By Sam McPherson
It was a busy week in Major League Baseball as trades went down right before a lot of rivalry series took place across the sport. Here’s what you might have missed last week if you were on summer vacation!
A’s and Giants each win two games against each other in regular-season series
The Bay Bridge matchup last week produced some fun baseball, although neither team’s fans could walk away with any bragging rights. The A’s won on Monday in Oakland and Wednesday in San Francisco, while the Giants won on Tuesday at the Coliseum and on Thursday at AT&T Park—a draw, any way you slice it.
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Overall, since inter-league play began in 1997, the A’s hold a slim 59-55 edge over the Giants in this regular-season rivalry. With the win on Tuesday, S.F. starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija actually lowered his career ERA against Oakland to 7.92, which is pretty high. The Shark never pitched against the Giants, however, during his brief stint with the A’s back in 2014.
Oakland trades Sonny Gray to the New York Yankees
It was long rumored, and the deal finally went down on July 31 between the A’s and the Bronx Bombers. Oakland sent its one-time ace to New York in exchange for three minor-league prospects, and A’s fans at the Coliseum once again have to grieve over the loss of a favorite player.
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To the team’s credit, it played well last week after the trade. Oakland won four of its seven games last week, splitting with San Francisco and then taking two of three in Anaheim over the weekend against the Los Angeles Angels. Gray will be missed by the A’s, although he subsequently lost his first start with the Yankees on Thursday against the Cleveland Indians.
Los Angeles Dodgers match a record from 1912 by winning 43 of 50 games
Way back when Howard Taft was President of the United States, the New York Giants won 43 games in a 50-game stretch. Since then, no other MLB team had been able to match that feat—until Saturday in New York, where the Los Angeles Dodgers matched the amazing mark with a 7-4, comeback victory over the Mets.
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Los Angeles was 35-25 when the 50-game run started, two games back in the National League West Division. Now, the team is in first place by 15.5 games. The Dodgers won again on Sunday to push their record to an incredible 79-32 this season.
American League playoff race thickens with Seattle joining the party
The Houston Astros are the only AL team with a secure division lead, leaving at least six other teams to battle for the remaining four postseason spots in the league. Boston leads New York in the AL East by three games, while Cleveland leads Kansas City in the AL Central by 2.5 games. As for the wild-card spots, you can add the Tampa Bay Rays and the Seattle Mariners as teams over .500 and in contention now.
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The Mariners and the Royals split that doubleheader on Sunday, leaving K.C. in the final AL wild-card slot, currently, with Tampa Bay and Seattle close behind. It should be an exciting race in the AL down the stretch this year, especially if teams below Seattle—like Baltimore, Los Angeles and Minnesota—can get hot.
In the NL, the only real pennant race is in the Central
Just 4.5 games separate four teams in the NL Central Division, where defending-champion Chicago leads Milwaukee by half a game. Meanwhile, St. Louis is just 3.5 games out, and Pittsburgh is a game behind the Cardinals. Most likely, there will be no wild-card opportunity for the three teams that don’t win the division, thanks to the strong seasons in Arizona and Colorado.
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The Brewers lost on the road Sunday in Tampa Bay on a walk-off play in the ninth inning; otherwise, they might have had the division lead on Monday morning. With around 50 games remaining in the season, it’s now a sprint in the NL Central to see which team can survive September—and then possibly thrive in October.