Steven Matz took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, the Angels lost their 10th game in a row, the Pirates clobbered the Dodgers to stay sneaky close in the National League wild-card race, and the Mariners continue to roll. Here is our top five.
1. Bombs, Buck and Britton. What a crazy game in San Francisco, as the Orioles rallied from a 7-1 deficit to stun the Giants 8-7. Jonathan Schoop‘s three-run home run off a hanging Santiago Casilla curveball with two outs provided the winning runs, and the Giants bullpen gave up five runs in the final two innings. Before we jump on the ‘pen, it had been pitching pretty well lately, with the fourth-best ERA in the majors in August entering Sunday. But that hardly eases the pain of a loss that dropped the Giants to 9-18 since the All-Star break. To break things down:
Before the break: .263/.336/.406, 8th in NL in wOBA, 4.71 runs per game (5th in NL)
After the break: .241/.319/.364, 12th in NL in wOBA, 3.56 runs per game (14th in NL)
Before: .243/.294/.396, 4th in NL in wOBA, 3.48 ERA (4th in NL)
After: .250/.318/.459, 11th in NL in wOBA, 4.67 ERA (10th in NL)
Before: .249/.318/.389, 7th in NL in wOBA, 3.94 ERA (8th in NL)
After: .227/.294/.353, 2nd in NL in wOBA, 3.09 ERA (3rd in NL)
The bullpen faltered Sunday, but it hasn’t been the primary culprit for the Giants’ second-half struggles.
Speaking of bullpens, Baltimore’s Zach Britton recorded his 37th save in 37 chances — the fifth-longest streak to begin a season since 1969. What made this save interesting is that with Trevor Brown on second and two out, Buster Posey pinch hit. Buck Showalter elected to intentionally walk Posey — the potential winning run — and pitch to Denard Span. It brought back memories of the time Showalter intentionally walked Barry Bonds with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, which pushed the winning run to second base. Buck escaped that game with a win, and this move worked out as well, as Span grounded into a fielder’s choice. Britton hasn’t allowed an earned run since April, and his stretch of 39 appearances without an earned run is an MLB record.
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) August 15, 2016
For 1st time ever, Dodgers game ball goes to Jonathan Schoop.
— Batting Stance Guy (@BattingStanceG) August 14, 2016
Zach Britton is perfect and he will be the AL Cy Young. Period.
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) August 14, 2016
2. Mookie times three. Mookie Betts went 4-for-6 with eight RBIs and three home runs, including blasts in the first and second innings off Zack Greinke, as the Red Sox rolled to a 16-2 win over the Diamondbacks. That was Mookie’s second three-homer game of 2016. He is the first player with two such games in one season since Albert Pujols in 2006. By the way, if it seems like we’ve had a lot of three-homer games this year, that’s because we have. From ESPN Stats Information, seasons with the most three-homer games:
Sammy Sosa actually had three three-homer games in 2001, when Bonds, Carlos Delgado and Jeromy Burnitz each had two.
Betts is up to .313/.353/.561 with 26 home runs. He’s two behind Josh Donaldson for the American League lead in runs and tied for fifth in RBIs. He has 18 steals and plays a good right field. He’s creeping up in the MVP list, though I’d still slot him behind Jose Altuve, Donaldson and Mike Trout, primarily because those three have OBPs over .400, while Betts’ is .353. Still, Betts is a player. He’s hitting .332 and slugging .621 against fastballs, with 16 of those 26 home runs coming off the pitch.
“I hadn’t been swinging the bat too well prior to today.” – Mookie Betts, who hit .360 with a .996 OPS over last 12 games coming into today.
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) August 14, 2016
3. Giancarlo Stanton done for the season. After Stanton injured his groin Saturday, the Marlins announced the awful news. I wrote about what it means, including the increased likelihood that the team signs Alex Rodriguez. In good news, the Marlins beat the White Sox 5-4 in dramatic fashion:
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) August 14, 2016
4. Michael Fulmer continues to impress. The Detroit Tigers rookie tossed a 112-pitch, four-hit, no-walk shutout of the Rangers and improved to 10-3 with a 2.25 ERA. That leads the AL, now that Fulmer has qualified for the leaderboard. Yes, you can add him to the Cy Young discussion, which now includes eight starting pitchers with WAR between 4.0 and 4.8, plus Britton, if you want to consider him.
Fulmer throws two fastballs, a sharp slider that he isn’t afraid to throw to lefties and a changeup that acts a lot like a splitter, similar in some ways to Felix Hernandez‘s changeup. Fulmer’s change is also thrown pretty hard, averaging 85.9 mph, and has some late fade away from left-handed batters. He doesn’t throw it a lot, about 16 percent of the time, but opponents have done nothing with it, as they are hitting .119 with one-extra base hit (a double) in 73 plate appearances ending with that pitch. The Tigers, by the way, are 16-3 when Fulmer starts.
5. The streak is over. Minor leaguer Francisco Mejia received a gift Saturday, when a scoring change after the game extended his hit streak to 50 games. (It looked like a pretty clear error to me, a three-hopper to third base that the third baseman made a poor stab at.) Maybe the baseball gods frowned on that, as Mejia’s streak ended Sunday, when he went 0-for-3 with a walk.