By Sam McPherson
It is an even year (2016), and for sports fans in San Francisco, that has meant a lot of fun this decade in Major League Baseball. But this week was a rollercoaster ride for the Giants.
Brandon Crawford ties record set more than 40 years ago
The San Francisco Giants shortstop is a local product, born and raised in the Bay Area. Crawford hit just .250 in 187 games at the Double-A level in the minor leagues, but by 2015, he was an All-Star selection and a Gold Glove winner with two World Series rings in his back pocket as well. However, on Monday night in Miami, Crawford found himself with a shot at history.
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With seven hits in the Giants’ 14-inning win over the Marlins, Crawford tied an MLB record set in 1975 by Pittsburgh Pirate Rennie Stennett. He is now hitting a career-high .270 this season, but it will be a long time now before anyone gets Crawford’s name out of the history books. Five singles, a double and a triple will be hard to top for any hitter in a single game.
The Cubs win 11 straight
It began innocently enough for Chicago: a 12-inning win over the Seattle Mariners on July 31. That victory gave the Cubs a 7.5-game lead in the National League Central Division, as the team attempts to win the World Series for the first time since 1908. However, by August 12, that division lead was up to a whopping 14 games—thanks to an 11-game win streak for Chicago. The successful run included three walk-off victories, two extra-inning triumphs and two shutouts. The Cubs pitching staff gave up just 22 runs in the 11 games, while the offense tallied a total of 59 runs.
Prince Fielder retires with the same number of home runs as his father
Texas first baseman Prince Fielder was forced into retirement last week due to neck injuries that make it impossible for him to play baseball anymore. With 319 home runs to his credit in just 1,611 career MLB Games, Fielder hit 32 HRs every 162 games he played in majors over 12 seasons with Milwaukee, Detroit and Texas.
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In a strange coincidence, his father Cecil—a three-time All-Star player for the Detroit Tigers in the 1990s—also hit exactly 319 HRs in his MLB career. However, the elder Fielder averaged 35 long balls for every 162 games played, so Dad will still have the bragging rights in this family. Cecil Fielder also led the majors in RBI for three straight seasons once (1990-1992) before winning a World Series with the New York Yankees in 1996.
Sabathia gets the win in A-Rod’s MLB finale
The old guys had their moment together with the sunset on Friday night in the Bronx, as Alex Rodriguez presumably played his final MLB game. A 14-time All-Star selection and a three-time American League MVP, A-Rod has been a polarizing figure in the sport for more than a decade now at least. In his first plate appearance, Rodriguez hit an RBI double, while his aging teammate on the mound—CC Sabathia, himself a six-time All-Star pick and a Cy Young winner—pitched six effective innings for the victory. A-Rod finishes his career with 696 HRs, 329 stolen bases and a whopping 2,086 RBI. He was also a five-time AL HR champion.
Giants continue second-half slide thanks to bullpen collapse Sunday against Orioles
With a 57-33 record at the All-Star break, San Francisco had the best record in baseball. For all the noise about the Cubs, it was actually the Giants that stood atop the MLB standings on July 12 when the Midsummer Classic was played in San Diego. However, since then, the S.F. club has been playing like the last-place Padres, in truth. That was emphasized on Sunday, when the Giants had an epic meltdown at AT&T Park against the Baltimore Orioles.
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With a 7-1 lead in the seventh inning, San Francisco looked like it was about to post a winning record for the week—which would have been a first for the second half of the season. However, Giants starter Johnny Cueto faltered as did reliever Hunter Strickland. When closer Santiago Casilla gave up a three-run HR in the ninth inning to Jonathan Schoop, the Orioles’ comeback was complete. Meanwhile, San Francisco’s second-half record fell to just 9-18 since the All-Star break.
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.