This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: August 2023

The Angels Go For It—And Crash and Burn    Jose Ramirez v. Tim Anderson
Vocie Muted: The Strange Case of Orioles Broadcaster Kevin Brown

July 2023    Comebacker Index   September 2023 

Tuesday, August 1

Just hours after Justin Verlander reunites with the Houston Astros in the day’s biggest deal to close out Major League Baseball’s trading window, his once-and-current teammate ace Framber Valdez fires the season’s third no-hitter—the second individual gem, after Domingo German’s perfect game on June 28—in a 2-0 home win over the Cleveland Guardians. Valdez allows just one baserunner with a fifth-inning walk to Oscar Gimenez, who’s erased on a double play; Valdez thus faces the minimum 27 batters. The 93 pitches he throws is the fewest by anyone throwing a no-hitter since the 88 needed by the Yankees’ David Cone during his 1999 perfect game; it’s the 16th no-no in Astros history (including the combined effort in last year’s World Series against Philadelphia), the 12th performed by one pitcher—and the first of those thrown by a lefty. 

Verlander returns to Houston following a trade from the New York Mets, who signed him to a two-year, $86 million deal this past winter. As with their deal that sent Max Scherzer to Texas a few days earlier, the Mets will chip in a majority of what’s still owed to Verlander—in this case, $35 million of $58 million, and half of the $35 million vesting option for 2025 should he pitch over 140 innings next season. In exchange, the Mets receive two minor leaguers including top Houston prospect Drew Gilbert, currently at the Double-A level. 

Other big trades abound on the final day of wheeling and dealing. 

The last-place St. Louis Cardinals continue to shed, sending one-time pitching sensation Jack Flaherty to Baltimore and power shortstop Paul DeJong to Toronto. (Before the end of the month, the Blue Jays will release DeJong, who will be picked up by San Francisco.) 

The Miami Marlins, in the heat of the NL wild card race, grab power from multiple teams as they acquire Jake Burger (.214 average, 25 home runs) from the Chicago White Sox and switch-hitting first baseman Josh Bell (.233, 11 homers) from Cleveland; to make room for Bell, they send Garrett Cooper (.256, 13 homers, 46 RBIs) to San Diego. 

Cooper is one of four players headed to the Padres, who despite a 53-55 record apparently feel they still have a shot at the postseason. Also going to San Diego is Kansas City reliever Scott Barlow (13 saves, 5.35 ERA), and from Pittsburgh Ji-Man Choi (.205 average, six homers in 73 at-bats) and ageless pitcher Rich Hill (7-10, 4.76 ERA in 22 starts), who will be suiting up for his 13th MLB team—one short of pitcher Edwin Jackson’s record. 

Exiting Kansas City along with Barlow is pitcher Ryan Yarbrough (4-5, 4.24 ERA), sent to the Dodgers—who fail to also pick up Detroit’s Eduardo Rodriguez (6-5, 2.95) after he vetoes a deal to Los Angeles by virtue of his contract’s no-trade clause. 

While Framber Valdez is throwing is a no-hitter, Cincinnati’s Ben Lively is having quite the opposite night at Chicago—giving up 13 runs on 13 hits through four innings as the Cubs pile it on early and late to complete a 20-9 rout. It’s the most runs allowed by a Reds pitcher since Bill Phillips surrendered 14 in 1901, and the most allowed by any major leaguer since Vin Mazzaro’s relief meltdown (14 runs over 2.1 innings) in 2011. The Cubs’ seven home runs against the Reds—four off of Lively—tie an all-time club record previously set three times, most recently in 1977, with all four games taking place at Wrigley Field. Dansby Swanson collects two of the seven for Chicago. 

The pitching-depleted Mets continue to lose in the most Mets-like of ways. After taking a 6-4 lead in the 10th against the lowly Royals at Kansas City, Brooks Raley—filling in for departed closer David Robertson, who was filling in for injured Edwin Diaz—quickly gives up two hits that bring home a pair of runs (including the dreaded gift runner) to re-knot the score; that’s followed by Brett Baty’s throwing error and a walk that loads the bases. When Josh Walker, the third Mets pitcher of the inning, takes the mound and is ready to throw his first pitch, he sees catcher Francisco Alvarez using his PitchCom device—and realizes he isn’t wearing one himself to receive the request. Walker makes a hesitant motion to indicate his dilemma, but umpires notate it as illegal movement and charge him with a balk, bringing home MJ Melendez with the winning run to give the Royals a 7-6 win. 

Mets fans instinctively would have believed that David Robertson could have handled that bottom of the 10th at Kansas City better than Raley or Walker, but he’s actually having a worse night at Miami in his second appearance with the Marlins. Attempting to preserve a 1-0 lead over the Phillies after Sandy Alcantara’s eight shutout innings, Robertson gives up a walk, double, and a three-run Nick Castellanos homer, leading to a blown save and 3-1 loss to Philadelphia. The Marlins are 1.5 games back of the second-place Phillies in the NL East. 

Young Atlanta ace Spencer Strider breaks his own mark by reaching 200 strikeouts in the fewest innings (123.1) to begin a season with his first of nine K’s on the night, against the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani—who will whiff twice against Strider. The Braves will ride Strider’s 6.1 sharp innings to a 5-1 home win; last season, Strider reached 200 strikeouts in 130 innings to set the then-record. 

Wednesday, August 2

The up-and-down career of the Yankees’ Domingo German takes a turn for the deep end as the 31-year-old pitcher voluntarily begins treatment for alcohol abuse. This comes barely a month after he threw a perfect game at Oakland, one of the few high points in an otherwise down year in which he’s gone 5-7 with a 4.56 ERA and a 10-game suspension in May for alleged use of sticky substances.  His erratic career has also included an 18-4 record in 2019 and, toward the end of that season, an 81-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic abuse policy. 

German will not return this season, which puts additional stress on a Yankee rotation in rotten shape beyond ace Gerrit Cole—who on this day comes through with his 10th win of the year, helping to defeat the visiting Tampa Bay Rays 7-2 to avoid a three-game sweep. 

There’s also bad news for White Sox closer Liam Hendriks, who will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss both the rest of this season and (likely) next. The 34-year-old Perth, Australia native had only pitched in five games this season, getting a late start after overcoming non-Hodgkin lymphoma; the White Sox hold a $15 million option of him for 2024, but will likely now decline it. 

A day after scoring 20 runs against the Reds, the Cubs tee it up and do it all over again—plating another 16 as they deliver a second straight beating upon Cincinnati, 16-6. The 36 runs over two games are the most tallied by the Cubs since 1897; they’ve scored 145 runs since the All-Star Break, 40 more than any other team. Highlighting Chicago’s effort individually is once-and-current Cub Jeimer Candelario, who gets four hits in his second straight game after being dealt by the Nationals. 

The Blue Jays are gifted a 4-1 victory by the Orioles at Toronto, knocking out only three hits yet are the benefactors of three walks, two hit batsmen—both consecutively, with the bases loaded—and a run-scoring error. Those latter three plays occur in a three-run Toronto sixth that breaks a 1-1 tie; Shintaro Fujinami, reliving his nightmarish start with Oakland before being acquired (for some reason) by Baltimore, walks the first batter he faces (George Springer) on four pitches to load the bases, then hits Matt Chapman with his first pitch to him, then Danny Jansen with this third of that at-bat. The Blue Jays currently have dibs on the third (and final) AL wild card spot with a 60-49 record. 

Thursday, August 3

Shohei Ohtani ends his latest start on the mound after four shutout innings due to what’s described as a “cramped middle finger,” but it doesn’t seem to affect his performance at the plate—reaching base in all four of his plate appearances against Seattle, with a single, two walks and his 40th home run of the year—the first major leaguer this season to reach that barrier. Despite his best efforts, Ohtani can only watch in the ninth as Carlos Estevez becomes the last full-time closer this year to be tagged with his first blown save, giving up a grand slam to the Mariners’ Cade Marlowe. Seattle will hold on to defeat the Angels at Anaheim, 5-3, moving 1.5 games ahead of the Angels for third place in the AL West. 

According to MLB stat hawk Sarah Langs, Ohtani is the third pitcher since 1900 to start a game not allowing a run, hit a home run and steal a base. The other two? The great Christy Mathewson in 1905…and third baseman Pablo Sandoval, in 2019. 

Three pitchers dealt at the trading deadline make a winning impression in the first start for their new teams. Max Scherzer, suiting up for his sixth team (and fourth in three years), survives a rough first inning to throw six innings with nine strikeouts for the Texas Rangers, who defeat the visiting White Sox, 5-3. In Toronto, former Cardinal/current Oriole Jack Flaherty allows a run over six innings to earn the win in his debut, a 6-1 victory over the Blue Jays. And in Miami, new Phillies pitcher Michael Lorenzen, just traded from Detroit, fires eight innings—conceding just two runs as Philadelphia picks up a 4-2 win over the Marlins. 

It’s not another night of nonstop offense for the Cubs, but their five runs are enough to defeat the Reds, 5-3, and tie a modern franchise mark for the most runs notched in a four-game series with 46. It’s also tied for the most runs allowed by the Reds in a four-game series during that same time period. The previous occurrence for both teams: A 1961 series involving the same two ballclubs. 

Friday, August 4

Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr. becomes the first-ever major leaguer to collect 20 home runs and 30 steals in each of his first two seasons, reaching the threshold with his 20th homer off the Phillies’ Aaron Nola in a 7-5 win at Philadelphia. It’s the Royals’ seventh straight victory, which began with the team’s record at 29-75. 

Witt has a chance to become the Royals’ first 30/30 ballplayer; the closest any Kansas City player has previously come to breaking that barrier was Carlos Beltran, who hit 29 homers with 35 steals in 2002. 

Eugenio Suarez’s RBI single in the eighth inning not only puts the Mariners ahead to stay at Anaheim in a 9-7 win, he also breaks Edgar Martinez’s 1995 team record by knocking in a run in his 10th straight game. Not that Suarez has been on fire during this time; he’s batting .289 (13-for-45) with two doubles, two homers and 13 RBIs during this stretch. 

The longest RBI streak this century belongs to the Mets’ Mike Piazza, with 15 straight games during a memorable (and controversial) 2000 campaign. 

It’s been an ironic study in contrast for two teams with different transactional philosophies at the trading deadline. The Mariners, who seemed to be waiving the white flag on the season by subtracting, not adding, players at the deadline (dealing away closer Paul Sewald, per example), have won 11 of their last 15 games and are 2.5 games behind Toronto for the third and final AL wild card spot. By comparison, the Angels—who aggressively sought and received talent for a second-half push—have lost four straight games since the deadline and are fourth on the wild card waiting list, 2.5 games back of Seattle. 

Pitcher Cole Hamels has given up on his long-shot comeback bid, announcing his retirement at the age of 39. The southpaw signed a minor league contract with San Diego at the start of the season, but shoulder issues continued to hamper any activity. In 15 major league seasons, Hamels produced a 163-122 record, 3.43 ERA and made four All-Star Game rosters, adding a 7-6 mark and 3.41 ERA in 17 postseason appearances including a five-hit shutout in clinching the 2010 NLCS over Cincinnati—though his gem was overshadowed by Roy Halladay’s no-hitter thrown in the first game of that series. Hamels hadn’t pitched since his lone appearance of 2020, an ineffective outing against Baltimore; a bum shoulder led to his shutdown on that campaign, as well as attempted comebacks with the Dodgers (in 2021) and the Padres this year. Along the way, Hamels earned some decent coin; he made $6.7 million (prorated from $18 million, owing to the shortened pandemic schedule) in 2020, $1 million from the Dodgers, and $100,000 from the Padres—all despite playing one game during this time. 

Saturday, August 5

The next time the Guardians’ Jose Ramirez and the White Sox’ Tim Anderson get named to the AL All-Star team together, it might be wise to keep their clubhouse lockers as far away as possible from one another. In the sixth inning of Chicago’s 7-2 win at Cleveland, Ramirez doubles in a run and slides safely through the legs of Anderson, standing above the bag and applying a late, hard tag on him. Ramirez, remembering the game the night before between the two teams and a play where Anderson pushed the hand of the Guardians’ Brayan Rocchio off the second-base bag—Rocchio was somehow called out in a moment that recalled Kent Hrbek in 1991—gets up and complains to Anderson of his overly aggressive style of tagging. Anderson, known for his blunt (and, to many, off-putting) disposition, yaks back at Ramirez, and the two suddenly adopt Rock ‘Em-Sock ‘Em poses as second base umpire Malachi Moore backs away like a hockey referee to allow the two to duke it out. That they do; the two players trade punches, with Ramirez landing a right slap/cross that staggers Anderson down on his back as other players finally intervene. When the fracas is all over, there are six ejections; besides Ramirez and Anderson, both managers (Cleveland’s Terry Francona and Chicago’s Pedro Grifol), Cleveland third base coach Mike Sarbaugh and Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase also are tossed. 

Anderson is not available for comment after the game, but Ramirez, through an interpreter, says he earlier told Anderson to knock it off with the rough tags and, when the two got in each other’s faces, claimed Anderson told him he was “ready to fight.” 

This is Ramirez’s first ejection in 11 major league seasons; he’ll be suspended three games. For Anderson, it’s his ninth ejection in eight years—and he’ll get a six-game suspension. 

Justin Verlander has a solid start in his first outing back with the Astros since being traded from the Mets, but he’s not supported by his mates as Houston drops a 3-1 decision at New York against the Yankees. The 40-year-old ace allows two runs on seven hits through seven innings, but his overall record drops to 6-6 in taking the loss. Opposing Verlander is Nestor Cortes, who in his first start since May 24 allows just one hit—a Jose Altuve solo home run—over four innings with eight strikeouts.  

The pitchfork rebellion continues at Oakland where the A’s draw in a season-high crowd of 37,553—a figure enhanced by the presence of fans for the opposing, cross-bay Giants—and once more shout “Sell the Team” in unison to protest the team’s likely move to Las Vegas. (Somewhere else, A’s owner John Fisher and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred yawn at the noise.) As for the game, Paul Blackburn tosses six shutout innings and Seth Brown’s RBI single in the eighth are keys in the A’s 2-1 win. 

The Giants collect just three hits and are batting an MLB-low .202 with a NL-worst 73 runs since the All-Star Break—yet they’re 12-9 during this time. 

Sunday, August 6

A day after the big scuffle involving the White Sox and Guardians at Cleveland, a follow-up sees one of the brawl’s main combatants (Tim Anderson) sitting out while the other (Jose Ramirez) is playing as the DH instead of his usual third base spot. That switch plays a big role in the top of the ninth inning. The Guardians’ Emmanuel Close is an out away from preserving a 3-2 Cleveland win, but Chicago’s next two batters (Oscar Colas and Andrew Benintendi) hit ground balls to Brayan Rocchio, Ramirez’s replacement at third who normally plays short. Rocchio’s throws on both plays are on a short hop to Kole Calhoun, an outfielder who’s rarely played at first base; he bobbles both throws. The two errors, charged to Rocchio, open the gates for three runs that ultimately give the White Sox a 5-3 win. 

Brought up to make his major league debut for Cincinnati, Lyon Richardson takes the mound against the visiting Nationals and serves up home runs on his first two pitches, as Cal Abrams and Lane Thomas both take the 23-year-old right-hander deep. Richardson will give up two more runs on the inning, just enough for the Nationals to eventually grab a 6-3 victory. 

No pitcher since 1973 has allowed home runs on the first two pitches of his career; because pitch data before that time is elusive, it’s not known whether anyone else had previously done it. 

After a brief but successful stint in the minors, 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel returns to the majors as a member of the Twins, tiptoeing through much stress with 10 Arizona baserunners allowed in five innings—but only one of those score before his departure. The Twins come back in the ninth to defeat the Diamondbacks and recently acquired closer Paul Sewald, with Matt Wallner parking a two-run homer over the wall to cap a three-run rally and deliver a 5-3 home win. 

Monday, August 7

The organizational cultures of two American League teams, going in different directions in the standings, are the subjects of criticism from the outside. 

Keynan Middleton, part of a recent purge of pitchers from the White Sox, tells ESPN that his former team—out of contention in a weak AL Central—lacked structure and had “no rules or guidelines” that led to players skipping out on team meetings and practice without any consequences. The 29-year-old reliever also claimed that rookie pitchers were “sleeping in the bullpen” during games. Multiple sources are said to corroborate Middleton’s version of events. In response, the White Sox initially decline comment, but manager Pedro Grifol and GM Rick Hahn later speak up and dispute much of what Middleton is saying—admitting that there are some struggles to establish a winning culture in Chicago, but that Middleton’s comments are exaggerated. In regards to the sleeping players, Hahn admits that there is one position player—obviously, he won’t give the name—who has a serious sleeping disorder and has been allowed to take medically supervised naps in the clubhouse. 

Meanwhile in Baltimore, there’s drama emerging from the Orioles’ broadcast booth as popular young play-by-play TV voice Kevin Brown has reportedly been serving an indefinite suspension by the team over the past week. The issue? Before a July 23 game at Tampa Bay, Brown opened his intro by stating the Orioles have been playing well at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays, but only after going 0-15-1 in their previous 16 series prior to 2023. While the Orioles are playing great ball on a budget this year, raising the team’s awful recent past proved too much for someone in the front office, and thus Brown was levied with a leave of absence. Never mind that the same facts Brown uttered appeared in the team’s game notes and that a graphic was even prepared to accommodate Brown’s intro, more than suggesting that he wasn’t the only one officially making note of the bad times. The Orioles deny that Brown has been suspended, curiously stating that they don’t comment on personal matters and that “we look forward to hearing Kevin’s voice soon.” But The Athletic senior MLB writer Brittany Ghiroli, who covered the Orioles for nine years, isn’t buying the Orioles’ version of events. “Who cares what they called it?” writes Ghiroli. “We all know what it is.” For her part, Ghiroli points the finger at one person: Orioles owner John Angelos, who’s shown a bit of thin skin over the past few years with some “petty behavior,” in Ghiroli’s words. 

If you want to see just how harmless Brown’s intro was, here’s the link. 

 The Dodgers make it three of four at San Diego—and 30 for their last 37 in general against the Padres—as Mookie Betts ties an MLB record with his fifth grand slam from the leadoff spot, a massive moment in the fourth inning that gives the Dodgers the lead for keeps in a 13-7 victory on a rare Monday matinee. Betts’ slam is the Dodgers’ 11th on the year, which also ties a franchise season mark. 

The Rangers up their lead in the AL West over Houston by three games with a 5-3 victory at Oakland, but also do so with the knowledge that they’ll be without All-Star rookie third baseman Josh Jung for perhaps the rest of the season. The 25-year-old Jung, batting .274 with 22 home runs and 67 RBIs through 109 games, broke his thumb after his glove couldn’t absorb a 110-MPH line drive from the Marlins’ Jorge Soler a day earlier; he’ll undergo surgery later this week.

Elsewhere in the AL West, the Angels’ depressing post-trade deadline descent continues. At Anaheim, Angels closer Carlos Estevez blows his second save of the year—and his second within a week—allowing five of the six runs the Giants will pile on to register an 8-3 win. It’s the seventh loss without a win for the Halos since the trading deadline. 

Tuesday, August 8

Cleveland edges out the visiting Blue Jays, 1-0, on rookie Tanner Bibee’s seven shutout innings and a second-inning RBI double by Ramon Laureano, in his first game with the Guardians after being dropped from the Oakland roster. Laureano is the first player since…Laureano, for the A’s in 2018, to knock in the game’s lone run while making his debut for that team. 

The Rockies are generously gifted a 7-3, 10-inning win at Milwaukee when the first three of four runs to score in the deciding frame come on bases-loaded walks—the first by the Brewers’ Andrew Chafin, the next two by Abner Uribe. All three walks are of the four-pitch variety with no strikes—though the first ball called with Uribe on the mound is an automatic ball due to a pitch clock violation. It’s the first time since pitch tracking began back in 1988 that back-to-back-to-back bases-loaded walks have occurred without a single strike. 

Wednesday, August 9

In his first home start for Philadelphia—and second overall since being traded by the Tigers—Michael Lorenzen throws the year’s fourth no-hitter, silencing the Nationals on an MLB season-high 124 pitches in a 7-0 victory. It’s the 14th no-hitter in Phillies history, the fourth in the 20-year history of Citizens Bank Park—two of which were thrown during the postseason—and only the second, after the Cub’s Don Cardwell in 1960—to toss one in his home debut for a new team during the modern era. Lorenzen is backed by the 200th career home run for Nick Castellanos and the first for Weston Wilson, in his first at-bat—making him the first Phillie since Marlon Anderson in 1998 to do so. 

For the Nationals, it’s the first time they’ve been no-hit since moving from Montreal in 2005. 

The Astros get three hits each from Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, while Cristian Javier improves his record to 8-2 as the Astros defeat the Orioles at Baltimore, 8-2, for Dusty Baker’s 2,159th managerial win—moving past Bucky Harris into sole possession of seventh place on the all-time list. Ahead of Baker at #6 is Sparky Anderson, with 2,194 victories. 

In Detroit’s 9-5 home win over Minnesota, Miguel Cabrera has his second three-hit game of the year and, with 3,145 career hits, moves ahead of Robin Yount for 20th on the all-time list—or 19th, if you don’t count Cap Anson’s early years in the National Association, as some historians won’t. All three of Cabrera’s hits and singles, part of a 17-hit barrage by the Tigers. 

Thursday, August 10

The Orioles avoid several late rallies and a three-game sweep by the Astros at Baltimore, taking a 5-4 victory behind Dean Kramer’s seven solid innings and 11th year of the year. The victory extends the Orioles’ streak of consecutive series without being swept to 76, the fourth longest in major league history. 

In a 7-5 loss at Pittsburgh, the Braves’ Matt Olson becomes the second player this year to reach 40 home runs, doing it in fewer games (123) than the other 12 players in team history who hit at least 40. Andruw Jones, with 51 in 2005, holds the Braves’ mark for homers in one full season. 

Clayton Kershaw, coming back from a six-week layoff from an ailing shoulder, allows a run on three hits and no walks through five innings, but gets a no-decision as the Dodgers get single runs in the seventh and eighth to overcome the visiting Rockies and eke out a 2-1 victory, their fifth straight. 

Friday, August 11

The Mets reach base 16 times—on seven hits and nine walks, seven from opposing Atlanta starting pitcher Charlie Morton—but can’t cross home plate once as they suffer a 7-0 home defeat to the Braves. Fourteen Mets are left on base, as two others are erased on double plays; only three times in MLB history has a team seen more of its hitters reach base safely in a nine-inning game yet was shut out. 

Back in Houston after an eight-year absence and a brief flirtation with Milwaukee, Jon Singleton belts home runs in his first two plate appearances at Minute Maid Park, driving in five runs with a single and walk added to aid the Astros in an 11-3 rout of the Angels. It’s Singleton’s first two home runs since 2015, and the first multi-homer game of his wayward career, which began in 2014 with high expectations and an eye-opening contract extension before his first-ever major league at-bat—before being badly derailed through poor performance and drug suspensions. 

Bruce Bochy returns to San Francisco as an opposing manager for the first time since stepping down from the Giants after the 2019 season, as his Rangers edge their way to a 2-1 win. Jon Gray allows just two baserunners (both via a hit) over seven shutout innings, Nathaniel Lowe and Mitch Garver hit solo homers, and former Giants closer Will Smith concedes a run in the ninth but otherwise preserves the Texas victory. 

Saturday, August 12

It’s a doubleheader of depression for the Mets, yet another low point in a disappointing year of many for a ballclub with major World Series aspirations. In the first game, the visiting Braves hammer away to a 21-3 rout as Matt Olson clubs two homers to take over the major league lead from Shohei Ohtani with 42, Ozzie Albies knocks in six runs, and Nicky Lopez adds five RBIs—pitching a scoreless ninth as the second reliever to starter Allan Winans, who throws seven shutout innings for his first career victory. Atlanta ace Spencer Strider takes over in the nightcap, tossing seven shutout innings of his own to improve to 13-4 on the season as the Braves finish the sweep with a 6-0 win. 

Not since 1938 has a pitcher winning his first MLB game been the recipient of more runs than Winans. 

The 27 runs allowed by the Mets matches a franchise record for the most given up in one day; they also gave up 27 to the Astros during, ironically, their breakthrough and historic 1969 world championship campaign. 

On the day Felix Hernandez is enshrined into the Seattle Mariners’ Hall of Fame, Mariners pitcher George Kirby is inspired enough to toss nine shutout innings on 103 pitches, seven strikeouts and (of course) no walks against the visiting Orioles. But he doesn’t get a decision; the game moves into the 10th scoreless, where Baltimore prevails 1-0 by virtue of the non-virtuous gift runner. Because the game goes beyond the ninth, Kirby also gets no credit for a complete game. It would have been his second after, ironically, earlier gaining credit on April 27 for pitching eight innings in a 1-0 loss at Philadelphia (because they clinched the win in the top of the ninth, the Phillies did not have to bat in the ninth). 

Kirby is far and away the leader in fewest walks allowed per nine innings, at 0.88.

While Kirby can’t get his CG, Sandy Alcantara can. The Miami workhorse goes the distance for the third time this year, scattering a run on five hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts over a season-high 116 pitches as he quells the visiting Yankees, 3-1. Luis Arraez, whose pursuit of a .400 batting average has all but faded as he’s checked in at a still-fabulous .365, belts a two-run homer to help give Alcantara his fifth win of the year against 10 losses. 

Sunday, August 13

Two massive ninth-inning rallies highlight the day. At Miami, the Marlins bounce back from a 7-2 deficit against the Yankees, scoring one in the eighth and five in the ninth to complete an 8-7 comeback win; crucial in the big rally is a two-run error gifted by New York reliever Clay Holmes, followed by a two-run triple from Luis Arraez, who will score the game-winner on a one-out single from Jake Burger. Meanwhile up in Washington, the Nationals do one better with a six-run rally in the ninth against the pathetic A’s to clinch an 8-7 win of their own; Jeter Downs, the one-time noted prospect who’s struggled in the minors but nevertheless has been recently promoted to the last-place Nationals, begins the rally with a walk and ends it, as the 10th man to bat in the inning, with an RBI single to win the game. 

Another game full of late dramatics is provided almost solely by Baltimore’s Cedric Mullins. The multi-talented outfielder steals a potential game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth from Seattle’s Ty France, but even as the Mariners’ Dominic Canzone hits one further and out of the reach of Mullins and other Orioles outfielders two pitches later, Mullins’ earlier snatch could be said to prevent a Seattle win. In the 10th with the game tied, Mullins switches to offense and becomes the hero once more, sending a long drive of his own over the right-field wall to ultimately give the Orioles a 5-3 win. 

Logan Webb’s hard-luck 2023 campaign continues at San Francisco. One strike away from wrapping up his second shutout of the year, Webb surrenders a double to the Rangers’ J.P. Martinez—and is pulled by Giants manager Gabe Kapler, he of analytics absolutism. With closer Camilo Doval taking over, Ezequiel Duran hits a soft grounder to short that he beats out at first—and Martinez, running on the pitch, scores all the way from second to tie the game. The Rangers get another run in the 10th to take a 2-1 lead, but the Giants finally get the last laugh as, in the bottom of the inning, Patrick Bailey floats a two-run shot just over the left-field fence to give the Giants a 3-2 win to avoid a three-game sweep. 

Webb is 9-9 with a 3.26 ERA, but he has had the thrill of victory snatched away from him on numerous occasions this season. Nine of his MLB-high 18 quality starts have resulted either in a loss or no-decision. 

Monday, August 14

Tampa Bay All-Star second baseman Wander Franco is placed on the team’ restricted list—and a week later will go on administrative leave—as allegations grow of possible sexual relationships with several minors in his native Dominican Republic, which along with MLB is investigating the matter. Franco has been having a solid third season with the Rays at age 22, batting .281 with 17 home runs, 58 RBIs and 30 stolen bases. 

The Padres’ Yu Darvish strikes out six batters over seven innings to surpass Hideo Nomo as the all-time strikeout leader among Japanese-born pitchers, with 1,919. Alas for Darvish, his four runs surrendered are not overcome by his mates, who lose at home to the Orioles, 4-1. 

Even the benchwarmers are playing like titans for the red-hot Braves. In Atlanta’s 11-3 rout of the visiting Yankees, Nicky Lopez has a second productive game in as many starts after being acquired from Kansas City, knocking out three hits while knocking in three runs. This follows a four-hit, five-RBI performance two days earlier; according to STATS, Lopez is the first player since at least 1920 with seven-plus hits and eight-plus RBIs in his first two starts for a new team. 

As the Yankees struggle to stay above the .500 mark, manager Aaron Boone admits after the game: “Right now, (the Braves are) the class of the league.” 

For only the second time in franchise history, the Marlins hit back-to-back-to-back home runs as Jorge Soler, Luis Arraez and Josh Bell each belt solo shots in the eighth to help Miami pull away from the visiting Astros, 5-1. The previous instance of three straight homers for the Marlins occurred in 1998

Tuesday, August 15

A day after indefinitely tabling Wander Franco, the Rays absorb more unwanted news as All-Star pitcher Shane McClanahan will undergo Tommy John surgery—likely knocking him out of action until the 2025 season. Like last year, the 26-year-old lefty was off to a great start until injuries slowed him down by midseason; in 21 starts in 2023, McClanahan was 11-2 with a 3.29 ERA. He’s 33-16 through two-plus years at Tampa Bay. 

The Mets continue to do very Mets-like things. Five pitchers combine to walk 10 Pirates while hitting another two, with a number of the freebies contributing to a six-run Pittsburgh seventh that will tilt the balance in the Bucs’ favor as they win at New York, 7-4. With the loss, the Mets—with a $344 million payroll—sink to 54-66; the win gives the Pirates ($68.5 million payroll) the same record. 

Wednesday, August 16

There’s finally someone under the .500 mark in the AL East—and it’s the New York Yankees, who drop to 60-61 after the Braves hand them a 2-0 defeat to complete a three-game sweep in Atlanta. Charlie Morton strikes out 10 over six shutout innings to improve to 12-10 on the year for the Braves. 

This is the latest point in a season since 1995 that the Yankees have been below the .500 level. They haven’t suffered a losing record over a full season since 1992. 

Thursday, August 17

When a team gets hot, you tend to get contributions from unexpected sources. Which brings us to the Dodgers, who take their 11th straight win, 1-0 over the visiting Brewers. Unexpected thanks are given to catcher/#9 batter Austin Barnes, whose eighth-inning solo home run—his first bomb in 144 at-bats this season—provides the game’s lone run, and to pitcher Lance Lynn, who throws seven shutout innings but doesn’t credit for the win. Not getting tagged with the loss is Milwaukee ace Corbin Burnes, who himself departs after seven shutout frames, allowing just two hits. Neither Lynn (87) nor Burnes (98) reach 100 pitches on the night, robbing fans of a potential duel to the finish. 

The Dodgers’ win streak will come to an end the next night at home against Miami. 

Friday, August 18

The Mariners take a 2-0 win at Houston thanks to four more hits (three singles and a third-inning home run) from Julio Rodriguez, who has 13 over his previous three games. The second-year outfielder is the seventh player since 1900 to accumulate that many hits over a three-game stretch; he’s the youngest of those seven, and the first wearing a Seattle uniform. 

Young Atlanta flamethrower Spencer Strider continues to impress. At home against the Giants, Strider allows just a hit and walk over seven scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts as the Braves score their third straight shutout victory, 4-0. This is the fourth time in Strider’s year-plus in the majors that he’s allowed one hit with 10 K’s; no other pitcher under the age of 25 has done that as often. 

Nolan Schanuel debuts for the Angels as the first player from July’s amateur draft to make it to the majors, reaching base twice and scoring both times. Despite that, along with a Shohei Ohtani grand slam and a triple play—the first turned by the Angels since 1997—the Halos still lose in 10 innings, 9-6 to the visiting Rays. 

Selected as the #11 overall pick in the draft after hitting .447 for Florida Atlantic this past spring, Schanuel ascended quickly through the team’s minor league system, from rookie ball to Class A to Class AA—batting .371 with a home run and 21 walks over 73 at-bats. He’s one of only five major leaguers currently playing who were drafted since 2022; four of those players were called up by the Angels. 

Saturday, August 19

It’s a game of personal hit-related records and milestones as the Mariners down the Astros at Houston, 10-3. Julio Rodriguez sets an MLB mark as his four-hit game (all singles) gives him 17 over his last four games, breaking the record of 16 previously held by the Brooklyn Robins’ Milt Stock in 1925. The second-year Seattle outfielder ties Stock’s record of four straight games with at least four hits. On the losing end, the Astros’ Jose Altuve grabs three hits to surpass 2,000 for his illustrious career. Altuve is the fourth player this year to reach the barrier, and he’s the third (and youngest, at age 33) player to collect that many exclusively for Houston. 

The Phillies’ Trea Turner enters the day with two home runs over his previous 33 games—and matches that number within a single inning, bookending an eight-run rally in the eighth inning with solo shots off of Nationals reliever Cory Abbott in a 12-3 rout at Washington. Turner is the third Phillies player to hit a pair of homers in one inning, following Andy Seminick in 1949 and Von Hayes in 1985; of all MLB players to do it, he’s the sixth to hit both off the same pitcher. 

After belting a grand slam in his last at-bat two days earlier, Boston second baseman Luis Urias clears the bases with another blast in his first appearance at the plate, powering the Red So to an 8-1 victory over the Yankees at New York. Not since Jimmie Foxx in 1940 has a Red Sox player hit slams in consecutive games—and no player in the modern era had ever done it batting #9 in the order. 

With a powerful tropical storm making a rare track toward Southern California, the Dodgers, Angels and Padres all adjust their weekend home series by moving their scheduled Sunday games to Saturday as the second game of day-night doubleheaders, with mixed results. In Los Angeles, the Dodgers get a pair of 3-1 victories over Miami as Mookie Betts knocks in two runs in each game—the latter thanks to multiple solo homers to give him 34 on the year, one short of a personal high. Down at Anaheim, the Angels split their twinbill against the Rays, squeaking out a 7-6 win in the first game before getting drubbed in the second, 18-4; only once, in 2000 when the Angels lost to Seattle, 21-9, has the team allowed more runs at Angel Stadium. And in San Diego, the Padres suffer 6-4 and 8-1 losses to the Diamondbacks, dealing a significant blow to the high-priced Padres’ already fading playoff hopes as they drop to 59-66. 

Sunday, August 20

Max Scherzer strikes out four batters to total 3,344 in his career and jump ahead of Phil Niekro into 11th place on the all-time K-list, but it’s the lone positive note on an otherwise lackluster day for the 39-year-old ace. He lasts only two outs into the fourth inning, allowing three runs on three hits and four walks, taking the loss as Texas bows at home to the Brewers, 6-2. 

Next on the list for Scherzer, at #10, is Greg Maddux (3,371). Barring sudden injury, Scherzer should surpass him before the end of the year. 

Hunter Greene’s return to the mound after two months is not a good one, as he’s throttled by the Blue Jays in a 10-3 loss at Cincinnati. In three-plus innings of work, the 24-year-old fireballer allows nine runs (eight earned) on 10 hits—five of those home runs, tying a career mark. The Reds are 5-12 in August, but at 64-61 are still in the thick of the wild card race. 

Monday, August 21

The AL West race is stepping up to become baseball’s tightest divisional scramble. The first-place Rangers blow a slim 1-0 lead in the ninth at Arizona and, after plating two runs in the 11th, give up three to the Diamondbacks to take a 4-3 loss. Nipping closely at the Rangers’ heels are the second-place Astros—now 1.5 games back of Texas after a 9-4 home win over Boston behind Chas McCormick’s two home runs—and the third-place Mariners, who continue their August rampage with a 14-2 rout of the White Sox at Chicago behind a big day for catcher Cal Raleigh (two homers, a double and six RBIs). Seattle is two games back of the Rangers, having won 20 of their last 25 games. 

The Atlanta Braves, with the biggest of all divisional leads at 12.5 games, take a rare loss against the visiting Mets, 10-4. In defeat, Marcell Ozuna slams a pair of solo homers to give him 26 on the year; he’s one of five Braves (along with Matt Olson, Ronald Acuna Jr., Austin Riley and Ozzie Albies) with 25 or more, making Atlanta the second team to have such a collection before the end of August. The other team is the 2019 Twins, whose season-record 307 homers is being threatened by the Braves. 

The next night, Eddie Rosario will become the seventh Brave to hit 20 on the year—and that’s a record before August they won’t have to share with the Twins or any other team in baseball history. 

Tuesday, August 22

After several disappointing seasons—especially in this ongoing year with the majors’ fourth worst record—the White Sox fire senior team exec Ken Williams and general manager Rick Hahn. Both are long-time servants of the ballclub, with Williams having been employed by the Sox since 1992 and Hahn since 2002. Together, they helped built the 2005 team which gave the franchise its first world championship since 1917, and despite a rough patch of losing in the 2010s looked to be on the rebound with a strong cast of young offensive threats (many lifted from Cuba) to start this decade, but the momentum has been shifting in the wrong direction. Plus, there have been rumblings of excessive ennui in the White Sox clubhouse. 

The White Sox will drop to 49-77 with a 6-3 loss to the visiting Mariners. With the win, Seattle closes to within a game of first-place Texas in the AL West; in between them are the Astros, who get six shutout innings from Justin Verlander to defeat the Red Sox at Houston, 7-3, moving them to within a half-game of the Rangers. 

Mike Trout returns to action for the first time in 50 days, but it’s not enough for the Angels. At home against the Reds, Rookie first baseman Nolan Schanuel’s two-run fielding error is followed by a Spencer Steer double that launches Elly De La Cruz from first to home in less than 10 seconds, giving the Reds all they’ll need to edge out the Angels, 4-3. Trout has a single and grounds into a double play in four at-bats; the Angels are 16-23 since he broke a bone in his hand on July 3. 

The Yankees lose—again. At New York against the last-place (but not awful) Nationals, the Yankees can only manage two hits off Josiah Gray and three relievers, and they both come off the bat of #9 hitter Ben Rortvedt—who entered the game with four hits in 42 at-bats this season; the 2-1 loss is the ninth straight for the Yankees, their longest skid since 1982

The Orioles become the first American League team to suffer 10,000 lifetime defeats, dropping a 6-3, 10-inning decision against the Blue Jays at Baltimore. Brandon Belt’s two-run homer unlocks a 3-3 tie in extras for Toronto, followed by an insurance run. 

The AL team next likely to reach 10,000 losses, likely sometime in 2025, are the Twins, known early on as the Washington Senators. 

Wednesday, August 23

It’s a bad, bad, bad, bad world for the Angels and their fans. They drop a doubleheader at Anaheim to the Reds by scores of 9-4 and 7-3—falling to a season-worst 61-67 record—lose Mike Trout to the Injury List after returning from the shelf for just one game, and Shohei Ohtani tears an UCL in his pitching elbow during a short (1.1 innings) stint on the mound during the first game. While Ohtani will keep playing as a DH—he smacks his 44th homer in the first game and doubles in the nightcap—he won’t pitch any longer this season. And perhaps next season as well; word is he’s seeking multiple opinions on whether he’ll need a second Tommy John surgery. 

All of this is bound to put a hole in the balloon of Ohtani’s offseason value as he heads into free agency this winter. It was being estimated that he could command half a billion dollars for a new contract, but this latest injury will cast doubt on his reliability to perform as a two-way player. 

Trying to avoid their first 10-game losing skid in 110 years, the Yankees get blessed performances from recent wreck-of-a-pitcher Luis Severino (one hit allowed over 6.2 shutout innings) and Aaron Judge, who produces his first career three-homer game with two solo shots and a second-inning grand slam to give New York an easy 9-1 home win over Washington. Not only does it end the team’s longest losing streak since 1982, but it also ends a string of 61 straight innings in which they didn’t even have a lead. Judge’s hat trick gives him 32 multi-homer games over his career, while his six RBIs ties a personal best. 

By the way: The team with the second longest active streak of seasons without a 10-game skld is the Cardinals, who last took a double-digit hit in 1980. 

The Giants, fading in the NL wild card race, avoid a three-game sweep at Philadelphia—but barely, as they have to survive extra innings to defeat the Phillies, 8-6. Paul DeJong, just released by the Blue Jays after being traded from the Cardinals at the start of August, revives himself for at least a day with a two-run homer in the fourth and a two-run single in the 10th to spring the Giants to victory. 

The alarming news for the Giants is that All-Star closer Camilo Doval is tagged with his fourth straight blown save, unable to get a single batter out in the ninth as the Phillies rally back from a 5-2 deficit to tie the game.  

Thairo Estrada’s stolen base in the seventh inning is noteworthy in that it’s the Giants’ first stolen base attempt in their last 27 games. It’s the second longest such streak in MLB history, right behind a 28-game dry spell for Cleveland in 1962. 

Thursday, August 24

The Washington Post reports that injury-riddled Washington ace Stephen Strasburg, who’s pitched only 31.1 innings since winning the 2019 World Series MVP award, will announce his retirement in September. The former #1 pick, who exploded onto the scene in 2010 when his MLB debut resulted in seven solid innings and 14 strikeouts, struggled with thoracic outlet syndrome and underwent surgery to relieve some of the related pain, to no avail; he has not pitched in 2023 and made only one start in 2022, on top of seven in the two years prior. Overall, the 35-year-old right-hander retires with a career 113-62 record, 3.24 ERA and franchise-best 1,723 strikeouts; only Steve Rogers (158) has more wins in club history. 

Though retiring, Strasburg will still be paid the remaining $105 million-plus on his seven-year, $245 deal signed after 2019. Some may ask why he’d be paid despite voluntary retirement. Answer: He’s not so much walking away as he is unable to perform through injury, so per the contract, he’s entitled to the money. 

With a chance to tie the Rangers at the top of the AL West, the Astros are pummeled at home by the Red Sox, 17-1; it ties the franchise mark for their worst-ever defeat. Houston starter J.P. France is hammered for 10 runs before he’s removed with one out in the third inning; only once this season had France given up more than four runs in any single start. The Red Sox, on the outside looking in at the AL wild card contenders, gets a trio of four-hit performances from Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong and rookie Wilyer Abreu

The Dodgers technically win two games on the day, finishing up a 6-1 win at Cleveland in a game halted by rain the night before, then taking the regularly scheduled contest against the Guardians, 9-3. Mookie Betts continues his red-hot August; he goes 5-for-5 (four singles and a double) in the completed game, then adds another two singles in three at-bats in the later tilt. For the month, Betts is an astonishing 38-for-82 (.463); the Dodgers, who were a half-game behind NL West leader Arizona at the All-Star Break, are now 12 games up six weeks later. 

Friday, August 25

The Rangers are finally caught up with in the AL West, as they drop their eighth straight game—a 12-2 drubbing at the hands of the Twins at Minnesota—while the rampaging Mariners, 7.5 games behind Texas just 10 days earlier, tie the Rangers for first with a 7-5 home win over Kansas City. 

Houston can make it a three-way tie, joining the Rangers and Mariners at the top, and it looks somewhat promising through seven innings as the Astros, despite one hit—a third-inning RBI single by Jose Altuve—hold a 1-0 lead thanks to Framber Valdez’s second no-hit bid of the month. But Valdez’s pitch count (114) proves too much to continue in the eyes of Houston coaches, and he’s removed after the seventh—and in the ninth, Astros closer Ryan Pressly, after striking out the first two batters, gives up hits to four straight batters, the last of those a walk-off, three-run blast by Parker Meadows, for the first home run of his career. 

Valdez is the second pitcher in the post-1900 modern era to have two starts within a calendar month throwing seven or more hitless innings. The other is Johnny Vander Meer, who threw consecutive no-hitters for the Reds in 1938. 

The Colorado Rockies have completely lost their ability to hold on to a late lead. For the fifth straight game, the Rockies enter the eighth inning with either a lead or tie—and end up losing. It’s not a Coors Field thing; four of the five losses have occurred on the road, the latest a 5-4 scarf-up at Baltimore as Gunnar Henderson’s two-run homer in the eighth brings the Orioles from behind to take a 5-4 lead which will prove to be the final score. The Baltimore win is tarnished by the departure—and potential extended loss—of stellar closer Felix Bautista, who is just one strike away from finishing before slipping off the mound and suffering what is later described as “some degree of injury” to the UCL. He’ll be placed on the 15-day injury list, though there’s serious concern that the stay will last much longer. 

The last team to lose five straight games after leading or being tied in the eighth inning was the Montreal Expos in 1970. 

It goes from bad to worse to almost tragic at Chicago for the White Sox—and their fans. The team drops a second straight home loss to the worst-of-show A’s by a 12-4 count, sinking its record to 50-79—but more concerning, two women sitting feet apart from each other in the left-field bleachers are struck by bullets, which may have been shot from outside the ballpark. One is taken to the hospital with a leg wound and is listed in fair condition; the other, grazed in the abdomen, refuses medical attention. Police will later say that a gun smuggled in by one of the women accidentally fired, causing the injuries—though 87-year-old White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, in a rare gathering with reporters days afterward, will dispute those findings and insist that the bullets were fired from outside of the ballpark. 

Perhaps because of the shooting incident, the White Sox call off a postgame concert featuring 1990s rapper Vanilla Ice due to a “technical issue.” 

Toward the end of the game, the Guaranteed Rate Field crowd of 21,000 begins chanting “Sell the Team”—and even though the A’s have heard this throughout this season, it’s probably the first time that it’s been in reference to a team other their own. 

Mookie Betts returns to Boston for the first time since being traded by the Red Sox to the Dodgers, is given a standing ovation from the Fenway Park fans, and produces a double, walk and two runs to help Los Angeles improve to 20-3 in August with a 7-4 victory. Freddie Freeman adds four more hits to overtake Miami’s Luis Arraez for the major league lead with 172; he’s on pace for a career-high 219. 

For the second time in a week, Spencer Strider dominates the Giants—this time in San Francisco as he strikes out nine over seven innings while allowing a run on three hits in Atlanta’s 5-1 victory. Strider becomes the fastest starting pitcher by innings to reach 400 career K’s, doing it within just 260.2 innings—or 13.84 per nine innings. 

Saturday, August 26

The Mariners power up and hit a franchise record-tying seven homers—previously done four times, but never at T-Mobile Park—and dismantle the Royals at Seattle, 15-2. Teoscar Hernandez belts two of the homers, knocking in six runs; three of the bombs are launched off Kansas City starter Jordan Lyles, who ups his total of homers allowed this season to 33, one behind MLB leader Lance Lynn. Lyles drops to 3-15 with a 6.51 ERA, easily the worst among qualified MLB pitchers. 

With the win, Seattle stays tied atop the AL West with Texas, who snaps an eight-game skid with a 6-2 win at Minnesota; third-place Houston stays a game back after defeating the Tigers at Detroit, 9-2. 

In his first major league appearance, Cubs pitcher Jordan Wicks experiences butterflies by conceding a leadoff homer to the Pirates’ Ke’Bryan Hayes, followed by a single and a walk; then the butterflies go away, as Wicks retires the next 15 batters—nine by strikeout—before departing and earning the win, 10-6 at Pittsburgh. Five of Wicks’ nine K’s come consecutively, making him the first pitcher since at least 1961 to do so in his debut; he’s only the third Cubs hurler in modern franchise history to strike out at least nine and earn the win with his first appearance. 

The Red Sox once again get an early bump from Alex Verdugo, who becomes the first Boston player to hit leadoff home runs in three straight games. The ex-Dodger’s shot sets the pace for an 8-5 victory over his old teammates, as a four-run rally in the sixth highlighted by Adam Duvall’s three-run homer puts them ahead to stay. 

It’s not just about the home runs and the pitching arm (healthy or otherwise) for Shohei Ohtani. He can do just about everything else, and that he pretty much does at New York against the Mets. In the Angels’ 5-3 victory, Ohtani triples, doubles, walks twice, steals two bases and scores two runs. On the year, Ohtani’s eight triples are tied with the Royals’ Bobby Witt Jr. for the most in MLB, his 83 walks lead all American Leaguers, and his 19 steals tops all Angels players. 

The Angels’ win isn’t without a bizarre and painful moment when, in the fourth inning, starting pitcher Chase Silseth is nailed in the head on a throw from his own first baseman (Trey Cabbage) in the midst of a pickoff situation involving two Mets baserunners. Silseth will be taken to the hospital and released the next morning. 

Sunday, August 27

The Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman has two doubles among three hits to give him 50 on the season, as Los Angeles takes the rubber match of its three-game series at Boston, 7-4. Freeman needs only two more doubles to tie Johnny Frederick (in 1929) for the most in one season by a Dodgers player; he’s on pace to finish the year with 63, one shy of the NL record—and four shy of Earl Webb’s all-time mark of 67 from 1931

The Diamondbacks improve their standing in the NL wild card derby by defeating Cincinnati, the team right behind them in the race, 5-2 at Phoenix. Corbin Carroll’s walk and stolen base sets the spark for a three-run, tie-breaking rally; it makes him the fourth MLB player to have at least 20 homers and 40 steals in his rookie year, after Tommie Agee (1966), Mitchell Page (1977) and Mike Trout (2012). 

Seattle takes sole control of the AL West as they top the Royals at Seattle, 3-2—while the Rangers blow a one-run lead in the ninth and fall in 13 innings at Minnesota, 7-6. It’s the first time that the Mariners have led the division all season—and the latest they have led in a season since 2003. Luis Castillo allows one hit through seven shutout innings for Seattle, improving to 11-7 with a 3.01 ERA—second in the AL behind the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole (2.95). 

After an unprecedented six-game skid in which they either led or were tied after six innings in each loss, the Rockies blow yet another late lead at Baltimore when the Orioles’ Ryan O’Hearn ties the game an eighth-inning home run. But an unlikely hero emerges for Colorado in Hunter Goodman, playing his first major league game; he leads off the ninth with an infield single, advances to second on a throwing error, then scores the ultimate game-winning tally two batters later on an Elias Diaz ground out for a 4-3 victory. 

Goodman took the roster spot previously occupied by veteran Jurickson Profar, who was released by the Rockies before the game. 

Former catcher, manager and coach Pat Corrales, who had been working in the Dodgers’ organization since 2012, passes away at the age of 82. The Los Angeles native was a back-up catcher for four different teams from 1964-73, gaining a much better reputation for his fielding skills than his hitting with a career .216 batting average and .276 slugging percentage. After his playing days, he took up coaching and eventually made his way to big-league managership—first with Texas in 1979, then Philadelphia in 1982—getting fired midway through the team’s 1983 NL-winning campaign despite an albeit weak first-place standing—then finally in Cleveland where he guided, for half a season, the 1987 Indians squad infamously picked by Sports Illustrated to win it all before going out and losing 101 games instead. In later years, Corrales became a loyal lieutenant for Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, serving as first base/bench coach through the Braves’ splendid run of success through the 1990s and into the 21st Century; he finished his coaching career as a bench coach for the Nationals from 2007-11. 

Congratulations to the kids from El Segundo, California, who beat Curacao in the Little League World Series final, 6-5. The winning blow, a walk-off home run, comes from 12-year-old Louis Lappe—who already stands at a lanky 6’1”. Curacao had tied the game an inning earlier on a grand slam from Nasir El-Ossais, who also singled home his team’s other run in the third. American teams have won the last five tournaments at Williamsport, Pennsylvania. 

Monday, August 28

It’s quite the night for Ronald Acuna Jr. in Denver as the Braves demolish the Rockies, 14-4. The star Atlanta outfielder goes 4-for-5 with two singles, a double and his 29th home run, drives home a career high-tying five runs, and steals two bases to give him 61 on the year—making him the first major leaguer to reach 60 since Dee Strange-Gordon in 2017. But Acuna is also the center of an alarming moment when, while stationed in right field in the seventh, he’s approached by a fan asking for a selfie; as security guards pry the intruder away, a second fan makes a more aggressive charge at Acuna, knocking him backward onto the grass. That fan is quickly pounced on and carried away, trying desperately to free himself back toward Acuna (who is unhurt) as Braves teammates come to his defense. 

Sadly, this is not the first time someone on the field has been assaulted on a field—Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa (in 2002) and reliever Randy Myers (in 1995) serve as recent examples—and it probably won’t be the last, even in spite of increased ballpark security. Usually, field intruders are harmless drunks, but in a day and age when accelerated rage and social media audacity have become more of an unfortunate thing, it must behoove MLB to demand vigilance among those minding the playing fields and the professional athletes who use them. This latest incident should certainly call more attention to that thought. 

Jose Altuve achieves the ninth cycle—and the first since 2013—for the Houston Astros in a 13-5 drubbing of the Red Sox at Boston. The 33-year-old second baseman completes the cycle with a home run in his final at-bat of the night. Joining Altuve in the Astros’ hit parade is Yordan Alvarez, who becomes the first Houston player in five years to reach base six times, compiling a home run, three singles and two walks while driving in four runs. 

In Minnesota’s 10-6 victory over the visiting Guardians, rookie third baseman Royce Lewis hits a grand slam for the second straight game—making him both the first rookie in MLB history and the first player in Twins/Senators annals to do so. It gives Lewis three career slams amid just 10 homers; no player has achieved that with fewer total round-trippers to begin a career. The victory gives the Twins (69-63) a comfortable seven-game lead over second-place Cleveland (62-70) in the feeble AL Central. 

Meanwhile in the NL Central, the Brewers make it nine straight wins, stiff-arming the upstart Cubs at Chicago, 6-2, to begin a big three-game series. Wade Miley throws six solid innings to get the win, while Christian Yelich and former Met Mark Canha each go deep to power the offense. Milwaukee extends its lead over second-place Chicago to five games with the win. 

The Cubs will take the next two games and the series to close the gap between themselves and the Brewers to three games. 

In his second major league start—and first before the home fans at San Francisco—southpaw Kyle Harrison throws 6.1 shutout innings while striking out 11 batters as the Giants grab a 4-1 victory over Cincinnati. Harrison is the third youngest Giants pitcher to strike out at least 10 batters without allowing a run; the two who were younger are Christy Mathewson and Madison Bumgarner

Tony Gonsolin, the Dodgers’ breakout pitcher of 2022 with a 16-1 record and 2.14 ERA, will undergo Tommy John surgery—further delaying any comeback to All-Star form after a rocky 2023. Despite an 8-5 record, Gonsolin’s ERA considerably rose to 4.98, while his K/BB ratio plunged from 3.40 in 2022 to 2.05 this year. He is not likely to return to action until 2025. 

Tuesday, August 29

The Giants’ Alex Cobb is one out away from a no-hitter against the visiting Reds when rookie Spencer Steer lines a deep drive to right-center that’s just beyond the reach of San Francisco right fielder Luis Matos, ending the bid as well as the shutout as Nick Senzel (who earlier walked) scores on the play. Cobb will next strike out Elly De La Cruz to finish a bittersweet, 6-1 complete-game win, the second time he’s gone the distance this season; his 131 pitches are the most thrown by any pitcher in an MLB game since Mike Fiers threw the same number in 2019, and 14 above his previous career high of 117. With the win, the Giants move past Arizona (9-1 losers against the Dodgers at Los Angeles) for the third slot in the NL wild card race. 

For roughly an inning early in the game, the Reds do officially have a hit—but Senzel’s infield single in the third is later changed to an error charged to Giants third baseman Casey Schmitt, who threw too high to first base. Later, with two outs in the eighth, Cobb’s no-no appears to be history when Will Benson lofts a soft fly to short left-center, but Giants center fielder Austin Slater races in to make a remarkable sliding catch to end the inning and keep the bid alive. 

There’s a three-way tie for first place in the AL West. The Mariners drop a 3-1 decision to the visiting A’s, while the Rangers steal a 2-1 victory at New York over the beleaguered Mets and the Astros defeat the Red Sox at Boston, 6-2. This is the latest that three teams have been tied for a divisional lead since September 1, 1980, when the Phillies, Pirates and Montreal Expos were all knotted atop the then-six-team NL East. 

The Yankees gnaw their way past the Tigers at Detroit, 4-2, to win the first two games of a four-game series—thus ensuring them of not losing their ninth straight road series. The eight straight series defeats had been the longest for the team since it dropped 10 straight away from home, when home was Highlander Park and the Yankees were known as the New York Highlanders, in 1908

As numerous teams are ramping up to shed players in advance of the September 1 waiver deadline, no team sheds more than the Angels, who place six of their players on waivers. These are not no-namers; they include pitcher Lucas Giolito, outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Randal Grichuk, and veteran pitchers Matt Moore, Reynaldo Lopez and Dominic Leone. The talent dump is in response to a dreadful August in which the Angels have collapsed after acquiring talent (including Giolito, Lopez and Grichuk) at the trading deadline while holding onto Shohei Ohtani—who’s been reduced to a one-way asset due a torn muscle in his pitching elbow. According to ESPN, the hope for the Angels is that if all six players are claimed, the team can save just enough money to fall under the luxury tax threshold, thus allowing them to be granted a compensatory draft pick should Ohtani, a free agent after the season, sign elsewhere this winter. 

At the August 31 deadline, Giolito, Moore and Lopez will be picked up by Cleveland, in what seems to be a last-gasp effort to catch up with the first-place Twins in the AL Central; Renfroe will go to Cincinnati and Leone will be acquired by Seattle. All five players will be eligible for the postseason—should their new teams get there. 

Wednesday, August 30

J.P. Crawford’s two-run single in the seventh inning erases a 4-3 Oakland lead and ultimately gives Seattle a 5-4 home win, their 21st of August to set a team record for any calendar month. This is a bit stunning, given the remarkable 2001 Mariners club that won an AL-record 116 games never won as many in any month; that team thrice won 20, in April, May and August—underscoring its pure consistency from start to finish. (The ’01 M’s were also 18-9 in both June and July, 15-6 in September and 5-1 in October.) The victory over the A’s maintains the Mariners’ standing atop the AL West, tied with Houston (6-2 winners at Boston) and a game ahead of Texas, who drop a 6-5, 10-inning game at New York against the Mets—the Rangers’ fourth extra-inning loss of the month. 

The Braves finish off a three-game sweep of the Rockies with a 7-3 win behind home runs from Marcell Ozuna, Orlando Arcia and Kevin Pillar—giving the team 250 on the year to break a franchise season mark from 2019. Atlanta is on pace to hit 307 for the year—which would match the all-time season mark set by the Twins, also from 2019

Thursday, August 31

In a spirited game at Los Angeles featuring the NL’s two best teams, The Braves hold off a series of late rallies from the Dodgers to triumph, 8-7. The two top NL MVP candidates shine; Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr.—who begins his day getting married in a small, quick ceremony—has three hits including a second-inning grand slam, making him the first MLB player ever to record 30 homers and 60 steals in a single season. The Dodgers’ Mookie Betts, meanwhile, caps a torrid August with two homers, giving him a career-high 38; his 51 hits in August are the most by a Dodgers player in any calendar month since the team’s move to Los Angeles in 1958. 

It may not be 30-60 for Anthony Volpe, but he’ll happily ‘settle’ for 20-20 as the Yankee rookie shortstop rips his 20th homer—a two-out, three-run shot in the ninth that ties the game at Detroit, before the Tigers bounce back in the 10th to win, 4-3. Volpe is the first Yankee with 20 homers and steals each in his first season, though his .219 batting average could use some improvement.

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