Here are five interesting stories in Major League Baseball this week:
Giants limp off to Boston, New York
The Giants have the best record in baseball, but lost three games in a row to the Padres in San Diego – games started by their Big Three of Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto – to start the second half. Now they head off to Boston to face the red-hot Red Sox on Tuesday and Wednesday, and New York to face the Yankees on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Jake Peavy (5-7, 5.09 ERA) gets the ball against Boston’s Rick Porcello (11-2, 3.66 ERA) on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Matt Cain returns from a hamstring injury to face Drew Pomeranz, recently acquired from the Padres. The Big Three will take the hill in New York.
Power surge at Petco Park
San Diego’s Petco Park has long been known as a pitcher’s park. Not so this year, and particularly last week, as the All-Stars invaded and made it look very small. Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton won the Home Run Derby, hitting many prodigious blasts. According to ESPN.com, Petco Park yielded an average of 2.32 homers per game through the first 47 games this season. The Padres and Giants kept the power surge going over the weekend. The Padres hit two on Friday, two on Saturday, and three on Sunday. The Giants slugged four on Saturday and one on Sunday. That’s 12 in three games.
Here comes Houston
On June 17, the Houston Astros were 32-36 and 11 games behind the Texas Rangers in the American League West. After Sunday’s 8-1 win over the Seattle Mariners, they are 50-42 and sit just 4 1/2 games behind Texas. They are 18-6 since June 17. Jose Altuve leads the team – and the A.L. for that matter – with a .346 average, George Springer leads the club with 20 homers and Carlos Correa has driven in 57 runs. They face the A’s in Oakland for three starting Monday and the Angels at home for three starting Friday. The Rangers are 3-7 in their last 10 and have to be hearing footsteps.
Strasburg goes for No. 14
Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg goes for his 14th victory without a loss to start the season when Washington hosts the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday. Strasburg has just four no-decisions this season, and the Nationals have only lost one game in which he has started. He has a 2.51 ERA with 138 strikeouts in 114 2/3 innings. His WHIP is just 0.99. He has won a franchise record 16 straight decisions dating to September. Strasburg will face Hyun-Jin Ryu, who allowed six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings against San Diego on July 7 in his only start of the season. Advantage, Strasburg.
Ichiro six away from 3,000
Ichiro Suzuki of the Miami Marlins sits at 2,994 major-league hits. The 42-year-old outfielder had three hits in Sunday’s 6-3 Marlins win over host St. Louis. He received standing ovations from Cardinals fans in each game of the weekend series. Approaching the magic 3,000-hit mark is especially impressive considering the fact that Ichiro spent the first nine years of his career playing in Japan, where he racked up 1,278 hits. The Marlins head to Philadelphia for four games Monday before hosting the New York Mets for three next weekend.
Compiled by Chris La Marr