With the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 and Congress staging a sit-in, our funding allows for only a top-ten list this week. Let's get right to the details:
1. Yasiel Puig's Sprint to Victory at Michael Taylor's Expense (Last Week: Not Ranked)
Yasiel Puig is like Forrest Gump. Sometimes he just keeps running, and good things happen:
Michael A. Taylor, of the Washington Nationals, might literally have had the worst game anyone has ever had. He went zero-for-five at the plate, striking out all five times, and he made an egregious error on Puig's single in the bottom of the ninth that turned it into a walk-off little league home run.
Puig's crazy dash led to him making this face at the plate:
And then this awkward hug/slap hands with teammate A.J. Ellis:
If Jerry Seinfeld invented the "shmug"—half handshake, half hug—then Puig and Ellis have invented the "slug"—half slap, half hug. Even if the Los Angeles Dodgers never overtake the San Francisco Giants in the National League West, they'll always have the slug. This is the same franchise that popularized the high five, so it's no small consideration.
2. Someone Beat the Chicago Cubs Several Days in a Row (LW: NR)
The Cubs dropped three straight at Wrigley Field to the St. Louis Cardinals, and then lost a game in Miami. They are still 23 games over .500 and lead the Cards by nine games in the NL Central. But by taking just the first two games of the series, the Cardinals did something nobody else had in 2016:
A few days earlier, the Cubs led the NL Central by 12.5, the team's biggest division/league lead since 1929. The Roaring Twenties! Well, we know what else happened in 1929. (A big crash? Yes, a big crash.)
3-T: Mike Trout and Manny Machado (NC)
Trout's wRC: 154. Machado's: 158.
5. Clayton Kershaw's Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio (LW: 7)
It's 141-to-seven after Kershaw went walk-less with eight strikeouts over seven in a victory against the Nationals on Monday. So, for every walk Kershaw has issued in 2016, he gets at least 20 strikeouts. Twenty-to-one. A reminder that the K/BB record for a season is 11.63-to-one, set by Phil Hughes in 2014. Only four times in history has a pitcher recorded a K/BB ratio that was at least ten-to-one, and one of those happened in 1884 when the game was unrecognizable. Another happened in 1994, when they didn't even finish the season because of a players strike. Kershaw's own personal best is 7.7097-to-one, set in 2014. Check out these comparisons, made before Kershaw's previous start:
As the league leader in wins, ERA, complete games, shutouts, innings pitched, strikeouts, FIP, WHIP, chips and dip, Kershaw is the definite leader for NL Cy Young and MVP awards as we approach the midway point of the season. Kershaw also has been working on another impressive ratio, that of balls to fingers:
6. Eugenio Suarez Shocks Himself by Making a Play (LW: NR)
The Cincinnati Reds are having a bad season, one of the worst in their history. Their bullpen has been historically bad. They're probably going to trade assets such as Jay Bruce and... Jay Bruce. Even slugger Joey Votto has been scuffling, relative to his career. Almost nothing has gone right, which is why it probably shocked third baseman Eugenio Suarez that he fielded a routine grounder by Adrian Beltre, of the Texas Rangers, leading off the second inning Tuesday night.
The ball takes a bad hop and lands, well, right in Suarez's glove—unbeknownst to Suarez, who looks every which way before realizing that he had it all along. By then, Beltre had made it to first for a single. Beltre later scored but, lo and behold, the Reds actually won this ballgame—progress in their effort to avoid losing 100 games for the second time in franchise history and the first since 1982.
7. Noah Syndergaard, Art Muse (LW: NR)
Gah! A seventh-grader recently did an art project of Noah Syndergaard, and the kid's father did the boy the disservice of posting it on Twitter. Not only that, but @EdKalegi alerted Syndergaard himself to the project, and the pitcher's response was, perhaps, unexpected:
Thor later walked back his critique, calling it "a tad savage." He also offered the kid a signed ball. Mr. Kalegi later deleted the tweet with the photo of the art project. Moral of the story: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and honesty is the best policy—unless it's not.
8. Melky Cabrera's Swing (LW: NR)
If you, Average Joe, ever wondered what it would be like to step into the box against a major league pitcher and take your hacks, Melky Cabrera gave you a hint Monday night against Robbie Ross, of the Boston Red Sox:
A literal whirling dervish. Cabrera is the best. At what, we're still gathering intel. The guy does have a history of being jumpy:
9. Jobu Returns to the Indians (LW: NR)
The mere presence of Juan Uribe should lead everyone to believe that the Cleveland Indians are the best team in the AL Central. And when the Indians win, inevitable comparisons arise with the great Indians teams of the past, most notably the '89 squad that beat the New York Yankees to win the old AL East. Furthermore, like Jake Taylor might have 27 years ago, slugger Mike Napoli has taken on the part of clubhouse leader in bringing back the franchise's best good-luck charm. Napoli and Jason Kipnis have returned Jobu to the fold:
Why don't the Indians just ditch Chief Wahoo once and for all and make Jobu the team's emblem? Put Jobu on the sleeves. The cigarette in his mouth might not set the best example, but his spirit does embody what Napoli brings the Indians. Not only home runs, RBIs, and leadership but also style:
This is where J.R. Smith got the shirtless idea.
It's going to be a great year for Cleveland.
10. James Shields' Scoreless Streak (LW: 9)
Shields came in with an impossibly high 21.81 ERA in three starts for the Chicago White Sox, but he kept the Red Sox off the board until the fifth inning Thursday afternoon, and allowed just three runs on the day. In the process, Shields lowered his ERA to 15.80.
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