July is usually a month that is action packed on and off the field. The All-Star Game brings about the unofficial halfway point of the season, and teams start gearing up for the playoff push with trades. In her monthly review, Cheryl Wright takes a look at trade deadline deals and crying in baseball.
July brought the most action-packed trade deadline we’ve seen in years, with a list of stars including Scott Kazmir, Johnny Cueto, Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes, Jonathan Papelbon, Joakim Soria, Brandon Moss, Carlos Gomez, David Price, Cole Hamels and Yoenis Cespedes all changing teams. Amidst this craziness, strange and memorable things were also happening on the field. Here are a few recollections from the month of July:
July 1: Cleveland Indians’ pitcher Carlos Carrasco came within one strike of pitching a no-hitter. With two outs in the ninth, Tampa Bay Rays’ hitter Joey Butler sent an 0-2 pitch into center field, spoiling the no-hit effort. Carrasco’s gem would have been the Indians’ first no-hitter since 1981.
July 5: David Ortiz made a rare Fenway Park appearance at first base. In fact, it was Ortiz’s first start at first base in an American League game since 2006, and his first at Fenway since July 16, 2005. In a bizarre twist, this game was also the first ever in which a Boston Red Sox first basemen recorded no putouts.
July 7: Pittsburgh Pirates’ outfielder Andrew McCutchen is an outstanding player, but his benefit to the team apparently extends beyond hitting, fielding and baserunning. After watching the grounds crew struggle with the tarp in windy conditions, McCutchen and teammate Sean Rodriguez ran out to help the crew. Together, the group managed to settle down the unruly tarp:
July 7: One lone duck, masquerading as a flightless Cardinal, took the field at Wrigley. Pitcher Carlos Martinez took pity on the confused bird and tossed him a few sunflower seeds:
The duck was eventually ejected by an enemy common to birds and humans alike – an unsympathetic umpire:
Later in the game, Addison Russell hit a foul ball down the right field line. Except the ball abruptly spun to the left, and went fair. Russell ended up at first base, and pitcher Seth Maness was sent to the showers after being ejected for arguing.
July 8: Logan Forsythe legged out an inside-the-park homer against the Kansas City Royals. Adding injury to insult, Alex Gordon collapsed with a groin injury while chasing Forsythe’s hit. The Royals got their revenge two innings later, however, when Jarrod Dyson countered with an inside-the-parker of his own. This was the first game with two inside-the-park home runs since Sammy Sosa and Tony Womack did it in 1997.
July 9: Oakland A’s shortstop Marcus Semien is not known for his glove. Semien’s eighth-inning wild throw to first base was his 28th error of the season. That error total is the highest by any player before the All-Star break in the expansion era (since 1961). Shortstop Garry Templeton held the previous mark, with 27 errors in 1978 before the All-Star break. In case you’re wondering, the highest full-season error total since 1961 also came in 1978, when Butch Hobson (and his elbow chips) barely edged Templeton with 43 errors.
July 10: The Detroit Tigers led the Minnesota Twins 6-1 after eight innings. Minnesota then proceeded to score 7 runs in the ninth, capped by Brian Dozier’s three-run homer off of closer Joakim Soria, to win the game 8-6. This game was just the second time in 65 years in which the Tigers lost a game after having a five-run ninth-inning lead. (It last happened on August 29, 1986.)
July 12: Kirk Nieuwenhuis might have seemed an unlikely slugger for the New York Mets, entering this game hitting .106 on the season with no home runs. By the end of the day, he was New York’s newest hero, after enjoying a three-homer day. Nieuwenhuis is the first player in Mets history to hit three home runs in a home game.
July 14: The incredible Mike Trout led off this year’s All-Star Game by hitting a home run off Zack Greinke. Trout has now hit for the cycle, in order, in the first at-bats of each of his four all-star games – a single in 2012, double in 2013, triple in 2014, and home run in 2015. He is also the only player in All-Star Game history with three first-inning extra-base hits.
The 2015 All-Star Game was also notable for including 20 players younger than 26 years old. That is the highest total of “under 26ers” in the history of the All-Star game.
July 22: Just one night after hitting for the cycle, Shin-Soo Choo earned a “golden sombrero” by striking out four times in an 0-4 performance against Colorado. He is the first player in history to complete the cycle and earn a golden sombrero in consecutive nights.
Also on July 22, Albert Pujols took advantage of a doubleheader against the Red Sox, blasting home runs number 547, 548 and 549 of his career. His second homer of the day tied Pujols with Mike Schmidt’s career total, and the third moved him into sole possession of 15th place on the all-time list.
July 23: Clayton Kershaw threw a complete game shutout against the Mets, winning 3-0. This was his third straight scoreless start. Over that three-start span, Kershaw struck out 13, 14 and 11 batters without allowing a single walk. Not only is he the first pitcher to strikeout double digit batters without allowing a walk in three consecutive scoreless starts; the only pitcher to even do this in two successive starts was Cy Young in 1905.
July 25: Cole Hamels, in his final start for the Philadelphia Phillies, threw a no-hitter against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Only one other pitcher in baseball history tossed a no-hitter in his last start for a team – Bert Blyleven, in his final start with the Rangers in 1977 (Blyleven was traded to the Pirates that offseason). Hamels was also a participant in the Phillies only other no-hitter, a combined effort against the Atlanta Braves in 2014.
July 26: Zack Greinke’s streak of 45 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings finally came to an end, when the Mets’ Kirk Nieuwenhuis scored in the third inning. Nieuwenhuis was hit by a pitch, and scored on Jacob deGrom’s groundout. Greinke’s streak was the sixth longest in baseball history, behind only Orel Hershiser’s 59 innings, Don Drysdale (58), Walter Johnson (57 2/3), Jack Coombs (53) and Bob Gibson (47).
July 27: Alex Rodriguez celebrated his 40th birthday by hitting a home run against the Rangers. He is just the fourth player in history to hit a home run as both a teenager and a forty-year-old. Ty Cobb, Rusty Staub and Gary Sheffield are the only other players to accomplish that feat.
July 30: When he was dealt from the Detroit Tigers to the Toronto Blue Jays, David Price became the first player in major league history to be traded in two different seasons after being named an All-Star in each season (last year, Price was traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Tigers in a deadline deal).
Also on July 30, Brandon Phillips had a night to remember, collecting 4 hits (including 2 home runs), 7 RBI and 2 stolen bases. He is the first player since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920 to record those totals in a single game.
Apparently, there IS crying in baseball. Wilmer Flores received a loud and prolonged ovation when he came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, because Mets fans saw the rumors on Twitter that he would be traded for Carlos Gomez. Flores took the field for the eighth inning, and fans saw a few tears escape. Fortunately for Flores, the rumors turned out to be premature, and he is still a Met.
July 31: Justin Verlander and Chris Archer put on a show in the Tigers/Rays game, retiring the first 29 batters of the game. Neither pitcher allowed a baserunner until Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two-out home run in the bottom of the fifth inning off Verlander. The last time at least 29 batters were retired to start a game was on July 28, 1991, when Dennis Martinez and Mike Morgan each threw five perfect innings. (That night, Martinez completed a perfect game). Verlander and Archer also combined for 21 strikeouts without walking a batter.
Also on July 31, Mark Teixeira hit two home runs, one from each side of the plate, in New York’s victory over the Chicago White Sox. This was the fourteenth game in which Teixeira has homered from both sides of the plate, which is a new major league record. In addition, Teixeira hit the 400th grand slam in Yankee history.
It was quite a month for a pair of Dodgers’ aces. Zack Greinke, in 5 July starts, was 4-0 with a 0.95 ERA. His teammate Clayton Kershaw went 3-0 in 4 starts with 0.27 ERA. This was the first month in which two teammates each started 4+ games and recorded ERAs less than 1.00 since July 1968, when Bob Gibson and Cardinals’ teammate Ray Washburn combined to go 11-0 with a 0.67 ERA.