Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera continued their personal home run competition on Sunday.
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.
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The Rays have ridden strong pitching to within a game and a half of first place in the AL East.
The Weekend Takeaway
At the end of play on June 28, the Rays were two games over .500 at 41-39, and their plus-15 run differential suggested that their middling record was just about what they deserved (42-38). To that point in the season, Joe Maddon’s squad, a pitching-first team in recent years, was in uncharted waters, relying on its offense to dig itself out of holes. And with the pitching staff’s ERA sitting at 4.22, compared to a league-best 3.19 finish in 2012, there was a good deal of digging for the lineup to do.
In late May, when the story was much the same, R.J. Andersonwrote that the Rays still had plenty of time to “hold true to their identity,” which they seemingly had lost over the first two months. It took another month of sputtering for the pieces to fall into place, but if the past three-plus weeks are any indication, the Rays many expected to sting opponents from day one have finally arrived.
The tater trots from April 4: Michael Morse and Chris Davis are ridiculously hot while a pair of Yankees speed on home.
The total number of home runs hit across the league went down on Thursday, but you wouldn't know it from the game in Toronto. The Blue Jays and Indians combined for seven home runs, with J.P. Arencibia launching two himself. You also wouldn't know it from Chris Davis or Michael Morse, who continue to place the ball over the fence as if it belonged to an annoying neighbor. All in all, not a bad way for this first week to continue.
The O's first baseman goes oppo on a pitch off the plate.
In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Ben Lindberghshowed us the strength of Matt Holliday. Some 17 hours later Chris Davis hit a home run that begged for an examination of his strength. Take a look at this baby. At first glance it might appear as nothing more than your standard opposite-field blast. Look a closer at the location of the pitch at the point of contact:
Michael looks at his best and worst Value Picks for the 2012 season.
As the season winds down, Value Picks takes a fond look back at our picks from the season, looking at the hits and misses we collected in our efforts to find value among the overlooked players on your league’s waiver wire. As with assessing fantasy players, the notion of “value” can be slippery to pin down, especially when looking at players who are largely castoffs from other fantasy squads.
The tater trots for July 29: a walkoff from Anthony Rizzo and Carlos Gomez continues to fly around the bases.
It may have been a fun weekend for some baseball fans out there - Hanley Ramirez's go-ahead blast for the Dodgers, Ike Davis's three home runs on Saturday, another blast from Adam Dunn - but I can't help but focus on the horrific Nationals/Brewers game I was at yesterday. Francisco Rodriguez ruins an eighth-inning four run lead, John Axford blows two different leads, back-to-back home runs from Norichika Aoki and Carlos Gomez are wasted... and the worst thing is, this is routine these days for the Brewers. Not a lot of fun to be at a game like that.
Andrew Miller makes Jose Molina look like a worse hitter than usual, David Price makes Nick Swisher's head explode, Chris Davis makes baseball look easy (or hard), and more.
Here are the three best pitches of the week, or rather some number near three in some period of time that is roughly week-like.
3. Andrew Miller, slider, against Jose Molina.
There's a tendency to judge these pitches on how the batter reacts to them. This seems like a flaw in the judging, but maybe this is actually just right. Without being in the pitcher's head, we don't really know whether the pitch was exactly as he intended it. A two-seamer with nasty movement can look an awful lot like a two-seamer that gets away from him. Even if he did execute his pitch perfectly, exactly as he intended it, we can't know without being the hitter whether it was actually a difficult pitch to hit. Brian Moehler probably executed a lot of garbage pitches exactly as he intended them, as slightly less-garbagey garbage. Our understanding of the value of pitch sequencing is primitive. Catchers' targets are often inexact suggestions, or they allow for the movement of the pitch, so it's hard to say the pitcher hit his target exactly right. Our view of these pitches on TV is misleading and inconsistent. So we're left with the one thing we can clearly observe.