139 2/3 IP)

AL: Chris Sale, Red Sox – 211 (148  1/3 IP); Chris Archer, Rays – 177 (142 IP); Corey Kluber, Indians – 161 (114 2/3 IP)

LIKE THE LONG BALL?

If you like big flys, show up when the Angels’ Ricky Nolasco or the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka are on the mound.  They share the MLB lead in home runs allowed at 27.

Saves

NL:  Greg Holland Rockies – 33; Kenley Jansen, Dodgers – 27; three  with 22

AL: Alex Colome, Rays – 39; Brandon  Kintzler,Twins – 28; Robert Osuma, Blue Jays – 26

A PITCHER’S BEST FRIEND

No one has induced more double play grounders  this season (through July) than Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays with 23 … to go with a 9-5, 3.08 record.

 

JulyStandings

Primay sources:  Baseball-Reference.com; MLB.com; Society for American Baseball Research.

I tweet baseball @David BBRT

 

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Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro Leagues Baaseball Museum; Baseball Bloggers Alliance. 

Five Home Runs in an Inning – Fireworks Times Six

Bryce Harper photo

Bryce Harper. Photo by Keith Allison

 

Yesterday, the Washington Nationals tied an MLB record by bashing five home runs in one inning – as they scored seven runs in the third inning of a 15-2 bashing of the Brewers in Washington.  It was the only the sixth time an MLB team has notched a five-dinger inning and featured long balls by CF Brian Goodwin (his tenth of the season); SS Wilmer Difo (third of the season); RF Bryce Harper (27th); 1B Ryan Zimmerman (21st); and 3B Anthony Rendon (21st).  We’ll take a look at the historic innings in detail in this post, but here are a few facts from th MLB’s five-homer innings.

 

  • A five-HR inning has been achieved five times in the NL – just once in the AL, by the Minnesota Twins on June 9, 1966.
  • The Cincinnati Reds have been the victims of four of the six five-homer innings.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers are the only team to both give up a five-homer inning and achieve a five-homer inning.
  • The home team has put on the power display five of the six times.
  • Fourteen of the 30 home runs have come with two outs.
  • Pitchers have contributed (as hitters) HRs in two of the six five-homer innings.
  • The Reds have been the “victims” in four of the six five-homer frames.
  • One of the five-homer innings was kept alive by three fielding errors.
  • One of the five-homer innings included two home runs by one player in the inning.
  • Two of the six power outbursts included an inside-the-park home run.
  • The five-homer innings have featured the scoring of 50 runs – the fewest at six, the most at 12.

Now, let’s take a closer look at those five-homer barrages.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

June 9, 1966 … Minnesota Twins versus Kansas City Athletics

Harmon Killebrew was a big gun in the Twins' five- homer inning.

Harmon Killebrew was a big gun in the Twins’ five- homer inning.

Things did not start out well for the Twins on the day of their historic power display.  With the game being played at Metropolitan Stadium (Bloomington, MN), the Athletics got off to a fast start, knocking out Twins’ ace Camilo Pascual in the top of the first. (Pascual lasted 2/3 of an inning, giving up four runs on three hits and a walk.) With Catfish Hunter on the mound, the Twins’ chances looked slim.  The Twins scored one in the fifth and two in the sixth (on a Harmon Killebrew home run) and then, trailing 4-3, broke the game open with five home runs in the seventh.

It started innocently enough with a Catfish Hunter walk to C Early Battey, followed by an infield fly out for 2B Bernie Allen. That brought pinch hitter (for the pitcher) Rich Rollins to the plate, and he hit the inning’s first homer (just the second of ten HRs Rollins would hit in 1966). Lead-off hitter  SS Zoilo Versalles followed with his fifth homer of the year – and Paul Lindblad replaced Hunter on the mound. Lindblad got Twins’ LF Sandy Valdespino on a grounder to short, but then gave up consecutive round trippers to RF Tony Oliva (his 14th) and 1B Don Mincher (his 6th). That brought John Wyatt in from the bullpen and he quickly gave up a home run to 3B Harmon Killebrew (his second of the day and 11th of the year). Wyatt then gave up a double to RF Jimmie Hall and C Earl Battey reached on an error before 2B Bernie Allen ended the inning on a ground ball (catcher to first).

The Inning’s HR Hitters:  Rich Rollins, Zoilo Versalles, Tony Oliva, Don Mincher, Harmon Killebrew

Final Score:  Twins 9 – Athletics 4

_____________________________________

NATIONAL LEAGUE

June 6, 1939 … NY Giants versus Cincinnati Reds

Pitcher Manny Salvo hit an inside-the-park home run in Giants five-homer inning.

Pitcher Manny Salvo hit an inside-the-park home run in Giants five-homer inning.

The first-ever five-home run MLB inning took place in New York on June 6, 1930, as the sixth-place Giants (20-24 record) surprised the league-leading Reds (29-15) by a 17-3 score, plating all 17 runs in the first five innings.

The record-setting power display came in the bottom of the fourth inning, with the Giants already up 6-0.  Peaches Davis, who had relieved Johnny Vander Meer in the first inning (Vander Meer had given up six hits and three runs in 2/3 of an inning), retired Giants’ LF Jo Jo Moore and SS Billy Jurgess to start the inning. Then the wheels came off.  C Harry Danning laced a home run to center (his sixth). Then clean-up hitter Mel Ott drew a walk, 1B Zeke Bonura singled and CF Frank Demaree hit the second home run of the inning (his second of the season).  That ended Davis’ day and brought Wesley Livengood (whose MLB career would consist of five appearances and a 9.53 ERA) to the hill. Livengood was not so good, he walked Tony Lazzeri and then gave up a home run to 2B Burgess Whitehead (the first of only two he would it in 1939).  Giants’ pitcher Manny Salvo was up next. A weak hitter (at best), Salvo surprised everyone in the ball park with the only home run of his five-season MLB career – an inside-the-park round tripper off the right field fence.  Next up was lead-off hitter Jo Jo Moore, who hit the fifth and final homer of the inning (and his second of the day).  And, all of this with two out. Livengood’s line for the day:  1/3 inning pitched, three hits, two walks, four earned runs (3 HRs).

The Inning’s Home Run Hitters: Harry Danning, Frank Demaree, Burgess Whitehead, Manny Salvo, Jo Jo Moore

Final Score:  Giants 17 – Reds 3

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June 2, 1949… Philadelphia Phillies versus Cincinnati Reds

Andy Seminick hit two round trippers in the Phillies' five-homer inning.

Andy Seminick hit two round trippers in the Phillies’ five-homer inning.

Ten seasons passed before the next five-homer inning – and the victims were again the Reds.  This time the bashing came off the bats of the Phillies (in Philadelphia).  It started out as a close game, with the Reds actually leading 3-2 after seven innings behind a strong performance by starting pitcher Ken Raffensberger (who would win 18 games that season). Things, however, went awry in the bottom of the eighth.

CF Del Ennis (the Phillies’ clean-up hitter) led off the inning with a home run (his seventh of the season), which was followed by C Andy Seminick’s second home run of the game – marking Raffensberger’s exit. Jess Dobernic came on in relief and retired RF Stan Hollmig on a liner to short before giving up a home run to 3B Willie Jones (his third of the year). Dobrenic then induced a soft fly ball out to second base by 2B Eddie Miller, bringing up P Schoolboy Rowe, who had relieved Philadelphia starter Curt Simmons in the top of the eighth  (Stan Lopata had pinch hit for Simmons in the bottom of the seventh.) Rowe promptly rapped a home run to left (the only home run of the year for the 39-year-old veteran, in his last MLB season). Kent Petersen came on in relief of Dobernic and added fuel to the fire in this order:  walk to CF Richie Ashburn, double to SS Granny Hamner, 1B Eddie Waitkus safe on an error (Ashburn scores), an Ennis single to right (Hamner scores), and Seminick’s second home run of the inning (third of the game and seventh of the season). That was the end of the home runs, but the inning continued with the Phillies adding another run on a hit batsman and a triple.  Suddenly a 3-2 Reds lead was a 12-3 deficit.

The Inning’s Home Run Hitters; Del Ennis, Andy Seminick (2), Willie Jones, Schoolboy Rowe

Final Score:  Phillies 12 – Reds 3

________________________________

August 23, 1961 … San Francisco Giants versus Cincinnati Reds

Jim Davenport contributed a three-run inside-the-park homer to the Giants record-tying inning.

Jim Davenport contributed a three-run inside-the-park homer to the Giants record-tying inning.

Twelve seasons after five-home inning number two, it happened again – and for the third straight time, the Reds were the victims – and this time they were at home.  On August 23, 1961, another close game became a late-inning route.  The Reds trailed the San Francisco Giants 2-0 after eight innings with both starters (Juan Marichal for the Giants and Joey Jay for the Reds) still in the game.  A low-scoring game was expected, Marichal game into the contest with a 12-7 record for the third-place Giants, while Jay was 18-7 for the first-place Reds.

In the top of the ninth, however, the Giants broke the contest wide open.  1B Willie McCovey opened with a double off Jay and then scored on an error by Reds’ 2B Don Blasingame after a Willie Mays pop out. LF Orlando Cepeda and RF Felipe Alou followed with a pair of deep home runs (to center and left, respectively). It was Cepeda’s 36th of the year and Alou’s 15th.  That brought Jim Brosnan in from the bullpen – and led to a fly ball out by C John Orsino, singles to SS Jose Pagan and Marichal, 2B Joey Amalfitano reaching on an error by Reds’ third baseman Gene Freese (Pagan scoring), a three-run inside-the-park home run by 3B Jim Davenport (his 8th homer of the year) and a single to McCovey.  Next in the line of fire (relieving Brosnan) was Bill Henry, who gave up a two-run homer to Willie Mays (his 34th of the season), a single to Cepeda, and had Alou reach on Freese’s second error of the inning (and the Reds’ third miscue of the frame). Orsino then took Henry deep (just his second of the year) before Pagan struck out to mercifully end the 12-run, ninth-inning uprising.

The Inning’s Home Run Hitters:  Orlando Cepeda, Felipe Alou, Jim Davenport, Willie Mays, John Orsino

Final Score:  Giants 14 – Reds  0

______________________

April 22, 2006 … Milwaukee Brewers versus Cincinnati Reds

Prince Fielder put the "cherry on top" (old school analogy) for the Brewers.

Prince Fielder put the “cherry on top” (old
school analogy) for the Brewers.

The Brewers were less than hospitable hosts to the Reds on April 22, 2006 – when they pounded the visitors 11-0, racking up the fourth five-homer inning against the Reds’ franchise along the way.   The outburst came in the bottom of the fourth inning with starter Brandon Claussen still on the mound and the Reds trailing 3-0.

Milwaukee 3B Bill Hall (the number-six hitter) started it with a home run (his third of the young season). Then 2B Richie Weeks singled to left, scoring on C Damian Miller’s home run (his first of the year). That seemed to establish a (brief) HR-1B-HR pattern, as Brewers’ pitcher Dave Bush followed the Miller home run with a single and CF Brady Clark backed up the Bush single with his first home run of 2006. SS J.J. Hardy broke the pattern with a home run (his 3rd of the year).  At this point, Claussen had faced six batters in the inning, giving up four home runs and two singles – and his day was done.  Chris Hammond came on in relief and provided just that, striking out the first two batters he faced (RF Geoff Jenkins and LF Carlos Lee).  Then Prince Fielder gave the Brewers a piece of the five-homer in one inning record, hitting his third of the year. The carnage ended on a fly out to center by Hall.

The Inning’s Home Run  Hitters: Bill Hall, Damian Miller, Brady Clark, J.J. Hardy, Prince Fielder

Final Score:  Brewers 11 – Reds 0

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July 27, 2017 … Washington Nationals versus Milwaukee Brewers

The Nationals (60-39, running away with the NL East) faced off (at home) against the Milwaukee Brewers, who were trying  to keep pace with the division-leading Cubs  in the NL Central. Washington was starting its staff “ace” – Max Scherzer – going for his twelfth win. Milwaukee countered with Michael Blazek getting his first start of the season (fifth appearance). It was also the first start of Blazek’s four MLB seasons (109 appearances).  After Scherzer worked a 1-2-3 top of the first, Blazek gave up a two-run home run to Bryce Harper to fall behind 2-0. Neither team scored in the second and Scherzer continued to hold the Brewers scoreless in the top of the third.

In the bottom of the third, Scherzer drew a walk to start things off. CF and leadoff hitter  Brian Goodwin followed with a home run to right (his tenth HR of the season); Then SS Wilmer Difo hit one out to right-center (his third HR of the season); RF Bryce Harper hit his second long ball of the game (27th of the season) to left-center; and Ryan Zimmerman added the fourth consecutive blast of the inning (his 21st of the year) to left-center. Daniel Murphy followed with a fly out to center, and 3B Anthony Rendon followed with the fifth homer of the inning (his 21st), this one to straight-away center.  That prompted a pitching change. New Brewer moundsman Wily Peralta gave up two singles and a double – and one more run – before getting out of the inning.  At the end of the frame, the score stood Washington 9 – Milwaukee.   And, the Nationals weren’t done yet.  They added six more runs in the bottom of the fourth on five hits (two more home runs) and a walk.

The Inning’s Home Run hitters: Brian Goodwin; Wilmer Difo; Bryce Harper; Ryan Zimmerman; Anthony Rendon

Final Score: Nationals 15-Bewers 2

FOUR IN A ROW – THAT’S A RECORD, TOO!

The Nationals also became just the eighth tEAM to hit four consecutive home runs in an inning.  Here’s the list.

Boston Red Sox: April 22, 2007 – Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek

LA Dodgers: September 18, 2006 – Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, Russell Martin, Marlon Anderson

Minnesota Twins: May 2, 1964 – Tony Oliva, Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison, Jimmie Hall

Cleveland Indians: July 31, 1963 – Woodie Held, Pedro Ramos, Tito Francona, Larry Brown

Milwaukee Braves: June 8, 1961 – Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock, Frank Thomas

Chicago White Sox: August 14, 2008 – Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez, Juan Uribe

Arizona D-backs: August 11, 2010 – Adam LaRoche, Miguel Montero, Mark Reynolds, Stephen Drew

Washington Nationals: July 27, 2017 – Brian Goodwin, Wilmer Difo, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman

 

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