Daily Dose: Pena's unique season ends

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Carlos Pena’s strange season came to an end Monday when CC Sabathia broke two fingers on his left hand with a fastball in the first inning. Pena will miss the remaining four weeks after hitting .227/.356/.537 with 39 homers and 100 RBIs in 135 games, leaving him with the highest OPS in baseball history among players with a sub-.230 batting average. In fact, it isn’t even close.
On the strength of 39 homers, 25 doubles, and 87 walks Pena finishes with an .893 OPS. No one else has cracked even .830 while hitting under .230 and qualifying for the batting title, and Gene Tenace in 1978, Roy Cullenbine in 1947, and Pat Seerey in 1946 are the only guys to top .800. Pena also narrowly missed finishing with more homers (39) than singles (41), which is just Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire territory.
While the Rays turn to Willy Aybar to replace one of the AL’s most productive hitters, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin is getting a few games off this week after struggling recently, so Chris Carpenter took matters into his own hands Monday afternoon with a complete-game shutout versus the Brewers. Jody Gerut’s double in the fifth inning was the lone hit allowed by Carpenter, who needed just 99 pitches to record 27 outs and racked up double-digit strikeouts for the third time this season.
His first shutout since 2006 and 11th straight victory allowed Carpenter to pass Zack Greinke for MLB’s lowest ERA at 2.16 and he trails only teammate Adam Wainwright in wins with 16. Tim Lincecum once seemed like a lock for back-to-back Cy Youngs, but he’s now 13-5 with a 2.34 ERA and 233/55 K/BB ratio in 200 innings compared to Carpenter at 16-3 with a 2.16 ERA and 129/30 K/BB ratio in 167 frames.
* Jamie Moyer was bumped from the Phillies’ rotation for Pedro Martinez last month, but came up big when called upon to make a spot start Monday. J.A. Happ suffered a strained oblique muscle while taking batting practice over the weekend, so Moyer stepped in for him Monday afternoon and held the Astros to two runs over six innings before Chan Ho Park blew what would’ve been his first win as a starter since July.
AL Quick Hits: Josh Hamilton (back) will be sidelined until at least the weekend after receiving a second root-nerve injection Monday … Tim Wakefield (back) has been scratched from his Friday start and will likely be given the next two weeks off … Mark Buehrle threw seven innings of one-run ball Monday to win for the first time since his perfect game on July 23 … Zack Greinke will get some extra rest after throwing 125 pitches Saturday … Aaron Hill left Monday’s game after three innings when his wife went into labor … CC Sabathia and Matt Garza got stuck with no-decisions Monday by matching each other with seven innings of one-run ball … Brett Gardner came off the shelf Monday and will resume splitting time with Melky Cabrera … Josh Beckett lost Monday, but turned in his first Quality Start since August 12 … Billy Butler went deep twice Monday and is hitting .300 with 59 extra-base hits … Jed Lowrie (wrist) returned from the disabled list Monday, but will be eased back into the lineup.
NL Quick Hits: Brad Penny tossed seven innings of two-run ball Monday, making him 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA for the Giants … Carlos Marmol is now 6-for-6 converting saves since taking over at closer following Monday’s perfect inning … Ryan Braun missed Monday’s game with a sore shoulder and Mike Cameron (hamstring) will be out until at least Friday, but Corey Hart (appendicitis) is due back Tuesday … Troy Tulowitzki exited Monday’s game with a strained back … Kyle Lohse came off the shelf Monday and is slated to start Saturday, but will be available in relief for now … Chris Young followed up Sunday’s three-homer game with another bomb Monday … Dave Bush figures to remain in the rotation after Monday’s outing was his first Quality Start since May 19 … Casey Blake (hamstring) sat out a third straight game Monday as Ronnie Belliard went 3-for-4 with a homer in his place … Freddy Sanchez returned from the disabled list Monday, so Juan Uribe shifted to third base and drove in five runs.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.