Boston Red Sox infielder Will Middlebrooks and catcher Mike Napoli were named co-American League Players of the Week for the period ending September 8th. Middlebrooks went 13-for-28 (.464) during the week with four home runs and nine RBI, while Napoli went 10-of-21 (.476) with four home runs and nine RBI of his own. The two also combined for 15 runs scored. The Red Sox are heading into the final stretch of the season with a nine and a half game lead in the division. It is all cruise control from here until the playoffs begin.
It has been one fun ride for Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado this season. Not only is his team only two and a half games out of a Wild Card spot with two weeks to go, but Machado leads all of baseball in at bats (631), hits (183) and doubles (50). His 50 doubles make him the second-youngest player to reach that milestone, doing it 70 days past his 21st birthday. Alex Rodriguez hit his 50th double for the Seattle Mariners in 1996, just 43 days after his 21st birthday.
Boston starter Jon Lester allowed three hits over eight innings to pull out a victory in his team’s 5-1 win over the Yankees on Saturday. Lester became the first pitcher in over 10 years to throw at least eight innings against in the Yankees twice in the same week. Prior to Lester, the last pitcher to do so was Tim Hudson for Oakland in 2003.
The Cleveland Indians defeated Chris Sale for the fourth time this season and in the process completed a four-game sweep over the Chicago White Sox. Sale, now 0-4 vs. the Indians this year, is the first White Sox pitcher to lose four games to the Indians in one season since 1958, when Billy Pierce went 3-4 in nine games (eight starts) versus Cleveland. Sale’s 3.08 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with 214 strikeouts this season have made him Chicago’s ace in just his third year in the league. He’s on pace for a fantastic career... except when it comes to facing the Indians, apparently.
Max Scherzer reached the 1000th inning of his major-league career in Sunday’s matchup with Kansas City. In those 1000 innings, he has 71 wins and 1045 strikeouts. The only other pitcher in major-league history who accumulated both as many wins and as many strikeouts as Scherzer through his first 1000 innings is Pedro Martinez (71 wins and 1075 strikeouts). All in all, that’s not a bad name to find yourself next to as a major-league pitcher. Not bad at all.
The Houston Astros probably didn’t think they would be adding their name to the major-league record books on Saturday night, given how bad their first season in the American League has gone. But when outfielder Trevor Crowe struck out against Jered Weaver in the 5th inning of their matchup with the Angels, they did just that... except for all the wrong reasons. The Astros set an all-time American League record for K's in one season with 1393 and counting, just one year after Oakland set the new record. It is safe to say there is a strong possibility Houston could reach 1400 strikeouts before the season is over.
Rookie Dan Straily came out with a win and now has victories in each of his last four starts for the Athletics. Since the 2000 season, only two other Oakland rookies picked up wins in four or more consecutive starts. Joe Blanton had a four-start streak in June 2005 and Brett Anderson also won four straight in September 2009. Straily is now 10-7 on the season with an ERA of 4.11 and a WHIP of 1.24. He also has a K/BB ratio of 113/52.
Washington catcher Wilson Ramos hit a sixth-inning home run to go along with his RBI singles in the second, fourth and seventh innings as the Nationals took care of the Phillies on Sunday. Over the last three seasons, the only other catcher to go 4-for-4 or better with five or more RBI in a game is Russell Martin, who did so for the Yankees against the Athletics in 2011.
It has not been an easy transition to the major-league level for Travis d’Arnaud, one of the Mets’ top prospects. Back in August, the Mets announced he would be the starting catcher for the remainder of the season after the team traded John Buck to the Pirates, but the 24-year-old has had his fair share of struggles. He was 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position in his major-league career before he delivered a bases-loaded single with two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning to give the Mets a 1-0 victory over the Marlins. He is the first rookie in Mets history to hit a walkoff RBI in a game that was scoreless up to that point. Even with the struggles, d’Arnaud is a nice weapon in the Mets’ young, up-and-coming arsenal of prospects.
Shin-soo Choo, Cincinnati’s soon-to-be free agent outfielder, went 2-for-3 on Saturday, scoring three runs and driving in three runs in the Reds' 7-3 win at Milwaukee. Choo is the second National Player player behind Matt Carpenter to reach the 100-run mark this season and he became the third player in the last 40 years to score at least 100 times in his first season with the Reds. The others were Greg Vaughn (104 runs in 1999) and Ken Griffey Jr. (100 in 2000).
Meanwhile, Choo’s teammate, rookie Billy Hamilton, pinch ran for catcher Ryan Hanigan, stole second base, and scored the Reds' final run on Choo's sacrifice fly in the eighth inning of that same victory. Hamilton remains hitless in two major-league at-bats, but he has amassed five stolen bases. The last player to record that many steals before producing his first MLB hit was Rodney McCray. If you don’t remember McCray too well, maybe this video of him running into a minor-league outfield wall will refresh your memory.
San Diego Padres closer Huston Street was named the National League Player of the Week for the period ending September 8th. Street tossed five innings during the week, picking up a win and four saves while striking out four batters. He held hitters to a .176 average at the plate. Street is only 2-4 on the year but holds a commendable 2.66 ERA with a K/BB ratio of 38/12 and 30 saves.
San Francisco outfielder Hunter Pence went 3-for-5 with seven RBI, while his teammate, first baseman Brandon Belt, was 5-for-6 with six RBI in the Giants’ 19-3 win at Los Angeles. According to Elias, it's the fourth time since RBI became an official statistic in 1920 that two Giants have each driven in at least six runs in a game. Earlier in the same week, Pence drove in six runs against the Rockies and posted absurd numbers for the week overall: .448 batting average, six home runs, 19 RBI and eight runs scored.
In addition to his power-hitting binge this past week, Pence also etched his name alongside Hall of Famer and Giants legend Willie Mays. Pence joined Mays as the only Giants hitters to homer in every game of a four-game series against the Dodgers, their long-time nemesis. Pence has been a breath of fresh air for San Francisco and is having one of the best seasons of his career, owning a line of .295/.345/.499 with 25 homers, 86 runs, 92 RBI and 21 stolen bases.
John Lopiano can be reached at email@example.com. Follow John on Twitter: @johnlopiano.
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