By Bill Arnold and Rick Wacha
How a team does in the second half (after the All-Star break) of a season matters as much as how they performed in the first half. Some teams that dominated the first half are still dominating in the second, while others have gotten a second wind and surprised their fans by ratcheting it up a notch. Others have continued to flounder. The St. Louis Cardinals have used the second half to jump into the lead of the N.L. Central, forcing the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers to vie for a wild-card berth. The New York Mets – after a dismal first half – have suddenly found their “A” game and are contending for a wild-card spot. The San Francisco Giants also have had a much better second half than the first half. The Oakland A’s have had a strong showing in the second half to propel themselves into the second-wild spot and are making a run to host the wild-card game. The Cleveland Indians are trying to catch the Minnesota Twins for A.L. Central lead or capture a wild-card berth. And the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees are continuing to dominate their respective divisions.
First and second half-standings are listed below for each team (second half standings through Thursday):
|Team||1st Half||Pct.||2nd Half||Pct.|
|Team||1st Half||Pct.||2nd Half||Pct.|
The Players’ Weekend held between August 23-25 was supposed to feature nifty uniforms and catchy nicknames, but it seemed to displease everyone involved. The two uniforms used were an all-white and an all-black model. The white and black unis made it look like color film and television had yet to be invented. The Wall Street Journal entered each player’s nickname into a database and discovered some weird patterns. Of the 832 nicknames chosen 32 percent used names that were simply their pet name for themselves. Twenty-four percent went with a true nickname. Eleven percent used either their real last name or their initials. Puns off of a player’s name accounted for 10.5 percent of the total. Five different players named Smith went with “Smitty.” More than a dozen players used “big” followed by a word name. There were four “El Ninos,” three players named Victor went with “Vic.” There were also three “Frenchys,” two “Chief’s,” “Chi-chis” and “Gordos.
AROUND THE HORN
… The game’s Jewish players have set a new record for most combined home runs in a season with 122 through Thursday to surpass last year’s mark of 118; the seven-player group includes Alex Bregman (Astros – 32), Joc Pederson (Dodgers – 27), Kevin Pillar (Giants – 19), Ryan Braun (Brewers – 18), Rowdy Tellez (Blue Jays – 15), Ian Kinsler (Padres – 9) and Ryan Lavarnway (Reds – 2), who now plays for the Louisville Bats, the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate.
… The Astros’ top minor league prospect, Kyle Tucker, joined Tony Lazzeri (1925 – Salt Lake City Bees), Lefty O’Doul (1927 – San Francisco Seals), Frank Demaree (1934 – Los Angeles Angels) and Joc Pederson (2014 – Albuquerque Isotopes) as the only Pacific Coast League players in the 116-year history of the league to produce a season with 30 or more homers and 30 or more stolen bases.
… Tom Jordan, the oldest living former major-leaguer – who played for the White Sox, Indians and Browns during the 1940s – passed away in Roswell, New Mexico on Monday, 10 days shy of his 100th birthday; Val Heim, who played for the 1942 White Sox, assumes the mantle of the oldest living former major-leaguer at 98.
… Tuesday night saw just the 16th starting pitching matchup between Japanese countrymen when the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka defeated the Mariners’ Yusei Kikuchi 7-0 in Seattle; the first all-Japanese starters occurred in Yankee Stadium when the Mariners’ Mac Suzuki faced the Yankees’ Hideki Irabu on May 7, 1999.
… On August 25 Rangers’ starter Brock Burke joined Rudy May (Angels – 1965), Ramon Martinez (Dodgers -1988), Jim Neidlinger (Dodgers – 1990 and Stephen Fife (Dodgers – 2012) as the only pitchers since 1908 to throw six or more innings and give up either one or no runs and not garner a win in each his first two MLB appearances.
… The Rockies became the seventh team to be eliminated from winning their division when they lost to the Red Sox on Wednesday night; the previous teams to be eliminated have been the Orioles (Aug. 15), the Tigers (Aug. 22), the Blue Jays (Aug. 23), the Royals (Aug. 24), the Marlins (Aug. 26) and the Mariners (Aug. 27).
… With 17 HRs and 47 RBIs Mike Yastrzemski is trying to become the fourth Giants’ rookie to hit 20 home runs and drive in 50 runs since 1958; previously Orlando Cepeda (1958 – 25 HRs and 96 RBIs), Jim Ray Hart (1964 – 31 HRs and 81 RBIs) and Dave Kingman (1972 -29 HRs and 83 RBIs accomplished the trick.
… Charlie Blackmon for just the sixth time in his career went hitless for four straight games (August 23-26) before snapping the streak on Tuesday night against the visiting Red Sox; during the 10-6 loss the Rockies right fielder banged out three-hits for the 20th time this season.
… Kayla Harper, Bryce’s wife, gave birth to a boy who weighed 7.8 pounds and was 19 inches tall on Aug. 22; the couple named their first child Krew Aron.
… The New Orleans Baby Cakes, the Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate, are relocating from “The Big Easy” after the season to Wichita, Kansas; the “Cakes” last game at “Shine on Airline” ballpark is scheduled for Thursday and will leave the “The Crescent City” without an affiliated minor league team for the first time since 1993.
… On Wednesday night the Xander Bogaerts joined the Angels’ Mike Trout, the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, the Red Sox’ Rafael Devers and the Braves’ Freddie Freeman as the only players in the majors to have scored 100 runs and driven in 100 runs.
… On Saturday night the Giants are handing out a “Peanuts” themed bobblehead of the comic strip’s character Woodstock to honor Charles M. Schulz and celebrate “Peanuts Day”; “Snoopy’s best friend” was named by Schultz after the music festival, which is coincidentally celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
… According to Sports Info Solutions, the Angels’ Mike Trout has made 15 defensive misplays this season, which is up from seven he recorded in 2018.
… Although he took the loss against the Blue Jays, Mike Soroka became just the second Braves’ Canadian-born pitcher to pitch in his native country when he started against Toronto on Tuesday; the Calgary-born pitcher joined Claude Raymond (born in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec), who threw two innings of relief for the Braves against the Expos in Montreal to earn the 7-5 win in extra innings on May 16, 1969.
… According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Pete Alonso accomplished a unique rookie feat when he became the Mets’ all-time, single-season home run leader when he cracked his 42nd homer on Tuesday; the N.L. Rookie-of-Year odds-on-favorite joined Dale Alexander (1929 – Tigers), Earl Averill (1929 – Indians), Wally Berger (1930 – Braves), Zeke Bonura (1934 – White Sox), Hal Trosky (1934 – Indians) and Johnny Rizzo (1938 – Pirates) as the only rookies to to set a single-season, team home run record.
… With a magic number of nine, the Dodgers are looking to beat the 1902 Pirates record for the earliest clinching date of a pennant or division title team; the Bucs won the N.L. pennant on Sept. 2, 1902.
… Tyler Rogers of the Giants made his major-league debut on Tuesday night pitching an inning of relief and joined his brother, Taylor Rogers, of the Twins as the first set of twin brothers to both pitch in the bigs on the same night; the twins are only the 10th pair to play big-league ball.
… Red Sox’ reliever Brandon Workman leads the majors with the most combined hitless and scoreless outings with 40; Pedro Baez of the Dodgers and Alex Claudio of the Brewers share the N.L. lead with 34.
… The Astros have a home record of 23-2 versus the A.L. West, that’s the best intra-divisional record since division play began in 1969.
… The Dodgers’ Dave Roberts is the only big-league manager that hasn’t been ejected this season.
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