By Bill Arnold and Rick Wacha
There is no such thing as a bad hit in major-league baseball. However, the art of getting a hit varies from hitting a home run to dropping a bunt. One of the more underrated aspects of hitting is the ability to get on base via infield hits, and Jeff McNeil leads the majors with 15. Three of the 15 hits have been bunt hits. The New York Met is using his skill at securing infield hits to help him try and chase down Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the National League and – more impressively – the major-league batting championship. Through Thursday Bellinger leads the majors with a batting average of .3558, which includes nine infield hits and one bunt hit. McNeil is hitting .3465 a .0093 points behind the Dodger star. Victor Robles of the Washington Nationals leads the bigs with seven bunt hits. Last season Dee Gordon of the Seattle Mariners led the majors with 12 bunt hits.
The list below shows the leaders in total infield hits, TIH, with bunt hits (BH) through Thursday:
|Player||Team||Tot Infield H (Bunt H)|
|Jeff McNeil||Mets||15 (3)|
|Jose Altuve||Astros||14 (2)|
|Whit Merrifield||Royals||14 (2)|
|Jean Segura||Phillies||14 (0)|
|Tim Anderson||White Sox||13 (0)|
|Hanser Alberto||Orioles||12 (5)|
|Starlin Castro||Marlins||12 (0)|
|Avisail Garcia||Rays||12 (0)|
|Kevin Newman||Pirates||12 (0)|
|Ozzie Albies||Braves||11 (0)|
|Javier Baez||Cubs||11 (0)|
|Adam Eaton||Nationals||11 (4)|
|Cesar Hernandez||Phillies||11 (0)|
|Kevin Kiermaier||Rays||11 (0)|
|Jorge Polanco||Twins||11 (5)|
|Yasiel Puig||Reds||11 (0)|
|Harold Ramirez||Marlins||11 (0)|
ACT OF CONGRESS
On Wednesday night, the Democrats beat the Republican members of Congress 14-7 in the annual Congressional Baseball Game held at Nationals Park. Since the game began in 1909, the Republicans have amassed 42 wins to the Democrats’ 41 with one tie. The Dems have won 10 of the last 11 games since 2009. Democrat House members Linda Sanchez of California and Nanette Diaz Barragan are the only women playing in the game. Democrats have lost a few of their star players, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan) due to their involvement in the Democrat Presidential debates that begin on Wednesday and continue on Thursday. However, leading the Dems was the game’s MVP Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond, age 45. The former Morehouse College pitcher has dominated the Republicans as both a pitcher and a hitter since 2012 by posting a 2.20 ERA and a .652 batting average in eight games against the GOP.
AROUND THE HORN
… On Wednesday, 38-year veteran umpire Gerry Davis passed Tom Connolly for fourth place for most games umpired with 4,771; Bill Klem (5,375 games), Joe West (5,250 and counting), Bruce Froemming (5,163).
… According to the Sean Holtz of the website Baseball Almanac – during the Yankees record of homering in 29 consecutive games, beginning May 26, the team has launched a total of 53 home runs against the Blue Jays (14 HRs in 7 games), the Astros (9 in 4), the Padres (8 in 3), the Rays (6 in 3), the White Sox (5 in 4), the Mets (4 in 2), the Indians (3 in 3), the Red Sox (3 in 3) and the Royals (1 in 1).
… On Tuesday night Albert Pujols started and batted sixth (or lower) for the first time since August 7, 2001 – a span of 2,608 games or 6,531 days; only Pete Rose (2,994 games) and Hank Aaron (2,971 games) had produced longer streaks of not starting in their usual spots in the batting order since 1920.
… Whit Merrifield, last season’s hits leader with 192, was the first major-leaguer this year to reach the century mark in hits when he racked his 100th on Monday.
… According to the good folks at the Elias Sports Bureau – the Marlins’ Jordan Yamamoto joined Wayne Simpson (Reds – 1970) as the only pitchers since 1900 to begin their careers with three straight winning starts while giving up a total of seven or fewer hits in the three games; Yamamoto surrendered seven hits in 19 innings, and Simpson gave up 7 hits in 25 innings.
… On June 23 the Pirates recorded five hits out of the ninth spot from Steven Brault (1 hit), Jason Martin (1), Corey Dickerson (1) and Adam Frazier (2) against the visiting Padres during the 11-inning, 11-10 win; it was the first time that the Pirates have had five hits from the number nine batter since pitchers Wilbur Cooper (1 hit), Hal Carlson (2) and Whitey Glazner (2) combined for five during the Pirates’ 17-10 win against the host Phillies on August 7, 1922.
… The Braves have June’s best record at 18-7 while the Orioles have the worst with a 4-19 mark.
… The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, a Class A team in the Midwest League, changed their name for one game to the “Wisconsin Udder Tuggers” on June 20 to help celebrate National Dairy Month; the Brewers’ affiliate, or more appropriately “farm team,” donned uniforms and a cap bill with cow spots.
… The Mets will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the debut of the classic television show “Seinfeld” on the exact day (July 5) that it debuted on NBC in 1989; the first 25,000 fans will receive a special Seinfeld bobblehead, and fans, who purchase a special ticket, will receive a special pack of Seinfeld baseball cards and will get to meet Larry Thomas, the actor who portrayed “The Soup Nazi.”
… Diamondbacks’ switch-hitter Ketel Marte is trying to become the first player in major-league history to reach 10 home runs from each side of the plate before the All-Star Break; through Thursday he had 11 home runs from the right-side of the plate and nine from the left.
… Derek Dietrich set a major-league record during the Reds series against the Brewers last weekend; the second baseman and left fielder became the first player to be hit by a pitch six times in any length series and has been hit eight times by Brewer pitchers this season to push his HBP total to 15 in 2019.
… The Cubs have joined the 2002 Angels as the only teams to have five players with at least 15 homers before July 1.
… The Rays have an overall franchise record of 1,635-1,843, but since 2008, when they changed their name to the Rays from the Devil Rays, they have gone 990-871, while posting six seasons with at least 90 wins; only the Dodgers, the Red Sox and the Yankees have streaks as long during the same period.
… A’s centerfielder Ramon Laureano leads all major-league outfielders with 201 chances; the last A’s outfielder to finish a season with 400 or more outfield chances was Dwayne Murphy with 443 in 1985, which saw him earn his sixth-straight Gold Glove.
… With a win against the White Sox on Tuesday, Red Sox pitcher David Price (29-8, .784) passed Cecil “Tex” Hughson (57-16, .781) for the second-highest career winning percentage at Fenway Park; Howard “Smoky Joe” Wood holds the record with a .867 percentage with a 39-6 record.
… The Tigers’ Niko Goodrum (1B, 2B, SS, LF, CF, RF and DH) and the Rangers’ Danny Santana (1B, 2B, SS, LF, CF and DH) are the only players this season to register three or more starts at six or more positions (excluding catcher and pitcher).
… According to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle – six different Giant pitchers have surrendered the team’s major-league leading six grand slams after Jeff Samardzija gave up a slam on Wednesday to the Rockies’ David Dahl at Oracle Park.
… The Mets are changing the street address of Citi Field in Queens from 123-01 Roosevelt Ave. to 41 Seaver Way to honor team pitching great and Hall-of-Famer Tom “Terrific” Seaver and his number (retired in 1988 by the Mets) on Thursday.
… The Red Sox and Yankees will play the first-ever, major-league, regular season games in London, England this weekend; the Yankees haven’t played abroad (excluding Canada) since traveling to Tokyo to open the 2004 season, and the Red Sox haven’t played outside the United States or Canada since beginning the 2008 season in Tokyo; the Red Sox will be the “home” team and, thus, wear their white uniforms, but the Yankees will be donning their famous “home” pinstripes for the pair of games at London Stadium this weekend.
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Copyright 2019, Sports Features Group