Over the course of a 162 game campaign, a lot can happen. We don’t expect you to catch everything that unfolds over the course of each week of the MLB season. Last week in baseball will serve as your guide to everything notable that happened over the course of the previous week of games.
From the walk-offs, sweeps, ridiculous plays, outstanding individual performances and slumps, we’ve got you covered.
It’s never a good week for baseball when the lead story centers around a star player getting suspended for a banned substance. We had that this week. But alas, there were plenty of other worthwhile headlines we’ll highlight in this week’s edition of Last Week in Baseball!
It always feels like baseball takes one giant step backwards when a high profile player gets busted for PED use. That was the case this past week, when the headline story was easily Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano testing positive for Furosemide, a band substance often used to mask PED use. The fallout is much larger than the 80-game suspension he’s now serving, as Cano’s Hall of Fame reputation is now tainted forever. While it’s true that HOF voters have started to ease up on PED users of the past like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, those stars dabbled in the shady world of steroids during a time when the MLB wasn’t doing much to prevent it. They may not be so kind to players who are getting caught now that baseball has cracked down. Adding insult to injury, Cano’s former teammate Mark Texeria threw the former Yankee under the bus. In an interview on the Michael Kay Show earlier in the week, Texeria said he wasn’t surprised to learn the 35-year-old tested positive for a banned substance, suggesting he saw signs of it during their time together in New York. It also wouldn’t be surprising if he receives an angry Tex Message from Cano at some point soon. See what I did there…
2) That Was Fast
It feels like every week Max Scherzer is doing something worth documenting. This week, he only became the fastest pitcher to register 100 strikeouts in a season. No big deal. In 10 starts Scherzer has logged 104 Ks to this point, which is just ridiculous.
3) Dueling Dingers
After the top of the home run leader board became pretty congested this past week, two players surged ahead over the weekend to take over the top spot together. They happen to play for the same team, a team mind you that last year was dead last in home runs. Yes, Red Sox teammates Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez are your current MLB home run leaders. Betts has easily been the MVP over the first quarter of the season, but Martinez started scorching the earth this past week as he clubbed five home runs, including two on Sunday. In case you missed them, here are those two:
4) Braves Wild Comeback
One of the more surprising stories of this early MLB season is the Atlanta Braves getting off to a surprising fast start. None of the young squad’s 28 wins were more exciting than the miraculous one they pulled off on Sunday, though. Trailing the Marlins 9-4in the ninth inning, Dansby Swanson led off the bottom of the inning by striking out, making defeat even more like likely for the Braves. Little did Swanson know his teammates would bat around and that five runs later he’d have a chance to become the hero. Still trailing 9-8, he rippsed a sharp single to left field that plated two runs as Atlanta finished off an improbable six-run ninth — most of which came with two outs — to win 10-9. To this point it looks like the Braves have arrived a little sooner than everyone expected as they currently lead the NL East by a game and a half. This one is worth reliving…
5) Vintage Verlander
35-year-old Justin Verlander turned back the clock this past week, tossing his first complete-game since July 30, 2016, which ironically enough came against his current team, Houston. Verlander surrendered just five hits to the Angels over his nine innings of work as the Astros earned a 2-0 win on Thursday. It was also his first shutout since 2015. In the process, the righty ace recorded his 2,500 career strikeout as well, good enough for 33rd on the all-time strikeout list. Most impressive though, Verlander’s ERA for this season is currently 1.05 following that outing.
6) Déjá Vu
If you happened to catch both Tampa Bay Rays games on Saturday and Sunday, you may have noticed that the same pitcher started both games. That’s right, after making the first start of his career on Saturday and tossing a scoreless first-inning against the Angels, Sergio Romo was right back at it again on Sunday. Romo threw two and a third innings over the course of his two starts, striking out six batters and yielding just one hit. It was an interesting strategy from Rays manager Kevin Cash. When asked about the decision to start Romo, Cash referenced metrics that point to avoiding the top of the order with a typical starter, because facing hitters like Mike Trout, Shohei Otani and Justin Upton – in this case – upwards of three times in a game is risky. That sort of out of the box thinking can work in baseball. Now we’ll see if other managers adopt this practice. It could be an interesting strategy to consider in October.
7) Dodgers Getting Hot
In lockstep with the return of Justin Turner off the DL, Los Angeles is starting to show some signs of heating up. Despite dropping two out of three against the woeful Miami Marlins, a win in the series finale on Thursday paved way for a clean sweep of the Nationals over the weekend. Turner’s best performance actually came in that lone win over Miami, where he went 3-for-4 on the day. Maybe things are finally turning around for the Dodgers and with the fast-start Colorado Rockies losing nine out of their last 10, the door is open for LA to get back into the mix here.
It was a rough week for the Yankees in terms of being able to play actual games, as their Tuesday, Wednesday inter-league matchup with the Nationals was completely washed out. Even worse, the rain kept the pinstripes from being able to leave the D.C. area for Kansas City on Wednesday night, forcing them to spend the night at Dulles International Airport. Regardless, while the uncomfortable arrangements may have left the players with some stiff necks in Friday’s loss to the Royals, they wound up taking two of the three games over the weekend to make the best out of a bad situation.
9) Vladdy Like his Daddy
Vlad Guerrero Jr. continues to make headlines out of double-A ball, where he’s currently playing for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The 19-year-old phenom deposited a walk-off home run over the right-center field fence on Sunday to capture a 6-5 win over Binghampton. The heroic bomb actually capped off a 4-for-4 day at the plate – his second in the last five games. On the season Guerrero boasts the best batting average in the minors at .423 and leads in a handful of other batting categories as well. The No. 2 prospect in baseball is living up to the hype and if he keeps it up, it will be hard to not promote him to Buffalo or maybe even Toronto, soon.
And the legend grows …
VLAD JR. CAPS 4-FOR-4 DAY WITH THIS WALK-OFF 💣
The #BlueJays 19-year-old mega-prospect is now leading all of @MiLB in hitting at a ridiculous .4⃣2⃣3⃣‼️
How good is this kid? https://t.co/05bM0kcBeLpic.twitter.com/fb0jt4GgqI
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 20, 2018
Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks threw the fastest pitch in MLB statcast history on Sunday. Facing Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera in the ninth inning, Hicks fired a sinker that registered at 105 mph on the radar gun. He did it again two pitches later and over the course of the entire at bat logged the five fastest pitches of the season, hitting 104.3, 104.2 and 103.7 on the gun with the other three.