Around the Major Leagues: 2013 Week 19
Belt is finally playing up to his potential
Belt is finally playing up to his potential

Posted Aug 19, 2013


All the news from around the major leagues. The National League Player of the Week was the Giants’ Brandon Belt.

AL East

On Sunday, Adam Jones crushed his 25th home run of the season and Chris Davis followed suit by hitting his 45th. It was the ninth game this season in which Jones and Davis both hit long balls, the most for any pair of major-league teammates. Since 1901, Baltimore’s first season, the only pairs of Orioles teammates who both hit home runs in more than nine games in one season are Brady Anderson and Bobby Bonilla, as well as Anderson and Rafael Palmeiro. Both occurrences took place in 1996.

Adam Lind is making it known that he likes to abuse Tampa Bay pitching. Lind hit a pair of home runs on Saturday as the Blue Jays took a 6-2 victory over the Rays. Lind now has 20 home runs against Tampa Bay over the course of his career, the first of which came in 2007. Since that season, the only player who has hit as many homers against the Rays is Alex Rodriguez (22). Two players have hit 19 long balls against the Rays since 2007: Robinson Cano and Lind’s teammate, Jose Bautista, who also went deep on Saturday.

Alfonso Soriano is giving the naysayers who thought he would not make an impact with the Yankees following his trade to New York at the deadline a chance to rethink their opinion. The outfielder, who is in his second stint with the Yanks, has been nothing short of spectacular since the trade. His total of 18 RBI over four consecutive games tied the highest total by any major-league player since the major leagues began compiling RBI in 1920. Soriano, who has 13 hits over this stretch, is the first player to rack up at least a dozen hits and drive in 18 runs over a four-game span.

AL Central

Detroit Tigers teammates Miguel Cabrera and Austin Jackson were named AL Co-Players of the Week for the period ending on August 11th. Cabrera, who appears to be en route to his second straight MVP award, hit .429 (12-of-28) over the span with four home runs and 11 RBIs. He also scored seven runs. Jackson had an excellent week at the plate as well, going .371 (13-for-35) with four doubles, a pair of triples and two home runs.

Though saber-minded baseball fans will argue that wins don’t tell us much, Max Scherzer sure likes to collect victories. He’s up to 18 after Sunday’s victory against Kansas City. In major-league history, only four other pitchers won at least 18 of their first 19 decisions in a season. Rube Marquard won his first 19 decisions for the 1912 New York Giants, the longest start-of-season winning streak for any big-league pitcher. The other pitchers to begin seasons with 18-1 records are Don Newcombe (1955 for the Dodgers), Roy Face (1959 for the Pirates, as a reliever), and Roger Clemens (2001 for the Yankees). Maybe Scherzer’s win total doesn’t tell the whole story about the rotation’s ace, but it does say one thing... the Tigers are a well-balanced and downright frightening team to play against.

It is tough to get run support sometimes when you’re a pitcher... especially if your name is Chris Sale. The White Sox finally pulled some offense out for Sale on Saturday in an 8-5 victory over Minnesota, but rarely have they done that before this weekend. The win ended a streak of 31 consecutive starts by Sale in which the White Sox scored six or fewer runs, which is their longest streak of that kind in any pitcher's starts since they scored six or fewer runs in 34 straight starts by Tommy John in 1967 and 1968. Even without run support, Sale is having a great season. The big, 24-year-old southpaw is 9-11 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.07 WHIP to go along with his 175 strikeouts.

AL West

We have seen some pretty horrible things from the Houston Astros this season, but we have also seen some bright spots, especially on the mound. One of those bright spots is starter Brett Oberholtzer, who allowed three runs in six innings and picked up a victory against the Angels on Sunday. Astros rookie pitchers have combined for a 5-2 record and a 1.48 ERA in 13 starts since July 12th. Over that span, Oberholtzer is 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA in four starts, Brad Peacock is 1-1 with a 1.86 ERA in three starts and Jared Cosart is 1-0 with a 1.15 ERA in six starts.

Oakland outfielder Yoenis Cespedes launched his 20th home of the season this week after hitting 23 homers in all of 2012, his rookie season. Only four other Athletics players have hit 20 or more homers in both their rookie and sophomore seasons: Bob Johnson in 1933 (21) and 1934 (34), Jose Canseco in 1986 (33) and 1987 (31), Mark McGwire in 1987 (49) and 1988 (32) and Nick Swisher in 2005 (21) and 2006 (35). That’s some good company for a young, power-hitting outfielder to find himself in.

NL East

The Miami Marlins have received some great pitching this season, especially from rookie Jose Fernandez. One of Fernandez’s fellow rookies, Nate Eovaldi, hasn’t had quite the same luck and on Friday, it led to disastrous results. Eovaldi allowed 11 runs on 12 hits in three innings of work. Chad Gaudin allowed eight runs on 11 hits in four innings pitching in the same game for the Giants. It was the first game since 1900 in which both starting pitchers allowed at least eight runs and 10 hits without pitching more than four innings.

Even with a win over the white-hot Dodgers on Sunday, Philadelphia’s interim manager Ryne Sandberg's managerial career did not get off to a picture-perfect start. The Dodgers shut out the Phillies in each of his first two games at the helm. Only two other managers in major-league history have seen their team be held scoreless in each of their first two games in charge: Mike Redmond, earlier this season for the Marlins, and one in the first year of the National League, Jack Chapman for Louisville in 1876.

The Mets are relying on an influx of young talent to finish off the season and the future looks bright. The club now has nine players on the roster age 26 or younger playing major roles: pitchers Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, German Gonzalez, Jenrry Mejia and Jonathan Niese; first baseman Ike Davis; outfielder Juan Lagares; and top prospects, infielder Wilmer Flores and catcher Travis D’Arnaud.

Wheeler, who was acquired from San Francisco last season in a deal involving Carlos Beltran, has done his best to try and keep up with teammate Matt Harvey. He is 5-2 on the season with a 3.43 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 63 innings pitched. Wheeler had a brilliant performance against the Padres on Thursday, in only his 11th appearance in the majors, striking out 12 batters over six innings to earn the victory in the Mets' 4-1 win. Only six other active pitchers recorded at least 12 strikeouts in one of their first 12 games: Oliver Perez, Cole Hamels, Tim Lincecum, Stephen Strasburg, Mike Minor, and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

NL Central

Jake Arrieta made his second start of the season for the Cubs and pitched seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits to the Cardinals. Arrieta threw six innings of two-hit ball in his first start with Chicago this season after being acquired from the Orioles. Arrieta is only the second Cubs starter since 1900 to pitch at least six innings in each of his first two starts with the club, allowing two hits or less in each.

Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy hit a two-run, walk-off home run off Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman on Thursday, giving the Brewers a 7-6 win over the Reds. It was the third walk-off long ball allowed by Chapman this season, the most for any pitcher in 2013. Only one other Reds pitcher allowed three walk-off homers in one season, and he did it twice: Scott Williamson allowed three walk-off homers in both 1999 and 2003.

Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo has had a pretty bad season, so much so that they could not even find a suitor for him at the trade deadline. But there is one team that cannot seem to figure him out these days - the Cincinnati Reds. Gallardo has not allowed a run in his last two starts against Cincinnati and his ERA in his last eight starts against them is 2.49. Prior to his eight most recent games versus the Reds, Gallardo had a 5.76 ERA in 10 starts against them.

NL West

San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt was named NL Player of the Week for the period ending on August 11th. Belt, a power-hitter who was once touted as one of San Francisco’s top prospects, hit .440 (11-for-25) with two home runs, five RBI and eight runs scored. Belt is finally putting up the power numbers the team thought he would and is getting better each season. He is now batting .274/.351/.479 and has 15 home runs and 50 RBI in his third year with the Giants.

The Los Angeles Dodgers lost their game on Sunday, but they haven’t lost too many recently. In fact, the amount of winning the Dodgers have been doing is something none of us have ever witnessed before. With their victory over Philadelphia on Saturday, the Dodgers matched the best record over a 50-game single-season span by any major-league team over the last 100 years. The only two other teams over that span of time that went 42-8 within one season did so in consecutive years, just over 70 years ago: the 1941 Yankees and the 1942 Cardinals.



John Lopiano can be reached at johnlopiano@gmail.com. Follow John on Twitter: @johnlopiano.

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