By Bill Arnold and Rick Wacha
Hitting .300 isn’t an easy job. Every qualified batter hitting above .308 has grinded out their average. Some haven’t spent a day batting below .300 while others have just put in the steady work of improving their average day after day. Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger haven’t spent a day under .300 this season. Yelich, of the Milwaukee Brewers and the reigning N.L. MVP, saw his lowest batting average bottom out at .306 on May 31. The lowest batting average recorded by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Bellinger was .315 on August 10. Yelich was batting .329 and Bellinger .317 through Thursday’s games. The current major-league batting leader, DJ LeMahieu of the New York Yankees, has had to endure just four days under .300 this season. Boston Red Sox star Xander Bogaerts had to struggle the longest – needing 79 days – to raise his average above .300. The chart below illustrates how many days under .300 the top 14 major leaguer batters have spent under .300, the lowest point of their season average and what their average was through Thursday (* – leads A.L; # – leads N.L.):
|Rafael Devers||Red Sox||34||.200||.327|
|Xander Bogaerts||Red Sox||79||.167||.308|
|J.D. Martinez||Red Sox||43||.284||.308|
ABSENCE OF MALICE
During a recent stay in Chicago, Major League umpire Phil Cuzzi visited an old friend and Federal Judge Thomas Michael Durkin’s courtroom on August 5 to meet him for lunch. The U.S. District Court judge noticed Cuzzi sitting in the back of the courtroom and introduced his friend. The judge began asking general questions about Cuzzi and his occupation but then asked, “Which player talks the most trash?,” when the judge noticed that a newspaper reporter was in court covering the proceedings and asked that the conversation with Cuzzi be off the record. However, Cuzzi still wasn’t comfortable answering the question, because he remembered that in 2017 umpire Joe West dished that Adrian Beltre was the game’s “biggest whiner” to a USA Today reporter. West drew a three-day suspension from The Commissioner’s Office. The quick-thinking judge ordered a recess and adjourned the court and invited Cuzzi to his private chambers to continue the Q&A. Afterward Cuzzi and the judge – on their way to lunch – ran into the reporter, who asked Cuzzi if he answered the judge’s question, which prompted the veteran umpire to calmly reply, “we had a nice conversation.”
AROUND THE HORN
… Red Sox’ Rafael Devers joined Nick Markakis of the Braves as the only players to have multiple games of three or more doubles this season after recording four doubles in his six hit game against the host Indians on Tuesday; the third baseman also became the first major leaguer ever to post six knocks and four-two-baggers in a single-game.
… Aristides Aquino became the 13th player – but the first major-league rookie – to bash home runs in three consecutive innings; the right fielder hit long balls in the second, third and fourth innings during the Reds’ game against the visiting Cubs on August 10.
… Astros’ DH Yordan Alvarez at 22 years and 44 days of age became the seventh youngest player to clout three homers in a game when he connected thrice against the host Orioles on August 10; the six younger players were Al Kaline (20 years and 119 days), Eddie Mathews (20.350), Mel Ott (21.182), Hal Trosky (21.200), Boog Powell (21.358) and Corey Seager (22.037).
… The Red Sox lead the majors with the most four-hour or longer games with 15 this season; the team also leads the bigs with the fewest games that have lasted three hours or less with 28.
… The Brewers’ Christian Yelich leads the majors in solo homers with 26, Mike Trout of the Angels leads the bigs in two-run long balls with 13, Josh Donaldson of the Braves and Pete Alonso of the Mets lead in three-run taters with seven and 16 players are tied with two grand slams each.
… Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic notes that Will Smith became the first Giants’ reliever to record a win and an RBI in the same game on August 11 against the visiting Phillies, since Chad Zerbe accomplished the oddity against the visiting Cardinals on July 1, 2001.
… The Yankees finished their season series with the Orioles on Wednesday and in 19 games against the Birds hit 61 homers; the Bombers have recorded games of seven (one game), six (one game), five (three games), four (three games), three (four games), two (two games) and five games with solo homers.
… No schedule is perfect, but the just-released 2020 major league schedule shows the A’s and Astros concluding their entire 19-game division matchups before the July 31 trading deadline.
… Nationals’ outfielder Victor Robles is the only rookie in majors this season to have at least 15 or more doubles, 15 or more home runs and 15 or more stolen bases.
… It took 117 games, but the Orioles finally became the last major-league team to record a walk-off win this season when they defeated Astros 8-7 on August 11.
… Nicholas Castellanos joined Wally Berger (1938-Reds) and Fred “Crime Dog” McGriff (1993-Braves) as the only players to record 10 or more extra-base hits in the first nine games with their new team after being traded; the right fielder was acquired by the Cubs from the Tigers on July 31.
… The Astros became the first team to tally 50 total bases in a game this season when they strung together 12 singles, seven doubles, and six home runs in their 23-2 win over the Orioles on August 10; the record for a total bases in game is 60 set by the Red Sox in a 29-4 win against the visiting Browns on June 8, 1950.
… The A’s joined the Yankees (10,356 wins), Red Sox (9,582 wins), Indians (9,456 wins), Tigers (9,335 wins) and White Sox (9,265 wins) as the only A.L. franchises to win at least 9,000 games when they defeated the Astros 7-6 on Thursday night
… The Orioles’ pitching staff is nine homers away from breaking the 2016 Reds’ record for most home runs allowed by a staff (258); Bird pitchers are on pace to give up a surreal 335 taters this season.
… On Tuesday night the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani joined Tadahito Iguchi (2005-06 White Sox) as the only Japanese-born players to record at least 15 home runs and steal at least 10 bases in each of their first two seasons in the majors.
… Felipe Vazquez became the first reliever this season and just the 20th since 2016 to face just one batter and induce a game-ending double play and earn a save on Tuesday; the Pirate pitcher needed just one pitch to get Angels batter Kole Calhoun to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game and preserve the visiting Pirates 10-7 victory.
… Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers and Mike Trout of the Angels each hit their 40th home runs of the season last night; it’s the earliest in a season by both game number (123) and date (August 15) that two major-leaguers have reached their 40th HRs on the same day.
… The Yankees’ Mike Ford became the first position player in franchise history to throw two innings in a game when manager Aaron Boone used the rookie first baseman to pitch the eighth and ninth innings during the team’s 19-5 loss to Indians on Thursday night.
Other writers and sources contribute to Beyond the Box Score