This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: June 2023

Domingo German, Perfect Pitcher    Who Are All These Reds Rookies?
The Dark, Sarcastic Side of Rob Manfred

May 2023    Comebacker Index    July 2023 

Thursday, June 1

A bankruptcy judge sides with Major League Baseball in a dispute with Diamond Sports Group, after the owner of regional sports networks (RSNs) for 15 MLB teams claimed it should pay four of those teams (Minnesota, Arizona, Cleveland and Texas) less than they were contractually obligated because cord-cutting had cut into their revenue. Judge Christopher Lopez tells Diamond sorry, stating that “just because times have changed doesn’t mean the contract price is clearly unreasonable.” The decision potentially puts Diamond into an even bigger hole financially after declaring bankruptcy in March; it has already ceased payments to the San Diego Padres, thus forcing MLB to take over control of that team’s TV domain; it may have to do the same with the Twins, Diamondbacks, Guardians and Rangers should Diamond walk away from those contracts as well.

MLB says it will guarantee that each team that Diamond drops will receive 80% of projected RSN revenue, likely out of its own pockets, as it is currently doing with the Padres.

It was widely expected before the pitch clock began operating this season that the new timing rules associated with it would likely see some common-sense tweaks. But so far, MLB isn’t budging—and two veteran pitchers take issue with that in the midst of their starts.

At Miami, Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove—owner of the franchise’s only no-hitter and looking for a potential second one against the Marlins—takes the mound in the sixth after his mates score seven times in the top of the inning, and asks the umpires for a little extra time to loosen up since the Padres’ rally lasted 32 minutes. And in New York, the Mets’ Max Scherzer needs more time to throw his eight warm-up pitches before facing the Philadelphia Phillies in the fifth because catcher Francisco Alvarez, the last batter in the previous inning, has to put his catcher’s gear back on and is thus late to the field. In both cases, umpires tell Musgrove and Scherzer: Sorry, boys—strict orders from MLB. Rules are rules—and if we give you extra time, we’re going to get in trouble for it. Musgrove loses his no-hit bid in that sixth inning, while Scherzer—never one to bite his lips—rants after the game. “Why can’t the umpires have discretion in that situation to allow eight normal warmup pitches?” he gripes. “Why do we have to be so anal about this to have the clock shoved in everybody’s face and try to step out every little second that’s going into the game?”

If MLB is all about change these days with the introduction of the pitch clock, larger bases and gift runners, then maybe it should consider changing up some of its rules regarding the pitch clock per the people playing the game. Pitchers, hitters, and perhaps even some umpires are talking. MLB should listen.

Friday, June 2

It’s a night of big moments for leadoff hitters:

At New York against the Mets, Toronto’s George Springer starts the night with a home run on the game’s second pitch; it’s his 54th career leadoff bomb, tying Alfonso Soriano for the second-most in MLB history. Springer’s shot springs the Blue Jays to a 3-0 win, preserved by former Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt—who throws 7.2 innings shutout innings, allowing just three hits and no walks, all while baseball is probably among the least things on his mind; after the game, he hurries back to Toronto as his wife is in labor with their second child.

Out in Los Angeles, the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts belts his 41st career leadoff homer—good for ninth on the all-time list—to set the pace for a six-run first inning against long-time interleague rivals New York Yankees in an 8-4 home win. Betts adds another home run in the sixth, extending his own all-time record of multi-homer games from the leadoff spot to 22. Overall, Betts reaches base all five times he comes to the plate (two homers, double, single, walk and a steal).

Finally, up in San Francisco, Giants leadoff man LaMonte Wade Jr. lines the first pitch he sees in the first from Baltimore’s Dean Kramer into McCovey Cove for the 100th “Splash Hit” by a Giants player since Oracle Park opened in 2000. The ball lands right next to one of many kayakers out in the cove, who quickly scoops it up; he returns the ball to Wade in exchange for a couple of bats and balls signed by the Giants’ first baseman, as well as a picture of the two together. Wade’s shot isn’t enough for the Giants, as they lose to the Orioles, 3-2.

Saturday, June 3

Luis Arraez, a.k.a. the Miami Hit Machine, produces his first career five hit-game with three doubles and two singles to increase his 2023 season average to .390, as the Marlins pound the visiting Oakland A’s, 12-1. It’s the 20th five-hit game by a Marlins player, the last being from Starlin Castro (remember him?) in 2018; Arraez is the second Marlin this year to have three doubles in a game, following Bryan De La Cruz on April 23. For the awful A’s, it’s their 13th straight road defeat—easily the longest in the majors this season (no other team has lost more than eight in a row) and the longest by the franchise since 1986. Overall, Oakland drops to 12-48 as the plot to Major League continues to be played out in real life—with no Ricky Vaughn around to save it.

For the second time this week, Aaron Judge stars for the Yankees on offense—and defense. At Dodger Stadium before a crowd of 53,000—many of them cheering on the Yankees, including Spike Lee—Judge belts one of four home runs to back Gerrit Cole (7-0) in New York’s 6-3 victory, but he provides the game’s signature moment in the eighth inning when, chasing a deep drive from Los Angeles’ J.D. Martinez, catches up to the ball and snares it just as he collides with the screen fencing of the Yankee’s bullpen door—knocking it open and sending Judge stumbling backward, almost into the arms of Yankee relievers. Unfortunately, Judge rams his foot into a concrete base below the door—tearing a tendon in one of his toes. It will keep him out of action for the rest of the month, and beyond.

It’s Judge’s second marvelous defensive highlight on the Yankees’ current West Coast swing, having stolen a home run from Seattle’s Teoscar Hernandez on May 29.

It’s a weird and painful finish to a strange game in Chicago, where the White Sox walk off a 2-1, 10-inning win over the Detroit Tigers. The White Sox load the bases in the 10th through virtually no effort of their own—via the gift runner, an intentional walk and a hit batsman (Jake Burger) who reaches after the pitch that hit him was initially ruled a foul ball. That brings Tim Anderson to the plate, who watches as Jose Cisnero’s first-pitch, 96-MPH fastball eludes Detroit catcher Erik Haase and strikes home plate umpire Cory Blaser square in the face mask, knocking him down and out; the ball rolls live toward the first-base dugout, allowing Yoan Moncada to score from third with the game-winning run. A woozy Blaser is helped off the field and will miss roughly a week of umpiring.

All three runs in this game score as a result of a wild pitch; according to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the first time since at least 1920 that has happened in an MLB game.

The Milwaukee Brewers overcome nine stolen bases by the Reds—the highest total by any team this year—to notch a 10-8 win at Cincinnati. Nine of the Brewers’ runs are scored within the first three innings, four of them on a grand slam from Blake Perkins for his first career homer. Overall, Reds starter Graham Ashcraft surrenders 10 runs in four innings of work, the second time this year that a Cincinnati pitcher has given up a double-digit run total (Luis Cessa, 11 runs on April 16). After posting a 2.00 ERA through his first five starts of 2023, Ashcraft has registered a 12.99 figure over his last six. The Reds’ nine steals, including three from Jake Fraley, is one short of the franchise record of 10 swiped in a 1913 game.

The game is also noted for the return of Jon Singleton, who last appeared in the majors with Houston in 2015 a couple years after he signed a $10 million deal before even playing a single MLB contest. Singleton bombed horribly for the Astros, struggled in the minors, then found himself exiled out from organized ball due to repeated positive drug tests. He was signed by the Brewers at the end of 2021 and worked his way back to the parent team after 183 games with Triple-A Nashville. Against the Reds, Singleton has a single in four at-bats; he’ll get two more hits in 25 at-bats before being released by the Brewers on July 21—to be picked up by the Astros and sent their Triple-A affiliate.

It’s not the best box score line on the day, but it’s certainly the most interesting: 1-1-1-4. That’s the line for Houston third baseman Alex Bregman, who belts a grand slam in what appears to be his only plate appearance of the day—but anyone viewing the expanded box score also sees that he also walks four times in the Astros’ 9-6 home win over the Los Angeles Angels. Bregman is the fourth player to hit a grand slam with four walks in a game; the others are Ted Williams (1946), Bobby Bonds (1979) and J.D. Martinez (2017).

The Washington Post is reporting that injured Washington ace Stephen Strasburg—who’s made only eight appearances since winning World Series MVP honors in 2019—will possibly never pitch again due to what is described as “severe nerve damage” in his neck and shoulder that has persistently gotten in the way of any rehab process. He’s in the fourth year of a seven-year, $245 million contract, one the Nationals are starting to regret.

Sunday, June 4

Pitcher, guru and manager Roger Craig passes away at the age of 93. A member of the Dodgers for the first seven years of his career, the right-handed Craig led the NL with four shutouts for the 1959 Dodgers, who took the World Series over the White Sox; he was soon jettisoned to the expansion Mets in 1962, where he suffered the first of two straight years losing over 20 games for aging manager Casey Stengel. After stepping down from the game in 1966, Craig took on coaching duties for another expansion club (the 1969 Padres), elevating to the skipper role in 1978 to give San Diego its first winning season in its 10th year of play. Late in 1985, the Giants brought him on as their manager, and he quickly told his players to embrace Candlestick Park’s Arctic climate because, even though they might hate it, the visiting teams will hate it more. The vibe worked; under his command, the Giants reeled off five straight winning seasons, two NL West titles and an NL pennant in 1989 before being defeated in the earthquake-affected World Series by the cross-bay Oakland A’s. Before his tenure in San Francisco, Craig was best known as a popular pitching tutor, preaching the advent of the split-fingered fastball and making stars out of Jack Morris and Mike Scott. Of course, when Scott rampaged to the NL Cy Young Award in 1986 for the Astros—who prevailed in the NL West over Craig’s surprising Giants—Craig accused Scott of scuffing the ball.

On National Cancer Survivors Day, Liam Hendriks gets the win for the White Sox as he pitches a 1-2-3 ninth against Detroit to maintain a 2-2 tie—then watches as Jake Burger unloads a grand slam in the bottom of the frame to give Chicago its second straight walk-off victory, 6-2. Hendriks, who overcame a bout with lymphoma during the winter, picks up his first decision in his third appearance since returning to the White Sox.

Making his first appearance of the year after being shelved with a shoulder injury, Cleveland pitcher Triston McKenzie looks to be in midseason form, allowing just one with 10 strikeouts over five shutout innings as the Guardians top the Twins at Minnesota, 2-1. McKenzie does not get credit for the win as he leaves the game while it’s still scoreless; back-to-back RBI hits in the seventh from Josh Naylor and Andres Gimenez ultimately give the Guardians all they’ll need to take the victory.

Monday, June 5

The Pirates look to be experiencing baseball’s equivalent of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. After a 20-8 start—followed by 19 losses over their next 26 games—the Bucs win their sixth straight over the awful Athletics at Pittsburgh, 5-4; the win puts the Pirates back in first place in the NL Central over the Milwaukee Brewers, who are shut out at Cincinnati. On brand, the A’s bow by giving away free gifts via 10 walks, two of them back-to-back, bases-loaded passes from reliever Shintaro Fujinami as part of a three-run rally in the sixth inning. It’s the third time this year that the A’s have walked 10 or more opponents in a game.

The loss is the 15th straight on the road for the A’s, matching their longest such skid since moving to Oakland in 1968; they also lost 15 straight away from the Coliseum in 1986. Overall, the A’s tie the 1932 Red Sox for the fewest number of games (62) to suffer 50 defeats to start a season.

On the flip side, the Texas Rangers are off to their best 59-game start in their 63-year history, improving to 39-20 with a 4-3 walk-off win over the Cardinals at Arlington. Marcus Semien, who earlier has two hits to extend his MLB-best hitting streak to 24 games, walks in the ninth and scores the game-winner on Corey Seager’s infield hit.

The Blue Jays have a big and unexpected problem: Ace pitcher Alek Manoah. The young, burly right-hander, who entered the season with a 25-9 record and 2.60 ERA, has completely lost it with his worst career start—allowing six runs on seven hits while getting just one out before being removed in an 11-4 home loss to the Astros. Over his last six starts, Manoah is 0-5 with a 9.97 ERA and 21 walks over 21.2 innings. Asked whether Manoah will make his next scheduled start, Toronto manager John Schneider doesn’t exactly cast a vote of confidence, saying that “everything is on the table.”

What the Jays will offer from that table is a trip for Manoah to the team’s rookie-level Florida Complex League, formerly called the Gulf Coast League, where he is asked to reset; Manoah is said to be “upset” by the decision.

Tuesday, June 6

Count Jacob deGrom out of action for the rest of the year—and most of next year as well. The 34-year-old veteran, who simply cannot shake his fragile reputation—yet pitches wonderfully when healthy—will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL in his elbow; it’s his second such procedure, following one in 2010. In speaking to reporters to announce his status, deGrom clearly shows that he’s tiring of the on-and-off routine, choking back tears as he laments his latest outage. deGrom’s season exit is also bad news for the Rangers, who gave the pitcher a five-year, $185 million contract before this season and crossed their fingers. Looks like they needed a rabbit’s foot to rub as well. For $30 million this season, this is what the Rangers got: Six starts, 30.1 innings, 45 strikeouts, four walks, two wins, zero losses and a 2.67 ERA.

Over the past three years, deGrom has made 32 starts—the equivalent of a full season’s work for a starting pitcher—with a 14-6 record, 2.03 ERA, 293 strikeouts and just 23 walks in 186.2 innings.

The regular season is over two months old and Luis Arraez is hitting .401. The defending AL batting champ and first-year Marlin goes 2-for-4 in Miami’s 6-1 home win over the Royals to raise his batting average over the .400 barrier; he’s only the ninth player to be above the mark 62 or more games into a season since Ted Williams finished the 1941 campaign with a .406 average. Williams is the last MLB player to date to finish the year above .400.

The A’s finally get one on the road, demolishing the Pirates at Pittsburgh, 11-2. That breaks a 15-game road skid; the all-time franchise mark remains 20, set in 1916 and 1943 when the A’s called Philadelphia their home. Jace Peterson has the big night on offense for the A’s with the team’s first five-hit effort since Josh Donaldson in 2014; James Kaprielian, who entered the game with an 8.12 ERA, allows two runs (one earned) over six innings to pick up his first win in 11 appearances (eight starts) in 2023.

For the second time this season, the White Sox’ Lucas Giolito throws six no-hit innings—and is asked to depart due to a high pitch count. The 28-year-old right-hander is at an even 100 deliveries when he’s removed with Chicago ahead of the Yankees at New York, 3-0, behind two Seby Zavala home runs; Isiah Kiner-Falefa will finally get the Yankees’ first hit in the seventh on a play that neither Luis Robert nor Andrew Benintendi apparently wants anything to do with, but the White Sox will hold on to win their fourth straight, 3-2.

Giolito is the first pitcher to finish two starts of at least six no-hit innings in one season since Johnny Vander Meer tossed back-to-back no-hitters in 1938. Since the Angels’ Reid Detmers threw the last individual no-hitter nearly 13 months ago, there have been 13 other instances of pitchers who’ve thrown six or more no-hit innings—but failed to go the full nine.

Wednesday, June 7

Games scheduled in New York (between the Yankees and White Sox) and Philadelphia (between the Phillies and Tigers) are postponed due to unhealthy, smoky air that’s drifted over from unusually early and strong wildfires across Canada. It’s the first time that bad air has postponed MLB games. Orange skies more befitting of Mars also made for interesting scenery in the Bay Area in September 2020, when the Giants and A’s were playing at home before no fans in pandemic times; but those games were allowed to continue because the air quality index was 90, a hardly threatening measure. By contrast, the AQI in New York and Philadelphia is hanging closer to a much unhealthier reading of 300.

A game the next day in Washington between the Nationals and Diamondbacks will also be postponed because of the bad air; three weeks later, persistent smoky skies will also delay the start of a game at Pittsburgh.

It’s quite the feel-good night in Cincinnati, where two rookies power the Reds to a raucous, emotional 8-6 walk-off win over the Dodgers. The fun starts early with top prospect Elly De La Cruz—playing his second game at the major league level—punching out a first-inning, 458-foot home run to the last row of Great American Ball Park’s right-field bleachers; two innings later, he’ll rip a triple and soon after score as part of a four-run rally that ties the game. A 6-6 contest remains that way until the bottom of the ninth when Will Benson—who played briefly for Cleveland last year and has played briefly for the Reds so far in 2023—smokes a two-run, game-winning homer, expressing angry joy as he leaves the batter’s box.

De La Cruz is the first player in modern MLB history to accrue at least one double, triple, home run and walk each over his first two big-league games. He also pairs with Benson to form the first duo of Reds to each belt their first career homers in the same game since 1907.

A day after the Mets’ Pete Alonso drills a home run and then taunts the Braves and pitcher Bryce Elder to “throw it again,” he gets drilled on the wrist on the second pitch he sees from Atlanta’s Charlie Morton—leading not only to his departure from the game but also to cheers from a near-sellout crowd at Truist Park, who bark “throw it again” back at him.

Without Alonso—who will be out of action for the next 10 days—the Mets build up an early 4-1 lead but see it disappear as Mets ace Max Scherzer is unable to contain the Braves, allowing five runs on 11 hits through 5.2 innings even as he strikes out 10 batters. A 5-5 tie is broken in the eighth when reigning NL Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II, having a dreadful follow-up thus far in 2023, blasts a 443-foot tater to provide the eventual winning runs in a 7-5 Atlanta victory. With the loss, the high-priced Mets are a disappointing 30-32, 7.5 games behind the first-place Braves.

It’s Scherzer’s 111th game with double-digit Ks, breaking a third-place tie with Roger Clemens on the all-time list. (Scherzer has got a long way to go to reach #2 Randy Johnson, who has 212 such games.)

The Rangers blow numerous opportunities to plate even one run against the visiting Cardinals—including a bases-loaded scenario in the first inning courtesy of three Jack Flaherty walks—and are defeated, 1-0. The loss not only ends the 25-game hitting streak of Texas second baseman Marcus Semien—a run that’s tied for the second longest in Rangers franchise history—but also wastes a complete-game effort from Texas starter Jon Gray, who goes the distance for only the second time in 187 career starts and strikes out 12 without a walk; his only blemish is a solo homer conceded to St. Louis rookie Alec Burleson in the eighth.

Despite MLB highs in 386 runs and a +154 run differential, this is already the fifth shutout loss suffered by the Rangers this season.

The Padres ride a career-best five hits from Juan Soto and the fourth homer in just nine games for catcher Gary Sanchez since joining the team to pound away at the visiting Mariners, 10-3. Four of Soto’s five hits are singles, the other a double; he drives in four runs. Sanchez, signed and quickly thrown away by the Giants and Mets earlier this season after being unsigned during the winter, adds a double and is batting .286 thus far for the Padres.

Thursday, June 8

The Cleveland Guardians’ best player has one of his best days as Jose Ramirez cranks out three home runs with five RBIs in a 10-3 home win over the Red Sox. In the process, Ramirez surpasses a number of milestones with his 200th career homer and 700th RBI, while passing Travis Hafner for ninth on the franchise’s all-time home run list. It’s Ramirez’s first hat trick, and the first by a Cleveland ballplayer since Edwin Encarnacion in 2018.

The Guardians’ win comes amid a slow start to the year in which they are currently 29-33—and yet, they’re only a game and a half out of first place in the AL Central. That’s because the first-place Minnesota Twins drop their fifth straight decision at Tampa Bay, 4-2, to fall to 31-32. For the record, the Twins would be tied for fifth in the AL East, fourth in the AL West and NL West, and third in the NL East and the NL Central. No team has ever made the playoffs with a sub-.500 record in a full season.

A wild three-game series at Atlanta comes to a thrilling conclusion, as the Braves bounce back from a late 10-7 deficit to score two in the eighth, one in the ninth, and three in 10th on Ozzie Albies’ game-winning homer in a 13-10 triumph over the Mets. The game features eight home runs—five by the Braves—and is certainly not the score that was anticipated given that the starting pitchers are New York’s Justin Verlander and Atlanta’s Spencer Strider; neither of those two pitchers make it past the fourth inning.

It’s the first time that the Mets have dropped all three games of a series in which they had a lead of at least three runs at some point in each.

Friday, June 9

The Padres’ Yu Darvish becomes the second Japanese-born pitcher (after Hideo Nomo) to reach 100 career MLB wins, hitting the milestone in a 9-6 win over the Rockies at Denver. It’s the fifth victory of the season for the 36-year-old veteran, scattering four runs over 5.1 innings yet is well supported by San Diego teammates who produce 15 hits, five of them for home runs—including catcher Gary Sanchez’s fifth in 10 games since joining the team.

Congrats to the A’s, who have their first three-game win streak on the year (and only their third of at least two) as they pile up four runs through the first two innings at Milwaukee and ease from there to a 5-2 win. Luis Medina, the long reliever following ‘opener’ Sam Moll, gets his first win of the year against five losses with two runs allowed on three hits through five innings.

In a battle of MLB’s two best teams by the record, the Rays defeat the visiting Rangers, 8-3, to improve to 47-19 (30-6 at home). Isaac Paredes knocks in the Rays’ first six runs on a double and a pair of home runs, while Tyler Glasnow allows just one hit (a Leody Taveras home run) over six innings of work to pick up his first decision of the year.

The Rangers have just three hits on the night, all of them solo homers; it’s only the seventh time in MLB history that a team has three such blasts with no other hits.

It’s a typical Shohei Ohtani night at Anaheim: He allows few hits (three over five innings), is wild (five walks and a hit batsman) and he’s one extra-base hit shy of a cycle while batting. Ohtani does not get credit for the Angels’ 5-4 win over the Mariners as he leaves the game with the score tied at 3-3, but he helps out on offense with a single, double and 17th home run of the season.

Saturday, June 10

The Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks inches us still closer to the first individual no-hitter thrown since Reid Detmers early last year, coming to within four outs of securing the gem at San Francisco before the Giants’ Ryan Haniger belts a deep double off the face of the left-field wall to end the bid. The 33-year-old veteran right-hander, making only his fourth start of the year after suffering a shoulder tear last season, finishes the eighth inning with just the one knock but is removed for the ninth, having thrown 94 pitches. Julian Merryweather will wrap up the combo one-hitter as the Cubs prevail 4-0 behind a three-RBI day for Christopher Morel.

Haniger’s hit comes on Hendricks fastest pitch of the day—clocked at 89 MPH.

Attack of the B. Millers: A month ago, it was the Mariners’ Bryce Miller who came out of nowhere and became the first MLB pitcher to begin his career allowing no more than four hits among each of his first five starts. Now it’s Bobby Miller’s turn. The Dodgers’ 24-year-old rookie southpaw curbs the Phillies on three hits and three walks through six shutout innings as the Dodgers carry on to a 9-0 road win. Miller thus becomes the first MLB pitcher to allow no more than four hits while giving up a run or none in each of his first four starts. If that sounds like a broken record, it’s not; the aforementioned Bryce Miller gave up three runs in his fourth career start, so his cluster of debut outings does differ.

The Mets finally put the brakes on a losing skid that reached seven games, riding Kodai Senga’s masterful (seven innings, an unearned run allowed on two hits) outing to defeat the Pirates at Pittsburgh, 5-1. Senga’s gem follows up five games of horrendous pitching by New York starters in which they collectively gave up 23 earned runs over 20 innings.; even with the win, the team with MLB’s first-ever $300 million payroll remains in fourth place in the NL East with a 31-34 record.

The Astros streak past the Guardians at Cleveland, 6-4, with a little power (Jose Abreu’s third home run of the year), some good pitching (a quality start from rookie J.P. France) and a lot of speed as they convert all six of their stolen base attempts. It’s the most swipes committed by the Astros in 10 years, and we’re seeing many bits of similar info of late as teams continue to take advantage of new rules—bigger bases, quotas on pick-off throws—meant to encourage a return to speed in the majors.

This is the seventh game this season in which a team has stolen six bases; last year, there were three such games for the entire season. Additionally, there have been 19 games in 2023 with teams stealing five or more (as compared to eight for all of 2022) and 43 games with four or more, as compared to 37 for all of last year.

Sunday, June 11

The Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen becomes the second player this season (after the White Sox’ Elvis Andrus) to connect on his 2,000th career hit, reaching the milestone with a leadoff single in the first inning of Pittsburgh’s 2-1 home victory over the Mets. With the Bucs, McCutchen has 1,515 hits to list him 12th on the all-time franchise list; he needs 115 more to supplant Fred Clarke at #10. (It’s interesting to note: Clarke and all other nine Pirates on that list are Hall of Famers.)

The Rays’ Shane McClanahan becomes MLB’s first 10-game winner of 2023 as he bottles in the high-powered Rangers for seven innings, allowing three runs on four hits as Tampa Bay secures a 7-3 home win and takes bragging rights with two victories in the three-game series between the majors’ two best teams to this point.

It’s the second hot start in as many seasons for McClanahan, who last year was 10-3 with a 1.71 ERA at the All-Star Break and named the starting pitcher for the AL All-Star team. But only won two more games the rest of the way, losing four with a 3.88 ERA as the strain of a long season (only his second) began to eat away at his effectiveness. We’ll see if he can avoid that fate this year.

The Giants, rebounding from a near no-hit loss to Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs the day before, ramp up and drill Chicago by a 13-3 count—all despite committing a season-high four errors to the Cubs’ none. It’s the first time since 2001 that a team wins by 10+ runs while being charged with four or more errors than their opponent. For added entertainment value, the Giants in the ninth send veteran shortstop Brandon Crawford to the mound for his first career pitching appearance. Despite missing the strike zone with his first six pitches, Crawford manages to get through the inning allowing no runs, leaving a couple Cubs baserunners on base. It’s the first time that Crawford, who’s played 1,564 games at shortstop in his 13-year career, has performed at another position.

Crawford tells reporters after the game: “I always give pitchers a hard time about (pitching) not being that hard. I think I proved today that it’s not.”

The Tigers are up two runs, and are three outs away from snapping an eight-game losing streak—and then, they lose their ninth straight. A two-run double from Arizona’s Christian Walker, aided by an error from Detroit left fielder Kerry Carpenter, is the key moment in a four-run rally, pushing the visiting Diamondbacks to a come-from-behind 7-5 win. The Tigers’ nine-game skid is their longest since losing 10 straight in 2019.

Interesting to note: In the Cardinals’ 4-3 loss to the Reds, St. Louis slugger Paul Goldschmidt is caught stealing for the first time since 2019. He had successfully swiped 30 bases during that time. For his career, the lumbering-looking Goldschmidt has stolen 154 bases—and been caught only 34 times.

Monday, June 12

J.T. Realmuto becomes the eighth Phillies player and first since David Bell in 2004 to hit for the cycle, wrapping up the achievement with a leadoff double in the ninth at Arizona. He’ll eventually score on a Bryson Stott single to cut the Diamondbacks’ lead to 9-8, and Stott scores on what momentarily is ruled a home run by Kody Clemens—except video review shows the ball hitting the top of the fence just inches foul of the pole, overturning the initial call. Clemens will strike out and the Phillies end up on the losing side.

Among catchers, Realmuto joins Mickey Cochrane (1933) and Buddy Rosar (1940) in the modern era as those hitting for the cycle and adding a walk as well.

A day after blowing a two-run lead in the ninth and suffering their ninth straight loss, the Tigers reverse their fortunes for the better as they score three runs in the ninth to tie Atlanta, then plate one in the 10th to take a 6-5 victory. Spencer Torkelson, whose two-run homer is a big moment in the Tigers’ ninth-inning rally, singles in the game-winner in the 10th.

Before the comeback, Detroit had gone 0-247 at home when trailing by three runs going into the ninth.

Tuesday, June 13

It’s a bittersweet night for fans of the A’s, who show up to the Oakland Coliseum in big numbers as part of a “reverse boycott,” protesting the team’s planned move to Las Vegas. The crowd of 27,759, largest for an A’s home game this year, wear green shirts that shout “SELL” as they repeatedly chant “Sell the team,” a highly vocal demand to owner John Fisher to sell the A’s to someone more willing to keep the team in Oakland. On the field, the A’s reward the raucous crowd with a tense 2-1 win over Tampa Bay for their seventh straight victory; this streak, combined with Kansas City’s eight-game skid, now moves the A’s up as MLB’s second-worst team by the percentages (.275, compared to the Royals’ .269).

Meanwhile in Carson City, Nevada, the State Senate approves a modified ballpark bill that provides $380 million in public funding on the Las Vegas Strip for the A’s. Initially assailed by Senate members, amendments that look to address non-baseball issues such as homelessness and paid family leave are tacked onto the bill to make it more appealing to a majority of legislators. The bill next moves to the Assembly; if they approve it, all that’s needed is a signature from the Governor—and approval from 75% majority of MLB owners—to secure the team’s third move in franchise history, after relocations to Kansas City (1955) and Oakland (1968).

As impressive and impassioned as the crowd is at Oakland, it’s nothing more than pitchforks against a corporate fortress. The A’s are going to Vegas; they’ve rejected a good deal for a waterfront ballpark village in Oakland and set their eyes solely on Sin City, a fun little market they’ll be able to call their own. They likely won’t sell out every game at the proposed 30,000-seat ballpark—don’t be surprised if they don’t even get close—but with the ballpark bill now moving agreeably through the state legislature, it simply appears as if nothing will stop the A’s at the moment from leaving their home of the past 56 years.

What’s a Yankees-Mets game without controversy and drama? In the season’s first battle between the two New Yorks, the Yankees overcome an early 5-1 deficit and two balks from starting pitcher Luis Severino—his first two since his rookie 2015 campaign—to deliver a 7-6 victory at Citi Field. A five-run Yankee fourth—with all tallies notched against Max Scherzer, who doesn’t make it out of the inning and is booed by Mets fans as his season ERA rises to 4.45—puts the Yankees back on track. But Scherzer isn’t the most embarrassed Mets pitcher on the night; that honor goes to reliever Drew Smith, who before throwing his first pitch of the night in the seventh is ejected by umpires after they suspect sticky stuff on his glove hand.

Giancarlo Stanton starts the Yankee scoring with a first-inning home run—his 24th at Citi Field, 10 more than any other visitor since the ballpark opened in 2009. It’s also his fourth against Scherzer; no other batter has hit more against the veteran ace.

After a 14-7 start, the Mets have gone 17-29 and remain ensconced in fourth place in the NL East, four games ahead of the lowly Nationals.

Wednesday, June 14

The Mets overcome two errors, a rare defensive shift violation and the first steal of home by the opposing Yankees since 2016 to edge their crosstown rivals in 10 innings, 4-3. Second baseman Jeff McNeil commits one of the Mets’ errors and mispositions himself on the wrong side of second base in the eighth, leading to an automatic ball for the Yankees; it’s only the second time this season that a player has been cited for a defensive shift violation. Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s steal of home gives the Yankees a 3-1 lead in the seventh—but the Mets bounce back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to even the score, then win in extras as Brandon Nimmo’s deep RBI double to right secures the victory.

Reality returns to the Oakland Coliseum as the A’s have their seven-game win streak end with a 6-3 loss to the Rays before a crowd of 7,000—far less than the nearly 30,000 fans who the night before drowned out the usual din of quiet with protestive chants against the team’s proposed move to Las Vegas.  Meanwhile, the bill to build a new ballpark in Vegas for the A’s continues to advance through the Nevada state legislature, and its passage looks to be all but a formality.

The Royals not only lose their ninth straight game, 7-4 to the visiting Reds, but also one of their best young players in slugger Vinnie Pasquantino, who will be out for the rest of the season as he’ll undergo surgery to repair a torn shoulder muscle. The 25-year-old Pasquantino batted .247 with 17 doubles, nine home runs, 26 RBIs and 25 walks in 61 games this season.

Thursday, June 15

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred speaks…when, unfortunately, he should have shut up. Facing the press in New York after a planned meeting of MLB owners, Manfred is grilled over the A’s likely move to Las Vegas, on the same day that a new ballpark on the Strip becomes closer to reality as Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo signs the bill approved in the previous few days by the State Legislature. When asked how owners are feeling about the potential move, Manfred does an unwise pivot toward Oakland and says: “I think the real question is, what is it that Oakland was prepared to do? There is no Oakland offer, okay? They never got to a point where they had a plan to build a stadium at any site.”

Manfred’s statement is a total fabrication, and a spokesperson for Oakland mayor Sheng Thao quickly releases a response firmly more based in reality: It says: “There was a very concrete proposal under discussion and Oakland had gone above and beyond to clear hurdles, including securing funding for infrastructure, providing an environmental review and working with other agencies to finalize approvals. The reality is the A’s ownership had insisted on a multibillion dollar, 55-acre project that included a ballpark, residential, commercial and retail space. In Las Vegas, for whatever reason, they seem satisfied with a 9-acre leased ballpark on leased land. If they had proposed a similar project in Oakland, we feel confident a new ballpark would already be under construction.”

Next, Manfred is asked about the 28,000 A’s fans who participated in a “reverse boycott” at the Coliseum for Tuesday’s game against the Rays. Didn’t see the game, Manfred says; “I was actually at a dinner with the owners.” He could leave it there, but instead he taunts the effort in an insulting manner. “It was great,” he starts, “It’s great to see what is, this year, almost an average Major League Baseball crowd in the facility for one night. That’s a great thing.”

We are a long way from the days of Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Happy Chandler, Bowie Kuhn and even Fay Vincent. Baseball commissioners are no longer employed to preside over the “best interests of baseball” but, instead, the best interests of the owners. Manfred serves the Lords, and as long as profits remain optimized, he will keep them happy. His comments about Oakland—alternately false and nasty—are unnecessary, ill-timed shots at a community that has loyally supported the A’s as the team has, for the last 25 years, run on a shoestring despite playing in a major U.S. market, even one that is easily shareable with another MLB team (as it is in the Bay Area with the San Francisco Giants). And when we say “loyally,” we don’t mean in terms of numbers, but passion. These are passionate fans. We’ve been to enough games at the Coliseum to know this. They’ve bled for a team that has frustrated them for a generation. City officials, trying hard to keep the one pro franchise left in Oakland, have been equally diligent in trying to keep the team, as the A’s like to say, “rooted in Oakland.” Instead, the local faithful have all been kicked in the teeth by a team that no longer cares for them—and a commissioner who laughs from afar.

(And another thing: If you want to be a good commish, at least have your brain wired correctly enough so you call your facilities “ballparks,” not stadiums.)

It might be a good thing for the owners that the players’ union doesn’t get a say in whether the A’s relocate or not. Philadelphia star Bryce Harper and his teammate Bryson Stott, both born in Vegas, believe that their hometown would be better served with an expansion team, while lamenting the departure of baseball in Oakland. “It’s just not right,” Harper told USA Today. “(The A’s) have so much history in Oakland. You’re taking a team out of a city. I’m pretty sad because of all of the history and all of the greatness they’ve seen there.” Stott mentioned that it would take “generations” for the A’s to build a fan base in Vegas, adding, “I’m sure they’ll see tickets for visiting fans, which is probably all they care about.”

For those wishing they could have been around to see Babe Ruth in his prime, we offer an excellent alternative: Shohei Ohtani. The ace/slugger does it all once more, doing his thing both on the mound (two runs allowed in six innings) and at the plate (a two-run home run in the eighth) to lift the Angels to a 5-3 win over the first-place Rangers at Arlington. Ohtani’s blast is his third of the four-game series—with all three traveling at least 440 feet the opposite way into the second level of bleachers at Globe Life Field. Unreal.

As a pitcher, Ohtani improves to 6-2 with a 3.29 ERA. As a hitter, his 22 home runs are tied for first in the majors with the Mets’ Pete Alonso.

Friday, June 16

Young pitchers continue to make an early, eye-opening impression on the 2023 season, as Seattle’s Bryce Miller and the Dodgers’ Bobby Miller have already proved. On this night, two more pitchers throw their names into the hat of history.

At Houston, the Reds’ Andrew Abbott silences the Astros through six shutout innings, scattering four hits and two walks, while picking up his third win in as many starts in a 2-1 decision. Abbott becomes the first pitcher in MLB history to allow no runs through five or more innings in each of his first three starts. With an infusion of youth that includes Abbott and top prospect Elly De La Cruz, the Reds have won 14 of their past 20 games and have reached .500 with a 35-35 record—just a half-game behind the first-place Brewers in the weak NL Central.

Later out in Los Angeles, the Dodgers look to debutante Emmet Sheehan to relieve an exhausted pitching staff—and he delivers, tossing six no-hit innings with two walks against the Giants before departing with 89 pitches and a 4-0 lead. The Dodgers’ bullpen then comes to the rescue—not. Brusdar Graterol immediately blows up the combo no-hit bid by allowing a single to the first batter he faces (Thairo Estrada), sparking a two-run Giants rally in advance of a 7-5, 11-inning San Francisco victory that features a bizarre comedy of errors involving both teams in the final frame.

Sheehan is the third MLB pitcher to be removed with six or more no-hit innings in his major league debut. As with one of the other two on the list—Ross Stripling, in 2016—both were Dodgers pitchers removed for a reliever who immediately gave up a hit, before the team lost in extra innings—both times, to the Giants.

The Marlins’ Luis Arraez makes up for lost time, snapping a 0-for-15 slump with his second five-hit game of the month, including his second home run of the season, to help give Miami a 6-5 win at Washington. With the big effort, Arraez catapults his MLB-best batting average back toward the .400 barrier he earlier had been toying with, at .390; he joins Gary Sheffield and Juan Pierre as the only Marlins with multiple five-hit games.

Saturday, June 17

The Dodgers suffer their worst home shutout loss ever at Dodger Stadium—and their worst since 1898—as they get pummeled by the Giants, 15-0. There’s no hint of a rout early on as starting Los Angeles pitcher Bobby Miller, who hadn’t allowed more than a run in either of his previous four career starts, takes a shutout into the fifth inning—but the roof caves in as the Giants notch four runs in the fifth, followed by five in the sixth, three in the seventh and three more in the ninth. The worst loss for the Dodgers at their current home of 62 years via run differential remains -16, also against the Giants in a 19-3 game from 2013.

It looks like the same ol’-same ol’ for the Royals, losers of 10 straight games and trailing the Angels, 8-2, after the seventh-inning stretch and Shohei Ohtani’s MLB-leading 23rd home run of the year. Then, suddenly, the Royals erupt; they score three in the seventh, followed by another three in the eighth to tie and, in the ninth after the Angels retake the lead by a run, walk it off on an RBI single from Samad Taylor—playing in his first MLB game—for a 10-9 victory. Taylor is only the second player in Kansas City history, after Kevin Seitzer in 1986, to have a game-winning hit in his first major league game.

White Sox shortstop Zach Remillard, playing his first game at the top level after replacing an injured Tim Anderson in the fourth inning, does one better than Taylor. His RBI single in the top of the ninth at Seattle ties the game, and two innings later pokes out another base hit to give Chicago the ultimate winning run in a 4-3 decision. The 29-year-old Remillard, who also earlier walked and placed down a bunt hit, is the first player in modern (post-1900) MLB history with both a game-tying hit and go-ahead hit in the ninth inning or later in his big-league debut.

Sunday, June 18

Struggling White Sox pitcher Lance Lynn takes a 6.75 ERA into Seattle and strikes out a club record-tying 16 Mariners in just seven innings of work—but it’s still not enough to avoid his eighth loss of the year, as he’s outdueled by Bryce Miller (one run allowed over seven innings) in a 5-1 loss. Lynn allows three runs on four hits; he now shares the franchise strikeout mark once solely owned by Jack Harshman during a 1954 game.

The Mariners are lifted offensively by Julio Rodriguez, who knocks in Seattle’s first two runs on a third-inning double, and steals his 40th career base. Along with 40 career homers, Rodriguez reaches 40-40 in his 200th major league game; only Fernando Tatis Jr. (185 games) reached the same combination of numbers in fewer games.

The Braves remain potent on offense, racking up a 14-6 victory over the visiting Rockies behind four home runs (two by Eddie Rosario) and a 453-foot blast from Michael Harris II—the latter being the 16th of at least 450 in length this season by an Atlanta player. No other team not named the Rockies have hit that many at that distance for an entire season since the Statcast Era began in 2015.

Harris is the first Braves player batting ninth to have a five-hit game; he’s hitting .383 in June after entering the month with a .174 season average.

In being swept by the Braves, the Rockies surrender 12 home runs—the most they’ve allowed in a four-game series in franchise history. And this series was played away from Coors Field.

Monday, June 19

Luis Arraez pokes out five hits for the second time in three games and brings his average back over the .400 mark in the Marlins’ 11-0 rout of the Blue Jays in Miami. All five of Arraez’s hits are singles; he’s the first player with a pair of five-hit performances in a three-game stretch since Roberto Clemente did it in back-to-back games in 1970 (though one of those games went 16 innings), and he’s the fourth MLB player since 1900 to have three five-hit games in a calendar month—joining George Sisler (August 1921), Ty Cobb (July 1922) and Dave Winfield (June 1984).

Arraez’s five hits makes him the first player to reach 100 on the season; later in the same game, the Blue Jays’ Bo Bichette will become the second, as his second hit on the night gives him an even 100 for the year.

Playing his first game in 10 months, Joey Votto makes for a triumphant return to the Reds—blasting a two-run home run and later driving in what will ultimately be the game-winning tally on a sixth-inning single as Cincinnati takes its ninth straight victory, 5-4 over the visiting Rockies. With their latest win, the Reds take over first place in the NL Central by a half-game over Milwaukee.

After an 0-11 start to the year, Kansas City’s Jordan Lyles looks to have his first win of the season in sight. But after he departs in the seventh inning at Detroit with a 4-1 lead, Royals reliever Taylor Clarke allows both baserunners he inherits from Lyles to score on a Jake Rogers single; four batters later, Kerry Carpenter belts a three-run homer off Clarke to give the Tigers a 6-4 lead. That score will remain to the finish. The Royals have lost all 15 games in which Lyles has started this season; that sets an MLB record for the longest such streak to begin a season.

A day after Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez became the second fastest player to reach 40 homers and 40 steals to start a career, Arizona’s Corbin Carroll becomes the second fastest—again, after Fernando Tatis Jr.—to reach 20-20, hitting his 20th career homer (and 16th of the year) in the Diamondbacks’ 9-1 squashing of the Brewers in Milwaukee. Carroll reaches 20-20 in 102 games; Tatis needed 97.

The baseball world is saddened by the loss of two relievers. Dick Hall, who passes at the age of 92, actually began his major league career as an outfielder with the Pirates of the 1950s, but after sputtering at the plate for three years was given a shot on the mound as a pitcher—and he performed more competently. It led to an extended life in MLB; he moved on from the Pirates to Baltimore in 1961, spending much of the next decade with the Orioles and appearing in three World Series, not allowing an earned run over three games totaling 3.1 innings. In 16 years of pitching, Hall posted a 93-75 record, 3.32 ERA and 71 saves over 495 appearances.

George Frazier is best known to baseball historians for losing three games as a New York Yankees reliever in the 1981 World Series against the Dodgers, but he survived that nightmare and put together a 10-year career with a 35-43 record, 4.20 ERA and 29 saves over 415 appearances; he made mild amends at the Fall Classic by pitching two scoreless innings in his lone relief outing for the 1987 Twins and collected a ring as Minnesota won in seven over the Cardinals. After his career ended, Frazier served as the color analyst for the Rockies from 1998-2015. He dies at the age of 68 after a “brief illness” in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Tuesday, June 20

It’s Reunion Night for Justin Verlander as the former Astro returns to Houston for the first time in the uniform of the New York Mets—and gets outdueled by former mate Framber Valdez in the Astros’ 4-2 victory. The 40-year-old Verlander lasts seven innings and concedes all four Houston runs; he’s now 2-4 with a 4.50 ERA in nine starts for New York. Valdez, who’s acquired Verlander’s job as the Houston ace, doesn’t allow a baserunner through his first five frames; he ultimately allows two runs over eight innings to improve to 7-5 with a 2.27 ERA.

Four different teams have active winning streaks of six or more games, led by the Reds—who triumph for the 10th straight time with an 8-6 home win over the Rockies. It’s the Reds’ longest win streak since 2012; in modern times, they’ve had only three longer streaks, topped by a 13-game run from 1918-19. TJ Friedl has four hits including a home run, while rookie Elly De La Cruz adds a long ball himself among three hits.

Cincinnati is one of three teams with a winning record—and a run differential in the minus column. The Reds are 39-35 with a -16 difference; the Brewers are 38-35 and -22, and the Marlins—10 games above .500, at 42-32—have scored 15 runs less than they’ve allowed. If all of that isn’t mind-blowing, check this out; during their 10-game run, the Reds have fewer hits and walks than their opponents.

MLB did it at the Little League World Series and the Field of Dreams farm in Iowa—and now, it has announced that Rickwood Field, baseball’s oldest standing ballpark, will host a 2024 game between the Cardinals and Giants honoring the Negro Leagues. The Birmingham, Alabama-based ballyard, built in 1910 and currently seating 10,000, was home to the Birmingham Black Barons from 1924-60; one of their players was a very young Willie Mays, one of the few remaining living ex-ballplayers who once played in the Negro Leagues.

Wednesday, June 21

The Reds extend their winning streak to 11—their longest since 1957, and two shy of the modern franchise record—as Jake Fraley’s two-run, tie-breaking homer in the bottom of the eighth helps seal a 5-3 home win over the Rockies, who lose their eighth straight. Cincinnati is the first MLB team since 1890 to have a winning streak of at least 11 games following a 100-loss season.

Falling 1.5 games behind the first-place Reds in the NL Central are the Brewers, who drop a 5-1 decision to the Diamondbacks at Milwaukee. Arizona uses pitching (Zac Gallen, allowing a run on three hits through seven innings), patience (nine walks), and speed to capture the victory, stealing seven bases—including two each from Corbin Carroll and Geraldo Perdomo—to tie a franchise record also accomplished in 2000 and 2015. With 16 home runs thus far, Carroll has joined the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. as serious threats for a 40-40 season.

A combined force of seven Dodgers relievers overcome another stellar start for Shohei Ohtani (seven innings, one run allowed on five hits with 12 strikeouts) as they limit the Angels to only two hits—both by Luis Rengifo—in a 2-0 shutout win at Anaheim. Solo homers from Freddie Freeman and Miguel Vargas power the Dodgers offensively.

Thursday, June 22

The first-place Twins return to the .500 mark in the AL Central with noteworthy performances both at the plate and on the mound in a 6-0 home win over the Red Sox. Byron Buxton belts two solo home runs over 460 feet, the first major leaguer since Mike Napoli since 2013 to accomplished that feat; his twin blasts back a superb effort by Twins pitcher Joe Ryan, who allows just three hits and no walks as he becomes the first Minnesota pitcher since 2018 to throw both a complete game and shutout. It’s Ryan’s first CG in 47 career starts.

The Red Sox drop to 39-37, bad enough for last place in the AL East—but they’d be a game ahead of the first-place Twins (38-38) in the AL Central.

The Giants see an end to their 10-game win streak—their longest since 2004—as the visiting Padres pound their way to a 10-0 win. Gary Sanchez and Manny Machado each belt three-run homers early to set the pace; Blake Snell strikes out 11 batters with no walks through six innings, followed by two Padres relievers who add three more Ks also without allowing a pass. For the Giants, only once had they struck out more in a game without a walk—and that occurred in 2014 when they went down on strikes 16 times against the Dodgers.

Friday, June 23

Something’s got to give as the Reds—winners of 11 straight games—host the Braves (riding an eight-game win streak) before a packed house at Great American Ball Park. The fabulous game that follows, featuring 21 runs, nine homers and six steals, clearly shows that both teams—and especially Reds rookie Elly De La Cruz—are in no mood to lose. The Braves bolt out to a 5-0 lead in the first. The Reds claw back over the next four innings to tie the game. Atlanta scores twice to reclaim the lead at 7-5, but quickly sees it evaporate as the Reds rack up a four-spot in the bottom of the fifth and two more in the sixth to drive out in front, 11-7. Cincinnati will then hold its breath in the eighth when Reds reliever Lucas Sims surrenders three solo homers to the Braves, closing the gap to 11-10. In the ninth, closer Alexis Diaz walks the second man he faces, but gets his 21st save in 21 tries as Orlando Arcia next grounds into a game-ending double play.

Headliner status on the night deservedly belongs to De La Cruz, who in just his 15th major league game hits for the cycle—the 11th in Reds history (the sixth since the modern era) and the first since Eric Davis, wearing the same number (44) as De La Cruz, in 1989. De La Cruz also steals a base, making him not only the first modern-era Reds player to have the cycle and a steal, but also the first modern MLB player to do so within his first 15 career games. The other Reds hero of the night is veteran Joey Votto, who’s 18 years older than De La Cruz; in just his fourth game back after missing 10 months to injury, Votto smacks two home runs—including a three-run shot in the fifth that puts the Reds ahead for good. Matt Olson drills two of the Braves’ five home runs in a spirited losing effort.

The Reds are in win mode despite a starting rotation that fields a 5.81 ERA; only the mile-high Rockies (6.30) and pathetic A’s (6.37) are worse. Luke Weaver, the starting pitcher against the Braves, has a 0-0 record and 6.57 over his last eight starts—and yet, the Reds have won five of those eight games.

Elsewhere, three teams entering the night with losing streaks of eight or more all end up on the winning side, in dramatic fashion.

In Miami, the Pirates overcome seven shutout innings from the Marlins’ Jesus Luzardo and rally for three runs in the ninth off closer A.J. Puk to take a 3-1 victory and end a 10-game skid. In defeat, the Marlins’ Luis Arraez collects three of his team’s seven hits to increase his MLB-leading batting average to .402.

In Toronto, the A’s end their latest losing snap as Sean Langeliers deposits a one-out, tie-breaking solo homer in the ninth to give Oakland a 5-4 win over the Blue Jays. The victory ends an eight-game losing streak—which was preceded by a streak of seven wins, and a five-game slide before that. For the Blue Jays, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hits his 10th homer of the year—but only his first at Rogers Centre. He hit 19 of his 32 homers at home last season, and 31 of his 48 there in 2021.

Finally in Denver, the Rockies end an eight-game skid of their own, overcoming a 4-3 deficit and back-to-back homers from Shohei Ohtani (his MLB-leading 25th) and Mike Trout as Elias Diaz’s eight-inning grand slam powers Colorado to a 7-4 win.

Before their game, the Angels make a trade as they acquire veteran infielder Eduardo Escobar from the Mets for two minor league pitchers. The 34-year-old Escobar hit .236 in part-time play for New York, hitting four homers with 16 RBIs over 110 at-bats.

Saturday, June 24

The Angels set franchise records in runs, hits and margin of victory at Colorado against the Rockies—who suffer their worst-ever defeat—in a 25-1 demolishment. Los Angeles reserves most of its damage to the third inning, plating 13 to tie another franchise mark; the massive rally includes three home runs from Mike Trout, Brandon Drury and Matt Thaiss—on three consecutive pitches. With another eight runs in the fourth, the Angels are the first team in modern MLB history to pile up 20 or more over back-to-back innings. Everyone in the Angels’ starting lineup collects at least one run and one RBI; Hunter Renfroe and Mickey Moniak each contribute five hits, the second pair of Angels to each grab five in the same game. (Mo Vaughn and Randy Velarde also grouped for five hits apiece in a 1999 game.) Again, to emphasize this point: There were 15 five-hit games for the entire 2022 season. So far this year—just short of the halfway point—there have already been 22.

You might be thinking, wow—Shohei Ohtani must have had a big night. No, he didn’t; he finishes with a single in seven at-bats, striking out twice and grounding into a double play.

Baseball makes a belated return to England, as the Cubs pounce on the Cardinals, 9-1, three years after their originally scheduled series at London Stadium was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Home runs are not as plentiful as they were when the Yankees and Red Sox combined for 10 during their two-game series in 2019, the first ever held in England; the Cubs’ Ian Happ belts two of the three round-trippers hit in this game, over fences moved back from the series four years ago.

The crowd of 54,662 at the home of soccer’s West Ham United is the largest this season for an MLB game. It will be surpassed the next day by the second game in the series, with 55,562 watching the Cardinals earning a two-game split in a 7-5 victory.

The Reds’ 12-game win streak comes to an end as the visiting Braves drill four home runs to prevail before another sellout crowd at Cincinnati, 7-6. Two solo homers in the ninth by the Reds’ Jake Fraley and Will Benson cut the lead to a single run, but Atlanta closer Raisel Iglesias otherwise strikes out the side to barely preserve the victory. The modern mark for consecutive wins in modern Reds history remains 13; counting 19th-Century games, the longest run is 14, set in 1899.

The Royals finally win a game that Jordan Lyles starts. The veteran right-hander allows four runs over six innings at Tampa Bay, but more crucially gets big-time support as Kansas City downs the Rays, 9-4. Not only is it Lyles’ first win after a 0-11 start, but it’s the first time this year that the Royals have won with him on the mound; their 0-15 mark when Lyles takes the mound is the longest streak to begin a season in major league history.

In defeat, the Rays’ Wander Franco has two hits including his ninth homer of the year; it’s his first contest back after being grounded by the team for two games due to lackadaisical play.

The Yankees eke past the Rangers at New York, 1-0, once again without an injured Aaron Judge—who tells reporters before the game that he may be out longer than originally anticipated. Originally, the injury suffered to Judge’s toe while crashing into the bullpen fence at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium on June 3 was considered to be a sprain, but the reigning AL MVP says there’s actually a torn ligament within the toe, and he needs to “knock out the rehab stuff” to let it heal.

With and without Judge, the Yankees have been night and day; they’re 31-19 when he’s been in the lineup, and 11-16 when he’s not.

Sunday, June 25

Toronto’s George Springer hits his 55th career leadoff home run in the bottom of the first against the visiting Athletics, placing him in sole possession of second place on the all-time list of such homers behind Rickey Henderson (81). The blast is just the beginning of a 12-1 rout for the Blue Jays, who hand the A’s their 60th defeat of the season (against just 20 wins).

With doubles in the sixth and eighth innings against the Astros at Los Angeles, the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman becomes the third major leaguer this season—after the White Sox’ Elvis Andrus and Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen—to reach 2,000 career hits. Freeman’s pair of two-baggers—which gives him an MLB-leading 27 on the year—make up Freeman’s first multi-hit game in two weeks, but it’s not enough to advance the Dodgers as they bow to the Astros in 11 innings, 6-5.

Freeman likely won’t be the last player to reach 2,000 hits this year; Jose Altuve, who sits out the Houston win with a sore heel, is only 39 away from reaching the milestone himself.

The headline writers at New York’s quasi-tabloid dailies are going to have a field day after the Mets stumble and bumble their way to a 7-6 loss at Philadelphia. With a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth, the Mets’ Josh Walker allows the first three batters to reach, two via walk. Jeff Brigham takes over for Walker, but things only get worse. A Brett Baty throwing error brings home one run. Brigham then walks another run in—and then two more by hitting both Kyle Schwarber and Trea Turner with the bases loaded, giving the Phillies a 7-6 lead they’ll hold to the end. With the loss, the Mets—baseball’s first $300 million team—drops to 35-42, 15 games behind first-place Atlanta and a full five back of third-place Philadelphia in the NL East.

A day after getting historically blown away by the Angels, 25-1, the Rockies rebound to grab a 4-3 victory at Coors Field—taking two out of three in the series. The -20 run differential by Colorado against the Angels is the second worst by a team winning a series in MLB history—behind the -24 registered by the 1897 Louisville Colonels against the Cubs (then known as the Colts), whose only victory of the series was a 36-7 mega-rout.

If you had Seattle’s Teoscar Hernandez on the bingo card as the first player to strike out 100 times this year, congrats—you’ve won. Hernandez whiffs twice in the Mariners’ 3-2 loss at Baltimore to reach 100 on the year; he’s on pace for 213, which would still be 10 short of the all-time mark held by Mark Reynolds from 2009.

Monday, June 26

In the conclusion of a wacky best-of-three series to finish the Men’s College World Series, LSU obliterates Florida, 18-4, to take its seventh national championship in Omaha, Nebraska. Only USC (with 12 titles) has won more. LSU’s rout comes just a day after they were pummeled by the Gators, 24-4—the most runs ever scored by one team in a MCWS game.

The Braves dismiss the Twins at Atlanta, 4-1, to improve to a NL-best 51-27; only idle Tampa Bay (54-27) has a better record in the majors. Second-year pitcher Spencer Strider allows a run on three hits through seven innings with 10 strikeouts, the fifth time this season he’s recorded double-digits Ks; his 146 for the season leads all major leaguers, and he’s on pace to set the modern franchise record held by John Smoltz (276 in 1996).

For the record, Charlie Buffinton holds the ballclub’s pre-modern mark—with 417 over a Herculean 587 innings as he posted a 48-16 record and 2.15 ERA in 1884.

Tuesday, June 27

Just give Shohei Ohtani the damn AL MVP now. The Angels’ dual threat has another great night of baseball multitasking, allowing a run on four hits through 6.1 innings with 10 strikeouts, while belting two homers—increasing his MLB-best total to 28—to help give himself and his team a 4-2 victory over the White Sox at Anaheim. Chicago threatens to deny Ohtani’s seventh win of the year as they score a run and load the bases with nobody out in the ninth, but Angels closer Carlos Estevez recovers and gets out of the jam for his 20th save in as many opportunities this season.

Ohtani is the sixth modern-era pitcher—and the first AL hurler since Pedro Ramos in 1963—to have 10 strikeouts and two homers in the same game. 

For a guy who’s labeled a once-in-a-century talent, it’s remarkable how many empty seats there are at Angel Stadium when he pitches. The crowd of 33,637 for Ohtani’s latest dual-gem is 12,000 below capacity. There should be an easy sellout for every game he both pitches and hits.

The Giants win on the road for the 10th straight time, their longest such streak since 1952, as they shut down the Blue Jays at Toronto, 3-0. It’s the first time they’ve faced former Giants in pitcher Kevin Gausman (six innings, a run allowed on three hits, 12 strikeouts) and first baseman Brandon Belt (a double in four at-bats) since those two players played their last game in San Francisco. Camilo Doval gets the final four outs for his NL-leading 23rd save.

Losing the game against the Giants probably isn’t the worst result on the day for the Blue Jays. Down in Florida, Alek Manoah gets his first pitching action since being demoted all the way down to the rookie-level Florida Complex League—and gets hammered for 11 runs in just 2.2 innings of work against the Yankees’ rookie team from the circuit. This says one of two things: Either Manoah is absolutely, completely lost, or the Yankees have one hell of a pack of prospects bottled up in the Sunshine State.

A day after suffering a sprain in his left elbow pitching against the Rangers, veteran Tigers southpaw Matthew Boyd will undergo Tommy John surgery, costing him the rest of this season and possibly all of 2024 as well. Boyd thus finishes 2023 with a 5-5 record and 5.45 ERA; though he’s often been held in enough esteem to be much discussed at the trading deadline, he’s remained a Tiger since 2015 and has never won more than nine games in a season.

Wednesday, June 28

The Yankees’ Domingo German ends baseball’s perfect game drought, retiring all 27 batters he faces in New York’s 11-0 win at Oakland for the first perfecto thrown since Felix Hernandez in 2012. It’s the 24th perfect game in MLB history, the first by a Dominican-born pitcher, and the fourth by a Yankees pitcher (including Don Larsen’s legendary 1956 World Series effort). No other team has thrown as many or more.

German’s gem, on 99 pitches with nine strikeouts, is all the more remarkable given that he had given up 17 runs (15 earned) in 5.1 innings over his previous two starts. He is, in fact, the first pitcher to throw a perfect game after conceding 10 runs in his previous outing. 

No previous MLB pitcher threw a no-hitter—let alone a perfect game—wearing #0 on his back; it’s the only non-retired single-digit number left for the Yankees. 

Working the A’s TV broadcast booth during German’s perfecto is Dallas Braden, who himself threw a perfect game in 2010.

After a public pep talk sprinkled with some veiled threats from Mets lord Steve Cohen, his team goes out and loses once again, 5-2 to the visiting Brewers, to fall to 36-44. That’s a record that Cohen didn’t have in mind when he raised payroll to an unprecedented $355 million for 2023. Not even Kodai Senga, something of a darling among Mets fans in his first year this side of the Pacific, can save the Mets. Senga is good—allowing two runs over five innings with eight strikeouts—but the Mets’ bullpen can’t hold a 2-2 tie, while the team’s bats can’t break it in their favor.

During his news conference before the game, Cohen calmly suggests there’s still plenty of time to turn the season around. “All is not lost yet,” he says, adding, “but it’s getting a little late”—a possible word of warning to veteran manager Buck Showalter and his coaching staff, who would likely be among the first casualties should the losing continue, despite Cohen’s guarantees to the contrary.

Thursday, June 29

The starters for the upcoming 93rd All-Star Game in Seattle on July 11 are announced with few surprises. Among those selected are eight first-time starters, two of those rookies (Texas third baseman Josh Jung and Arizona outfielder Corbin Carroll); the Rangers lead all teams with a club-record four starters, while the Braves have three to pace the NL.

In terms of seniority, the Angels’ Mike Trout earns his 10th All-Star start; the Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Cardinals’ Nolan Arenado each get their fifth.

Following is the full list of starters for both leagues:

National League
Catcher—Sean Murphy, Atlanta
First Base—Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles
Second Base—Luis Arraez, Miami
Third Base—Nolan Arenado, St. Louis
Shortstop—Orlando Arcia, Atlanta
Outfield—Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta
Outfield—Corbin Carroll, Arizona
Outfield—Mookie Betts, Los Angeles
Designated Hitter—J.D. Martinez, Los Angeles

American League
Catcher—Jonah Heim, Texas
First Base—Yandy Diaz, Tampa Bay
Second Base—Marcus Semien, Texas
Third Base—Josh Jung. Texas
Shortstop—Corey Seager, Texas
Outfield—Aaron Judge, New York
Outfield—Mike Trout, Los Angeles
Outfield—Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay
Designated Hitter—Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles

Our picks do not totally gel with those of the voters. Though Trout is a no-doubt-about-it future Hall of Famer, we feel that, this season anyway, his reputation proceeds him—and that the Rangers’ Adolis Garcia (20 homers, 66 RBIs) is more deserving of a start for the AL. We also would have opted for the Guardians’ Jose Ramirez at third base over Jung, and the Orioles’ Adley Rutschman over Heim at the AL catcher spot. (Curiously, Rutschman had more votes than Heim in the first-round general vote—but lost out to the Rangers’ backstop in a head-to-head duel during the second round.) 

On the NL side, we won’t quibble too much with Arcia’s inclusion at short—but man, Cincinnati rookie Matt McLain certainly deserves at least a spot on the roster as a reserve.

On the field, Ohtani continues to have an astonishing June, cracking his 14th homer of the month late in the Angels’ 9-7 home loss to the White Sox. That sets a franchise mark for a calendar month; five players previously shared the record of 13, including Ohtani himself from June of 2021.

Boston’s Brayan Bello takes a no-hitter into the eighth inning at Fenway Park when he’s greeted with back-to-back singles from the visiting Marlins; Bello will depart and the Marlins will net a single tally in the rally, adding insurance in the ninth to shut down the Red Sox, 2-0, and finish a three-game sweep. This is only the third season in Marlins franchise history that they’ve reached 14 games above .500; in the other two years, they won the World Series (1997 and 2003).

For the Red Sox, they take a no-hitter into the eighth for the second time this year. Both times, they end up losing the game.

Friday, June 30

The Marlins, feeling pretty good about themselves of late, bring some swagger into Atlanta to take on the first-place Braves—who bring their lumber. In the first meeting between the two teams since the start of May, the Braves unload on Miami, hammering six home runs—including two from NL leader Matt Olson—to devastate the Marlins, 16-4. Atlanta finishes the month with 61 homers, setting a NL record previously held by the Dodgers from August 2020; the Braves’ 153 for the year are the most by any MLB team through the first 81 games of a season. They’re just a tad behind pace to reset the season mark of 307 established by the 2019 Twins.

Atlanta’s win, its seventh in eight meetings against Miami this year, increases its NL East lead to seven games.

The young’uns continue to do their thing for the Reds. Against the Padres at Cincinnati, the Reds overcome Alexis Diaz’s first blown save of the year and a two-run deficit in the 10th as rookie shortstop (and deserving All-Star) Matt McLain launches a two-run, two-out, 421-foot homer to tie the score anew; an inning later, fellow rookie Spencer Steer drills another long ball 434 feet to finish off a 7-5 victory. According to STATS, it’s the first time in MLB history that one rookie hits a game-tying homer and another belts a winner, both in extra innings for the same team in the same game.

Another night, another loss for the badly fading Mets, this time at home against the Giants—and again, in typical Mets fashion. A 4-2 New York lead in the eighth is erased when rookie catcher Patrick Bailey cranks a three-run homer off reliever David Robertson; in the ninth, the Mets—who came into the game having stolen 35 straight bases without getting caught, pick a fine time for the streak to end as Bailey throws out pinch-runner Starling Marte to extinguish a last-chance rally. The 5-4 loss drops the high-priced Mets to a season-worst 10 games below .500, at 36-46.

The Angels suffer a 6-2 loss to the visiting Diamondbacks, but the consolation prize for the 34,957 at Anaheim is the latest feat of strength from the incomparable Shohei Ohtani. In the sixth inning, the DH/pitcher launches a 493-foot solo home run that’s the longest of his career, the longest by anyone this season, and the longest in the 58-year history of Angel Stadium—besting a 482-foot drive from Nelson Cruz in 2012. Ohtani’s blast gives him 30 for the year—half of those hit in June.

In a trade that makes too much sense, the last-place (23-59) Royals trade reliever Aroldis Chapman, a needless asset in the Kansas City bullpen with Scott Barlow currently assigned to the closer role, to the Texas Rangers for reliever Cole Ragans and a minor leaguer. The Rangers aren’t hurting for a closer—Will Smith (14 saves, 2.73 ERA) seems to be doing just fine in that spot—but the addition of Chapman (2.45 ERA, two saves in 31 appearances for the Royals) will certainly fortify a Texas bullpen as it seeks to maintain its hold on first place in a tough AL West with the Astros and Angels chasing not far behind.

The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits  Take a look back at the daily doings of baseball with the TGG Comebacker archive.