By Sam McPherson
If you’re a professional golf fan, perhaps you were preoccupied with the British Open last week. In that case, here are five things from Major League Baseball action you may have missed while enjoying “a good walk spoiled” on the television.
Giants’ consecutive sellouts streak at AT&T ends at 530 games
It was inevitable, perhaps, with the San Francisco club having such a poor season. Sooner or later, fans find something “better” to do than go to a baseball game. On Monday night against the Cleveland Indians, the Giants failed to sell out AT&T Park for the first time since September 30, 2010, a run of 530 games which is a new National League record.
The streak began on Friday, October 1, 2010, as the Giants began a three-game series against the San Diego Padres on the final weekend of that regular season. Of course, during the streak, San Francisco won three World Series titles, two NL West Division titles and two NL Wild Card spots as the club made four postseason appearances—matching the club total from previous 20 seasons combined (1990-2009).
The NL Central gets crazy in a hurry
At the All-Star break two weeks ago, the Milwaukee Brewers held a 5.5-game lead over the Chicago Cubs, the defending World Series champions, in the NL Central Division. However, in the proverbial blink of an eye, the Cubs have erased that deficit, and as of Monday this week, the two teams were tied atop the division.
The Brewers have won just once since July 16, while the Cubs have won eight of nine since the Midsummer Classic. Both teams trail the Arizona Diamondbacks for the final wild-card spot in the league by 4.5 games now, so it’s likely the winner of the NL Central will be the only team from the division to make the October playoffs. Hang on for a fun pennant race in the Midwest, fans.
Colorado’s Nolan Arenado goes deep three times in 18-4 win
The top NL wild-card slot currently is held by the Colorado Rockies, and last Wednesday, their star third baseman had a game to remember. Arenado has led the NL in RBI for two years in a row, and he’s well on his way to doing a third straight time after this three-dinger, seven-RBI performance against the San Diego Padres.
The three-time All-Star selection now has 22 home runs and 86 RBI this year. Did we mention he also is a four-time Gold Glove winner at third? He has finished in the Top 8 voting for NL MVP the last two seasons, and if the Rockies make the playoffs for the first time since 2007, Arenado could be in line for even more MVP votes if he keeps this up.
Dodgers win 11 straight before losing two in a row for the first time since early June
Los Angeles is running away with the NL West Division, and the Dodgers have the best record in the sport right now. Last week, they ran a win streak to 11 in a rain-shortened game against the Chicago White Sox in the Windy City. With a 66-29 record after the game, L.A. certainly was turning MLB heads in its direction.
Perhaps jet-lagged and water-logged, the Dodgers returned home and lost two games to the mediocre Atlanta Braves on Thursday and Friday before recovering to win both Saturday and Sunday. It marked the first time the Dodgers had lost consecutive games since they dropped three straight on June 4-6. Don’t count on it happening again any time soon.
Chris Sale becomes the fastest American League pitcher to 200 strikeouts ever
The Boston Red Sox knew what they were getting when they traded for Sale in the offseason, and the ace lefty hasn’t failed to deliver upon those expectations. In a 6-2 win on Friday night in Los Angeles against the Angels, Sale reached 200 strikeouts on the season … already.
Looking a lot like Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson, the Red Sox star has thrown just 141 1/3 innings to reach that total. Johnson reached the mark in 143 innings during his historic 1995 season, when he won the AL Cy Young Award. Sale only has a remote shot, however, at the all-time, single-season record of 383 Ks in one season, set by all-time great Nolan Ryan back in 1973.