- New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez gave fans another reason to groan this week when Major League Baseball announced they would be seeking information from the founder of the Miami-based Biogenesis Clinic, Anthony Bosch, in the latest controversy regarding the usage of PEDs. The league believes Bosch has enough credible information to warrant suspensions for up to 20 players, including Rodriguez and Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun. If suspended, Rodriguez and Braun could both face suspensions as high as 100 games.
- It’s hard not to be in awe of the way Baltimore’s Chris Davis has been playing this year and his monster home runs have plenty to do with it. The Orioles lead all of baseball with 84 home runs and the 27-year-old first baseman is one of the major reasons. With 20 long balls to his name, Davis is on pace to finish the season with 39 in total, a number that would put him amongst the league leaders. If he finished at the top, Davis would be the first Orioles slugger to lead all of baseball in home runs since 1966, when Frank Robinson crushed 49 home runs and won the Triple Crown.
- If someone had said before the season began that Tampa Bay starters Matt Moore and Alex Cobb would be two of baseball’s most effective pitchers in the first three months of the season, would you have believed them? Probably not, and nobody would blame you if you didn’t... but it is June and both Cobb and Moore have been splendid. With them having a combined ERA of 2.65 and WHIP of 1.15 in 139.1 innings pitched, the Rays are confident whenever they step on the rubber. Tampa Bay is 18-5 in games in which Moore and Cobb start and just 16-23 in other games, meaning that both are major reasons why the Rays are just four games out of first place in the division.
- After going 18-11 in May and sitting in first place atop the division, the Cleveland Indians came back down to earth this past week. The Tribe are currently in the midst of a seven-game losing streak after being swept in back-to-back road series by the Yankees and Tigers. Cleveland is now 5.5 games out of the division lead while the surging Tigers have won six of their last eight games.
- With four dominant starting pitchers and two of the league’s best power hitters (one of which is making a Triple Crown bid), it should come as no surprise to anyone that the Detroit Tigers are finally hitting their stride in the month of June. However, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera aren’t the only two players responsible for the Tigers’ current division lead. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who had eight hits in five games this week, is turning heads this season as well with a slash line of .338/.382/.493 to go along with six home runs, 26 RBI, and 31 runs scored. He is currently third among American League shortstops in All-Star voting and has been a huge help at the bottom of the Detroit lineup.
- It sure was not a good week for the Texas Rangers, but thanks to home runs from Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre, and David Murphy on Sunday, they were able to pull out a 6-4 victory from the lowly Blue Jays, preventing a sweep. Entering Sunday's series finale in Toronto, the Rangers had scored three runs or less in six of their last seven games and were 2-5 over that span. Texas holds a slim half-game lead in the division as they begin an 11-game home stand on Monday, culminating in a four-game series with the second-place Athletics.
- It is hard to find a silver lining when you are 11 games behind the division leader with no serious chance of making the playoffs, however Seattle Mariners fans have a few really exciting reasons to hold their head high. One reason is at the plate, where rookie third baseman Kyle Seager is now crushing the ball after finally shaking off an early-season slump. Seager’s season slash line of .290/.352/.479 continues to rise after a torrid start to the month of June, amassing 13 hits in his first 34 at bats of the month. Meanwhile, another reason comes in the form of starter Hisashi Iwakuma, who continues to fool American League lineups with each and every start. The 32-year-old from Tokyo, Japan is averaging six strikeouts per game while posting an ERA of 1.94 and WHIP of 1.09 in 88.1 innings pitched.
- The Mets have not had a good season thus far and it seems as if the Marlins exist solely to add salt to the wound. Since May 29, the Marlins are 5-0 against the Mets while posting a 0-12 record against all other teams. Yikes. After Sunday’s 10-inning loss to Miami (not nearly as dramatic as their 20-inning matchup the day before), the Mets demoted three players, including power hitting first baseman Ike Davis. Davis turned some heads in 2010 during his rookie campaign when he put up 19 home runs and 71 RBIs and an OPS of .791, figuring to be a perfect compliment to David Wright in the middle of the Mets lineup for years to come. However this season, Davis has failed to make any impact at the plate, with a line of .164/.245/.262. Manager Terry Collins said Davis will be welcomed back into the lineup once he figures things out in the minors.
- The Braves seem to be on cruise control so far in June, winning seven of the month’s first nine games and enjoying a 7.5 game lead in the division. Despite some struggles with their offense, Atlanta can thank steady pitching for their continuing success. Starter Mike Minor posted his 8th win of the season on Sunday with another dazzling performance over the Dodgers. Minor gave up one earned run over six innings and struck out six batters, watching his ERA dip to a stellar 2.44 to go along with his 0.94 WHIP. After a slow start to his young career, Minor seems to finally be hitting the stride Atlanta management hoped he would hit when they drafted him No. 7 overall in the 2009 draft.
- Philadelphia outfielder Domonic Brown was named the National League’s Player of the Week for the second consecutive time thanks to a week where he went 9-for-26 at the plate with four home runs and seven RBI, as well as two stolen bases. Brown is now hitting .289/.329/.596 on the season with a league-leading 19 home runs.
- Cincinnati ace Mat Latos is having a brilliant season and it showed on Saturday against the Cardinals. St. Louis boasts a major-league-leading .342 batting average with runners in scoring position and yet Latos held them to just one hit in five at-bats with runners on second and/or third base. Overall, opposing batters are hitting just .190 against the Alexandria, Va. native this season. Saturday’s victory was Latos’ 20th straight regular-season start without a loss, the longest streak in Reds’ history.
- Rookie sensation Shelby Miller has been one of the shining stars in the St. Louis Cardinals’ starting rotation this season, however he is not asking for any favors at the plate. He is taking matters into his own hands. The Cards have baseball’s second-best batting average and third-best on-base percentage, but Miller wanted to really make sure he got the win on Thursday night... so he cracked his first career home run in the 5th inning. Oh yeah, and he also tossed six innings of two-run ball while striking out nine Arizona hitters. According to Elias, only four other Cardinals' pitchers since 1900 have homered and struck out nine batters in the same game: Bob Gibson did it five times, Adam Wainwright (2009), Joe Magrane (1992) and Vinegar Bend Mizell (1953).
- The Pirates are off to an incredible start and are making a serious bid to win the division this season. While most people expected their talented hitters to come around, it is their pitching that has really taken baseball by surprise. The unlikely heroes include starters Jeff Locke and Francisco Liriano. Locke has a 5-1 record with a marvelous 2.39 ERA on the season and although he has a knack for walking too many batters, it has not affected the Pirates. Since April 18th, Locke has an ERA of 1.52 and has not allowed more than three runs in any start. Liriano has also been a gem for Pittsburgh, owning a 1.75 ERA and 1.17 WHIP to go along with 47 strikeouts in 36 innings pitched. Liriano has had injury struggles throughout his career, however if he can remain healthy the Pirates will certainly enjoy his presence in the rotation.
- Los Angeles’ Yasiel Puig has taken baseball by storm this past week, hitting four home runs and knocking in 10 RBIs in his first 28 at-bats in the majors. Puig, a 23-year-old Cuban defector who received a large seven-year, $42 million deal during the offseason, made his major league debut on June 3rd, where he amazed fans with a rocket throw to double up Chris Denorfia and seal a Dodgers victory. He then showed off his arm again with a laser throw (reminiscent of Bo Jackson) to nail Andrelton Simmons, who was trying to go from first to third base on a single. It is a little too early to crown him, but he sure seems like the new king of Los Angeles. With his unbelievable strength, smooth defense, and odd choice of jersey number (No. 66), Puig is already becoming a Hollywood cult hero.
- The Arizona Diamondbacks made a heartwarming gesture this week when they chose to use their 34th round draft pick on Arizona State’s Cory Hahn, an outfielder whose career was sadly cut short after he was partially paralyzed while sliding head first into second base during a game in 2011. Hahn was a top prospect out of high school and would have likely been a much higher pick in the draft had it not been for his injury. Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall was emotional as he spoke about the decision, saying that Hahn is a wonderful person and he hopes to keep him a part of the Arizona franchise. “We don't want this to just be about the selection and him being a draft pick,” Hall said, “but about him working in full-time employment with the Diamondbacks and hopefully we'll make that come to fruition for he and his family here soon."
- Colorado and San Francisco have been playing a back-and-forth game for second place so far since the beginning of June and will likely continue that trend until they meet for a three-game series at the end of the month. The Rockies have put themselves into a nice position after a 6-3 start to the month, thanks to a sizzling offense which is ranked top five in baseball in almost every hitting category. Troy Tulowitzki’s .351 batting average and Carlos Gonzalez’s 17 home runs place them each second in the National League in their respective statistical categories. Michael Cuddyer hasn’t been too shabby either, with a line of .339/.397/.603 to go along with 10 home runs and 37 RBI. Cuddyer is on pace to easily surpass all of his statistical totals from 2012.
John Lopiano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow John on Twitter: @johnlopiano.
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