This Week in Baseball
In honor of This Week In Baseball, the longest running sports anthology show in the history of television, we bring you news and highlights from around Major League Baseball.
Our "TWIB Notes" begin with the just concluded series between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Whereas Boston swept New York in three games at home in April, two on the road in May, and three at home in June, the Yankees got the broom out this time and took four straight from the Red Sox at
Coors Field Yankee Stadium (also known as Yankee Stadium III).
The Yankees outscored their division rivals 25-8 en route to the four-game sweep. The victories included a 13-6 pounding in the opener, two shutouts (including a 15-inning, five-hour-and-33-minutes marathon on Friday night), and a come-from-behind 5-2 win on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball in the finale.
New York (69-42), which has now won seven in a row, has opened up a 6.5 game lead over Boston (62-48), losers of six straight, in the American League East. With six more head-to-head games on the schedule, the division is far from settled. The Red Sox play 29 of their final 52 games at Fenway Park (where the club is 35-17), while the Yankees are slated to play 26 of their remaining 51 games on the road (30-25).
Boston, however, is no sure thing for the postseason as it is tied with Texas for the Wild Card berth (with Tampa Bay only 1.5 games back). The Rangers took two out of three from the Angels over the weekend and are now just 3.5 games behind in the AL West.
With a pair of home runs, Alex Rodriguez passed Harmon Killebrew into ninth place on the all-time list with 574. He has gone deep more often than any other righthanded hitter in the history of the AL.
Speaking of long balls, Mark Reynolds has slugged eight HR in the past nine games (including four consecutive) and is now tied for the MLB lead with Albert Pujols at 36. The Diamondbacks third baseman also ranks second in the NL in SLG (.613), third in OPS (.990), fourth in RBI (80), fifth in R (75), and eighth in SB (20).
Since the All-Star break, Reynolds has put up a rate line of .407/.480/.895. Over the course of the season, he has hit equally well at home (.289/.381/.598) and on the road (.290/.372/.628). Other than Mark's MLB-leading number of strikeouts (151, which is on pace to break the single-season record he set last year), there is little to find fault in his numbers. Sure, some people will point to his .371 BABIP as being unsustainable, but do these skeptics realize that he has hit .358 on balls in play throughout his career? Let's just say he's making it work with lots of whiffs.
While on the subject of home runs and strikeouts, Adam Dunn deserves recognition for reaching 30 HR for the sixth consecutive year. He is on pace to hit 44 in 2009, which would mark the sixth straight season of slugging 40 or more. Babe Ruth holds the record with seven (1926-1932).
Adam's team is far from done as Washington (40-72) has won eight games in a row. As such, we can no longer assume that the Nationals will have the first pick in next year's draft, at least not with Pittsburgh (45-66) on an eight-game losing streak and Kansas City (43-68, including 3-9 in its last dozen contests) and Baltimore (46-65, 2-8 in the last ten) stumbling down the stretch as well.
Depending on whether Washington comes to terms with Stephen Strasburg before the signing deadline a week from today, the Nats may wind up with the first two picks in the 2010 draft (No. 1 for having the worst record and the second overall choice as compensation for not signing Strasburg). In the meantime, the clock is ticking as more than half of the first-round draftees have not signed with their new clubs as yet. Look for discussions to pick up this week but don't hold your breath waiting for many announcements prior to the deadline at 12:01 a.m. on August 18.
Question for the Day
Do you believe Strasburg will sign with the Nationals? If so, how much do you think he will get?
Scott Boras is allegedly asking for $50 million while the Nationals reportedly are trying to keep the amount closer to the all-time record of $10.5M that Mark Prior received in 2001.