Around the Major Leagues: 2013 Week 25

Miami's Henderson Alvarez no-hit Detroit on Sunday

All the news from around the major leagues as the regular season comes to its close – almost.

AL East

Tampa Bay Rays starter Alex Cobb was named the AL Player of the Week for the period ending on September 22nd. Cobb went undefeated during the week with a 1.65 ERA in 16.1 innings pitched. He had 22 strikeouts and only three walks while holding batters to a .193 batting average. Cobb's gutsy performances came at a key time for the Rays, helping them stay in the hunt for a playoff spot. Tampa will face off with the Texas Rangers on Monday night to break the Wild Card tie and decide who will face the Cleveland Indians in the first round of the playoffs.

Mariano Rivera has made us feel plenty of emotions over the past 19 seasons, but never has he brought New York to its knees the way he did this past week. Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who was also Rivera's catcher for several years, decided to honor Rivera in a touching way, sending teammates Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter out to the mound to pull him from the game in the top of the 9th inning in his final home game. Traditionally (and legally) only a manager or coach can pull a reliever from the game, however the umpiring crew made a special exception and tears ensued.

With so much attention on Mariano Rivera, it is easy to forget that another Yankee legend is retiring at season's end. Andy Pettitte pitched his final game this past Saturday and he made it a special one. The Yankees' all-time strikeout leader tossed a complete game, giving up just one run and striking out five. It was win no. 256 for Pettitte, the final victory of his long and successful career. Pettitte finishes his career with a 3.85 ERA and 2448 strikeouts (No. 36 all time), and he did it in a fitting way, defeating the Houston Astros, the only other team for which he played during his 18-year career.

AL Central

Playoff-bound Cleveland starter Scott Kazmir struck out 11 batters in Saturday's victory against the Twins, exactly a week after he struck out 10 Astros hitters in another Tribe victory. Kazmir is the first Indians pitcher since Chuck Finley in April of 2000 to win back-to-back starts and record at least 10 strikeouts in each of them. Kazmir is not an ace, but he sure has made a comeback after a few rough seasons. In 28 innings during the month of September, Kazmir struck out 43 batters and posted an ERA of 2.57 to go along with a 1.21 WHIP. Maybe he isn't a top-tier starter, but he has proven he can be quite useful in the middle of any team's rotation if given the chance.

The Royals and White Sox scored 11 combined runs on Saturday, with Chicago taking the 6-5 victory. The interesting thing about those 11 runs is that all of them came thanks to the long ball. According to Elias, it was the most total runs scored in any major-league game in the last two seasons in which every run was driven in on a home run. There were three games of that kind in 2011, and none between 2007 and 2010.

AL West

Bartolo Colon earned a victory over the Mariners on Friday, pitching six innings and allowing just two runs for Oakland. It was his 19th career win against Seattle, tying him with Mike Mussina and Chuck Finley for third most against the Mariners. Roger Clemens (23) and Dave Stewart (20) are the top two on the list. This factoid was just the final punctuation mark on an incredible season for the 16-year veteran. Colon finishes the year at 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA and a 117/29 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Incredibly, Colon is 40 years old, but having watched him pitch this season, you could have sworn he were a 25-year-old at his peak. For Colon, only one goal remains: a trip to the World Series with the AL West champion Oakland Athletics.

Rangers rookie Martin Perez recorded his seventh win in ten games since the beginning of August with a victory over the Astros last Wednesday. Perez's seven wins since August 1st tie him with Washington's Tanner Roark for the most in the majors over that span by a rookie. Perez will get a chance to showcase his skills on national television on Monday when he takes the mound for the Rangers' one-game tiebreaker with Tampa Bay.

NL East

The Miami Marlins have enjoyed a fair share of success from their young crop of players this season, but even this unpredictable franchise could not have foreseen such a wacky ending during Sunday's season finale. Rookie starter Henderson Alvarez blanked the Tigers for nine innings, but there was just one issue: the game was still a scoreless tie. So in the bottom of the 9th inning, with Alvarez on deck, all Miami had to do was score one run. With Giancarlo Stanton on third base, the Marlins scored that run in the unlikeliest of ways: a wild pitch. Detroit reliever Luke Putkonen sent his pitch past his catcher and to the backstop, allowing Stanton to score the winning run before celebrating with Alvarez and their teammates in front of the team's dugout.

There have now been 282 no-hitters in major-league history, but this was the only one to end on a wild pitch. On top of that, it was the first walk-off, complete-game no-hitter since May of 1952 when Washington starter Virgil Trucks was on the mound.

Of the 282 no-hitters in history, it was the only one to end on a wild pitch, STATS said. And it was the first walk-off complete-game no-hitter since Virgil Trucks of the Tigers threw one on May 15, 1952 against Washington. Even with the National League's worst record (62-100), the Marlins can hang their hat on having baseball's oddest no-hitter and one of baseball's wildest season finales of all time.

NL Central

Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez and Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt cemented their names as this season's top sluggers, finishing the year as the National League's co-leaders in home runs with 36 apiece. It is only the second time in the last 50 years that players finished a season tied for the most home runs. The only other season that it happened since 1964 was in1984, when Dale Murphy and Mike Schmidt also finished the season tied with 36 homers. Alvarez is the first player to either win or tie for the National League lead in home runs in a season since Hall of Famer Willie Stargell did it in 1973.

Yadier Molina went 2-for-2 with a two-run double in the Cardinals' victory over the Cubs on Saturday, watching his batting average increase to .460 (23-of-50) this season against Chicago. The last player to finish a season with a .450 or higher batting average against the Cubs with a minimum of 40 plate appearances was Pittsburgh outfielder Brian Giles, who hit .509 against them in 2002. Molina capped off an unbelievable season in which he finished with a line of .319/.359/.477, with 12 home runs and 80 RBI. If anyone was key to the success of St. Louis this season, it was Molina. He will need to continue that when the playoffs start this week for the Cardinals to have a chance of winning it all.

NL West

Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon was named the NL Player of the Week for the period ending on September 22nd. Blackmon went 18-for-36 (.500) and scored six runs during the week, hitting in one home run and driving in five. The lefty hitter only had 246 at-bats this season, but made the most of them. He finished the season with an admirable .306/.331/.467 batting line and played a major role filling a major void in the outfield when Carlos Gonzalez went down with an injury.

Colorado first baseman Todd Helton is retiring at the end of the season and he planned to go out in style. Playing his last home game for the Rockies against the Red Sox on Wednesday, Helton went 2-for-3 with a home run, double, sacrifice fly and three RBI. He finishes with a career total of 1394 hits in 1141 regular-season games at Coors Field. That's the fifth-highest hit total by a major-league player at one ballpark in baseball's expansion era. Helton's impressive career totals: .316/.414/.539, 2518 hits, 369 home runs, 1406 RBIs, 592 doubles and five straight All-Star Game appearances.



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

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