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MLB: Last Week In Baseball July 26-August 2, 2015

(originally written 8/2/15)

This was supposed to be a "This Week in Baseball" column. It really was. But Saturday night rolled around and the piece was only halfway done—not far enough to qualify as "This Week", but too far to abandon. So sit back, relax, and read about a bunch of stuff you probably know already.

  • Both Carlos Gomez and Mike Napoli got tossed from games for helmet-slamming. Gomez's case was especially confusing—he'd attempted to steal with Milwaukee down two runs to the the 9th inning. An initial safe call reversed to out upon replay review, greatly displeasing Gomez. (His rookie interim manager, Craig Counsell, was also sent to the showers—which never happened during his 17-season playing career.)

  • Gomez and Naps were far from the only big leaguers whose temperatures ran a little high last week—the Yankees' Mark Teixeira, after being gunned by a mile at home plate 7/27 at Texas, didn't try to hide his displeasure with the choice to send him by 3B coach Joe Espada. As he walked to the dugout Teixeira shot a "what the hell?" glare or two his coach's way, with a side dish of arm flails and an airborne dugout trash can. After completely showing up his coach, the veteran 1B did at least apologize afterward.

  • Also, the Dodgers' Andre Either pinata-ed the bat rack after a 7/28 lineout vs. Oakland. Two days later, Seattle's Carson Smith flipped out in the dugout after surrendering a key homer to the White Sox. It's an emotional sport, players are human—you've got to let it out sometimes.

  • Lucas Duda went on the tear to end all tears—even Mark McGwire had to be thinking "What's this guy TAKING??" The Mets' first baseman, who'd had such a crudly previous six weeks, crushed eight home runs in a seven-game span. The Mets went 4-2 for the week.

  • Duda wasn't alone in his assault on league fences last week. The aforementioned Teixeira ended his week on a higher note, finishing with five home runs in those seven games. Tampa Bay's Curt Casali belted a pair of homers Monday 7/27...then two more the next day (of his 15 major league hits this year, seven have left the park). Carlos Correa smacked four this week for the Astros and Anthony Rizzo walloped four in three games for the Cubs.

  • On successive days Mariners catcher Mike Zunino crushed a long home run out of Safeco, poked a 9th-inning game-tying single and had a homer to center field robbed by a leaping no-name Toronto outfielder.

  • The tears publicly flowed for Boston's Shane Victorino and the Mets' Wilmer Flores. The former was traded to the Angels following 2½ years in Boston—which included a World Series title. 

  • Flores' situation was less conventional; his obviously plugged-in home crowd burst into a random round of applause during his 7th-inning at-bat against San Diego 7/29—after which he learned of his pending trade to Milwaukee. Flores took the field in tears, but ultimately the deal was nixed and the Mets infielder stayed put. Two days later, he produced a walk-off homer vs. Washington's Felipe Rivero (further increasing his trade value, of course. How cruel would that be?)

  • The side of Matt Joyce's head caught the knee of Angels teammate Erick Aybar during pursuit of a Delino Deshields, Jr. (Texas) popup on Sunday; Joyce was concussed. Proximity to Aybar is a head injury waiting to happen—he is the same man who nearly killed A's pitcher Brandon McCarthy with a liner three years ago.

  • Bronson Arroyo joined his third team (Arizona, Atlanta and the Dodgers) of 2015 this week via trade. That's not exactly uncommon—unless the player will miss the entire season following Tommy John surgery as Arroyo will.

  • White Sox first baseman Adam LaRoche mopped up a 13-6 loss to the Yankees. The big left-hander—who also had four hits—even recorded a strikeout on an 85-mph "heater"! Older fans may remember his pop Dave, a quality pitcher 1970-83.

  • Cubs catcher David Ross can't boast the lineage afforded LaRoche, but he fired a perfect 9th against Philly 7/26—icing the cake with a home run in the home half! Texas UT Adam Rosales also finished up a 7/28 blowout loss that'll be detailed later; he was touched for a home run, however.

  • On 7/28, Cleveland's Trevor Bauer went the distance, Jason Kipnis laced three hits and the Tribe went 6-for-7 on steal a 2-1 loss vs. Kansas City.

  • On Saturday, Starling Marte single-handedly won a game for Pittsburgh with his  left field defense.  Host Cincinnati rallied in the bottom of the 9th, but Marte erased Brandon Phillips trying to score on a base hit for the second out. The next batter, the dangerous Marlon Byrd, ripped one to the gap that seemed destined to drive home the winning runs. Marte fully extended to his left and stole a victory from the Reds' hands!

  • Marte's teammate Andrew McCutchen often swings the bat and touches 'em all...but like this? On 7/29, Cutch smacked what should have been a common base hit to right field...but Twins RF Eddie Rosario completely whiffed on the ball, which rolled to the wall. McCutchen was nearly to third when the relay throw skidded in to 3B Eduardo Nunez—who whiffed on it even worse than Rosario! He then cross-checked McCutchen in pursuit of the hexed rawhide, knocking both men down...but the latter scored anyway. (FYI, the Bucs star ripped a conventional homer earlier in the game in addition to his Little Leaguer.)

  • Atlanta's Adonis Garcia and Boston's Travis Shaw hit their first major-league home runs...or in the latter's case, first two. Shaw missed the cycle by a triple.

  • Minnesota's Rosario missed a cycle against Seattle by a single. Or more accurately, about six inches—in Rosario's final at-bat, his hard liner to left was snagged by leaping Mariners SS Brad Miller using every centimeter of his wingspan to make the play.

  • Jeurys Familia suffered through a week of three consecutive blown saves. Still, Terry Collins did not turn to newcomer Tyler Clippard to protect a 4-2 lead over Arizona on Saturday. He stuck with his struggling closer, who did indeed convert save #26 with a clean 9th.

  • The Rangers staked Martin Perez to a 5-0 first-inning lead 7/28—and Perez didn't record another out. The Yankees pounded him for eight hits in the 2nd, finishing the frame with 10 runs en route to an eventual 21-5 massacre. Oh—not only did Texas not score again, they did not get another hit, either.

  • Oh, and Mike Warren protected the 16-run lead to earn a save. Somewhere, Wes Littleton is smiling. Probably the Independent League.

  • That explosion was one of three instances of a team scoring 14 or more runs in a game last week. Miami scored 14 runs all week in going 1-5. Giancarlo can't heal fast enough.

  • Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, a former Gold Glover, lost most of 2013 with a hamstring tear, and all of 2014 due to, well, let's just say medical issues. Not handed his old job back by Seattle, "Guti" started 2015 with their AAA team before a late June callup. He punctuated his long journey back to the majors with a walkoff home run off Toronto's Aaron Loup 7/26.

  • C.J. Wilson of the Angels underwent what may be season-ending elbow surgery. Steven Souza was drilled on the hand by Boston's Joe Kelly 8/1 and promptly went on the DL with a fracture, depriving Tampa of its leading home run hitter (even if only one has come in his last 82 at-bats).

  • No fewer than five players were injured either swinging the bat or running to first base this week—Toronto's Devon Travis (7/28, shoulder) and Jose Bautista (7/28, hamstring) in the same game; the White Sox' Emilio Bonifacio (7/28, oblique); St. Louis' Matt Holliday (7/29, quadriceps); and Boston's Pablo Sandoval (7/30, hit by pitch he swung at).

  • The Cleveland Indians recorded three consecutive complete games (Bauer, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco). Danny Santana just missed a fourth when he lasted "only" eight innings at Oakland 7/30. What year is it?

  • When the White Sox' Adam Eaton and Tyler Saladino opened their 7/27 clash at Boston with successive triples, they became the first White Sox duo to do so since 1954.

  • Detroit's Justin Verlander, at long last, earned his first win of 2015 with an eight-inning, 10-K effort at Tampa 7/28. Fellow former Cy winner Felix Hernandez became Seattle's all-time start leader on 7/28...though the start itself is one he'd rather soon forget (12 hits, seven runs in 6.2 innings vs. Arizona).

  • Notable individual performances last week include the Angels' Mike Trout's 4-for-4, two homers including a grand slam performance vs. Texas 7/26, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez smacking a home run on his 40th birthday 7/27 against then-Ranger (now Phillie) Matt Harrison, and Oakland's Sonny Gray shutting out the host Dodgers and notching his first MLB hit. 

  • More: Derek Norris went 5-for-5 with a slam at the Mets 7/30, Teixeira homered twice—including a slam—with six RBI 7/31, and Houston's Hank Conger hit two home runs including a slam vs. Arizona 8/1.

  • Homerless in 2015 entering the week, Phils OF Domonic Brown fell a home run short of the cycle on July 26 at Wrigley. So naturally, he belted his first two homers in successive games later in the week.

  • Other veterans to erase zeroes from the 2015 home run column: Kansas City's Omar Infante on 7/27 at Cleveland, and Seattle's Jesus Montero at Minnesota 7/31 (Montero had spent most of the season at AAA Tacoma).

  • Having put another slow start far behind him, David Ortiz climbed closer to the coveted 500-homer mark. With a two-homer, 7-RBI explosion on 7/26 and a two-run shot on 7/27, the Boston DH ended the week with 486 lifetime jacks. Meanwhile, the Angels' Albert Pujols tagged Houston's Luke Gregerson for season homer #30 and career homer #550 7/29...albeit in a losing cause.

  • A few notable streaks ended: Zack Greinke's 45.2 scoreless inning streak ended 7/26 when the Mets' Kirk Niewenhaus trotted in on a fielder's choice. KC's Wade Davis' streak of 125.2 innings without serving up a home run ended 7/31; Toronto's Bautista got him. And Bautista's teammate Mark Buehrle saw his streak of nine straight starts with two or fewer earned runs allowed end 7/26 when he allowed three runs and 10 hits over 5.2 innings to the Mariners.

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