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August 19, 2013

What You Need to Know

The C&D Boys

by Daniel Rathman


The Weekend Takeaway
During the 1998 home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, there were 21 days on which both the Cardinals first baseman and the Cubs outfielder went yard. This year, with a little over three-fourths of the season in the books, Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera have traded long balls on 14 days, four of them this month and 13 since May 29.

The most recent of those days was Sunday, when the Tigers hosted the Royals at Comerica Park and the Orioles finished off their series with the Rockies at Camden Yards. Cabrera got his yard work out of the way early at the expense of Bruce Chen, slugging his 40th bomb of the season on the first pitch he saw in the first inning. Davis waited until the eighth inning to crank big fly no. 45, doing so on the first offering he saw from Edgmer Escalona. Cabrera’s shot gave Max Scherzer a 2-0 lead that the right-hander rode to his 18th victory of the season, a 6-3 decision. Davis’s homer, his fourth hit of the day, produced two insurance runs for the Orioles in their 7-2 win.

One-hundred-and-twenty-five games into the 1998 campaign, McGwire had 54 homers to his name and Sosa owned 49. Like McGwire, Davis has a five-homer lead, though the Orioles, 124 games into their season, have one more left to play than the Tigers. Davis and Cabrera are nine behind McGwire and Sosa, respectively, at essentially the same point in the schedule. But while it’s unlikely that any records will be broken in this year’s chase, perhaps apart from Davis’s pursuit of Roger Maris, it boasts ample intrigue nonetheless.

Cabrera carries a convincing lead in the batting-title race, hitting .360 to runner-up Mike Trout’s .333. He trails Davis by five home runs, but is ahead of him by five RBI, 120 to 115. And if he at least keeps pace in the dinger department, he should sustain his RBI edge through the end of the season.

All of which means that Cabrera could be a home-run comeback away from capturing his second consecutive triple crown—and from becoming the first major leaguer ever to notch two in a row. Rogers Hornsby and Ted Williams each netted a pair, but neither did so in back-to-back seasons. Triple crowns were earned in 1933 (Chuck Klein and Jimmie Fox) and 1934 (Lou Gehrig), and again in 1966 (Frank Robinson) and 1967 (Carl Yastrzemski), but none of those players ever seized another, let alone did so the very next year.

In 1998, Sosa made his move on McGwire in June, smacking 20 homers to McGwire’s 10. Cabrera has not out-homered Davis by more than two in any single month (May, 12-10), but he has eight in August to Davis’ seven, and he missed the first three days while nursing a sore hip.

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Related Content:  Miguel Cabrera,  Chris Davis,  Home Runs,  Roger Maris

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