Ubaldo Jimenez becomes first pitcher since 2000 with 15 wins before the All-Star break

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Ubaldo Jimenez may not be the top pitcher of the first half, but by beating Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals yesterday he became the first pitcher with 15 wins before the All-Star break since 2000.
Jimenez held the Cardinals to one run in eight innings, bouncing back from three straight poor starts to improve to 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA that now ranks third in the league behind Josh Johnson (1.70) and Jaime Garcia (2.17).
I wrote last week about how unlikely Jimenez is to become the first 30-game winner since Denny McLain in 1968, but certainly at this point becoming the first 25-game winner since Bob Welch in 1990 is very possible. Of course, the last guy to have 15 wins by the All-Star break was David Wells in 2000 and he ended up with “only” 20 for the season (he also had a 4.11 ERA).
Incidentally, for as much as guys like me want to believe the baseball word has advanced past evaluating pitchers by win totals, I’d bet quite a bit on Jimenez getting the nod for the All-Star game over Josh Johnson despite an ERA that’s currently a half-run higher. Then again I also think Zack Greinke and Tim Lincecum probably wouldn’t have won the (deserved) Cy Young awards with low win totals last season if another guy in either league had 20-plus wins.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.