The Month That Was in Baseball: July 2023
Saturday, July 1
Major League Baseball’s hottest team gets the better of its hottest pitcher as the Braves continue to floor it offensively in a 7-0 victory over the Miami Marlins in Atlanta. Taking the mound for the Marlins is 20-year-old rookie Eury Perez, who comes in having allowed seven earned runs through 47 innings on the year—but he gives almost as many (six) before being removed with just one out in the first inning. Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies, Atlanta’s first two batters in the first, set the pace against Perez and the Marlins with solo homers; Charlie Morton (5.2 innings) and four relievers take it from there to finish the shutout victory.
The St. Louis Cardinals pile up 11 runs through the first five innings against the visiting New York Yankees in the first game of a day-night doubleheader (scheduled as such due to a rainout the night before), with everyone in the Cardinals’ lineup getting a hit—except rookie outfielder Jordan Walker, who has his 17-game hitting streak snapped. The 21-year-old Walker, who also had a hit in each of his first 12 games to start the year (and his career), thus falls short of the St. Louis rookie record of 25 straight games held by Joe McEwing in 1999. In the second game, Walker will grab a pair of hits in game that, ironically, the Cardinals will lose, 6-2.
In his first start after six weeks off with a hamstring injury, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Julio Urias is the victim of five first-inning runs as the Royals play smallball to rack up a big lead in advance of a 6-4 victory at Kansas City. Only one ball is struck hard in the first-inning rally; included is an infield single, a walk, hit-by-pitch and two sacrifice flies, one of those a pop fly just behind second base that Bobby Witt Jr. still manages to score on.
In defeat, the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts runs up a streak of 15 consecutive plate appearances without a hitless at-bat—the longest such streak since John Olerud in 1998. Betts’ streak is made up of four doubles, two homers, a single, six walks and two sac flies.
Sunday, July 2
The Boston Red Sox secure a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays at Toronto on Alex Verdugo’s solo home run in the ninth, providing the difference in a 5-4 victory. Outside of Verdugo, the big man on the day for Boston is Jarren Duran, whose five hits on the day includes four doubles to tie a major league record accomplished 49 previous times—eight of those by Red Sox players.
For anyone who’s curious to know, two players have hit four doubles in a game twice: Bill Werber and Albert Belle.
The Royals snap a 13-series winless streak, pounding the visiting Dodgers, 9-1, for their second win out of three games against Los Angeles. Batters seven through nine in the Kansas City batting order—Drew Waters, Kyle Isbel and Nicky Lopez—combine for six hits, two walks, six runs and five RBIs to spearhead the attack, while Brady Singer (one run allowed on four hits over seven innings) keeps the Dodgers’ bats quiet.
The offensively-challenged Detroit Tigers notch double-digit runs for the first time this year, riding a season-high five home runs—including grand slams from Javier Baez and Jake Marisnick—to outlast the Colorado Rockies at mile-high Coors Field. (Apply a 5,280-foot asterisk if you wish). The Tigers were the only remaining MLB team this season not to score 10 or more runs; the multiple grand slams in one game are a first for Detroit since 2009.
Monday, July 3
The Los Angeles Angels are battered at San Diego by the Padres, 10-3, but the bigger loss is the exit of star outfielder Mike Trout, who sustains a fractured bone in his hand while swinging, and will likely miss at least a month. The injury will also force him to miss his third straight All-Star Game, for which he was recently named as a starter.
Despite the presence of everyday newsmaker Shohei Ohtani—having his best year yet—the Angels will still deeply need Trout for a second-half run in hopes of making their first playoff appearance in nine years.
The Braves, and Ronald Acuna Jr. in particular, continue to impress. A 4-2 win at Cleveland gives Atlanta its ninth straight victory, improving its season record to an MLB-best 57-27 behind a pair of home runs from red-hot Michael Harris II, another sharp outing from rookie pitcher Bryce Elder (7-1, 2.45 ERA in 17 starts) and the 40th stolen base for Acuna, making him the first major leaguer ever to record 20 homers, 50 RBIs and 40 swipes before the All-Star break.
For an MLB-leading 19th time this year, the Rangers score 10-plus runs—but lose for the first time doing so, being outpaced 12-11 at Arlington by the second-place Houston Astros, closing the gap between the two teams in the AL West to three games. Ninth-inning RBI doubles by Jose Abreu and Chas McCormick ruin a save opportunity for Texas closer Will Smith and deliver the come-from-behind victory; Kyle Tucker has four hits and four RBIs for Houston.
Placed on the Milwaukee roster to make room for Brian Anderson—absent due to a maternity leave—Jahmai Jones makes his first MLB plate appearance in two years and, with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, comes through with a three-run double that will tie the game in advance of an 8-6 home win over the Chicago Cubs. Jones previously (and sparingly) played for the 2020 Angels and 2021 Baltimore Orioles; he was back in the Angels’ farm system before being scooped up by Milwaukee.
Tuesday, July 4
A fighting bid by Atlanta for a 10th straight win is denied as the Cleveland Guardians survive a game-tying, ninth-inning home run from Ozzie Albies to defeat the Braves in 10 innings, 6-5, on David Fry’s RBI single. In defeat, two Braves homers—both by Albies—give the team 163 on the year, putting it on pace to set the major league mark held by the 2019 Twins; meanwhile, Ronald Acuna Jr. sets his own all-time mark by acquiring either a home run and/or steal in his 13th straight game.
Off the field, the Braves announce that eight of their players will be headed for Seattle for next week’s All-Star Game, as rosters are finalized with the naming of reserves to complement the starters for each league. It’s the most players representing one team from the NL since the 2008 Cubs (who also had eight).
A day after Mike Trout goes down with a broken hand, the news only gets worse for the Angels. Shohei Ohtani takes the mound in San Diego against the Padres and develops a blister—and the Padres take advantage, piling up a 5-1 lead before Ohtani’s departure in the sixth on their way to an 8-5 victory. Though the blister may not keep Ohtani out of the lineup as a DH for long (if at all), it will keep him from pitching in the All-Star Game. Earlier in the game, Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon fouls a ball off his left shin and painfully collapses to the ground; he’ll later be seen leaving the clubhouse on crutches. He’ll later be diagnosed with a deep shin bruise and will be out through the rest of the month.
While Trout and Ohtani have been worth every penny of the high-priced wages they’re receiving, Rendon’s tenure has thus far been a huge disappointment. He played well in his first year with the Angels, during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season (.286 average, nine homers and 31 RBIs over 52 games), but injuries have since limited his play to virtually a third of all games while underperforming when available. With nearly $40 million owed to him in each of his next three seasons, Rendon is surely becoming the latest in a string of massive, expensive busts for the Angels, following in the footsteps of Josh Hamilton, Vernon Wells and, to a lesser extent, Albert Pujols.
The Padres’ Juan Soto goes 0-for-3 against Ohtani, but he justifies his chalkboard-worthy statement of the day before in saying that the wunderkind pitcher/slugger would “have trouble” against the Padres’ lineup; sure enough, San Diego’s 4-5-6 hitters—Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts and Jake Cronenworth—are a combined 6-for-7 against Ohtani with two homers, two doubles and two walks.
Before the game, the Padres designate 43-year-old slugger Nelson Cruz for assignment, later leading to his release from the club. Cruz was hardly clueless with the bat, hitting .245 with five homers and 23 RBIs over 143 at-bats this year, so he might still make for a productive resource off the bench with a contender in the season’s second half.
Seattle’s Logan Gilbert throws the Mariners’ first complete-game shutout since 2019, limiting the Giants to five hits and no walks on 105 pitches in a 6-0 win at San Francisco. It’s the 18th time this season that a major league pitcher has gone the distance, a tad behind pace to match the 36 recorded last season; in 2021, there were 50 complete games.
Despite being shut out and one-hit through nine innings, the A’s managed to haul the Tigers into extras and take advantage of the gift runner, as a second hit—Ryan Noda’s two-out single in the 10th—brings home the gratuitous run to give Oakland a 1-0 win at Detroit. The 24-63 A’s thus become, not surprisingly, the last team this season to record a shutout victory.
The Dodgers, struggling with injuries within their rotation this season, sustain another big loss as promising right-hander and Raggedy Andy look-a-like Dustin May is undergoing elbow surgery that will lead to yet another lengthy stay on the shelf—this one for the rest of the season. The 25-year-old May, who sat out much of 2021-22 after Tommy John surgery, was 4-1 with a 2.63 ERA in nine starts this year before his last start on May 17.
Wednesday, July 5
Showing that it’s still very serious about its domestic abuse policy, MLB suspends New York Yankees reliever Jimmy Cordero for the rest of the season over an unspecified event (or events). In his fourth season at the major league level—his first since 2020—Cordero appeared in 31 games for the Yankees this year, posting a 3-2 record and 3.86 ERA.
Without Cordero, the Yankees lose at New York to the Orioles, 6-3, in a game overshadowed by a 17-minute delay after a wild throw from Baltimore infielder Gunnar Henderson nails Pete Stendel, a cameraman working for the YES Network, square in the face—fracturing his eye socket. Paramedics attend to and cart off Stendel, who alertly gives the peace sign to the applause of 36,000 fans.
For the second time in 13 days, a member of the Twins’ rotation hurls a shutout as Pablo Lopez four-hits the visiting Royals with a career-high 12 strikeouts and no walks in a 5-0 victory. Lopez only needs 100 pitches to complete his first complete game; on June 22, Joe Ryan blanked the Red Sox on 112 throws for the Twins. Before Lopez and Ryan, no Twins pitcher had thrown a shutout since 2018.
This season simply isn’t going the St. Louis Cardinals’ way. At Miami, the Redbirds feel a good vibe in the ninth when rookie Jordan Walker connects on a two-run, two-out homer to give St. Louis a 9-8 lead. But in the bottom of the frame, with runners at first and second and one out, the Marlins’ Joey Wendle hits a tapper back to Cardinals closer Jordan Hicks—who, after a second of hesitation, throws the ball some five feet over the head of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, allowing both baserunners to alertly score and win the game for Miami, 10-9. The shock loss drops the last-place Cardinals’ record to 35-51, five games behind fourth-place Pittsburgh. The Marlins, meanwhile, own the NL’s second-best mark at 51-37—trailing only the Braves, who win again at Cleveland, 8-1.
Thursday, July 6
The Philadelphia Phillies seem to be adapting the script from their pennant-winning 2022 campaign, following up a disappointing start with a hot stretch of play. At Tampa Bay, the Phillies hand the Rays their first winless series at home this season, surviving 11 innings, 14 strikeouts and no walks to prevail, 3-1, for their 12th straight road win—one shy of the franchise record. For the Rays, they’re 4-7 over their last 11 home games after starting the year 30-6 at Tropicana Field. It may get worse before it gets better; the red-hot Braves next come into town for three weekend games.
The Reds also need extra innings to finish off their own road sweep, this one of four games in Washington as Nick Senzel—after keeping the game alive with a difficult catch against the right-field wall in the bottom of the ninth—comes through with a two-run homer in the 10th to give Cincinnati a 5-4 win. Over their last 24 games, the Reds are 20-4; only the 1975 and 2012 squads have a better record (21-3) within a same stretch of games. On the road, they’re 19-3 over their last 22—and that’s good to tie a franchise mark also held by the 1956 and 1972 teams.
For the first time since signing with the Rangers this past winter, Nathan Eovaldi returns to Fenway Park to take on his former team in the Red Sox—and suffers his worst road start of the year, allowing four runs on five hits and four walks over 5.1 innings. Despite the lackluster outing, Eovaldi still is in position to grab the win as he departs with a two-run lead—but Texas reliever Josh Sborz, so good in June that we anointed him with AL Pitcher of the Month honors—suffers his second meltdown in four July appearances, taking the loss as the Rangers bow, 10-6.
The Mets get big nights from Francisco Lindor (five hits, including two triples and a home run) and Carlos Carrasco (eight shutout innings allowing three hits) to blank the Diamondbacks at Phoenix, 9-0. Lindor is the second Mets player this season with two triples in a game, following Brandon Nimmo on May 26. Meanwhile, it’s the first time that Arizona has been shut out this season; the DBacks’ 88-game streak without getting blanked sets a franchise record.
Friday, July 7
In the first of three contests between baseball’s two best teams (by the record), the Braves take a 2-1 victory despite a season-low two hits—but one of them is a two-run, fourth-inning home run off the bat of All-Star catcher Sean Murphy, just enough to give Atlanta a 2-1 win over the Rays at St. Petersburg. Murphy’s blast is the 167th of the year for the Braves; no other team has ever hit that many before the All-Star break. Serving up Murphy’s homer is Tyler Glasnow, who earlier in the second inning strikes out four batters—one of whom, Marcell Ozuna, making it to first on a wild pitch after swinging at strike three. Glasnow is the fifth pitcher to accrue four Ks in multiple innings; the other four are Zack Greinke, Craig Kimbrel, A.J. Burnett and Chuck Finley—who did it three times, twice alone in 1999.
It’s the sixth straight loss for Tampa Bay, which hadn’t loss more than three in a row this season before their current skid.
One out away from seeing the end of their 12-game road win streak, the Phillies pull out a 4-3 win at Miami as A’s refugee Cristian Pache launches a two-run homer off closer and fellow ex-Athletic A.J. Puk. Philadelphia’s 13 straight road wins tie a franchise mark set in 1976.
This is the second straight meltdown for Puk, who also gave up a two-out, two-run homer to the Cardinals’ Jordan Walker two days earlier; fortunately for Puk, the Marlins came back to win that game.
After a rehab demotion of sorts in the Florida Rookie League, Alek Manoah returns to the Blue Jays and looks more like his old self. At Detroit, the burly 25-year old allows a run through six innings to pick up only his second win of the year—his first came three months earlier, on April 5—as he’s well backed by his teammates in a 12-2 thrashing of the Tigers. Helping Manoah’s cause are 19 first-pitch strikes to the 23 batters he faces.
For the first time ever, the Cubs win at Yankee Stadium (old and new), as former Yankee Jameson Taillon allows just one hit through eight shutout innings to help topple New York, 3-0, and ruin the delayed pinstriped debut of Carlos Rodon (two runs, four hits allowed over 5.1 innings). The Cubs had lost all 12 previous games played against the Yankees at New York; two games each in World Series games played in 1932 and 1938, and eight interleague games during regular season play.
Saturday, July 8
The second no-hitter thrown this year is, not surprisingly, a combined effort between three Detroit pitchers as they silence the visiting Blue Jays, 2-0—a day after Tigers pitchers collectively gave up 12 runs to the same team. Matt Manning goes the first 6.2 innings for Detroit, removed after his third walk (he also hits a batter) and 91 pitches; he doesn’t even know he has a no-hitter on the line until after his departure. (That Manning even stayed in the game that long was something of a surprise, given that it was later revealed he tweaked a back muscle in the second inning and threw in partial pain the rest of the way.) Relievers Jason Foley and Alex Lange retire all seven batters they face to complete the no-hit effort.
It’s the 20th no-no requiring multiple pitchers in MLB history; six of those have come over just the past three years, including the four Houston pitchers it took to no-hit the Phillies in Game Four of last year’s World Series. For the Tigers, it’s the ninth no-hitter in franchise history, the first using multiple pitchers, and the second thrown at Comerica Park (Justin Verlander, 2007).
The legend of Elly De La Cruz continues to grow in the Reds’ 8-5 victory at Milwaukee. After bringing home the go-ahead run on a single in the seventh, the tall 21-year-old rookie steals second, quickly swipes third uncontested and, while Brewers reliever Elvis Peguero is focused on retrieving the ball with his back to third base, wastes no time chugging for home, easily scoring ahead of Peguero’s tardy, rushed throw. De La Cruz is the first Reds player to steal three bases in the same inning since 1919—and the first major leaguer to do it in the same at-bat since Rod Carew in 1969.
In 29 games since being called up to the Reds, De La Cruz is batting .328 with 28 runs, nine doubles, two triples, four home runs, 16 RBIs and 16 steals.
While the Reds have stolen an MLB-high 112 bases—almost double the 58 they swiped for the entire 2022 season—they’re showing their power as well. Home runs by Joey Votto and rookie Will Benson against the Brewers set a Cincinnati record with a round-tripper in 22 straight games, eclipsing the old record set by the 1956 Redlegs.
Beware Mookie Betts at the beginning of a battle. The Dodgers’ star leadoff hitter, in the midst of a hot streak (17 hits over his last 37 at-bats with seven homers and eight doubles) drills a first-inning shot over the wall to set the pace for a 10-5 home win over the Angels; it’s already his 10th leadoff homer of this season, tying Bobby Bonds’ 1973 record for the most before the All-Star break, and it’s already the most for a full season in Dodgers history.
The Phillies can’t whip up any ninth-inning magic for a second straight day and bow to the Marlins at Miami, 5-3, ending their 13-game winning streak on the road that tied a franchise mark. Miami closer A.J. Puk, who had blown consecutive save opportunities (including one the day before against the Phillies), allows only an infield single in securing his 15th save of the year.
Sunday, July 9
The 2023 MLB amateur Draft begins with two players from College World Series champion LSU going 1-2—the first time the top two picks come from the same school. With the #1 selection, the Pirates choose pitcher Paul Skenes, who many experts regard as the highest-rated pitching prospect since Stephen Strasburg; this past season, Skenes furnished a 1.69 ERA and 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings (while walking just 1.5 per nine). Picking second, the Nationals select Skenes’ teammate Dylan Crews, a center fielder who batted .426 with 100 runs, 18 home runs and 70 RBIs in just 258 at-bats.
The Oakland A’s, which had the majors’ worst record last year and, in past seasons, would have had the #1 pick, got one of the short straws in the first-ever lottery as a way to deter extreme tanking; with the #6 pick overall, the A’s select shortstop Jacob Wilson out of the baseball factory known as Grand Canyon University in Arizona.
When the draft wraps a few days later with 600 players chosen through 20 rounds, some of the best names to be selected include: Third baseman Gino Groover (#48, Diamondbacks), pitcher Skylar Hales (#108, Rangers), outfielder Homer Bush Jr. (#128, Padres), second baseman Roc Riggio (#129, Yankees), pitcher Izack Tiger (#201, Rangers), pitcher Justin Storm (#203, Marlins), pitcher Teddy Sharkey (#211, Orioles), shortstop Boston Baro (#246, Mets), pitcher Paulshawn Pasqualotto (#357, Twins), shortstop Caleb Ketchup (#444, Angels), shortstop Phoenix Call (#448, Red Sox) and pitcher Peyton Stumbo (#587, Pirates).
Kansas City pitcher Ryan Yarbrough, making his first start since taking a line-shot comebacker to his face two months earlier, allows a run on six hits through six innings and picks up his second win of the year as the Royals defeat the Guardians at Cleveland, 4-1. Yarbrough’s outing ends a six-game skid for the Royals, who enter the All-Star break with the majors’ second worst record at 26-65.
If you’re a hitting coach and want to seek job security, make sure your star player stays healthy. Dillon Lawson wasn’t so fortunate; since losing Aaron Judge on June 4, the Yankees are 14-17—including a 7-4 home loss to the Cubs on Sunday—and have been averaging less than four runs a game. As a result, he’s been fired by the Yankees. Life just isn’t fair.
Just a game behind the Yankees in the AL East—with a fifth-place standing within the division at 48-43—are the Red Sox, who defeat the visiting A’s, 4-3, for their fifth straight win. First-year outfielder Masataka Yoshida puts Boston ahead to stay with an eighth-inning solo home run; his two hits give him seven straight games with multiple hits—two shy of the franchise record. Though not confirmed, the Red Sox’ record is most certainly the best ever by a last-place team entering the All-Star break.
Not long after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred insisted that the City of Oakland had no ballpark proposal to offer—leaving the A’s to concentrate on a leaving for Las Vegas—Oakland mayor Sheng Thao provides over 300 pages to the contrary. Thao comes to Seattle for the start of All-Star week equipped with 31 copies of those documents—with 30 to be handed out to each MLB owner (including the A’s John Fisher) and one to Manfred. To the commissioner’s credit, he doesn’t ignore Thao and grants her meeting time to discuss what he clearly already knows: That the A’s had indeed been working on an ambitious Oakland waterfront development with a new ballpark as its centerpiece. It’s likely that Manfred nods at all Thao has to say, says thank you and goes on his merry way toward getting owners to approve the A’s move to Vegas. But Thao’s presentation could serve the city well in one respect, by positioning Oakland as a possible site for an expansion team down the line.
Monday, July 10
Sixteen years after his Hall-of-Fame father took the Home Run Derby crown at San Francisco, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. equals the feat as he sweats out a strong challenge in the final round from Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena to win the 2023 Derby at Seattle. Julio Rodriguez, the hometown favorite, gets off to a rousing start by drilling 41 homers in the first round alone, easily knocking out two-time Derby champion Pete Alonso (21). But the young Mariners star peters in the second round, edged out 21-20 in the second round by Guerrero—who moves on to the third and final round where he faces Arozarena, looking spent after knocking out Texas’ Adolis Garcia and the White Sox’ Luis Robert Jr. over his first two rounds. Arozarena starts slowly in the final round; a late rush (15 homers in the final 90 seconds) isn’t enough to overcome Guerrero.
Of note in the Derby: The presence of the switch-hitting Adley Rutschman, who’s narrowly ousted in the first round by Robert, 28-27. The Orioles’ catcher hits left-handed to start, then switches over to the right side to complete his round, something never seen before in a Derby competition. Robert, in losing the second round to Arozarena, belts the longest homer of the night at 484 feet.
Robert will miss the All-Star Game the next day after straining his right calf during the Derby. His status is considered day-to-day.
Tuesday, July 11
The 93rd All-Star Game starts with one Diaz (Tampa Bay’s Yandy Diaz) opening the scoring with a home run, and another (Colorado’s Elias Diaz) capping it with a two-run shot in the eighth to give the National League a 3-2 win at Seattle, ending a nine-game All-Star skid. Diaz’s homer, which makes him the first Rockies player to win All-Star MVP honors, is hit off Baltimore reliever Felix Bautista—who also walks two and throws a wild pitch in less than an inning of work. Helping out on offense for the NL is Miami’s Luis Arraez, who with a .383 season batting average shows off his tenacity for base hits by stroking singles on the only two pitches he sees at the plate; he knocks in the NL’s other run.
Earning the save in his seventh All-Star appearance is Philadelphia closer Craig Kimbrel, overcoming a bit of trouble by walking two batters—plus, he nearly allows a game-tying homer to leadoff batter Wander Franco, whose deep drive to right is caught in front of the wall. Had the game been tied after nine innings, a home run derby would have decided the outcome; the sellout crowd at T-Mobile Park, energized by the Home Run Derby competition the night before, was vocally rooting for a tie.
With the win, the NL closes the gap on the AL in all-time All-Star competition, having won 44 games to the AL’s 47 with three ties.
As eagerly awaited as the All-Star Game in some circles is the pregame presser with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred as he delivers updates on some of the game’s bigger issues. Beyond the obvious—the A’s are moving to Las Vegas, expansion will occur after the A’s and Rays solve their ballpark issues, computerized strike zones, etc.—the most noteworthy piece of information involves the evolution (or lack thereof) of the first-year pitch clock. Union head Tony Clark, also speaking on the day, says that players want the rules relaxed—certainly for the postseason—but Manfred responds that it will probably not happen and that, for now, MLB is content with the rules of the pitch clock as is. The union can only ask Manfred; it has no official vote in adjusting current rules.
Thursday, July 13
Now that regional sports networks aren’t the cash cows they were just a few short years ago with many viewers pulling the plug on cable, MLB teams are seeking new ways to create instant revenue. The Yankees have found their new vein, announcing that Starr Insurance will have an advertised patch placed on the team’s famous pinstriped uniforms for an impressive $25 million a year through 2031. The patches will be included on Yankee jerseys starting July 21.
The deal is the largest yet between an MLB team and a sponsor for an ad patch, which is being allowed for the first time this year; not all teams have yet to take advantage, but perhaps the Yankee deal will make them stand up and take more notice.
Friday, July 14
In Cleveland’s 12-4 loss at Texas, brothers Josh and Bo Naylor each go deep in the third inning, bringing home all of the Guardians’ runs on a pair of two-run homers. It’s the first time two siblings have grouped up to hit home runs for the same team in the same inning since Justin and B.J. (Melvin) Upton did it for Atlanta in 2014.
Saturday, July 15
The red-hot Reds appear to have finally hit a brick wall—and that wall is the Milwaukee Brewers, who shut out Cincinnati for the third straight game, 3-0. Brewers starter Freddy Peralta and three relievers combine to allow just one hit—a broken-bat infield single from Jake Fraley in the fourth inning. With the win, the Brewers take sole possession of first place in the NL Central.
The Angels, staring at a seventh straight loss, come back from deficits of six runs in the seventh and three runs in the ninth before defeating the visiting Astros, 13-12, in 10 innings. Key injuries to two Astros fuel the Angels’ revival; ace Framber Valdez leaves midway through the seventh, having struck out a career record-tying 13 strikeouts; in his place, the bullpen wets the bed. Later in the 10th, shortstop Jeremy Pena also exits due to injury and is replaced by rookie shortstop Grae Kessinger—who throws wild past first base on a potential inning-ending double play that would have extended the game to the 11th, but instead brings home the winning run for the Angels.
Giancarlo Stanton becomes the ninth active player to reach 1,000 career RBIs when he drives home four runs—three of them on a second-inning homer to reach the milestone—in the Yankees’ 6-3 victory at Colorado. Of the eight others on the active list, only the 32-year-old Nolan Arenado is younger than the 33-year-old Stanton.
The Phillies sweep the visiting Padres in a doubleheader by scores of 6-4 and 9-4, with Bryce Harper ending a career-long streak of 166 plate appearances without a home run when he goes deep in the fourth inning of the nightcap. Overall on the year, it’s Harper’s fourth homer. The defending NL champion Phillies are 50-42—25-10 since June 2.
Sunday, July 16
For the first time in five weeks, the Braves suffer consecutive defeats—and end a streak of 28 straight games with at least one home run—as they bow to the White Sox at Atlanta, 8-1. Chicago is powered by Luis Robert Jr., who’s apparently back to good health after sustaining a mild injury during the Home Run Derby; he raps out four hits including his 27th homer of the year, knocking in three.
The 28-game home run streak for the Braves is the second longest in MLB history. The 31-game run by the 2019 Yankees remains the standard.
After three shutout losses to the Brewers, the Reds score a moral victory by plating three runs against Milwaukee—but they still can’t get the win as a 3-2 lead in the eighth is erased on a two-run Milwaukee rally, giving the Brewers a 4-3 win and a three-game series sweep at Cincinnati to start the season’s second half. There is one noteworthy highlight for the Reds as rookie shortstop Elly De La Cruz sets a Statcast Era (since 2015) mark for the fastest infield assist, gunning a throw 97.9 MPH in the third inning to retire the Brewers’ Joey Wiemer.
Just four days later, De La Cruz will reset the mark with a 99.8-MPH relay throw to gun down the Giants’ Wilmer Flores at the plate.
Fifteen teams have yet to reach 50 wins, but the Red Sox aren’t one of them—even though they own a last-place standing in the ultra-competitive AL East. (As a reminder, Boston would be two games up on the first-place Twins in the AL Central.) At Chicago against the Cubs, the Red Sox blast their way to that 50th victory, 11-5, behind a big day for first-year import Masataka Yoshida—who finishes a double shy of the cycle and joins the Phillies’ Alec Bohm as the only major leaguers this season with multiple games of at least six RBIs. Four of Yoshida’s ribbies come on a grand slam belted off Cubs All-Star pitcher Justin Steele, who gives up a season-high six earned runs.
A day after being caught from behind twice by the Angels, the Astros respond in kind. Entering the eighth trailing 7-3, the Astros cut the Angels’ lead in half on Chas McCormick’s second homer of the evening, hit off Los Angeles closer Carlos Estevez—who for some reason is asked to pitch the eighth in a non-save situation. An inning later, hybrid reliever-starter Jaime Barria takes the mound to try and close things out—but the opportunity for his first career save is blown as Alex Bregman and Michael Tucker hit back-to-back homers, capping a four-run rally to give Houston a 9-7 lead. The Angels get one run back in the ninth and have the tying run on second with two outs when Matt Thaiss’ line drive into the right-center gap is turned into the final out on an excellent diving catch from Tucker, who earlier in the game also steals a homer from Mike Moustakas over Angel Stadium’s short fence near the right-field foul pole.
Monday, July 17
Nick Pivetta, absent from the Boston rotation since mid-May after starting an MLB-high 33 games last year, plays the role of long reliever after taking over for ‘opener’ Brennan Bernardino and proceeds to pitch six no-hit innings, striking out 13 as the Red Sox shut down the A’s at Oakland, 7-0. It’s the most strikeouts ever recorded by a reliever allowing no hits in the process; Pivetta is the seventh Boston pitcher to pitch at least six no-hit innings in relief, with the previous six occurrences taking place during the Deadball Era.
The most memorable of those performances were the 26 straight batters (and one baserunner caught stealing) set down by Ernie Shore on June 23, 1917, after taking over for an ejected Babe Ruth.
In losing their eighth straight game, the A’s (25-71) strike out 18 times—one shy of a team record for a nine-inning game. They’ve struck out at least 17 times in three games this season.
It’s just another manic Monday for the Angels, who follow up a manic weekend against Houston with a 4-3, 10-inning victory over the visiting Yankees. Of note early on is Angels starter Griffin Canning, who’s the first hurler this season to throw 120 pitches in a game—doing so in just 5.2 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and three walks to go with a career-high 12 strikeouts. After his departure, the Angels erase a two-run deficit in the seventh on Shohei Ohtani’s 35th homer; in the 10th, Michael Stefanic’s single brings home the gift runner for the game-winner.
The Pirates start both a pitcher (Quinn Priester) and catcher (Endy Rodriguez) each making their major league debut against the visiting Cleveland Guardians—and the young battery gets battered, 11-0, as Priester allows seven runs over 5.1 innings while Rodriguez is hitless with three strikeouts in four at-bats. What’s not forgettable about the two players’ debut is that they form the first major league battery consisting of two players born in the year 2000 or later.
Tuesday, July 18
A major league-record 12 teams score 10 or more runs on the night—and four of them lose, the first time that’s happened since 1894.
The wildest of these games takes place in Atlanta, where the Diamondbacks fight back from deficits of 5-2 after one inning, 11-8 after the fifth, and 13-12 after the seventh; tied at 13-13 in the ninth, the Snakes rattle for three runs, the first two scored on a double from Gerardo Perdomo, on their way to a 16-13 victory. The Braves waste a monumental performance from Austin Riley, who doubles, homers twice and knocks in a career-high seven runs.
The Cubs notch the biggest score on the night, stomping on the visiting Nationals by a 17-3 count—all despite entering the bottom of the sixth trailing, 3-1. Over the next three innings, Chicago scores 16 unanswered runs to pull away (to say the least); Seiya Suzuki collects three of his four hits within those final three frames.
Alek Manoah still isn’t quite right. After a solid effort in his first start back with the Blue Jays following a month away in the lower levels of the minors to fix some major control issues, the bulky young right-hander regresses to lost form by giving up four runs on five hits and five walks with no strikeouts over three-plus innings against the visiting Padres, laboring through 92 pitches in the process. San Diego carries on to a 9-1 win—just missing out on becoming the 13th team on the evening to reach double-digits in runs.
Ironically, the one team not to allow a run are the Oakland A’s, ending an eight-game skid with a 3-0 home win over Boston. Luis Medina and four relievers combine to shut down the Red Sox on five hits and a walk.
Over the next two days, with full scheduled slates, no team will score reach double digits.
Wednesday, July 19
The Tampa Bay Rays, who shot out to an astonishing start of various record proportions over the season’s first month-plus, are no longer in first place—technically, anyway. At Arlington, the Rangers—who do remain the top team in the AL West—finish off a three-game sweep of the Rays, 5-1, as All-Star catcher Jonah Heim knocks in three runs with a double and 14th home run of the year. With 11 losses over their last 14 games, the Rays fall to second in the AL East by percentage points behind the Orioles, who defeat the visiting Dodgers at Baltimore, 8-5.
The Orioles, meanwhile, make a curious trade by acquiring Oakland pitcher Shintaro Fujinami—who’s badly struggled in his first year on this side of the Pacific after 10 seasons in Japan, registering a 5-8 record with an 8.57 ERA and 30 walks over 49.1 innings for the A’s.
It is with a sad and heavy heart that I must share news of the passing of my This Great Game partner and good friend Ed Attanasio, who died the day before at the age of 64. Ed was a kind, gregarious and very giving man who was responsible for the 80 interviews on our site, using a folksy style which those he talked to embraced. Late in life, as the result of therapy following a stroke, Ed also discovered a unique drawing style that led to the creation of our book, Bushers. Without Ed’s encouragement back in 2002, This Great Game would have remained nothing more than a failed coffee table book. Together, we have made it what it is today: One of the most popular baseball history sites on the Internet, with over a million page views per year. The site will continue on without him, but his spirit and legacy will remain strong within. Read more on Ed’s colorful and fascinating life. —Eric
Tributes grow in remembrance of Ed. Steve Behm succinctly writes, “You’ll be remembered forever for the great vibe you left on this planet.” Timothy Bednarz posts: “The silliness at work, the comedy you created and shared, the comedians you introduced me to, the music, the sports rivalries, the games we went to and our passionate shared love for animals…What a unique and original talent you were. What a unique and original person you were. You touched many people’s lives for many years…The world is less with you no longer in it.” And from Steve Friedman, who we often referred to as our “fifth Beatle” on TGG: “Ed, you crazy diamond—well will miss you deeply my friend…Rest peacefully with all the Hall of Famers in the big skybox.”
Thursday, July 20
In the first game of a big series to determine first place in the AL East, the Orioles sneak past the Rays in 10 innings at St. Petersburg, 4-3, to take a one-game lead over Tampa Bay. The Rays force extras on Yandy Diaz’s two-run double in the seventh, but Adam Frazier’s sac bunt followed by Colton Cowser’s sac fly in the 10th brings home the gift runner to ultimately win the game for Baltimore.
The Cubs bow at home to the Cardinals, 7-2, despite the best efforts of Yan Gomes—who at age 36 and a day becomes the oldest catcher to hit two triples in an MLB game since Wally Schang (38 years, 330 days) in for the St. Louis Browns in 1928. Earning the win for St. Louis is Steven Matz, his first victory in 13 tries as a starter this year to go with seven losses.
Friday, July 21
The Astros’ Kyle Tucker bookends the scoring for Houston in a 6-4 win at Oakland with solo homers in the first and seventh innings—and in between in the fifth, delivers a two-run blow as part of his first career hat trick. Tucker is the 12th Astros player to go three-deep, and the first since George Springer back in 2019.
With their win at Oakland, the Astros close to within three games of the first-place Rangers in the AL West, as Texas loses not just the game (11-5, to the visiting Dodgers) but also shortstop Corey Seager for a long spell. After homering in the sixth, the former Dodger facing his former team sprains his right thumb beating out a throw at second to earn a painful double; he’ll be out until early August. His absence could be tough for the Rangers, given that he’s batting .350 on the year after missing the season’s first month with a hamstring issue.
The win for Los Angeles, increasing its lead in the NL West to three games, is its first contest played at Globe Life Field since winning the 2020 World Series at the then-first-year ballpark, used as a neutral site at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shohei Ohtani, possibly pitching his last game for the Angels as rumors run wild of a possible mega-trade, gives up a career-high four home runs to the Pirates—but still picks up his eighth win as his team rolls to an 8-5 home win. Overall, Ohtani allows five runs over six innings (raising his ERA to 3.71), but strikes out nine while walking just one. Of note for the Pirates is that 23-year-old Henry Davis—who made his major league debut just a month earlier—becomes the first player to hit multiple homers off Ohtani in a game.
After a 20-8 start to the year, Pittsburgh has since gone 22-47.
Saturday, July 22
With a 5-2 win over the Royals at New York, the Yankees clinch their 15th straight series win over Kansas City, tied for the second longest such streak in team history. Gerrit Cole strikes out 10 batters over 6.1 innings, but doesn’t get credit for the win as the Yankees break a 2-2 tie after his departure, with Giancarlo Stanton’s two-run bomb in the eighth capping the scoring.
The last time the Royals won a series against the Yankees came in 2015; since then, they’re 11-35 against New York.
While the Reds have been powered by impressive rookie performances (Elly De La Cruz Andrew Abbott, Matt McLain, Spencer Steer), divisional rival Milwaukee can say, for at least a day, “Yeah, we’ve got that.” Sal Frelick, making his major league debut, goes 3-for-3, brings in two runs—one the ultimate winning run on an eighth-inning sac fly—and makes two difficult catches playing in right field to spur the Brewers to a 4-3 win over the visiting Braves. The 23-year-old Frelick, the Brewers’ first-round draft pick from 2021, had batted .314 in 197 minor league games before being called up. With the win, the Brewers remain a game ahead of the Reds in the NL Central.
The Braves had jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on yet another home run from Austin Riley, his sixth over his last five games. His five straight games with a homer ties a franchise mark.
Max Scherzer gives up a career high-tying four home runs, two of them off the bat of 23-year-old Boston first baseman Triston Casas, in the Red Sox’ 8-6 home win over the Mets. Casas is the first rookie with multiple homers in a game against the 38-year-old ace; according to STATS, only Lou Gehrig was younger when he hit multiple homers in a game against a pitcher (Walter Johnson, in 1926) with 3,000 career strikeouts already collected.
Sunday, July 23
For the first time in two years, the Nationals sweep a series, winning three straight home games against the Giants with a 6-1 victory in the finale. MacKenzie Gore throws five shutout innings, and Lane Thomas steals four bases to tie a franchise record shared by six other players—including Tim Raines, who did it five times when the team was based in Montreal.
Washington’s 96 straight sweep-less series goes in the record book as the longest in MLB history; the previous mark was held by the Philadelphia A’s from 1914-17.
Meanwhile, the Orioles stretch their streak of series without being swept to 71, taking three of four in a crucial AL East showdown with the Rays at St. Petersburg. Ryan O’Hearn’s solo homer in the sixth puts Baltimore ahead to stay in a 5-3 win. The Orioles take a two-game lead over the Rays.
The all-time record being chased by the Orioles belongs to the 1942-44 Cardinals, who made it through 125 consecutive series without being victims of a sweep.
Philadelphia closer Craig Kimbrel suffers his first blown save of the year—but gets the ‘accidental’ win—as the Phillies score four runs in the 10th after the Guardians had tied it in the bottom of the ninth at Cleveland. The 8-5 win gives Kimbrel a 6-1 record on the year; the only MLB closer without a blown save this season is the Angels’ Carlos Estevez, who earns his 23rd save in 23 attempts by preserving a 7-5 home win against Pittsburgh.
On a beautiful summer afternoon in Cooperstown, New York, the Hall of Fame Class of 2023 is introduced with general vote inductee Scott Rolen and Veterans Committee choice Fred McGriff serving as the headliners; additionally, Cubs broadcaster Pat Hughes is honored with the Ford C. Frick award, Detroit sportswriter John Lowe with the Baseball Writers Association of America Career Excellence Award, and 1950s Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine, 96 years young, with the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award.
Of note are the choices of the teams representing Rolen and McGriff. Rolen chooses the Cardinals, where he had his best years—though he played more seasons with the Phillies, the fans for whom he had a love-hate relationship with. As for McGriff, he decides not to be represented at all; he played for six different teams, none of them for more than five years. McGriff is hardly the first Hall of Famer not to have a logo included on his plaque—though with many of the others, the players are shown in side view as if the cap logo somehow can’t be seen. McGriff’s bronze likeness is a full-on straight view of his face with a plain cap featuring no team brand.
Monday, July 24
Mike Ivie, a solid and likeable hitter who spent most of his 11-year playing career split between the Giants and Padres in the 1970s, passes away at the age of 70. A first-round draft pick of the Padres in 1970, Ivie emerged as the starting first baseman at San Diego in 1975—but it wasn’t until a trade to the Giants, rebounding under new ownership in 1978, that the Atlanta native enjoyed his most memorable tenure, providing big moments in the clutch before having his best overall season in 1979, batting .286 with 27 homers and 89 RBIs. Ivie regressed quickly in the years to follow, providing one last modest burst of power for the 1982 Tigers as he belted 14 homers over 259 at-bats. Overall, Ivie collected 724 hits, 81 of them homers.
Forget about Shane Bieber being dealt at the coming trade deadline. The Cleveland ace has been transferred to the 60-day Injury List, with his earliest return slated for mid-September. In 19 starts this season, Bieber has produced a subpar 5-6 record and 3.77 ERA. On the field, the Guardians drop a 5-3 home decision to lowly Kansas City, dropping them four games back of the first-place Twins (4-3 winners in 10 innings against Seattle) in the AL Central.
Tuesday, July 25
Despite a 7-1 loss at Boston, the Braves make the headlines by pulling off the year’s first triple play—their first since 2004. In the third inning, the Red Sox’ Triston Casas flies out to Michael Harris II in short center; Harris quickly snaps the ball back to first, doubling off Adam Duvall; seeing Masataka Yoshida trying to sneak to third, Atlanta first baseman Matt Olson guns him down to complete an 8-3-5 triple play not seen in 139 years.
Down 6-2 entering the eighth inning at Minnesota, the Mariners rally for four runs in the eighth—adding three more in the ninth to defeat the Twins, 9-7. It’s the first time Seattle has come back to win on the road while trailing by four-plus runs in the eighth inning or later since 1991, and it puts the Mariners a game above .500 in the highly-competitive AL West (they remain in fourth place), while ending Minnesota’s four-game win streak.
Also coming back from four runs down late are the Dodgers, who jump on the visiting Blue Jays in the ninth (Toronto closer Jordan Romano is unavailable due to rest) and then notch the game-winner in the 10th on James Outman’s double to prevail, 8-7. Los Angeles maintains its four-game lead in the NL West.
The Dodgers also make news on the day by bringing back Kiké Hernandez in a trade from the Red Sox. A man of many positions in his previous tenure at Los Angeles (2015-20), Hernandez was batting .222 with six homers and 31 RBIs in 86 games during his third year at Boston.
Angles closer Carlos Estevez still has yet to be charged with a blown save, but there’s few asterisks (or buts) to spare in his appearance at Detroit. Estevez gives up four runs in the bottom of the ninth as the Tigers tie the game—but because he enters the game with a four-run lead, it’s not an official save situation, thus he’s not tagged with the blown save. But none of the four runs scored on him are earned; an error by Luis Rengifo starts the rally, and it ends when Spencer Torkelson’s deep fly to center, playable but misplayed by outfielder Mickey Moniak, for a ground-rule double. But, the Angels rebound in the 10th, as Moniak atones with a double of his own to bring home the eventual winning run and make Estevez the unlikely winner in a 7-6 game.
Wednesday, July 26
On a day when the Angels are rained out at Detroit, they still manage to make some big news by acquiring two established Chicago White Sox pitchers—Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez—for two minor leaguers, reliever Ky Bush and catcher Edgar Quero. This fortifies reports from earlier in the day that the Angels are making a run at the playoffs and will thus keep Shohei Ohtani, costing them a chance to rack up a bundle of prospects rather than trade him as free agency looms for the two-way star. The Angels end the day in third place in the AL West, seven games back of Texas; more importantly, they’re four games behind Toronto for the final wild card spot.
The deal also signifies a waiving of the white flag on the season for the White Sox, who drop a 10-7 home decision to the crosstown Cubs and own the majors’ fourth-worst record at 41-62. (Don’t try and blame Tony La Russa for this one.)
It’s interesting to note: This is the second time that Giolito and Lopez have been traded by the same team in the same deal; they were both sent from Washington to the White Sox in 2016, with the Nationals getting outfielder Adam Eaton in return.
If the Brewers edge out the Reds to win the NL Central this season, chief credit will go to their dominance over Cincinnati in head-to-head matchups. In the final regular season game between the two teams this year—and the ninth in the past three weeks—the Brewers take a 3-0 win on the strength of 18 strikeouts, 13 of them from starter Freddy Peralta, who throws six shutout innings allowing four hits and no walks. Milwaukee wins the season series against the Reds with 10 wins in 13 matchups; they lead the NL Central over Cincinnati by 1.5 games.
After three losses to start his tenure as a New York Yankee, Carlos Rodon gets in the win column as the veteran pitcher, whose pinstriped debut was delayed by three months due to a forearm injury, keeps the crosstown Mets quiet for 5.2 innings in a 3-1 victory. Despite the win, the Yankees remain in last place in the AL East—with a 54-48 record.
Thursday, July 27
People are saying that the Angels are making a big mistake by not trading soon-to-be free agent Shohei Ohtani for virtually an entire team’s farm system, but his performance in a doubleheader at Detroit are making those with an alternative viewpoint quite content. In the first game, Ohtani takes the mound and throws his first career shutout (and first complete game), allowing just one hit—a leadoff single in the fifth to the Tigers’ Kerry Carpenter—walks three others and strikes out eight over 111 pitches as the Angels breeze to a 6-0 win. Though Ohtani is 0-for-5 at the plate while pitching the shutout, he saves his batting prowess for the second game, blasting two home runs (giving him 38 on the year) through the first four innings before being given the rest of the day off as Los Angeles easily takes the nightcap, 11-4.
Ohtani is the first pitcher since Sonny Siebert in 1971 to throw a shutout while hitting two homers on the same day; Rick Wise did so as well in 1971—no-hitting the Reds—but his gem came two-plus months before Siebert’s.
Bad blood—and just plain blood—come between the Cardinals and Cubs in St. Louis. In the first inning, the Cubs’ Ian Happ accidentally conks Cardinals catcher (and former Cub) Willson Contreras on the head with a sweeping backswing, knocking Contreras to the ground and drawing blood from his forehead. The two former mates briefly hug to suggest no hard feelings, but Cardinals pitcher Milos Mikolas is in no mood to be soft—first pitching high and tight to Happ, then hitting him square in the backside; the umpires huddle and eject Mikolas, then St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol when he comes out to argue. The Cubs roll from there to a 10-3 victory behind another six sharp innings from Justin Steele and three hits each from Mike Tauchman, Cody Bellinger and Christopher Morel.
In a deal that reminds us that the trading deadline is drawing near, the Brewers acquire veteran first baseman/DH Carlos Santana from the Pirates for 18-year-old shortstop prospect Jhonny Severino. Santana leaves Pittsburgh with a .235 average, 25 doubles, 12 homers and 53 RBIs; this will be his fifth team over the last four seasons.
Friday, July 28
The White Sox continue to shed pitchers, sending three more veterans packing to contending teams. To the Dodgers goes Lance Lynn—who currently owns the majors’ worst ERA (6.47) while giving up the most home runs (28), and reliever Joe Kelly, who heads back to Los Angeles for a reunion with the team he played for from 2019-21; with Chicago, Kelly was 1-5 in 31 appearances with a 4.97 ERA, following up a 6.08 mark from last year.
Kelly isn’t the only White Sox reliever being reunited with a former team. Kendall Graveman, whose numbers have been a bit better with Chicago (3-4, 3.48 ERA, eight saves in 2023), is dealt to the Astros—for whom he played briefly in 2021.
Heading to the White Sox in exchange for these players are 2019 first-round draft pick Korey Lee, batting .282 as Houston’s Triple-A catcher, and from the Dodgers two Double-A pitchers (Nick Nastrini and Jordan Leisure) along with former White Sock Trayce Thompson, who earlier this year had a three-homer game for the Dodgers but has been absent for the past two months with an oblique strain.
The Miami Marlins, fighting for a NL wild card spot, make some moves to improve their chances. They bring back pitcher Pablo Lopez, who they dealt to Minnesota in the offseason for current .380 batter Luis Arraez, from the Twins for reliever Dylan Floro; Lopez is a somewhat subpar 5-6 with a 4.13 ERA, while Floro will be highly welcomed in a Minnesota bullpen depleted by injury.
Additionally, the Marlins acquire David Robertson from the Mets, where he was filling in for the injured Edwin Diaz as team closer and performing quite well with a 2.06 ERA and 14 saves. Robertson may take over the Miami closer role as A.J. Puk has had a terrible month, blowing three of his last five save opportunities while raising his season ERA to 4.59.
The Robertson trade does not sit well with Mets ace Max Scherzer, who tells reporters after New York’s 5-1 home win over Washington, “I’ve got to have a conversation with the front office…about everything.”
Four times over the last three seasons, a potential walk-off home run has been robbed by an opposing outfielder. Two of those four times, it’s been accomplished by Mike Tauchman. Two years after swiping away a game-winning home run by the Dodgers’ Albert Pujols while playing for the Giants, Tauchman does it again—this time robbing the Cardinals’ Alec Burleson in center field for the final out of the Cubs’ 3-2 win at St. Louis. It’s the seventh straight win for the Cubs, who are 4.5 games back of first-place Milwaukee in the NL Central and 3.5 games back of the third NL wild card spot.
Saturday, July 29
That must have been some conversation Max Scherzer had with Mets management. A day after expressing his disappointment in the team’s decision to send closer David Robertson packing to Miami, Scherzer himself is dealt to the AL West-leading Texas Rangers for top prospect Luisangel Acuna—the younger brother of Atlanta star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., whos’ looking really good at the Double-A level (.315 batting average, 42 steals in 84 games). As part of the deal, Scherzer agrees not to opt out of his current contract, for which he is owed nearly $60 million through next season. Charitably, the Mets will pay $35 million of that remaining deal.
Scherzer joins a Rangers team already blessed with a rotation that’s solid even when accounting for the absence of fellow ex-Met Jacob deGrom, out for the year—and most of next as well after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
A day after being walked three times in his first game since June 3, the Yankees’ Aaron Judge is dared to hit the ball by Baltimore pitchers. Result: Two singles and his 20th homer in five at-bats, as the king-sized boomer leads New York to an 8-3 win over the Orioles before a near-sellout crowd at Camden Yards. Despite missing half of the season to date due to numerous injuries, Judge has been outhomered by only five American Leaguers.
The Dodgers—or more aptly, Max Muncy—defeat the Reds at Los Angeles, 3-2. Muncy accounts for both of the Dodgers’ hits, each of them home runs—including a sixth-inning solo shot in the sixth that serves as the ultimate game-winner after the Reds had tied it in the top of the frame. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Muncy is the first Dodgers player since at least 1920 to have all of his team’s hits and RBIs in a victory, based on a minimum of two hits; they’re have been seven other times where the Dodgers had won with just one hit.
The Blue Jays defeat the Angels at Toronto on a day in which both teams, seeking wild card berths, are dealt injury-related blows. During the game, Angels outfielder Taylor Ward suffers several facial fractures after being drilled by Blue Jays pitcher Alek Manoah and will likely miss some time, joining the team’s couch of ouch already occupied by Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Brandon Drury. On the other side, the Blue Jays place closer Jordan Romano on the 15-day Injury List with a bad back developed during his time at the All-Star Game.
Sunday, July 30
Justin Verlander allows a run over 5.1 innings to pick up his 250th career win in the Mets’ 5-2 decision over the visiting Nationals. The question is: Will it be his last win as a New York Met? The team has already traded Max Scherzer and temp closer David Robertson, and is going nowhere in the standings. Verlander certainly has pitched well enough of late to be in demand; over his last six starts, he’s 4-1 with a 1.69 ERA.
While Verlander’s status is up in the air, other teams continue to make moves in advance of the trade deadline. The Rangers, not content to rest after bringing in Scherzer from the Mets, trade for Cardinals pitchers Jordan Montgomery (6-9, 3.42 ERA in 21 starts) and reliever Chris Stratton (4.36 ERA in 42 appearances) for three minor leaguers. The Angels, trying to bulk up to offset injuries to key offensive threats, nab first baseman (and one-time Angel) C.J. Cron (.259 average, 11 homers, 32 RBIs in 55 games) and outfielder Randal Grichuk (.312, 8 and 27 in 63 games) from the Rockies for two minor league pitchers; and the Blue Jays pick up hard-throwing St. Louis reliever Jordan Hicks as a possible insurance policy for injured closer Jordan Romano.
The Orioles take a 6-0 lead over the visiting Yankees before once being retired in the first, then coast to a 9-3 win as Dean Kramer and four Baltimore relievers combine to set a franchise record with 18 strikeouts over a nine-inning game. (The Orioles struck out 18 or more batters in five other games, but those were all in extra innings.)
In Atlanta’s 8-6 home win over the Brewers—completing a three-game sweep—Matt Olson drills two home runs to give him 35 on the year while setting a franchise mark for the most belted before the end of July. Overall, the Braves collect four more round-trippers to give them 199 on the year—on pace for a record-setting season total of 313.
Monday, July 31
The Angels’ trade with the Rockies pays immediate dividends as the recently acquired C.J. Cron and Randall Grichuk both feature in the team’s 4-1 win at Atlanta to open a three-game series, otherwise showcasing the two top MVP candidates in Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuna Jr. Grichuk’s solo homer in the fourth serves as the ultimate game-winning run, while Cron caps the scoring with an RBI single in the ninth. As for the main attractions, Ohtani reaches base four times on two singles, a walk and a hit batsman—in other words, he’s contained by the Braves—while Acuna is hitless with a walk.
The Braves’ lone run comes on a solo homer from Matt Olson, who with 36 trails only Ohtani among MLB leaders. It’s also the 200th hit this year by Atlanta; only the 2019 Twins reached it in fewer games (103) than the Braves’ 104.
Despite a strong month that has pushed them back over the .500 mark, the Seattle Mariners make a series of moves suggesting that they’re folding the tent on the 2023 season. They ship closer Paul Sewald (3-1 record, 2.93 ERA, 21 saves) to Arizona, while sending two players including oft-injured outfielding veteran A.J. Pollock to the Giants. The Mariners later go out and defeat the Red Sox, 6-2—and while they sit in fourth place in the AL West, they’re only five games back of first-place Texas and, just as importantly, 3.5 back of the final AL wild card spot.
The Tampa Bay Rays, trying to steal first place back from the Orioles in the AL East, snag Cleveland pitcher Aaron Civale for slugging Triple-A prospect Kyle Manzardo. The 28-year-old Civale has had a terrific July, and is 5-2 in 13 starts with a 2.34 ERA; he missed two months early in the season due to an oblique injury. The trading of one of the Guardians’ more reliable starters—especially one not due for free agency until 2026—is something of a puzzler for a team that’s only a game behind first-place Minnesota in the weak AL Central.
The Mets continue to peddle players away, sending veteran outfielder Mark Canha (.245 average, six homers and 29 RBIs in 89 games) to the Brewers. In exchange, New York gets minor league pitcher Justin Jarvis. Most experts believe top pitcher Justin Verlander is next in line to exit the Mets’ clubhouse. We shall see; the trading deadline is today at 6:00 EDT.
It’s a Chicago reunion for Washington third baseman Jeimer Candelario, who’s traded to a Cubs team that originally signed him back in 2011. The 29-year old has had one of his better campaigns, batting .258 with 30 doubles, 16 home runs and 53 RBIs for the Nationals, who get two minor leaguers in return.
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