The “Dog Days of August” were very good to a number of teams – particularly in the AL, where the Orioles and Royals shared MLB’s best August record (19-9, .679) – enabling the Orioles to extend their AL East lead and the Royals to move past Detroit (16-15 for August) into the AL Central lead. For the month, four teams reached 19 victories (The Orioles, Royals, Angels and Nationals, with the Angels and Nats each having ten losses). The worst August record goes to the Chicago White Sox at 9-19 (.321). The Diamondbacks at 9-18 had the worst August showing in the NL.
As BBRT provides its monthly update, let’s look first (as usual) at which teams would be in the playoff if the season had ended at the close of play on August 31.
Division Leaders: Orioles, Royals and Angels – The Orioles extended their lead by following up a strong 17-8 July with a solid 19-9 August (with the second-place Yankees going 15-13 for the month). Meanwhile, the Royals used a 19-9 August record to slide past the Tigers into first place in the Central, while the Angels used a 19-10 month to move ahead of the skidding A’s (12-17 in August).
Wild Cards: The A’s finished August with a four-game cushion over the Tigers in the Wild Card race, while Detroit found themselves only one-half game ahead of the surging Mariners (17-10 in August).
Race(s) to Watch: Central Division – Will the Royals be able to hold their slim lead over the injury-plagued Tigers – and what role will the Indians (just 3 ½ out) play? Will Seattle push its way into the Wild Card (just a half game behind Detroit)?
Division Leaders: There was far less turmoil in the NL, where the Brewers, Dodgers and Nationals all held on to their Division leads. The Brewers lead, however, is tenuous – they are actually tied for first place with the Cardinals. St. Louis went 16-13 for the month, while Milwaukee went 13-14. The Nationals had the NL’s best August record at 19-10, and finished the month with a six-game edge over the Braves, who played .500 ball for August (14-14).
Wild Cards: The NL Wild Card race sees the Giants finishing August with a one-game lead over the Cardinals and Brewers (if the season ended August 31, one would be division champ and the other the WC). The WC race is tight – with the Braves one game behind the Cards/Brewers and the Pirates just two games back.
Race(s) to Watch: The Cardinals and Brewers – now tied for Central lead, but the Cards seem to have the momentum. The Dodgers and Giants – with these traditional rivals separated by just 2 ½ games. A wide open Wild Card race involving St, Louis, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Pittsburgh.
Full Standings (as of August 31) and each team’s August record at the end of this post.
Run This One By Me
No team scored more runs in August than the Minnesota Twins (159). Unfortunately, they also gave up 163 runs (only the White Sox gave up more tallies at 167). So, despite the second-most prolific offense, the Twins were 11-18 for the month.
The stingiest teams in August? The Indians in the AL (79 runs given up) and the Padres in the NL – 93). Looking at ERA’s, your top August numbers belong to the Indians (2.39 for the month) in the AL and the Nationals (2.95) in the NL.
The Upton Brothers Have a Place in Baseball History.
On August 8, Braves’ outfielders Justin and B.J. Upton each hit two-run homers in Atlanta’s 7-6 win over the Washington Nationals in Atlanta. Not only did the home runs key a vital win in a tight divisional race (and break an eight-game losing streak), they enabled the Uptons to set a new MLB record for the number of times brothers have homered in the same game for the same team – five.
Both homers were hit off Nationals’ starter Stephen Strasburg. Justin’s, hit in the bottom of the first inning, traveled 424-feet to center field. B.J.’s, rapped in the second inning, was a 401-foot shot to left field.
This was the second time the Upton’s homered in the same game this season (the previous time was June 24 against the Astros) and the record fifth time in their careers – breaking the MLB mark they previously shared with Jeremy and Jason Giambi and Vladimir and Wilton Guerrero.
19th-Inning Walk Offs
On August 9, Albert Pujols brought an end to a 19-inning, six-hour and 31-minute game, with a walk-off homer (on a 3-2 count) off the Red Sox’ Brandon Workman – the ninth pitcher used by Boston in the game. The two teams used a total of 18 hurlers.
The very next day (August 10), the Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista also ended a 19-inning contest in walk-off fashion – as Toronto topped Detroit 6-5. The game lasted 6 hours and 37 minutes and was the longest in Blue Jays’ history in both time and innings. Bautista’s walk-off hit was a single to right (with the bases loaded) off Detroit’s Rick Porcello, scoring Munenori Kawasaki. It was the first hit in eight at-bats for Bautista, who also walked twice. Each team used eight pitchers in the contest.
From August 12-21, the Nationals won ten games in a row, tying the Royals for the longest MLB 2014 unbeaten streak (June 7-18). There have also been a couple of double-digit losing streaks in MLB this season. The Red Sox dropped ten in a row between May 15 and May 25 and, the day the Red Sox’ streak ended, the Rays started their own ten-game losing streak (May 26-June 5). The Braves, Rockies and Marlins have each “enjoyed” eight-game losing streaks this season – the longest in the NL.
Mo’Ne Davis Makes Little League World Series’ History
On August 15th, 13-year-old Mo’Ne Davis became the first female to throw a shutout in Little League World Series’ history. In her Philadelphia (Taney Dragons) team’s 4-0 win over a squad from South Nashville, Tennessee, Davis fanned eight, while giving up only two hits. Davis struck out the side in the final frame (the sixth inning). Davis’ LLWS shutout followed her complete-game shutout in the Regional Championships.
Big Papi Joins Boston Elite
On August 16, David “Big Papi” Ortiz hit his 27th and 28th home runs of the 2014 season – which were also his 400th and 401st as a member of the Red Sox. In the process, Ortiz joined Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski as the only players with 400+ home runs for the Red Sox. (As of August 16th, Ortiz had 459 career regular-season HRs.) Ortiz went three-for-five in the game (two homers and a double), driving in six runs as the Sox topped Houston 10-7 in Boston. The six RBI temporarily gave him the MLB RBI lead at 91.
Cuddyer Hits for Cycle
On August 17th, the Rockies’ Michael Cuddyer celebrated coming of the disabled list (after missing 60 games with a fractured shoulder) in style. First, he played in two games on his first day back (a Rockies’ doubleheader sweep of the Reds). More significantly, in his second game of the day – a 10-5 Rockies win – he hit for the cycle. Cuddyer was four-for-five in the game, with three runs scored and three RBI. He went one-for-five in the first game.
Cuddyer is the 30th player in MLB history to hit for the cycle more than once (he also achieved the feat as a Minnesota Twin on May 22, 2009) and just the third to hit for the cycle in both the NL and AL – joining Bob Watson (Astros on June 24, 1977 and Red Sox on September 15, 1979) and John Olerud (Mets on September 11, 1997 and Mariners on June 16, 2001).
Putting Them Down in Order
On August 28th, Giant’s RH reliever Yusmeiro Petit set an MLB record when he retired his 46th consecutive hitter (over eight appearances versus eight different teams). Petit struck out 21 of the 46 hitters he faced during his historic streak which was – ironically – broken by a double off the bat of Rockies’ pitcher Jordan Lyles. (Another reason BBRT hates the DH.)
Eight is Enough
On August 30, the Angels – in a critical game against the A’s – used eight pitchers to complete a three-hit shutout in a 2-0 win. In order, with the number of innings pitched, the Angels’ hurlers were: Cory Rasmus (3 IP); Michael Roth (1/3); Yoslan Herrera (2/3); Fernando Salas (1); Jason Grilli (1); Kevin Jepsen (1); Joe Smith (1); Huston Street (1). Herrera got the win, just his second MLB victory and first since 2008. The use of eight pitchers in a shutout ties an MLB record – shared by the Red Sox (1999), Rays (2010) and Braves (2012).
On the other side of the coin, losing pitcher Jeff Samardzija went the distance, giving up just four hits and two runs (one earned), while issuing no walks and striking out eight. While using eight pitchers to notch a shutout is pretty amazing, back on June 11, 2003, the Astros used six pitchers to no-hit the Yankees 8-0 at Yankee Stadium – the very last no-hitter in old Yankee Stadium and the most pitchers ever involved in a combined no-hitter.(On June 8, 2013, the Seattle Mariners also used six hurlers in a no-hitter against the Dodgers.)
Now let’s look at some MLB “numbers” through August
Batting Leaders – August 31 Close of MLB (Major League Business) and for the Month
With Rockies’ SS Troy Tulowitzki and his .340 batting average on the disabled list (and no longer having enough plate appearances to qualify), the NL batting lead went to Rockies’ 1B Justin Morneau (.311). The race, without Tulo, is wide open, with Morneau trailed by Pirates’ 3B/OF Josh Harrison (.310) and Phillies’ OF Ben Revere (.308). From an historic perspective, no one has captured an MLB league batting title with an average below .320 since 1991 (Terry Pendleton, Braves, .319) and the lowest average ever for a league leader is .301 (Carl Yastrzemski, Boston, 1968).
In the AL, Astro’s 2B Jose Altuve continued to hold the batting lead at the end of August with a .336 average, followed by Detroit DH Victor Martinez at .327.
Looking at the month (minimum 50 plate appearances), a couple of new names emerge. In the AL, White Sox’ OF Adam Eaton hit .429 for the month (49 plate appearances), while the NL’s top August hitter was Dodgers’ 3B Justin Turner (.386).
In the power department, Orioles’ DH Nelson Cruz finished August atop the AL and MLB with 35 home runs, moving past White Sox’ rookie first baseman Jose Abreu (33). Astros’ DH Chris Carter had a strong August (more later) and also finished the month with 33 HRs.
Thirty-three homers were enough to lead the NL – accomplished by Marlins’ OF Giancarlo Stanton. Others who finished August with at least 30 HRs were: Angels’ OF Mike Trout (31); Boston DH David Ortiz (30); and Cubs’ 1B (Anthony Rizzo (30).
For the month of August, Astros’ DH Chris Carter topped all of MLB with 12 round trippers, followed by OF Alex Gordon of the Royals with nine. Marlins’ OF Giancarlo Stanton led the NL with eight August homers.
As of August 31, the AL RBI leader was White Sox’ 1B Jose Abreu (99)’ while the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton topped the NL with 98. Others topping 90 RBI as we went into September were: Angels’ OF Mike Trout (97); Red Sox’ DH David Ortiz (95); Tigers’ 3B Miguel Cabrera (91); Braves’ OF Justin Upton (91); and Dodgers’ 1B Adrian Gonzalez (91).
August’s RBI leaders were the Astros’ Chris Carter and Red Sox’ Victor Martinez in the AL, with 30 – and Braves’ OF Justin Upton in the NL with 28.
Through August, Dodgers’ 2B Dee Gordon (58 stolen bases/15 caught stealing) continued to lead the NL in the speed department, while Astros’ 2B Jose Altuve topped the AL with 49 SB, caught seven times. Other players with 40 or more steals through August were: Reds’ OF Billy Hamilton (54 SB/20 CS) and Phillies’ OF Ben Revere (40 SB/5 CS).
Four players topped 10 steals for the month of August, led by the Reds’ Billy Hamilton with 12 steals in 16 attempts; OF Jordan Schaffer, who moved from the Braves to the Twins, had 11 steals in 12 attempts; the Phillies’ Ben Revere was 10 for 11 on the bases; and the Dodgers’ Dee Gordon was 10 for 13.
Pitching Leaders YTD (Through August 31) and for the Month
Through August, three pitchers – all in the NL – had reached 16 wins: the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (16-3); the Reds’ Johnny Cueto (16-8); and the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner (16-9). Over in the AL., the Angels’ Jered Weaver, the Tigers Max Scherzer and the Tigers’ Rick Porcello all had 15 wins as August closed out.
The month of August was big for the Angels’ Matt Shoemaker, who led all of MLB with 6 wins (versus just one August loss). Shoemaker’s 1.31 ERA was also the lowest among AL pitchers with at least 20 IP in the month. Thirteen pitchers logged four wins for the month, including the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, who went 4-1 in ix starts and had the lowest ERA in the NL for the month (minimum 20 IP) at 1.57.
For the season (through August 31), your ERA leaders were the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (1.73) and the White Sox’ Chris Sale (2.11).
The strikeout leader in the AL through August remained Tiger (former Ray) David Price, with 224 whiffs in 203 1/3 innings – followed closely by teammate Max Scherzer with 220 Ks in 187 2/3 IP. The Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg continued to lead the NL with 210 Ks in 183 innings. Other hurlers who topped the 200 mark by August 31 included: the Indians’ Corey Kluber (213 K in 192 2/3 IP); the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez (205 in 198 innings); and the Reds’ Johnny Cueto (205 in 207 IP).
In August, nobody stuck out more hitters than the White Sox’ Chris Sale with 56 Ks in 39 August innings. The Giants’ Madison Bumgarner matched Sales’ total, to lead the NL with 56 strikeouts in 46 August innings.
At the close of August, your saves leader was the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel (41 saves in 45 opportunities), while the Royals’ Greg Holland led the AL with 40 saves in 42 chances. The only other pitcher with 40 saves as of August 31 was the Cardinals’ Trevor Rosenthal (40 saves in 45 opportunities).
The Royals’ Greg Holland led all of MLB in August saves (11), helping spur the Royals surge. Craig Kimbrel of the Braves led the NL with 9 August saves.
Standings as of August 31 (close of play)
TEAM W L PCT GB (Aug)
Baltimore 79 56 .585 (19-9)
NY Yankees 70 65 .519 9.0 (15-13)
Toronto 69 67 .507 10.5 (9-17)
Tampa Bay 66 77 .482 14.0 (13-16)
Boston 60 76 .441 19.5 (12-16)
Kansas City 74 61 .548 (19-9)
Detroit 74 62 .544 0.5 (16-15)
Cleveland 70 64 .522 3.5 (17-9)
Chicago WS 62 75 .453 13.0 (9-19)
Minnesota 59 77 .434 11.0 (11-18)
LA Angels 83 53 .610 (19-10)
Oakland 78 58 .574 5.0 (12-17)
Seattle 73 62 .541 9.5 (17-10)
Houston 59 79 .428 25.0 (15-14)
Texas 53 83 .390 16.0 (10-18)
Washington 77 58 .570 (19-10)
Atlanta 72 65 .526 6.0 (14-14)
Miami 66 69 .489 11.0 (13-14)
NY Mets 64 73 .467 14.0 (12-17)
Philadelphia 62 74 .456 15.5 (14-13)
Milwaukee 73 63 .537 (13-14)
St. Louis 73 63 .537 (16-13)
Pittsburgh 71 65 .522 2.0 (14-14)
Cincinnati 66 71 .482 7.5 (12-17)
Chicago Cubs 61 76 .4445 12.5 (16-14)
LA Dodgers 77 60 .562 (15-13)
San Francisco 74 62 .544 2.5 (16-12)
San Diego 64 71 .474 12.5 (16-11)
Arizona 57 79 .419 19.5 (9-18)
Colorado 54 82 .397 22.5 (10-18)