MLB PITCH: 8/23/21

(originally written 8/23/21)

MLB PITCH = (PREDICTIONS, INFO, TRANSACTIONS, COMMENTARY, HIGHLIGHTS)

 

(This will cover MLB PITCH for all 30 clubs; there will be no Last Week In Giants this go-round.)

 

We'll lead off with this: 

  • Say whatever you want about Reds 1B Joey Votto, but yo can't say he doesn't have his teammate's backs. On 8/20 against Miami, Votto went deep after OF Nick Castellanos was hit by a pitch in front of him. But that's not all—he has now homered immediately following Castellano's last four HBP's! Votto also avenged Castellanos on 8/13 at Philadelphia, two days after punishing the host Braves twice for coming inside.

  • One day after Giants PH LaMonte Wade's two-run homer in the 9th beat Lou Trivino and Oakland 8/21, PH Donovan Solano sunk the A's again with a two-run blast off A.J. Puk in the 8th 8/22. No other team had ever smoked game-winning PH homers in the 8th inning or later on successive days.

  • Tigers DH and future HOFer Miguel Cabrera cracked career home run #500 8/22; the drive to RCF was served up by Steven Matz of the host Blue Jays. Cabrera is the 28th member of the 500 Club and the first to join it while wearing a Tigers uniform.

  • The homer left Cabrera 45 hits shy of 3,000 for his career...not impossible to reach this season, but it would take quite a hot streak.

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All-Star Padres IF Jake Cronenworth spoiled the CG victory bid of Phillies SP Aaron Nola with a 9th-inning, game-tying two-run homer 8/21. Cronenworth, ahead in the count 3-1, looked fastball and jumped all over it; San Diego won in the 10th.

  • In memorabilia news, it appears 70-year MLB baseball card partner Topps will be pushed out after MLB agreed to an exclusive contract with Fanatics—yes, the apparel company—set to take hold upon expiration of Topps' contract in 2025. A lot could happen in four years, however; stay tuned.

  • Back on 8/15, Padres superstar SS Fernando Tatis Jr. returned with a bang from his shoulder injury...but as a RF. He remained at the position last week, but batted just 3-for-22. On 8/20, however, Tatis produced a (thankfully) rare RBI beaning by Philadelphia's Ian Kennedy.

  • The Trevor Bauer saga continues; on 8/19 MLB extended the beleaguered Dodgers SP's administrative leave—which was set to expire 8/20—for the sixth time (to 8/27). It's looking more and more like Bauer has thrown his final pitch of 2021. Few tears are being shed.

  • On 8/21, SP Kris Bubic of Kansas City carried a no-hitter thru six innings at the Cubs. He opened the 7th with a walk followed by a homer by Cubs 3B Patrick Wisdom and was soon pulled after 92 pitches. Bubic still walked away with his 4th win of 2021.

  • The baseball world, especially Detroit, mourned the loss of longtime Tigers C Bill Freehan 8/19, age 79. He was an 11-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glover and member of Detroit's 1968 World Series championship team. Additionally, Freehan—who played his entire career (1961-76) with the Tigers and hit exactly 200 home runs—was AL MVP runner-up in 1968 and a third-place finisher the year before.

  • It was quite the eventful week for veteran Braves C Travis d'Arnaud. On 8/20 he was extended by Atlanta for 2Y/$16M; hours later he went on paternity leave awaiting his second child's birth. *UPDATE: d'Arnaud's son Leo was born 8/24.
     

  • On 8/18, Tigers announcer and baseball Hall-of-Famer Jack Morris found himself in a little bit of hot water after inexplicably using an Asian accent while setting up an at-bat by Japanese Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani. Morris quickly apologized, but still faced suspension. Ohtani expressed no offense.

  • In the scariest moment of the week—which I watched live—Oakland SP Chris Bassitt took a direct hit to the face by a 2nd-inning liner from White Sox OF Brian Goodwin 8/17. He was down for a time and eventually taken to a hospital; early reports indicate Bassitt avoided major injury. I don't think I've ever been more relieved about the fate of a stranger.

  • One day later, it was the White Sox' turn to lose a starter early. Chicago SP Lance Lynn was tossed in the middle of the 4th inning by umpire Nic Lentz after throwing his belt for the customary sticky-substance inspection. Lynn was clearly frustrated after leaving his hat and glove to be checked, but then being asked for the belt. Chicago still won 3-2.

  • Rays DH Nelson Cruz joined the COVID list 8/22. Meanwhile, no fewer than four other major leaguers (including d'Arnaud) went on the paternity list last week; obviously, dudes had more happening on Thanksgiving than just turkey and football.

  • Holy Bo Jackson! During an at-bat against the visiting Twins 8/21, Yankees 2B Rougned Odor asked for time. But P Ralph Garza still delivered, so Odor still swung...and hit the ball out of the park! Unfortunately for him, he was indeed granted time by home plate umpire Angel Hernandez and the four-bagger did not count.
     

  • This news isn't technically from last week, but you may have missed it: after the successful "Field Of Dreams Game" held 8/12, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the very next day that the Game will return in 2022.

  • Angels rookie OF Jo Adell, who's struggled mightily in his limited MLB exposure, smoked a go-ahead grand slam in the T9th at Detroit 8/17 and inexplicably heaved his bat and hollered animatedly toward his dugout. I know we're in a different era and celebrating is not only tolerated, but even encouraged by MLB itself. That does not and should not apply to some overhyped noob barely hitting his weight.

  • On 8/22 at Colorado, Diamondbacks C/OF Daulton Varsho homered in the 2nd, doubled in the 8th and tripled in the 9th for the rare missed-the-cycle-by-a-single.

  • Baltimore, just as it did the week before, went winless last week. That makes 18 straight losses for the O's—three short of tying their 1988 record. Miami also failed to notch a W last week, as sweeps by the Braves and Reds left them 0-7.

  • Meanwhile, the Braves and Yankees both enter this week on nine-game win streaks; New York won all six of its contests last week (one was postponed by Hurricane Henri), as did Atlanta (all on the road). Yankees ace Gerrit Cole made a strong return from COVID 8/16.

  • Phillies 3B Alec Bohm, the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up, played his way back to the minors 8/21. Meanwhile, longtime Pirates OF Gregory Polanco, batting .199, was placed on waivers 8/22. Somehow, he remained on the active roster despite the move, which I never knew was permitted.

  • Though it was only 4.2 innings, on 8/17, Yankees rookie SP Luis Gil strung together his third straight scoreless start to open his career (a major league record). That marks 15.2 scoreless innings to open his career, an expansion era Yankee record.

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Against Seattle's Luis Torrens 8/21, Rangers CF D.J. Peters made the no-doubt catch of the year...for a second, until the fence caused him to drop the ball into the bullpen. I'd still use the image for his 2022 baseball card.

  • Mets SP Jacob deGrom, Brewers 1B Daniel Vogelbach, Yankees OF Clint Frazier, Mariners SP Justin Dunn, Padres RP Drew Pomeranz and Rays RP Jeffrey Springs were all transferred to the 60-day IL last week, potentially ending their seasons.

  • Meanwhile, Braves SP Huascar Ynoa came off the 60-day IL 8/17 and delivered 5.1 shutout innings at Miami that night. Ynoa had been out since May after punching a bench and breaking his pitching hand.

  • A few interesting scoring notes: the Rays four-game swept Baltimore by the combined score of 34-8; overall, Tampa scored at least seven runs in six of their seven games last week. The Angels beat Detroit 13-10 on 8/19, then managed two more runs over their next three games. 

COMPLETE GAME WATCH

 

  • On 8/20, Braves lefty Max Fried took just 90 pitches to complete nine innings at Baltimore. It was the second CG of Fried's five-season career.

  • On 8/21, Phillies SP Aaron Nola needed one more out to wrap up the CG win at San Diego, but Padres IF Jake Cronenworth blasted his 117th pitch out of the park, tying the game and ending Nola's night.

  • Several other pitchers were allowed to complete eight innings last week, an encouraging sign that this ridiculous "two times through the order" limitation many teams lean on might slowly fade away. (Too late for the 2020 Rays, sadly.)

MAJOR LEAGUE LEADERS THRU 8/22

HITS: Adam Frazier, PIT/SD (146)

HOME RUNS: Shohei Ohtani, LAA (40)


AVERAGE: Trea Turner, WAS/LAD (.323)

RBI: Jose Abreu, CHW (92)


STEALS: Starling Marte, MIA/OAK (39)

INNINGS: Zack Wheeler, PHI (168.2)


WINS: Kyle Hendricks, CHC (14)


ERA: Walker Buehler, LAD (2.11)


STRIKEOUTS: Zack Wheeler, PHI (194)


SAVES: Mark Melancon, SD (34)

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Cardinals SP Adam Wainwright, 40 next week, continued his brilliant August with eight shutout innings against Pittsburgh 8/22. If he stays in St. Louis and remains healthy and productive, Wainwright could become the third Cardinal with 200 career wins as soon as 2022—he's currently 21 shy.