This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: June, 2018
What’s in a Name? The 2018 MLB Draft, Reviewed Seriously, Hunter Strickland?
The Return of Future Schlock Farewell, Red Schoendienst and Bruce Kison


Best and Worst of the Week

BEST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Alex Bregman, Houston Astros

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
108 24 33 9 1 11 30 12 0 0 1

Casual baseball fans joined the more hardcore among us last October in getting to know the young third baseman and watching his defensive brilliance and clutch hitting game. Now we’re starting to see him develop full flower into a legitimate All-Star presence in his third season at Houston. Bregman transcended his supporting role in the lineup to that of The Guy, becoming just the third Astro in franchise history to accumulate 10+ homers and 30+ RBIs in a calendar month.


BEST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
107 25 39 8 1 10 23 15 2 2 0

As Goldschmidt goes, so go the Diamondbacks, apparently. (For more on the DBacks, see Best Team, National League, below.) After hitting a horrendous .144 in May, Goldy followed up the worst month of his career with his best, proving that everything evens out in the end. He was at his most prodigious during an early-month road swing through San Francisco and Colorado, collecting 11 extra-base hits (including four homers) amid 15 total hits over a five-game period.


WORST HITTER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
87 5 10 1 1 1 4 5 0 0 1

Royals manager Ned Yost was asked late in the month if the 31-year-old shortstop should take a break and end his consecutive game streak, which by the end of June had reached 415—the longest since Miguel Tejada’s 588-game ride from 2004-07. Yost said, maybe soon—just not tonight, nor tomorrow. Given Escobar’s performance this past month, maybe sooner would be better than later. He’s never been a top-flight hitter—his career slugging percentage is .343, for goodness’ sake—but his June struggles saw his season average plummet below the .200 mark. Of course, that’s all par for the course with the Royals (see below).


WORST HITTER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Pedro Severino, Washington Nationals

AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
IB
HB
SB
52 0 4 2 0 0 2 2 1 0 0

As we have often said, we try to avoid placing catchers under this dishonor unless we really have to. Alas for Severino, 4-for-52 is one of those cases where we really have to. Actually, the 24-year-old Dominican native’s lousy June is an extension of an extended slump in which he’s gone 8-for-86 (.093) after starting the season 20-for-74 (.270). Defensively, Severino hasn’t been quite the model, so one wonders how long it will be before he heads back to the minors.


BEST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Tyler Skaggs, Los Angeles Angels

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
3-1 32 27 6 3 8 0 0 1 0 36

After years of frustration with a lack of results on the field and the various injuries that often kept him off it, the southpaw from Woodland Hills, California finally appears to be on track in this, his sixth major league season. Skaggs allowed just three earned runs on the month to lower his season ERA to 2.64—well below the 4.59 career mark coming into the year. Should he stay healthy—everyone cross their fingers on that one—he should set career highs in games started and innings pitched by the end of July. That in itself would be a victory.


BEST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
5-0 32 17 4 4 10 0 1 1 0 20

The veteran southpaw applied the winning touch here, there and everywhere this past month. He won all five of his starts in June, lowered his season ERA to 2.18—if he can maintain that, it would be a career low—and has been all but invincible at home, posting a 0.47 mark over his last six starts at Wrigley Field. And when Lester saw that pro golfer/friend Kevin Streelman was struggling at a PGA event, he texted him with some tough love to “get your head out of your butt.” Streelman shot a 62 the next day. The Midas touch, indeed.


WORST PITCHER, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Dennis Mengden, Oakland A’s

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
0-2 16.1 23 21 21 11 0 2 1 0 7

When the foot you use to push off the mound is ailing, you get a month like Mengden’s. It was the worst of all worlds for the 25-year old with the tribute-to-Rollie Fingers handlebar mustache; he walked more batters than he struck out, and when he did find the strike zone, opponents bashed away to the tune of nine home runs. The bad foot was finally classified as a strain, so Mengden was sent to an Oakland disabled list crowded with fellow starters.


WORST PITCHER, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Bryan Shaw, Colorado Rockies

W-L
IP
H
R
ER
BB
IB
HB
WP
BK
SO
1-2 8.1 19 18 12 7 1 0 3 0 5

So the Rockies spent a record amount of guaranteed money ($104 million) this past offseason on relievers to provide backend strength to a young rotation. How is that going? Not too well. Closer Wade Davis and fellow reliever Jake McGee have experienced their struggles, but Shaw was off-the-charts awful this past month, as the numbers above surely indicate. And it’s not just a Coors Field thing; Shaw was equally terrible on the road. The 30-year-old right-hander was never lights out in Cleveland (where he probably wishes he never left), but at least he was reliable. Oh well.


BEST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Houston Astros (19-9)

The Mariners got a lot of attention for a pretty strong month (adding to a pretty strong season to date), but the Astros, your defending champs of lore, let everyone know who’s still in charge in the AL West. Two franchise record-tying streaks—a 12-game win streak and a 11-game run on the road—helped keep Houston at arm’s length ahead of spunky Seattle, even as the pitching, so incredibly stellar to start the year, began to show signs of mortality in June. (To wit: Justin Verlander’s monthly ERA finished at 4.34.) The July schedule looks easy peasy for the Astros, until the end of the month—when they begin a three-game series at Seattle. That should be fun.


BEST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
Arizona Diamondbacks (19-9)

Will the real Diamondbacks please stand up? The Snakes were our pick for the NL’s best in April, the worst in May, and now they’ve ricocheted back to the top this past month. But don’t take it from us; only two teams—the 1956 Chicago White Sox and the 1893 Pittsburgh Pirates—had ever had three successive months in which they went from 10+ games over .500 to 10+ under and back to 10+ over again. So why the rebound? Well for one thing, they’re hitting again (see Paul Goldschmidt, above), while posting the NL’s second-best staff ERA for June. So what happens next month? Stay tuned. You never know with these guys.


WORST TEAM, AMERICAN LEAGUE
Kansas City Royals (5-21)

Here’s hoping that Royals fans enjoyed that nice little run at the top while they could, because they’re right back to pre-pennant misery times. Only now, it’s worse; back in the “bad ol’ days,” they could at least hit thanks to true hitters like Carlos Beltran, Mike Sweeney and Raul Ibanez. (Remember those guys?) This past month, their offense was dead last in the majors in hitting (below .200), runs (averaging barely two a game), home runs and walks. It gets even more odd; the Royals in one 21-game stretch in June went 3-18—with all three of their wins by shutout. Which means they lost 18 straight when the other team…scored. Hard to believe this team is just two and a half years removed from a world title.


WORST TEAM, NATIONAL LEAGUE
New York Mets (5-21)

That 11-1 start for the Mets must seem like eons ago now. Things just haven’t gone swell since, and it only got worse this past month as the Mets stunk up the majors in ways that even Casey Stengel might have winced in pain at. As usual, ace Jacob deGrom (1-4 in June, but with a 2.36 ERA) seems to be the only one who knows what he’s doing; everyone else is struggling to figure things out—especially an underwhelming lineup that hit just .210. And if you believe the lively New York press, the vultures are already starting to circle around first-year manager Mickey Callaway. At some point, somebody’s gotta take the rap for this—and they can’t blame Matt Harvey anymore.


Wild Pitches

Yes, They Can’t Believe This Really Happened
(June 2018 Edition)

Infantile Moves
Here’s yet more clickbait of a dumb fan risking the baby he’s holding to grab a foul ball. Let’s make this genuinely clear: When you’re holding your precious young and a foul ball is coming to you, the first and only priority is to get out of the way and make sure the baby is protected. Want a ball? Go to friggin’ Dick’s Sporting Goods and buy one for a few bucks. Your infant will thank you later in life for it.

Allow Me to Start the Fire Sale for You
A woman was arrested for wandering around Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium and setting fires to the ballpark early one morning. None of the fires was said to cause major damage.

Lights, Camera…No Action
A game between the Tigers and Red Sox at Boston’s Fenway Park was briefly paused because a majority of fans in the center field bleachers were distracting the hitters with the flashlight apps on their cell phones.

Not the Idea of an Open-Door Policy
The Mets’ Michael Conforto chased down an Aaron Hicks gapper that reached the outfield wall—and went through it, because someone left the bullpen door open.

Stealing Home Away From Home
While Atlanta pitcher Anibal Sanchez was pitching his way to a 5-3 victory at Los Angeles on June 9, burglars were breaking their way into his hotel room and carting off with $100,000 in valuables.

Dry Bar
The Orioles’ Chris Davis is having such an awful year—and we mean, historically awful—that a Baltimore bar is offering free shots every time he gets a hit.

He’s Gruff, and he’s a Crime Dog
Surly ex-pitcher Kevin Brown ended a mail theft spree in his Georgia neighborhood by catching the perpetrators in the act and holding them at gunpoint until police arrived.

Let’s Not Go to the Video Tape
Milwaukee rookie pitcher Adrian Houser vomited behind the mound—twice—while making his first appearance of the year on June 17.

Multiplicity
On June 20, Josh Smith of the Pawtucket PawSox started; he was relieved by Josh Smith. If they both make it to the Red Sox and repeat the scenario, it would be the second time in big league history that two guys with the same name pitched for the same team in the same game (Bobby Jones/Bobby Jones, 2000 Mets).

Beware of Hotdogs Leaving the Playing Field
A fan in Philadelphia suffered a black eye after getting hit by a flying hotdog launched by the Phillie Phanatic.

That’s So Below the Belt
Cubs reliever Brandon Morrow injured his back and landed on the disabled list…while trying to take off his pants.

Lucky Sevens
On June 24, the Reds won their seventh straight game by plating seven runs in the seventh inning.

Tourist Trapped
A bus scheduled to take the Padres to San Francisco’s AT&T Park on June 25 failed to show—leaving the team to fetch a double-deck tour bus instead.

Ownage
Eric Thames has three career at-bats against Cincinnati pitcher Amir Garrett. He’s homered all three times.

Elias Says (Except in The Athletic)
The Angels’ Mike Trout is the first major leaguer since 1996 to have at least 25 hits and 20 walks in each of the first three full months of the season.

Far, But No Cigar
The Dodgers hit 55 home runs in June to establish a franchise mark for the most hit in any calendar month. But they fell short of the major league record by three.

This Month’s Proof That Everybody’s Striking Out
It wasn’t all-time record for any month, but the 6,776 strikeouts recorded this past month toppled the old June record, albeit by only 32. Still, an increase is an increase, and signs of the coming apocalypse continue to make themselves known. Case in point: For the second time this year—and the second time ever—there were more strikeouts than hits in a month. There’s also this: Two teams (the Astros and Yankees) are averaging over 10 Ks per game for the season, something no team has ever done over a full campaign. And finally: There’s the sad ballad of Philadelphia’s Mitch Walding, whose first seven career at-bats all ended in strikeouts. What happened in his eighth try? He hit into a double play. Congrats to Mitch; at least you made contact.

League vs. League

If the National League really still had an actual office space—as it did before MLB decided there was no reason for the NL and AL to exist as separate business entities—there would be champagne waiting in the fridge and party hats boxed away, all in the hope that the NL might actually, finally claim interleague dominance for the first time in 15 years in 2018. The NL ends June keeping its lead over the AL in interleague competition with a 73-64 record—but be wary, senior circuit. The AL closed the gap with a 31-27 mark in June, suggesting that the proverbial celebratory items may need to be shipped back should that momentum continue.

Here’s some ominous news for the NL; the seven AL teams playing above .500 have so far been involved in only 37% of the interleague action. Which means that the opportunity to keep beating up on the Orioles, White Sox, Tigers and Royals (collective interleague record: 13-31) are rapidly shrinking.





Friday, June 1
Atlanta’s Mike Foltynewicz throws his first career shutout, a two-hitter against Washington with 11 strikeouts as the Braves top the Nationals at home, 4-0. With the win, the Braves take a 1.5-game lead over the Nationals in the NL East.

Foltynewicz has allowed just two earned runs in his last five starts encompassing 32 innings, lowering his season ERA to 2.22.

The Rangers’ Rougned Odor just can’t stay out of trouble around second base. The young infielder, who’s been involved in several scrapes at second over the years—most notably with a boxing match against Toronto’s Jose Bautista back in 2016—tries (and fails) to break up a double play to kill a ninth-inning rally at Anaheim, but in the process reaches out with his right foot and spikes Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons. The contact not only leaves a gash on Simmons’ shin, but leaves him quite angry at Odor, as the two briefly mix it up before teammates from both sides intervene. The play ends’ the Angels’ 6-0 win over Texas.

The Arizona Diamondbacks continue to awake from a prolonged offensive slumber in mid-May, hitting six home runs (including two from Ketel Marte) to tie a franchise record in their 9-1 beating of the Miami Marlins at Phoenix. On the mound, Clay Buchholz—left for dead by Philadelphia last season after a short, injury-riddled tenure with the Phillies—allows a single run for the third time in three starts for the Diamondbacks and earns his first win since pitching for Boston on September 21, 2016.

An anticipated pitching duel between the Red Sox’ Chris Sale and Houston’s Gerrit Cole gets off to a rocky start for both—the Astros take a 4-3 lead after four innings—before both settle down. Cole ultimately emerges the victor with a 7-3 victory and improves to 6-1 by allowing three runs over seven frames, while George Springer has three hits including his 12th home run.

Home is not a happy place for Kansas City these days. The Oakland A’s come to town and demolish the Royals, 16-0, behind two home runs each from Matt Olson and Dustin Fowler and eight shutout innings from Frankie Montas. The final score is just a run shy of the Royals’ all-time worst shutout defeat, and they drop to a major league-worst 9-20 at home; Ian Kennedy surrenders eight runs in just three innings, and has won just one of 26 career starts at Kaufmann Stadium, losing 12.

The Giants defeat the Phillies at San Francisco, 4-0, despite losing first baseman Brandon Belt—easily having his best year—midway through as he complains of a stomach illness. Turns out, it’s more than that; Belt is sent to the hospital where, shortly thereafter, he’s having his appendix removed. He will miss the next three weeks.

Saturday, June 2
Despite striking out 24 times—two shy of the all-time record—the Chicago Cubs break a 1-1 tie in the 14th by exploding for five runs, the final two on Javier Baez’s home run, to defeat the Mets at New York, 6-1. The Mets lose despite another superb effort from Jacob deGrom, who allows a run in seven innings with 13 strikeouts; he has allowed no more than one run in each of his last eight starts, which is tied for the third longest streak since 1908.

According to STATS, the Mets are 8-14 when one of their starting pitchers throws a quality start (at least six innings with no more than three runs allowed).

The Mets’ recent futility—they’re 16-28 after an 11-1 start—extends to the promotional department. A giveaway of 15,000 Todd Frazier pullovers falls through because of a “production error.”

In another 14-inning game, the Nationals take a 5-3 victory at Atlanta thanks to a winning rally started by, of all people, Max Scherzer—who strokes a single in a rare pinch-hitting appearance and scores the go-ahead run on Wilmer Difo’s triple.

Garrett Richards allows an unearned run on one hit through seven innings while striking out nine, and Mike Trout comes within a double shy of a cycle while stealing his 13th base—but it’s not enough for the Los Angeles Angels, who blow a one-run lead in the ninth and fall to the Rangers, 3-2, on Ronald Guzman’s 10th-inning RBI single.

According to Twitter stat hawk Doug Kern, it’s the fourth straight year that Trout has missed a cycle by a double. He did complete one in 2013, the only one of his career.

Pitcher Bruce Kison, a member of both world championship rosters for the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 1970s and overall participated in five postseasons over a 15-year career, dies after a long bout with cancer at age 68. Never a full-time starter—75 of his 255 appearances came out of the bullpen—Kison was regarded as a very dependable cog in whatever pitching staff he was part of, whether it be the Pirates (1971-79), the Angels (1980-84) or the Red Sox (1985). Kison finished his career with a respectable 115-88 record and 3.66 ERA, and he was even better in October—producing a 5-1 record and 1.98 ERA over 10 appearances, four of them as a starter.

Sunday, June 3
Minnesota’s Eddie Rosario hits a solo homer in the first to break the ice, another in the seventh to give the Twins a 5-4 lead over Cleveland—and then belts a two-run walk-off shot in the ninth to secure a 7-5 home victory. Having had a previous three-homer day almost exactly one year earlier, Rosario thus becomes the first player in Twins/Senators franchise history to have multiple hat tricks.

Michael Wacha, who came within one out of a no-hitter during his rookie 2013 campaign for St. Louis, takes another no-hit bid into the ninth at home against the Pirates but has it end on a leadoff single by Colin Moran. He’ll immediately be removed and settle for his seventh win of the year (against one loss), a 5-0 Cardinals triumph also fueled by Marcell Ozuna’s first-inning grand slam.

Wacha is the only player in Cardinals history to take a no-hitter into the ninth inning twice.

Quietly and little fanfare, the Seattle Mariners keep winning. Overcoming a terrific start by Tampa Bay pitcher Blake Snell—who strikes out the first seven batters to tie an American League record—the Mariners rally for two runs in the eighth to give themselves and Felix Hernandez (eight innings, one run allowed) a 2-1 victory at Seattle. It’s their 13th win in the last 16 games, and their 37-22 record is good enough to overtake Houston (9-3 losers at home to the Red Sox) for first place in the AL West.

Ironically, Snell’s attempt to break the AL record and strike out an eighth straight batter to start the game ends on a ground out by Denard Span—who was just traded from Tampa Bay to Seattle a few weeks earlier.

This is the latest the Mariners, who haven’t made the postseason since 2001, have been in first place since 2003.

Trying to remain relevant in the West are the Angels, who take a weekend series from the Rangers with a 3-1 victory at Anaheim. Tyler Skaggs throws six shutout innings; Angels starters do not allow a single run (over 19 innings) in a series of three games or more for only the second time in franchise history.

More stellar pitching is to be found on the West Coast this weekend up in San Francisco, where the Giants finish off a three-game sweep of the Phillies with a 6-1 victory. Rookie Dereck Rodriguez, son of Hall-of-Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez, makes his second major league appearance and first start and gets the win, allowing the only Philadelphia run of the series—a solo home run by pitcher Jake Arrieta in the third inning. It’s the first time ever that a team’s only run in a series of three or more games has come from a pitcher’s home run.

The Braves defeat the Nationals at Atlanta, 4-2, on a game-winning, pinch-hit homer by Charlie Culberson—his second such walk-off in a week. Only one other player (Brian Hunter) has hit two pinch-hit walk-offs in Braves history. The win gives Atlanta an important series win over NL East rival Washington.

Culberson has eight career home runs; four of them have been walk-offs.

Monday, June 4
With the first pick in the 2018 MLB Amateur Draft, the Detroit Tigers select Casey Mize, a 21-year-old pitcher from the University of Auburn who has struck out 151 batters while walking just 12 in 109.2 innings this year. The Giants, picking second, opt for Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart, hoping he’ll be the heir apparent for 31-year-old Buster Posey, who’ll likely transition more toward a role at first base. Further down the list, the A’s #9 pick of Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray gathers attention because of the outfielder’s short-term plans—he is #1 on the football Sooners’ depth chart at quarterback and plans to make good on it before reporting to the minors in 2019.

The Milwaukee Brewers, with the #21 pick, are somewhat sarcastically mocked for not picking Clemson first baseman Seth Beer. (The Astros will pick him at #28.) One wonders how frustrating it will be for beer vendors in the stands whenever fans shout his name.

Other cool names taken in the draft: Steele Walker (White Sox, #46), Jax Biggers (Texas, #239), Alex Royalty (Cleveland, #253), Owen Sharts (Texas, #959), and Elijah Pleasants (Kansas City, #1,082). As usual, there are legacies among the draftees. Kody Clemens, Roger Clemens’ son, is selected #79 by Texas; Griffin Conine, son of former Marlins star Jeff Conine, is elected #52 by Tampa Bay; and in the more distant rounds, the sons of former stars George Bell, Benito Santiago, Kevin Brown and Jose Cruz, Jr. will be among the selections.

Also of note: Picked at #560 by the New York Mets is Tommy Wilson, son of actor Tom Wilson—who played Biff Tannen in the Back to the Future films. Not picked at all: Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich, one of the nation’s top college pitchers, undrafted because he once pled guilty to child molestation. No MLB team was willing to deal with that potential P.R. headache.

The Yankees split a doubleheader with the Tigers at Detroit, no thanks to Aaron Judge—who sets a major league record by striking out eight times over both games on the day. Five of his Ks come in an 0-for-5 effort in the nightcap, a 4-2 loss. Having a more bittersweet performance in that game is Giancarlo Stanton, who gets plunked on the elbow by the Tigers’ Mike Fiers—the same pitcher who drilled Stanton in the face during a 2014 game. Stanton, who now wears a faceguard to protect against a similar injury, glares at Fiers and exchanges words as the benches empty, but no punches are thrown. A more proper rebuttal will come in Stanton’s next at-bat in the sixth when he belts a home run off of Fiers.

In one day, Judge has more games with at least three strikeouts than Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn had for his entire career. He’s on pace for 240 Ks for the season—which would easily topple Mark Reynolds’ all-time mark of 223.

Only three other players have struck out eight or more times over back-to-back regulation games; one of them was Judge’s teammate Giancarlo Stanton, earlier this season.

Tuesday, June 5
Max Scherzer’s quest for a third straight Cy Young Award (and fourth overall) continues without much of a hitch. The Washington ace allows two runs through eight innings and strikes out 13—including three in an “immaculate” sixth inning in which he throws nine strikes in nine pitches—to become the majors’ first 10-game winner on the season in a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay. Of the 99 pitches thrown by Scherzer, 81 are for strikes; since pitch counts became an official statistic, no pitcher previously had ever thrown as many strikes in as few total pitches.

Scherzer’s immaculate inning is the second of his career, joining Lefty Grove, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson among those who have done it at least twice.

Ten weeks after having his pinky broken in his last Spring Training start, the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner makes his season debut and, after a shaky start, settles in to allow two runs over six innings with no walks—but Arizona’s Patrick Corbin (one run over 6.1 innings) is better and the Diamondbacks survive several bases-loaded uprisings by the Giants to win at San Francisco, 3-2.

On his 27th birthday, the Angels’ Andrew Heaney tosses his first shutout and complete game, a one-hit, 1-0 masterpiece over the visiting Kansas City Royals at Anaheim. But the news is not all good on the day for the Angels; star shortstop Andrelton Simmons sprains his ankle walking down the dugout steps before the game and will be placed on the disabled list.

Making his first start in over a year, and his first since offseason domestic abuse accusations, Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright confounds the visiting Tigers for seven shutout innings—allowing just two hits in a 6-0 Boston victory. J.D. Martinez is the primary offensive asset, belting his major league-leading 20th homer and scoring three times.

The Miami Marlins end several skids at St. Louis by stopping both a six-game losing streak and a 14-game streak when Jose Urena takes the mound with a 7-4 win over the Cardinals. Ironically, Urena’s performance is among his worst of the year to date—allowing four runs on a season-high 10 hits over five innings—but his seven runs of support are the most he gets since his last victory, back on September 20, 2017.

The Rangers give up on Tim Lincecum before he even gets a chance to get back to the big league level. The two-time Cy Young Award winner, whose play has greatly depreciated as he nears age 34, is released by Texas after a stint at Triple-A Round Rock in which he had a 5.68 ERA and nine walks over 12.2 innings. He had been signed in the spring with the hope of becoming the Rangers’ closer.

Wednesday, June 6
Red Schoendienst, the oldest living Hall of Famer and lifelong member of the Cardinals’ organization, passes away at the age of 95. From his wartime rookie year in 1945 until 2017—when he remained employed as a front office assistant and emeritus coach—Schoendienst was a longstanding member of the Cardinals, with rare exception as a player (spending 1956-60 with the Giants and Braves) and coach (with the 1977-78 Oakland A’s). With the Cardinals, the popular Schoendienst played 15 of his 19 seasons as an infielder, managed all or parts of 14 seasons, and coached another 20 years. He collected 2,449 hits, batted a career .289, and nabbed World Series rings as a player (1946), manager (1967) and coach (1982). Schoendienst was selected to the Hall of Fame in 1989.

In the Angels’ 4-3 home win over Kansas City, Shohei Ohtani—making his ninth start of the season from the mound—leaves after four innings with what’s reported to be a blister on his pitching hand. But a few days later, it will be revealed that the problem is worse; Ohtani has a Grade 2 UCL sprain that will sideline him for at least three weeks and perhaps more, if doctors determine that Tommy John surgery will be necessary.

The Rangers’ Jurickson Profar blasts two homers and drives in five runs—part of a four-homer outburst to give Texas an 8-2 home victory over Oakland. Rewarded on the mound is 45-year-old Bartolo Colon, who allows two runs in five innings and gains credit for his 243rd career win to match Juan Marichal for the most among Dominican Republic-born pitchers.

The Tigers are trounced again at Boston by the Red Sox, 7-1, and in the process fail to hit at least one double for the first time in 53 games. That had been the third longest such streak since 1908; the Indians hold the top honor with 75 consecutive games in 1996.

Thursday, June 7
Despite a rotation almost wholly pummeled by injury, the Los Angeles Dodgers keep finding ways to win. Here’s how they do it today at Pittsburgh: By using nine pitchers—most ever by the franchise in a nine-inning game—while managing to outscore the Pirates, 8-7, as Joc Pederson cranks two homers from the leadoff spot. Pedro Baez, the third of the nine Dodgers pitchers, gets the win—capping a wild 24-hour sequence in which the veteran reliever had been demoted to the minors and then quickly recalled after fellow reliever Tony Cingrani was placed on the disabled list.

The Red Sox give Jalen Beeks his first major league start, and it’s a rough baptism by fire. The 24-year-old Arkansas native surrenders five runs to the visiting Tigers in the first, the most ever by a Boston starting pitcher in the initial inning of a major league debut. Beeks settles down and lasts four innings, but the Red Sox cannot counter and lose, 7-2.

After splitting a short two-game series with AL West rival Houston, the Mariners go to Tampa Bay and maintain their divisional lead by a game with a 5-4 triumph over the Rays. Mike Leake goes eight innings for the win, while Seattle outfielder Denard Span homers against the team that traded him a month earlier. The Mariners are 19-9 in one-run games; Milwaukee is second in such wins with 15.

Fernando Abad, a reliever with eight years of major league experience but currently unemployed, just made it much more unlikely that he’ll ever return to the bigs. Baseball docks an 80-game steroid suspension upon him, meaning anyone who signs him will have to wait that long before being able to use him. Abad has a career 8-27 record.

Friday, June 8
It’s a bad night to be a starting pitcher as injuries of all shapes and sizes occur. In Washington, the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg departs after two ineffective innings in a 9-5 loss to San Francisco; he’s placed on the disabled list the next day with a strained shoulder. Up the road in New York, the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka departs after suffering injuries to both hamstrings while running the bases in the Yankees’ 4-1 win over the Mets at Citi Field; the Yankees will shortly thereafter suggest strongly that the NL adopt the DH rule. And out west in Los Angeles, rookie Walker Buehler—off to a terrific start for the Dodgers—is forced to leave his start after 5.1 innings after allowing just a run on two hits when his ribs begin to act up. The Dodgers will win their game over the Braves, 7-3, and Buehler, unlike the other two pitchers mentioned here, will avoid placement on the shelf.

A note on the Mets: They have scored just three runs over their last five games (all losses), something they’ve been bad enough to previously accomplish only twice—once in 1963, the other time in 1990.

After yet another strong start to a season, the Colorado Rockies appear to once again be coming back down to Earth—or at least to the mile-high atmosphere of hit-happy Coors Field. The visiting Diamondbacks hand the Rockies their fifth straight loss, a 9-4 clubbing thanks to two homers and a double from a resurgent Paul Goldschmidt—hitting .425 with four homers over his last 10 games after bottoming out at .201 on May 26. Rockies pitchers have allowed 10 or more hits in a franchise-record 10 straight games.

Saturday, June 9
The Astros’ vaunted rotation experiences a major spasm as Charlie Morton puts up one of the stranger pitching lines you’ll ever see. Even stranger, he and the Astros will survive to defeat the Rangers at Arlington, 4-3. In 3.2 innings, Morton allows 11 baserunners—only one of them via a hit, as he also walks six and hits four others. From this, Texas scores just twice off of Morton, and only once more off a Houston bullpen that’s only slightly less wild as the Rangers leave 17 men on base. Morton’s four hit batsmen ties an AL record; overall, the Astros walk 10 and hit five batters; no team had ever previously done that.

The Rangers are 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position and, for the season, are hitting .201 in that scenario—the lowest such figure in the majors.

Chucking away, for a night at least, the “bullpenning” strategy that hasn’t really worked out so well, the Rays defeat the Mariners at St. Petersburg, 7-3, to end an eight-game losing streak behind a solid start for Blake Snell. The 25-year-old lefty allows two runs (one earned) over six innings and improves his record to 8-3 with a 2.30 ERA.

The recent streak of futility that is the Rockies’ pitching staff continues—and so does Paul Goldschmidt’s belated awakening to the 2018 season. Ahead 7-6 going into the eighth inning, the Rockies send out set-up man Bryan Shaw, who sets himself up for a big-time collapse by committing two errors on one play to help open the floodgates for a six-run Arizona rally, giving the Diamondbacks a 12-7 victory at Denver. Goldschmidt smacks two more home runs for his second consecutive multi-homer game.

The Rockies have given up three or more homers in five straight home games, setting a major league record.

Sunday, June 10
The Astros defeat the Rangers at Arlington, 8-7, with the winning run scoring in the ninth on a balk by Texas pitcher Keone Kala. But it’s initially not called a balk; Houston manager A.J. Hinch comes to argue that Kala did not come to a full stop before throwing a pitch. The umpires huddle and agree with Hinch, allowing George Springer to trot home from third with the go-ahead run. To no one’s surprise, Texas manager Jeff Banister springs out to argue, and is quickly ejected.

So we know that that, technically, you automatically get ejected for arguing a balk. But then should you theoretically be tossed for arguing for a balk, as Hinch did? If you think about it, the same principals are at work here. Don’t be surprised to see Banister (and perhaps other managers) start to lobby umpires more if they argue for something the umpires do not call.

The Mets avoid the ignominy of a 0-9 homestand—and end a 10-game losing skid at Citi Field overall—by handing the Yankees their first shutout loss of the year, 2-0. The game’s only scoring comes on a two-run homer from former Yankee Todd Frazier in the fifth, while Seth Lugo locks down the Yankees for six shutout innings, allowing only two hits. The Mets’ worse home losing streak remains a 15-game drought back in 2002.

A severe lack of hitting is the reason for the Mets’ rough homestand. How severe? Their .147 batting average is the lowest by any team since 1900 in a homestand of seven or more games. Not to be blamed, however, is the Mets’ rotation—which furnishes a 1.93 ERA during the homestand.

Albert Pujols’ first-inning RBI single gives him sole possession of the #7 spot on the all-time RBI list, breaking a tie with Stan Musial. The 38-year-old Angels slugger will add two more to give him 1,954 career RBIs, but it’s all for naught on this day as Los Angeles loses at Minnesota, 7-5.

The Cincinnati Reds beat the Cardinals for the first time after 13 straight defeats to St. Louis, and 11 just at home alone, with a 6-3 victory. It’s not the longest-ever skid that the Reds have had against the Cardinals; they lost 18 in a row from 1930-31. The Reds walk 11 times, and ultimately four of those recipients score; Joey Votto is given four of the passes, the third time in his career he’s drawn at least four without registering an official at-bat.

The Blue Jays’ Curtis Granderson belts out a single, two doubles and a home run while collecting a career-high six RBIs as Toronto topples Baltimore at home, 13-3. The Orioles’ 19-45 record is, at the end of the day, the majors’ worst.

Monday, June 11
The United States Supreme Court refuses to hear an appeal from owners of rooftop seating across the street from Wrigley Field, who had sued the Chicago Cubs after the team’s placement of a large video board as part of the historic ballpark’s expansion had partially blocked some of their views. A Federal judge had dismissed the lawsuit in 2015, saying a 2004 agreement between the rooftop owners and Cubs was not violated because the placement of the video board was part of an expansion “approved by governmental authorities.”

On the field, the Cubs continue their early-season mastery of divisional rival Milwaukee, scoring five times in the 11th to win 7-2 and take first place from the Brewers—who have lost eight of nine games against Chicago so far this year. The Cubs make overtime possible in the first place by scoring a run off super-set-up man Josh Hader; it’s the first time in 22 games this season that the Brewers have lost when he’s been used on the mound.

The Pirates get mad, but it’s the Diamondbacks who get even—and then ahead. With Pittsburgh up 5-0 in the top of the seventh, Josh Harrison is hit high on the shoulder by a Braden Shipley 96-MPH fastball; in the bottom of the frame, Pirates starter Joe Musgrove retaliates by plunking the Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings on the first pitch of the inning. Musgrove’s message is rebutted by a more damning one from the Diamondbacks—who rally for five runs in the inning (three on Jake Lamb’s game-tying home run) and four more in the eighth to win, 9-5.

Musgrove basically admits to purposely hitting Owings, but has no regrets. “It is nothing more than protecting your teammates,” he says after the game. “That is baseball and how the game is played. If you are willing to go out and hit somebody you have to be willing to deal with might come with that.” A week later, MLB will fine Musgrove $1,000.

Tuesday, June 12
During the third inning of Detroit’s 6-4 home loss to Minnesota, the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera ruptures a tendon in his upper left arm taking a wild swing at a Jake Odorizzi pitch and will miss the rest of the season. Cabrera has played in only 38 games in 2018, hitting .299 with three home runs and 22 RBIs.

The Tigers are hoping Cabrera, who’s been injury-prone after looking so durable for much of his Hall-of-Fame career, will strongly mend himself back to good health. Reason? They still owe him $154 million on a contract that will last through 2023.

For the second straight day, the Angels’ Mike Trout goes deep twice at Seattle—and for the second straight day, it’s not enough. Trout’s two blasts and three RBIs are trumped by a pair of multi-homer efforts from the Mariners’ Mitch Haniger and Ryon Healy as Seattle takes a 6-3 victory. A couple of major league firsts are said to be established in this game; Trout’s back-to-back multi-homer performances mark the first time that’s happened for a team that’s lost both games, while it’s the first ever that at least one player from both teams has hit multiple home runs in back-to-back games against each other.

It’s not a good day for Bryce Harper. Off the field, the Nationals star and soon-to-be free agent is assailed by an anonymous National League executive who tells a writer for FRS Baseball that “he’s simply overrated…Cares more about himself more than the team.” On the field, Harper has little chance to take out any frustration, as he walks twice and is hit twice (officially going 0-for-0 in the box score) in Washington’s 3-0 loss at New York against the Yankees.

The White Sox’ James Shields wins his first game since Opening Day, taming the Cleveland Indians with seven sharp innings to earn a 5-1 victory at Chicago. Shields had not won any of his previous 12 starts—although seven of them had qualified as quality starts.

Wednesday, June 13
Is there a higher level for the Nationals’ Juan Soto to be promoted to? The 19-year-old outfielder, whose year began in Low-A ball, becomes the youngest player since Andruw Jones in 1996 to go deep twice in a game, knocking in four runs to help Washington to a 5-4 victory over the Yankees at New York. In 64 at-bats since joining the Nats, Soto is hitting .344 with five homers and 12 RBIs—and, in a remarkable showing of discipline for a youngster in this day and age, has walked more times (12) than he has struck out (11).

The Rangers’ Adrian Beltre runs his career hit total to 3,092 at Los Angeles, passing Ichiro Suzuki to become the all-time hits leader among foreign-born players—but the moment gets lost in the frenzy of crazy moments that take place in the Dodgers’ 3-2, 11-inning victory. In the third inning, Matt Kemp’s attempt to enhance the Los Angeles lead to 3-0 is denied by Texas catcher Robinson Chirinos, who is flattened by Kemp in an old-school home-plate collision that’s somehow ruled within the current confines of the catcher protection rules. But neither Kemp nor Chirinos are happy with one another and start shoving each other before being separated by teammates; they are both ejected. The game itself is settled in the 11th when, with the bases loaded and one out, an attempt by the Rangers’ Matt Bush to turn a double play collapses when his throw home to get the first out goes wild, allowing Kiki Hernandez to tag home safely the game-winner.

Mitch Haniger continues to be the sleeper star for a Mariners team that’s evolved into the sleeper success of the 2018 season to date. The 27-year-old outfielder’s two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth gives Seattle a tie-breaking 8-6 walk-off victory. With the blast, Haniger matches his entire season total of the previous year (16) and has already exceeded his RBI total of 2017 with 52; he’s on pace to hit 38 homers with 124 RBIs in 2018.

The Astros drown the A’s at Oakland, 13-5, behind two homers and five RBIs for Evan Gattis. It’s the second straight game Gattis has knocked in five, after never having done it once in 634 previous career games.

Thursday, June 14
The Mets’ offense splurges, but only in relative terms. For the first time in 10 games, they score in more than one inning—but still lose 6-3 to the Diamondbacks, who themselves have re-awakened after going through a prolonged hitting funk last month. David Peralta goes deep twice for Arizona to give him 14 homers on the year, matching his entire 2017 total.

The Giants put up a three-spot in the 16th to win at Miami, 6-3, and avoid a four-game sweep to the lowly Marlins—but also lose third baseman Evan Longoria in the process after his left hand is broken from a pitch. Pablo Sandoval, once upon a time the everyday third baseman in San Francisco, will take Longoria’s spot over in the interim.

Friday, June 15
Cleveland ace Corey Kluber has a relative off-night for the first time in a long time. In the Indians’ 6-3 home loss to Minnesota, Kluber allows four runs over five innings, ending an AL-record string of 26 straight starts in which he allowed three or fewer runs. He also walks one to end another streak of 179 straight batters without allowing a pass; in his last eight games entering tonight, Kluber had struck out 56 while walking one—the highest ratio by a major leaguer over such a stretch.

Houston wins its ninth straight game, 7-3 at Kansas City, thanks to a go-ahead grand slam in the sixth from Evan Gattis, who’s been a RBI machine of late for the Astros. His four RBIs on the night give him 20 over his last nine games.

The Rockies overcome a 5-0 first-inning deficit at Texas with nine unanswered runs to win, 9-5. Aiding in the comeback effort are two Rockies making for successful homecomings; Ian Desmond, playing his first game at Arlington since departing the Rangers after one season with the team in 2016, hits two solo homers—while Trevor Story, born just 15 miles away in Irving and making his first appearance at Globe Life Park, has two hits including a double.

The Pirates edge the Reds at Pittsburgh, 3-2, on back-to-back sacrifice flies in the sixth inning from Starling Marte and Colin Moran. In fact, all five runs in this game are scored without the benefit of a hit; the other three runs score on another sac fly, a fielder’s choice and a double play. It’s the most runs without a RBI hit over the last 30 years.

Saturday, June 16
Even people in Seattle are starting to stand up and take notice of the surging Mariners. Nelson Cruz’s third-inning RBI single is the only scoring of the night as Wade LeBlanc silences the Red Sox for 7.2 shutout innings, and Elmer Diaz picks up his 27th save of the year in a 1-0 victory before 44,151 fans at Safeco Field. It’s the Mariners’ 23rd one-run victory on the year, and the fourth they’ve won by a 1-0 score; they only had three such games over the previous five seasons.

The Giants are hitting better this season, but they’re still having trouble against the Dodgers at Los Angeles. For the 11th straight game at Dodger Stadium, San Francisco scores two or fewer runs, dropping a 3-1 decision; that’s the longest such streak since a 15-game Deadball Era run by the Pirates at Boston against the Braves from 1915-16. Another obscure major league record is broken; Kiki Hernandez’s two-run homer in the fifth gives the Dodgers seven straight games in which the #2 batter in the lineup has gone deep.

It’s not just Julio Teheran and Mike Foltynewicz who’s getting the job done on the mound for the Atlanta Braves. Sophomore southpaw Sean Newcomb tosses six shutout innings, allowing two hits, as the Braves tip the visiting San Diego Padres, 1-0. Since the start of May, Newcomb is 7-1 with a 1.89 ERA.

Sunday, June 17
Four late runs give the Astros a 7-4 win at Kansas City for their 11th straight win—one shy of a franchise record—while wrapping up a 10-0 road trip. The last defending world champion to win 10 straight games on the road were the 1953 Yankees, who ran up a 15-game streak.

If it’s Father’s Day, it must be Julio Teheran. In his first start in 13 days since being planted on the shelf with a thumb injury, Teheran tosses six no-hit innings with 11 strikeouts before being removed in the Braves’ 4-1 victory over San Diego at Atlanta. Teheran has pitched four times on Father’s Day in his career—and has allowed no runs on nine hits over 28 innings.

The Orioles end their latest losing streak, a nine-game skid as they avoid an embarrassing home sweep by the Marlins with a 10-4 thumping. Baltimore thus becomes the last MLB team this season to reach 20 wins; the team’s 20-50 record is only slightly better than the 19-51 mark put up by the infamous Orioles of 1988, which began the season with 21 straight losses.

Globe Life Park, a.k.a Coors Field South, comes alive—and it figures that the Rockies have to be part of it. Colorado blows leads of 5-1 and, in the ninth inning, 12-9 as the Rangers rally for four runs off Rockies closer Wade Davis to triumph, 13-12. It’s the 21st time this year the Rockies have lost a game in which they had the lead; that’s not a good marker for a triumvirate of relievers (Davis, Cody Allen and Jake McGee) that the team spent $106 million over the offseason to retain—and after today has a combined ERA of 5.78.

Rangers slugger Joey Gallo does not contribute to the Texas offense, striking out four times in four-at-bats—the sixth time he’s put up the “Golden Sombrero.” The four Ks pad his season total to a major league-leading 106—and he’s batting .198 on the year. He’s on pace to strike out 235 times this year, which would break Mark Reynolds’ all-time mark.

Monday, June 18
After spotting the Rays a 4-0 headstart at Houston, the Astros dig back and take their comeback effort all the way to the ninth, when Alex Bregman’s bases-loaded double gives the defending champs a 5-4 walk-off victory. The Astros have won 12 straight, tying a franchise mark previously set in 1999 and 2004.

Houston’s Jose Altuve is on track to lead the AL in hits for a fifth straight year, becoming the first major leaguer this season to reach 100.

Bartolo Colon surpasses Juan Marichal as the winningest Dominican-born pitcher in major league history, notching his 244th career victory as the Rangers upend the sinking Royals at Kansas City, 6-3. The portly 45-year old allows three runs through six innings, and is now one win away from matching Dennis Martinez for the most among all Latin-born pitchers.

The Royals have lost seven straight and 13 of 14; they’re now 22-50, matching the worst start in franchise history (2006). They celebrate by trading closer Kelvin Herrera (14 saves, 1.05 ERA) to Washington for three minor leaguers.

St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina is a triple shy of the cycle as he performs for the 1,757th time behind the plate for the Cardinals—establishing a major league record for the most games at that position for one club. But it’s not enough on this night; the Cardinals waste a ninth-inning rally and 10th-inning home run by Tommy Pham at Philadelphia as the Phillies rebound with two in the bottom of the frame on Aaron Altherr’s double to win, 6-5.

Molina passes Gabby Hartnett, who caught 1,756 games for the Cubs from 1922-40.

The Mets’ offense finally opens up—and even more amazing, they do it for ace Jacob deGrom. Paired up against a Rockies team which has forgotten how to pitch in the last few weeks, the Mets pile up a dozen runs and give deGrom only his second win in his last nine starts, 12-2. In his previous eight outings, deGrom was given only 11 total runs of support.

The Nationals and Yankees finish off a game in Washington suspended five weeks earlier as rookie Juan Soto’s two-run homer gives the home team a 5-4 victory. Though it’s Soto’s sixth homer of the year, it’s chronologically his first; the game began on May 15, five days before his actual major league debut. MLB will officially not acknowledge Soto’s homer as his first hit, however.

The Giants lose at home to the Marlins, 5-4, when closer Hunter Strickland—he of the infamous dust-up with Washington’s Bryce Harper a year before—blows both a two-run lead in the ninth and then his cool, breaking his hand while punching a clubhouse door. (He’ll miss up to two months.) Much of his ire is directed at Miami’s sub-.200 rookie Lewis Brinson, who had been brushed back by a high-and-tight pitch before lining a game-tying single, throwing his bat down in anger and yelling back at Strickland as he ran toward first.

We’ve set it many times before and we’ll say it again: Do not take on an inanimate object in the clubhouse. It will always win.

Tuesday, June 19
The Astros fail in their attempt to break a club record as their 12-game win streak comes to an end against Tampa Bay, 2-1. All of this despite Justin Verlander, who allows a run over 6.2 innings with 10 strikeouts; Ian Snell, his Rays counterpart, is equally masterful, even as he walks seven. The game is decided in the eighth on an RBI single from Wilson Ramos.

Giants-Marlins, Round Two: With runners at second and third and one out in the second, first base is open for San Francisco rookie pitcher Dereck Rodriguez to conveniently plunk Lewis Brinson, who angered Hunter Strickland and the rest of the Giants the night before with his raging reaction to getting brushed back. Umpires issue warnings, and a livid Miami manager Don Mattingly storms out to complain that he won’t get a chance to retaliate. He does anyway, as Buster Posey is plunked a half-inning later, leading to the dismissal of Mattingly and pitcher Dan Straily. The Giants will take a 6-3 victory.

ESPN’s David Schoenfield takes the Giants to task in print afterward, calling their display “trash baseball.” What Schoenfield conveniently forgets to mention is that numerous Giants had been hit by Marlins pitchers in the past week, including Evan Longoria—who’s now missing six-to-eight weeks due to a broken hand. That Brinson got angry for being brushed back before trash-talking his way to first on a single against Hunter Strickland the night before riled the Giants. Their reaction was quite understandable.

Wednesday, June 20
Down 5-0 to the Mariners midway through at New York, the Yankees bounce back—first tying the game in the eighth on a two-run homer from Gary Sanchez, then winning it 7-5 in the ninth on another two-run shot, a 453-foot laser from Giancarlo Stanton. It’s the biggest comeback effort of the year for the Yankees, and it helps increase their lead in the AL East to 1.5 games over Boston (4-1 losers at Minnesota).

The Cubs earn their 10th shutout win of the year with the help of Jon Lester, who’s greatly contributed to that total. The veteran southpaw’s seven scoreless frames, allowing five hits, anchors Chicago to a 4-0 home win over the Dodgers; in his last six starts at Wrigley Field, Lester has produced a microscopic 0.47 ERA.

Overall, Cubs starters have allowed one or none runs in the last seven home games at Wrigley, their longest such stretch since 1919.

The Rangers defeat Kansas City, 3-2, and become the latest team to sweep the Royals—who’ve lost nine straight games overall. The winning pitcher is Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who becomes the first pitcher this season to throw a quality start (6.2 innings, one run allowed) without striking out a batter. STATS notes that there were 23 such performances 10 years ago (in 2008)—and 84 of them 40 years ago.

On a more trivial note, it’s said that the Texas battery of Bibens-Dirkx and catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa is the first to consist of hyphenated names in major league history.

Thursday, June 21
Whereas Cubs pitchers have been enjoying the Friendly Confines of Wrigley as noted the day before, the same can certainly not be said for the Rockies at Coors Field of late—at least until today. Kyle Freeland surrenders just a pair of runs over six innings, and a beleaguered Colorado bullpen bends (but does not break) to give the Rockies a 6-4 win over the Mets. It breaks a string of nine straight home games in which the Rockies had allowed at least eight runs—tying a major league record previously established by the 1894 St. Louis Browns. Helping the Rockies out are Nolan Arenado’s five RBIs—and a franchise record-tying five double plays turned by the defense.

A sprained finger won’t keep the Angels’ Mike Trout from playing in his 1,000th game—or from reaching base. Playing the DH spot, Trout walks three times and scores twice to help lift Los Angeles to an 8-5 home victory over Toronto.

In his first 1,000 games, Trout has a .308 average, .414 on-base percentage and .574 slugging percentage; that latter figure, along with a .989 OPS, are both the highest among active ballplayers. Needless to say, his 224 homers, 1,126 hits and 178 stolen bases all rank among the greats after their first 1,000 games. And he’s still just 26.

Friday, June 22
Major League Baseball orders its 30 teams not to do any further business with Mexico’s top league, Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB), out of concern for the circuit’s high level of “corruption and fraud.” Among the chief issues is LMB’s use of a reserve-clause like system to maintain perpetual control of its players—and its taking of an exorbitant (75%) cut from any transaction fee involving its players to MLB. It is hoped that MLB’s decree will pressure LMB to cease such tactics.

The Brewers defeat the Cardinals at Milwaukee, 2-1, on two Jesus Aguilar home runs: One in the seventh to break up Jack Flaherty’s no-hitter, and a one-out shot in the ninth to win the game. Aguilar is the first player since at least 1961 to break up a no-no with one homer and win the game with another. Sign of the times: Of the 68 official plate appearances between both teams, only 29 of them ultimately see the ball put into play. The others either end in strikeouts, walks or hit batsmen.

After Nelson Cruz belts two homers and drives in seven through the first four innings to give the Mariners at 10-5 lead at Boston, the Red Sox rampage back with nine unanswered tallies to triumph, 14-10. J.D. Martinez puts the Red Sox ahead to stay in the seventh with a two-run single, giving him five RBIs on the night. Seattle, which had quietly worked its way to the top of the AL West standings, is 0-5 on the road this week against the two titans of the AL East—the Yankees and the Red Sox.

This is the first time a player on each team had at least four hits and five RBIs in the same game since 1999, when three players did it in the Reds’ wild 24-12 win at Denver over the Rockies: Sean Casey and Jeffrey Hammonds for Cincinnati, Dante Bichette for Colorado.

Few saw this one coming: The Royals, losers of nine straight, eke out a 1-0 victory at Houston over the Astros—winners of 14 of their last 15—thanks primarily to Rosell Herrera. Playing in his fifth game since being picked up from Cincinnati, the rookie outfielder reaches over the right-field wall in the eighth to rob Alex Bregman of a home run—then triples home the game’s only run with one out in the ninth.

The Phillies take over second place in the NL East and knock the Nationals into third place with a 12-2 rout at Washington. Odubel Herrera has four hits including a home run, his fifth in as many games; he’s hot again, with 17 hits in his last 36 at-bats after going 15-for-his-previous-93—that, after starting the season at a .361 clip through mid-May.

After swamping the White Sox by a 12-0 count in their previous game, the Indians shut down the Tigers at Cleveland, 10-0. It’s only the eighth time in major league history that a team has won consecutive games with double-digit run totals while shutting out its opponent.

Saturday, June 23
The last-place Reds hammer the Cubs at Cincinnati for their sixth straight win, 11-2, as everyone gets in on the act. That includes starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani, who becomes the first Reds pitcher since 1959 to belt a grand slam as part of a six-run third inning. It’s the fourth slam in the last 10 games by a Reds player, and the seventh overall this season to lead the majors.

The Rangers, another team bouncing back from the basement, win their seventh straight (on the heels of losing seven in a row) with a 9-6 victory at Minnesota. Painfully contributing on offense is Jurickson Profar, who for the second time this year is hit three times; only Reed Johnson (in 2006) has been plunked thrice in two games during one season.

No one has ever been hit four times in a game; Johnson was also hit three times in a 2005 game, making him the only player to make this list three times.

Clayton Kershaw comes off the shelf and puts up a wobbly three innings at New York against the Mets, but he’s bailed out by a stout bullpen and Matt Kemp—who comes off the bench to bash a seventh-inning grand slam—to give the Dodgers an 8-3 victory. It’s Los Angeles’ 11th straight win over the Mets, the last nine of which they have won by at least three runs—the longest such streak since the Cardinals did it 11 times against the Pirates from 2000-01.

Sunday, June 24
A fifth-inning solo homer at Chicago by the A’s Mark Canha marks the 25th straight road game in which Oakland has gone deep at least once, setting a major league record. But it’s the A’s only homer on the day—while the White Sox blast three, including a three-run shot from Yoan Moncada as part of a six-RBI day, to take an easy 10-3 victory.

Justin Turner’s 11th-inning home run—the Dodgers’ seventh solo shot on the day to tie an all-time mark—is the game-winner as Los Angeles prevails against the Mets at New York, 8-7, to improve to 25-9 since being 10 games below the .500 mark on May 16. The seven homers are one shy of the Dodgers’ franchise mark and the most hit by a team at Citi Field since its 2009 opening. Jerry Blevins, making his first career start after 532 relief appearances, allows homers to the first two batters he faces (Kiki Hernandez and rookie Max Muncy); he is only the second pitcher, after the Boston Braves’ Don Hendrickson in 1945, to allow homers to the first two batters in his first major league start.

For the first time this season, the Yankees lose three straight games as their comeback bid at Tampa Bay is foiled in 12 innings, 7-6, on a solo homer from Rays rookie Jake Bauers. All this, despite Giancarlo Stanton’s second career five-hit day (two singles, two doubles and a home run). The Yankees were the only team in the majors this season who had yet to lose three straight; it’s the latest they’ve gone into a season without such a streak since 1954.

The Indians finally look to be dominating the AL Central, as predicted. The Tribe’s top three batters in the lineup (Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley and Jose Ramirez) each have three hits, and clean-up guy Edwin Encarnacion drives in five as the Indians bury the Tigers at Cleveland, 12-2, for their seventh straight win. They’ve outscored their opponents—all AL Central foes—54-9 during the streak and are 25-13 within the division while being 18-20 versus the rest of baseball.

Monday, June 25
Recently acquired by the A’s, Edwin Jackson gets the start at Detroit and appears for his 13th major league team—tying Octavio Dotel’s all-time record—and pitches well, allowing a run on six hits over six innings. Oakland’s bullpen falters behind him, but the offense rallies for four runs in the final two innings—including a Jed Lowrie homer in the ninth—to tip the Tigers, 5-4.

The Rays’ Ian Snell takes a no-hitter into the seventh and gets plenty of support from his Tampa Bay teammates, who squash the Nationals at St. Petersburg, 11-0. It’s the first interleague win for the Rays in 2018 after losing seven games to start the year; they’re the last team to get into the win column against the other league.

While Snell rolls, Washington’s Gio Gonzalez becomes the first Nationals/Expos pitcher to allow five runs with five walks in an inning or less.

The Cardinals cool off the Indians and end their seven-game win streak at St. Louis, 4-0—in part because they’re not an inferior AL Central opponent, and also because John Gant allows just a hit over seven innings in his fourth career start. It’s the 10,000th win for the Cardinals since joining the National League in 1892; they won 781 games as a member of the American Association from 1882-91.

In a make-up game at Kansas City, the Royals get seven innings of shutout work from rookie Brad Keller—making his fifth career start—allowing just two hits to silence the Angels, 2-0. It snaps a nine-game home losing streak for the Royals, as they avoid becoming the fifth team ever to suffer two skids of 10 or more home defeats in one year.

Tuesday, June 26
A body of a man doing contract work on Atlanta’s SunTrust Park is found inside a beer cooler shortly before the Braves’ game against Cincinnati. Authorities say that the man, Todd Keeling, had done work for a beverage vendor at the ballpark the night before; he apparently had gotten trapped inside the cooler and could not get out.

Cleveland ace Corey Kluber, after a lengthy string of quality starts, endures the worst outing of his career as the Indians get drubbed by the Cardinals at St. Louis, 11-2. Kluber lasts just 1.2 innings and gives up six runs; doing most of the damage for St. Louis is leadoff man Matt Carpenter, who becomes only the 19th player in major league history to go 5-for-5 with five runs and a pair of home runs.

In the Brewers’ 5-1 home win over Kansas City, Milwaukee pitcher Freddy Peralta becomes the first pitcher to strike out 10-plus batters while allowing just one hit in multiple starts of his rookie campaign. In his major league debut back on May 13, he struck out 13 Rockies while allowing just one hit over 5.2 innings at Colorado.

Wednesday, June 27
Detroit pitching coach Chris Bosio is fired by the Tigers, not because of poor results but a poor choice of words aimed at a team employee. The Tigers do not elaborate, but say that Bosio used a racist term to describe the employee. After three years as the Cubs’ pitching coach, Bosio had overseen a Detroit staff that, so far in 2018 has improved from a MLB-worst 5.36 figure in 2017 to 4.45.

Bosio will swear “on my mom and dad’s graves” the next day that it was all a misunderstanding. He claims he called Detroit pitcher Daniel Stumpf, who is white, a “spider monkey” while a nearby clubhouse employee, who is black, thought the remark was directed at him.

On the field, the Tigers lose at home to the A’s, 3-0, as they can only muster three hits against Chris Bassitt and two relievers. The silver lining for the Tigers is that they keep the A’s from going yard to end Oakland’s all-time record of 27 straight games with a home run on the road; it might have been 28, but Matt Olson’s second-inning bid for a round-tripper is caught above the wall by Detroit left fielder JaCoby Jones.

After Baltimore takes a 7-5 lead in the bottom of the eighth on a three-run jack from Chris Davis (raising his bat average to .152), the Mariners counter with two in the ninth off Orioles closer Zack Britton, and then tally the game-winner in the 11th on a Denard Span sac fly to triumph, 8-7, at Camden Yards. It’s the 13th straight extra-inning win for Seattle, which also wins for the 25th time this season by a run and the 16th time after trailing in the seventh inning or later.

Alex Bregman’s two-run homer with out in the ninth is a walk-off for the Astros, who edge Toronto at Houston, 7-6. It’s Bregman’s seventh extra-base hit (five doubles, two homers) over the last two games, tying a major league record.

Thursday, June 28
The Red Sox defeat the Angels at Boston, 4-2, and for the first time in franchise history complete a season sweep of one team in six or more games. Today’s margin is the closest of any of the Sox’ six victories over Los Angeles; they outscored the Angels 49-12 for the season.

Star Angels hitter Mike Trout has gone 19 games at Fenway Park without hitting a home run; he’s hit at least four in every other AL ballpark to date.

Zack Greinke does it all for the Diamondbacks in their 4-0 win at Miami. He pitches seven shutout innings with six strikeouts and no walks, collects two hits at the plate with one RBI, and he even steals a base—his second of the season and seventh of his career, without once getting caught. Arizona extends its lead in the NL West to 3.5 games over the Dodgers, who lose 11-5 to the Cubs at Los Angeles.

Oregon State takes the College World Series for the third time, winning the rubber game of a best-of-three series with ease over Arkansas, 5-0. The day before, the Beavers were one out away from being eliminated—but a foul ball dropped between three Arkansas fielders, giving them new life at the plate to complete a three-run rally and 5-3 comeback victory.

Friday, June 29
For the second time in 10 days, the Rays deny the Astros a shot at breaking a franchise record for consecutive wins. At St. Petersburg, a three-spot in the fourth inning off the Astros’ Gerrit Cole is all the scoring the Rays will need to defeat Houston, 3-2, and end the Astros’ 11-game road win streak—which had tied a franchise record. Earlier on July 19, the Rays ended another Houston win streak—a 12-game run tied for the longest in general in Astros history.

The win goes to Wilmer Font, who’s playing for his third team this season; he’s 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA over 27 innings for the Rays, as opposed to a 0-2 mark and 12.71 ERA in 10 relief appearances combined for the A’s and Dodgers.

The Nationals floor it at Philadelphia, routing the Phillies 17-7 behind several big-day efforts. The most impressive of those from a box-score perspective is that of 19-year-old rookie Juan Soto, who goes 4-for-6 with two home runs and five RBIs.; he’s only the fourth player with a pair of multiple-homer games before turning 20. The others are Mel Ott, Ken Griffey Jr. and Soto’s teammate, Bryce Harper.

Forget Shohei Ohtani—the majors’ best dual threat may very well be Cincinnati reliever Michael Lorenzen. In the Reds’ 8-2 home loss to the Brewers, Lorenzen replaces starter Sal Romano and, batting in the sixth, hits his second homer of the year. It's his fourth home run in just his last 22 at-bats going back three years.

The Mariners’ Marco Gonzales has a shutout bid ruined with two outs in the ninth, but settles for his first career complete game, a 4-1 victory over the Royals at Seattle. Gonzales strikes out seven, walks none and throws just 96 pitches (71 for strikes) in improving to 8-5 on the season.

Randy Cesar of the Class-AA Corpus Christi Hooks goes 0-for-4 to end a 42-game hitting streak that was the longest in Texas League history. His skein was tied for the 13th longest in minor league history; a 69-game streak by Joe Wilhoit in 1919 remains the longest in all of organized baseball.

Hall-of-Fame pitcher John Smoltz, good enough at golf that he made the roster for the Senior U.S. Open, does not make the final cut at the tournament after hitting 22-over through the first two days. During a rough first round (in which he shoots 85 at the par-70 Broadmoor course in Colorado Springs, Colorado), he is heard to say, “I can’t believe the manager is leaving me in.”

Saturday, June 30
The Rangers’ Bartolo Colon is the beneficiary of another Texas onslaught upon the visiting White Sox, as he gets credit for a 13-4 victory and thus ties Dennis Martinez for the most career wins by a Latin-born pitcher with 245. The 45-year-old Colon goes the minimum five innings needed to earn the W, allowing three runs on seven hits.

The Red Sox even up a three-game series with the Yankees at New York with an 11-0 rout, fueled by Chris Sale’s magnificent effort (seven innings, one hit, 11 strikeouts) and Rafael Devers’ five hits including a first-inning grand slam. With the win, Boston holds a one-game lead over New York in the AL East.

On a more historical note, Yankees relievers allow five runs after Sonny Gray’s early departure after allowing just eight all month. Thus, they blow a chance to finish June with a sub-1.00 ERA; the last team to accomplish this was the Orioles, whose pen posted a 0.77 ERA in June 1965.

Michael Lorenzen does it again. Pinch-hitting in the seventh inning with the bases loaded, the Reds reliever crushes his fifth career home run and third in as many at-bats in the past seven days. The grand slam, the second by a Reds pitcher in the past week, caps an eight-run rally to bury the Brewers at Cincinnati, 12-3.

Among the firsts, as a result of Lorenzen’s slam: The first pinch-hit grand slam by a pitcher since the White Sox’ Tommy Byrne in 1953; The first time that pitchers have hit two grand slams for the same team in a calendar month; and the first two slams by Reds pitchers since Bob Purkey in 1959. Finally, Lorenzen is the first pitcher to homer in three consecutive at-bats since the Rockies’ Mike Hampton in 2001.

The Mariners hand yet another loss to the Royals (who finish June with an abysmal 5-21 record—their worst monthly showing since August 2005), taking a 6-4 victory while wearing “Turn Ahead the Clock” uniforms to celebrate the 20th anniversary of a similar promotional stunt in 1998. For the game, the Mariners wear tank tops, caps worn backward and a black-and-red color scheme—a far cry from the team’s teal-and-blue brand.

The “Turn the Clock Ahead” uniforms drudges up awful memories of MLB’s league-wide attempt to get the other 29 teams to do the same back in 1999, inspired by the ‘success’ of the Mariners’ futuristic unis a year earlier. It was an abject failure, and some teams including the Cubs, Dodgers and Yankees refused to participate, preferring their traditional jerseys instead. Still, the Mariners and their fans loved the concept enough that they brought it back—and defended it to the death as This Great Game’s Twitter account spent much of this game trying to convince Seattleites that the “Future Schlock” uniforms worn in 1999 produced eye wincing and yawns outside of Seattle. Maybe opinions have changed on the subject. Rest assured that MLB is watching the enthusiastic response of Mariners fans and mulling another league-wide effort.


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