By Sam McPherson
As the NBA and the NHL wind down their championship rounds, the action in MLB is just rounding into midseason form. Here’s what went down last week in baseball.
Encarnacion and the Blue Jays charge back into AL East race with walk-off win
Toronto was a popular preseason pick to win the American League pennant in 2016, but the team got off to a slow start. After winning three straight against Baltimore last weekend, though, the Blue Jays are right in the thick of the postseason chase.
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Edwin Encarnacion hit this walk-off home run on Friday night to get Toronto rolling against the Orioles, and two wins later, the Blue Jays were just 2.5 games back in the division.
The defending champions are reeling … and brawling
Speaking of Baltimore, the Orioles handed the Kansas City Royals a 9-1 loss last Tuesday that left the defending World Series champions teetering. The game was ugly, lowlighted by a brawl between the two teams that saw multiple suspensions handed down—including a nine-game suspension for Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura. That can’t help K.C. rotation, which is already a mess (4.80 ERA currently). Overall, the champs lost eight straight games recently before recovering a bit by winning twice over the weekend.
Are the Bronx Bombers good enough to make a run in 2016?
The New York Yankees aren’t what they used to be, even if what they used to be was historic (five AL pennants in six seasons from 1996-2001 and four World Series titles in that span, too). But are those boys in pinstripes even any good this year?
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Winners of five straight at one point last week, the Yankees got the streak rolling with three home runs in the late innings to beat the Los Angeles Angels. If the Bombers start bombing again, perhaps they can make a run at the AL wild card spots.
One minute, the pitcher has a no-hit game, and the next, he loses the game
Oakland Athletics ace Sonny Gray came into 2016 with a sub-3.00 career ERA, but this season hasn’t been kind to him yet (3-6, 5.34 ERA). However, Gray seemed to have it going again on Friday night in Cincinnati, with a no-hit effort through six innings. However, things unraveled in the seventh frame, with two outs and a man on first: wild pitch, double, single, wild pitch. Just like that, the Reds took the lead and beat the A’s, 2-1, on a night that could have been much more special for Oakland.
Stephen Strasburg is 10-0, and barely anyone has noticed
Thanks to more “dazzling” performances by other starting pitchers around MLB, hardly anyone has noticed that the Washington Nationals starter is 10-0 this season. Why isn’t there more buzz about this?
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With a 3.03 ERA and 100 strikeouts now in just 86 innings, Strasburg is having a fantastic season that’s flying well under the radar. His starts should be “can’t miss” viewing for any MLB fan, regardless of team affiliation.
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.