By Simon Jones
Saturday was notable as much for off-the-field activity as on-the-field, with Masahiro Tanaka and Dustin Pedroia hitting the DL, and a big injury scare for the Nationals as Bryce Harper pulled up injured against the Giants. On the field, Giancarlo Stanton and Cody Bellinger continued their homer binges, and there were other players continuing hot streaks.
So let’s look at some of the bigger stories from Saturday’s games.
1) Stanton homers in third straight game….
Giancarlo Stanton continued his incredible August with his third home run in as many games. Stanton also finished 3-for-4, and now has a ridiculous eight home runs, 12 runs and 16 RBIs in just 11 August games. He also leads the majors with 41 homers and his season OPS has risen to 1.003.
2) Beckham continues August onslaught….
Tim Beckham has been in outstanding form since his trade to the Orioles, and he continued that trend on Saturday with four hits including three doubles against the A’s. Incredibly, this was his ninth multi-hit game since his move from the Rays, and is now hitting 26-for-49 since that time. He has a 12 game hitting streak since moving to Baltimore.
3) Sox tag Severino for 10 runs….
It was a tough night for Luis Severino as Boston snapped his recent run of impressive outings with a 10-5 win. Severion gave up 10 runs (eight earned) in 4 1/3 innings, and fell victome to Andrew Benintendi, who clobbered Severino for a pair of three-run homers, and the Yankee defence, as Todd Frazier and Didi Gregorius coughed up a pair of costly errors. This outing also made a mess of his season stats, raising his season ERA from 2.91 to 3.32.
4) Grichuk homers as Cardinals roll on….
It’s amazing how teams’ and players’ fortunes change, and the Cardinals and Randal Grichuk certainly embody that. Grichuk’s season has been a rollercoaster including a demotion and injuries, but he is now back as a key piece of the Cardinals’ line up. He hit his 15th homer of the year going 2-for-4 in the Cardinals 6-5 win over the Braves. The win saw St Louis tie the Cubs at the top of the NL Central, having been 5 1/2 games back only a couple of weeks back. Grichuk now has four multi-hit games in the last five games.
5) Cron continues hot streak….
C.J. Cron was touted by many as pre-season fantasy sleeper, but it’s fair to say his first half was a disaster, getting demoted twice with an ugly .212/.266/.297 line. Since his recall in July, Cron has started to show some of the skills that we’d hoped for. On Saturday Cron went 2-for-for with a double and two runs, and that represented his sixth multi-hit game in August. He’s now raised his season average to .262, after hitting .395 so far in August.
6) Impressive debut from Rowley….
It was a memorable night for army veteran Chris Rowley, as he notched a win on his major league debut, topping the Pirates 7-2. The Blue Jays’ hurler gave up just a single run across 5 1/3 innings giving up 5 hits and a walk, striking out three. It’s likely that Rowley, will head back to Triple-A for the time being, but could well be heading back to the majors later in the year.
7) Blackmon grabs four hits….
Charlie Blackmon continued to swing a hot bat on Saturday, going 4-for-5 in Miami. The hits were all singles, but this had the added benefit of setting him up for a couple of steals on the night too. Remarkable, this was the fourth time in eight games that he has notched three hits or more in a game. In the process he has raised his season average to .338, and his OPS to an impressive 1.012.
8) Lester struggles in Arizona….
Jon Lester continued his even August, with an underwhelming performance against the Diamondbacks in a 6-2 loss. Lester racked up another 9 strikeouts (giving him 155 Ks in 146 2/3 innings on the season) but otherwise he wasn’t close to his elite best, conceding four runs (three earned) across six innings. He allowed seven hits and two walks as well as a wild pitch. His season ERA has now risen to 3.99.
9) Nola delivers another dominant outing….
Aaron Nola struck out eight on route to a 3-1 victory over the Mets on Saturday. He allowed only two walks and two hits across seven innings, in yet another impressive display. This marked his tenth consecutive outing of six or more innings pitched whilst conceding two runs or less – a remarkable study in consistency. Nona now sports a 3.05 ERA on the season, and is only held back in standard scoring by a 9-7 record.
10) Bellinger moves within sight or record….
Cody Bellinger hit his 34th HR of the season on Saturday in the Dodgers 6-3 victory over the Pirates. The 22-year-old is just one long ball of equalling Mike Piazza’s Dodgers rookie HR record, set 24 years ago. Bellinger was perfect at the plate, also notching up a couple of singles, a walk and a stolen base. Bellinger’s bat looked to have cooled somewhat in July with only four home runs, but he has bounced back significantly, hammering six home runs in just 11 August games.