This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: August 2022

Friar’s Boast: Juan Soto Joins the Padres    Dodger Blue Heaven Welcomes Vin Scully
Albert Pujols’ Sweet Vintage Month    Oh, Fernando Jr.

July 2022  •  Comebacker Index    September 2022

Monday, August 1

On a day when many deals are being made on the eve of the trade deadline, the most noteworthy off-the-field news involves a contract extension. And it’s a big one; the Atlanta Braves lock up young All-Star third baseman Austin Riley for 10 years and $212 million, a deal which may prove to be a bargain if the 25-year old continues to improve as he has over the past two years. After batting .307 with 33 home runs and 107 RBIs last season, Riley is hitting .301 this year and on pace for 49 doubles, 46 homers and 107 RBIs.

Along with long-term deals already on the books for stars Ronald Acuna Jr. (through 2028) and Ozzie Albies (through 2027), the Riley contract puts the Braves in good shape offensively for the bulk of the 2020s.

The penultimate day of the trading season brings no blockbuster deals—Juan Soto remains a Washington National, for now—but there are a number of pivotal deals made that could sway the balance of teams fighting for the postseason.

In the biggest and certainly most surprising trade of the day, the Milwaukee Brewers—currently with a three-game lead in the NL Central—ship top closer Josh Hader off to San Diego in exchange for their closer, Taylor Rogers, and three other players. Hader (29 saves) and Rogers (28) are 1-2 on the MLB leaderboard, but both have struggled of late; in July, the two combined for a 2-4 record, four blown saves and a 10.89 ERA. Hader is likely to take over the closer role in San Diego, while Rogers may be relegated to set-up duties for Devin Williams, who hasn’t been charged with a run in any of his last 30 appearances.

The Houston Astros, meanwhile, obtain popular Baltimore outfielder Trey Mancini and Boston catcher Christian Vazquez in a three-team deal involving the Astros, Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. Mancini’s departure is bound to cast sour responses from Orioles fans, who see the move as a possible surrender on the playoff chase even though the team is 52-51, playing better every day, and a mere 2.5 games behind Seattle for the AL’s final wild card spot.

The New York Yankees poach one of Oakland’s top pitchers (Frankie Montas) and closer Lou Trivino for four minor leaguers as the A’s continue a shedding of talent that began well before Opening Day. Montas is 4-9, but with a fine 3.18 ERA; Trivino has 10 saves but a rough 6.47 ERA. Nevertheless, it will be intriguing to see a late-inning New York battery of Trivino and catcher Jose Trevino.

Other trades made on the day include veteran pitcher Jose Quintana being dealt from Pittsburgh to St. Louis; Detroit outfielder Robbie Grossman picked up by Atlanta; Boston reliever Jake Diekman packing up for Chicago to play for the White Sox; and Cincinnati outfielder Tommy Pham jetting off to the Red Sox.

Tuesday, August 2

Vin Scully, universally considered baseball’s greatest and most popular broadcaster, passes away at the age of 94. The news is released via a statement from the Dodgers in the midst of a game between Los Angeles and the Giants at San Francisco’s Oracle Park, the site of Scully’s last broadcast in 2016; moments after the game, the Giants hold a two-minute video tribute to Scully before a healthy mix of Dodgers and Giants fans—and in unison, they applaud, reflecting the legacy of a man so revered that he was appreciated by even fans of the archrival Giants. (Bay Area sports fans will fondly remember Scully for his call of “The Catch,” the winning touchdown by the San Francisco 49ers’ Dwight Clark thrown by Joe Montana in the 1982 NFC Championship Game broadcast by CBS.)

There’s a reason Scully commanded the mike at Dodger Stadium—and Ebbets Field before that—for 67 remarkable years. He never had a broadcast partner in the booth; he didn’t need one. Scully was gentle, polite and had an exceptional, well-prepared gift for storytelling. Some people tuned into Dodgers broadcasts not because of the team, but because of Scully and his refreshing manner of oratory that was as educational as it was entertaining. He didn’t merely speak to an audience; he spoke to you. And you felt welcomed into his world.

Scully began his Dodgers tour of duty in 1950, performing play-by-play for a young Boys of Summer team featuring Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese and Don Newcombe. For his final game in 2016, the Dodgers’ roster included Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urias. In between, he made the transition from Brooklyn to Chavez Ravine a smooth one, instantly embraced by a new fan base which brought transistor radios to the ballpark and allowed the echoes of his broadcast to audibly rival that of the public address announcer.

In retirement, Scully dared to join the Twitterverse and amassed over 200,000 followers—none of them, it seemed, never daring to pick a social media fight with him in what must have been a first for Twitter.

The San Diego Padres go all in on 23-year-old superstar Juan Sotoand switch-hitting first baseman Josh Bell—acquiring both from the Nationals for five prospects including three former first-round picks (pitcher MacKenzie Gore, outfielder Robert Hassell and shortstop C.J. Abrams); additionally, first baseman and 2020 MLB home run leader Luke Voit is sent to Washington. With this megadeal, the 59-46 Padres serve notice to the NL West rival Dodgers (11.5 games ahead of San Diego) and the rest of baseball that they truly mean business and are laser-focused on winning it all, right now. They also possess, arguably, the majors’ meanest middle of the order with Soto, Bell, Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr., whenever he returns. The trade is temporarily held up because Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer, originally slated to be part of the deal to Washington, uses his 10-and-5 power (10 years in the majors, five with the current team) to veto his inclusion. Hosmer shortly afterward accepts a trade to the Red Sox, cementing Voit’s ticket to D.C. and Soto/Bell’s to San Diego.

The departures of Soto and Bell leave the Nationals almost entirely powerless in the lineup save for 42-year-old Nelson Cruz, who’s fading with a .233 average and eight homers in 95 games. Outside of Cruz, the Nationals are young, nameless and heavily inexperienced—and are all but certain to lose 100 games (or much more) for the fifth time in franchise history.

The Toronto Blue Jays are among those who end the day stronger via acquisition. They obtain from Kansas City two-time All-Star second baseman Whit Merrifield—an ironic move, given that Merrifield skipped a recent trip to Toronto because he was unvaccinated. (Two days later, he will finally get the jab.) Additionally, Toronto picks up relievers Anthony Bass (1.41 ERA) and Zach Pop (3.60) from Miami.

The defending champion Atlanta Braves are also on the move, trading reliever Will Smith (4.38 ERA, five saves in 41 games) to the Astros for starting hurler Jake Odorizzi (4-3, 3.75 ERA) while acquiring Los Angeles Angels closer Raisel Iglesias (4.04 ERA, 16 saves).

The Minnesota Twins, attempting pick up steam in a weak AL Central, pick up Baltimore All-Star closer Jorge Lopez (1.68 ERA, 19 saves) and Cincinnati pitcher Tyler Mahle (5-7, 4.40 ERA).

The Philadelphia Phillies, in the hunt for one of three NL wild cards, bring in pitcher Noah Syndegaard (returning to the NL East after several years with the New York Mets) and second-year outfielder Brandon Marsh from the Angels, while veteran reliever David Robertson (2.23 ERA, 14 saves) is brought in from the Chicago Cubs.

Among other deals of note on the day: The Dodgers, staying relatively quiet, take a chance on all-or-nothing slugger Joey Gallo (12 homers, 106 strikeouts in 233 at-bats) from the Yankees; San Francisco, which at .500 is stuck in ‘should-we-sell-or-should-we-buy’ mode, trade slugger Darin Ruf (.216 average, 11 homers) to the Mets for outfielder JD Davis and three minor leaguers; and the St. Louis Cardinals deal outfielder Harrison Bader (.256 average, 15 steals) to the Yankees for starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery (3-3, 3.69 ERA in 21 starts).

Jacob deGrom makes his first appearance on the mound for the Mets in nearly 13 months, and the fragile ace looks typically sharp by throwing five innings on just 59 pitches—striking out six with no walks and allowing a run on just three hits. But cruel habits die hard—or in deGrom’s case, they just never die, as his win-worthy performance isn’t good enough for a win. The New York bullpen falters behind him and allows the host Nationals, without both Juan Soto and Josh Bell, to snag a 5-1 victory. The Mets’ loss ends a seven-game win streak, their longest of the year.

The Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina reunite as a battery for the first time in two months, and it’s as if they never took a break. Wainwright throws seven shutout innings, allowing six hits and no walks, as the Cardinals ease to a 6-0 home win over the Cubs—who do not trade All-Star catcher Willson Contreras, as was widely assumed. This is the 317th time that Wainwright and Molina have started a game together, passing Warren Spahn and Del Crandall for the second-most by a battery in MLB history; they’re seven behind all-time leaders Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan of the Detroit Tigers.

Wednesday, August 3

Three new Padres make a positive contribution in their debuts at San Diego against the Colorado Rockies. There is, of course, Juan Soto, the ex-Nationals superstar who singles, walks twice and scores a run; there’s Josh Bell, who rode the plane with Soto from Washington, walking and scoring twice; and then there’s Brandon Drury, whose acquisition from Cincinnati was buried in the trade deadline news chaos of the previous few days. Drury’s first-inning grand slam sets the tone for a 9-1 victory; he later gets hit by a pitch, the historical consequence of which is that it’s the first time that three players all making their debut on the same team after a midseason trade reached base safely at least twice in the same game.

For the second time this year, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole serves up at least three homers in the first inning as the Mariners’ Eugenio Suarez, Carlos Santana and Jared Kelenic each go deep to bolt out to a 6-0 lead; Seattle will glide from there to a 7-3 victory, taking the series at New York, two games to one. The two teams meet up again next week in Seattle; should the Mariners win that series, it will end an 18-year drought in which they’ve either lost or split their season series against the Yankees.

In modern era annals, the only other pitcher besides Cole to surrender three or more homers in the first inning twice in a year is Brett Tomko in 1999.

For the first time in three weeks, a major league pitcher goes the distance—and of course, it has to be Sandy Alcantara. The Marlins’ workhorse blanks the visiting Reds, 3-0, on six hits, a walk and 105 pitches, lowering his season ERA to a NL-best 1.88. Alcantara’s latest gem is his third complete game of the year; that’s more than all other teams, except for the Red Sox (who also have three). It’s also his first 2022 shutout, and third of his career.

The Dodgers make it seven straight wins against fading archrival San Francisco, taking a 3-0 road win behind Julio Urias’ six shutout innings and a pair of hits and RBIs each for DH Miguel Vargas, making his MLB debut. Despite the win—improving the Dodgers to an MLB-best 71-33 record—Trea Turner goes hitless in four at-bats, ending his latest hitting streak at 20. Of the four hit streaks reaching 20 or more games this season, Turner has two of them—and that doesn’t include a 27-game run that started at the end of last season and continued into 2022. He’s the first player with multiple 20-game hit streaks in one year since Ichiro Suzuki during his rookie 2001 campaign.

It happens again. In Houston, the Astros’ Yordan Alvarez has a 1-2 count on him in the third inning against Rich Hill and the Red Sox, then takes strike three. Except, nobody notices that it’s actually strike three. Not the umpires, nor the Red Sox, nor even either TV crew. (The Astros might be aware, but they’ll leave it to someone else to bring it up.) On a 1-3 count, Alvarez grounds out to first, and that’s that. The on-field glitch does nothing more than up Hill’s pitch count by one, and the Astros otherwise sail to a 6-1 victory behind Jose Urquidy’s seven shutout innings with 10 K’s, and the first home run for newly-minted Astro (and former Oriole) Trey Mancini.

The loss of simple balls-and-strikes counting—A strikeout on strike four, a walk on ball five—seems to happen once every few years. That it even happens at all, with all eyes and ears supposedly on home plate in a major league ballgame, is simply astonishing.

Thursday, August 4

File yet another sad fact about the Angels’ 2022 season. At Anaheim against the Oakland A’s, the Angels hit a franchise-record tying seven home runs—and lose, because (a) they’re all solo homers, (b) they don’t score any other runs, and (c), the A’s score more, winning 8-7. Shohei Ohtani collects two of the homers in this strange loss, giving him 24 on the year; outfielder Mickey Moniak, in his second game for the Angels after being traded from Philadelphia, hits his first of the season. The seven solo shots, without another run, is a major league record.

The Angels are the sixth team to hit seven in a game and lose. The only other time they hit seven came in 2003, when they defeated Montreal at the Expos’ temporary home in Puerto Rico, 11-2. Garret Anderson hit three in that game for the Halos.

The Mets start off a crucial five-game series at New York against the Braves, and extend their NL East lead over the defending champions to 3.5 games with a 6-4 victory. Leading the way is Tyler Naquin, who in his fifth game with the Mets after being traded by Cleveland belts two solo homers; Edwin Diaz pitches the final two innings, striking out three and allowing one hit, for the first two-inning save of his career. Diaz’s 17.93 K’s per nine innings is well ahead of second-place Josh Hader (15.43).

The Giants continue to sink, losing at home to the Dodgers, 5-3, as Los Angeles completes its first four-game sweep of their archrivals in San Francisco since 1977; the eight straight wins over the Giants comprise the longest such streak by either team against one another since they both moved to California in 1958. Overall for the Giants, this is loss #55 on the year—matching their entire total from their eye-opening, NL West-winning 2021 campaign. Since the All-Star Break, the Giants are 3-12. 

Friday, August 5

The White Sox’ Dylan Cease sets an MLB record by allowing one or none earned runs in his 13th straight start, conceding a sole tally over six innings in Chicago’s 2-1 win at Arlington over the Texas Rangers. The old mark had belonged to Jacob deGrom from last year; Cease’s ERA falls below the 2.00 mark at 1.98, placing him third in the majors behind Justin Verlander (1.73) and Sandy Alcantara (1.88).

In the first of a dozen meetings left in the year between the NL West’s top two rivals, the first-place Dodgers upend the upstart Padres and all their recent star acquisitions with ease, 8-1 at Los Angeles. All eight runs are racked up within the first three innings off San Diego starter Sean Manaea, while Tony Gonsolin (13-1) tosses five shutout innings. With the victory, the Dodgers up their lead in the West over the second-place Padres to 13.5 games.

Trey Mancini continues to extend his welcome with the Astros in the most welcoming of ways. At Cleveland, the former Oriole hits two home runs—including a third-inning grand slam that’s the first of his career—to help Houston sink the Guardians, 9-3. With a home run in his first (and previous) start with the Astros, Mancini becomes the first player ever to hit at least two homers over his first two starts with multiple teams, having also done it for Baltimore in 2016.

Saturday, August 6

It didn’t take long for Jordan Montgomery to show the Yankees, the team that traded him to St. Louis earlier in the week, how he’s doing. In his first assignment since joining the Cardinals, Montgomery takes on his old team—and throws five shutout innings, allowing two hits and a walk, before three St. Louis relievers finish clamping down on the visiting Yankees in a 1-0 victory. The Cardinals’ only run comes in the first inning on a Nolan Arenado single; the Yankees have lost four straight games for the first time this year, and it’s only the second 1-0 loss they’ve absorbed since 2014.

The Mets, whose NL East lead peaked to 10.5 games before seeing it dwindle down to a mere half-game over the Braves two weeks ago, have now padded it backed up to 5.5 games. This, thanks in big part to a doubleheader sweep over Atlanta at New York by scores of 8-5 and 6-2. Neither game is as close as the score indicates, as the Braves pile up their runs too late in the late stages of both. In the second game, Max Scherzer (below) throws seven shutout innings with 11 strikeouts—tying Justin Verlander for the most among active pitchers with 3,140.

Tonight’s game, finishing off a five-game series, will be the last of the year played between the two sides at New York; the remaining seven games will be staged at Atlanta, including three on the regular season’s final weekend.

The Reds’ Jose Barrero, who’s hit 42 home runs over 369 career minor league games, has had no such luck with his power at the major league level—until today. He parks not just one but two long balls over the fence at Milwaukee, helping Cincinnati to a 7-5 win; they’re the first two homers of his MLB career after collecting none in 47 previous games. Barrero thus becomes the first Reds player since Harry Steinfeldt in 1900 to hit his first two major league homers in the same game.

Sunday, August 7

Jacob deGrom, in his second start of the year for the Mets, retires the first 17 Braves he faces before mortality takes hold as he surrenders a walk and home run to his next two hitters, ending his day. But he still gets credit for the win, a 5-2 home decision to give New York a 4-1 series win over Atlanta; his 12 strikeouts over 5.2 innings are the most ever racked up by a Mets pitcher pitching less than six frames. There’s also this; deGrom’s first 18 sliders that the Braves swing at are all missed.

After deGrom’s departure, New York relievers Joely Rodriguez and Edwin Diaz add another seven K’s to the box score; the 19 totaled by the Mets are tied for the most they’ve ever accumulated in a nine-inning game.

In a wild game at St. Louis, the Cardinals outlast the Yankees, 12-9, to finish a three-game sweep and hand New York its season-long fifth straight defeat. On a historical note, Yadier Molina’s third-inning single is his 1,000th at Busch Stadium—making him only the second active player (after Joey Votto, at Great American Ball Park), to have 1,000 at a single ballpark.

Scoreless at Detroit with two outs in the top of the ninth, the Rays explode for seven runs as seven straight batters reach base safely; they go on to defeat the Tigers, 7-0. It’s said to be the first time ever that a team broke a scoreless tie in the ninth and scored seven or more runs—all with two outs.

The Phillies celebrate both a reunion of the 1980 World Series-winning team and a dominant three-game sweep of the lifeless Nationals (36-74) with a 13-1 drubbing. With four home runs including two from rookie Darick Hall (who has eight over 103 at-bats), the Phillies set a team mark with 14 homers in a single series. On social media, the rout takes a backseat to the 1980 celebration—and more pointedly, Pete Rose, making a rare appearance at an MLB event. The tarnished 81-year-old Hit King is asked by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Alex Coffey before the game about credible sexual misconduct back in the day. Rose responds: “I’m not here to talk about that. Sorry about that. It was 55 years ago, babe.” He continues: “You shouldn’t be talking about it, because you weren’t born. If you don’t know a damn thing about it, don’t talk about it.”

Rose wasn’t finished making controversy on the day. In the middle of the game, he’s awkwardly seated in the back behind the Phillies TV broadcast crew (which includes former Phillies Larry Bowa and John Kruk) in a sort of expanded press box ‘lounge’ and profanely recalls his championship year in Philadelphia to the point that the others joke that they’ll need to enact a seven-second delay. Afterward, Rose is prompted by an event rep to re-approach Coffey and apologize—but not before asking her, “Will you forgive me if I sign 1,000 baseballs for you?”

Monday, August 8

The Yankees snap a five-game losing skid—their longest of the year—behind eight extra-base hits including Aaron Judge’s 44th home run to defeat the Mariners at Seattle, 9-4. The news is not all good for New York; veteran Matt Carpenter, having a stunning comeback season (.305 average, 15 homers and 37 RBIs in just 128 at-bats) after burning out in St. Louis, chops a foul off his left foot, fracturing it. The hope is, at the very least, that Carpenter will return in time for the postseason.

The Padres are now 1-5 in the Juan Soto era. Back in San Diego after being swept by the Dodgers, they face tough pitching from the Giants in starter Alex Wood (6.2 shutout innings) and closer Camilo Doval, who retires the heart of the Padres’ order (including Soto) in the ninth, finishing off Josh Bell with a 102.9 MPH pitch—tied for the fastest thrown by a San Francisco pitcher since velocities began being officially tracked in 2008. Thairo Estrada’s sac fly in the fourth accounts for the only run of the game, as the Giants take a 1-0 decision.

Since joining the Padres, Soto is 6-for-20 (.300) with five walks. The rest of the Padres are batting .179.

Tuesday, August 9

This has not been Chris Sale’s year. While training during the winter lockout, the Red Sox ace fractured a rib; in his second start after recovery, he had the pinky of his pitching hand broken by a comebacker. Then last weekend, he decided to go for a bike ride. He fell. He broke his wrist. As a result, he’s going to undergo surgery to repair it and miss the rest of the year.

Over the past two seasons, the Red Sox have paid Sale $60 million. This is what they have gotten for it: 11 starts, 48.1 innings, five wins, two losses, and a boatload of fragility.

In only the second game to go as long as 13 innings this season, the Mariners eke out a 1-0 victory over the Yankees before 39,000 at Seattle as Luis Torrens brings home the gift runner on a one-out, bases-loaded single. No game has gone scoreless past 13 innings since 2011, when Boston defeated Tampa Bay by a 1-0 count in 16.

The greatest two-way player since Babe Ruth continues to match up against the Bambino. At Oakland, Shohei Ohtani throws six scoreless innings while connecting on his 25th home run to pace the Angels to a 5-1 win over the A’s. It’s Ohtani’s 10th win of the year, and that makes him the first MLB player since Ruth (in 1919) to reach double-digits in wins and homers in the same season. (It’s also worth noting that two Negro Leaguers—Hall of Famer Bullet Rogan in 1922 and Ed Rile in 1927—did the same.)

Since June 3, the Angels are 7-3 when Ohtani starts—and 14-35 when he doesn’t.

Don’t tell Miles Mikolas that mile-high Coors Field has been tamed by the humidor. The St. Louis pitcher is shelled for 10 runs on 14 hits over just 2.2 innings before being removed as the Cardinals are pounded by the Rockies at Denver, 16-5. Overall, the Rockies slam four home runs against the Cardinals, all of them 448 feet or longer; the longest is saved for last, as Ryan McMahon blasts a 495-foot monster to the right-center seats in the seventh. That’s 10 feet shorter than the all-time Coors Field distance of 505 feet by Trevor Story in 2018.

No pitcher in Cardinals history—nor any pitcher ever at Coors Field—has allowed as many hits in 2.2 or fewer innings.

Wednesday, August 10

After falling behind in the seventh inning 3-1 to the Yankees after conceding two home runs (one of which being the 45th of the year from Aaron Judge), the Mariners bounce back with three runs of their own—two off the bat of Carlos Santana, smashing his 11th homer of the year—and hold on to defeat New York, 4-3. The victory earns the Mariners their first season series win over the Yankees since 2002, winning four of six games on the year; the Yankees still own the longest active season series streak at 20 years, against the Minnesota Twins.

The Braves get a boost at Boston with the arrival of #1 team prospect Vaughn Grissom, who has a single, home run and stolen base in an 8-4 win over the Red Sox. The second baseman, 21 years and 217 days old, is the youngest modern-era player to have both a home run and steal in his MLB debut.

For only the second day since April 23, someone other than Minnesota has sole possession of the AL Central lead. While the Twins are losing to the Dodgers at Los Angeles, 8-5, the Guardians take the division’s top spot with a 3-2 win at Detroit. Starter Aaron Civale and six relievers clamp down on the Tigers.

Speaking of the Tigers, a lack of anticipated progress has led to the firing of general manager Al Avila, who held the position since midway through the 2015 season. The death of free-spending Detroit owner Mike Ilitch in 2017—and the rule since of his son Christopher Ilitch, who’s favored a far more conservative approach to payroll—had handicapped Avila during his tenure, but the team’s frustration as it slips gears trying to return to contention status helped seal his fate.

It’s quite the night for Chandler Redmond, a 25-year old drafted by the Cardinals in the 32nd round of the 2019 amateur draft. Playing for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals, Redmond hits for the home run cycle—belting solo, two-run and three-run homers plus a grand slam—amid a five-hit night with 11 RBIs in a 21-4 win over the Amarillo Sod Poodles. The four-homer night gives Redmond 17 for the year, along with 61 RBIs.

Thursday, August 11

The second annual Field of Dreams game, played adjacent to the iconic ballyard immortalized in the 1989 film of the same name, turns out to be a far less exciting affair than the first. The Cubs and Reds, two teams totally out of postseason contention, turn in a relatively blah 4-2 decision in favor of Chicago, as Drew Smyly throws five shutout innings for the victory; there are no home runs hit into the corn stalks beyond the fences—as opposed to eight in last year’s inaugural Iowa contest between the Yankees and White Sox.

Perhaps the night’s most memorable moment revolves around Ken Griffey and his Hall-of-Fame son Ken Griffey Jr., who emerge from the cornfields to play a game of catch in the outfield before the first pitch.

The White Sox’ Dylan Cease runs his streak of consecutive starts allowing no more than one earned run to an MLB-record 14—and loses, as he has two other times during the streak. Cease leaves after six innings with Chicago trailing at Kansas City, 1-0; the Royals will never abandon their lead, scoring often late and repelling a White Sox comeback bid to prevail, 5-3. Zack Greinke scatters nine hits—all singles—over 6.1 scoreless frames to up his season record to 4-7.

Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, there must be no place like home for Pittsburgh pitcher JT Brubaker—because the road is giving him no comfort whatsoever. The third-year pitcher throws well enough against the Diamondbacks at Arizona, finishing five innings allowing two runs—but the two relievers to follow concede seven runs in a combined 1.1 innings, and the Diamondbacks move on to an easy 9-3 win.

This is the 25th straight road start in which Brubaker has failed to get a win, which according to STATS is the longest such drought suffered by an NL pitcher since Brooklyn’s Harry McInitre from 1905-06. Over his entire career to date, Brubaker is 1-16 in 30 road starts.

Friday, August 12

In a stunning bit of news, the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr.—who after an offseason wrist injury has been playing rehab in the minors in preparation for his 2022 debut at San Diego—is given an 80-game suspension for PEDs. The substance in question is Clostebol, which is described as a steroid that mimics testosterone used in “topical ophthalmologic and dermatologic treatments.” Rather than just spit out something like, “Yeah, I was juicing, you busted me,” Tatis pleads ignorance as almost every other major leaguer who’s tested positive before him. His excuse: He was “inadvertently” taking a medication to treat a case of ringworm, a medication that just happened to have Clostebol as an ingredient. In a statement, Tatis apologizes to the Padres, MLB and “fans everywhere” while claiming that, in future, he’ll be more careful about what he puts into his body.

The immensely talented Tatis will miss the remaining 48 games of the regular season; any postseason games the Padres participate in will also count toward his suspension, thus determining how long into the 2023 season he’ll be banned as well. Padres fans will thus have to wait until then to see the three-headed monster in the heart of the San Diego order consisting of Tatis, Juan Soto and Manny Machado. 

Reaction from the Padres’ front office and clubhouse is full of disappointment, spiked with a hint of anger. General manager A.J. Preller calls the suspension “very disappointing” and seems to be skeptical of Tatis’ explanation. “That’s his story…from a baseball standpoint, there’s a drug policy in place. He failed a drug screen. For whatever reason.” Pitcher Joe Musgrove tells reporters, “I think (Tatis has) got to start showing a little bit of remorse and (he’s) got to start showing us that (he’s) committed to it and (he wants) to be here.”

The fallout upon Tatis will go beyond the suspension. Two weeks later, the sports shoe company Adidas will terminate its ‘partnership’ with Tatis. 

Tatis will use the forced time off to have surgery done on his shoulder, which was a chronic issue in the 2021 season.

In the Yankees’ 113th game of the year, Aaron Judge becomes the first major leaguer this season to reach 100 RBIs thanks to a solo homer—his 46th of the year—at Boston against the Red Sox, but the Yankees cannot hang on to a slim 2-1 lead as closer Clay Holmes blows his third straight save opportunity on J.D. Martinez’s RBI single in the ninth. Moving on to the 10th, the Yankees fail to score—the seventh straight extra-inning frame that the Yankees haven’t tallied, the longest streak since the gift runner was implemented in 2020—but the Red Sox do, as Tommy Pham singles home the winning run in Boston’s 3-2 victory.

Holmes, a breakout All-Star reliever for the Yankees, will land on the Injury List with back spasms, missing two weeks of action.

The White Sox’ Michael Kopech throws six no-hit innings while striking out 11, but is removed at 85 pitches as manager Tony La Russa is concerned over the fact that Kopech has thrown more innings this year than from 2018-21 combined. Unfortunately for Kopech, he doesn’t get the win, as a scoreless tie is broken an inning later on a two-run single by Chicago’s Andrew Vaughn, which accounts for the game’s only scoring in a 2-0 win home win over Detroit.

Saturday, August 13

The Mets’ Jacob deGrom goes his customary, brilliant six innings of post-rehab work, allowing no runs on two hits and no walks with 10 K’s as he earns credit for a 1-0 home triumph over the Phillies. Pete Alonso’s RBI single in the first is all deGrom and the Mets will need against Aaron Nola, who goes the distance in defeat.

Sunday, August 14

One the eve of the 10th anniversary of baseball’s last perfect game (thrown by Seattle’s Felix Hernandez), Tampa Bay’s Drew Rasmussen takes a bid for perfection into the ninth inning at St. Petersburg against Baltimore…and gives up a leadoff double to Jorge Mateo. The 27-year-old Rasmussen gets one more out before being removed on just 87 pitches, as the Rays hold for a 4-1 victory.

Albert Pujols continues a second-half charge with his 63rd career multi-homer game, blasting two over the fence with four RBIs to give the host Cardinals a 6-3 home win over the Brewers. Since the All-Star Break, in which Pujols was a participant in the Home Run Derby, the 42-year old has 14 hits in 36 at-bats (.389) with four homers and 10 RBIs; only four players have more multi-homer games in their careers, and he’s one of only three players with multiple games of two or more after turning 42. (The other two players are Barry Bonds, with three such games, and Carlton Fisk, with two.)

The Dodgers finally take a loss, bowing 4-0 to the Royals and Brady Singer, who allows only a hit and three walks through six shutout innings. The road defeat ends a 12-game win streak for the Dodgers, all by multiple runs; the last team to win more consecutive games by two-plus runs were the 1922 Pirates, who won 13 straight.

Taking the loss for only the second time this year is Tyler Anderson, who allows three runs over six innings; his record drops to 13-2.

Juan Soto’s reunion weekend back in Washington ends with his new team, the Padres, taking two of three from the Nationals courtesy of a 6-0 triumph behind Blake Snell’s six shutout frames with 10 strikeouts. Soto is walked twice, giving him 101 for the year; the Yankees’ Aaron Judge ranks second in MLB—with 66. It’s third time that Soto has reached triple-figures in walks; his personal best is 145 from last season. He’s on pace for 140 in 2022.

Monday, August 15

The Rangers have certainly improved in 2022 over last year’s 60-102 record, but the front office was expecting more than 52-63 at this point after bringing in A-list middle infielders Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. Thus the team dismisses manager Chris Woodward after three-plus seasons at the helm—none of them with a winning record. The Rangers are currently placed third in the AL West, just 1.5 games ahead of the hopeless (of late) Angels, with slim chance of making noise in the postseason chase even with an expanded slate of playoff teams.

Speaking of the Angels, their 6-2 home loss to the Mariners pretty much sums up their entire season: Shohei Ohtani starts, pitches well, leaves without his team trailing…and then it all blows apart in bizarre, often self-inflicted fashion. Ohtani allows two runs over six innings with eight strikeouts, but then gives way to the Angels’ bullpen, taking a 2-2 tie to the ninth. And that’s when everything goes off the rails—all to the detriment of the Angels. With one out and one on, Seattle’s Carlos Santana walks…on a 2-2 pitch; again, as with a four-strike at-bat for Houston’s Yordan Alvarez earlier in the month, no one on the field nor in the dugouts notice. (“Yeah. I messed that one up,” admits home plate umpire Laz Diaz after the game.) Next, a rundown between third and home yields the Mariners the go-ahead run when nobody covers home. One batter later, shortstop Andrew Velazquez fields what could be an inning-ending double play, but instead he throws home in an attempt to nab Dylan Moore (racing home from third); catcher Max Stassi has the ball knocked away on impact. The Mariners will score two more runs, conventionally, to lock up the win.

The slumping Yankees are shut out for the second straight game, bowing at home to the Rays, 4-0. It’s the first time New York has been blanked in back-to-back games since 2016; over their last six contests—five of them losses—the Yankees are batting just .157 with eight runs scored.

Tuesday, August 16

The Phillies become the last of the eight NL teams established in the 1800s to reach 10,000 wins, flattening the Marlins at Miami, 11-4, behind five home runs including a pair from Rhys Hoskins. While all eight teams have now won 10,000, two have yet to lose 10,000: The Giants (9,830) and Dodgers (9,926). Meanwhile, over in the American League, only the Yankees (10,693*) have surpassed five-digit territory in franchise wins; the Red Sox (9,776) are next in line to reach.

* The Yankees’ total above includes 118 from 1901-02, when the franchise was known as the Baltimore Orioles—though there’s been fierce historical debate as to whether the Orioles, who were an absolute mess due to sabotage by 1902, simply disbanded and were replaced by a new team in New York, rather than just relocated.

One of the year’s most anticipated pitching matchups doesn’t quite live up to its billing. In Chicago, the White Sox’ Dylan Cease lasts five innings and concedes three runs to the Astros—ending a record streak of 14 starts in which he allowed no more than one earned run. On the other side, Houston’s Justin Verlander survives for seven innings and allows three runs himself—though the last two come in the seventh on Gavin Sheets’ pinch-hit double to tie the game. After Verlander’s departure, Chicago will notch the ultimate game-winner in the eighth on Yoan Moncada’s RBI single in a 4-3 White Sox victory.

The A’s end their latest long losing streak with a 5-1 victory at Texas as everyone in the starting lineup gets a least one hit while rookie pitcher J.P. Sears—acquired in the Frankie Montas trade with the Yankees—throws five shutout innings to improve to 4-0 with a 1.95 ERA. Oakland came into the game losing nine straight games—the third skid of least nine this season. Only the Reds have lost nine or more games twice in 2022.

The Braves up their win streak up to eight games with a 5-0 beating of the Mets at Atlanta, and lock up another talented player for the long term by signing rookie outfielder Michael Harris II to an extension worth eight years and $72 million. The deal includes two team options that could raise the final total to 10 years and $107 million. The 21-year-old Harris has been outstanding since debuting on May 28; in 71 games, he’s batting .287 with 14 doubles, 12 homers, 39 RBIs and 13 steals without once getting caught.

With Harris’ signing, the Braves have can claim the core of their team, at least offensively, through 2027, with Harris, Ronald Acuna Jr., Austin Riley, Matt Olson and Ozzie Albies all in the fold during that time.

Wednesday, August 17

Taking the mound in the bottom of the eighth at Cleveland, Detroit reliever Andrew Chafin proceeds to strike out the first three batters he faces—but the inning isn’t over, and it won’t be until six Guardians cross the plate. How? But of course—the third strike on Chafin’s third victim (Luke Maile) escapes to the backstop, allowing Maile to reach first safely as the rules state that a putout has to be made on every out (except in cases of interference, running out of the baseline, etc.) After Chafin’s wild gaffe—for which he still gets credit for a strikeout—the next seven Guardians reach base and end the rally with an 8-4 lead, which ultimately ends up as the final score. The rarity of six (or more) runs being scored after “three outs” is such that no one can find a previous instance of it happening since 1961.

With the win, Cleveland maintains a one-game lead in the AL Central, essentially the only one of six divisions currently up for grabs.

Max Scherzer plays the role of stopper, earning the win in the Mets’ 9-7 victory at Atlanta to end the Braves’ eight-game winning streak—and, more importantly for the Mets, increases their NL East lead over the Braves to 4.5 games. Scherzer’s eight strikeouts put him one ahead of Houston’s Justin Verlander in the ongoing back-and-forth race between the majors’ two active strikeout leaders; his 3,154 career K’s tie Pedro Martinez for 13th on the all-time list.

In a game that the slumping Yankees badly needed to get off their chest, they bounce back from a late-inning deficit with single runs in the seventh and eighth to tie Tampa Bay and send the game into extras; after the Rays plate three in the top of the 10th, the Yankees load the bases in the bottom half of the inning with nobody out—and the next batter, Josh Donaldson, delivers a game-winning grand slam to give New York an 8-7 triumph. The eight runs notched by the Yankees are one less than they’ve scored in their previous seven games combined—only one of which they had won.

Donaldson’s slam is only the third to walk off a game with the Yankees down three runs; the other two were hit by Babe Ruth (1925) and Jason Giambi (2002). Since Donaldson debuted in 2010, no other MLB player has had more walk-off hits than his 14.

Cincinnati star first baseman Joey Votto will undergo shoulder surgery and miss the rest of the year. It’s a fittingly sour end to Votto’s 2022 campaign, as he struggled with a .205 batting average and 11 homers in 91 games after a strong 2021 showing (36 homers, 99 RBIs). The six-time All-Star and one-time MVP (2010), who turns 39 in three weeks, has one year left on his 10-year, $225 million contract.

The Rangers continue to clean house, firing president and long-time front-office employee Jon Daniels. When he was hired as the team’s general manager in 2005, Daniels oversaw the rebuild of a roster that would win back-to-back AL pennants—the only two in the 61-year history of the Senators/Rangers franchise—and was promoted to president in 2013, retaining GM duties until handing them down to Chris Young in 2020. The release of Daniels—and manager Chris Woodward days before—certainly signals frustration from Texas’ top brass as the Rangers are on pace for a sixth straight losing record.

Thursday, August 18

The Astros pile it up on the White Sox at Chicago, 21-5, setting a record for the most runs ever scored by one team in the 32-year history of Guaranteed Rate Field; it also ties the White Sox franchise mark for the most runs they’ve ever allowed in a home game. Among the many heavy hitters for Houston are Alex Bregman, who records two doubles, two homers and six RBIs; Kyle Tucker and Christian Vazquez, each of whom collect four hits; and Chas McCormick, who drives home five runs.

There have been eight games this season in which a team has scored 10 or more runs at Guaranteed Rate Field. None of them have been the White Sox. Despite a 30-31 home record, the Sox have been outscored by 65 runs in those games.

Albert Pujols appears as a pinch-hitter in the third inning of the Cardinals’ 13-0 home rout of Colorado and cranks out his 16th career grand slam; it’s also the 690th homer of his prestigious career. Fellow fortysomething Cardinal Adam Wainwright throws seven shutout innings for his ninth win of the year while lowering his season ERA to 3.11.

Kansas City suffers a 7-1 defeat at Tampa Bay, but the moral victory for the Royals is that their lone run, tallied in the eighth inning, ends a streak of 33 consecutive scoreless innings. Just last month, they had another scoreless streak of 31 straight innings; they are the first team since the 1981 Blue Jays to have multiple streaks of 30 or more scoreless-innings in one season.

Friday, August 19

Marcell Ozuna is in trouble again. The powerful Atlanta outfielder, who missed a majority of the 2021 season after his arrest for spousal abuse, is pulled over early in the morning and arrested for driving under the influence. The 31-year old has fallen out of recent favor, riding the bench with a .214 average, 20 homers and 46 RBIs over 107 games; this latest brush with the law isn’t going to help his cause in the short term.

When Ozuna returns to the lineup on August 21, he’ll be booed by his own fans, striking out twice before being lifted for a pinch-hitter.

Padres pitcher Blake Snell, meanwhile, is the victim of a DUI driver out in California shortly after the previous night’s game in San Diego. After being pulled over by police, his car is struck by another; that driver will be charged with a DUI. Snell is shaken up and feels some pain, but is cleared to start tonight’s game against the Nationals—allowing three runs over five innings in a game ultimately blown (again) by new San Diego closer Josh Hader in a 6-3 Padres loss.

For the first time in a month, Mike Trout is back in the Angels’ lineup and grabs a single in four trips to the plate—but outside of Jared Walsh’s solo homer in the second inning, neither Trout nor many of the other Los Angeles hitters are needed as Patrick Sandoval throws his first career shutout, blanking the host Tigers on four hits, no walks and 97 pitches in a 1-0 victory.

It’s the first shutout thrown in the majors since Miami’s Sandy Alcantara tossed a six-hitter on August 3 against Cincinnati, and it’s the second tossed this year by an Angels pitcher, after Reid Detmers’ no-hitter on May 10 against Tampa Bay.

The Triple-A Sugar Land Space Cowboys go on a scoring spree in a home game against the Oklahoma City Dodgers, scoring 17 times in the sixth inning en rout to a 21-4 victory. It’s not the most runs ever scored in a minor league inning, but it would have been good enough to tie the modern (post-1900) MLB record of 17 plated by the Red Sox against the Tigers in 1953. The Space Cowboys send 23 men to the plate in the inning; the Dodgers use four pitchers and exhaust 108 pitches.

Saturday, August 20

Albert Pujols continues to show that he means business at age 42. In the Cardinals’ 16-7 rout of the Diamondbacks at Arizona, the future Hall of Famer has his second four-hit game—and second with multiple homers—over the 11 last days; his 10 total bases give him 6,143 for his career, passing Cardinals legend Stan Musial into second on the all-time list. He has a way to go before catching up to #1 Hank Aaron, who has 6,856.

With 43 games left to a regular season some believe will be his last, Pujols suddenly has outside shots at reaching some milestones once thought to be too distant. With 692 career homers, he needs eight to become the fourth to reach 700; and he needs 28 RBIs to pass Babe Ruth (2,214) for #2 on that all-time list.

The Yankees lay another egg, dropping their 14th game in their last 17 tries with a 5-2 home loss to Toronto. With the Blue Jays winning the first three games of the series, the Yankees are ensured of their sixth straight series loss—something that hasn’t happened to the team since 1995. Though New York still carries a healthy AL East lead of seven games, it’s worth noting that it was 15.5 games just six weeks ago.

It’s unknown what Yankees manager Aaron Boone is saying to his team, but it’s certainly known what he’s saying in public, delivering a scathing, table-pounding postgame rant to reporters. “We have to play better, period,” Boone shouts, adding with rose-colored glasses, “And the great thing is, it’s right in front of us. It’s right here, and we can fix it.”

Unlike the Yankees, the Dodgers have suffered no flat tires of late. Instead, they’re cruising at max capacity and let everyone know that they’re only getting better as Dustin May, the young redhead who underwent Tommy John surgery last year, makes his first appearance of 2022 with five shutout innings—allowing a hit and two walks while striking out nine—in Los Angeles’ 7-0 victory over the visiting Marlins. The Dodgers are 83-36—they’re on pace for 113 wins—and their 2.83 ERA, should it hold for the rest of the season, would be the lowest registered by an MLB team in a full season since 1972.

Sunday, August 21

It’s a small world after all; The Rays defeat the visiting Royals, 3-2, in a game in which Tampa Bay’s starting batting order is represented by an unprecedented eight different nations. Those eight are the U.S., Dominican Republic, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Panama and Taiwan. DH Harold Ramirez, from the D.R., is the primary offensive force for the Rays—notching three hits with two RBIs.

Sean Langeliers’ eighth-inning RBI triple not only seals Oakland’s 5-3 home win over Seattle, but it’s also the first three-bagger hit by the A’s since May 18—an MLB-record span of 81 games. In the 40 games before the drought started, the A’s did collect seven triples; only the Yankees (seven) and Blue Jays (five) have fewer for the entire season.

Eduardo Rodriguez, the pricey, first-year Detroit pitcher who’s been out 10 weeks on leave to deal with “family issues,” returns to the mound and fires five shutout innings in the Tigers’ 4-0 victory over the visiting Angels. Taking the loss is Shohei Ohtani, who has one of his more ineffective starts (four innings, three runs allowed on five hits and four walks) before departing with a stomach virus.

Monday, August 22

Two surging second-half members of the Cardinals make all the difference in the team’s 1-0 win at Chicago, its eighth straight victory. Jordan Montgomery allows only a third-inning double to Christopher Morel and tosses his first career complete game and shutout, needing only 99 pitches to finish the job. Montgomery is aided at the plate by the ageless Albert Pujols, who supplies the game’s only run with a solo homer in the seventh.

Pujols’ round-tripper is hit off of Drew Smyly—the 449th different pitcher in which the 42-year-old slugger has gone deep on. That ties Barry Bonds for the most in major league history. 

Montgomery has won all four starts with the Cardinals since being traded by the Yankees, allowing just one run over 25.2 innings. While four other St. Louis pitchers have not allowed any runs over their first four starts with the Redbirds—all of them during the Deadball Era—none of them won all four of their games.

With a decision tonight, the Mets’ Max Scherzer is either going to win his 200th career game—or lose his 100th. Alas for Scherzer, it’s the latter—giving up all four runs the Yankees will net in a 4-1 home triumph over the Mets. One of those runs comes courtesy of Aaron Judge, who deposits his MLB-leading 47th homer of the year. With Atlanta winning at Pittsburgh, 2-1, the Mets’ NL East lead over the Braves is slimmed down to three games.

No pitcher in major league history has finished a career with over 200 wins and less than 100 losses. Clayton Kershaw, with a current lifetime ledger of 192-87, could be that first guy.

Despite turning their second triple play of the season, the Twins bow to the visiting Rangers, 2-1. The hat trick of outs occurs in the fourth of a scoreless game, when Nate Lowe lines out to Minnesota first baseman Jose Miranda, starting a sequence in which two baserunners will be beaten back to the bag. It’s the fourth triple play of the year in the majors; the Twins have turned five over the last four seasons alone.

If the loss isn’t bad enough news for the Twins, the potentially worse news is that oft-injured star outfielder Bryon Buxton leaves the game and is later admitted to the injury list with a strained right hip. In eight years at the major league level, Buxton has only logged over 100 games once—with 140 in 2017. Tonight’s game is his 92nd of the year.

In the nine games played today, there are a total of 38 runs scored. According to STATS, that’s the fewest total on a day with at least that many games since September 26, 1917.

Tuesday, August 23

Angels owner Arte Moreno says in a statement that the team has begun exploring options about its short-term future—including a “possible” sale of the team. “Although this difficult decision was entirely our choice and deserved a great deal of thoughtful consideration, my family and I have ultimately come to the conclusion that now is the time,” writes the 76-year Moreno, who bought the team in 2003. After early success in his tenure, Moreno has overseen a team that’s on its way to a seventh straight losing season—even with the presence of All-World outfielder Mike Trout and pitcher/slugger extraordinaire Shohei Ohtani, arguably baseball’s two greatest talents today. Those big-time positives have been outweighed by a collection of negatives, including numerous star signings (Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Vernon Wells, Anthony Rendon) who didn’t or haven’t lived up to their voluminous contracts, the tragic deaths of two talented pitchers (Nick Adenhart and Tyler Skaggs), internal scandal and a problematic (and tabled) ballpark expansion.

Justin Verlander fires six no-hit innings with 10 strikeouts against the visiting Twins, then is removed with 92 pitches spent; the Astros, trying to keep him fresh for the postseason, realize that he’s not going to go nine at age 39 and with recent Tommy John surgery behind him. Ryne Stanek, who relieves Verlander, gives up a hit to the very first batter he faces—but all in all, the Houston bullpen holds together just enough to sweat out a 4-2 victory. Verlander leads the majors with 16 wins, a 1.87 ERA and 0.85 WHIP.

This is the fourth time that Verlander has conceded no hits in a start; it is, however, the first time he’s done so without going nine innings.

Tampa Bay catcher Christian Bethancourt has a pair of hits, including his third homer over his last three games, adds three RBIs—and also pitches a scoreless ninth, throwing as high as 95 MPH, to relieve the Rays’ bullpen and finish an easy 11-1 home win over the Angels. “Now I know what it feels like to be Ohtani,” Bethancourt says after the game.

The Angels’ only run comes off the bat of Mike Trout, who homers for his 1,500th career hit. Nineteen active MLB players have more hits, but only one of them—Manny Machado—is younger than Trout.

Wednesday, August 24

While Julio Rodriguez has been hogging all the rookie PR thunder for the Mariners, let’s not forget about pitcher George Kirby, who lowers his season ERA to 3.32 with a little scene-stealing of his own—throwing his first 24 pitches of the day for strikes against the visiting Nationals. That sets a known MLB record for the most to start a game, breaking the 21 darted in by Joe Musgrove in 2018 while playing for the Pirates. (We say known because balls-and-strikes tracking have only been an official thing since 1988.) Almost out of Kirby’s shadow, Rodriguez makes a little history himself by becoming the second fastest major leaguer (by games) to reach 20 home runs and 20 steals in a career, reaching the home run part of the milestone with a solo homer in the eighth. His 107 games to 20-20 is bested only by Fernando Tatis Jr., who did it in 97 games. All this, and the Mariners lose to the woebegone Nationals, as Ildemaro Vargas’ two-run, tie-breaking homer in the ninth gives Washington a 3-1 victory.

Speaking of official records that only go back so far, another one is broken in Atlanta’s 14-2 drubbing at Pittsburgh when supersized (6’7”, 220 pounds) Pirates rookie shortstop Onell Cruz laces a searing line drive off PNC Park’s right-field wall at 122.4 MPH—the hardest-hit ball since Statcast began tracking such speeds in 2015. Because the ball gets to the wall so fast and is quickly retrieved by Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr., Cruz is held to only a single.

For the Braves, Kyle Wright throws seven shutout innings and improves to 16-5 on the year, while Matt Olson doubles twice and adds a grand slam for his 27th homer; Atlanta closes the gap on the idle, NL East-leading Mets to 1.5 games. 

The Braves finish the season series against Pittsburgh winning all seven games. It’s the first time they’ve gone undefeated against the Pirates since they began playing against one another in 1887.

Thursday, August 25

The Cardinals defeat the Cubs at Chicago, 8-3, on a day when outfielder Corey Dickerson runs a streak of consecutive hits to 10 before hitting into a fielder’s choice. Dickerson falls just one hit short of the longest such streak by a major leaguer in the Expansion Era (1961 and beyond), an honor co-shared by Bernie Williams (2002) and Dustin Pedroia (2016).

The Orioles are finding out that to make the postseason—even an expanded one as MLB has decreed this year—you not only have to be good, but you have sometimes also have to be lucky. They experience both of these thrills over consecutive pitches during a ninth-inning rally against the visiting White Sox. Trailing 3-2 and down to their last strike with a man on base, rookie Kyle Stowers lifts a pop-up into foul territory. Chicago right fielder Adam Engel, who’s managed to stick with the White Sox for six years because of his defense, races over near the seats, reaches up—and has the ball plop in and out of his glove. Very next pitch: Stowers powers a ball over the right-center field fence for his first career homer, sending the game into extra innings; the Orioles will win in 11, 4-3.

Friday, August 26

The Mariners are going all in on top AL rookie Julio Rodriguez, locking up the exciting 21-year-old outfielder with a massive extension. It’s a complicated deal, but here are the basic facts: Rodriguez will be paid a minimum of $120 million through 2029, but the Mariners can activate a team option beyond that could raise the total package value to a staggering $470 million through 2039. If the Mariners decided not to kick in the extra 10 years, Rodriguez can choose to stay anyway for five years and $90 million—or become a free agent. The deal is publicly announced by the Mariners just before Rodriguez comes to bat in the sixth inning of Seattle’s 3-2, 11-inning victory over Cleveland. A near sellout crowd of 39,000 at T-Mobile Park erupts in cheers and gives Rodriguez a standing ovation.

Mookie Betts sets a major league record with his 20th multi-homer game from the leadoff spot, going deep twice in the Dodgers’ 10-6, 10-inning triumph at Miami. Betts’ second homer ties the game in the ninth, and his RBI double an inning later ignites a five-run rally that gives Los Angeles its 42nd victory over its last 51 games.

The previous record holder of the record now owned by Betts was Alfonso Soriano; the Blue Jays’ George Springer is third on the list with 18.

The Cubs also need 10 innings to defeat the Brewers at Milwaukee—but they only need two hits to do it. Both of those hits come from Ian Happ, and they both clear the fence. The first comes off reliever Matt Bush in the seventh, after Brewers starter Freddy Peralta had thrown six no-hit innings; the second is the decisive blow in the 10th. This is the first time that an MLB player has hit two multiple-run homers for his team’s only two hits of the game.

This season, eight different starting pitchers have been removed with no hits allowed through at least six innings; only the Angels’ Reid Detmers, on May 10, has gone the full nine innings to complete a no-hitter.

Under the file of “odd but true,” the Angels’ Ryan Aguilar walks in his first career major league plate appearance during a 12-0 rout of the Blue Jays at Toronto. While that by itself may not seem strange, a dig a little deeper uncovers this: He’s the first Angels player since Jeff Davanon—in 1989—to walk in his first career plate appearance. In between, 163 Angels debuted without walking in their first trip to the plate.

Aguilar, who’s only playing because of the ineligibility of unvaccinated teammates in Toronto, doesn’t just walk in his first plate appearance, but his second as well; he is later hit by a pitch, and finishes his night 0-for-2 despite reaching base three times.

Saturday, August 27

For over a month, the top bid for a mint-condition 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps baseball card had slowly crept upward from its starting bid under $4 million to $6.85 million this morning—but after an extension is given, the bidding explodes. The following morning, the digital gavel will come down—and the final bid lands at an astonishing $12.6 million, the largest fee paid for any kind of sports memorabilia, whether it be a trading card, jersey or painting. The $12.6 million includes a “buyer’s premium,” a roughly 20% fee added to the bid as insurance that the buyer will pay up. It’s unknown who that buyer is, but the man who sells it is Anthony Girodano, a “waste management entrepreneur” who bought the card in 1991 for $50,000.

Girodano will get a 252x return on his investment.

The Braves are the last team in 2022 to suffer a loss after taking a lead into the ninth, as the Cardinals small-ball their way to a pair of runs and take an exciting 6-5 win at St. Louis. After a double to start the last-chance rally, the Cardinals take advantage with a wild pitch, walk, HBP, infield single, and a game-winning bases-loaded walk—all off of Atlanta closer Kenley Jansen, who suffers his fifth blown save of the season. The walk-off walk is credited to Tyler O’Neill, who just 11 days earlier had won a game for the Cardinals with a walk-off HBP. According to STATS, he’s the first player since the Reds’ Tracy Jones in 1988 with multiple walk-off ‘non-hits’ in the same month.

The Cardinals get to the point they are in the ninth thanks to Nolan Arenado, who goes 4-for-4 (two singles, double and his 27th homer) in his first game after becoming a father—as his wife gives birth to a baby son one day earlier.

The Red Sox’ Rich Hill becomes the third pitcher aged 42 or older, after Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens, to strike out at least 10 batters while allowing no runs, silencing the visiting Rays with seven scoreless innings and 11 K’s in a 5-1 victory. It’s Hill’s first start throwing at least seven innings in his last 40 outings.

It’s ironic that the Mariners, on the night they induct ultimate singles man Ichiro Suzuki into the team’s Hall of Fame, go long-ball and become the first MLB team ever to get three runs on three hits—all solo homers—while gathering no other baserunners. But it’s not enough, as the visiting Guardians rally for three in the eighth and take a 4-3 win to maintain a three-game lead in the AL Central over Minnesota, which also provides a comeback win at home over the Giants in 11 innings, 3-2.

The A’s get their first win in six tries against the Yankees, but it doesn’t come easy. Even after allowing just two runs (both unearned) on one hit through 11 innings, they have to will their way to a 3-2 victory when a wild throw from New York second baseman DJ LeMahieu—attempting to complete a double play—goes wild, scoring the winning run. Oakland is the first AL team ever to allow just one hit and no earned runs in 11 or more innings; for the Yankees, it’s the first time they’ve ever collected just one hit in a game lasting 11 frames or longer.

Six days after suffering his worst start of the season against the Dodgers, the Marlins’ Sandy Alcantara gets a second chance against Los Angeles and rebounds with a complete-game, 2-1 win. The Miami ace scatters a run (Mookie Betts’ 30th homer) on six hits while striking out 10; it’s his fourth complete game of the year, more than any other MLB team.

Sunday, August 28

Ildemaro Vargas’ solo home run in the fifth inning is ultimately the deciding tally in the Nationals’ 3-2 home win over Cincinnati, but more historically it breaks an all-time record streak of 43 straight games in which a Washington starting pitcher had not been credited with a victory. It seems fitting that the lucky guy snatching the W is Patrick Corbin, trying to avoid becoming baseball’s first 20-game loser since 2003; he goes six innings to gain his fifth win of the year, against 17 defeats.

The last Washington starter to get credit for a win was Josiah Gray, back on July 6 at Philadelphia. The Nationals had since won 12 games—with relievers earning the victory in all of them—before Corbin re-entered the win column.

The Astros avoid being swept in three by the visiting Orioles with a 3-1 victory, but the sobering news for Houston is the early departure of 39-year-old ace Justin Verlander, who throws three shutout innings (striking out six) before leaving with discomfort of the right calf—likely sustained while rushing to first on a double play. An MRI the next day will reveal no major damage, and he is placed on the 15-day IL.  

Verlander’s 1.84 ERA leads all major leaguers; he’s considered the front runner for the AL Cy Young Award.

After spotting the visiting Tigers with a 9-0 lead, the Rangers make several furious bids to mount a late comeback but fall short, 9-8. The Rangers get the tying run to second with one out in the ninth, but can’t bring him home; one of the final two outs is a strikeout to Adolis Garcia, who thus ends the day hitless and has a 23-game hit streak broken. That’s five short of the Rangers’ all-time mark—and one short of the longest run by a Cuban-born player (Rafael Palmeiro, 1994).

Interestingly, Garcia’s began his streak while he was batting .244; he only raised it 14 points (to .258) 23 games later.

The trophy for the 2022 Little League World Series goes to Hawaii, which wins for the fourth time over the last 18 years with a 13-3 thrashing of Curacuo. How good are the Hawaiians? In six tournament games, they outscore their opponents 60-5.

Monday, August 29

The Major League Baseball Players’ Association, which for years have never given much more than a passing thought to the plight of minor leaguers, announce that they are in the beginning stages of possibly adding those up-and-comers to its ranks. The union will hand out ‘authorization cards’ to minor leaguers, 30% of whom need to sign to activate a vote on whether to join the union. If that vote is taken and a majority say yes to union representation, then MLB will be required by the National Labor Relations Board to accept the vote and potential bargaining.

It’s possible that the union is making this move now because it sees MLB as increasingly against the ropes in regards to the state of minor league players; it recently settled with numerous minor league players for $185 million over unpaid wages, it’s losing the public relations wars as stories of players barely living on poverty wages have surfaced everywhere, and it’s under the threat of having its cherished antitrust exemption revoked by a bipartisan commission in Washington. If anything else, the threat of a union could persuade MLB to wet the beaks, so to speak, of minor leaguers as an optimal alternative to suffering potential crushing labor-related losses.

In the Cardinals’ 13-4 romp at Cincinnati, the Reds’ Ross Detwiler becomes the 450th career victim of an Albert Pujols homer, as the red-hot Redbird strokes a two-run shot to give him 694 for his career. The 450 different pitchers that Pujols has gone deep against sets a major league record, previously held by Barry Bonds.

The eight homers hit this month by Pujols are the most he’s bashed since June 2015, when he racked up 13 for the Angels.

Aaron Judge launches a 434-foot drive at Anaheim for his 50th homer of the year, making him the third Yankee to reach the milestone in two different seasons after Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. But it comes in a losing effort, as Shohei Ohtani—Judge’s top AL MVP competitor—belts a two-run shot in the fifth that accounts for the ultimate winning runs in the Angels’ 4-3 victory.

It’s the tale of two games at Phoenix. The Phillies take a 7-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning over the Diamondbacks, knocking starter Madison Bumgarner out of the box and into the showers to the sound of Chase Field boos. But the DBacks bounce back—and in a hurry. They erupt for six runs in the bottom of the fourth, followed by another six an inning later; they’ll add one more and accomplish their biggest comeback in franchise history with a 13-7 win.

It’s pointed out that the Phillies gather up all seven of their runs before the DBacks get their first hit—and get no more hits of their own the rest of the way while Arizona piles up the 13 unanswered runs.

Tuesday, August 30

In their 128th game of the year, the Dodgers capture their 90th victory—taking a tight 4-3 decision over the Mets at New York on Gavin Lux’s tie-breaking infield single in the seventh. The last team to win 90 in as many (or fewer) games was the 2017 Dodgers (91-37); before that, the previous NL team to do it was the 1944 Cardinals (91-34 with three ties).

When all else fails, there’s always Framber Valdez putting together a quality start. The portly, sure-and-steady southpaw throws eight innings and allows two runs on seven hits at Arlington, helping to give his Astros a 4-2 win over the Rangers. It’s the 22nd straight start in which Valdez reaches quality start status, defined as an outing of six-plus innings allowing three or fewer earned runs; it sets the Astros’ franchise record, and the all-time mark for any left-handed pitcher. Jacob deGrom (2018-19) and Bob Gibson (1967-68) share the all-time record with 26 straight quality efforts.

Wednesday, August 31

White Sox manager Tony La Russa will be out indefinitely after a routine medical exam reveals the need to see a heart specialist. La Russa is flying to Phoenix where he’ll see his personal doctor and visit the Mayo Clinic. The 77-year-old La Russa is in the second year of a three-year contract with the White Sox; after an easy AL Central crown under his rule in 2021, the team has struggled to maintain a .500 record this season, leading to displeasure from the fans over La Russa while rumors have spread that the Hall-of-Fame pilot has had senior moments, both mental and physical, in the dugout. Miguel Cairo will manage the White Sox in his absence.

One at-bat is all Shohei Ohtani needs to take care of the Yankees, as his three-run homer in the sixth inning off Gerrit Cole gives the Angels a 3-2 victory at Anaheim. It’s the 30th home run for Ohtani, as he becomes the first major leaguer ever to go 30-10—30 homers, 10 pitching wins—in a season. (Babe Ruth came close, going 29-9 in 1919 for the Red Sox.) He’s also the first Japanese-born MLB player with multiple seasons of 30 or more homers; Hideki Matsui is the only other player to do it even once.

The Phillies blast the Diamondbacks, 18-2, completing a three-game series at Arizona that caroms from one extreme to the other. All nine starters in the Phillies’ batting order get at least two hits, the first time that’s happened in modern (post-1900) franchise history, and the 35th time by any team during that period. Additionally, the 18 runs are the most that the Phillies have scored without a home run since 1941.

In this series, Philadelphia scores the first seven runs; the DBacks then score the next 22; after both teams tally three times in the eighth inning of the second game, the Phillies dominate anew in the third game with the 18-2 result.

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