This Great Game Comebacker

The Month That Was in Baseball: May 2024

Is Paul Skenes the Real Thing?    Josh Gibson, Your New All-Time Batting Leader
Departed Angel: The Umpire Everyone Loves to Hate Retires

April 2024    Comebacker Index 


Wednesday, May 1

The Minnesota Twins are the first team this season with a 10-game winning streak, reaching double figures with a 10-5 triumph at Chicago against the abysmal White Sox (6-25) before a crowd much smaller than the 12,216 officially reported. It’s the longest win streak for the Twins since 2006; even despite the impressive run, they’re still in fourth place within the suddenly competitive AL Central with a 17-13 record. 

The news is not all good on the day for the Twins. In the second inning, oft-injured Byron Buxton suffers a leg injury on an attempted steal of second, not even bothering to slide as he feels the pain; in a bizarre epilogue to the moment, first base umpire Rob Drake shouts at Buxton, shown gingerly and slowly walking off the field, to hurry up and get back to the dugout—apparently unaware that he’s hurt. Buxton will be diagnosed with knee inflammation and be placed on the injured list; he’ll be out for the next 17 days. 

Alex Call’s RBI single in the second inning is all the Washington Nationals need to defeat the Texas Rangers at Arlington, 1-0, bringing their record to an even .500 at 15-15. Nationals starter Trevor Williams performs not one but two Houdini acts, escaping a pair of bases-loaded, no-out jams as he ultimately tosses five shutout innings and improves to 3-0. Jacob Young, the Nationals’ second-year center fielder, is caught stealing in the ninth; it’s his first career CS after being successful in 25 previous attempts, which left him four thefts short of the all-time record to start a career held by Tim Locastro

Thursday, May 2

The Cleveland Guardians lose at Houston, 8-2, which is somewhat surprising given their impressive (20-11) start—especially in contrast with the Astros’ unimpressive (11-20) beginning to the year—but it also ends a major league-record streak of four straight extra-inning games for the Guardians. They had split their four previous games, three of which had gone 10 innings and the other 11. In winning, Houston gets a boost from once-and-current Astro Jon Singleton, who homers for the second time in his last three games and is looking good after having his career delayed nearly a decade from a mix of inefficiency and substance abuse. 

Take Fenway Park and add a little Yastrzemski, and what you get is magic. Mike Yastrzemski, the 33-year-old grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski—who played 24 years for the Red Sox at Boston’s iconic ballpark—opens the scoring for San Francisco in the third inning of a game the Giants will eventually win, 3-1, avoiding a three-game sweep. Mike’s day is boosted in advance by the appearance of Carl, making a rare (and brief) pregame visit to Fenway and the Giants’ clubhouse to say hi. Why so brief? “I think he left the car running when he was in here,” Mike joked—maybe. 

In six career games at Fenway, Mike Yastrzemski is batting .300 with a pair of homers. 

The Bally Sports mess only gets worse, with Comcast announcing that it’s dropping the bankrupt sports network from its menu of channels—affecting a good chunk of viewers in 12 MLB cities whose teams use Bally to broadcast their games. Some view this as the typical tug-of-war that takes place when cable companies temporarily black out a channel during negotiations with a network, informing viewers that the network is to blame. But it’s more complex than that, as Bally is facing a bankruptcy hearing in June that could salvage or sink its operations—and Comcast could thus be using the situation as leverage. Then there’s MLB, which is staying out of the fight for now, as it eyes a day when it can take total control of streaming rights for virtually all of its teams. In the meantime, of course, it’s the viewers who are getting the short end of the stick. 

Friday, May 3

It’s barely a month into the season, and the Miami Marlins already appear to be throwing in the towel. In a stunning early-year move, the Marlins trade two-time batting champ Luis Arraez to the San Diego Padres for first-year reliever Woo-Suk Go and three minor leaguers including center fielder Dillon Head, the Padres’ top draft pick from 2023. After a slow start, Arraez has picked up steam and is currently batting .299. He figures to be slotted into the DH spot but could see action at his normal second base position, which is currently Xander Bogaerts’ territory. 

Without Arraez, the Marlins concede a 3-1 decision at Oakland to drop to 9-25 on the year. For the A’s, it’s their fifth straight win; they’re a surprising 15-10 since a 1-7 start. 

The Colorado Rockies, the only team with a worse record than the Marlins in the National League, wins for only the eighth time on the year with a 3-2 victory at Pittsburgh—but more historically, they never trail at any point, ending their official MLB-record streak of 31 straight games to begin a season in which they failed to have a lead in each. Ryan McMahon breaks a scoreless tie in the sixth with a solo home run that clears PNC Park’s right-field bleachers and bounces into the Allegheny River; the Pirates’ Oneil Cruz does the same in the ninth with a two-run shot that closes the lead to a run, but it’s there where the Pirates—who’ve lost eight out of nine—run out of gas. 

While the Rockies’ 31-game start trailing in each game will go into the record book, an asterisk needs to be applied to the 1957 Washington Senators, who trailed in each of their first 32 ‘completed’ contests; in the midst of that streak, the Senators started a game in which they never trailed, but was suspended and completed a month later. 

Jose Altuve adds to his Hall-of-Fame resume with his 300th career steal, part of a four-run rally in the seventh to lift the Houston Astros to a 5-3 home win over Seattle. Among active players, only Starling Marte (344) has more base thefts. The Astros’ uprising takes place an inning after the departure of Mariners starter George Kirby, who allows a run over six innings; in their last 20 games, Seattle starters have produced a terrific 1.47 ERA. 

The Baltimore Orioles shut down the Reds at Cincinnati, 3-0, behind Cole Irvin’s 6.1 shutout innings (allowing the Reds’ only two hits) and the 425th career save from Craig Kimbrel, who ties Boston’s Kenley Jansen for fifth on the all-time list as he strikes out the side in the ninth. Irvin’s outing gives him 20.2 consecutive shutout innings; the Orioles’ win ensures their 102nd straight regular season series without getting swept. 

Saturday, May 4

Luis Arraez’s debut with the Padres is a big hit—four of them, to be precise—as he hammers out three singles and a double for San Diego in a 13-1 stomping of the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix. The two-time batting champ plates the Padres’ first run in the first inning, and the first of eight tallies in the seventh as the Padres pull away. The four hits for Arraez represents a franchise record for one making his debut with the team.  

While the Padres surge with Arraez, his former team gets bombed in Oakland by the surprisingly hot A’s. A 10-run third inning propels the A’s to a 20-4 rout, giving Oakland its sixth straight win and an even .500 (17-17) record, not bad for a team virtually without a budget or a happy fan base—though 7,809 spectators, a decent turnout by A’s standards these days, tolerates a rain delay and the ancient Coliseum to watch. 

Brent Rooker homers twice in the A’s third-inning splurge, making him the first Athletic since Mark McGwire in 1996 to do so. Third baseman Brett Harris, batting ninth, also has two dingers in this, his second major league game; among A’s players, only Bert Campaneris had ever collected two homers among his first two games with the ballclub. 

The 20 runs are easily the most scored by an MLB team so far this season. 

Max Muncy bookends the scoring on the night for the Los Angeles Dodgers, going deep in the second and eighth innings—adding another in the seventh to give him his first career hat trick—as the Dodgers dismantle the visiting Atlanta Braves, 11-2. For all it’s historically worth, Shohei Ohtani adds his eighth home run since becoming a member of the Dodgers—breaking manager Dave Roberts’ franchise career mark for the most by a Japanese-born player. 

This is the 29th time that a Dodgers player has hit at least three homers in a game—with 12 of those taking place within just the last 12 years. 

The Twins make it 12 wins a row, as Pablo Lopez and four relievers compress the Boston Red Sox in a 3-1 victory at Minnesota. The winning streak is tied for the third-longest in franchise history, behind a 15-game run in 1991 (the last year the Twins won a World Series) and a 17-game streak back in 1912 when the team was known as the Washington Senators and was carried by Walter Johnson’s 33 wins, 1.39 ERA and 303 strikeouts. 

The streak will end the next day with a 9-2 loss against the Red Sox. 

Sunday, May 5

Maybe it’s a little too early to bring Alek Manoah back to the major league level. The burly Toronto pitcher, who looked like a star on the rise from 2021-22 with a combined 25-9 record and 2.62 ERA before shoulder woes led to a collapse and demotion to the minors last season, started this year with five minor league starts, winning none, losing two and posting an 8.69 ERA. Nevertheless, the Blue Jays feel okay bringing him back up. Result? Not so good. Manoah faces off against the Nationals at Washington and allows seven runs (six earned) on six hits and four walks through four innings before being rescued by the bullpen. The Nationals will ultimately take an 11-8 victory, overcoming a grand slam from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. while profiting from Luis Garcia Jr.’s four-hit day, including a home run and stolen base. 

The Mariners need a solo homer from Cal Raleigh in the ninth to tip the Astros at Houston, 5-4, but see the end of an impressive streak as Seattle starting pitcher Bryce Miller gives up all four Houston runs over six innings of work; thus ends a 21-game run in which a Mariners starter had allowed two or fewer earned runs, one game shy of the major league record. 

In Tampa Bay’s 7-6, 10-inning victory over the visiting Mets, the Rays’ Jose Caballero really makes life hard for New York on the basepaths despite having no hits on the day. Caballero reaches base three times via a walk, and appears in the 10th as the gift runner for the Rays, stealing third for his fourth theft of the day before scoring on Jonny DeLuca’s two-run triple to win the game. Caballero joins 11 other players who stole at least four bases without the benefit of a hit, the last of those being the Padres’ Everth Cabrera in 2012; Rickey Henderson, in a 1989 game for Oakland, is the only player who’s ever swiped five bags with no hits. 

The 27-year-old Caballero leads the AL with 13 steals. 

Monday, May 6

It’s Comeback Monday for three top-name pitchers who’ve been on the shelf for varying periods. 

In Los Angeles, Walker Buehler makes his first appearance in nearly two full years, giving up a pair of runs in the first inning, and later a third before ending his night after four frames, allowing three runs on six hits and no walks overall with four strikeouts. His Dodger teammates support him well, scoring all of their runs within the first three innings—topped by Shohei Ohtani’s MLB-leading 11th home run in a 6-3 victory over the visiting Marlins. 

In Chicago, ace Justin Steele ends a forced six-week hiatus with 4.2 shutout innings against the Padres; the bullpen collapses behind him, conceding all six San Diego runs in the sixth as the Cubs drop a 6-3 decision. 

And in St. Petersburg, Mike Clevinger makes his season debut for the White Sox and looks a bit rusty, giving up four runs (three earned) on six hits and four walks—with no strikeouts—in just two-plus innings of work as the Rays ease to an 8-2 victory over Chicago (8-27). 

Tuesday, May 7

Everybody in baseball is looking for that little extra edge. What we’re seeing during an at-bat is no different; hitters try to inch back and plant their back foot on (or beyond) the brushed-away batter’s box chalk, while catchers reach out with their gloves further than ever to improve pitch framing. The combination of both tactics has led to an alarming increase in contact between hitter and catcher, with injuries inevitable. 

And so it happens in St. Louis, where Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras extends his glove arm well into the batter’s box—only to have it smacked by the bat of the New York Mets’ J.D. Martinez. Contreras goes down in a heap, leaves the game and is later diagnosed with a broken arm; he is expected to miss six to eight weeks. (Adding insult to injury, Contreras is charged with catcher’s interference, thus awarding Martinez first base.) The veteran catcher was off to a good start for the Cardinals, batting .280 with six homers; he had doubled and scored as part of a three-run rally in the first inning against the Mets. After his departure, the Mets explode for six runs in the fifth, proving crucial in a 7-5 victory and dropping the Cardinals, trying to bounce back from a disappointing 2023 campaign, to a still-lackluster 15-21 record. 

Last year, there were 96 instances of catcher’s interference—easily, a major league record. Already this year, there have been 33; that paces out to an eye-opening 140 by season’s end. While catchers get the blame for sticking their gloves too far out in front, some of the onus should be reserved for batters who violate the batter’s box chalk, leading to contact with the catcher either on the front of the swing (as happened here with Martinez) or a back swing which sometimes lands on the catcher’s mask or helmet, leading to increased concussive injuries. MLB needs to stop obsessing with timing rules for a moment and look after the safety of the players. The league can’t do much about catchers like Contreras who put themselves at risk by sticking their glove out into the swing zone, but they can at least start instructing umpires to enforce the batter’s box rules for hitters. 

In the season’s first game of the Beltway Series between Baltimore and Washington, the Nationals shut down the Orioles, 3-0, improving to 18-17—the first time they’ve been above .500 since July 1, 2021, right before the team traded all its star talent, shut everything down and re-started from scratch. Of the nine players in the Nationals’ starting lineup for their win over the Orioles, only second baseman Luis Garcia Jr. was on the roster (but did not play) during that day three years ago. 

The three runs allowed by Baltimore starter Corbin Burnes breaks a string of seven straight games in which the Orioles had allowed no more than two—their longest such run since 1980. The franchise record remains 10 straight games, from both 1904 and 1974. 

Not far up I-95 from D.C., the Philadelphia Phillies remain the hottest team on the planet. Bryce Harper has a 3-for-3 day including a fourth-inning grand slam, Kody Clemens smacks a triple and home run, and Cristopher Sanchez tosses seven solid frames as the Phillies hum to a 10-1 rout of the Blue Jays. The Phillies have won 11 straight at Citizens Bank Park, and own the majors’ best record at 26-11. 

Wednesday, May 8

No one continues to hit the ball harder than Giancarlo Stanton. A day after belting a home run with the ball leaving his bat at 118.8 MPH, Stanton tops that with a 447-foot blast recorded at 119.9 MPH—part of a thoroughly enjoyable day for the Yankees and 37,660 fans at the Bronx as they defeat the Astros, 9-4, with Aaron Judge and Juan Soto also going deep.  Stanton’s homer is the hardest hit this year in the majors, and the fifth hardest in the so-called Statcast Era that began in 2015. Of the six hardest ever recorded by Statcast, Stanton’s name is on four of them. 

Chris Sale says hello to his former Boston mates and, six innings of six-hit, 10-K shutout ball later, says thank you very much and goodbye in Atlanta’s 5-0 home win over the Red Sox. The win is Sale’s fifth of the year, just one shy of his season total from last year, his last with the Red Sox. Offensively, Sale is supported by a pair of homers (and four RBIs) from Marcell Ozuna, who now leads the majors with 12. 

The Phillies are finally cooled off, as the visiting Blue Jays end Philadelphia’s 11-game home streak with a 5-3 victory. Chris Bassitt keeps a lid on the Phillies’ bats with two runs allowed on three hits over 6.1 innings, while Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Kevin Kiermaier have three hits each. 

Disgraced former Shohei Ohtani translator Ippei Mizuhara agrees to plead guilty to felony bank fraud and submitting a bogus tax return, meaning he will likely get a less harsher sentence than the maximum 33 years. He will also be required to pay Ohtani the $16,975,010 that he stole from the Dodger slugger’s bank account to feed his runaway gambling habit. 

Look out—here comes Paul Skenes. The supersonic pitching prospect, who’s been burning up opponents thus far in the minors—he’s struck out 45 of the 105 batters he’s faced while allowing three runs over 27.1 innings—is getting called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates, and is scheduled to the May 11 game at PNC Park against the Cubs. As of this day, the cheapest ticket to be found for the game is $40; the only other contest that day with a higher minimum ducat ($60) is at San Diego’s Petco Park, where a sellout is likely between NL West rivals in the Padres and Dodgers. 

Thursday, May 9

In a series noted for its sizzling and deep home runs, the Astros avoid a three-game sweep at New York against the Yankees with a 4-3 win, thanks to a pair of bruising round-trippers in the first inning from Yordan Alvarez and Jon Singleton, each of whom belt their drives at 115+ MPH. It’s the first time since Statcast went into business in 2015 that two 115+ homers were hit in the same inning by the same team; the Yankees’ Aaron Judge joins the crushing chorus in the eighth with a 473-foot solo blast that also leaves the bat at over 115 MPH—making this the first game in the Statcast Era with three homers clocked that fast in one game. 

Friday, May 10

The Cincinnati Reds, buffeted by two more steals from Elly De La Cruz and an inside-the-park home run from Stuart Fairchild, end an eight-game slide with a 4-2 victory at San Francisco. It’s the first within-the-fences round-tripper for a Reds player since 1977; De La Cruz, meanwhile, has 25 thefts this season—putting him on pace to be the first major leaguer to steal over 100 since Vince Coleman in 1987

De La Cruz has more stolen bases by himself than 15 other MLB teams—and nearly twice as many as the Giants (13), with only Colorado (12) having fewer. 

Sean Burroughs, a reliable third baseman for the San Diego Padres in the early 2000s, passes away at the age of 43, suffering cardiac arrest after dropping his son off at a Little League game in Long Beach, California. He is found unconscious next to his car; first responders are unable to revive him. Burroughs was the son of former slugger and 1974 AL MVP Jeff Burroughs, and was drafted in the first round of the 1998 Amateur Draft by the Padres. He played four years in San Diego, but his game faded while still in his mid-20s; mentally exhausted from the game, he stepped away and didn’t re-appear until 2011—having experienced a period of substance abuse and homelessness before cleaning up and restarting his life. He returned to the majors in 2011-12, doing brief spells with Arizona and Minnesota. Over seven seasons, Burroughs batted .278 with 12 home runs over 528 games. 

Saturday, May 11

One of the most eagerly anticipated debuts in recent memory takes place as pitcher Paul Skenes, baseball’s top prospect who’s been shutting down minor league opponents with authority and a 100+ MPH heater, takes the mound for the Pirates against the Cubs before 34,000 at PNC Park. His performance is nearly overshadowed by the utter inability of the Pirates’ bullpen to throw a strike. 

Through his first four innings, the 6’6”, right-handed Skenes allows one run (a Nico Hoerner solo home run) and strikes out seven—hitting 100 or 101 on the radar 17 times—but is removed in the fifth, with a 6-1 lead, when the first two Chicago batters reach on hits. Skenes is relieved by Kyle Nicolas, another rookie, who strikes out the first two batters he faces before disintegrating into a very credible impersonation of Steve Blass; he hits Ian Happ, loading the bases, then fails to find the strike zone on each of his next 12 pitches—walking three straight batters with the bases loaded. Inspired in the worst way, the next two Pirates pitchers to follow (Josh Fleming and Colin Holderman) combine to give up three more bases-loaded walks—with a rain delay of two-plus hours interrupting but not apparently breaking the momentum. Before the half-inning is all done, the Cubs score seven times—six on bases-loaded walks to tie an MLB record for one inning—on just three hits, two of those infield singles. All of this, and the Pirates still win, 10-9, as Andrew McCutchen’s fourth home run of the season in the sixth stands as the ultimate winning run. 

Skenes’ six fastest pitches—all at 101 MPH or above—are the six fastest thrown this year by an MLB starter. 

The Braves are one out away from their first no-hitter since 1994—and their first involving multiple pitchers since 1991—but a solo homer from the Mets’ J.D. Martinez off Raisel Iglesias, the third Atlanta pitcher of the night, spoils the bid. The Braves still win, 4-1, with Max Fried posting his second start of at least six no-hit innings over his last three appearances, with seven hitless frames at New York. 

Only one other Atlanta pitcher has been removed from two no-hit bids of at least six innings: Kent Mercker, who participated in the 1991 combo no-hitter, and was the man who pitched the last individual no-no in 1994. 

Sunday, May 12

St. Louis bounces back from a first-inning, 3-0 deficit to edge the Brewers at Milwaukee, 4-3, ending a seven-game skid. But it happens with Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol going berserk on umpires after they overturn, for the second time, a challenged call that goes in the Cardinals’ favor. On the surface, it doesn’t sound right, but Marmol is upset that he had to waste his two challenges early in the game on plays he would have rather been called correctly. Marmol’s apparent overreaction, he later said, was a tactic to get his team “fired up.” 

It’s still somewhat early in the season, but if you have Seth Lugo on your Bingo card for AL Cy Young Award, keep your hopes high. In Kansas City’s 4-2 win at Anaheim, the 34-year-old right-hander limits the Angels to a run on five hits through eight innings, with 12 strikeouts and no walks; as of the end of the day, Lugo leads the AL both in wins (six) and ERA (1.66). 

Only Luke Hochevar, in 2009, struck out more (13) without a walk in Royals history. 

For the first time in a year and a week, the Colorado Rockies complete a three-game sweep—brushing away the defending world champion Rangers with a 3-1 victory at Coors Field. The well-traveled Ty Blach picks up his first win of the year, allowing a run over five innings, while the defense turns three double plays and make several other outstanding defensive gems to keep the lid on the Rangers. 

Monday, May 13

The A’s appear, for now, to have survived the pitchfork rebellion phase of their intended move to Las Vegas. The Nevada Supreme Court has rejected a bid by Schools Over Stadiums (SOS), a group backed by state educational lobbyists, to place a referendum on this year’s ballot asking citizens to approve (or reject) $380 million in public funding for the A’s proposed Vegas ballpark. SOS vows to fight on, hoping to put a referendum on next year’s ballot, but if the A’s make more progress on the ballpark—with shovels perhaps soon going into the ground—its effort will lose even more steam. 

What might be going SOS’s way is that planning for the new ballpark remains murky. The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that the project’s status still remains in the rendition phase, with no concrete master plan for the 36-acre plot—of which only nine is currently reserved for a retractable-roof ballpark. The lack of progress in Las Vegas, meanwhile, is giving folks in Sacramento hope that their interim hosting of the A’s, scheduled to begin next season, will become permanent. But then they’ll have to come up with a major league venue of their own, as MLB will only tolerate the team’s use of 10,624 -seat Sutter Health Park over a temporary period. 

Tuesday, May 14

In a year loaded with unpleasant surprises this year for the Astros, pitcher Ronel Blanco has been one of the few pleasant ones. Now, perhaps, we know why. After throwing three shutout innings against the visiting A’s, Blanco is ejected shortly before the start of the fourth after it’s determined that he’s got, as later told by umpire Erich Bacchus, “the stickiest stuff I’ve felt on a glove…sticky enough that our fingers got stuck.” Blanco shakes his head as he walks off the field and later denies that any illegal substances were used—but after further investigation, MLB will suspend him for 10 games. Without Blanco, the Astros’ bullpen does its job—allowing a run on three hits over the next seven innings—as Houston takes a 2-1 victory in 10. 

Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium will soon come back to life, albeit with only 1,000 seats. Georgia Tech, whose football team plays across the street from the Braves’ old ballyard at what used to be their other old ballyard (the short-lived Turner Field), is planning to build a new ballpark for its baseball team in what’s currently a parking lot—but once upon a time the home of the Braves, from 1966-96. It’s not known whether the university will retain the exact placement and field dimensions of the old stadium, or whether the one historical remnant that remains—the portion of the outfield wall where Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run over in 1974—will stay. What is known is that Georgia Tech is planning on relocating a statue of Aaron, currently located in the plaza outside the gates of the former Turner Field, to just outside the new facility. 

Wednesday, May 15

The Orioles are three outs away from being swept in a regular season series for the first time in exactly two years, but Jordan Westburg reaches on an infield single—and then Adley Rutschman belts a two-run, walk-off home run to give Baltimore a 3-2 victory. Rutschman’s come-from-behind shot clinches the 105th straight series in which the Orioles haven’t been swept, the third longest streak in MLB history. 

Until the ninth, the only other run scored by the Orioles comes on Westburg’s leadoff homer in the first. It’s the second time this year that Baltimore has won two games in which they’ve produced both a leadoff first-inning homer and a walk-off; the only other team to do that twice in a season is, wait for it…the 1962 Mets. 

After playing two games at New York against the Mets to start the work week, the Phillies play host to their NL East rival and coast to a 10-5 victory, as Ranger Suarez allows two runs (both unearned) over five innings to improve to 8-0 on the year. No other pitcher has yet to win seven games this season. Suarez’s 1.37 ERA is the lowest ever by a Phillies starting pitcher through his first nine games of the season. 

One would think it wouldn’t take this long to happen, but Milwaukee’s Robert Gasser becomes the first pitcher in the franchise’s 56-year history to earn a win in each of his first two major league appearances, going the minimum five innings and allowing one run in a 10-2 home victory over Pittsburgh. Gasser is well supported, as his teammates send five long balls over the fence. 

Thursday, May 16

The Reds’ Elly De La Cruz steals the spotlight on a night when Dodger Stadium is jammed with fans arriving early to scoop up Shohei Ohtani bobbleheads. The 22-year-old shortstop reaches base five times, steals four bases—he’s caught attempting to notch a fifth, which would have tied a Reds franchise record—and scores three times in a 7-2 victory. Ohtani, meanwhile, is 0-for-2 with a walk before being replaced late in the game. But the fans have their bobbleheads—or most of them do, as there are 40,000 to hand out among the 53,000 in attendance. 

The seven runs allowed by the Dodgers breaks a team-record 22-game streak in which they had given up no more than four. The MLB record remains 29, shared by the 1909 Cubs and 1916 New York Giants, during their record 26-game win streak. 

Friday, May 17

For the second time within a week, the Cubs face the Pirates and Paul Skenes—making his second major league start—with the hope of having better knowledge on the hot young pitching prospect by virtue of having previously played against him. But it seems that Skenes has the Cubs more figured out than vice versa. Skenes strikes out the first seven Cubs he faces, on his way to six hitless innings—allowing just one walk—before departing after the sixth with 100 pitches, his last being measured at 100 MPH. A more mortal bullpen gives up three runs on four hits over the final three innings, but the Pirates’ offense had long since put the game out of doubt, easing to a 9-3 victory at Chicago. 

Skenes’ seven K’s to start the contest ties a franchise record for any time of the game, and is one short of the rookie record co-held by Jim Deshaies in 1986 and Jacob deGrom in 2014. His 11 overall strikeouts are the most by a Pirates pitcher in over 1,000 games played at Wrigley Field. 

Not to be outdone, Tampa Bay’s Tyler Alexander retires the first 22 Blue Jays at Toronto, but his bid for complete perfection abruptly ends as the next three batters get base hits (including a Davis Schneider home run), leading to Alexander’s exit. The 29-year-old southpaw still sets an individual mark with 7.1 innings and gets the win, as the Rays hold on to defeat the Jays, 4-3. 

The Giants receive devastating news as first-year center fielder Jung Hoo Lee will miss the rest of the season to undergo and recover from shoulder surgery after smashing into the Oracle Park fencing five days earlier. The former Korean star was batting .262 in his maiden MLB campaign, with a pair of home runs in 37 games while displaying Gold Glove-like defense in center. Without Lee, the Giants reach double digits for only the second time all season, coming from behind at home to knock out Colorado, 10-5, and end the Rockies’ seven-game win streak. Luis Matos, Lee’s replacement in center, gathers two doubles and a single with a career-high five RBIs. 

Saturday, May 18

For the second straight day, the Giants bring out the offense with a season-high 14 runs on 18 hits—half of those doubles, the most hit by the team since 1912—in a 14-4 home rout of the Rockies. Starring again for the Giants is recent call-up outfielder Luis Matos, who drives home six runs one day after bringing in five; the 11 RBIs over two days ties a franchise mark last established by Jack Clark in 1982

Last year, Matos collected 14 RBIs over 228 at-bats; he’s matched that total this year over just 26. 

Only twice have the Giants hit more doubles in a game. Like the 1912 contest cited above, a 1901 game at Cincinnati (won by the Giants, 25-13) was affected by an overflow crowd that caused special ground rules to be created, leading to an abundance of ground-rule doubles. 

The Cubs barely slide—literally—past the visiting Pirates, 1-0, on a day more noted for Shota Imanaga’s continued historic start for Chicago. The first-year pitcher from Japan allows three hits over seven shutout innings, lowering his season ERA to 0.84—the best start by any pitcher in his first nine career starts since the stat became official in 1913; only five other pitchers have begun a season with a lower number, paced by Jacob deGrom’s 0.62 in 2021. But Imanaga doesn’t get the win, as the Pirates’ Bailey Falter matches him zero for zero and a little bit beyond with 7.2 scoreless innings. As for the winning run, it comes with one out—and controversy—in the bottom of the ninth. After Cody Bellinger reaches second on a ground rule double, Christopher Morel strokes a single that sends Bellinger homeward and into a very close play at the plate, which is initially ruled safe in the Cubs’ favor. Umpires uphold the call—even though it’s apparent that (1) Bellinger’s toe is pushed back by the glove of Pittsburgh catcher Joey Bart before he reaches the plate and (2) although Bart, after taking the ball out of his glove to show the umpire, loses control of it—because Bellinger’s hand, inadvertently or not, knocks it out. 

Is Luis Gil the next big thing for the Yankees? In a 6-1 victory over the visiting White Sox, the 25-year-old right-hander—still technically a rookie, despite playing small bits of two other seasons—strikes out 14 over just six innings, setting one team rookie mark and another for most K’s within six or fewer innings, regardless of player classification. Over his last four starts, Gil has allowed two runs on 11 hits with 27 strikeouts over 24.1 innings. Gil is backed by a four-hit, two-homer day for Juan Soto, and Giancarlo Stanton’s third homer in four games. 

Sunday, May 19

Gunnar Henderson gets the Orioles off on the right foot—again—hitting his fifth leadoff homer of the year and his 15th to co-lead the majors at day’s end. Corbin Burnes will keep the opposing Mariners locked down with a run allowed and 11 strikeouts over six innings for his fourth win of the year, as Baltimore takes a 6-3 victory to improve to 29-15 on the year. 

Brady Anderson, in a 1996 season many still view with suspicion in the midst of the Steroid Era, holds the Baltimore record for season leadoff homers with 12; he hit 38 others that year. 

In the Padres’ 9-1 romp at Atlanta over the Braves, Yu Darvish wins his 200th career game combined between MLB (107) and the Japan Pacific League (93), allowing just two hits over seven shutout innings. It extends the 37-year-old right-hander’s current streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 25—the longest ever by a Japanese-born pitcher in the majors, while only one pitcher (Kenny Rogers in 2005) was older when accomplishing four straight scoreless starts. 

Speaking of streaks, the Braves’ Matt Olson plays in his 500th straight game which, while a long way from Cal Ripken’s all-time mark, is the longest active run currently taking place. 

A ninth-inning run for the Braves, on Ozzie Albies’ one-out single, keeps the Braves’ streak of consecutive home games without being shut out active at 199. It’s the sixth longest such streak in MLB history. 

Monday, May 20

Make it six straight games with a home run for Rafael Devers, setting a Boston team mark previously shared by six Red Sox including Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx with a two-run shot in the fourth at St. Petersburg. Devers’ blast, along with seven sterling innings from Tanner Houck, give the Red Sox a 5-0 win over the Rays. Devers’ streak, two games shy of the all-time record, will end the next day. 

At some point, the runs will catch up to you. That’s what Yankees closer Clay Holmes finds out at New York against the Mariners, who pile up four runs in the ninth off the 31-year-old right-hander in a come-from-behind, 5-4 victory. The loss for the Yankees ends a seven-game winning streak. Holmes came into the game having thrown the most innings (20) without allowing an earned run—though the Diamondbacks plated three unearned tallies against him back on April 3. 

San Diego shortstop Xander Bogaerts will miss up to the next two months after fracturing his shoulder diving for a ball during a doubleheader at Atlanta. Bogaerts was off to a subpar start for the Padres, batting .219 over 47 games; the setback makes the team’s trade for Luis Arraez a bit more prescient, as the two-time batting champ could inherit the second base position he’s normally played before primarily featuring as designated hitter for the Padres. 

Tuesday, May 21

Ranger Suarez—and by extension, the Phillies—stays hot. In a 5-2 home defeat of the Rangers, Suarez—a Ranger in name only­—improves his record to 9-0, allowing a run over seven innings with 10 strikeouts. His 1.36 ERA is MLB’s second best after the Cubs’ Shota Imanaga (0.84), and the best within the first 10 games by any Phillies starting pitcher not named Pete Alexander—who registered 1.24 and 1.31 ERAs in, respectively, 1915 and 1916.

The Phillies’ offense pitches in as well, with Bryce Harper banging out a double and his 11th home run of the year, while Alec Bohm brings in two more runs to increase his season RBI total to an NL-leading 44. The Phillies’ 27 wins over their last 33 games are the most for any such span in team annals. 

With the loss, the defending champion Rangers drop to 24-25; it’s the first time the team has been below the .500 mark since Bruce Bochy took over as manager at the start of last season. 

The Pirates’ Oneil Cruz is in overpower mode, striking three hits (a single and two doubles) that each register over 115 MPH off the bat—a Statcast Era first—with the last hit bringing home the tying run in a four-run ninth against the visiting Giants. An inning later, Nick Gonzales will need just one pitch to send a single up the middle and score the gift runner, securing a 7-6 triumph for the Bucs. 

Two of Cruz’s hits are recorded at 120+ MPH, which too is something no one has ever done since Statcast went into business in 2015. Here’s the impressive part of that; only two other players—Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge—have had multiple hits leaving the bat at 120+ MPH…in their careers. 

Wednesday, May 22

The Orioles lose two games on the day at St. Louis—a 3-1 defeat in the first game, stopped the night before by rain after six innings, followed by a 5-4 loss in the originally scheduled contest—and are thus swept for the first time in a regular season series of two or more games since May 2022. The 106 straight series without being swept is tied with the 1903-05 New York Giants for the second-longest streak in major league history; the top spot remains with the 1942-44 Cardinals, who weren’t swept over 125 straight. 

For the Cardinals, it’s their first sweep of any opponent in their last 36 series. 

The Phillies take advantage of four Texas errors—leading to six unearned runs—in an 11-4 home rout of the Rangers. The win improves Philadelphia’s record to 36-14—the best start in team history through 50 games, and the best by any major league team through 50 since the 2001 Mariners, on their way to a 116-46 record. 

Kyle Schwarber continues to be a leadoff walking machine for the Phillies; the three-outcome slugger induces three passes in this game, and over his last four contests has gone 2-for-9—with 10 walks. He leads the NL with 37—and is second in strikeouts with 69. 

The Royals’ Cole Ragans easily triumphs in an anticipated pitching duel with Detroit’s Tarik Skubal, striking out a career-high 12 Tigers while allowing just one hit over six shutout innings in Kansas City’s 8-3 home win. It’s the first loss for Skubal since last August 29, ending a 14-game unbeaten streak in which he went 10-0 with a 1.48 ERA and 0.72 WHIP (walks and hits allowed per inning); he comes off as mortal against a red-hot Royals offense that ties a club record for the most consecutive games (51) starting a season with at least one extra base hit in each. 

Toronto’s Bo Bichette hits the first homer by a Blue Jay batting cleanup, as his two-run shot caps a seven-run outburst in the second inning to set the pace for a 9-2 home win over the White Sox. The 47 games to start a season without a cleanup blast is the longest by any MLB team since the 1997 Astros went 60 games sans one; every other MLB team this season has hit at least three homers from the #4 spot. 

Atlanta ace Max Fried retires the first 15 Cubs he faces, on his way to his second complete-game victory on the year as he scatters two runs (one earned) on three hits in the Braves’ 9-2 victory at Chicago. Fried is the first pitcher this year with multiple complete games; he’s a perfect 6-0 in six career starts against the Cubs, accompanied by a 1.18 ERA. 

Thursday, May 23

Down 4-0 to Colorado after the seventh-inning stretch, the A’s pick up a run in the seventh, two more in the eighth, another to tie in the ninth, yet another in the 10th to tie the game again—and then, after breakout supersonic reliever Mason Miller endures a meltdown and coughs up his first four runs since March 30, they produce an astonishing five-run rally in the bottom of the 11th to wrap up an improbable 10-9 victory at Oakland. JJ Bleday belts a two-run homer in the 11th to re-tie the game; after a single, infield hit and intentional walk to load the bases, the Rockies’ Peter Lambert walks Tyler Soderstrom to force home the game-winner. 

After Miller had given up a pair of runs in his first appearance of the year against Cleveland nearly two months earlier, he hadn’t allowed a run over 19.1 innings—allowing just five hits and four walks while striking out an eye-opening 40 batters with the fastest velocity of any pitcher seen this season. But in 1.2 innings against the Rockies, Miller concedes five runs (two of them unearned) on three hits and a walk, putting the A’s in their (short-lived) four-run deficit. 

A most unusual series ends in Pittsburgh with the Giants coming back yet again from well behind to overcome rookie Paul Skenes and an early grand slam from former teammate Joey Bart to edge the Pirates, 7-6. Skenes is not the problem for the Pirates—he allows a run on six hits through six innings; the bullpen, as it did the night before after Jared Jones’ departure, implodes at the worst time, giving up five runs in the eighth to put the Giants ahead to stay. 

This is the fourth time that a three-game series featured successful comebacks from at least four runs down in each contest; the Giants were part of the previous three, most recently in 1999 against the Marlins (who won all three games). 

After a meeting with team owners, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred holds a relatively informal State of the Game speech with reporters. Among the topics: The automated strike zone, which Manfred believes will not be instituted next year as some had hoped; a new, tackier baseball, to be produced by Rawlings after Dow Chemical (Dow Chemical?) failed to live up to expectations; how to clean up the regional sports network mess with Bally Sports’ bankruptcy, still a challenge according to Manfred; and some bemoaning over a lower overall batting average (.240) thus far in the season, which the commish can only currently throw his hands up in frustration. 

Friday, May 24

Umpires kind of, sort of, screw up when calling a controversial end to Thursday’s 8-6 win for the Orioles at Chicago against the White Sox. In the bottom of the ninth, with one out and runners on first and second for the White Sox, Andrew Benintendi hits a pop-up that’s quickly called an infield fly rule, meaning that Benintendi is automatically out—but the umpires then declare that Andrew Vaughn, the Chicago runner on second taking a few steps back toward the bag, interferes with Baltimore shortstop Gunnar Henderson, drifting over to make the catch. It all seems so strange—a baserunner unknowingly getting in the way of a fielder chasing a pop-up he had no incentive to catch. An incredulous Chicago skipper Pedro Grifol goes out to argue what becomes a game-ending double play, but the umps said that rules are rules, and they have no discretion to call it otherwise. 

A day later, MLB disagrees—saying that umpires do have discretion to rule non-interference in that situation, or at least that’s what the White Sox are claiming after the league reaches out to them. 

For a third straight day, the Giants fight back from four runs down to win, this time in New York against the Mets as Patrick Bailey’s eighth-inning grand slam caps a five-run eighth to give them a 7-6 lead. After adding insurance on a Mike Yastrzemski solo shot in the ninth, the Giants hang on by a thread to win 8-7—as Matt Chapman makes a sensational field and throw on a slow grounder up the third-base line for the final out, after the Mets had scored a run and loaded the bases. 

This is the first time since 1932 that a major league team has won three straight games on the road, trailing by at least four runs in each game. 

With the loss, the Mets—after a 12-8 start—have won only nine of their last 30 games. 

Justin Verlander ascends to the all-time top-10 list in strikeouts, collecting 9 K’s over six innings at Oakland to overtake Greg Maddux for the #10 spot with 3,377 as the Astros defeat the A’s, 6-3. The future Hall of Famer had recently moved ahead of the Rangers’ Max Scherzer—who has still yet to pitch this season—for #11 on the list. 

The Bronx Bombers bust their way into Petco Park and bust up a couple of streaks by Padres players in an 8-0 blowout win. The Yankees peak in the third inning with five runs on home runs from their trio of power in Juan Soto, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton; in between, Alex Verdugo slams a line drive off the wall and is held to a single. The big-time rally is wholly inflicted upon San Diego starter Yu Darvish, who sees his streak of 25 consecutive scoreless innings come crashing to an end. Offensively for the Padres, Luis Arraez fails to safely reach base in four plate appearances, ending two streaks of his own: One an eight-game run in which he collected at least two hits, one game shy of the Padres record, and a 28-game streak in which he reached base at least once, a stretch which had been the majors’ longest active. 

The Royals take their potent hitting to Tampa Bay, where they hammer the Rays, 8-1, and improve to a surprising 33-19 on the year. Seth Lugo throws seven excellent innings to enhance his record to 8-1 with an AL-best 1.74 ERA, while the Royals belt out four extra-base hits; they’ve had at least one long hit in each of their 52 games this year—setting a team record to start a season—and extend their streak dating back to the end of last season to 81, the longest active run currently in the majors. But they do see one streak come to an end, as a brief 1-0 lead for the Rays after the first inning ends a string of 54 consecutive frames in which the Royals hadn’t trailed. 

Saturday, May 25

The AL Central, so laughable last year, is having the last laugh so far this season. The Guardians and Royals both are on eight-game winning streaks, the longest current run for any MLB team; they both also have, respectively, the majors’ third and fourth best records. 

Cleveland gets its eight straight by scoring all four runs in the third inning of a 4-3 win at Anaheim over the Angels. Jose Ramirez belts his 15th home run—he’s hit six over the last eight games—and Emmanuel Clase throws a scoreless ninth for his 16th save to share the MLB lead, while dropping his season ERA to a miniscule 0.34. 

Meanwhile, the Royals stay 1.5 games back of the Guardians with a 7-4, 11-inning victory at Tampa Bay over the Rays, who lose their sixth straight. Kansas City scores at least seven times in its sixth consecutive game, establishing a team record; they’re second in the AL in runs scored, with just two tallies behind the Yankees. 

While the AL Central looks sharp with the Royals, Guardians and Twins (four straight wins), the AL West—for the moment—have appeared to inherit the Central’s laughingstock image. Only one team, the Seattle Mariners, are above the .500 mark—and barely, at 27-26 after dropping a 3-1 decision at Washington. Why, in part, are AL West teams looking so bad? In part, because none of that division’s teams has yet to play the White Sox, the only team stinking up the Central with a 15-38 record. And they won’t for another two weeks, when Seattle hosts the Sox starting on June 10. 

Sunday, May 26

The Braves’ season takes a disastrous turn as star outfielder and reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuna Jr. tears his left ACL while attempting to put the brakes on a stolen base attempt at Pittsburgh; he’ll miss the rest of the year. It’s Acuna’s second ACL tear; he ripped up his right knee midway through the 2021 season—an injury that was thought to doom Atlanta’s season, before they recharged and won the World Series. Although the 2024 Braves’ roster remains fairly loaded without Acuna, asking the other players to once again step up without the game’s most fearsome sparkplug will be a challenge—especially given that they’re already missing arguably their best pitcher (Spencer Strider) for the rest of the year while struggling third baseman Austin Riley has missed the last several weeks with oblique issues. 

Acuna himself was not off to a great start this season; his first-inning double, which led to his fateful stolen base attempt, raised his batting average to .250—and, a year after an unprecedented 40-70 season (home runs and steals), he was on pace for something closer to 10-50. His .716 OPS was well off the 1.012 he registered last season. 

With Acuna out, the Braves manage to ease their way past the Pirates, 8-1. Jarred Kelenic, taking over for Acuna, collects three hits and three runs; Chris Sale continues his remarkable vintage form, allowing a run on four hits through seven innings and improving to 8-1 with a 2.12 ERA; and Matt Olson finishes a triple shy of the cycle, launching a 420-foot homer that clears PNC Park’s right-field bleachers and bounces into the Allegheny River. 

The Phillies, currently leading the NL East with the majors’ best record, see the end of two streaks at Denver. Ranger Suarez allows five runs over the first two innings, which will be all the Rockies need to triumph, 5-2. It’s the first loss of the year for Suarez, and his nine-game, nine-start streak—tied with Hall-of-Fame ace Robin Roberts in 1952 for the longest in Phillies history—comes to an end. The loss also clinches Philadelphia’s first series defeat over its last 15, their longest streak since winning (or splitting) 19 in a row in 1984

The Giants finish a week in which no lead was safe. At New York, they take a 3-1 lead to the bottom of the ninth, but reliever Tyler Rogers—filling in for a spent Camilo Doval—does a poor closer’s impersonation, allowing three runs while recording just one out to the Mets in a 4-3 loss. Getting the game-winning hit for New York is catcher Omar Narvaez, who had the most at-bats (27) without a hit at his home park among all major leaguers this season; his drought-snapping single at Citi Field brings Jeff McNeil home for the winning tally.

Monday, May 27

Angel Hernandez, the major league umpire everybody loves to hate, is retiring effective immediately after over three decades of service. In a statement, the 62-year-old Hernandez claims he wants to spend more time with his family. Though Hernandez’s lawyer says that the umpire is not being ‘forced’ to retire, it’s been reported that MLB has been trying to encourage him to step aside, in part because he’d become a distraction for his continued poor performance—especially behind home plate, where he’s called one of the game’s more inaccurate strike zones. This was firmly illustrated when he called strikes on three straight pitches clearly outside of the zone with Texas’ Wyatt Langford at the plate on April 12. 

According to umpscorecards.com, Hernandez was actually been in the middle of the pack in terms of strike zone accuracy this season. 

Former Brewers manager Craig Counsell returns to Milwaukee for the first time since he took over as pilot for the rival Cubs, and fans at American Family Field have just one word for him: “Boo!” The Memorial Day crowd of 41,882 jeer Counsell every time his name is mentioned by the public address announcer or when he leaves the dugout for a mound visit. For seven innings, Brewers fans are frustrated as the Cubs’ Justin Steele limits Milwaukee to just three hits through seven scoreless innings, but then he departs—and the Brewers respond with a five-run outburst in the eighth off two ineffective Chicago relievers, with three of those plated on Willy Adames’ eighth homer of the year. The Brewers close out a 5-1 win to up their lead in the NL Central to 4.5 games over the second-place Cubs, who’ve lost five straight. 

The Guardians have their nine-game win streak—their longest since their AL-record 22-game run in 2017—snapped against a Colorado team that’s playing much better over the past two-plus weeks. An early 4-1 Cleveland lead is erased—as most early leads are prone to do at lively, mile-high Coors Field—as the Rockies score six times in the fourth, never looking back in an 8-6 triumph. The Rockies have won 11 of their past 17 games after an atrocious 8-28 start. 

Tuesday, May 28

The Cubs’ rotation doubles down on their dominance of Milwaukee hitters, as rookie Ben Brown doesn’t only allow a run but no hits through seven innings, walking two and striking out 10, before being pulled after 93 pitches. The Chicago bullpen, which has been the real problem for the Cubs when facing the Brewers, proves far more mortal once more—blowing the combo no-hitter just two batters after Brown’s removal and later failing to hold a 1-0 lead in the ninth, but the Cubs’ offense comes roaring to life with five runs in the 10th to secure a 6-3 victory. 

In 32.1 innings of work against the Brewers this season, Chicago starters haven’t allowed a run. The bullpen, meanwhile, has given up 13 earned tallies over 12.2 frames. 

Brown’s effort is the sixth this season in which an MLB pitcher has pitched at least five innings without giving up a hit…but did not complete a no-hitter. That total is roughly on pace for the 19 such outings from all of 2023. 

San Diego reliever Jeremiah Estrada puts the finishing touches on the Padres’ 4-0 home victory over Miami as he continues a record-breaking stretch of pitching. Estrada strikes out the side in the ninth, extending a streak of 13 straight K’s to establish an MLB mark. What’s even more mind-blowing is that all 13 of those batters have struck out swinging

The 25-year-old Estrada is technically in his second season, having exceeded his rookie eligibility last year with 12 appearances for the Cubs. So far in 2024, the right-hander has appeared in 12 games, allowing a run on five hits with 28 strikeouts over 16.1 innings; his ERA stands at 0.55. 

The Yankees set a major league record by extending to 15 games a streak of starting pitchers throwing at least five innings and allowing two or fewer innings. Nick Cortes is the man on the mound to set the mark, allowing two runs over 5.1 innings at Anaheim against the Angels—who ultimately overcome New York’s slim lead as Taylor Ward’s two-run, two-out double in the eighth—struck off of Yankee closer Clay Holmes, brought in to attempt a four-out save—provides the winning difference in Los Angeles’ 4-3 triumph. 

The Texas Rangers still own the Arizona Diamondbacks, at least for one game in 2024. In their first head-to-head face-off since last year’s World Series, the Rangers take a 4-2 victory as Corey Seager’s seventh home run over his last seven games—a three-run shot in the fifth—puts Texas ahead to stay. Only Frank Howard (with 10 in 1968) and Josh Hamilton (with nine in 2012) have hit more homers over a seven-game stretch in franchise history. 

Despite their status as defending league champs, both teams remain under .500; the Rangers are at 26-29, while the DBacks drop to 25-29 with the loss. 

Wednesday, May 29

Major League Baseball announces that statistics from the Negro Leagues between 1920-48, an era recently classified with major league status, will now officially count alongside those who’ve played in the other long-accepted major leagues, including the NL, AL, various short-lived circuits of the 19th Century and the very short-lived Federal League of 1914-15. 

This brings some changes to the all-time leaderboards and record books. Most of these involve Josh Gibson, the phenomenal slugger who played 14 seasons primarily for the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays. Gibson now officially overtakes Ty Cobb for the highest career batting average (.372), as well as the highest season average (.466 in 1943) and season slugging percentage (.974 in 1937). MLB also lists Satchel Paige’s 1.01 ERA for the 1944 Kansas City Monarchs as the third lowest in major league history, behind Tim Keefe’s 0.86 mark for the 1880 Troy Trojans and the 0.96 posted by the Red Sox’ Dutch Leonard in 1914

While most NL/AL statistics have been exhaustingly researched to the point that many of its statistics are now considered largely set in stone, fluidity remains an issue for Negro League numbers. Roughly 75% of all box scores from the various Negro League circuits have been discovered, meaning that more painstaking research still lies ahead to eventually cement the final, total stats of Gibson, Paige and other Negro League immortals. There are also discrepancies between many of the respected statistical sources; Paige’s 1.01 ERA from 1944, as recognized by MLB, is actually listed as 1.10 on baseball-reference.com

While most people embrace the inclusion of Negro Leagues stats, there may be some who will feel inclined to stiff-arm the current comparisons of leagues that played fewer games within unbalanced schedules amid incomplete record-keeping. It should be noted that this is not a prejudice of the Negro Leagues themselves, but of the logistics that have bedeviled the process for years and remain fluid. This is the not the fault of those who played and ran the Negro Leagues, circuits that were created out of the racial prejudice of a whites-only NL and AL—which until Jackie Robinson in 1947 unofficially yet clearly barred dark-skinned players from participating within its realm. 

Things go from bad to worse—then, even worser—with the Mets, who seem to always thrive on self-inflicted soap opera. The day begins with struggling closer Edwin Diaz being placed on the IL with shoulder issues, then continues early in their evening game with the Dodgers as star slugger Pete Alonso is hit by a pitch on the right hand, leading to his immediate removal from the game; X-rays will later prove negative, and he won’t miss any games. The “worse” part takes place during the eighth inning of a game the Dodgers have firmly in control, on their way to a 10-3 victory and three-game sweep at New York. Mets reliever Jorge Lopez is ejected for arguing with third base umpire Ramon De Jesus after a check swing by the Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani; an irate Lopez, shirt untucked, takes off his glove as he walks back toward the dugout and heaves it into the crowd. “That’s where the Mets are at right now—not a good optic,” responds Mets broadcast analyst Ron Darling on air. Then comes the “worser” part. After the game, Lopez tells reporters that “I’ve been on the worst team in probably the whole f**king MLB.” Because English is not his primary language, he’s asked to clarify the statement. He clarifies it. 

A day later, Lopez will be designated for assignment. 

The loss drops the Mets to 22-33; they’re 10-25 since April 20. Only four teams have worse records in the majors. 

The Brewers, who have yet to score a run off a Chicago Cubs starting pitcher in five games this season, don’t see things getting much easier with breakout pitching star Shota Imanaga taking the mound for the Cubs. But Imanaga picks a fine time to finally have a bad outing; he’s shelled for seven runs over 4.1 innings, taking his first MLB loss in 10 starts as the Brewers roll to a 10-6 home victory. Imanaga’s season ERA jumps up from 0.86 to 1.84—still good for third-best in the majors. 

Hey Siri, be the ninth-inning star for the Rays. Siri—Jose Siri—complies with the request. With the opposing A’s tied against the Rays in the top of the ninth and the go-ahead run at second, Zack Gelof launches a high, deep drive to left-center—where Siri, racing over from center, leaps right above the top of the fence to make the catch, possibly stealing a home run, and ending the threat. In the bottom half of the inning, with the game-winning run at third and one out, Siri comes to the plate and drills a line shot over the drawn-in Oakland outfield to provide a walk-off win for the Rays, 4-3. 

Thursday, May 30

The Astros defeat the Mariners at Seattle, 4-0—and do it by spreading their runs across multiple innings. That breaks a streak of seven straight games in which Houston had scored in only one inning—one shy of the all-time MLB mark of eight held by the 1918 Washington Senators. (The Astros managed to win two of those seven games.) Alex Bregman belts a home run in the fourth to give the Astros a 2-0 lead; Victor Caratini knocks in single runs in each of the next two innings, on a solo homer and fielder’s choice. 

The Twins, trying to climb closer to Cleveland and Kansas City in the AL Central, finish off a four-game series victory at home against the Royals with a 7-6 win. Ryan Jeffers belts two homers for Minnesota, while Carlos Correa’s bases-clearing triple in the sixth breaks a 4-4 tie and puts the Twins head to stay. 

The Royals at one point lead, 4-0, with their final run tallied on MJ Melendez’s solo homer. It snaps a drought of 99 straight plate appearances without an RBI; he had notched just four hits in his previous 43 at-bats. 

The Red Sox’ Nick Pivetta strikes out nine Tigers over 5.1 innings, with eight of those K’s accomplished consecutively—tying Roger Clemens’ franchise mark from his 20-K gem in 1986. But he can’t get the win, as his Red Sox are shut down by Jack Flaherty—who takes a no-hitter into the sixth—and two relievers in a 5-0 loss. 

The Yankees defeat the Angels at Anaheim, 8-3, behind Aaron Judge’s 18th homer of the year—and 12th just this month—and a bases-clearing triple for Juan Soto. But a couple of long streaks fall by the wayside. Second-year shortstop Anthony Volpe is hitless in four at-bats, ending his 21-game hitting streak—the third longest by a Yankee under the age of 24, after Hal Chase (33 games in 1907) and Joe DiMaggio (22 in 1937). And although Carlos Rodon produces a quality start for New York with three runs allowed over six innings, it ends an MLB-record string of 15 consecutive games in which a New York starter had pitched five-plus innings and allowed two or fewer runs. 

Friday, May 31

Aaron Judge is welcomed—just kidding, he’s actually booed—back to the Bay Area, near where he grew up, by Giants fans still upset that he spurned the team’s lucrative free-agent offer over a year ago to return to New York. His response: Two home runs—giving him an MLB-best 20 on the year—a single and four RBIs to finish a gargantuan month (14 homers, 12 doubles) and pace the Yankees to a 6-2 win at San Francisco. The Yankees thus join the Phillies (4-2 winners against St. Louis) as the first two teams to reach 40 wins on the year as May wraps up. 

The longest game thus far in 2024, in terms of both innings and time, takes place at Toronto as the Blue Jays survive a 14-inning, 5-3 marathon against the Pirates in a game that lasts three hours and 46 minutes. Tied after nine innings at 1-1, the two teams exchange single runs in the 11th and 12th frames, and are held scoreless in the 13th before the Jays finally break the stalemate in the bottom of the 14th on Davis Schneider’s two-out, two-run homer. 

Only two other games have seen more innings in the gift runner era, topped by the 16-inning contest between the Padres and Dodgers on August 25, 2021. 

Apparently, San Diego manager Mike Shildt doesn’t give a damn about Jeremiah Estrada’s ongoing MLB-record streak of consecutive strikeouts. Brought in to replace starter Dylan Cease in the midst of a sixth-inning rally at Kansas City, Estrada first faces the Royals’ Salvador Perez—and is told by Shildt to walk him. The intentional pass thus ends, rather unceremoniously, Estrada’s streak of 13 straight strikeouts, all swinging. It also brings up the obvious question: Why didn’t Shildt just leave Cease on the mound and have him charged with the free pass to Perez? After all, it’s Cease’s mess. After the IBB, Estrada retires the next two Royals—not by strikeout, but on a sac fly and pop up. The Padres will trail at the end of the sixth, 3-2, but come roaring back in the eighth with nine runs on a team-record 11 hits—two of those from Luis Arraez, part of a four-hit night to raise his average since joining San Diego to .398. From there, the Padres hold off a ninth-inning uprising by the Royals and triumph, 11-8. 

Despite a first-place standing in the AL West, the Seattle Mariners have been most displeased with their offense—which is likely the main reason they sack hitting coach Brant Brown. Why the Mariners ever thought that Brown—who last year was the hitting coach for a Miami team that finished dead last in the NL in runs—would have been an effective choice to run their offense certainly warrants some conversation. This season, only the anemic White Sox have scored fewer runs and posted a lower batting average in the AL than the Mariners. 

The Orioles will be without two of their starting pitchers for the rest of the year, each undergoing elbow surgery. John Means, perhaps the only pitcher who knew what he was doing when the Orioles were struggling just a few years ago, has only made 10 appearances over the last three seasons due primarily to Tommy John surgery; he’s probably pitched his last game for Baltimore as he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. Tyler Wells, in his fourth year with the Orioles, will also go under the knife after being winless with two losses in three starts and a 5.87 ERA this year.

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