By Bill Arnold @sfgwire
Home Run Derby
Christian Yelich leads the majors with 23 homers. The reigning N.L. MVP isn’t letting last year’s batting achievements slow him down in 2019. The Milwaukee Brewer right fielder has found his stroke by hitting 14 solo homers, three two-run shots and five three-run bombs this season. Although he hasn’t hit a grand slam yet, he still stands a good chance of not joining Giancarlo Stanton (2017) to become the latest MLB home run champ who fails to include a grand slam on his resume for the season.
Below are the 2019 home run leaders through Tuesday with a breakdown of the type of the home runs they have hit this season (* – injured list):
Thursday marks the 101st anniversary of Casey Stengel‘s memorable return to Ebbets Field. The Brooklyn Robins had traded Stengel to the Pittsburgh Pirates during the offseason and this was the outfielder’s first appearance in his old home park in 1918. He was roundly booed by the Brooklyn faithful as he stepped to the plate for his first at bat. Stengel called time and stepped out of the batter’s box and, as he doffed his cap to acknowledge the crowd, a sparrow flew out. The boos dissolved into laughter and a standing ovation. Stengel’s “hat trick” came courtesy of ex-teammate and friend, pitcher Leon Cadore, who had given him the feathered creature in the Brooklyn bullpen to plant under his cap and, thereby, defuse the raucous reception they both knew Stengel would receive.
AROUND THE HORN
… Mike Yastrzemski is enjoying the simple pleasure of wearing a uniform that has his name on the back of Giants’ road grey unis (the Giants don’t attach surnames on their home uniforms); his grandfather, Carl, never had the opportunity to show off the family’s 11-letter moniker since the Hall-of-Famer played his entire career for the Red Sox during a period in which the team didn’t sew names onto the back of their jerseys.
… Cody Bellinger is on pace to join some baseball most storied hitters for the highest OPS (on-base percentage added to slugging percentage) for player aged 24 and younger; through Thursday’s game the 23-year-old Dodger has an OPS of 1.177, which trails – Ted Williams‘ record of 1.287 set in 1941, Lou Gehrig‘s 1927 mark of 1.240 and Jimmie Foxx‘s OPS of 1.218 set in 1932.
… The Indians’ Double-A Eastern League team, the Akron RubberDucks, is offering a new dessert at their concession stands this season; “The Screamer,” which weighs five pounds, features 21 scoops of ice cream, a brownie, four whole bananas, hot fudge and sprinkles for $25.
… The Phillies had to swap Jay Bruce‘s number when he was acquired over the weekend from the Mariners; the outfielder had worn number 32 for the majority of his career, but the Phillies had to assign 23 to Bruce since 32 was retired by the Phils in 1989 after Hall-of-Fame pitcher Steve Carlton retired.
… For the sixth time in his career, the Nationals’ Max Scherzer struck out 15 against the Reds on June 2 which moved him into a sixth-place tie with “Sudden Sam” McDowell for most games with 15 or more strikeouts; only Randy Johnson (29 games), Nolan Ryan (23), Roger Clemens (10), Pedro Martinez (10) and Sandy Koufax (9 – including one during the 1963 World Series)
… On Wednesday night, Chris Sale joined Lefty Grove (1928) as the only pitchers to throw two “immaculate innings” (three strike outs on nine pitches in an inning) in the same season when he got the Royals in the eighth inning; the Red Sox ace previously had accomplished the trick on May 8 against the Orioles.
… On Tuesday night the Brewers began a stretch of playing 35 of their next 43 games against teams with losing records; of course, in their first three games of the stretch, the Brew Crew has gone 1-2, losing back-to-back games to lowly Marlins 16-0 and 8-3 before winning on Thursday.
… On June 2 Kyle Seager joined Ichiro Suzuki (784 games), Edgar Martinez (622), Ken Griffey Jr. (507), Jay Buhner (312) and Alvin Davis (308) as the only Mariner players to register 300 or more career multi-hit games with the team; through Thursday’s games, the third sacker had 301 multi-hit games.
… The A’s are tied with the White Sox for the most walk-off wins (in A.L. with four; however, on the flip side, they lead the majors with the most walk-off losses with six.
… When the Indians’ Zach Plesac picked off runners in his first two games as a big leaguer, he became the ninth major-league pitcher in the last 111 years to register pickoffs in his first two games; Plesac joins Geremi Gonzalez (Cubs, 1997), Lance Dickson (Cubs, 1990), Shawn Boskie (Cubs, 1990), Jack McDowell (White Sox, 1987), Art Mahaffey (Phillies, 1960), Danny McDevitt (Dodgers 1957), Johnny Podres (Dodgers, 1953) and Jim McDonald (Red Sox, 1950).
… The Rays have recorded 28 games allowing two runs or fewer to lead the majors; the Cubs and the Reds are tied for the N.L. lead with 24.
… The A’s slugging percentage of .467 in May was highest by the team for that month since the team slugged .478 in 1932.
… The Red Sox (Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Rafael Devers) and the Twins (Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Eddie Rosario) are the only team that has three players who have each scored 40 or more runs this season.
… According to statistical tracking service, Inside Edge, Padres’ rookie starter Chris Paddack leads the majors with a first-strike percentage of 73.4 percent (177 strikes of 241 first pitches); Kenta Maeda of the Dodgers is second at 70.5 percent (189/268).
… Rays “opener” Ryne Stanek leads the majors in games started with 17, but he has only logged 34.1 innings; if the Rays continue to use him as an “opener” he would become the first pitcher ever to lead the bigs in games started but fail to qualify for the ERA title, because he would not have the required 162 innings pitched to be eligible.
… On Tuesday night Pedro Severino became the first catcher in Oriole/Brown franchise history to hit three homers in a game; the O’s joined the Red Sox and A’s in the A.L. (catcher through designated hitter) and the Braves in the N.L. (pitcher through right fielder) as the only teams to have each batter in a league batting order post a three-homer game in their respective franchises’ history.
Other writers and sources contribute to Beyond the Box Score
Edited by Rick Wacha
Copyright 2019, Sports Features Group