June Review: No-Hitters and a Balk-off Win

After passing the halfway mark of the season and entering July, it is a good time to look back at the month that was. June featured milestones and debuts, as well as some interesting finishes. Chery Wright let’s us know what happened in June, including the first ever shutout balk-off win.

As the basketball and hockey seasons come to an end, baseball’s races are heating up. In fact, 24 of baseball’s 30 teams ended the month of June within 6 games of a playoff spot. Although most divisions aren’t as hotly-contested as the AL East (which began the month of July having four teams within one game of the division lead), the wildcard spots figure to be a dogfight. Here are a few of June’s most memorable feats:

June 2: Texas Rangers’ rookie Joey Gallo made his major league debut in style. In his first plate appearance, Gallo hit a two-run single. He followed that up with a two-run homer and a double in his next two at-bats, before finally striking out in his fourth at-bat:

 

June 2: Matt Holliday began the 2015 season by reaching base safely (via hit, walk, or HBP) in each of his first 45 games. That streak ended in the seventh inning on June 2, when he was ejected by Joe West for arguing a strike-three call.

June 3: The Atlanta Braves blew a six-run lead, losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-8. This was just the second game up to this point in 2015 in which a team lost after leading by 6 or more runs – the Braves being on the losing side in both games.

June 7: Chris Archer and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Seattle Mariners 7-4, as Archer pitched seven innings and struck out 11 without allowing a walk. This was the third straight start in which Archer had double-digit strikeouts and no walks, making him the first pitcher since 1900 to accomplish this feat. Over the three-start span, Archer struck out 38 batters. 

June 8: Craig Kimbrel earned his 200th career save in the eleventh inning of a 5-3 win against the Braves. His 200th save came in Kimbrel’s 318th major league game, which was 41 games faster than any other pitcher in history. (Jonathan Papelbon needed 359 games to reach 200 saves.)

June 9: San Francisco Giants’ pitcher Chris Heston threw a no-hitter in just his 13th big-league start, striking out 11 batters. Although Heston did not issue a walk, he added injury to insult by becoming the first pitcher in history to hit three batters while no-hitting the opposition.

June 12: The Toronto Blue Jays overcame an 8-1 deficit to defeat the Boston Red Sox 13-10. Toronto’s comeback included a 9-run seventh inning, in which all 9 runs scored before the Sox recorded an out.

June 14: For the first time since 1961, the Minnesota Twins hit three triples in the same inning. Eduardo Nunez, Shane Robinson, and Eduardo Escobar all tripled in the sixth inning of a game against the Texas Rangers. Unfortunately, Robinson was picked off and Escobar was stranded, so the Twins managed just one run in the inning. They are the first team in the expansion era to record three triples in an inning and score just one run. 

June 16: Brock Holt tripled in his final at-bat to complete the first cycle in MLB this season and Boston’s first since John Valentin in 1996. In the same game, Mookie Betts collected three hits (a double, triple, and single) in his first three at-bats, but could not hit the home run to complete the cycle.

June 17: Clayton Kershaw’s streak of 30 straight home starts without allowing more than three runs ended when he gave up four runs in a 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. The streak was the longest since Doc White’s 32 consecutive home starts in 1905-06. 

June 18: The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Texas Rangers 1-0 in walk-off fashion, when Texas reliever Keone Kela committed a ninth-inning balk. Of the 18 documented “balk-offs” in major league history, this is the first ever shutout.

Also on June 18, Yunel Escobar was pinch-hit for… by pitcher Joe Ross. Since Escobar had been the designated hitter in that game, Ross became the first National League pitcher in history to appear as a designated hitter.

June 19: Alex Rodriguez belted his 3,000th career hit, a first-inning home run off of Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Justin Verlander. Rodriguez is the 29th player in baseball history to reach the 3,000 hit club, and just the third to record a home run for his 3,000th hit. 

Also on June 19, the St. Louis Cardinals had some help from the return of the rally squirrel. The legendary squirrel (or perhaps a relative) first appeared in the 2011 postseason series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cardinals, and became known as a good-luck charm, The squirrel’s 2015 appearance began when he climbed along the netting behind home plate, briefly disrupting play. Next, the squirrel leapt into the Phillies’ dugout (directly at Chase Utley), scattering surprised players.

June 20: Max Scherzer no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates, and was nearly perfect in the process. Scherzer retired the first 26 batters of the game before Jose Tabata leaned into a pitch with two outs in the ninth. He retired the next batter to complete the no-hitter, becoming the second pitcher this season to achieve this feat. Incredibly, Scherzer had also thrown a one-hitter in his previous start against the Brewers. Only two other pitchers in baseball history had thrown consecutive no-hit and one-hit shutouts of nine or more innings – Red Sox pitcher Howard Ehmke in 1923 and Boston Braves pitcher Jim Tobin in 1944. Johnny Vander Meer, in 1938, is the only pitcher to have thrown two consecutive no-hitters.

June 21: Matt Harvey made his fiftieth major league start. Through his first fifty starts, Harvey has totaled 354 strikeouts, 256 hits, 72 walks, and a total of 338 baserunners. He is one of just ten pitchers in history to strike out at least 350 batters through his first 50 starts, and the only one to also allow fewer than 350 baserunners.

June 26: Washington Nationals’ starting pitchers combined to throw 48 straight scoreless innings, the longest streak in team history and second-longest in baseball history. Believe it or not, it was Max Scherzer who ended the streak, allowing an RBI double by Phillies’ Cody Asche in the seventh inning. The hit also ended Scherzer’s personal scoreless inning streak at 24 2/3 innings.

June 27: The Cardinals notched their 50th win by defeating the Cubs 8-1, becoming the first team to reach 50 wins this season. With a 28-7 home record, the Cardinals also matched the best home record through 35 games in the modern era, tying the 1955 Dodgers and 1979 Montreal Expos.

June 28: New York Mets’ pitcher Steven Matz had an amazin’ debut, going 3-for-3 with four runs batted in. He is the first player since 1920 (when RBIs became an official stat) to have a perfect day at the plate in his first major-league game with at least three hits and four RBI. Meanwhile, Matz pitched 7 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and two runs in a 7-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

June 29: Ronald Belisario was just trying to intentionally walk Michael Brantley. Unfortunately, his lob to the catcher sailed way over the catcher’s head, and Jason Kipnis was able to score from third on the play. Belisario was designated for assignment the following day.

June 30: Chris Sale struck out 12 batters in his team’s 2-1 win over the Cardinals, which was his eighth consecutive start with at least ten strikeouts. The only other pitcher since 1900 to accomplish that feat is Hall-of-Famer Pedro Martinez.

Chery Wright has written monthly reviews for April and May, as well as a history of switch pitching and Billy Beane’s offseason moves.

Follow us on Twitter @SoSHBaseball.

Check out Mike Richmond’s article about .300 hitters.

About Cheryl Wright 8 Articles
Cheryl is a high school math teacher and a devout baseball junkie. Growing up in Massachusetts, she fell in love with the Red Sox after her first visit to Fenway, and has never looked back. Her love for the team has grown even stronger over the last couple of decades, and she still makes frequent trips to Fenway from her home in Western MA.

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