By Sam McPherson
Tuesday was the Fourth of July, and that means there was plenty of baseball and sunshine across America. After celebrating the birth of the nation and watching the national pastime, make sure you catch up on last week’s MLB action below.
San Francisco Giants finally put together a winning streak
The “Team of the Decade” isn’t on pace to make the postseason in 2017, but the Giants do have some pride and talent. It showed last week as San Francisco won three straight games at home over the Colorado Rockies before hitting the road and taking three consecutive contests in Pittsburgh against the Pirates.
Starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija earned the first and the sixth wins of the streak by tossing a combined 12 1/3 innings and striking out ten batters in the process. The Shark had just two wins on the season before last week, but now his 4-9 record is a little more respectable, and the entire Giants organization has something to smile about as it plays three games in Detroit this week.
Cleveland mounts massive comeback against Texas with impressive offensive outburst
The Texas Rangers led the Cleveland Indians, 9-2, as the teams headed to the bottom of the fourth inning last Monday at Progressive Field. But over the next four innings, the home club scored 13 unanswered runs to secure an unlikely win and help the Tribe to thrust itself into first place in the American League Central Division.
After the Rangers hit four home runs to take their lead, it was Cleveland’s turn. Three different Tribe hitters drove in three runs apiece, while two others drove in a pair of runs each. Overall, Cleveland’s lineup generated 19 hits and seven walks against a Texas pitching staff that crumbled hard despite its big lead.
Mookie Betts drives in eight runs from the leadoff spot for Boston
The Red Sox right fielder lit up the scoreboard in Toronto on Sunday, as he tallied four hits—including two HRs—and eight RBI in a 15-1 win for Boston over the Blue Jays. Betts led the AL in total bases last year as he also finished second in the Most Valuable Player voting while winning Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.
Clearly, the Boston star is not slacking off in 2017. This effort tied an MLB record for most RBI from the top slot in the batting order, matching the mark set by four others prior to this season, including Colorado’s Ronnie Belliard in 2003, the last player to accomplish the feat.
Aoki takes the mound for the first time in his MLB career
Houston Astros outfielder Norichika Aoki, a six-year veteran player from Japan, got the unique opportunity on Friday night to pitch in a major-league game with his team down, 10-4, in the ninth inning. The results were mixed, of course, as Aoki gave up three runs in one full inning of work on the mound.
The Astros “relief pitcher” walked the first two batters of the inning before recovering to get New York Yankees phenom Aaron Judge out on a fly ball to end the innings. If Judge goes on to a stellar career, Aoki always will be able to say he got the guy out at the plate once.
Oakland avoids no-hit bid by Braves on Friday night at Coliseum
Atlanta pitcher Mike Foltynewicz is hardly a household name, especially with his 4.62 ERA over his four-year career. But on Friday night, he dazzled the Athletics in Oakland for eight innings without allowing a hit. However, in the bottom of the ninth, Foltynewicz ran into some trouble.
A’s first baseman Matt Olson ruined the no-hit bid, but Atlanta held on for the win nonetheless. Oakland “rewarded” Olson by sending him back down to the minors a few days later, despite his four HRs and nine RBI in just 16 games in the big leagues this season.