This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: August, 2017
Sold! The Marlins Without Jeffrey Loria Rhys Hoskins, the Latest Young Boomer
The Grown-ups Play at Williamsport Goodbye, Darren Daulton and Don Baylor

Best and Worst of the Week

Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

126 23 43 6 1 12 35 2 1 0 3

Sometimes, the All-Star Break is a ballplayer’s best friend. Ask Machado, who’s arguably a default choice to play third for the AL in the Midsummer Classic—except this year, because he was barely hitting above .200 by mid-July. So Machado got much needed R&R and is clearly back on track, putting in his best effort to help a Baltimore attack that overall hit .309 in August. The big highlight among the many this month for Machado was a walk-off grand slam—his third homer of the game—to defeat the Angels on August 18, 9-7

Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

109 28 38 6 0 18 37 10 4 3 1

The Mad Masher from Miami had a good enough July to win this honor, but boy was he warming up. In August, Stanton seemed downright unstoppable; his 18 home runs tied the all-time mark for homers hit in August (he finished just two shy of Sammy Sosa’s 1998 record for the most homers in any month), went yard in six straight games, and established a Marlins monthly mark with 37 RBIs. Oh, and he’s on pace to hit over 60 and possibly replace Roger Maris for the most homers by a clean player in one year. Enjoy this, Marlins fans—that’s if all the rumors are true that he’ll be shipped to allow the Marlins’ new owners a shot at reducing the heavy debt they inherited from Jeffrey Loria.

Adam Engel, Chicago White Sox

80 5 9 2 2 1 4 4 0 4 1

The 25-year-old Cincinnati native can run fast and has Gold Glove instincts in center field, but the hitting just isn’t there. Or it hasn’t been since Engel began his time in the majors sporting a .300 average through the end of June; since then, he’s been completely lost at the plate, with a piecemeal .100 average since July 26 that would make even Mario Mendoza wince. Thirty-four strikeouts in 80 at-bats last month didn’t help. So while he’s gotten the fielding and baserunning thing down, Engel needs the crash course in hitting…before he crashes and burns back to the minors.

Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers

37 3 2 2 0 0 4 4 0 2 1

This is the reason the Dodgers snared Curtis Granderson from the Mets. Pederson, once the shining slugging prospect in Dodger Blue, just hasn’t seemed to get into gear—and the clutch totally slipped this month as he endured a really rough first 18 days of the month before being sent down to Triple-A to make way for Granderson. Adding insult to injury, the Dodgers are leaving Pederson in the minors while calling up others to fill their expanded September roster

Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians

5-1 46 23 10 10 6 0 2 0 0 54

With Chris Sale suffering through a series of unfortunate starts in August, the Cleveland ace has catapulted himself right alongside the Boston ace among the favorites to win the AL Cy—which, if it goes to Kluber, will be his second such honor. Kluber started the month by locking down the high-powered Yankees and Rockies with a pair of complete-game three-hitters and stayed sharp right on through August, as he basically has all year. Not even an ankle woe that cut short his August 18 start at Kansas City could stop him. So, the question remains: Kluber or Sale? We should have a better idea at the end of September.

Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs

4-1 37.1 27 8 5 12 0 3 1 0 37

Welcome back, Jake—the Cubs have been wondering where you’ve gone. (Maybe the same place where Manny Machado, above, had been before the All-Star Break: Lost.) Bereft of much of his ace-like magic through the season’s first half, Arrieta has gotten his groove back—and just in time, as free agency and a potential big payday loom—with strong consistency since the break, having not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last nine starts. The Cubs, intent on stretching their lead in the NL Central and bolting into the postseason on a high, are especially happy to see the old Arrieta back.

Derek Holland, Chicago White Sox

2-4 28 35 28 28 26 1 2 2 0 21

The 30-year-old lefty is known for being something of a crack-up who can marvel audiences with his Harry Caray impersonation, but there wasn’t anything funny about his August performance. His big problem was the walk, or more specifically the abundance of them; he gave away seven passes alone in an August 8 game against Houston which, ironically, he won. But Holland just hasn’t been the same since undergoing knee surgery in 2014, and he remains one of the few name veterans left on the White Sox—in part because nobody outside of Chicago wants him.

Greg Holland, Colorado Rockies

1-4 9.1 14 14 14 6 0 1 1 0 8

As you can see, it was not a good month to be named Holland in the majors. (Though we hear Holland is a wonderful place to visit this time of year.) Everything was going dynamite for the Rockies’ closer early on, showing his old dominance from back in his Kansas City days by stifling opponent after opponent—in the rarified air of Colorado, no less. Then, at the beginning of this past month, he got a little careless with a kitchen knife—slicing up his near-perfect season. Holland blew three saves, lost four games and gave up multiple runs in five appearances. The Rockies desperately need him in pre-cut condition to hold on to their precious wild card chances.

Cleveland Indians (19-9)

The Indians began the month in something of a dogfight with AL Central competition, but ended it with enough breathing space at the top to comfortably start making first-round postseason plans. Pitching had plenty to do with it, as the Indians led all major league teams with a 3.08 ERA in August—even without super-reliever Andrew Miller, beset with a knee issue. Offensively, the Indians only hit .242 but got the hits when they need them, and that helped them win six in a row at mid-month, followed by a seven-game streak to roll into September. With the Astros struggling and Red Sox still searching for a higher gear, the Indians look to be the team to beat, once again, in the AL.

Los Angeles Dodgers (17-10)

Despite no Clayton Kershaw, no Cody Bellinger, a .234 team average and a season-high five-game losing slide, the Dodgers overall still proved there was no one better in August—and so, for the fourth month running, they earn this honor. Like the Indians above, strong pitching and clutch hitting had much to do with the Dodgers’ recent round of success; the staff allowed opponents to hit only .221 against them, and although the newly-arrived Curtis Granderson had just five hits in 41 at-bats, four of those knocks went over the fence. If this is what the Dodgers can do far from full strength, God help the rest of baseball.

Kansas City Royals (10-18)

With the bulk of their star core headed for free agency, the Royals had to decide before August 1 whether they needed to fold shop, sell and rack up on prospects, or to go all in for one last hurrah. So they opted for the latter, and with risk comes reward—except in this case. In a crowded wild card race, the Royals sank to the bottom of a crowded ladder (think the climactic scene in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World) and failed to make a statement toward winning the AL Central when they lost five of six games head-on against the Indians—the final three by shutout, part of a near-historic drought in which they were held scoreless for 45 straight innings. The Royals still have September, but it’s going to be a long climb over the Buddy Hacketts, Milton Berles and Dick Shawns of the AL.

New York Mets (10-20)

The big question in the Big Apple for the Mets is simply this: Who’s left to play this season out? Having long since raised the white flag on the year, the team some of us picked to win the NL East sent Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Neil Walker packing to the bliss of contending teams while those who remained (Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Reyes and Michael Conforto) struggled to stay healthy. It got so bad, in one game they had to plug in catcher Travis d’Arnaud into the infield, constantly alternating him between second and third so he’d be less likely to field the ball depending on the batter. To add final insult to injury, the Mets lost all four games of the Subway Series to the Yankees. Not exactly the script this team wanted to pen in 2017.

Wild Pitches

Yes, They Can’t Believe This Really Happened
(August 2017 Edition)

That’s Just Nuts
In an August 4 game at Pittsburgh, the Padres Carlos Asuaje was tagged out at third after he thought he had cleared the fence with a home run. After further review, turns out Asuaje was right—as a Pirates fan seated behind the outfield wall can testicle, er, testify.

That’s Also Just Nuts
A former Jimmy Fund patient threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park and missed his target (former major leaguer Mike Andrews) at home plate—but threw a strike to a photographer not far behind.

How Dare You Walk Me!
Cincinnati prospect Jose Siri, plying his trade in the Class-A Midwest League, had a 39-game hit streak end when he walked in his last at-bat. So upset about was he and his Dayton Dragons teammates, they cleared the benches to confront the opposing pitcher from the Great Lakes Loons before order was quickly restored.

Equal Time
Bryce Harper hit his 150th career home run on August 7, at the age of 24 years and 295 days—the exact same age that American League contemporary Mike Trout hit his, a year ago.

This is Why You Never Touch the Chalk
Atlanta infielder Johan Camargo suffered a knee bruise running onto the field moments before the first pitch of an August 8 game as he stumbled while reaching down to touch the chalk behind third base. He missed two weeks as a result.

Dollar Tree Special
The Rangers sold reliever (and one-time closer) Ernesto Frieri to the Mariners for a buck.

Signature Moment
Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery took a line drive to the head…while signing autographs before a game.

Apparently, You Buy “As Is”
The new Marlins ownership group reportedly wanted to remove the love-it-or-hate-it home run sculpture behind Marlins Park’ center field wall. The City of Miami said that it couldn’t be moved because it’s “art.”

For Name’s Sake
Oakland rookie Boog Powell—no relation to the slugger of 1960s fame with the Orioles—hit his first career home run…into Boog Powell’s BBQ kiosk at Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

All or Nothing
At the end of August, the Rangers’ Joey Gallo has 97 career hits—43 of them for home runs. He’s the first major leaguer ever to have belted over 40 homers before reaching 100 total hits

This Month’s Proof That Everybody’s Striking Out
Close, but no cigar. Major leaguers in August continued the strikeout rampage, in part to continue their home run rampage—which they are succeeding quite well at (see below). But the 6,906 total Ks they accumulated fell just eight shy of the all-time monthly record, set back in May. It still represents a 1.8% increase over August 2016, and suggests that as long as players keep swinging for the fences as never before, the monthly record will always be at great risk.

This Month’s Proof That Everybody’s Hitting Home Runs
There was no letting up in the output for what’s clearly a record year for home runs; in fact, the long balls just keep coming as an all-time monthly record 1,119 were recorded in August. Overall, over 5,000 have been hit for the season through the end of August, another first. Fittingly, the man who hit the homer for the record-setter at 1,102 was the Reds’ Scooter Gennett, the second baseman previously known for mild sock at best—but suddenly has 23 this year, including four in one game

League vs. League

After a strong July to more than hint that the National League would come back and claim interleague supremacy for the first time in 14 long years, those other guys over in the American League put up the stop sign and remarked, “Not so fast, my friend.” (Sorry, Lee Corso.) The AL won 37 of 68 head-to-head match-ups with the NL in August to extend a slim lead to 143-133 on the year; it only needs to win eight of the remaining 24 interleague games to maintain its epic dominance.

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Tuesday, August 1
An expected pitcher’s duel between Boston’s Chris Sale and Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco becomes an offensive free-for-all that will go down as one of this season’s most exciting games. The Red Sox knock Carrasco out of the box before the end of the second inning with five runs, while Sale barely manages to get through five frames—exiting after allowing a season-high seven runs. Cleveland outfielder Austin Jackson helps preserve a 7-5 Indians lead in the fifth with, arguably, the year’s most spectacular catch when he upends himself into the Fenway Park bullpen behind right-center to rob Hanley Ramirez of a homer, but the Red Sox rally for four in the sixth to take a 9-7 lead. After the Indians score three off Boston closer Craig Kimbrel to take a 10-9 advantage in the top of the ninth, they appear to have the game won when Keith Moreland strikes out with two outs in the bottom of the frame—but the ball gets away from catcher Yan Gomes, and Moreland makes it to first safely. Christian Vazquez will follow with a three-run homer to win the game, 12-10.

The Cubs clobber Arizona at Chicago, 16-4, behind a noteworthy—if not entirely successful—night for Jon Lester. The Chicago pitcher, who started his career hitless in a major league-record 67 at-bats, goes 2-for-2 and belts his first-ever homer, while on the mound he records his 2,000th career strikeout—but he also fails to last the required five innings to earn the victory, despite leading 8-3 at the point of his removal. The Cubs overall will stroke five homers for the easy win.

For the year, Lester is hitting .150 (6-for-40) with two doubles and the one home run.

Max Scherzer hits the first home run of his career, and he lasts even shorter than Lester—leaving the game after the blast and just one inning of work as he complains of a bothersome neck in Washington’s 7-6 loss at Miami. After taking a 6-0 lead in the second, the Nationals allow the Marlins to tally seven unanswered runs to give them the win.

Howie Kendrick, playing his fourth game for Washington after being acquired from Philadelphia, punches out five of the Nationals’ 11 hits.

Tampa Bay quells the high-octane Astros at Houston, 6-4, thanks to Evan Longoria—who completes the second cycle in Rays franchise history. But at first it appears that Longoria will fail in his quest, being called out at second trying to extend a late base hit near the left-field corner; the Rays call for a video review, and it’s confirmed that Longoria did reach the bag before the tag, earning him the double and the final leg of the cycle.

Wednesday, August 2
Jordan Zimmermann, the ex-Washington standout who’s been a bit of a disappointment in his two years since joining Detroit, allows no runs in a start for the first time since his first three outings in a Tigers uniform back at the start of 2016—going seven innings deep in a 2-0 win over the Yankees at New York. The Tigers previously had been 0-23 this season when scoring three or fewer runs on the road.

The Yankees’ lone highlight of the day is an immaculate inning—nine pitches, nine strikes, three strikeouts—thrown by reliever Dellin Betances. It’s the sixth such inning thrown by a major league pitcher this year, one shy of the season record.

Dodgers lose! Dodgers lose! With a 5-3 loss at Atlanta decided on Tyler Flowers’ two-run, tie-breaking homer in the eighth inning, Los Angeles has lost only three games over the last 31 days—all of them to the Braves.

Oh, now we get it: The Dodgers’ loss ends a record streak of 53 straight games in which the team led at some point and did not lose. The media had poorly worded the definition of the streak, constantly saying that the Dodgers had won X straight games when holding a lead—and never explained it. We had thought it was all about winning games they had a lead in—which pretty much is every victory, except for an instance when they win on a walk-off hit despite trailing or being tied for the entire contest before—something they managed to do on July 31 versus San Francisco. But now the streak is over, and only now is it being understandably defined. Thanks, guys—not.

Minnesota’s Ervin Santana fires his fifth complete game of the year—no other pitcher has more than two—as he scatters two runs on four hits in a 5-2 win at San Diego.

Edinson Volquez, owner of the majors’ only no-hitter this season, will undergo Tommy John surgery—putting an end to his 2017 campaign and, quite likely, most of 2018 as well. Despite the no-no, the 34-year-old Volquez has otherwise had a sketchy year in this, his first season with Miami, posting a 4-8 record and 4.19 earned run average over 17 starts.

Thursday, August 3
Paul Goldschmidt becomes the first Arizona hitter in five years to plant three home runs in the bleachers, his final one a tie-breaking shot in the ninth to help the Diamondbacks to a 10-8 win over the Cubs at Chicago. In addition to his first career hat trick, Goldschmidt drives in six runs—and is all but matched by the Cubs’ Willson Contreras, who also drives in six on three hits including two homers. The game lasts four hours, but the experience for those at Wrigley Field is further lengthened by a 90-minute delay before the first pitch and two later delays that total an hour.

Goldschmidt and Contreras become the first pair of clean-up (#4) hitters to each knock in six or more runs in a major league game.

In his first start for the New York Yankees after being traded from Oakland, Sonny Gray is greeted by his new teammates with three first-inning errors that lead to two unearned runs, setting the tone for a 5-1 loss in Cleveland. The Indians’ Corey Kluber is abetted by flawless defense and goes the distance for the third time this season, scattering a run on three hits.

Tampa Bay defeats the Astros at Houston, 5-3, behind five innings of scoreless work from the Rays’ bullpen following an iffy start for Blake Snell—who is winless in 14 starts this season with a 0-6 record. It’s the third straight loss for the Astros, matching their longest skid of the year produced three other times; all four streaks have all come at home.

Friday, August 4
Yu Darvish’s debut with the Dodgers after four-plus seasons with Texas is a beauty, tossing seven shutout innings while striking out 10 in a 6-0 blanking of the Mets at New York. Chris Taylorwhy didn’t you play like this for Seattle, Mariners fans wonder—hits his 14th home run, scores three times and raises his season average to .314 for Los Angeles.

Another post-trade debut doesn’t work so well in Cleveland for the Yankees’ Jaime Garcia, as he surrenders six runs (five earned) over 4.2 innings as New York bows once again at Cleveland, 7-2. Garcia becomes the first pitcher in major league history to start three games over no more than 15 days for three different teams.

Bartolo Colon, who like Garcia pitched earlier for the Braves before moving on to the Twins (albeit briefly, for Garcia), becomes the oldest pitcher since Jamie Moyer in 2010, the oldest American Leaguer since Nolan Ryan in 1992, and the oldest, period, in Senators/Twins history to throw a complete game as he tames the Rangers at Minnesota, 8-4. Colon throws 106 pitches in earning his first win in four starts for the Twins.

Albert Pujols becomes the all-time leader in grounding into double plays, recording his 351st to pass Cal Ripken Jr. Overall, Pujols is 0-for-5 and lends no contribution to the Los Angeles Angels’ 8-6 comeback victory over Oakland, as the Angels scores six unanswered over the sixth and seventh innings.

Oakland’s Matt Joyce, grounding out to end the eighth, vents his frustration by getting baited by a heckler in the stands—and responds with a homophobic slur to shut him up. MLB will suspend Joyce for two games, and the pay he would have received for those games will go instead to LGBTQ organizations.

No Jose Altuve, no George Springer, no Carlos Correa—no problem. Without their three primary stars, the Astros’ bat once again kick into high gear and demolish the Toronto Blue Jays at Houston, 16-7. Starring for Houston on this night is Yuli Gurriel, who is 3-for-3 with a double, home run and two walks, and recently recalled Tyler White, who homers twice, doubles and drives in five runs.

It’s the fifth time this year that the Astros have scored at least 15 runs in a game, setting a team record.

Milwaukee slides back to within a half-game of the NL Central-leading Cubs with a 2-0 shutout win at Tampa Bay. Brandon Woodruff, making his major league debut nearly two months after his first attempt was foiled via a pregame injury, throws 6.1 shutout innings to nab the victory.

The highlight for the Rays is an immaculate inning from reliever Jose Alvarado—making his first appearance since June 24—to tie the all-time record set in 2014 for the most such innings thrown by major league pitchers in one season.

Saturday, August 5
The Dodgers overcome a 3-0 deficit at New York by launching five home runs over the last four innings—including one each from the top four batters in their lineup—to plate seven and defeat the Mets, 7-3. Los Angeles is now 43-7 over its last 50 games, the most wins over such a stretch since the New York Giants ran off a similar win total in 1912; only the 1906 Cubs (who won 45 of 50) have done better in modern (post-1900) times.

Break out the Panda hats—that is, if you haven’t burned them. Pablo Sandoval, recently brought in off waivers from Boston, plays his first game back in a San Francisco Giants uniform since the 2014 World Series and has a double in three at-bats to help spark a 5-4 comeback win in 10 innings over Arizona.

While the Giants may have the third lowest win total in the majors, they lead everyone in extra-inning victories with 11. (They’ve also played the most games in overtime, with 17.)

A night after Bartolo Colon’s complete-game effort, the Rangers’ Cole Hamels returns the favor by going the distance, locking down the Twins on 96 pitches with an unearned run on four hits allowed in a 4-1 victory at Minnesota. It’s Hamels first complete game of the season and 16th of his career.

The Orioles tame the Detroit Tigers at Baltimore, 5-2, with the help of Tim Beckham, who singles and homers in his fifth game since being acquired from Tampa Bay. Beckham now has 13 hits including three home runs in his first five games; no other player in modern major league history has accumulated similar or better numbers over the first five games for one team.

Sunday, August 6
The Astros storm back in the ninth against Toronto closer Roberto Osuna, scoring four times—the last tallied on a single from oft-used catcher Juan Conteno—to triumph at Houston, 7-6. This is only Conteno’s third game this season; he homered in his previous two, played back in May.

It’s the third blown save of the week for Osuna, who now has seven on the year; only Atlanta’s Jim Johnson (eight) has more.

Jose Altuve gathers his 11th three-hit performance over his last 26 games, and is easily on pace to reach 200 hits for the fourth straight year.

More walk-off dramatics take place in St. Petersburg, a place where it hasn’t happened of late, as the Rays get a game-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth from Scott Souza Jr. to defeat the Brewers, 2-1. It’s the first walk-off blast for Tampa Bay in over three years.

Once-and-current Pirate Sean Rodriguez, the last Ray to go deep to win a game back in 2014—and playing in his first game back with Pittsburgh after being acquired from Atlanta—sends his new teammates home happy with a walk-off blast in the bottom of the 12th for a 5-4 win over San Diego.

Colorado cannot secure a home sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies as closer Greg Holland—recently tabled after a kitchen knife accident—blows only his second save of the year by allowing two runs in the ninth. The game is statistically notable in that the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon becomes the first major leaguer this season to score 100 runs; he needs just 11 runs to match his career high (set just last year), and is on pace to plate 145—which would be the most scored by a major leaguer since Sammy Sosa’s 146 in 2001.

The Seattle Mariners, thick in the American League’s wild card logjam as they try to end a 16-year postseason drought, enhance their roster by picking up first baseman Yonder Alonso from Oakland. Alonso is having a career year, to say the least—hitting 22 home runs for the A’s to easily surpass his previous personal season best of nine with the 2012 Padres.

Darren Daulton, the handsome, burly catcher who was part of the Phillies’ raucous funhouse during the 1990s, loses his battle to brain cancer at the age of 55. The 14-year vet essentially played his entire career with the Phillies, wrapping his career late in 1997 with a 52-game stint for the Marlins (where he collected his first and only World Series ring); he appeared in three All-Star Games and knocked in 100 runs in successive seasons (1992-93), leading the NL with 109 in 1992. But his life outside of the ballpark was equally worthy of headlines, albeit on the tabloid page. Daulton married three times, his second of which ended with him serving time in jail for not following the divorce decree. Additionally, he was arrested several times for DUI-related offenses, and he suffered multiple broken bones in a 1991 solo car accident in which he was the passenger in a Mercedes Benz driven by teammate Lenny Dykstra after leaving a party. Still, Daulton is well recalled and relished by Phillies fans who saw him as the spiritual leader of their team during a vibrant chapter in its history.

Monday, August 7
For the second time in less than 24 hours, the baseball world loses a recent star with the passing of former outfielder, DH and manager Don Baylor. The Austin, Texas native was just good enough not to be an All-Star, except in 1979—when he took the AL MVP award by hitting .296 with 36 home runs and major league bests in 120 runs scored and 139 knocked in for the California Angels. (He never knocked in 100 in any other one season.) Baylor was powerful, fast—once stealing 52 bases for the 1976 Oakland A’s—and often a target by being hit 267 times, the most ever until Craig Biggio came along. In the clubhouse, Baylor was a tremendous clubhouse presence, which may have helped his teams reach the postseason seven times over his 19 years of play, including three straight World Series trips for three different teams (the 1986 Red Sox, 1987 Twins and 1988 A’s). He represented a little-known fact of fate in Game Six of the 1986 Fall Classic when he was recalled back from the on-deck circle by Boston manager John McNamara while preparing to pinch-hit for Bill Buckner; McNamara had second thoughts and sent Buckner out for the ninth, and we all know how that story ended.

As a manager, Baylor piloted the Rockies for the first six years of their existence, and was an esteemed hitting coach who helped raised the likes of Andres Galarraga, Paul Goldschmidt and Mike Trout. His final bit of news on the field was probably his most embarrassing; he broke a leg while catching the ceremonial first pitch of the Angels’ 2014 campaign.

Mike Trout, the aforementioned Baylor pupil, strokes his 1,000th career hit on his 26th birthday—but any celebration is muted as Baltimore’s Manny Machado blasts a seventh-inning, tie-breaking grand slam to lift the Orioles to a 6-2 win over the Angels in Anaheim.

After hitting just .216 through the season’s first three months, Machado has come to belated life—batting .343 with six homers and 27 RBIs over his last 134 at-bats.

Tuesday, August 8
Sometimes, celebrating a major milestone can get you in hot water. As umpire Joe West on June 20 as the veteran umpire approached his 5,000th career game behind the plate, USA Today asked him who baseball’s biggest complainer was. West said it was the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre: “Every pitch you call that’s a strike, he says, ‘Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!’ I had a game with him recently and the pitch was right down the middle. He tells me, ‘That ball is outside.’ I told him, ‘You may be a great ballplayer, but you’re the worst umpire in the league. You stink.’” For saying that, MLB decides to suspend West for three days, citing an “appearance of lack of impartiality.” The umpires union protests, and Beltre himself thinks the punishment is excessive and that West should not be suspended.

Perhaps MLB is sending a message to umpires, out of fear that this could lead to other arbiters publicly suggesting bias against certain players. But still, three games for something like this seems a little over the top.

Stifled for eight innings by superb Colorado pitching and trailing 1-0 headed into the bottom of the ninth, the Indians rally off Rockies closer Greg Holland for four runs—the final three coming on a walk-off Yan Gomes homer—to win at Cleveland, 4-1. The comeback is a reward for Indians ace Corey Kluber, who tosses his second straight complete game (and fourth of the year) while becoming the first pitcher ever to strike out at least 10 batters in his first five starts after the All-Star Break.

In his first 42 appearances this year, Holland had blown one save and allowed seven earned runs. In his last two, he’s blown both chances and given up six runs.

Kluber is the first pitcher since 1996 to earn a complete-game win despite trailing from the first inning to the last at-bat.

Sports Illustrated pores through local health inspection data and determines the ranking of food safety at all but two MLB venues (Cleveland and Detroit, for which there was not enough public info). The honor for the safest ballpark goes to Seattle’s Safeco Field, the one that introduced toasted grasshoppers as part of its concession menu this season (so go figure). The two worst are the stadiums MLB is trying desperately to get its teams out of: The Oakland Coliseum and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

Wednesday, August 9
Boston’s Rick Porcello strikes out the side on nine pitches in the fifth inning at Tampa Bay to achieve MLB’s record-setting eighth “immaculate” inning of the year, in the Red Sox 8-2 win—their eighth straight. Porcello earns his sixth win against 14 losses as he tries to avoid becoming the first pitcher since Mike Maroth in 2003 to lose 20.

Ryan Zimmerman homers twice, doubles and knocks in five runs to move ahead of Tim Wallach on the Nationals/Expos’ all-time RBI list with 910, all part of a 4-for-4 day in Washington’s 10-1 home smashing of the Miami Marlins. The 13-year veteran, who’s played every year in Washington since the team’s relocation from Montreal, also has become the all-time franchise leader this season in home runs and doubles; he needs 73 hits to pass Wallach for #1 on that list.

The Nationals’ pass to the postseason continues as they lead the Marlins—second in the NL East, at 53-59—by 14 games. It’s also the 19th time they’ve scored 10 or more runs this season, the most in all of MLB.

The Rockies tie the Indians in the ninth on a RBI double from Jonathan Lucroy—who Cleveland fans boo for refusing a trade to the Tribe last season—and then Charlie Blackmon, owner of a career .026 (1-for-38) batting average in extra innings, takes it from there. Blackmon has two overtime hits including a solo home run in the 12th to give the Rockies a 3-2 win.

Philadelphia’s Odubel Herrera triples twice within the first three innings at Atlanta, as the Phillies eventually tip the Braves, 3-2, to run their record against Atlanta this season to 11-2. Against the rest of baseball, the Phillies are 31-67.

For the second straight year, Jay Bruce is on the move. The slugging outfielder, picked up from the Mets a year ago from Cincinnati, is sent by New York to the Indians for low-level minor league reliever Ryder Ryan. Bruce, who’s on pace to hit a career-high 42 homers, is a free agent at the end of the season—but that doesn’t stop irate Mets fans from complaining about what little they feel their team received in return.

Thursday, August 10
It’s a statement of the obvious, but the dominance of the Dodgers is confirmed tonight by winning their 81st game of the year—ensuring a non-losing record over seven weeks before the end of the regular season. Los Angeles gets the job done behind Yu Darvish, who strikes out 10 over just five innings; he becomes only the fourth pitcher in major league history to whiff at least 10 in his first two starts for one team.

One of the other three pitchers on that list is another Dodger: Karl Spooner, who in 1954 struck out 27 over his first two games (both shutouts) before suffering a major shoulder injury the following spring that he never fully recovered from.

Proving once again that anything can happen in baseball, the Chicago White Sox—the AL’s worst team—finish off a three-game home sweep of the Houston Astros (the AL’s best) with an 11-inning, 3-2 win. The winning run comes on a single from rookie Yoan Moncada—who had also furnished the tying run with a solo homer in the ninth.

The Astros’ loss also is the end of a franchise record-tying streak of 10 straight games with an extra-base hit for Alex Bregman.

Look who’s suddenly just a game behind the Cubs in the NL Central. The St. Louis Cardinals win their sixth straight, as a Dexter Fowler grand slam in the seventh breaks a 3-3 tie and serves as insurance as the Cardinals survive a late rally by the visiting Kansas City Royals to triumph, 8-6. Only three games separate the division’s top four teams—and the Cubs, at the top, are sweating it out even more after learning that young star catcher Willson Contreras will be on the shelf for at up to six weeks after suffering a hamstring injury the day before at San Francisco.

Seattle’s James Paxton fails in his bid to win his eight straight start—which would have set a Mariners record—as he suffers a rib injury while pitching in the seventh as the opposing Angels hold a 3-0 lead. Los Angeles will lose that lead but gain it back in the ninth when Mike Trout’s double clears the bases and gives the Angels a 6-3 road win. Paxton, meanwhile, will be out for the next three weeks.

Friday, August 11
On a day in which Miami owner Jeffrey Loria appears to have sold his team—again—the Marlins defeat the visiting Rockies 6-3 as Giancarlo Stanton continues his power-laden post-All-Star Game tear. Stanton’s major league-leading 40th homer of the year—and his 19th over just his last 31 games—represents the first of five unanswered runs the Marlins tally after trailing 3-1.

In defeat, the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado becomes the first major leaguer this season to reach 100 RBIs—and ensures that he’ll be the first National Leaguer since Willie Stargell (between 1971-73) to do so three straight years.

It will be confirmed by the Marlins the next day: The team has indeed reached an agreement to sell the team to a group of investors which includes Yankees legend Derek Jeter for $1.2 billion. If true, and if approved by other major league owners, it will signal the end of one of the game’s most controversial and tumultuous ownership reigns, as Loria has already staked his spot on this list of the most despised owners ever to run a major league ballclub.

The Red Sox come to New York having won eight straight, and have a 3-0 lead going to the bottom of the eighth when the Yankees erupt for five runs to grab the lead and hold on to defeat Boston, 5-4. Aaron Hicks emerges as the hero offensively and defensively for the Yankees; his two-run homer ignites the five-run eighth, and his throw to gun down the Red Sox’ Eduardo Nunez at third completes a ninth-inning double play and squelches a serious Boston threat, after Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman had walked the first three batters.

It’s only the fourth time in major league history that a pitcher has walked the first three batters he faced—and still earned a save.

For the fourth time in their last eight games played at St. Petersburg, the Indians take a no-hitter past five innings—and in this case, two outs into the seventh before Carlos Carrasco finally gives up his first knock of the night, a single to the Rays’ Logan Morrison. Carrasco will finish with eight shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out 10, as the Indians roll to a 5-0 victory.

Saturday, August 12
After a three-hour rain delay that follows a postponement the night before, the Nationals and Giants finally get it on at Washington as the Nats take a 3-1 victory—but also absorb a major scare when Bryce Harper, racing to beat out a ground ball to first, slips on the bag, lands awkwardly on his left knee and catapults upon his shoulder in immense pain. He is carried off without putting any pressure on his left leg, and the worst is assumed…until it’s revealed the next day that he’s suffered nothing more than a bone bruise. He will be placed on the 10-day disabled list, but is expected to be fully ready for the postseason.

The alarming sight of Harper skidding on a wet first base bag has his agent Scott Boras requesting that MLB look into safer materials for bases to protect players.

The win gives Washington skipper Dusty Baker 1,835 career wins—tying Bruce Bochy, who he beats, for the most among active managers.

The Astros continue to be in the midst of their first bona fide slump of the year, losing for the 11th time over their last 14 games—and a season-high fifth straight—by dropping an 8-3 decision at Texas. Mike Fiers is the latest Astros starter to not get the job done, allowing six runs over four innings—and raising the team’s rotation ERA in August to 7.15.

The Tigers and Twins go for a wild ride at Detroit. After the Tigers score five in the first, the Twins counter by going on an 11-1 run over the next five innings to take an 11-6 lead—but the Tigers punch back, tallying six unanswered over the final three innings to notch a 12-11 triumph. Justin Upton’s one-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth serves as the last word, ending Minnesota’s six-game win streak.

The Cardinals win their eight straight and, combined with the Cubs’ 6-2 loss at Arizona, grab a share of the NL Central lead. St. Louis’ 6-5 home victory over the Braves comes courtesy of rookie Paul DeJong, who homers for the 17th time this year—or 30, if you include his minor league activity; he leads the Cardinals in homers this season even though he didn’t debut for the team until May 28.

The Brewers stay within two games of the Cubs and Cardinals and snap a six-game skid as a wild pitch in the 10th from Cincinnati’s Tim Adleman brings home Eric Sogard to give Milwaukee a 6-5 home win. Ryan Braun contributes earlier in the game with a solo home run—the 40th of his career against the Reds, making him the first Brewer ever with 40 or more against one opponent.

Milwaukee gets a boost on its roster by trading for Mets second baseman Neil Walker, in exchange for a player to be named later. Walker, who’s set to be a free agent at season’s end, hit .264 for New York with 10 homers.

The Pirates fail to tie the Brewers for third place and remain three back in the NL Central, dropping a 7-2 result at Toronto. All seven of the Blue Jays’ runs come without the benefit of a hit; three score on errors, two on groundouts, and one each on a sacrifice fly and walk.

Ryan Howard, MIA in the majors since his release from the Phillies last season, signs a minor league deal with Colorado. He had played earlier in the season with Atlanta’s Triple-A team but was let go after hitting .184 with one homer in 11 games.

Sunday, August 13
Boston’s youth comes to the rescue in the late innings to pull out a 3-2, 10-inning win over the Yankees in New York to take the series and extend their lead in the AL East to 5.5 games. The Red Sox tie it in the ninth on a solo home run from 20-year-old Rafael Devers, whose blast comes off a 102.8-MPH pitch from Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman—the fastest pitch hit over the fence in the Statcast era. (It’s also only the second homer ever allowed by Chapman to a left-handed batter.) An inning later, rookie Andrew Benintendi’s single drives home the go-ahead run.

A week later, after two more subpar outings which bring his season ERA to 4.29, Chapman will be demoted from the Yankees’ closer role.

Giancarlo Stanton stays hot, homering for the fourth straight game and for the 42nd time this season—matching Gary Sheffield’s Marlins season record from 1996—as Miami takes a 5-3 home victory over Colorado.

There are 23 active players with more career home runs than Stanton’s 250—but none of them are younger than age 31. Stanton is 27.

The Angels sweep a four-game series at Seattle—and take a 1.5-game lead for the AL’s second wild card spot—by defeating the Mariners, 4-2. Rookie Parker Bridwell, one of 11 Los Angeles pitchers to have started a game this season, improves to 7-1 with a 2.88 ERA with 6.2 solid innings.

Dallas Keuchel, in his fourth start after spending nearly two months on the shelf, picks up his first win since June 2 as the Astros snap their five-game slide with a 2-1 victory at Arlington over the Rangers.

Monday, August 14
Five months after undergoing chemo in an effort to rid himself of testicular cancer, Chad Bettis makes his first start of the year and throws seven shutout innings at Coors Field to help give the Rockies a 3-0 win over Atlanta. Bettis will not get the win as he leaves a 0-0 game and the Rockies do not score until the eighth, when they rally against former Colorado pitcher Rex Brothers.

A day after tying the Marlins’ season home run record, Giancarlo Stanton breaks it with a first-inning solo shot in Miami’s 8-3 home win over San Francisco, giving the Marlins five straight victories.

Stanton will go deep again the next day to give him a streak of six straight games with a homer, to be snapped a day after that. Stanton will make a few waves by publicly stating that he’s shooting for 61 home runs because “personally, I do (think 61 is the record).”

Aaron Judge (140 career games) and Gary Sanchez (139) each hit their 40th career home runs—reaching the mark in fewer games than any other major leaguer except Mark McGwire (110) and Rudy York (129)—to help the Yankees to a 4-2 home decision over the Mets. For good measure, a third Yankees home run is belted by Aaron Hicks—and it’s the 40th of his career, albeit in a few more games (435).

The Indians up their lead in the AL Central to five games with a 7-3 victory at Boston, thanks in large part to Edwin Encarnacion’s two homers. But the Red Sox—and more specifically, Rafael Devers, make it interesting for the home fans as the 20-year-old rookie continues to excite with a pair of homers, becoming only the third Red Sox player (after Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro) to have a multi-homer game before age 21. Devers is hitting .339 with six jacks in 62 at-bats since being called up.

Tuesday, August 15
Rafael Devers makes news again as the Red Sox demolish the Cardinals at Boston, 10-4. The young Dominican native wraps out two more hits and starts the Red Sox’ first triple play since 2011.

Tampa Bay, desperate for runs of late, finally breaks out with a 6-4 win at Toronto behind home runs from Lucas Duda and Wilson Ramos. The Rays had scored only 12 runs over their last 10 games, the lowest total by an AL team since the advent of the designated hitter in 1973.

The winning pitcher for the Rays is Blake Snell, who earns his first victory of the year—breaking a slump of 16 straight winless starts.

The Dodgers plate five runs in the eighth to break a 1-1 tie and defeat the visiting Chicago White Sox, 6-1. The win puts Los Angeles 50 games over the .500 mark; they are on pace for 115 wins, one shy of the major league record.

It’s a good day for the Brewers, who recently haven’t had many. Behind Zach Davies’ 14th win of the year, Milwaukee defeats the visiting Pirates, 3-1, to fall into a second-place tie with St. Louis, and 1.5 games back of the NL Central-leading Cubs (2-1 losers at home to Cincinnati).

Davies is on pace to become the Brewers' first 20-game winner since Ted Higuera in 1986.

Wednesday, August 16
Aaron Judge’s monster shot to Citi Field’s third deck helps lift the Yankees to a 5-3 Subway Series victory over the Mets. Judge’s 37th homer of the year is offset by a record-breaking moment the powerful rookie would rather not boast about; his ninth-inning strikeout gives him at least one in each of his last 33 games, toppling the record previously held by Adam Dunn in 2012.

Crossing their fingers, the Mets start catcher Travis d’Arnaud at third base—and constantly rotate him between third and second with Asdrubal Cabrera, depending on whether the Yankee batter at the plate is batting left or right. The idea, of course, is to keep d’Arnaud—whose previous infield experience as a professional is two games as a first baseman for Triple-A Las Vegas in 2012—from having anything hit near him. He plays the entire game either at third or second, making just one putout on the evening—a catch of a pop-up in the ninth.

The Cubs blow a five-run lead at home against Cincinnati, but rebound for a 7-6 win in the ninth when the Reds’ Blake Wood throws wildly past home plate, bringing Javier Baez home with the winning run. The Cincinnati loss is also the end of a 20-game streak in which star hitter Joey Votto reached base at least twice—just one shy of the all-time mark set by Ted Williams in 1948.

The Padres finish off a three-game home sweep of Philadelphia as Clayton Richard serves up a three-hit, 3-0 shutout—his first victory after 10 straight winless starts—while Wil Myers becomes the first major leaguer since 2011 to steal second, third and home in the same inning.

Jered Weaver, who failed to make a go for it with the Padres after being released last season by the Angels, announces his retirement at age 34. The tall right-hander is listed #1 on our list of the Angels’ greatest pitchers, and for good reason; he won 150 games for the franchise, including 20 in 2012 and 18 in 2011 and 2014 each, while keeping his ERAs constantly around the 3.00 mark. His fastball abandoned him over the latter stages of his career, and by the time he was given a chance for reclamation with the Padres this year, he could throw no faster than 85 MPH—leading opponents to find him no mystery, as reflected in his 0-5 record and 7.44 ERA in nine starts for San Diego.

Thursday, August 17
As the ugly specter of racism rises to the surface this past week with violent clashes between white supremacists and protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Boston Red Sox announce they will seek to rename Yawkey Way, the street to which the Red Sox’ front office doors are located, after retired slugger David Ortiz. The move is suggested because of the alleged racist past of late long-time Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, whose team was the last to integrate in 1959 when Pumpsie Green was brought up as the Sox’ first African-American player.

Some see the Red Sox’ move as a kneejerk reaction to the “belief” that Yawkey was racist. Red Sox historian and novelist Bill Nowlin, who’s spent six years researching and writing a book on Yawkey, said that he “never once found any evidence that Yawkey was personally racist,” adding: “I looked for a smoking gun, and couldn’t find one.” Maybe Nowlin is correct in his assumption; Yawkey did come from a South Carolina plantation, did pass on Jackie Robinson (albeit after being forced to give him a tryout), and became the last major league owner to integrate. Assumptive suspicions, yes—but not factual evidence—that Tom Yawkey was racist.

A wild series between the Cubs and Reds in Chicago only gets wilder. Cincinnati storms out to a 9-1 lead in the second, knocking Jon Lester out of the box—and onto the disabled list with a fatigued shoulder—before the Cubs come roaring back to tie; the Reds rally often and late enough to survive with a 13-10 victory. In defeat, the Cubs launch six home runs—five off Reds starter Scott Feldman, who has now allowed 10 over his last 13.2 innings pitched.

Lester becomes the first pitcher in the modern era to suffer two starts of nine or more runs given up in less than two innings during one season.

The Indians make it 10 wins in their last 10 games at Minnesota’s Target Field, upending the Twins in the first game of a doubleheader, 9-3, as Carlos Carrasco and five relievers combine to strike out a franchise-record 19 batters. The Twins will avoid a season sweep at home against Cleveland by winning the second game, 4-2—whiffing only nine times in the process to end the Indians’ major league-record streak of 13 straight games striking out at least 10 opponents.

In a matchup of baseball’s two worst teams by the record, the Giants take a 5-4 home victory over the Phillies as they score all of their runs off Philadelphia starter Aaron Nola—who had not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his previous 10 starts, a Phillies record.

Friday, August 18
Everything is looking good for the Angels, winners of seven of their previous eight games and leading the Orioles, 7-5, going to the bottom of the ninth in Baltimore. But then Manny Machado comes along to ruin it all. The Orioles’ star third baseman delivers with the bases loaded and one out, cranking out a walk-off grand slam—his third homer of the night, and his third slam of the month—to give Baltimore a 9-7 triumph. Machado’s hat trick and seven RBIs both tie career marks.

A first-inning home run by the Angels’ Albert Pujols gives him 5,399 career total bases, placing him on the all-time top 10 list.

Seattle moves within a half-game of the Angels for the AL’s final wild card spot by knocking down the Rays at St. Petersburg, 7-1. Nelson Cruz doubles twice and crushes the longest home run in Tropicana Field history, a 482-foot smash that’s his 30th of the season. He’s a wee bit off pace from reaching 40 for the fourth consecutive season.

For the second time this year, the Twins tie a franchise mark for home runs hit in a home game with six—including an inside-the-park job by Byron Buxton—as they pound Arizona, 10-3.

The home run barrage is just part of a record-breaking night for baseball, which sees 58 total homers—the most ever hit on a day when 15 or fewer games are played. There were 62 belted out on July 2, 2000, but there were 16 contests taking place on that day.

For the second time in three games, White Sox rookie Ricky Delmonico collects two home runs—one inside the park—to give Chicago a 4-3 victory over the Rangers at Arlington. Called up on August 1 as the Sox began dealing their veterans elsewhere, Delmonico is batting .382 with five homers and 11 RBIs in 55 at-bats.

The Mets continue their veteran purge and the Dodgers, who really don’t need another outfielder, get one anyone as Curtis Granderson is dealt to Los Angeles after three-plus years with New York. The 36-year-old Granderson is slated to be a free agent at season’s end, which is why the Mets get so little (the player to be named later) in return.

Saturday, August 19
CC Sabathia outduels Chris Sale, becomes a 10-game winner for the first time since 2013 and reaches the #1 spot on the all-time strikeout list among American League lefties with 2,810 Ks as the Yankees take a 4-3 decision at Boston. Despite the win, the Yankees continue to absorb rookie Aaron Judge’s miserable second half; he’s 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, breaks pitcher Bill Stoneman’s season record for most consecutive games with at least one strikeout (regardless of position) at 36, and is now batting .175 with 57 strikeouts in 120 at-bats since the All-Star break.

The second-half Judge is almost exactly like the one we saw when he first came up late last season, when he hit .179 with 42 Ks in 84 at-bats.

Derek Holland’s first start in Arlington since leaving the Rangers to pitch for the White Sox is not a good one, even after he’s staked to an early 5-0 lead. Texas piles up seven runs on six hits and four walks through 2.2 innings off Holland, and the Rangers don’t stop there—lighting up the scoreboard throughout the evening before settling for a 17-7 romp. The Rangers’ 20 hits represents the first such performance in their last 920 games, which had been the majors’ longest active streak.

The Astros shut down Oakland at Houston, 3-0, behind six double plays and a perfect ninth from reliever Tyler Clippard, who becomes the third major leaguer (and first since 1970) to record saves for three different teams in one season. The journeyman pitcher—playing for his seventh team over the last four seasons—also has two saves for the White Sox and one for the Yankees in 2017.

Thirteen is the lucky number for the Dodgers at Detroit. A 3-0 defeat of the Tigers is Los Angeles’ 13th straight win against AL opponents—tying the all-time interleague record—while it’s also its 13th shutout of the season, with starter Hyun-Jin Ryu (five innings) and three relievers sharing in the latest blanking.

Major league umpires, complaining that it’s “open season” on them, wear white armbands on the day to call attention to their alleged plight. The action principally stems from two recent events: MLB’s three-game suspension of veteran ump Joe West for calling out the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, and their failure to suspend (but fine) Detroit’s Ian Kinsler for telling reporters that arbiter Angel Hernandez—who recently sued MLB for being continuously denied a promotion to crew chief—needs to “stop ruining baseball games” following his ejection by Hernandez earlier in the week.

The World Umpires Union, formed in the wake of 1999’s self-destructive demise of the Major League Umpires Association, has considerably less clout than its players’ counterpart and probably felt the need to make a statement.

Sunday, August 20
In conjunction with the ongoing Little League World Series, the Pirates and Cardinals play a Sunday evening contest at Williamsport, Pennsylvania before a sold out crowd of 2,596, most of whom are kids. The venue is not the same where the little leaguers play, but nearby Bowman Field, at 91 years the second oldest active minor league ballpark for which MLB pours over a million dollars into to spruce up—an upgrade that includes the bringing in of the outfield walls to be more in line with average major league facilities. As for the game, the Pirates score three in the first—two on rookie Josh Bell’s 21st homer of the year—and maintain the advantage all the way to the final out, defeating the Cardinals, 6-3.

This is a great idea and hopefully will be the start of an annual tradition. The players can’t help but want to connect with the kids, and it must be uplifting to them to play before such a crowd as opposed to fans who are older and, on occasion, more unruly and drunk.

The game also serves as a preview for next weekend’s dress code, in which major leaguers are allowed to have the last names on the back of their jerseys replaced with nicknames of their choosing. Example given: Pittsburgh starting pitcher Ivan Nova sports the moniker “Supernova.”

Bartolo Colon becomes the 18th pitcher—and the third who’s still active—who can say that he’s won at least one game against all 30 MLB teams, capping his achievement as he earns the victory for Minnesota in their 12-5 home rout of Arizona. A nine-run first inning greatly helps support Colon’s effort.

The Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda and the Tigers’ Justin Verlander both take no-hitters into the sixth inning—and although it’s Verlander who blinks first by giving up a solo homer to Curtis Granderson, it’s Maeda who breaks apart in the bottom half of the frame, allowing four runs, including two on a Justin Upton deep fly. The Tigers go on to win at Detroit, 6-1.

Monday, August 21
The last major league team to record a home shutout this season is the Giants, which is not surprising given how awful San Francisco has been. The victims are the Brewers, who are blanked on four hits by Chris Stratton and three relievers.

Yasiel Puig’s 12th-inning solo homer gives the Dodgers a 6-5 victory at Pittsburgh, but a strong assist goes to the recently acquired Curtis Granderson, whose eighth-inning grand slam is his second in five days—one each for different teams, as he cleared the bases in his final game as a New York Met. No other major leaguer has hit multiple grand slams for different teams in so few days.

Tuesday, August 22
Albert Pujols smacks his 610th career home run to pass Sammy Sosa into eighth on the all-time list—and first among all foreign-born players. Overall, Pujols drives in four runs to assist the Angels in their 10-1 romp over the Rangers at Anaheim.

Veteran pitcher Doug Fister, brought out of exile by the Red Sox in late June, serves up a leadoff homer to the Indians’ Francisco Lindor at Cleveland—and then doesn’t allow a hit the rest of the game, going the distance while walking two and hitting another batter in Boston’s 9-1 victory. It’s Fister’s eighth career complete game and first since 2014.

In a doubleheader at Philadelphia, the Phillies and Marlins combine for 14 home runs, one shy of the major league record for a twinbill. The Phillies are responsible for eight of the dingers—yet get swept by scores of 12-8 and 7-4. Among the home runs hit by Miami is Giancarlo Stanton’s major league-leading 46th—and the 117th career shot for Ichiro Suzuki in a pinch-hitting role.

Only Julio Franco has belted a pinch-hit homer at an older age than Suzuki (43).

Home runs apparently mean nothing when the Cubs and Reds get together. A week after the Cubs hit six homers in a loss to Cincinnati at Chicago, they defeat the Reds to start a three-game series at Cincinnati, 13-9—despite being outhomered, 4-0. Ten unanswered runs between the sixth and eighth innings help put the Cubs over the top.

Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo plays at third base late in the game after Kris Bryant is hit by a pitch. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Rizzo becomes the first left-handed third baseman since Don Mattingly did some emergency work there in 1986.

Wednesday, August 23
The Dodgers’ Rich Hill, who was pulled from a perfect game after seven innings last year, is given the green light to stay in as he takes a perfecto into the ninth at Pittsburgh, before losing it on a Logan Forsythe error to start the frame. Hill will keep the no-hitter intact through nine—but a scoreless game moves the game to the 10th. With just 95 pitches thrown, the Dodgers allow Hill to throw into extras—and the first batter he faces in the 10th, the Pirates’ Josh Harrison, unloads a home run to win it, 1-0. Hill is the first pitcher in 22 years (since Pedro Martinez) to lose a no-hitter in overtime; Harrison is the first hitter, ever, to ruin a no-hit bid with a walk-off homer.

Well, technically, Harrison is the first. In Harvey Haddixfamous 1959 effort in which he pitched 12 perfect innings before losing in the 13th, it was the Milwaukee Braves’ Joe Adcock who homered to win it—but he was officially awarded a double because he passed Hank Aaron on the basepaths.

Hill is the first starting pitcher since Cliff Lee in 2012 to pitch into the 10th inning.

Zach Britton’s AL-record streak of 60 consecutive saves comes to an end, but the Orioles can laugh about it. After the A’s complete an extended late-innings rally with two in the ninth off the Baltimore closer, the Orioles prevail in the 12th when Manny Machado punches out a solo shot for an 8-7 home victory. It’s Britton’s first blown save since September 20, 2015.

Eric Hosmer hits his first career walk-off homer, a three-run shot off former teammate Greg Holland, to give the Royals a 6-4 victory at Kansas City over Colorado. It’s the continuation of a bad month for the Rockies’ closer, who’s now 0-4 with three blown saves and a 21.60 ERA over his last seven appearances.

Thursday, August 24
The Tigers and Yankees decide to get it on in Motown. It starts in the fifth when the Yankees’ Gary Sanchez, who had homered an inning earlier, is hit by a Michael Fulmer pitch. But the fisticuffs don’t begin until an inning later when the Yankees retaliate by throwing behind Miguel Cabrera—who, moments later, gets into an argument and then a wrestling match with New York catcher Austin Romine, prompting the benches to clear. They’ll empty out twice more before the Tigers’ 10-6 victory is complete—the last time after Yankees reliever Dellin Betances drills Detroit catcher James McCann in the helmet. (McCann will be okay.) Six players and both managers are ejected during the game, with suspensions to follow as Cabrera will pick up the heftiest tab with a seven-game sit-down (reduced to six after appeal).

The Dodgers’ bats get back on track—sorry, Rich Hill—and help to take a 5-2 win at Pittsburgh, pushing their record on the season to an extraordinary 90-36. (No other team has yet to win 80.) Los Angeles only needs to go 20-16 the rest of the way to reach 110 wins.

The Phillies lose (again) to Miami at Philadelphia, 9-8, but they may have found someone legit in first baseman/outfielder Rhys Hoskins. The 24-year-old right-handed hitter belts his fifth home run over his last six games and now has eight in 15 games to go along with 19 RBIs. No major leaguer has ever accrued numbers as collective as those through their first 15 career games.

Friday, August 25
Rick Porcello’s post-Cy misery continues—and today he gets a little help from his friends. The Boston pitcher who last year finished with a 22-4 record drops to 8-15 in 2017 as he allows 11 runs—only four of which are earned as the Red Sox commit five errors—in just 4.2 innings, and the Orioles continue to stampede from there to a 16-3 thrashing at Fenway Park.

Tonight begins MLB’s extended weekend in which all 30 teams sport two-tone Little League variations of its regular uniforms, with players given the option to choose nicknames that will be placed above their back jersey numbers. Among the best, with the help of research done by USA Today: “Corey’s Brother” (Kyle Seager), “PTBNL” (acronym for “player to be named later,” worn by Josh Phegley) “All Rise” (Aaron Judge) and Carl’s Jr. (Carl Edwards Jr.).

Saturday, August 26
Cincinnati’s normally live Great American Ball Park churns out a rare 1-0 result—but even rarer are some of the facts behind the game, won by the Pirates over the Reds. The only run comes on a solo home run by Pittsburgh ace Gerrit Cole, the third of his career; it’s the first time the Bucs have won a 1-0 game where the sole run came off the bat of the pitcher. It’s also the first career win over Cincinnati for Cole, who pitches seven shutout frames after going 0-6 in nine previous starts against the Reds.

The Cubs crank out six home runs, including two each by Anthony Rizzo and Tommy La Stella, in drubbing the Phillies at Philadelphia, 17-2—but the headlining news continues to come from the losing side, as the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins accounts for both of their runs on his 10th homer over his first 17 major league games, the first time any major leaguer has earned that achievement in so few games.

Julio Mendez, a 20-year-old prospect playing for the Brewers’ team in the all-rookie Arizona League, suffers a heart attack after being hit in the chest by a pitch in Tempe. He is taken to a hospital where he is listed in critical but stable condition. The game is called immediately after his departure.

Sunday, August 27
As major leaguers continue to pay homage to Little Leaguers by wearing two-tone uniforms with nicknames on the back, the Seattle Mariners pay homage to the kids by just playing like them. In a 10-1 loss to the Yankees at New York, the Mariners commit five errors in the first inning alone, the first team to do so since the Cubs in 1977. They will not botch any more plays the rest of the day, sparing them from matching (or surpassing) the post-1900 modern record of seven by the Cleveland Naps during a 1905 game.

Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson keeps the Dodgers in check at Los Angeles with 6.2 sharp innings, and helps the Brewers take a 3-2 decision. With two losses in the three-game series, it’s the first time the Dodgers have lost a series after winning or splitting 22 in a row, a franchise record and just two shy of the NL record. It’s also the second straight home loss for Los Angeles, after having won 31 of 35—the best such stretch since 1977.

Giancarlo Stanton continues his explosive August, going 3-for-3 with a single, double and his 50th home run of the season, while driving in his 35th run of the month to establish a Marlins record, in Miami’s 6-2 home win over San Diego. Stanton is the first National Leaguer to reach 50 homers in a season since Ryan Howard mashed 58 in 2006, and the first throughout the entire majors since Chris Davis unloaded 53 in 2013.

The Phillies rebound to defeat the Cubs, 6-3, thanks again to Rhys Hoskins—who not only homers once more (giving him 11 in 18 games) but also by starting a 7-4-3 triple play, the first involving an outfielder since 1992.

First it was Trevor Story. Then Gary Sanchez, then Aaron Judge, then Cody Bellinger and now Hoskins, continuing a pattern of rookies blasting home runs early and often to one-up the guy who held the records shortly before them. This is not a trend; it’s a rash—a juicy part of a bigger story in which a record number of home runs are getting hit. Maybe MLB needs to take a hard second look at whether the ball really is more lively this year.

After spinning his wheels in frustration living up to the hype as baseball’s #1 prospect, the Twins’ Byron Buxton finally appears to be getting it. In Toronto, the 23-year-old center fielder is 4-for-5 with three home runs, five RBIs and a stolen base to propel Minnesota to a 7-2 victory over the Blue Jays.

Buxton was hitting .216 with five homers in 255 at-bats before the All-Star Break; since, he’s batting .333 with eight homers in 99 at-bats.

For the second straight day, the Pirates keep the Reds’ potent bats in check—especially that of Cincinnati star hitter Joey Votto—in a 5-2 victory. Votto walks in all five of his plate appearances, matching a career mark previously set in a 10-inning game against the Mets in 2013. Votto easily leads the majors in walks, as he’s on pace for 135—but even that would be short of his career high of 143, established in 2015.

The red-hot Indians shut out the Royals in Cleveland for the day—12-0—and for the series, 20-0, after winning the first two games of the series by 4-0 scores. All 12 runs today are scored within the first two innings, with seven tallied off of Kansas City starter Eric Skoglund—who has not made it past the second inning in any of his last three starts after throwing 6.1 shutout innings in his major league debut back on May 30.

This is the first time the Indians have kept an opponent scoreless in a series of three or more games since a 1956 series against the Washington Senators.

Monday, August 28
It’s déjà bad news for the Royals, who are shut out 12-0 for the second straight day—this time by the visiting Tampa Bay Rays. There’s an extended misery to all of this, as Kansas City has now been blanked in four straight games, the first time that’s happened to an American League team since the designated hitter came into being in 1973. Tampa Bay rookie Austin Pruitt is the latest pitcher to lock down the Royals, allowing one hit through six shutout innings.

The only other time a team has lost consecutive shutouts by 12 or more runs came in 1936 when the St. Louis Browns lost by scores of 12-0 and 14-0 to Detroit in a doubleheader.

The Royals aren’t scoring off the field as well. It’s revealed that pitcher Danny Duffy was cited for a DUI a day earlier. Police discovered him asleep at the wheel while awaiting a fast food order at a drive-thru.

Lest the Marlins have any crazy ideas of making a run at the front-running Nationals in the NL East, they get stomped in an 11-2 loss at Washington as Max Scherzer strikes out 10 over seven innings while keeping red-hot Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton hitless in three at-bats with two Ks. The Nationals’ lead over the Marlins is extended to a very safe 13 games; Miami’s more likely chance to make the postseason rests with the wild card, for which they are 4.5 games behind Colorado for the second spot.

The Giants’ Jeff Samardzija tempers the Padres at San Diego with a 3-0, three-hit shutout, giving him nine career complete games—and at least one over each of the last six, something only three other active pitchers (Clayton Kershaw, Jon Lester and Chris Sale) have done.

Tuesday, August 29
The Astros’ series at Houston against Texas, scheduled to start tonight, is moved to St. Petersburg, Florida as southeast Texas continues to be hammered by “biblical” rains and flooding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Before a crowd of 3,485, the Rangers beat up on the Astros, 12-2—but are beat up off the field after getting involved in some scheduling controversy. The Astros had asked the Rangers to simply switch their home series with another in September scheduled to be played at Arlington, but the Rangers refuse—because Texas does not want to play four straight road series toward the end of the season while fighting for a playoff spot, never mind that Houston is a mere 200 miles from the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex. So the Rangers keep their home series with Houston from September 25-27, and the Astros have no choice but to move this series 1,000 miles east to Florida.

Houston Astros president Reid Ryan, son of legendary pitcher Nolan Ryan, says that the Rangers were willing to move the series to Arlington—but they also wanted to keep the September series there as well. “They did not want to trade series with us,” he remarks publicly. Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. is more blunt. “Greed never takes days off, apparently,” he tweets.

Veteran reporter Richard Justice—formerly of the Houston Chronicle, currently with—pens an article on all of this that rips the Rangers apart—but shortly afterward, a less scathing, far more sanitized version of the story replaces the original online. Apparently, someone at the Rangers didn’t like what Justice had to say and complained to the league-wide webmaster.

Not only do the Royals finally score, they win—defeating the Rays at Kansas City, 6-2. Their long scoreless streak ends in the third inning on Whit Merrifield’s solo home run, the first of three Kansas City long balls on the night; the 45 straight innings without a run is three short of the major league record.

The Royals do tie a more obscure mark by allowing 35 unanswered runs during their drought.

The Reds brings home five runs in the first and pile it up from there, destroying the Mets at Cincinnati, 14-4. The rout ends the Reds’ 14-game losing snap against New York, which had been the majors’ longest active drought.

Young Baltimore pitcher Dylan Bundy gives the Orioles’ struggling rotation a much-needed shot in the arm by throwing a one-hit, 4-0 shutout over Seattle at Camden Yards. Underscoring the 24-year old’s dominance on the night, the Mariners’ lone hit comes on a fourth-inning bunt single by Kyle Seager. It’s the first shutout thrown by an Orioles pitcher since 2014.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it had been 23 years since a batter bunted for the only base hit off a pitcher who otherwise didn’t allow a hit over nine innings.

Wednesday, August 30
For the second time in five days, the Cubs put 17 on the board as they bash the Pirates at Chicago, 17-3, behind four home runs—two from Kyle Schwarber (who’s still hitting only .199) and the 20th of the year for rookie Ian Happ. The latter blast gives the Cubs five different players under the age of 25 with at least 20 homers on the season—a major league first.

Happ also breaks Schwarber’s franchise mark for the fewest games needed to reach 20 career homers, needing just 89 games as compared to Schwarber’s 97.

Pittsburgh reliever Felipe Rivero gives up four hits in the Cubs’ eighth, including one to Tommy La Stella—breaking a 0-for-43 drought by left-handed hitters against the Bucs’ southpaw.

The Braves, who have helped give the Phillies a rare bit of winning consistency on the year by winning just two of 14 games against Philadelphia, make up for lost success by sweeping a doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park by scores of 9-1 and 5-2. Ender Inciarte is the sparkplug that ignites Atlanta, wrapping out eight hits—one shy of the major league record for most hits in a twinbill.

Inciarte continues to be the one guy to shine from a big trade involving the Braves and Diamondbacks (you know, the one that gave Arizona Shelby Miller); he’s hitting .310 and on pace for 210 hits.

So much for the Miami Marlins’ late run toward the postseason (until further notice). The Fish are swept in three games by the Nationals with a 4-0 loss in Washington as Stephen Strasburg throws his second career shutout, a six-hitter, while becoming only the second Expos/Nationals pitcher to blank an opponent while hitting a home run with a solo shot in the fifth.

The Cardinals, tied with the Marlins in the wild card race at 66-66, basically throw in the towel on the season by trading starting pitcher Mike Leake to Seattle—which is desperately trying to cling to its postseason hopes. Leake, 7-12 with a 4.21 ERA for St. Louis, is dealt for minor league shortstop Rayder Ascanio and various cash considerations; the Cardinals will pitch in $17 million to the Mariners to help pay off the remainder of Leake’s contract.

Leake’s former teammates, trying to keep the Cardinals relevant, take the news with a grain of surprise and anger. Tommy Pham: “Is this a joke? April Fool’s was months ago.” Lance Lynn: “So we’re five back in (the NL Central and wild card race) and we’re taking away a pitcher who can pitch 200 innings and get outs at a high level. That’s tough.”

So, do the Cardinals remember that back in 2011, they were 8.5 games behind in the wild card race in September—and came back to win the World Series?

Thursday, August 31
The Detroit Tigers, highly rumored even before Opening Day to be major sellers should they not succeed during the upcoming season, fulfill those predictions in a major way today—trading long-time veteran ace Justin Verlander to Houston while shipping outfielder Justin Upton to the Los Angeles Angels. As a bonus to the Astros, the Angels send outfielder Cameron Maybin—made expendable with the arrival of Upton—to Houston as well. And the Angels don’t stop with Upton; they also acquire veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips from Atlanta.

Verlander aims to strenghten the Astros’ main weakness, which is a tepid starting rotation. His sage and postseason experience should be a boon for the team. But his loss in Detroit will be deeply felt; he has been a stalwart for the Tigers since his 2005 rookie season, and he currently ranks #3 on our list of the greatest Tigers pitchers.

Have the Dodgers peaked too soon? They lose their fifth straight game and suffer their first series sweep of the entire season, losing 8-1 to former Dodger Zack Greinke and the Diamondbacks in Phoenix. It’s the seventh straight win for Arizona, which is now 3.5 games ahead of Colorado for the NL’s first wild card spot; for all it’s worth, the Diamondbacks are 16 back of Los Angeles.

The Orioles, coming into the day with their own seven-game winning streak, has it come to a crashing end thanks to Toronto DH Kendrys Morales—who cranks three home runs among four hits and drives in seven runs to give the Blue Jays an 11-8 win at Baltimore. It’s Morales second career hat trick.

Baltimore’s Tim Beckham, traded from Tampa Bay at the start of August, collects three more hits to give him 50 on the month—breaking the mark for an American Leaguer playing his first month for a team. The old record was shared by Joe DiMaggio in his 1936 debut for the Yankees and the Philadelphia A’s Stan Sperry two years later.

The Yankees begin a four-game series at home against the archrival Red Sox by taking a 6-2 triumph behind six solid innings from CC Sabathia—who’s won all four of his starts against Boston this year with a 1.04 ERA. But he’s not entirely happy; he says that the Red Sox are “weak” for trying to take advantage of his week knees by bunting on him.

Our response to Sabathia: Tough beans. This is high stakes, the Big Time—and every team and player will find whatever weakness in their opponents to defeat them. If they can wear you down by making you run off the mound to field one bunt after another—as they did against Nolan Ryan and his bad knees toward the end of his playing career—that’s their right. (Ryan, by the way, never complained.) And if you can beat them in spite of it, as Sabathia did tonight, then there’s no need to bitch about it afterward.

The Comebacker's Greatest Hits: Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2008 season.

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