Baltimore has received plenty of media attention for its offense, but the month of June belonged to Orioles starter Chris Tillman, who went 6-0 during the month with a 2.68 ERA and 29 strikeouts. Over the last six seasons, the only other major-league pitchers who won as many as six games in one calendar month are Justin Verlander (6-0 in June of 2011) and Jered Weaver (6-0 in July of 2012). Baltimore closer Jim Johnson earned the save in Tillman’s Sunday night victory, which means he has no saved seven games for Tillman. It's the most saves for any major-league pitcher this season in games won by a particular teammate.
Speaking of Baltimore’s offense, Chris Davis continues to hit at a ravenous pace. Davis crushed an opposite field home run, his 31st of the season, against the Yankees’ Hiroki Kuroda on Sunday night, giving him a league-best nine opposite field bombs. On top of that, Davis is the only player in major-league history to hit 30 home runs and 25 doubles before July 1st. He sure did love playing against New York this weekend, going 3-for-10 with three home runs and four runs scored in the home sweep. It is safe to say that Davis is one of the front runners for this year’s American League MVP award.
Jose Bautista hit two home runs on Saturday, the second of which was the 201st of his career. Bautista didn't hit his 100th home run until his 701st game in the major leagues, but he has hit 101 homers in 349 games since then. He is one of only eight players ever who went from 100 to 200 home runs in less than half the number of games that it took them to get their first 100 home runs. Cy Williams, Ted Kluszewski, Carl Yastrzemski, Rafael Palmeiro, Ken Griffey Jr., Ken Caminiti, Luis Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez were the other hitters. Bautista is having a very solid season on a Toronto team that is probably going to miss the playoffs, but you still have to love how his career is turning out. The righty slugger has been a dangerous hitter ever since changing his swing a few years ago and is on pace for another 40 home run season.
Starting pitcher Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers was named the AL Player of the Week for the week ending on June 23rd. Scherzer went 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 16 strikeouts on the week. No one expected Scherzer to outpitch Tiger ace Justin Verlander or second-in-command, Doug Fister, this season... but he has done just that, posting a 3.10 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 110.1 innings pitched. His 131 strikeouts are second best in the American League. Scherzer has a 12-0 record on the season, making him the first pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1986 to start a season with 12 wins and no losses.
Despite Scherzer’s massive success this season, it was not easy getting to this point... ESPN’s Robert Sanchez wrote an excellent piece back in April about how Scherzer and his family have dealt with the suicide of his younger brother. Definitely worth a read.
The Cleveland Indians put together the ultimate team offensive performance on Friday, scoring 19 runs on 21 hits in a 19-10 victory over the White Sox on the road. Ryan Raburn had four RBI, Drew Stubbs knocked in three more, and then Jason Kipnis, Nick Swisher, Yan Gomes, Lonnie Chisenhall and Mike Aviles each drove in two runs, making it a grand total of seven Indians with multiple RBI on the thrashing. It was only the second time in franchise history that Cleveland had at least seven players each drive in two runs in a single game. When was the other time it happened? How about June 28th, 1950... exactly 63 years ago to the date. That’s good timing.
Minnesota starter Samuel Deduno has been a breath of fresh air for the lowly Twins this season and it’s making the summer a little more bearable for fans. Deduno notched his fourth win in seven starts for the Twins this season by holding Kansas CIty to just one run in seven innings on Thursday. Deduno has recorded twice as many wins as any other Minnesota pitcher since May 24th, when he made his 2013 major-league debut after being recalled from the minor leagues. He has pitched at least six innings and allowed no more than two runs in each of his four wins this season. Not bad considering Twins fans don’t have too much to be excited about.
Mike Trout is having an MVP-like season thus far and is considered one of the best players in all of baseball. It’s too early to judge where his career is heading, but through 1,000 at bats, all signs are good. In fact, Trout’s 1,000th at bat came on Wednesday night. At that point in his career, Trout had accumulated 307 hits, 150 RBI and 205 runs scored. The only other player in baseball history to tally those numbers or better in his first 1,000 at bats was Ted Williams. It is just Trout’s second season, but being statistically compared with (arguably) the best all-around hitter baseball has ever seen is definitely not a bad thing.
Seattle set a new benchmark for disappointing the home crowd this week... or at least tied the benchmark. Mariners ace Felix Hernandez was replaced after seven innings in a tied game against the Pirates and the fans in Seattle were treated to a familiar ending. Pittsburgh scored two runs in the ninth inning to beat Seattle, 4-2. It was the sixth time this season that the Mariners lost a home game that was tied entering the eighth inning, tying the Mets for the most such losses in the majors.
Texas closer Joe Nathan saved his 27th game of the season on Sunday, bringing his total saves for the month of June up to 11. Those 11 saves tied the franchise record for most in a calendar month, which was first set by John Wetteland in May of 2000 and later matched by Jeff Zimmerman in July of 2001. Nathan is enjoying a fine season for the Rangers, with an ERA of 1.51 and a 0.80 WHIP to go along with his 7-to-2 K/BB ratio.
Baseball’s youth movement is continually getting stronger and Miami’s Jacob Turner is just the latest to make an impression. Turner threw a one-run complete game against the Padres on Saturday to lower his ERA to 1.76 in six starts this season. The last pitcher age 22 or younger to throw 40 or more innings and have as low an ERA as Turner over his first six starts of a season was Mark Prior, who had a 1.67 ERA through six starts for the Cubs in 2003.
Despite their awful record, the Marlins have enjoyed watching their young pitching prospects bloom into stars on the mound. Starters Jose Fernandez (4-4, 2.98 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 84 Ks) and Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 2.00 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 10 Ks) and reliever Steve Cishek (2-4, 3.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 32 Ks) out of the bullpen have been a sight for sore eyes for fans in Miami.
Matt Harvey just can’t catch a break. The overpowering Mets starter, and serious Cy Young Award candidate, has been handed an overabundance of no decisions this year (nine), despite dominating pretty much every one of his opponents. Harvey struck out 11 batters without allowing a walk and gave up only one run in seven innings of work on Friday to the Nationals, but came away with another no decision in the team’s 6-4 loss. It is the third time this season that Harvey has struck out 10 or more batters without issuing a walk in a game in which he did not get credit for a win (White Sox on May 7th, 12 K's; Yankees on May 28th, 10 K's). Only one other pitcher has had three such games in a single season since 1900 - Vida Blue in 1971.
Third baseman Pedro Alvarez of the Pittsburgh Pirates was named the NL Player of the Week for the week ending on June 23rd. Alvarez went 12-for-29 with four home runs, three doubles and 10 RBIs. He also scored five runs. The Pirates, who now boast the best record in baseball, went 5-2 over that span. Alvarez is just 25 years old and has gotten progressively better as a hitter in each of his four major-league seasons. He is on pace this year to exceed his personal career highs in runs scored, hits, home runs, RBI and stolen bases. Assuming he stays healthy, he is one of baseball’s more underrated power hitters and could be a huge part of a Pirates playoff run.
The Cubs won the rubber game of their three-game series at Milwaukee on Thursday by a score of 7-2, with Matt Garza earning the victory as he struck out a season-high ten batters and allowed only one run in seven innings of work. It was only the second road win for Garza against an NL Central opponent in his three seasons with the Cubs. Going into Thursday's game, Garza was 1-5 with a 5.16 ERA in 12 road starts versus division opponents. His other road win as a Cub against a division rival was a 1-0 victory at Pittsburgh on Aug. 3, 2011.
Adam Wainwright threw a complete game and allowed only one run against the Athletics on Saturday to enter July with a 2.22 ERA in 125 innings. The last pitcher to finish June with an ERA under 2.25 in at least 125 innings was Randy Johnson for the Diamondbacks in 2000 (131 innings, 1.57 ERA). The last Cardinals pitcher to do so was Bob Gibson in 1969 (140 innings, 2.19 ERA).
Yasiel Puig, who made his major league debut back in the first week of June, went 4-for-5 with a double and a triple in the Dodgers' 6-1 victory against the Phillies on Sunday to improve his batting average to .436 (44-for-101) on the year. That's the highest batting average for any player in baseball's modern era in the calendar month of his major-league debut with at least 60 at-bats). Only one other player who debuted in the majors since 1900 collected as many hits during his first calendar month in the big leagues as Puig. That was Joe DiMaggio, who went 48-for-126 (.381) in May 1936. So far, the 22-year-old Cuban phenom has earned every dollar of the $3.71 million he is owed this year.
Michael Cuddyer set a record for the longest single-season hitting streak in Rockies' history this past week at 24 games. Before that single, Cuddyer had been tied for the Colorado franchise record with Dante Bichette, who recorded a hit in 23 consecutive games in 1995. As of right now, the Rockies remain one of the two current major-league teams that have never had a player register a single-season hitting streak of 26 or more games. The other team without a hitting streak of that length is Tampa Bay, whose team record is 19 games by Jason Bartlett in 2009.
John Lopiano can be reached at email@example.com. Follow John on Twitter: @johnlopiano.
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