By Sam McPherson
There are some great professional sports rivalries in North America, and Major League Baseball has one of the best: Boston vs. New York. Both cities got to celebrate something special last week.
Dustin Pedroia gets 11 hits in 11 straight plate appearances
From Thursday’s game in Tampa Bay through Saturday’s contest at Fenway Park against the Kansas City Royals, 2008 American League Most Valuable Player Dustin Pedroia was on a hot streak unlike any MLB hitter had experienced since 1952. Over three games in two cities, Pedroia delivered 11 straight hits in 11 consecutive plate appearances.
The MLB record is 12 consecutive hits, held by three players from the distant past—most recently, Detroit’s Walt Dropo in 1952 and Boston’s Pinky Higgins in 1938. Alas, Pedroia grounded into a double play in his 12th plate appearance, but it’s still a remarkable accomplishment that won’t be forgotten by Red Sox fans any time soon.
Two pitching gems had the nation focused on the National League West Thursday night
Atlanta’s Matt Wisler was called up from the minor leagues to start for the Braves against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he didn’t disappoint. Pitching on the road, Wisler held the home team without a hit through the first six innings. But if someone had to break up the no-hit bid, at least it was All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who singled to lead off the seventh inning. Meanwhile, just a few hundred miles west via Interstate 10 in downtown Los Angeles, San Francisco Giants starter Matt Moore made it to the ninth inning against the host Dodgers with his no-hit game intact. But it was Corey Seager Bobblehead Night at Dodger Stadium, and the promotional giveaway’s namesake singled with two outs in the last inning to prevent Moore from achieving legend status in the West Coast rivalry.
Gary Sanchez becomes the fastest player to hit 11 home runs in MLB history
There have been a lot of Bronx Bombers in baseball history, but now, Gary Sanchez sits atop them all. In just 23 games in the majors, the rookie catcher hit 11 home runs, becoming the fastest player in history to do on Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles in front of the home crowd at Yankee Stadium.
In addition, Sanchez’s 11 HRs in the month of August are the most in a calendar month by an AL rookie since Mark McGwire hit 15 for the Oakland Athletics in May 1987, according to MLB.com. There are a few more days left in this month, too, so fans in the Bronx will be watching Sanchez closely this week—as will opposing pitchers, of course.
Lots of HRs to start and end the week, too
In addition to Sanchez’s bat, a few other MLB hitters had big weeks with the big flies. On Monday in Cincinnati, Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez hit three HRs off three different Reds pitchers in an 18-9 L.A. victory. He also drove in a whopping eight runs on the day, living up to his “A-Gone” nickname once again. By the end of the week, though, the feat had been matched by 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson. On Sunday against the Minnesota Twins at the Rogers Centre, Donaldson also launched three bombs of his own in a 9-6 win for the Blue Jays. The All-Star third baseman only managed four RBI, however. With Toronto holding down first place in the AL East, it’s very possible Donaldson will add a second MVP award to his trophy case this fall.
It was a good week for HR-robbing outfielders as well
Both Boston’s Andrew Benintendi and Kansas City’s Jarrod Dyson came up with pretty impressive catches in the outfield to rob opposing hitters of home-run glory this week. On Monday night in Tampa Bay, Benintendi helped preserve a 3-0 Red Sox lead in the eighth inning with a superb catch up against the left-field wall at Tropicana Field.
Boston went on to win the game, 6-2. Not to be outdone, Dyson came up with a slightly better catch on Thursday night in Miami. Even though it was only a first-inning effort, the Royals used the positive defensive momentum to carry themselves to a 5-2 victory over the Marlins.
We give the edge to Dyson, simply because of the longer run to the wall and the fact his back was turned to the plate as well. Regardless, that’s some athleticism in the outfields of the American League in 2016, isn’t it?
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.