By Sam McPherson
Major League Baseball’s bright, young stars were in the news for different reasons, and there were some surprising upsets in three-game series as well. Here’s what you may have missed in MLB action last week.
San Francisco surprisingly takes down Chicago in three-game series at AT&T Park in 2016 postseason “rematch”
It was a heartbreaking end to the year for the Giants last October when they blew a ninth-inning lead in Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Cubs. It signaled the end of the #evenyear magic for San Francisco, while the comeback launched Chicago to its first World Series championship in more than a century. Thus, everyone eyed this series at AT&T Park last week with some interest.
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The series finale was also the rubber match on Wednesday, and Madison Bumgarner looked very good on the way to his second win of the season. The Giants may lead the majors in losses this season, but they had enough in the tank to take down the Cubs in the series, damaging Chicago’s tenuous lead in the NL Central Division. It was a nice bit of revenge for San Francisco.
Mike Trout collects his 1,000th hit on his birthday while also giving himself the gift of a home run (again)
The Los Angeles Angels have the best player in baseball, and he didn’t disappoint anyone last Monday on his 26th birthday. Trout has hit .309 with 191 HRs so far in his amazing career, which includes two American League MVP awards. He currently is having his greatest season at the plate, with a .341 average and a 1.158 OPS mark.
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This is the fourth time in six full MLB seasons that Trout has hit a HR on his birthday. He has never finished lower than second in the AL MVP balloting, and if he can lead the Angels to the postseason this fall, Trout might win another MVP. He’s that good.
White Sox sweep Astros despite 26-game deficit in the standings
It’s not often the worst team in the league sweeps the best team in the league, but it happened last week in Chicago as the White Sox found some deep mojo to pull off the feat. They have won just seven games since the All-Star break, and somehow three of them came in a row against the Astros.
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After going 13-10 in April, the White Sox collapsed this season, but the home sweep was a nice bright spot for the 18,000-plus fans at Guaranteed Rate Field last Thursday. Chicago has made the postseason just once since sweeping Houston in the 2005 World Series.
Washington’s Bryce Harper injures his knee against Giants on play at first base
If Trout rules the AL, then Bryce Harper is his NL counterpart. The Nationals outfielder is only 24 and has 218 hits to go to reach 1,000 for his career, but Harper has his own hardware in the form of a Rookie of the Year Award and an NL MVP trophy. However, his week didn’t go as well as it did for Trout.
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On Saturday against San Francisco at Nationals Park in D.C., Harper wrenched his knee very awkwardly while trying to beat out a grounder to first base. Luckily for the Washington organization, it turned out to be a relatively minor injury although the young star still was placed on the disabled list as a cautionary move. He could miss a month of play, but Harper should be back for the NL postseason.
MLB announces first-ever Players Weekend to be held August 25-27
The sport will host a unique event at the end of August, featuring fun player nicknames and colorful uniform attire in an attempt to connect with a younger generation of sports fans. According to MLB.com, Players Weekend “will be a player-focused field festival of sorts, different than anything seen before at the top rung of the sport.”
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Make sure you find your favorite team and players nicknames so you can join in on the fun in a few weeks. In an interesting development, the New York Yankees players will have their nicknames on the back of their famous pinstriped jerseys that weekend for their series against the Seattle Mariners—something never done before by the Bronx Bombers.